Nineteenth century Japan is an era most equate with the end of an era. Japan saw the end of the shogun and samurai as it became open to the West. Although it was the end of many cultural practices and traditions, many beautiful artisans were introduced to the West. One such artist was Hokusai. The Printmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Govier is a fictional account of the lives of Hokusai and his daughter Ei.

Ei Katsushika was the third daughter of Hokusai Katsushika. Ei appears to the much-loved daughter of Hokusai at the beginning of this story. Her father takes her with him around town and affords her freedom that her other sisters never knew. She befriends other artists, poets and even prostitutes in the town of Edo. As she ages, she becomes an indispensable assistant to her father, helping mix paint colors, even working on some of his pictures. In many respects Ei is a free woman in an era when women were never afforded much freedom. She marries, divorces, takes lovers, and assists her father in his work while never learning any of the so-called womanly arts of cooking, making tea, sewing, or even cleaning. 

Ms. Govier paints a picture of Ei that is often tragic yet filled with wonder. Although Ei has freedom that many Japanese women never experienced during this time period, she remains tied to her father. She puts up with his verbal abuse and has her art demeaned and belittled. As her father ages and becomes either incapable or unwilling to paint, Ei takes over and continues his school and even paints many pictures that are ultimately attributed to Hokusai (some intentionally). Although Hokusai is the best-known print maker of his time, he and Ei lived in virtual poverty much of their lives. Ei’s life seemed to come to an abrupt stop when Hokusai finally died. It isn’t until she reunites with a former prostitute turned nun – Shino, that she learns to placate society and her family while continuing to do what she wants until her death.

The Printmaker’s Daughter is at times hauntingly beautiful in bringing the lives of Ei, Shino and Hokusai to life. There were also times the story seemed sluggish, as a result I found myself having to put the book down because my attention kept wavering as I tried to read. It wasn’t until the latter portion of Ei’s life is portrayed after Hokusai’s death that the story truly became interesting for me. Don’t get me wrong, The Printmaker’s Daughter is a beautiful fictional account of Ei and Hokusai. This is a well-written and well-researched book with well-developed characters and settings. Sadly I found the research discussion at the end of the book more captivating than most of the fictional story. 

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.”

And The Winner Is…

The Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop has ended. Once again I want to thank I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and All-Consuming Books for hosting this blog hop. Thank you to everyone that stopped by and entered. 

The winner of the gently used Sony PRS-600 Touch ereader and accessories is: Candie L. Congratulations Candie! Candie has been notified via email. I hope that she’ll enjoy this ereader as much as I did.

Book 254: FLIGHT OF SHADOWS Review

Caitlyn Brown is not a typical young woman. She thought that she was deformed but has learned that she has been genetically modified. This modification allows her to extend and retract wings. Although she has made it “outside” she knows that she won’t be safe as long as the government is still hunting her. Flight of Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer continues Caitlyn’s quest for truth and help.

Flight of Shadows begins with Caitlyn working the night shift at a hotel in what was formerly known as Washington, D.C. This is now a walled city-state and only the “Industrials” (workers with minimal human and society rights usually sporting facial barcodes) and the “Influentials” (extremely wealthy) are found inside. What should have been a routine room cleaning becomes an attempt at subjugation and possible rape and results in proof of Caitlyn’s physical modification.

Unfortunately Caitlyn is on her own in the city and she is still being hunted by Casper Pierce (a National Intelligence or NI agent) and Mason Lee (a bounty hunter from Appalachia). Caitlyn knows that they don’t necessarily want her alive, they just want to harvest her eggs and possibly some blood. Her genetic modification is much more than just having wings, but only a few people are aware of how different she is compared to other “experiments.”

Theo and Billy are outside the city walls, working in a smelting factory and living in a soovie park. Apparently since cars are only owned and used by the “influentials,” the “illegals” (workers or refugees without rights) are residing in cannibalized SUVs, vans and minivans in soovie park ghettos. There’s no electricity in most “soovies” and running water is hard to find.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the sick are always at the mercy of “death doctors” that euthanize the ill and dying while hoards surround the occupied soovie to scavenge the dead’s property.

Although Caitlyn suffers greatly, she is fortunate to come across people always willing to help her. In Broken Angel she had Billy and Theo, and now she has Razer, a wealthy street-smart kid that helps her hide and escape detection by the NI. Flight of Shadows reveals more about Billy and Theo and spends a little more time discussing their trials while waiting to reconnect with Caitlyn. Mason Lee is still a bad guy on the hunt for Caitlyn, Billy and Theo. He also hopes to get revenge against Pierce for breaking his arm, forcing him to run and the suffering he incurred as a result of his run from Appalachia. 

The caste-like society is more prevalent in Flight of Shadows, and the disparity between the have and have-nots is highly visible. Although the city-states don’t govern as tightly as the religious leadership in Appalachia, the rules regarding the various castes are just as rigid and unjust. And like most societies, past and present, those with money are allowed to abuse the system at will. This dystopian future is shocking and abhorrent but regrettably one is able to see the seeds of this future being sown by present actions. Caitlyn does escape in the end and is joyfully united with her father, Billy and Theo. The program that created her is destroyed but will its destruction be permanent or is the government just biding its time before they begin again? Although Flight of Shadows is filled with abject poverty and grave injustices, it ends with hope and a sense of purpose. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. 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 253: BROKEN ANGEL Review

Imagine a world in the not too distant future, with a truly dystopian big-brother-is-watching type of society. Add in a caste-like system in the new city-states in the United States, and a government sponsored, human genetic manipulation program. Now imagine that there is a sovereign theocratic “country” bordered by these city-states and you get just a hint of the setting for Broken Angel by Sigmund Brouwer.

Broken Angel is the first in the Caitlyn Brown series and focuses on the life of a young girl. Caitlyn knows that she is different and honestly believes this difference is due to her physical deformities. Her father, Jordan, has kept her relatively isolated but knows that she must venture “outside” Appalachia to receive the medical assistance she requires. The only things that can potentially stop their escape to “the outside” are the bounty hunters on their trail. Jordan forces Caitlyn to run by herself, hoping that she’ll stick to the map he’s provided and his instructions. He hopes to lay a false trail giving her time to get as far away as possible.

After Jordan is captured, Sheriff Mitch Carney acknowledges that all is not as it should be in his small town. People are required to carry vidpods (presumably similar to iPods) at all times to receive special notices and bulletins from their leader, Bar Elohim. Each town in Appalachia is limited in size to three thousand people, because smaller towns are easier to control. Cars are few and far between due to government fuel rationing. In addition, cars are equipped with monitoring devices so that the religious leadership can determine where a vehicle has been and/or monitor all conversations. There are no phones, no televisions and no contact with the outside. There is a death penalty for reading, owning books or teaching others to read. Horses and some people are chipped so that the leadership knows where they are or can track their movements.

Casper Pierce is a government agent from the outside sent into Appalachia to capture Caitlyn. He is assisted by a local bounty hunter and thug, Mason Lee. Pierce and Lee don’t get along at all and the situation is exasperated when Pierce intentionally injures Lee to make a point.

Deputy Billy Jasper has always done as told and the leadership told him to begin working as a deputy. He doesn’t know why exactly but goes with the flow. Unfortunately Billy gets caught between Caitlyn and some bounty hunters and reluctantly joins her in her quest to reach the “outside.” Theo is another runaway, a visually impaired, that is running from the harsh treatment received as part of his sentence to work in the factory. Billy, Theo and Caitlyn make for an unlikely trio but it works. Their fight to survive and elude the bounty hunters forges a strong bond of friendship and trust.

The idea of genetic modification is hinted at throughout the story, but I felt that the primary focus was on providing the groundwork for the next installment in this series. Broken Angel is a well-crafted dystopian read that openly discusses the problems with religion as a force majeure. The characters are all well developed. It’s difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys for a while but it is important to take each person at face value because circumstances change rapidly and someone that might start off in a bad light becomes heroic. There’s a lot going on in this story and the subplots often overlap, but this never causes any confusion. Broken Angel starts a little slow but quickly picked up and kept me engaged until the end. Thankfully I was able to immediately begin reading the next installment in this series, Shadow of Flight.

Weekend Ramblings 7

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

I consider myself quite fortunate that I receive requests to read books by authors I’d probably overlook. Most of these indie authors have provided me with great books. There are some books that are, shall we say, lacking… These books aren’t necessarily lacking in plot or writing but perhaps lacking in editing and proofreading. Even with these deficiencies I’ve enjoyed reading the books. Finally, there are those books that I’ve either not been able to finish or simply could not provide a review without being brutal. Regrettably these are books that seem to be lacking in plot, character development, editing, and proofreading…in otherwise simply bad writing. These are books that I may finish, but usually not, and I wind up sending an email to the author stating why I can’t provide a review. 

Now lest you think I’m picking on indie authors, let me assure you that I’ve come across the bad and the ugly in mainstream publishing as well. Although I receive books from mainstream publishers to review, the bad and ugly aren’t limited to these advanced reader copies. I’ve often paid good money for ebooks that are literally garbage. In most instances a mainstream publisher will try to make good on a bad digital copy, but in a few cases the problem wasn’t a bad digital copy but simply bad writing coupled with poor editing and nonexistent proofreading. I guess this just proves that even a good author can have an off period with writing that isn’t quite up to par.

Reading Habits

I’ve been doing quite a lot of reading lately, most of it for review purposes although I’ve been able to get some personal reading in as well. I received the book Flight of Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer and decided since this was book two in a series I would read the first book, Broken Angel. My review for Flight of Shadows will post shortly, but let me tell you these books are pretty interesting dystopian reading that also tackle the topic of genetic modification. I was especially intrigued since much of the action takes place in Appalachia. I was finally able to get to Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens. I wasn’t sure if I liked this story through the first 50-75 pages, but I kept reading and I’m glad I did. This story packs quite a punch. I started on The Printmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Gouvier yesterday and decided to put this on hold for a day and re-read some older Nora Roberts titles: Honest Illusions and Private Scandals. I consider these light reading after the heavy topics the previous books presented. 

Giveaway Notes

Many of you have remarked upon the gratitude giveaway of an ereader. I was in a quandary as to what to give to show my gratitude not only to my followers (new and old), but also just show my appreciation to my fellow book lovers. Since I had upgraded to the B&N NookColor earlier this year, I found that I wasn’t using my Sony Touch ereader as much. I know, I could have sold the ereader on eBay but I wanted to know that it would be going to a good home. I presume that if you are following book review blogs then you must be a pretty dedicated reader, so a dedicated reader equals a good home.

Thanks to everyone that has stopped by and entered the giveaway. I hope you are all having a great weekend. Take a minute and share what you’re reading.

Happy reading!

Gratitude Giveaway

I am pleased to announce that The Book Diva’s Reads is participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop sponsored by I Am a Reader Not a Writer and All-Consuming Books

This Giveaway runs from November 17th through November 27th. The winner will be chosen using and announced on November 28th.

The prize: one gently and lovingly used red Sony PRS-600 Touch ereader (this is a second generation touch ereader by Sony and is approximately 3 years old but in great working condition), complete with a purple leather case, neoprene sleeve, AC power adapter, USB adapter (for side-loading books and/or charging), one 4 GB Sandisk Memory Stick Pro, one 8 GB PNY SD Memory Card, and one ereader book light. This ereader accepts the following formats: EPUB, Adobe Digital Editions PDF, regular PDF, and Microsoft Word *.doc files. Ebooks can be purchased via the Sony Reader Store or at other online ebook stores including Google, Books On Board, Diesel eBooks, Kobo and more… This ereader also allows access to ebooks (EPUB or PDF format) available from many public libraries.

Please click here to enter. (You must complete the official entry form in order to be considered for this prize.) Only one entry per name/email address. Duplicate entries will result in disqualification. Following is not required but greatly appreciated.

Book 240: CRAZY IN PARADISE Review

Crazy in Paradise by Deborah Brown presents Madison Westin as a recent divorcee trying to get her life back on track. When her aunt dies, she learns that she has been left her aunt’s home and a beachfront motel in Tarpon Cove, Florida. The good news is that she feels comfortable relocating to Florida and taking over the property management. The bad news is that the estate lawyer and current property management don’t want her involved in the management of the motel. 

Things in Tarpon Cove aren’t what they appear to be, and Madison quickly becomes suspicious about the estate attorney’s behavior, to say nothing of the onsite property manager. Both are acting as if she is an intruder rather than the property owner and refuse to cooperate with her desire to know more about the tenants or the property. If that isn’t bad enough, Madison discovers a hunky guy, a bleeding hunky guy, at her aunt’s house after the funeral. Zach Lazarro is a private investigator and was a friend of her aunt Elizabeth. He wasn’t aware of her death and came seeking first aid. He winds up staying for a few days to recuperate.

Madison has a lot to deal with, including what appears to be an unscrupulous attorney and property manager. If that wasn’t bad enough, she also must contend with Zach and his family drama issues.

Crazy in Paradise is a fast romantic suspense read, which regrettably I found to be somewhat lacking in both romance and suspense. To be fair, Zach and Madison struggle to find common ground and build on their attraction. The action of the bad guys is expected and therefore isn’t mysterious and there doesn’t seem to be any suspense involved when everything is expected. Having said that, and again in all fairness, this isn’t a bad read. The action may be somewhat expected and the characters perhaps not as fully developed as possible, but Crazy in Paradise is still a decent read.

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.”

Guest Post: Author Erik Hanberg

I am pleased to be able to provide you with the following guest post by the author of The Saints Go Dying and The Marinara Murders, Erik Hanberg.

Why would a city government ever own a restaurant? In 2002, in my hometown of Tacoma, our city found itself in that unusual situation.

It started when the city government was clearing a block of old buildings downtown to make way for a new convention center, and they paid each business to move elsewhere.

One of those long-time businesses, Bimbo’s of Tacoma (really, that was its name) was famous for its meat sauce, with a secret recipe no one knew.

The owner of Bimbo’s decided part way through the process that instead of letting the city move him, he would just rather take the money they would have spent moving him and retire.

The City paid him and suddenly found itself in position of all the assets of the restaurant—the equipment, the pots, and the secret recipe to the meat sauce.

I don’t want to give away much more, but when the real world hands you such a rich story to start with, I knew I had a great story for The Marinara Murders, which—nine years later—I’m happy to say is finally available.

The Marinara Murders: A grown man living in his mother’s basement, disgraced detective Arthur Beautyman knows his life has fallen off a cliff. But that doesn’t mean he has to be happy about his mother’s solution to his woes: volunteering him to solve a case for her favorite bridge partner. Oh, and to make matters worse, she wants to be his partner on the case as well …

Erik Hanberg blogs at and is on twitter at @erikhanberg. He is an elected official, serving as a commissioner with the Metro Parks Tacoma.


Arthur Beautyman is back (Arthur made his initial appearance in The Saint’s Go Dying). Unfortunately he’s no longer a police officer. Arthur is living in the basement of his mother’s house in Minneapolis. For six months he has felt sorry for himself and done basically nothing. But now he’s been forced to accept a case as a private investigator on behalf of one his mother’s friends in The Marinara Murders by Erik Hanberg.

Fortunately for Arthur this is not a typical case. Mrs. Diamond doesn’t want Arthur to find a murderer; she only wants to discover where her grandson has been for the past three years. Why is this so important? Because her grandson was declared dead three years ago but his body only recently discovered revealing he had just died. Arthur doesn’t want to disappoint his mother so he accepts the case. What follows is a wild and topsy-turvy but fast-paced ride along with Arthur as he investigates Jakes’ disappearance. Little does Arthur know that this investigation will place him in dangerous situations and reveal more intrigue and possible murders from the past.

Arthur is slightly more comical, not as obsessed, and just a tad more likeable in The Marinara Murders. Seeing him work with and around his mother is at times funny as well as sad. The cast of characters in The Marinara Murders is eclectic to say the least, and includes the Diamond family (can we say dysfunctional), Detective Holst, members of Hmong community and more. This was a quick, but great read filled with a little humor, some drama and plenty of suspense. The Marinara Murders has just been released, so don’t hesitate to get a copy today . . . you will not be disappointed.

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 236: DEVIL’S HARVEST Review

(SPOILER ALERT: This review contains possible spoiler information.)

Taryn Hayes is a dedicated surgical resident. She knows that she is learning from the best, although his personality leaves a lot to be desired. While working late one evening, Taryn discovers Dr. Blackwell’s body. She also discovers a needle-mark in a suspicious location and calls the police. Even though she called in the police, she quickly becomes the prime suspect in Devil’s Harvest by Margery Scott.

Taryn didn’t particularly like Dr. Blackwell, but she respected his abilities as a surgeon. She also knows that there is someone else that was there the night Dr. Blackwell’s body was discovered – Luke Dawson. Although Luke’s appearance was suspicious, and he kind of-sort of kidnapped her afterwards, she believes him when he says he found the body just before her. It doesn’t help that he attempts to blackmail her by saying he heard her argument with Blackwell and as a result she could remain the prime suspect. When Taryn is placed on a suspension, she knows that she’ll have to find the answers to what happened to Blackwell herself. Fortunately, Luke is trying to find answers himself. He’s a private investigator from Texas and trying to find the answers behind the death of a friend’s daughter.

Taryn’s inquiries and Luke’s investigations take them to a private medical clinic where numerous unexplained deaths occurred. Although Blackwell is a surgeon, he isn’t a plastic surgeon so why would his patients be listed as having plastic surgical procedures? The more Taryn and Luke learn the more they come to realize that healthy people are being systematically murdered in order to retrieve their healthy organs. Can Taryn and Luke expose these illegal procedures before their lives are endangered?

Devil’s Harvest is a quick romantic suspense read, although at times it felt as if it was both light on romance and suspense. The characters are reasonably realistic and moderately well-developed. There was just something about the story that didn’t do it for me. This isn’t a bad read, it just wasn’t a wholly memorable read for me.

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.”