"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review of promises, promises

promises, promises
Erica James
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402257865

   Maggie Storm spends her days cleaning houses for people who have more money then they have sense or manners. She just longs for a man to sweep her off her feet and tell her she is beautiful. Instead she is married to a man who has as much sex appeal as a toadstool. Not only does she have to put up with "Mr. Blobby;" she has his miserable, mean-spirited mother to contend with. She is bound and determined to start standing up for herself.
   Ella Moore is an artistic interior designer who promises herself that a relationship with a man will not derail her life again. She has spent seven years of her life with a man who allowed his daughter to completely role his life. It eventually destroyed the life that Ella thought they may have. Enter Ethan Edwards. Ethan is a repeat offender when it comes to the opposite sex. He uses women to provide consolation for his loveless marriage to a rich, spoiled, bitchy woman. When Ethan meets Ella, he wants something he never had before. A friend he can confide in. Can a man and woman truly have a friendly, non-sexual relationship?
   Erica James weaves a masterful tale of three very different people into a wonderful story of love, deceit, passion, friendship, and betrayal. Generally, when you read a story like this one, you don't like all the characters; however, all three of these people endear you to them in their own way. Ella is a strong woman who thinks she knows what she wants; but is unable to admit to herself what that truly is. Ethan becomes a man who finally knows what it means to love someone. Erica develops a backbone that truly sets her family on their ear. All around, this is a wonderful story that will keep you engrossed from the get go. Anyone who likes a good story, no matter the type you normally read, will surely like this one. I highly recommend it.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give promises, promises 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review of The Highlander's Heart

The Highlander's Heart
Amanda Forester
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402253041

   Lady Isabelle Tynsdale has no desire to spend another night with her much older husband. To make matters worse, his only reason for bedding her is to produce an heir, period! Not to mention the fact he returns later to beat her senseless. She escapes and becomes lost inside the Scottish borders. Her rescuer is the handsome laird, David Campbell, who decides to ransom her back to the horrors she escaped. Lady Tynsdale has no intentions of going easily.
   Laird Campbell has no idea what he is getting himself into and certainly does not expect the lovely Lady to grow on him. He quickly discovers she is more trouble then she is worth. Lets not forget he is having difficulty letting her go.
   This is one of those take me away stories where I became absolutely engrossed in the story. I love Scotland, highlanders and the romance behind them. Once I start reading, don't disturb me until I am finished. This is a wonderful story of romance, love, greed, jealousy, deception, and honor. The storyline flows smoothly from the beginning and had me pulled in from the start. The characters are witty and amusing. Lady Tynsdale is a strong willed woman; but shows absolutely no common sense most of the time. Laird Campbell is a strong and determined Scotsman; but he has a soft spot when it comes to his sisters and Lady Tynsdale. I think I fell in love with him because he is able to show his vulnerability to the Lady. In return, she is able to accept it without ridicule. All in all this a wonderful romance that you will surely love if you enjoy highlanders and Scotland.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give The Highlander's Heart 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Review of Tall, Dark and Cowboy

Tall, Dark and Cowboy
Joanne Kennedy
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402251443

   Lacey Bradford is in the middle of a nasty divorce and her ex's men are on her heels. She heads to Wyoming in search of an old high school friend, Chase Caldwell. Chase has changed, alot! He is no longer the geek she remembers; but a fine hunk of a cowboy. Lacey hopes for his help; but he has hardened from bitterness and loss of all he holds dear.
   Chase is determined to send Lacey away; but the attraction he had for her when in school is still buried deep inside of him. Sparks fly between the two and an attraction that neither can deny. As they try to comes to terms with their new relationship, Lacey is also trying to build a new life for herself. As hard as Chase tries to push her away, he has to admit he wants her in his life rather then being alone.
   For the cowboy lovers out there, this is a good story for you. Romance is in the air and practically sizzles off the page. Lacey is a former trophy wife who has some difficulty letting go of her past. She wants to start over fresh and be her own woman; but she has alot of baggage she is carrying. Chase also has emotional baggage he is carrying because of Lacey's ex-husband. Will the two be able to get past their issues and form some kind of alliance together? The storyline is okay; but it did have a tendency to drag a bit. Krystal, Chase's employee, is somewhat of a burden to the story and I have to say I was happy when we didn't hear from her again. She was a bit over the top. All in all this is not a bad read. It is a story of love, creed, loss, and forgiveness. Let's not forget the sexy cowboy!
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give Tall, Dark and Cowboy 3.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review of The Virtuoso

The Virtuoso
Grace Burrows
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402245701

   Lord Valentine Windham is devastated when an injury leaves him unable to play the piano. Music has been his passion and his soul for a long time. Music was how he expressed himself and his salvation from society and a father who never understood his need to play. Grief, loss, and loneliness threaten to engulf him until he wins an estate in a game of cards. He tackles the renovations with all he has. Little does he know that the widow he stole a passionate kiss from the year before is his neighbor.
   The widow, Ellen FitzEngle, creates art with her gardens. She is living alone to overcome her grief and loss of her husband and station in society. She craves human male attention and is hard pressed to deny the attraction she has had for Val ever since that one stolen kiss. Lust and passion grow by leaps and bounds when the two rediscover each other; but Ellen has secrets. She is determined to keep her secret and protect Val from the one person who could destroy her.
   This is a wonderful historical romance that I absolutely could not put down. The passion between Ellen and Val literally leap off of the page. The storyline flows smoothly from the beginning to the end. There is mystery, deceit, friendship that passes all imagination, romance and lust that will have you begging for more. There is something to be said for a book that can have you laughing one minute, panting for the shear sexual tension, and crying at the same time. Grace Burrows has a way with words that shows a wit, as well as, a passionate and romantic side. If you like a good story or historical fiction is high on your reading list, I highly recommend this book.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except form receiving the book to review.

I give The Virtuoso 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review of Embrace the Highland Warrior

Embrace the Highland Warrior
Anita Clenney
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402251269

   Cody McBain, a member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, grew up as a secret protector of Shay Logan. Cody was to protect Shay at all costs; but was not supposed to fall in love with her. Cody's heart, however, has other ideas. When Shay's true identity is revealed to her, their chance for love is gone.  
   Shay returns to her childhood home and finds the boy next door still there. She is not prepared for the sexy, handsome man he has become. She does not want to trust him again because she is convinced of his betrayal years ago. She has spent her life since leaving, trying to banish the memories of her love for him; but every man she has ever dated has only been a substitute. No one can take his place. New found danger will drive them back into each others arms. Cody will continue to protect her at all costs. He has no intentions of losing her again.
   This is a wonderful story full of action and adventure at every turn. Let's not forget lust, sex, and love. This story is full of sexy highlanders, vampires and demons. We have two little old ladies, one of which is as crazy as can be. Cody is one heart stopping warrior who makes your mouth water just listening to him. Shay is learning things about herself that is causing some emotional upheaval. In addition, she must learn to embrace the warrior nature in herself and the warrior who has watched over her for years. Together, they must stop the evil that is destined to kill her. If you like highlanders and a good romance, I highly recommend this book. If you just like a good book and an exciting fantasy read, you can't go wrong either.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC for reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to read and review.

I give Embrace the Highland Warrior 4.5 stars out of 5

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review of Treasure Me

Treasure Me
Christine Nolfi
Kindle Edition 2011
ISBN 9781450773683
   Birdie Kaminsky is a petty thief and a pick pocket. She has lived on her own since she was sixteen. She left her mother, who moved from one man to the next, in order to swindle money from them. Birdie lands in Liberty, Ohio, where she plans to steal a treasure that has been hidden since the Civil War. The only clue she has is a quote that has been handed down through her family, "Liberty safeguards the cherished heart." Birdie secretly admires the author of the quote, freed woman, Justice Postell. Justice was heavy with child when she left the South so, Birdie wonders if some of the family of Justice may still live in the area. She has her eye on the feisty, pistol packin', Theodora Hendricks.
   When Birdie arrives in town, little does she know that an investigative reporter may be her down fall. As Birdie delves into the mystery surrounding the hidden treasure, she starts to rethink her life of crime and wants to go straight. The only problem, can the thief  in her just leave that life behind or will it keep coming back to haunt her?
   This is a thoroughly enjoyable read. You will laugh at the feisty and haughty, Theodora. Birdie, the habitual thief, develops a conscience that is causing her to have second thoughts. The storyline is well written and had me hooked from the start. A strange and volatile relationship between  Birdie and the reporter, Hugh, has you shaking your head at times. The story leads into the Christmas season making this a very nice read to add to your holiday enjoyment. This is a wonderful story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and the general goodness of man. I highly recommend this book to anyone who just enjoys a good read.
   I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.
I give Treasure Me 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 14, 2011

Interview with John Cavi and Review of his book The President's Ultimatum

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I welcome John Cavi to my blog today. As you will see, John is not only an amazing individual and author; but he is also a medical miracle. Please join me in welcoming him today.

1- I have to say you have quite an impressive education record considering you failed kindergarten. What exactly made you decide to write a book at this time in your life when you have a business and law degree?

 My entire education and career were centered on business, and when I retired, I had no intention of writing a book. However, a grim life changing event at age 72 provided the opportunity to begin a new career. In 2002, I was diagnosed with a rare form of stage 4 lymphoma. I was told by the doctors at the Yale New Haven Hospital that I had two months to live without treatment and ten months with the full chemo regimen. I choose the chemo therapy, and on the fourth therapy session the doctors offered me a July slot in an experimental stem cell transplant trial that YNHH was planning to initiate in June. In July they killed my immune system and gave me a new immune system.    

Five months after the transplant, the cancer again spread to the lymph nodes, and I developed several tumors which required radiation therapy. On the sixth month, I reached my nadir. My weight was down to 112 lbs, and I had an infection from the wounds generated by the radiation therapy. At that point the new immune system had not kicked in, and the prognosis didn’t look promising. Two weeks after I hit rock bottom, like the inflection of a hockey stick, I began to feel better.  A CAT scan two weeks later indicated that the cancer was gone. The doctor’s called it a miracle. 

While in the hospital for the chemo therapy and the stem cell transplant, a total of six months, I read over 50 books. One of the topics that piqued my interest was the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and I read several books on this and related subjects. Two books caught my attention. The first, a doctoral thesis,—“A History of the Israeli and Palestinian Conflict” by Dr. Mark Kessler—presented the conflict from three points of view—the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the unbiased version of the author who reconciled the discrepancies of the two antagonists. The second, a non fiction book—“Gidions Spies,” by Gordon Thomas—is the definitive book about the inner workings of the Mossad and their operational successes and failures. While reading Gidion’s Spies, I recalled having a vague familiarity with some of the material. It then occurred to me that I had read that same material in Daniel Silva’s novels. Silva selected a real Mossad operation that was outlined in Gidion’s Spies and crafted a fictional novel around that single real event. I said to myself, “hey I could do that,” and at that point I decided that I would craft a novel around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and depict my fictional solution.  

 2-Will you tell the readers a little about the background of your book, The President's Ultimatum, and how it came to be?

 The novel is a thriller that portrays a fictional storyline in the factual environment of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict... It’s similar to Michael Creighton’s State of Fear, a fictional tale wrapped around the global warming issue.

The 43rd president of the Unites States, Gerald W. Burke, is entering his second term, and after a lack luster performance during his prior four years, senses he must do something dramatic to establish his legacy and claim his place in history. Out of a desire to improve relations with the Muslim world, win the war on terror, and with a strong dose of hubris, he devises a bold plan to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that had eluded the world leaders including his predecessors for 60 years. He presents both parties with an ultimatum to resolve the conflict on his terms or else.  This sets off a chain of unintended consequences that threaten his presidency and his life. 

At the center of the action is Ari Bugari, an Israeli undercover agent, recruited into al-Qaeda after Iraq is defeated by the Coalition Forces. On orders from al-Qaeda’s leadership, Ari pursues President Burke across three continents. Caught between his Israeli and al-Qaeda masters, Ari, becomes the hunted quarry, and is forced into hiding, with his wife Hannah, when he learns the explosive truth that underlies his relationship with Mossad Director General, Shalom Eitan.

 The novel is set in the toxic political environments of Washington D. C. and Jerusalem. In an effort to derail Burke’s peace initiative, Congress, teamed with the formidable Israeli Lobby—which contribute millions to the coffers of both political parties—frustrates Burke’s political agenda by stalling his domestic initiatives and rebelling against his peace initiative. Added to the mix are the Israeli Conservative Alliance (a coalition of the religious right parties) and al-Qaeda, both opposed to the peace initiative, and both prepared to do anything, including assassinating the president to prevent its implementation.

The interaction and maneuvering of these various factions forms the basis of the novel. Through the dialogue of the characters, questions are raised about the role of the US in the conflict, the negative impact that the polarized political environment in the US, Israel, and the Middle East has on its people, and the effect that the conflict has on our relations with the Muslim world.  The novel also suggests a possible resolution of the conflict, and outlines the potential lethal long term consequence if the conflict is not resolved. But in its rawest sense, this thriller is a tale of adventure, intrigue, deception, revenge, and redemption, interwoven with a poignant love story. 

3-I think many people would have given up on a massive writing project with all the health issues you faced. What kept you focused and made you determined to complete the book?

The President’s Ultimatum is my first novel, and it was conceived and written over an eight-year period, a hectic time of my life. I was in and out of hospitals with a myriad of problems—lymphoma, chemo, stem cell transplant, TIA stroke, heart attack, sepsis, and malignant mouth surgery. A side effect from the transplant therapy left me with serious cornea issues. For the first two years, I composed the plot and subplots in my mind because the vision problems impacted my ability to read and type.

Late in 2004, I underwent cornea and cataract surgery, and in 2005, I typed the first draft— a manuscript of 700 single spaced pages. It began in 1890 and in chronological order, ended in 2008.  Prior to submitting the manuscript for an editorial evaluation early in 2006, I went through a first self-edit.  I shortened the manuscript to about 600 pages eliminating a few sub-plots, and changed the tone of the novel. The first editorial evaluation was very encouraging, but the editor recommended that I reduce and restructure the manuscript with less exposition and more dialogue.

At about this time, my vision began to deteriorate further. The glare made it virtually impossible to see the keyboard and the black on white copy on the monitor. The monitor problem was solved by changing to a black background with white letters, but the keyboard was still a problem and progress was slow. I implemented the suggestions but reached an impasse with the vision issue,   I acquired a reading machine which permitted me to read printed and written matter in a white on black mode, and I was able to make changes to the manuscript as my wife, Ellen, proofread and annotated the printed pages. In 2008, I submitted the manuscript, now 500 pages, for a second evaluation, and the editor was even more encouraging and suggested that I work with a development editor to reduce the manuscript further. I was reluctant to engage in a development edit because it was an online process which would have been counterproductive because of my vision impediment.

In December 2009, I was referred to the Boston Foundation for Sight for evaluation, and after being fitted with Celera Lens prosthetics my vision improved dramatically (a miracle) so that I was able to resume writing, and in February 2010, I began working with the editor. He suggested 563 changes mainly focused on eliminating all the sub-plots and all the political material, and reorganizing and restructuring the flow of the manuscript. At the completion of this effort, the manuscript was drastically reduced from 500 single spaced pages to 460 double spaced pages, eliminating all but a sliver of the political material. 
The novel took eight years from conception to release of the final product, and was my single focus for that period of my life. With all the stops and starts, it became both a challenge and an obsession.  I sense I sublimely thought that if I completed the novel, I would somehow also succeed in overcoming all the ills that I was plagued with. It was a long journey, but I never faltered. I was determined to see the novel to fruition.

4-I know you had numerous health issues and had to edit a large amount from your book. What were the most challenging things you encountered while writing your book?

Throughout my college years, an English lit and business writing course formed the extent of my literary education. Early in my business career, I was a consultant and wrote many business reports. I was considered an excellent business writer, but the extent of my creative writing experience was limited to writing a few poems for the English lit course.
I faced two major challenges.  My initial manuscript read like a business report, and I spent many months rewriting the text in a literary style. Reducing the size of the manuscript and reorganizing the flow of the storyline without losing the thread of the story took most of the effort and proved to be the most challenging task. Coupled with the vision issues, it turned into a monumental task. Character development and dialogue, which I thought would be the most daunting tasks, were not a problem. Surprisingly, writing the first draft of the manuscript took ten percent of the effort; reorganizing and reducing took ninety percent.

5- Do you have any works in progress? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

The final product was not what I had in mind when I began to write The President’s Ultimatum. Now that I have more clarity, I can see that my initial effort, a saga, could have been woven into three distinct manuscripts. My vision has improved to permit me to research, a variety of subject matter, I am using the jettisoned political material to craft a number of blogs under the Common Sense Revisited series that I post on Ezine and my website—johncavi.com. Eventually, I plan to fashion the blogs into a non-fiction book in the style of Friedman’s book—The World is Flat—which is an amalgamation of a series of opinion articles that he had written for the N.Y. Times.  
I am also researching a novel about the Iran nuclear issue. The plan is to write a fictional tale, which I have worked out in my mind, around that real time event.  Some of the material and characters that were discarded when a major subplot was eliminated from the original manuscript will form the basis of the Iran novel. Also on my agenda is novel in the Grisham, Connelly genre with an auto biographical touch.

  6-Who has had the most influence on your writing and why?

From my early years, I have been interested in history. I was awarded the American Legion medal for attaining the highest grade in American History in the NY State Regents exam. Over the years I’ve read extensively—from historical novels, biographies about world and military leaders, to books on events that have shaped our world. Hemmingway, Graham Greene, Tolstoy, Remarque, Michener, Pasternak, are some of the earlier favorites Woodward, LeCarre, Casey, Ludlum, Silva, DeMille, Forsyth, Flynn and a host of others are my current favorites. Most of these books are well researched and in some cases very informative. Since my novel is in that general genre, It follows that the type of novel I wrote was influenced by these authors. The idea to write this specific novel sparked from reading, A History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict, by Mark Kessler, and Gidions Spies, by Gordon Thomas. When I correlated these two books to the Silva novels, I knew the kind of book I would write...

 7- What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Read, read, read, and write, write, write. I recently read three non-fiction books about the financial services industry—On The Brink, Asylum, and The Big Short—and I wrote several blogs for my Common Sense Revisited series. While some might look at writing as a job, I really enjoy puttingmy ideas on paper. For me, writing is something that I do for fun.   When I’m not writing, I spend my free time reading, and I seem to never have enough time to read all the books on my reading list. I don’t watch much TV, except during the football season. I’m a fanatical NY Giants fan, and I attend every game. We try to get away to some exotic place every year, and movies, the theater and dinner with friends are our typical form of relaxation. Our two grandchildren are at the age when they bring much joy and are a lot of fun to be with, and so we spend a fair amount of time with them. While it’s not always relaxing, it is fun.   

It’s the time of year that I would be looking forward to the skiing season, but the aftermath of the transplant impacted my balance and permanently put a stop to my skiing, a sport that for me was the ultimate form of fun, relaxation and solitude.

Review of The President's Ultimatum

The President's Ultimatum
The President's Ultimatum
John Cavi
iUniverse, Inc. 2011
ISBN 9780595502561

   Gerald W. Burke, the forty-third president of the United States, issues an ultimatum to the leaders of Isarel and Palistine to resolve their confict on his terms or else. This serves to trigger a chain of events that marks Burke for death by al-Qaeda, or is it?
   At the center of all of this is Ari-Bugari, an Israeli under-cover agent recruited into al-Qaeda after Irag is invaded and defeated. Ari pursues the President across three continents. Ari is caught between his Israeli and al-Qaeda masters and finds himself the one being hunted. He is forced into hiding when he discovers that his friend and superior, Mossad Director General, Shalom Eitan has betrayed him.
   I have to say I was quite surprised by this story. This is as far away from my usual type of read that you can get. Once I started this book, I could not put it down. The storyline is wonderful. The author takes you back and forth across the continents in such a way that I was actually able to keep up with what was happening. Politics is not my thing and I actually avoid it like the "plague" as they say. This story is about politics, but it is a story of adventure, betrayal and love. The story is so real that you can truly believe the events and the conspiracy and betrayal in the government. Of course, we know these things don't really happen. The only problem I had with the book was trying to keep the characters straight. There are so many of them, I finally gave up and concentrated on the major players. I don't feel I lost anything by doing this. In amidst all the conspiracy and murder, we have a fascinating love story between Ari and Hannah. This is important to the story; but I don't consider it a major theme.
   For those of you who like politically charged novels, I highly recommend this book. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will see corruption in the government and betrayal on every front. I think you will see that no one can ever truly be trusted implicitly; because we as humans have a voice. Even the most well- being individuals, end up betraying someones trust. How many times have you heard the phrase, "This never leaves this room." I will never look at that  phrase in the same way again.
   I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to read and review.

I give The President's Ultimatum 5 out of 5 stars


Friday, November 11, 2011

Review of Expectations of Happiness

Expectations of Happiness
Rebecca Ann Collins
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402253898

   The Dashwood sisters are all grown up, Marianne is married on the rebound to a much older man. Elinor and Edward Ferrars are a quiet, unassuming couple with two young boys. Margaret is the unconventional young woman who has a tremendous desire for learning and travel.
   Marianne is not an overly happy woman who is easily swayed. Her former lover comes to town and puts her life in a bit of a tail spin. Elinor is a worrisome someone and a bit of a busy body who thinks she has to help solve the entire families' problems. Margaret, dear Margaret, is a hand full to be sure. She is shy, but holds her own in any situation. She defies convention when she becomes involved in a love affair with a scholar she meets while traveling.
   For you Jane Austen fans, this is the book for you. This is a companion volume to Jane's Sense and Sensibility. In this book, the Dashwood sisters are all grown up and involved in three very different lives and loves. The storyline was okay; but I found it a bit choppy at times. I had some difficulty in staying on target with my reading. Since I am not an Austen fan, this could have been some of my problem; but I have read some other versions that I have enjoyed. The sisters are quite the trio. Marianne is a piece of work. She is very easily swayed and is so gullible. I was not endeared to her at all. Elinor tries to shoulder responsibility for everyone even though they are all grown up. Margaret is my heroine in the story. She is the only one of the sisters with any backbone and is not afraid to go after what she wants. She defies convention at every turn. A most lovable character. All in all, this was not a bad read. I would not, however, place it on one of my top reads.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give Expectations of Happiness 3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review of No Holly for Christmas

No Holly For Christmas
No Holly for Christmas
Julie N. Ford
Whiskey Creek Press 2011
ISBN 9781603139328

   Brian McAlister is on a special assignment for the DA's office. He is not happy to be there; but the special assignment is because his father has turned ill and he is stepping in for him. Brian has been unable to move on with his life because he was jilted twice by a long time girlfriend. He has remained in love with her despite the fact she is married and has children. Best of all, she is married to a district court judge who despises Brian.
   Holly Cananaugh-Winter is an ex-socialite who was left practically penniless following the death of her husband. She has been keeping a secret since his death and is determined to keep it that way. She is raising her two daughters alone when she first encounters Brian. There is a definite physical attraction that neither one can deny.
   This is a wonderful story of suspense, healing, giving and love that you won't want to miss. It would make a wonderful addition to your Christmas reading collection. The storyline flows smoothly and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Brian is a bit of a womanizer and has major commitment issues because of being jilted by his former lover. Even though he has an attraction for Holly, he does not want to admit it might be love. Holly is a piece of work. For most of the story, she has the feel sorry for me attitude. She considers herself almost destitute because she has to shop at a lower end company like Walmart for groceries instead of paying twice as much at a high dollar store. She no longer has a home in the country club area; but has a comfortable home to live in. She is actually ashamed of this fact. There are several woman who have befriended her and they are probably the only true friends she has ever had. She is extremely materialistic and you want to smack her. By the end of the story, she is turning her life around and she is becoming likable.
   Brian and Holly become closer as the story progresses because an assassin is out to kill Holly. He has been hired by a powerful man, who like so many, has his eye on wealth and position. Will Brian be able to keep Holly and her children safe? Will the holidays be a season of joy and happiness or will the past prevent them both from going after what is important?
   I wish to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give No Holly for Christmas 5 out of 5 stars


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review of A Most Unsuitable Match

A Most Unsuitable Match
Stephanie Grace Whitson
Bethany House 2011
ISBN 9780764208812

   Miss Fannie Rousseau is traveling out west with her long time companion and friend in search of an aunt that she never knew she had. Fannie is left alone after the death of her mother and father to find that the wealth she assumed they had, may no longer be too impressive.
   Samuel Beck is on a mission to make amends with his younger sister for wrongs that he feels he did to her. He is headed on a steamboat to Montana with just himself and his mother's bible to keep him company. Fannie and Samuel find themselves on the same ship and discover an attraction developing over the long journey. A very unlikely attraction. They are opposites in every way.
   The book starts out in the year 1869 and covers the years through 1874. Fannie is a spoiled and privileged young woman who has no clue about being on her own. Why should she? She has always been provided for. She is a bit self-centered and generally wants things her own way. She does, however, discover that we don't always get what we want. She becomes determined to make her way and she becomes more endearing in my eyes. Samuel is a kind and caring man who is determined to watch out for Fannie and make sure no harm comes to her.
   This is a lovely Christian story that makes clear, that no matter what you believe, none of us is promised a life without pain and sorrow. Both of our main characters grow throughout the story and develop a keener understanding about what life is about. Of the two, Fannie does more growing with a deeper knowledge of how to live in this world. Samuel has his own hardships to face. He finds out what it is like to grow stronger in his relationship with the Lord. I highly recommend this book to lovers of Christian fiction or anyone who just loves a good, clean love story.
   I wish to thank Bethany House for providing me with a copy of the book for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give A Most Unsuitable Match 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review of Three Sisters

Three Sisters (The Emily Castles Mysteries)
Three Sisters
The First Emily Castles Mystery
Helen Smith
Tyger Books 2011
   Emily is invited to a bonfire night/Halloween Party at her neighbors down the street. She doesn't really know them because they just moved into the house; but she decides to go because she is missing her dog, Jessie who just died. She finds herself amidst some rather strange characters and to top the night off, she is pulled into a murder. One that no one else believes happened.
   This is a short piece of fiction that can be easily read in one sitting. From the get go, you are pulled in with some rather strange and unusual characters. The way the story is presented, I had the impression this was going to be a murder mystery night and some of the guests were the actors. This turned out not to be the case. There is little known about Emily and it is a bit confusing how she will end up being a sleuth. In this particular story, she seems more like a busy body. The story is short; but it packs a big punch with information. The reader must stay focused or will lose their way around in the course of the storyline. I did not actually find anything amusing in this story; but I do look forward to the next one. I suspect that Emily could get herself into some mischief. If you are looking for something fast-paced and unusual, I highly recommend this one.
   I wish to thank the author for providing me with a copy for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.
I give Three Sisters 4 out of 5 stars

Review of His Last Duchess

His Last Duchess
Gabrielle Kimm
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781402264510

   Sixteen year old Lucrezia de'Medici is excitedly awaiting her gilded life to her soon to be husband, Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. He has handpicked her to be his bride in anticipation of an heir for his kingdom and an alliance with her father. The Duke quickly proves how dangerous he is in addition to his dark and handsome side. Life proves to be the opposite of what Lucrezia had planned and the castle becomes a living trap for her.
   The Dukes desperate need for an heir drives him further into the dark recesses of his mind and the only person who is able to give him any relief is his mistress, Francesca. Alfonso obsesses over an imagined plot against himself and his mind climbs deeper into despair and his fury builds. Lucrezia's dreams  become less and less a reality and more of a nightmare. Eventually, she heads down a dangerous path that may well lead to her destruction.
   This is a wonderful historical fiction novel that was inspired by Robert Browning's monologue, "My Last Duchess." I had never read the piece before so I did so, not once but twice before I read the book. I had no clue as to what I read. This concerned me a bit until I started reading the novel, and I was pleasantly surprised. The storyline was quite intriguing and flowed nicely from the beginning to the end. The character of Lucrezia was very naive and because of her young age was very immature when she married the Duke. She had no clue what to expect upon her marriage and was quite appalled at her husband's behavior. It was not long before she started to realize that things were amiss. Alfonso was a very dark and dismal character. It became apparent quickly that he had some kind of mental illness that only increased as the inability to produce an heir became an issue.
   All in all this was a wonderful read. The characters and the story were handled well. The mental illness of Alfonso was very bleak to the story; but it is also what made the true interest of the story initially. I think all historical fiction fans will find this to be a worthwhile read. Step into the passions of  sixteenth century. Follow a story of forbidden love and darkness that will haunt you.
   I wish to thank Sourcebooks for providing me with an ARC for reading and reviewing purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in anyway except for receiving the book to review.

I give His Last Duchess 4 out of 5 stars