Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Blast for Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Endeavor Press
eBook; 394 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical
England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government,and to raise funds for the restoration of the king@s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor@s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.The lovers@ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.Traitor@s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.
@A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story.@ - Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of theTower
@A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.@ - Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife

Traitor's Knot is available in eBook from Amazon

About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.Cryssa's debut novel, Traitor@s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor@s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press.For more information visit Cryssa's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, May 31Passages to the Past
Thursday, June 1A Bookaholic Swede
Friday, June 2The Writing Desk
Monday, June 5Pursuing Stacie
Tuesday, June 6Oh, for the Hookof a Book!
Thursday, June 8 So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, June 9I Heart Reading
Monday, June 12What Is That Book About
Tuesday, June 13Books, Dreams,Life
Wednesday, June 14The True Book Addict
Thursday, June 15A Holland Reads
Sunday, June 18Ageless PagesReviews
Monday, June 19Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots (with excerpt)
Tuesday, June 20A Literary VacationTo Read, Or Not to Read
Wednesday, June 21Svetlana's Readsand Views
Thursday, June 22 CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, June 23Book Nerd

Monday, June 19, 2017

G820 Book Review of fatal rivalry by Mercedes Rochelle

Name of Book: Fatal Rivalry

Author: Mercedes Rochelle

ISBN: 978-0-9973182-3-4

Publisher:  Sergeant Press

Part of a Series: The Last Great Saxon Earls

Type of book: 1064-1080s, William the Duke of Normandy, the Battle of Stamford Bridge, brotherhood, loyalty, kingdoms, Battle of Hastings, deaths, friendship, family, England, France, fealty, siblings

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

In 1066, the rivalry between two brothers brought England to its knees. When Duke William of Normandy landed at Pevensey on September 28, 1066, no one was there to resist him. King Harold Godwineson was in the north, fighting his brother Tostig and a fierce Viking invasion. How could this have happened? Why would Tostig turn traitor to wreak revenge on his brother?

The Sons of Godwine were not always enemies. It took a massive Northumbrian uprising to tear them apart, making Tostig an exile and Harold his sworn enemy. And when 1066 came to an end, all the Godwinesons were dead except one: Wulfnoth, hostage in Normandy who took on the task to preserve the history of his famous siblings.

Characters:

While the story is populated by a lot of characters, those of interest are Harold, Toastig, Edward the Confessor and William Duke of Normandy. Women do not play a big role in the story, but the world belongs to Godwine's sons. Also for fans who read Heirs to a Prophecy, a certain king of Scotland also makes a cameo appearance. In my opinion, in the book, Harold seemed charismatic, pompous and extremely resourceful. As much as I want to say he is loyal to family, in a lot of instances he puts England first even at the risk of alienating his brother. In the story, Toastig is portrayed as someone who deeply resents Harold and who desires to outmatch him. He also was put into a lot of difficult situations and feels he cannot count on his family but instead counts on his followers and friends. Edward the Confessor is probably one of the few people who cannot get along with Harold for one reason or another, and prefers Toastig to Harold. He is deeply pious, religious and a bit like Harold places England above his own personal feelings with great reluctance. William the Duke of Normandy sees himself as the wronged and betrayed party by both Harold and Edward the Confessor thus he has to make things right. Strangely enough he is also described as a man of honor and someone who doesn't mistreat hostages. Unfortunately the other brothers and Queen Editha aren't explored as much as Harold and Toastig are.

Theme:

Sometimes the best intentions can turn to disastrous consequences

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Harold's, Toastig's, Gyrth's, Wulfnoth's and Leofwine's points of view. Although in the book their sister Queen Editha is the instigator of the collection of memories, and Wulfnoth the compiler, the reader sees very little of them throughout the novel. Most of the book is Toastig and Harold. The story, from what I recall, picks up from the previous novel and the main focus is up until 1066, the Battle of Hastings. I do appreciate that upon reading the book, the story cleared up Stamford Bridge and what Toastig felt and experienced and why he had done what he did. I do have to wonder at what is fictional and what is real in the story because I had a difficult time telling those two apart.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercdes Rochelle received a degree in English literature from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Opinion:

Just like other three books that I read and reviewed, I enjoyed this one a lot, especially how it seemed to be straightforward when it came to history. I think that not enough attention was paid to other siblings, in particular to Gyrth, Leofwine nor Wulfnoth. Although their points of view do make it into the book, I admire that ultimately the story becomes Harold vs Toastig and how they saw events. While I love books with details and that focus a great deal on life back then, once in a while it's nice to find a book that is focused on history and on filling out the blanks. I think if a reader is looking to gain more insight into 1060s and into Godwine's family, then this is a right book to start out with. I also feel that reading the prequels, in particular Godwine the Kingmaker and The Sons of Godwine is necessary because it sets up England of the time and introduces the readers to the rivalries and characters that play a huge role in Fatal Rivalry.

I was given this book for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

G829 Book Review of Waiting for Aegina by Effie Kamenou

Name of Book: Waiting for Aegina

Author: Effie Kammenou

ISBN: 9780692825938

Publisher: Self Published

Part of a Series: The Gift Saga

Type of book: Greece, 1999-2005, friendship, loyalty, marriage, married life, family, Greece, choices, 9/11, devotion, loyalty

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

Book Two in The Gift Saga: The continuation of Evanthia’s Gift …

In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.

Evanthia's Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.

Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.

Characters:

There are a whole lot of characters, each well drawn from major to minor. I will focus on the Honey Hill Girls though. Sophia was the protagonist of Evanthia's Gift who recently reunited with her long-time love Dean. She is a dancer and through the next six years seems to have to endure quite a number of upheavals. She has a very strong support system in terms of family and friends who will always make sure to back her up, Amy is a friend but is not close to the women as others are. She is a congresswoman who has a dark secret that no one but Sophia knows. Donna is a close friend who has two sons and is married to a former prom king. Donna seems to be more surviving rather than thriving in life. Mindy is another close friend who is a redhead and is a famous fashion designer who made important choices but at times isn't happy with them. Unlike her friends, she is the only who isn't married and doesn't have children. Demetra is Sophia's friend and younger sister of her husband. She is close to other women.

Theme:

Friendship is important

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from the Honey Hill Girls, from Sophia, Demetra, Mindy, Amy and Donna's points of views. It also is a unique sequel because for one it seems to be a supplement to Evanthia's Gift, expanding the world of Sophia, but at the same time it's a sequel, beginning in 1999 and ending in 2005. The history is not felt nor noticed, and this particular book helped me quite a bit recall my time from middle school to high school. I do wonder how the author will continue on the series since the books are quickly catching up to present time, but I highly look forward to returning to her characters in the future.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Effie Kammenou is the author of the debut novel, Evanthia's Gift: Book One in the Gift Saga, an award finalist in teh women's fiction category for The Reader's Favorite Book Awards.

Her writing is influenced by her Greek heritage and family history, as well as her life growing up on Long Island.

Opinion:

Few years back, I've had a chance to read and enjoy the wonderful Evanthia's Gift,  first book of the series by the author. When I heard that there will be a sequel to Evanthia's Gift, I was overjoyed, and this book didn't disappoint. Just like with Evanthia's Gift, the story of the 'Honey Hill Girls' is all too real and too human. I am sad to admit that I hadn't experienced the friendship in my life that Sophia and her friends have, but I enjoyed reading about it, and getting to know the girls on a deeper level than in Evanthia's Gift. Although I loved reading the story and I loved how unpredictable the resolutions to the girls' lives were, I really would have wished that towards the end the author didn't seem to be in a hurry, and also, I feel that in some cases, the reader doesn't spend enough time with Demetra nor Amy. For example, the relationship between Amy and her family isn't as well drawn as one between Sophia and her family. I think I also wanted to see a bit more of Demetra's married life,and towards the end Mindy's subplot seemed to be hurried in my opinion. Minus the minor complaints, this is a story of life and how each woman finds a different happy ending, and most of endings are ones that cannot be foreseen. It is good as a stand-alone novel, but for more enjoyment, I would highly recommend that the reader reads Evanthia's Gift.

I was given this book for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

G845 Book Review of Jorie and the magic stones by a.h. Richardson

Name of Book: Jorie and the Magic Stones

Author: A.H Richardson

ISBN: 978-0-692-35892-4

Publisher: self-published

Type of book: Fantasy, different worlds, dragons, prophecy, children to teens, friendship, orphans, loyalty

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn't imagine the adventures she would have with dragons - good and bad - and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie - for that is what she prefers to be called - finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog - stones of enormous power - and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly. Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.

Characters:

Main characters include Jorie and Rufus. Jorie is an orphan who comes to live with her somewhat stuffy aunt and is best described as a bit brash. hurried, adventurous, fearless and very loyal to friends. Rufus is a bit shy, uncertain and tends to be careless with personal information. There are other characters like the little dragon that Rufus connects with, then the evil sorcerer, the evil teacher, etc. What I also liked is that some of the characters seemed to be a bit ambiguous and if its a series, I imagine it will be difficult in telling which will be on the good side and which will be on the bad side.

Theme:

Friendship rocks

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Jorie's and Rufus's points of view. Personally for me, the story is pretty simplistic and predictable, but I do admire the imagination that the author used in creating the world. Almost the first three-fourths of the book read quite a bit like exposition, but the last quarter is when excitement begins.

Author Information:
(From the book)

A.H Richardson is a treasured storyteller whose depth of imagination conjures up challenging characters-both good and evil-to dare children to find their own imaginations, courage, and strength. She writes from her colonial estate in eastern Tennessee in the magical Smoky mountains.

Opinion:

The teenager/inner child in me enjoyed the book, but the adult me didn't enjoy it, sad to say. I think if I was much, much younger, I would have loved the story, but because I am much older and already grew up on complex characters that are neither black nor white, and a more complex and nuanced plot where its impossible to tell the way the story is going to go, this was a bit too simplistic for me, but I imagine that for little children it will be a great read because it has friendship, strong heroine, an imaginary world, and its written in an an accessible language.

I was given this book for an honest review

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G831 Book Review of eye of the storm by frank Cavallo

Name of Book: Eye of the Storm

Author: Frank Cavallo

ISBN: 9781535327077

Publisher: Dark Serpent

Type of book: Fantasy, other worlds, dinosaurs, magic, neanderthals, legends, myths, magical stones, mysteries, fighting, loyalty,

Year it was published: 2016

Summary:

On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.

Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.

Characters:

Main characters include Slade, who is a former Navy and is best described as a warrior who becomes dedicated to the newly appointed queen. Prior to transferring to the world, he was a showman who cared more for money than anything else. Anna Fayne is a scientist who is curious, knowledgeable and is willing to make sacrifices to continue living. Kerr is Threya's leperous servant who harbors secret feelings for her. He connects with Slade and Anna immediately. Tarquin is a sorcerer who is determined to reach his goals no matter what.

Theme:

I read the book from cover to cover, and beyond the idea that things are not what they seem, I'm not sure what else I should have gleaned from the story.

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative primarily from Slade's and Anna Fayne's points of view, although other characters such as Kerr, Threya and few others also get their points of view in. The story is more action and detail oriented rather than something that explores the depth of characters within the mysterious world they ended up in, and it's okay. I actually liked the world building and enjoyed exploring it.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Frank Cavallo is the author of The Hand of Osiris and THe Lucifer Messiah. His shrot stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including Every Day Fiction, Ray Gun Revival, and Lost Souls. He has also written for the Black Library's Warhammer property, including several short stories in their monthjyl fiction magazine Hammer & Bolter, as well as a novella feautred in the collection Gotrek & Felix: Lost Tales.

Opinion:

Personally speaking, this is a fun fantasy read that involves different dimensions, worlds and lots of fighting with swords or magic. Its definitely unique because for one it involves neanderthanls instead of the medieval ages fantasy, and it also involves a bit of technology as well as magic. I'm not sure if there should be a lesson from the book, and I do feel that a few things need some improvements such as adding more dimension to the Queen and Anna Fayne and the Etruscan side. I also would have wanted more dinosaur element in the story.

I got this book for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Diverse Reads on my Blog #10

Diverse Reads on my Blog #10

So I've been thinking quite a bit about my Around the World Challenge, in particular about the books I chose at first, that of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Mary Queen of Scotland by Margaret George. I am thinking of switching the reads to two other books , which I will mention in my next Diverse Reads Challenge. Without further ado, here are today's reviews for Blast from the Past. I am not sure if The Girls by Emma Cline would qualify as a diverse read, but just in case I'll put it there. If it's not, one could let me know and I'll remove it. Until someone says otherwise, it's a diverse read.

Blast from the Past

The Man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas

"You are about to hear," said Aramis, "an account which few could now give; for it refers to a secret which they buried with the dead..."

So begins the magnificent concluding story of the swashbuckling Musketeers, Aramis, Athos, Porthos and D'Artagnant. Aramis- plotting against the King of France-bribes his way into the jail cells of the Bastille where a certain prisoner has been entombed for eight long years. The prisoner knows neither his real name nor the crime he has committed. But Aramis knows the secret of the prisoner's identity...a secret so dangerous that its revelation could topple the King from his throne!

Aramis...plotting against the king?

The motto of the Musketeers has been "All for one, and one for all." Has Aramis betrayed his friends? Is this the end of the Musketeers?

Why Its Diverse:

The author has Haitian and French ancestry through his father, and if the paintings are to be believed, he appears to have more Haitian ancestry than French.

Don't Die My Love by Lurlene McDaniel

"Meant for each other."

That's how both Julie Ellis and Luke Muldenhower have always felt. In sixth grade Luke actually asked Julie to marry him, and she just laughed. In eighth grade they began dating. Now in high school, they are deeply in love.

Luke, a talented football player, is almost certain to receive an athletic scholarship to a top college. And no matter what her parents say, wherever Luke goes, Julie intends to follow. When Luke can't shake what he thinks is a virus, Julie persuades him to see a doctor. Luke's test results are alarming, but Julie believes their love is stronger than anything. Can love survive, now and forever?

Why It's Diverse:

The male lover interest is ill with cancer since illness is considered a diverse representation, I believe.

Cry to heaven by Anne Rice

In this mesmerizing novel, the acclaimed author of THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES and LIVES OF THE MAYFAIR WITCHES makes real for us the exquisite and otherworldly society of the 18th century castrati, the delicate and alluring male sopranoes whose graceful bodies and glorious voices brought them the adulation of the royal courts and grand opera houses of Europe, men who lived as idols, concealing their pain as they were adored as angels, yet shunned as half-men.

As we are drawn into their dark and luminous story, as the crowds of Venetians, Neopolitans, and Romans, noblemen and peasants, musicians, prelates, princes, saints, and intriguers swirl around them, Anne Rice brings us into the sweep of eighteenth-century Italian life, into the decadence beneath the simmering surface of Venice, the wild frivolity of Naples, and the magnetic terror of its shadow, Vesuvius. It is a novel that only Anne Rice could have written, taking us into a heartbreaking and enchanting moment in history, a time of great ambition and great suffering-a tale that challenges our deepest images of the masculine and the feminine

Why It's Diverse:

Although Anne Rice directly nevfer mentions the character's sexuality, one can see that male character enjoys both male and female paramours. If I recall correctly, the final relationship is a menage-a-trois, between two men and one woman. Also as well, the main character is an unwilling castration who has an alcoholic mother.

What I am Reading Now

The girls by Emma Cline

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Pages 104 out of 355

Future Reviews:

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches you and you fall down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Non-fiction, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest. 






Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be

Dawn by Elie Wisel

Elisha is a young Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, and an Israeli freedom fighter in British-controlled Palestine; John Dawson is the captured English officer he will murder at dawn in retribution for the British execution of a fellow freedom fighter. The night-long wait for morning and death provides Dawn, Elie Wiesel's ever more timely novel, with its harrowingly taut, hour-by-hour narrative. Caught between the manifold horrors of the past and the troubling dilemmas of the present, Elisha wrestles with guilt, ghosts, and ultimately God as he waits for the appointed hour and his act of assassination. Dawn is an eloquent meditation on the compromises, justifications, and sacrifices that human beings make when they murder other human beings.





Day (The Accident) by Elie Wiesel

"Not since Albert Camus has there been such an eloquent spokesman for man." --The New York Times Book Review

The publication of Day restores Elie Wiesel's original title to the novel initially published in English as The Accident and clearly establishes it as the powerful conclusion to the author's classic trilogy of Holocaust literature, which includes his memoir Night and novel Dawn. "In Night it is the ‘I' who speaks," writes Wiesel. "In the other two, it is the ‘I' who listens and questions."

In its opening paragraphs, a successful journalist and Holocaust survivor steps off a New York City curb and into the path of an oncoming taxi. Consequently, most of Wiesel's masterful portrayal of one man's exploration of the historical tragedy that befell him, his family, and his people transpires in the thoughts, daydreams, and memories of the novel's narrator. Torn between choosing life or death, Day again and again returns to the guiding questions that inform Wiesel's trilogy: the meaning and worth of surviving the annihilation of a race, the effects of the Holocaust upon the modern character of the Jewish people, and the loss of one's religious faith in the face of mass murder and human extermination.

One half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

5 Books I am planning on tackling this year

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, Megan McDowell

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.


Pages: 200 in my copy

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji,  Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.

Pages: 149





Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.

Pages: 560

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another.

Pages: 542

Love, and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

A powerful novel about an orphan boy who is raffled off at Seattle’s 1909 World Fair, and the friends who teach him what it really means to have a family, from the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Inspired by a true story, this is the unforgettable story of a young boy named Ernest, set during the 1909 Seattle world’s fair called the Alaska Yukon Pacific Expo. It is a time when the magical wonders of technology on display at the expo future seems limitless. But for Ernest, a half-Chinese orphan who found his way to America through a last desperate act of his beloved mother, every door is closed. A charity student at a boarding school, he has never really had a place to call home. Then one day, his wealthy sponsor announces that if a home is what he wants, then that is what he will have: Ernest will be offered as a prize in the daily raffle at the fair, advertised as “Healthy boy to a good home for the winning ticket holder.” The woman who “wins” him is the madam of a notorious brothel who was famous for educating her girls. He becomes a houseboy in her brothel and is befriended by the daughter of the madam, as well as a Japanese girl who works in the kitchen. The friendship and love between these three form the first real family Ernest has ever known.

Pages: 304

G868 Back Pocket Coach; 33 Effective Communication Strategies for Work and Life

Title of the book:Back Pocket Coach; 33 Effective Communication Strategies for Work and Life

Author: Diane Brennan and Alexandra Ross

Publisher: Self published

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-81715-5

Summary:

Have you ever been in a situation that was emotionally charged and the stakes were high? And it was difficult to find the right words? Back Pocket Coach™ provides 33 power-packed communication strategies to support you in creating satisfying conversations that result in good outcomes for you and others. These just-in-time strategies will help you move through conversations masterfully--whether you're engaging with one person or a team of people. This book also introduces Game Changing Conversations, the 8-step process that prepares you for any difficult or high stakes conversation. Included in the book is a worksheet for your personal use.

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the Authors:

​Alexandra Ross is an executive coach, team builder and author. With a Masters degree in Organizational Communication, she helps leaders and teams sharpen their leadership skills and exceed prior levels of performance. Alexandra is internationally certified as a Master Certified Coach. She coaches executives and leaders in the fields of aerospace, engineering, high technology, medical, financial and more. She is also passionate about coaching women in leadership. Contact Alexandra at CoachAlexandraRoss@gmail.com

Diane Brennan is a consultant, coach, author and speaker. She is passionate about leadership in all types of organizations. She enjoys working with leaders and teams in the fields of healthcare, aerospace, engineering, science, academics and business. Diane's expertise in organizations includes strategic thinking, navigating change and creating a learning culture. Diane holds a Doctorate in Behavioral Health, an MBA and is a Master Certified Coach. She brings calm to the chaos in organizations and life. Contact Diane at Diane@DianeBrennan.com

Connect with the Authors:
Website ~ Alexandra's Twitter ~ Diane's Twitter
Alexandra's Facebook ~ Diane's Facebook

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & NobleAdd to Goodreads
Personal Opinion:

At times communication books can be exhausting because if a reader is looking for something specific on how to communicate to somebody, the reader will need to look in the index for something specific, find a page, read and hope it can apply to a particular situation, and if that's not correct, then repeat the steps of looking through index and finding specific keywords and hope that eventually the right note will be hit. Although this book is designed more for work and leadership positions, a lot of the strategies can be used for everyday personal life as well. What's really cool about the book is that first of all its about 70 pages long, and sections are short and sweet. Towards the end some situations are described and underneath the situations are strategies which means its pretty easy to find what one is looking for. The strategies are each a paragraph long; for example in the situation where everyone is talking at the same time, "14. Just keep breathing! 18. Please...let's not interrupt each other! 19. Hold that thought! 20. May I ask a question? 21. Time out" (60) The reader can go back to the strategies, read about them and decided which one to use.

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

June 5 - Take It Personel-ly - review / guest post / giveaway
June 6 - Simple Wyrdings - review / author interview / giveaway
June 7 - Library of Clean Reads - review / author interview / giveaway
June 8 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
June 9 - NorthernMsw - review
June 12 - Books for Books - review
June 13 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
June 15 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
June 15 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
June 16 - Notes from Farrah - review / giveaway
June 16 - Create With Joy - review / giveaway
June 16 - Seaside Book Nook - review / giveaway
June 16 - Reading Authors - review / giveaway

This is for iRead Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Choosing Historical Fiction: South/East-Asian Recommendations

Unintentionally, my previous recommendations included historical fiction that focused on Caucasian experience in North America as well as historical fiction that takes place in Europe. I didn't include wonderful historical fiction that takes place elsewhere and in this list, in no particular order, I will recommend literature that is focused in Southeast/East Asia. 

(For those who are wondering, I am not yet qualified to make recommendations that take place in Africa, Central and South America as well as other parts of the world.) I wanted to do 5 books that I enjoyed the most, but realized that I enjoyed 6 books instead of 5. In no particular order, 


Summary:

"This coming-of-age story chronicling a Filipino boy's wrenching passage from son of privilege to guerilla fighter is a stylistic tour-de-force. From its first lines, the saga of Jando Flores seizes readers with the same chilling intensity as the cold water that wraps around Jando's chest as he hides in a river to escape a gang of pillaging cutthroats. While such murderous militias dispossess cane farmers in the Central Plains of the Philippines, the NPA (a brutal leftist insurgency) combats the government troops of Ferdinand Marcos and the ruthless sugar barons who steal the poor farmers' land. Jando, whose family owns a plantation, is forced into the NPA, but he remains a sensitive soul, brimming with empathy for his fellow countrymen-even as he watches others, like his beloved uncle, morph into fierce, sadistic killers. Incandescent descriptions radiate from the pages of this book. When a wounded Jando wakes, after narrowly escaping a death squad, he sees "marmalade light slicing through the fronds, weaving orange and black tiger stripes." Mountain bandits, sugar warlords, Peace Corps volunteers, dignitaries, and revolutionaries all jostle beneath "mango-colored" skies in this riveting epic of loss and transformation, but it is a masterful and delicate choreography. "

Why I love it: 

It has been awhile since I read the book, but these are the things that stand out in my mind about it: the vivid and memorable details to the scenes that the author pays attention to; I also loved the main character of Jando and also enjoyed learning more about history of Philippines. If you are looking to see what it's like living a life of an unwilling soldier, or just want to know more about Philippines, it's not a book to be missed. 


Summary:

From the internationally bestselling author of The Vegetarian, a rare and astonishing (The Observer) portrait of political unrest and the universal struggle for justice.

In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho's best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho's own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.

Why I Love it:

I admit that it has been more of a recent read, but its really haunting about how one night affects the rest of people's lives. Because I have a big interest in South Korea, the story of Gwangju Massacre is not new to me. But the brutality and ugliness is new, and its not a book that will soon get out of my head. 


Summary:

In Thong Tran's Vietnam, everyone is at war and no one is who they seem not his adopted father, a French civil servant, not his Blood Father, the Viet Cong rooster master, not his pro-American journalist tutor. Like them, the boy from the Mekong Delta cannot escape the war. And like them, he too must create shades of himself to survive. But even a conflicted heart needs a home. Thong yearns for a true father and a cause to give himself to. He chooses independence, liberty and happiness his tutor and the Viet Cong. Tragically, there s no independence, liberty or happiness at war s end. Re-invented as an American aerospace engineer, husband and father the Viet Cong informer must spend another half a lifetime crossing the Pacific as a defense industry dealmaker before he can set down the bones rankling in his heart.

Why I love it:

Although I hated the main character and the double-dealing he has done, his psychology and how he develops during the Vietnamese War is far more intriguing than I thought. For seeing humanity at its worst during the war, do give the book a chance. 


Summary:

A lush, exquisitely rendered meditation on war, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the story of several families, American and Japanese, their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses, and how they are all connected by one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.

Why I love it:

There was something about the story that made it feel almost movie-like, and I also liked how at the end this diverse cast of people become connected to one another. While on a journey, prepare to learn about Japan before WWII through the eyes of two women and prepare to also learn about the bombing which is not as talked about as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but is just as bad and deadly. 


Summary:

Alone in exotic Chungking, beautiful foreign correspondent Stephanie Ryder is warned to keep silent about the atrocities she witnesses in the city’s teeming slums. Defying a brutal Kuomintang officer, she is swept to an electrifying first meeting with Dr. Jen Yong, a handsome, dedicated and compassionate Chinese surgeon. For Yong, a sexual liaison with an American woman could mean a death sentence. For Stephanie, an affair with an Asian man would cause an irreparable breach with her Texas millionaire father. But just when danger threatens to separate them forever, their passion bursts into flame…and carries them on a fabulous romantic journey from the stormy depths of fear and desire, to the moving affirmation that enduring love is truly a many-splendored thing.

Why I Love it:

Prior to reading this book, I never figured that Asian men/white women couples could be seen as "normal" and that they could share long life together. It's also the first time I feel that I saw myself as a heroine rather than a bystander. Besides that, its good for learning Chinese history from WWII to early 1980s 


Summary:

Debut novelist Takashi Matsuoka burst onto the secen with CLOUD OF SPARROWS, a magnificent historical novel that takes us beyond the epic tradition of James Clavell’s Shogun. Set in 1861 Japan, CLOUD OF SPARROWS weaves a tale of passion and adventure, as a small group of American missionaries arrives on the shores of Edo Bay-and enters the strange, exotic world of Genji, Lord of Akaoka. What happens next, between the handsome young nobleman and the two Americans, sets the stage for a remarkable adventure. For as this unlikely band embarks on a journey through a landscape bristling with danger, East and West, flesh and spirit, past and future, collide in an ovel of astounding power and grace…

Why I Love it:

For people who got complaints about James Clavell novels (yes, I've read about 3 or 4 when I was in high school) or for people who enjoy James Clavell, this is an excellent alternative. I loved learning about Japan of 1860s, loved seeing Americans and Japanese, men and women drawn memorably and with a lot of complexity to where they came from. 

Book Spotlight For Dancing in the Rain by Lucy Appadoo

Title: Dancing in the Rain

Author: Lucy Appadoo

Publisher: Self published

Summary:

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?



About the Author:
(From Italy Book Tours)\

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Link to Giveaway:

BOOK SPOTLIGHT TOUR SCHEDULE:

June 5 -   Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight / giveaway
June 5 -   Kristin's Novel Café - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 5 -   
Library of Clean Reads  - book spotlight / giveaway
June 6 -   Mystery Suspense Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 6 -   
#redhead.with.book - book spotlight / giveaway
June 6 -   Il Mio Tesoro - book spotlight / giveaway
June 7 -   Essentially Italian - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 7 -   
Adventures Thru Wonderland - book spotlight / giveaway
June 7 -   Bound 2 Escape - book spotlight / giveaway
June 8 -   100 Pages A Day - book spotlight / giveaway
June 8 -  
 StoreyBook Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
June 9 -   Reviews in the City - book spotlight / giveaway
June 9 -   Paulette's Papers -  book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 9 -   
Hike2Forty and Beyond -  book spotlight / giveaway
June 12 - A Holland Reads - book spotlight / giveaway
June 12 - 
Zerina Blossom's Books - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 12 - 
Svetlana's Reads and Views - book spotlight 
June 13 - The Cheshire Cat's Looking Glass - book spotlight / giveaway
June 13 - Cheryl's Book Nook - book spotlight / giveaway
June 13 - 
Literary Flits -  book spotlight / giveaway
June 14 - Just One More Chapter - book spotlight
June 14 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
June 15 - A Mama's Corner of the World -  book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 15 - 
Bookworm for Kids - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
June 15 - 
Writers and Authors - book spotlight / giveaway
June 16 - T's Stuff - book spotlight / giveaway
June 19 - Carole's Book Corner - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 19 - 
What Cathy Read Next - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 20 - 
Books for Books - book spotlight
June 20 - Cassidy's Bookshelves - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
June 20 - Outset - book spotlight / giveaway

June 21 - Lukten av Trykksverte -  book spotlight / giveaway
June 21 - 
The Book Drealms - A Book Addict's Travelogue - book spotlight / giveaway
June 21 - 
Books, Dreams, Life - book spotlight
June 22 - Rockin' Book Reviews -  book spotlight / giveaway
June 22 - 
The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight
June 23 - Jessica Cassidy - book spotlight / giveaway
June 23 - 
Haddie's Haven - book spotlight / giveaway
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