Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winner…

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop is over. This hop was graciously hosted and organized by Leeswamme’s Blog. Thank you Judith for a great hop promoting literature!

Congratulations Nancy Zahar (nanze55 at hotmail dot com)! Nancy has been notified by email and will be receiving the following books from the Book Depository.


Thank you to all entrants. 

The winner for this giveaway was chosen using Random.org. To verify your entry, please click here.

Book 148: HALF-INCH Review

How far is too far seems to be the question raised in Half-Inch by McCarty Griffin. Pammy Hilts is an abused wife whose husband, Bobby, has moved out and filed for divorce. Pammy has put up with 12 years of physical, emotional, mental and verbal abuse. She has been cut off from all of her friends and has no skills. All that’s left are her dreams and she is beginning to dream of revenge.


Pammy knows that Bobby isn’t going to leave her alone even after a divorce. Although Bobby has moved out and apparently has a new love interest, she knows the abuse will continue. What’s a girl to do except get rid of the problem permanently. Pammy has obvious problems with the notion of taking a life, no matter the circumstances, and most of this short tale deals with this conflict. At first glance Pammy may seem to be a poor, down-trodden and ignorant woman, but she proves otherwise. At times sad and other times funny (tongue-in-cheek), Half-Inch is a story about survival. This is a quick read that is perhaps perfect for a lunch break or a lazy afternoon.


DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Book 147: THE SWEETNESS OF TEARS Review

It’s rare to read a book that truly touches me, especially when the subject matter is far removed from the reality that is my life, but The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji did just that, touched me. This isn’t a sad story. It isn’t filled with tragedy and sorrow nor is it filled with happiness and joy. It is, quite simply, filled with the ups and downs, the mistakes and corrections, as well as the joys that make up life.


The life and experiences of Jo March are at the core of this story. She realizes as a teenager that something is wrong because she and her brother have brown eyes but both of her parents have blue eyes. After confronting her mother she learns that her mother became pregnant as a teenager by another teenager, a Pakistani named Sadiq. 


Sadiq was a privileged and spoiled young man in Pakistan. He was separated from his mother as a young child, and had a brief reunion with his mother in the United States as a teenager. The story also introduces his mother’s story, Deena. Deena is raised as a Shia Muslimah in Pakistani shortly after the Partition (or separation of Pakistan from India). She is an idealistic young woman that is blessed with a common sense family. After her father’s death she is engaged and then marries the son of her father’s best friend. Regrettably her husband is bipolar and off his medicines and it isn’t until after the marriage when she learns of his “problem.” Her husband commits suicide shortly after the birth of Sadiq and his family blames Deena. After Sadiq is taken by his father’s family, Deena remarries and moves to the United States where she finds happiness with her new family.


The lives of the characters intersect, gently influence, and overlap throughout the story. Deena befriends the teenage Angela on her visit to Los Angeles. Angela befriends Sadiq and they comfort one another resulting in the birth of Jo and her twin brother, Chris. Jo’s exposure to different cultures through her maternal grandmother and mission work sparks an interest in language. Jo’s meeting with Sadiq leads to her studying Arabic and Urdu in college, which leads to her work as a translator shortly after 9/11. Jo looks up Deena, her paternal grandmother, after she quits translating as a part of the war effort and visits Pakistan as a true civilian. Chris enlisted in the Marine Corps after 9/11, is sent to Iraq only to come home a broken man and attempts to kill himself. 


As I read this tale of a fictional family, I was often moved to tears. The emotions felt by the characters seemed to come alive and jump off the page. Remember, I said this wasn’t a tale of sadness or sorrow although there is sadness and sorrow in the tale. It isn’t a tale of tragedy although there are tragedies throughout, but there is also happiness and joy. Religion is often in the background of this story, but it isn’t a tale of Islam vs. Christianity, Shia vs. Sunni, or Us vs. Them, but more about humanity and our similarities as opposed to our differences. This, for me, was a story about self-discovery, acceptance and, ultimately, family. The following lines seem to sum up all that is felt and depicted in this wonderful tale: 

“A wise woman that I know once said that the tears we cry for others are tears of sweetness – to be appreciated as a sign of God’s love, and sorry, for all of the injustice that we lowly creatures, human beings who have not yet learned to be human, all of us, inflict on one another. It is a good thing, when we cry these sweet tears, she said. It is a good thing.”



So if you read this story, and you should, don’t worry if you shed a few tears . . . tears can be a good thing.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 146: BLOOD TIES Review

I know I’m repeating myself but I enjoy reading a book that provides suspense, some romance and just a bit of humor and Blood Ties by Sharon Sala provides all three. I’m not talking laugh out loud funny but there are moments that brought a smile to my face as I read about Savannah Slade’s attempts to find out about her birth parents and deal with a motley crew of police officers, attorneys and ex-CIA agents.


Blood Ties is book two in “The Searchers” series by Ms. Sala and the action is concurrent with that of Blood Stains, book one in this series. The premise is that three sisters find out that they are not in fact blood-related upon their father’s death. All three were informally adopted as toddlers when their birth mothers were in dire straits. Savannah’s mother was dying of cancer and her birth father had just died in a car accident when she was taken in by her adoptive father. Now she is searching out the truth of her birth and her birth father’s family is none too pleased with the prospect of sharing their wealth.


Mischief, attempted murder and mayhem ensue. Throughout it all Savannah proves that she is a force to be reckoned with, to the dismay of her birth father’s family. Some of the action may be predictable but this made for a pleasurable read while waiting in doctors’ offices throughout the day (a plus to escorting my elderly parents to physicians’ appointments is I get to catch up on a lot of reading). If you haven’t read Blood Stains, then I suggest you read that before reading Blood Ties just to keep the action in order. I hope that you’ll find them both as enjoyable as I have.

Book 145: DEVIOUS Review

I pulled another book from my personal TBR pile and read Devious by Lisa Jackson. Let me tell you this was a really good, if not great, example of romantic suspense. The action takes place in New Orleans with some familiar detectives at the helm, Montoya and Bentz. As with previous stories involving these members of New Orleans finest, there is some personal interest.


Montoya dated the first murder victim, Camille Renard, back in high school. If that’s not personal enough, his younger brother Cruz dated the lady that found that body. What makes this all the more interesting is that both ladies are now nuns. Camille’s sister, Valerie, is shocked over the murder especially since she knew that Camille was planning on leaving the church due to a pregnancy. What is even more surprising, is that Sister Camille was evidently having a relationship with one of the priests? Is it possible that Father Frank is the murderer? Both the Catholic Church and New Orleans have been hit hard in recent years, but can the Church survive a murder spree of nuns and novitiates that all appear to have had relations with one of its priests? There’s a lot more going on that meets the eye with this story. The heat gets turned up a notch when Cruz Montoya returns to New Orleans and tries to restart a relationship with Sister Lucia. The heat gets even hotter when Valerie’s estranged husband, Slade Houston, shows up on the very night that Camille is murdered. Slade’s presence forces Valerie to re-evaluate her belief in her sister’s word, namely that Slade attempted to seduce her rather than vice versa. (Hard to believe that someone so focused on sex that she’s willing to attempt seducing her brother-in-law wanted to be a nun? Oh yeah, that probably explains her pregnancy and affair with the priest!) Thankfully there’s a diary that reveals almost as much as it hides.


The twists and turns in this story are just as devious as the actions of the murderer. Just when you think you know who the culprit is or where the story is going there’s another unexpected twist to shake things up and keep you guessing. It is for these reasons that I enjoyed reading Devious. If you’re into romantic suspense or just suspense then this is probably a good book for you.

You still have time to enter the Literary Giveaway Blog HopClick here for the entry form and your chance to win a paperback copy of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Coming soon:
I’m reading and will be posting reviews of The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji and The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen as well as another book from my personal TBR pile – Blood Ties by Sharon Sala. Happy reading until then…

Book 144: PHANTOM EVIL Review

Do you believe in ghosts? Maybe you believe that evil, pure evil can transcend human life. Both beliefs are at the core of Phantom Evil by Heather Graham. 


A new team of paranormal investigators, lead by a profiler from the FBI, is sent to New Orleans to investigate the suspicious death of the wife of a state senator. In addition to confronting ghosts and the evil that is inhabiting a local house, these investigators stumble upon corrupt politicians (say it isn’t so), a cult masquerading as a church (oh no), and a racist hate group. I forgot to mention that a local voodoo priestess provides probable insight into the beliefs of the deceased. I also forgot to mention that two of the investigators fall head-over-heels in lust after only 2 days, but I digress. I know it sounds like I didn’t like this book but it was a decent read even with all of the cliches. I personally think it would have been just as good without the lust fest (I couldn’t really call it a romance) between two of the investigators, but that’s just my opinion. All things considered Phantom Evil makes for a pretty good weekend or vacation read.






























The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop starts now... This giveaway is being hosted by Leeswames Blog and will end at midnight Eastern Time on June 29, 2011. I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Both books will be shipped by BookDepository.com and is open internationally. The only restrictions and requirements are these: shipping is strictly limited to those countries BookDepository.com ships to, one entry per person/email address AND following is required. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and posted on June 30, 2011.
To enter, please click here to visit my giveaways page and complete the entry form



Book 143: SILVER GIRL Review

It’s difficult to imagine that anyone in the US hasn’t heard of Bernie Madoff or his Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of people out of billions of dollars. For some people it is still difficult to presume that his wife, Ruth Madoff knew nothing about his business dealings. Ms. Elin Hilderbrand has tackled this very touchy subject in the saga of Meredith and Fred Delinn in Silver Girl


Meredith is a society wife and mother that lived a glamorous life style with multiple homes, cars, etc. Even she is shocked to find out that her husband of nearly 30 years has built his investment firm on false pretenses. Meredith is left with nothing but a few articles of jewelry received from her family, a few personal items (pictures and a record album) and some clothes. She is considered a suspect in her husband’s scheme simply because he asked her to move some funds days prior to his arrest. Meredith is truly lost in New York City, no money, no friends and she can’t even have contact with her children because they are suspects as well. After Fred’s arrest, when she thinks she’s at her lowest, Meredith calls upon her childhood best friend for a rescue, Connie Flute.


Connie is there for Meredith but they have issues to deal with from their past. One of the biggest is that Meredith wasn’t there for Connie when her husband was dying and she never even came to the funeral. But even with that Connie knows that Meredith wouldn’t have called if she didn’t need her, and she takes her to Nantucket to get away from it all. If only life were that easy, there are simply too many people on Nantucket that Meredith’s husband cheated and her refuge becomes anything but when Connie’s house is vandalized and she is confronted by a former “friend” in a local hair salon. Dealing with her husband’s business fraud is one thing, but then it comes out that he was having an affair for over six years with their interior decorator. 


Silver Girl seems to be a story not only about resilience and surviving but about friendship and family. Connie learns that she has problems to confront and she has to move on with her life. She learns to do this with the help of Meredith. Meredith learns that she is more than Mrs. Delinn and she works hard at assisting the investigation into the recovery of funds. Both Connie and Meredith get thrown curves but together they deal and move on. I think that Connie and Meredith’s relationship epitomizes true friendship, a willingness to be there for one another no matter what. This is not a light-hearted read but it was one that I enjoyed even with all of the drama.


Disclaimer: I received copy of this book free for review purposes from the publishers through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 142: WICKED LIES Review

I’m sure most of you realize by now that I enjoy reading. If I don’t read each and every day (even if it’s only a few pages) it feels as if something is missing. The past 5-6 days have been rather rough due to a series of severe migraine headaches that interfered with my day-to-day living as well as my reading. The physical pain was excruciating but not being able to read was almost intolerable. Needless to say when this last headache became bearable with pain medication the first thing I did was read. 


I chose to read from my ever-growing TBR pile and one of the books read was Wicked Lies by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush. I’m so glad I began with this book. It is filled with suspense, romance and drama. Imagine being raised in all-female (namely sisters and an aunt) and rustic environment and leaving for the big city at age 18. Well, that was the life of Laura “Lorelei” Adderley. Now she is dealing with her cheating ex-husband and a deranged killer that’s on the loose. A killer that’s out to finish what he started years earlier . . . killing all of the women from Siren Song, her family’s home. If that’s not enough to deal with, Laura must also contend with an unplanned pregnancy and a burgeoning romance with a reporter, Harrison Frost.


Yes there’s a lot going on in this story (and I didn’t even mention everything) but it all makes a weird kind of sense in the end. Ms. Jackson and Bush have crafted a delightful romantic suspense tale in Wicked Lies. This isn’t a short book but it is definitely worth reading, at least in my opinion.


Book 139: THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES Review

There has been much hype and hoopla written The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen and it is all well deserved in my opinion. Some books that are best sellers in one language and are subsequently translated seem to lose a bit in the translation process. I can only say that if The Keeper of Lost Causes has lost anything in the translation process, good riddance. 


The story begins by introducing Carl Morck, a police investigator. Carl is recovering from a shooting that has seriously injured one of his partners and killed the other. Now that he is back at work, his bad attitude results in no one wanting to work with him. So his bosses promote him to the newly crafted Department Q, a national cold case file department. The intention is anything but a promotion. The hope is to exile and silence Morck until he either retires or quits. Morck is assisted in Department Q by a non-police employee and Syrian refugee, Hafez Al-Assad (even Morck finds it interesting that his assistant has the name of the deceased Syrian President). Initially Morck isn’t very interested in doing much of anything other than biding his time in his basement banishment. Eventually he is forced into picking a case and launches an investigation into the disappearance/murder/suicide/accident of Merete Lynggard.


Ms. Lynggard was a Member of Parliament and she disappeared five years earlier while on a ferry. It is presumed that she was the victim of foul play, accidentally fell overboard, committed suicide or has simply taken off to parts unknown. The few people that know her realize she would never kill herself or take off and leave her disabled brother Uffe behind. Both she and Uffe survived a horrible car accident as young teenagers that took the lives of both of their parents and several occupants of another vehicle. Merete walked away without permanent injury but Uffe suffered brain damage. She has been taking care of Uffe ever since.


The investigation in Merete’s case starts off with little care or consideration by Morck. However, Hafez is quite excited to be participating in a police investigation and prods and pushes to get Morck more involved, primarily by asking questions and providing information. One of the things that kept my attention was the constant switching between Morck and Merete’s points of views. The suspense is allowed to gradually build until the very end. I found the beginning a little slow but after reading a few chapters the pace picks up. The characters are all interesting and have the right amount of quirkiness to make them believable. Although this is slightly longer in length, over 400 pages, it is definitely worth reading. The Keeper of Lost Causes is scheduled to be released on August 18, 2011. If you don’t have this on your TBR list and you enjoy mystery-suspense novels add it. I’m looking forward to getting this in ebook format when it’s released so that I can re-read it.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of this book free for review purposes from BookReporter.com. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book 138: THE FIRST VICTIM Review

Emily Wright was only a teenager when she was kidnaped and sexually molested. Luckily she was able to escape before she was raped. She survived with the help of her friends and moved away as soon as she could. It’s been fifteen years since her abduction and Emily has only returned once, for her mother’s funeral. Now she has to return to the “scene of the crime” because her father has been seriously injured in an accident and someone needs to care for her younger sister Laurie.


To say that Emily has a lot of issues to deal with is a major understatement. Her father was never “understanding” in the best of situations and after her abduction things became even worse. Her mother tried to make the best of a bad situation but was limited in what she could do. Emily accepts that her sister is an innocent bystander in all of the family drama, so she returns for Laurie’s sake. She also has the opportunity to rekindle her friendship and possible romance with Bailey O’Neil. Meanwhile Bailey is dealing with his own family drama saga. Bailey has had to take over as acting sheriff because his father, the former sheriff, has just been killed in a car accident. He also has to deal with a contentious grandmother, planning his father’s funeral and a murder investigation. Just when Emily thinks things may not be so bad she discovers a murdered body left in front of her family’s home. The Baby Doll killer, a known serial killer, is in her hometown. The investigation reveals that Emily may have been this killer’s first victim many years ago and he is now targeting her again.


Ms. Lynn has filled The First Victim with mystery, intrigue and suspense with a touch of romance. Just when you think you know where the story is going, it takes a twist that you never saw coming. Some of these twists are action oriented and others are emotional, which I felt just added to the story. There was just enough romance, mystery, drama and suspense to keep me interested until the final page. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”