Weekend Ramblings 5

This has been a somewhat hectic week with six books read so far, four reviews posted and two more to come. The weekend appears it will be just as busy with five books to read and review by Tuesday. Whew! I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Reviews will be posting soon on Jane and the Damned and Blood Persuasion, books one and two in the Immortal Jane Austen series by Janet Mullany.



I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural meeting of the Charleston Town Center Mall Book Group this past Wednesday. The CTC Mall Book Group is co-sponsored by the Kanawha County Public Library and will meet the last Wednesday of each month in the Community Room at Panera in the mall. September’s read was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The discussion was quite interesting and I loved the different perspectives gained from other readers, especially when we compared the book to the movie. If you reside in or near Charleston WV, please join us on Wednesday October 26th from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM as we discuss Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Good food, great books and companions…what more can you ask for?





In recognition of Banned Books Week (ends this Saturday, October 1st), I’ll be rereading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is one story that I simply enjoy reading over and over again. 




My weekend reads will also include: Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills, Girl in Shades by Allison Baggio, Seers by Heather Frost, The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian and The Third Q by Arnold Francis. Upcoming reads include: Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress, Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez and A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres. The next few weeks are going to be busy.

What are you reading or preparing to read for the weekend? 



Book 209: REVERB Review

James had a relatively happy childhood with plenty of loving memories of his mother and step-father. His parents nurtured his musical talents. Music became his escape after his mom and step-father’s death and then became his life. What follows is an odyssey into self-discovery filled with suspense and romance in Reverb by J. Cafesin.

James has never been close to his father or half-brother, even though he lived with them after his mother and step-father’s deaths. He left his father’s home in the UK as soon as he could in order to explore his musical talents and work the way he wanted. He has built a successful career as a composer and musician, but he knows that he’s living life on the edge. He slows down just enough to attend his half-brother’s funeral. However, his father suspects that he is abusing drugs just like his brother and may wind up dead. In an effort to “save” his son, he plants drugs on him and arranges for him to be arrested at the airport and sent to a rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately this was possibly the worst thing he could have done. James is attacked in the rehab facility. He fights back to defend his own life and winds up taking a life. Again an unfortunate turn of events because this was the son of a judge, who in turn sentences James to a mental hospital. James spends two years being tortured and abused before escaping, leaving the UK and returning to the US. He eventually makes it to the Greek island of Corfu where he plans to live a life of solitude and simplicity.

Elizabeth is a young widow with a young son. Her husband was killed in Israel. She knows she could return to the US and the support of her family but she escapes and winds up on Corfu, renting a cottage on property owned by James. Elizabeth and her son Cameron wind up coaxing James from his shell and help him to overcome some of the psychological scars that remain from his incarceration. Elizabeth has her own psychological battles to overcome as she struggles to reconcile her past with her present, focusing on Cameron and James. Can James and Elizabeth build a new life together and will the ghosts from their pasts continue to haunt them? Will James ever truly be free since he is considered an escapee?

Ms. Cafesin provides a fast-paced psychological thriller with a hint of romance in Reverb. James has lead a pretty selfish and insular existence even though he was an acclaimed composer and musician. Elizabeth wasn’t so much selfish as she was a follower, subjugating her desires and needs for those of her deceased husband. Although she is selfless in wanting what is best for her son, she has also come to realize that she needs to focus on herself in order to be a better parent to Cameron. Both Elizabeth and James cause a rebound or reset in one another’s lives, and that is precisely the meaning of the term reverb in its purest sense.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. 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 208: THE BREVITY OF ROSES Review

Jalal Vaziri has spent his life running away from his problems. He left his parents and siblings in Seattle, moving cross-country to New York to escape family pressure to join the family business. He then leaves New York and moved to California when he decided he didn’t like his job and where his life was heading. The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis explores Jalal’s motivations and shows that you can’t run away from love or reality no matter how hard you try.

When we first meet Jalal he is hung over in NYC and wondering why he’s continuing down such a destructive path. He doesn’t like his job or where he’s heading so he drives cross-country to California and focuses on his more artistic side as a poet. Jalal knows, or thinks he knows, that he’s a disappointment to his father so he keeps his visits to family as brief and far apart as possible. He also knows that although he is content with his life he isn’t really happy until he walks into a restaurant and meets a woman.

Meredith is an older woman and a widow. She immediately notices Jalal as he enters the restaurant and stares, although she felt she was being circumspect in her observations. What follows is a whirlwind romance with Jalal all but moving in to her home. He cooks for her, he pampers her and she adores him. She even teaches him about gardening and tending her beloved roses. Their relationship has its ups and downs but eventually they marry and have several wonderful years together.

Jalal doesn’t seem to recover from the loss of Meredith and seems to marking time only, until he meets Renee. Renee is a younger woman with an old soul. She has been through a lot in her young years and has a unique perspective on life. As she and Jalal build a friendship, she forces Jalal to revive and rejoin the human race. Can she force Jalal to see that just as the life of roses is brief, so can opportunities to enjoy life and love before it is too late?

Ms. Lewis has provided a tender and thought-provoking look at life, chance, and love. Jalal seems to spend his time presuming what motivates others and often getting it wrong. As an older woman, Meredith was able to change his point of view on some things. As the younger woman, Renee is able to change his point of view on other things, most likely because of her youth, vibrancy and life experiences. Perhaps the primary thought underscored in The Brevity of Roses is don’t assume anything, enjoy life and love wherever you may find it, because you never know when it may be gone. Although romance is at the forefront of this story it provides so much more, because in many ways it is a coming of age story for Jalal. The reader is afforded the opportunity to see him grow and develop from a man in his early thirties to age forty. Yes, in some ways he is overly spoiled, but he isn’t obnoxiously spoiled just incredibly naive in some ways. I enjoyed seeing him grow and the different dynamics of his relationships with Meredith and Renee. (To read chapter one and two of this book, please visit the author’s website at: http://lindacassidylewis.com/brevity-of-roses/)

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. 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 206: TWILIGHT FULFILLED Review

The father of the vampire race has been resurrected with the hopes that he’ll be able to save the vahmpeers or vampires. But Utanapushtim, or Utana – an ancient Sumerian king, has been buried for five thousand years and believes that if he kills all of the vampires he’ll finally be able to rest and end the punishment of the gods. The only thing standing in his way is Brigit Poe in Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne.


Brigit has grown up believing that her gift reflects her dark nature and is destructive. She is able to kill with laser-like precision. Her twin brother James or J.W. has been gifted with healing. But James can no longer heal because after raising Utana, his gift of healing was absorbed by Utana. Since both Brigit and James aren’t wholly human nor wholly vampire, they don’t suffer many of the same limitations as true vampires. Brigit is off to hunt down Utana and kill him in order to save the few remaining vampires in the US. 

Utana has a lot to learn about this modern world. He also has a lot to learn about modern women. Brigit impresses him with her skills and fortitude. Brigit also has a lot to learn about Utana. She comes to understand that he is not the bogeyman her people believe him to be. She also knows that he is being used by the government in their efforts to eradicate the vampire problem. If that isn’t enough to deal with, the government is also secretly holding all of “the chosen” (those with the Belladonna antigen in their blood and capable of becoming vampire) hostage in a secure, central location under the guise of protecting them from harm. Both Utana and Brigit realize that this is an elaborate trap to attract the remaining vampires and kill them all at once. Will she and Utana be able to stop the government before it’s too late? Will she be able to convince the remaining vampires that Utana isn’t their enemy before they carry out their plan to bury him again?

When I first started reading Twilight Fulfilled, I immediately thought “oh no, another vampire series.” Admittedly I hadn’t read any of the preceding books but I had grown weary of the entire vampire-paranormal scenario. Although Twilight Fulfilled used elements seen in other stories (the Blade III movie sees the father of vampires being resurrected with hopes of saving if not strengthening the vampire race), the story reads as original and refreshing. Brigit is a strong and formidable woman with a certain frailty that she fights hard to shield. Brigit and Utana complement one another as a couple and help each other overcome their weaknesses and shortsightedness. I’m sure reading the previous books in this series may have helped to better understand the vampire family dynamics, but it is possible to read this without any prior series knowledge. Ms. Shayne has provided a fast-paced, paranormal romance that enchants from beginning to end.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from 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 205: BLOOD TRAILS Review

Three women raised as sisters find out after their father has died that he isn’t their biological father and they aren’t biologically related. These sisters of the heart each begin a quest to reveal their true biological origins in Sharon Sala’s “The Searchers Trilogy.” Blood Trails is Holly’s tale and the third and final story in this series.


Holly’s sisters Maria and Savannah were quick to go off on their searches for their biological parents. Maria’s quest took her to Oklahoma and united her with police detective Bodie Scott. Savannah’s quest took her to Florida where she discovers her father was murdered and that she’s an heiress to millions. Holly stayed on the ranch in Montana and worried about her sisters and their searches. She also realizes that she must go off on her own search even though information points to her biological father being a serial murderer. Holly is reluctant to leave the safety of the ranch and the attention of the ranch foreman, Bud Tate, but sets off on her quest for the truth.

All three sisters are endangered by their quests and lives as it becomes obvious that their mothers had plenty to shield them from, thus the reason they were given to Andrew Slade. Apparently Andrew was a respectable man, known only to the mothers as a traveling preacher and it was this man that they all came to accept as their father. Unlike Maria and Savannah, Holly knows who her biological parents are but she doesn’t know what became of her mother. Regrettably, just like Maria and Savannah, she unwittingly unleashes trouble. Fortunately she has Bud to help her, but can he keep her alive? 

Blood Trails is a fast-paced romantic suspense read. Ms. Sala does an excellent job of overlapping the stories of the three sisters while keeping their individual stories at the forefront. Although there is a sense of mystery and suspense to the story, the action is all too predictable. The characters are likeable enough but aren’t fully developed. However, if you want a quick read with a touch of suspense and a bit of romance then this will not disappoint.
Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from 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 204: WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE

Taylor Jackson is more than a police officer. But being not only an officer but a leader has become more to her than she realizes. Taylor faces her inner demons while recuperating from a recent gunshot wound in Where All the Dead Lie by J. T. Ellison.

Taylor is almost completely recuperated from her physical trauma, but emotionally she is still wounded. She experiences guilt and shame that she wasn’t there in time to save her friend from the torture that resulted in her miscarriage. She bears guilt that she couldn’t foresee that the last madman she hunted, The Pretender, would dare go after her friends and coworkers. Taylor is also feeling quite a bit of anger and jealousy after finding out that her fiancé, John Baldwin, fathered a child with one of his former coworkers. Admittedly the child was put up for adoption and John was never notified of the pregnancy or birth, but Taylor resents the mere idea that he slept with that woman. Now when she is at her most vulnerable, she is unable to even voice her anger, shame or sorry. Is it just post-traumatic stress disorder that has taken her voice away or is it much more?

In an effort to deal with her swirling emotions, Taylor knows she must get away for a while. Enter James “Memphis” Highsmythe with an offer for Taylor to visit his ancestral home in Scotland. He assures her that he will not be in residence and that she can continue her recent therapy with a family friend’s wife. Taylor knows that Memphis has a “thing” for her and their flirtation has been benign up til now, but will it continue to be benign given her current emotions? Taylor goes off with, more or less, John’s blessings, to Scotland to rest and fully recuperate. But has she gone from the frying pan into the fire? While she deals with her inner demons, she fears that she is losing touch with reality. Can Taylor handle the demons of her past while fighting the demons in her present? Are these present demons a figment of her imagination or is she once again in danger?

Ms. Ellison has presented a somewhat softer and definitely more fragile and introspective Taylor Jackson in Where All the Dead Lie. I felt true sympathy for all that she is going through but has difficulty giving voice to as she heals. Taylor relies more on John because of her injuries while she also tries to push him away. She knows that she loves him, but she has that twinge of jealousy over his previous “relationship.” She is also conflicted over her emotional attachment to Memphis. The conflicts in this story are at the forefront of each relationship Taylor must reflect upon and deal with: her friendship with Sam, her romance with John, and her friendship/flirtation with Memphis. I’m glad to report that the kick-butt, take charge Taylor emerges at the end. She has suffered unimaginable horrors, physically and emotionally, and emerged a stronger person. Ms. Ellison provides a series that gets better with each installment, and Where All the Dead Lie is no exception. This is a great fast-paced suspense read.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from 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.”

Weekend Ramblings 4

I know I’ve been a little slow in posting lately but sadly I suffer from chronic migraine headaches. These headaches interfere greatly with my vision and therefore with reading (and writing). For the millions of migraine sufferers out there I feel your pain and empathize with you. 


Today is the 267th day of the year and I’m on migraine #275. Generally I try not to let my headaches slow me down too much, but this week has been unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, the pain is often unbelievable and the only thing I can do is rest and pray that it ends soon, but I’m not seeking sympathy because there are millions of people suffering worse than I can imagine. I’m only telling you this because periodically I may fall behind in my reviews and posts and you deserve to know why.


Now on to more pleasant things…


For those of you in the Washington D.C./Baltimore MD areas you have a double treat this weekend. Of course this is the weekend of the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Library of Congress. According to the Library of Congress website, this year will feature more than 100 authors including: David McCullough, Russell Banks, Amy Chua, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Garrison Keillor, David McCullough, Terry McMillan, Siddhartha Mukherjee and Toni Morrison. For a full list of authors appearing, visit the Library of Congress at: http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/authors/.


Baltimore is also hosting a book festival this weekend. More information is available at: http://www.baltimorebookfestival.com/.  Authors presenting during this festival include: Common, Myla Goldberg, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Terry McMillan, Erin Morgenstern, Tavis Smiley, Lisa Unger and Laura Lippman.


Regrettably I’m unable to attend either of these festivals this year, but hope to make one or both next year. Have you attended a local or regional book fair/festival this year? Is there a book fair/festival coming up that you’re looking forward to attending? If so, please share. 


Personally there are two festivals happening on the same weekend in one month that I’m looking forward to attending. The first is in Cincinnati Ohio, the Books by the Banks festival scheduled for Saturday October 22nd. A variety of authors will be available including: Chris Bohjalian, Judy Clemens, JT Ellison, Dennis Lehane, Paula McLain and Martha Southgate. For a complete list of authors, please visit: http://booksbythebanks.org/authors2011.php. The second is the West Virginia Book Festival, scheduled for October 22-23 in Charleston, West Virginia. This year’s festival will feature presentations by: Lee Child, Jaimy Gordon, Deve Pelzer, Bonnie Stewart, and Jerry West.


I’ll be posting reviews soon of Where All the Dead Lie by J. T. Ellison, Blood Trails by Sharon Sala, and Red Fox by Karina Halle within the next few days. Upcoming reads include Reverb by J. Cafesin, Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne, The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy, and Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany. 


Last, and by no means, least, today is the beginning of Banned Books Week (September 24 – October 1). Like many readers, I may not appreciate some books but that doesn’t mean that I have the right to tell others they can’t read it. For a list of frequently challenged books, please visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/21stcenturychallenged/index.cfm. You may be surprised at the titles that made this list. Please plan to read at least one title from this list of books this week. I may be revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

www.ala.org/bbooks





I hope you all have a pleasant weekend and happy reading.

Book 203: THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN IN THE MOVIES Review

What happens when you take an independently wealthy man with no job experience and a love of classic detective movies? You get Reed Ferguson in This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies by Renee Pawlish.


Reed is in his early thirties and although he was educated to be an attorney, he has never kept a job for long. It doesn’t help that he has just enough inheritance monies that he doesn’t really need to work. Reed is also an avid classic noir detective movie fan. After helping his father’s friend with a small investigation he decides to hang his shingle and open a private detective office. It helps that in Colorado one isn’t required to be licensed. What would any classic detective movie be without the endangered femme fatale? Enter Amanda Ghering with a sob story about her missing husband. Quickly Reed learns that life doesn’t mimic the film arts and he acknowledges he doesn’t have a clue about what he’s doing. He also quickly learns that Amanda has lied to him and there is a lot more to her “missing husband” story than initially thought. A cat-and-mouse game quickly follows between Reed, Amanda, the faux FBI, the real FBI and the nefarious and a secretive group known as the X Women.


In a lot of ways this is a coming-of-age story mixed with a mystery and filled with dark humor. Reed has never had to grow up and assume much responsibility, but now he becomes responsible for the lives of a friend, his family, and his client as well as himself. This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies isn’t a typical mystery/detective story and that makes it rather refreshing. It is precisely because Reed doesn’t know what he’s doing, makes several mistakes along the way, but grows as an individual and professional that made me want to continue reading to see what’s going to happen next. I laughed, I cringed and I enjoyed this fast-paced mystery. I look forward to reading more about Reed Ferguson’s shenanigans in the future. This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies is available as an ebook from Smashwords and Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. 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 202: LOVE AT ABSOLUTE ZERO Review

Is it possible to use science to explain and find love? And if it’s possible, can the love and the researcher survive? Physicist Gunnar Gunderson is on a quest to determine the answers to these questions in Love At Absolute Zero by Christopher Meeks.


In many ways Gunnar is very naive about love and relationships. At age 32 he’s only been in one serious relationship and that was broken off by his girlfriend. After receiving tenure he has decided the next logical step is to have a wife and he’s determined to go about this is a logical manner using the Scientific method to aid him on his quest. What follows are a series of sad but comical incidents. Gunnar is told the gap in his front teeth may be off-putting so he decides on braces, after having his teeth whitened. The naivety comes into play with his expectation that his teeth will be straightened in just a few days because he’s given himself a deadline of three days to find love and a wife. He then tries speed-dating and misunderstands what women want and is in turn misunderstood. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on one’s point of view, Gunnar does find someone and falls in love. The only problem is that the love of his life is only visiting from Denmark and must return home. The solution is for Gunnar to follow her and follow her he does after a few months. The only thing missing is a sidekick a la Lucy and Ethel from the I Love Lucy show for the comedy and tragedy to be complete. 


Gunnar seems to be a mix of the absent-minded professor and Lucy. He is an extremely likeable, if not lovable, character that is looking for love in the wrong places. It isn’t until near-tragedy strikes and Gunnar is faced with the possible death of his mother that he realizes that companionship and love was right in front of his face. Love At Absolute Zero is a fun read albeit one that gets bogged down at times by the scientific discussions.  

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from LibraryThing 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.”

I LOVED YOU FIRST Giveaway Winner

The winner of the I Loved You First digital swag package is Diana Giote. Congratulations Diana! Diana has been notified by email. 





Thanks to all entrants. If you didn’t win and you want your own digital copy of I Loved You First, then purchases can be made at any of the following online sites: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.


I hope you’ll return as more giveaways are coming in the next few weeks.