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Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Will Never Forget Book Blurb and Giveaway

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/non-fiction-book-tour-giveaway-i-will-never-forget-a-daughters-story-of-her-mothers-arduous-and-humorous-journey-through-dementia-by-elaine-c-pereira-62314-72114/

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 6/23/14 – 7/21/14

Genres:  Non-Fiction; Memoir; Aging








Blurb:
I Will Never Forget is the incredible true story of the author’s talented mother’s poignant and often humorous journey through the mystifying haze of Dementia. Through superb stories of Elaine’s childhood, from her controversial name, tales of smoking’ dragons and the feisty teenage years, her mother Betty Ward’s wonderful character is revealed.
Over time, as their relationship evolves and a new paradigm is formed, Betty begins to exhibit goofy actions, uncharacteristic verbal assaults and bizarre thinking. Although clearly mystified by her mother’s irrational behaviors, Elaine does not appreciate the extent of Betty’s mental decline. Her amazing ability to mask the truth clouds Elaine’s vision and prolongs her denial until one cataclysmic explosion of reality over an innocuous drapery rod launches a waterfall of destructive events.
As her mother’s brilliant mind is steadily destroyed by Dementia’s insatiable appetite for brain cells, Elaine accompanies her mother on her journey. She witnesses Betty’s fascinating visions of her own mother, masterful Houdini-like disappearances and finally a stunning rally to take control of her own destiny.
I Will Never Forget is a heartwarming, humorous, honest and deeply moving story pertinent to everyone touched by the insidious effects of Dementia. Learn from Elaine’s unwitting mistakes as she weaves her way through her mother’s unpredictable disease to capture insightful and effective intervention strategies.

Chapter 28: The Ugly Truth:

But as the adult, the nebulous abyss of being a parent to your parent is a delicate responsibility. Balancing respect and autonomy and naturally expecting them to be accurate when they tell you, I’ll be fine is a daunting challenge. Somewhere deep down, you know it’s not true. They are no longer fine.


Connect With The Author:


Elaine Pereira retired as a school Occupational Therapist with more than 30 years experience in pediatrics and a decade in adult home care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Wayne State University in OT and her Master’s in Liberal Arts. Pereira maintains her OT licensure and holds Certifications as a Dementia Caregiver and Practitioner. She and her husband Joseph live in southeastern Michigan with their two big dogs Bailey and Maddee and Snoopy the cat. Together they have five adult children, Elaine’s twin daughters and Joe’s three sons and five grandchildren.
I Will Never Forget-A Daughter’s Story of Her Mother’s Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia is Elaine’s first book, a memoir in tribute to her amazingly talented mother. Pereira writes for MariaShriver.com, Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Endear For Alzheimer’s and a variety of guest blog posts. She has been featured in four television spots, Fox 2 Detroit, Living Dayton and Fox 45 Dayton and The Best of Aging magazine, April 2013 edition.
Her hobbies include golf, sewing, hand-craft projects and gardening. She has traveled extensively throughout the United States and world wide including Europe; Madeira, Portugal; Australia; Seoul and Hong Kong.
Now she networks extensively to advance Alzheimer’s awareness and donates from each book sold to Alzheimer’s research.


Author Links:

Giveaway:
Win one of thirty print copies of I Will Never Forget. Entry is restricted to the USA! Enter through Goodreads.



   

    Goodreads Book Giveaway  

   
        I Will Never Forget by Elaine C. Pereira    
   
     

          I Will Never Forget      

     

          by Elaine C. Pereira      

     
         
            Giveaway ends July 21, 2014.          
         
            See the giveaway details             at Goodreads.          
     
   
   
      Enter to win

Hamlet presented by the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN

HamletHamlet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can you say about Hamlet that hasn't already been said? It has become part of our popular culture. Famous lines like, "To thine own self be true", "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well (said while holding a skull)" and, of course, "To be or not to be, that is the question." It has been parodied numerous times, two of which come to mind right now. One is Gilligan's Island turning it into a musical (with music from Carmen). The other is the movie Last Action Hero, where Hamlet becomes an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. (Arnold: To be or not to be. [lights cigar] Not to be. [explosion in background]). So why has it lasted over 400 years and become so ingrained in our popular culture? It deals with universal themes, death, betrayal, war, love, depression. It also deals with the supernatural. Last night, I attended a production of this play at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. These are my thoughts on the production.

In the play, Hamlet's father, the King, was killed 2 months earlier. His uncle, Claudius, marries Hamlet's mother, the Queen, just 1 month after the King's death. Ophelia, daughter of Polonius, the King's councilor, is in love with Hamlet, but Hamlet may or may not be in love with her. One night, the ghost of Hamlet's father appears to Hamlet and says that Claudius killed him (Hamlet's father), and that Hamlet must take revenge. Hamlet meets a group of traveling actors, and stages a play to reenact the killing. This outrages Claudius, who sends Hamlet to exile in England. Hamlet returns to kill Claudius, but kills Polonius by mistake. Ophelia, overwrought by Hamlet's rejection of her love and by her father's death, drowns herself. Claudius then plots with Laertes, son of Polonius, to kill Hamlet. They put poison on the end of the sword, and poison in the wine. In the final duel, Hamlet picks up the sword with poison and kills Laertes, but Laertes has also stabbed Hamlet with a poisoned sword. The Queen drinks from the cup intended for Hamlet, and dies. In his final act, Hamlet kills Claudius right before dying himself.

The Festival production focused on the theatricality of the play. The actors came out at the beginning, introduced themselves, and took part of their costumes off of an on-stage costume rack. This is appropriate, since there is an element of theatricality to the play itself. This is especially evident with the play within the play, but also in the many soliloquies in the play, where the actors speak directly to the audience. There was a line of chairs in the back that kept going up and down, again emphasizing the theatricality of the play. The actors are dressed in modern business suits and dresses. It almost looked like the story of President Claudius and White House Chief of Staff Polonius. Yes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are here. The Festival is also performing Rosencreantz and Guildenstern are Dead this year, so they'll be back, played by the same actors who played them here. I learned after the performance that parts of the script were cut (not surprising, given the total running length of the play). I didn't notice any missing elements. It went seamlessly. There was some humor in the play. Polonius said, "Brevity is the soul of wit," then proceeded to talk on and on. Shakespeare knew it was needed in a play like this.

Special commendation goes to Andrew Carlson, who played Hamlet. This is one of the most demanding roles in Shakespeare's plays, and he portrays Hamlet excellently. You're never quite sure whether his madness is real or faked. It's just on the edge. When he starts the "to be or not to be" soliloquy, you wonder if he actually will commit suicide. The rest of the cast was excellent as well. Michael Fitzpatrick as Claudius, Leslie Brott as the Queen, Steve Hendrickson as Polonius, Sigrid Sutter as Ophelia, and all of the rest I don't have space to mention here. This has been a request of Festival audiences for many years. It was well worth the wait.

For more information on the Great River Shakespeare Festival, go to www.grsf.org.

For more information on Winona, MN, go to www.visitwinona.com.



View all my reviews

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Merry Wives of Windsor presented by the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN

The Merry Wives of WindsorThe Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not strictly a review of the book. The play has been around for over 400 years, so anything I say won't make any difference. This is my impression of the play produced by the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN last night. Shakespeare's plays were not meant solely to be read. They were meant to be performed. It is in that spirit that I present my thoughts.

First, something about the play. This is, to use modern TV terminology, a spinoff. Reportedly, Queen Elizabeth loved the character of Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1, and asked Shakespeare to write a play centering on Falstaff. The result was this. Don't worry, I'm not giving away anything that's not in the Cliffs Notes. Falstaff arrives in Windsor with no cash. He soon devises a plot to woo Mrs Page and Mrs Ford, the Merry Wives in the title, and then extort them for money. Falstaff makes the mistake, however, of sending the exact same letter to each wife. The wives meet, discover this, and plot to embarrass Falstaff. In addition, Mr Ford, disguised as Brook, wants Falstaff to test his wife's fidelity. I would hilarity ensues here, but I've seen that on the back of too many DVD cases where the hilarity does not ensue. Falstaff winds up hiding in a laundry basket, and then dumped in the River Thames. He also is forced to dress as a woman and it is beaten with a cudgel.

Meanwhile, Anne Page is scheduled to receive a large inheritance when she turns 17. She has 3 suitors for her hand in marriage. The first, Mr Slender, has money but is, in Shakespeare's terms, an "idiot." Her father prefers him. The second, Dr Caius, is a pompous Frenchman. Shakespeare has a lot of fun with his accent. Her mother prefers him. The third, Mr Fenton, has money, is humble, and has his wits about him. Anne prefers him. Mrs Quickly acts as the messenger between Mr Fenton and Anne, as well as between Falstaff and Mrs Ford. The climax is in the forest, where Falstaff wears deer antlers and is poked with hot pokers by children pretending to be fairies. In the end, to quote another Shakespeare play, all's well that ends well. Anne marries Mr Fenton, the Pages and the Fords rekindle their love, and Falstaff observes, "I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass."

The Festival sets this play in the early 1900s, a time of relative peace in the world. The characters don't have to worry about larger geopolitical concerns; they can focus on their own lives. It is a bit ironic, though, that this weekend is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which set the events in motion that started World War I. The production uses period music to set the scene, with songs such as Bicycle Built for Two (and yes, there is a bicycle built for two in the production) and Moonlight Bay. This definitely adds something to the play. They also add an introduction, letting everyone know who the characters are. They don't shy away from the text. We were all laughing at the appropriate times. It's not that hard to follow along.

The production was excellent. Special commendations go the following actors (if I don't name an actor, it is only for space limitations):
Jonathan Gillard Daly as Falstaff. He plays Falstaff as the buffoon Shakespeare wrote, but with an element of playfulness. I could see him wearing a red suit and carrying a bag of toys. Based on the forest scene, I could also see him blending in with the reindeer. Lol.

Tarah Flanagan as Mrs Ford and Sigrid Sutter as Mrs Page. Their plotting turns this into the Real Housewives of Windsor.

Leslie Brott as Mrs Quickly. She keeps talking and talking, and doesn't know when to shut up. Perfect.

Steve Hendrickson as Mr Ford. His jealousy, especially when he plays Brook, is way over the top.

Jenni McCarthy (no, not the host on The View) as Anne Page. She brings an innocence to the role, oombined with determination to get what she wants.

Christopher Gerson as Pastor Evans. He does the Welsh accent well. He did this last year in Henry V, and it's only improved since then.

And a special note to Andrew Carlson as Dr Caius. His over the top French accent reminds me of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies. He also had the biggest laugh line of the night. He said, in his fake accent, "If there be one, or two, I shall make-a the turd." It took about 5 minutes for everyone in the audience to stop laughing and get on with the play.

All in all an excellent performance. I can see why this play has been around for over 400 years, and the Festival has been around for 11 seasons.

For more information on the Great River Shakespeare Festival, go to www.grsf.org

For more information about Winona, MN, go to www.visitwinona.com.


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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Bookman's Tale

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of ObsessionThe Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

This is Shakespeare meets The Da Vinci Code. It follows the path of Peter Byerly, dealer in rare books. His wife has just died, and he has moved to England from America to help deal with the loss. He finds a portrait hidden in a rare book. The portrait, although it is over 100 years old, looks amazingly like his late wife. He is obsessed with finding out who the painter is, and who is in the picture. It also will lead him to a rare book which may or may not answer the question once and for all whether Shakespeare actually wrote his plays. The characters call this book "the Holy Grail", so you can see where The Da Vinci Code comparison comes in. The novel takes place in 3 different timelines. The first is present day (which, for this book is 1995). The second starts in 1983, when he meets his future wife, Amanda. (Don't worry, that's not a spoiler.) The third starts in Shakespeare's time and goes forward to the 1870s, and is about the book. The plot twists and turns as we see how the book came to be, who owned it, and how Peter and Amanda came to be married. One big difference between this and The Da Vinci Code is that the author freely admits that some of his elements are fiction. Normally, I don't like too many flashbacks, or jumping around from time to time. However, in this case it works. It actually pushes the story forward. I won't reveal the ending because of spoilers, but it does satisfy the readers. With the Great River Shakespeare Festival going on in Winona right now, this seemed especially appropriate. All in all, a good book. For more information on the Great River Shakespeare festival, go to http://www.grsf.org.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Make it in Hollywood

How to Make It in Hollywood: The Inside StoryHow to Make It in Hollywood: The Inside Story by Rick Friedberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for this review.

When I read this book, I thought of a commercial from a few years ago. I don't remember the product. It showed a group of studio execs sitting around a conference table talking about a slug movie. They had everything ready to go--the posters, the toys, the kids' meals, the music video--everything. At the end, the studio head says, "What about a script?" One of the other execs says, "We'll have one hammered out by Friday." That's the state of the movie business these days. It's a deal before it's a movie. The author knows this all too well. He's the director of Spy Hard, a spy movie spoof starring Leslie Nielsen of Airplane! fame. (I haven't seen the movie, so I'm not going to comment on it.) He describes the trials and tribulations he went through in getting the movie made, and other movies and TV shows he made. He's an anomaly in Hollywood--same house, same wife, same phone number for over 30 years. The chapter titles are very descriptive. Chapter 2 is If you want a career in show business, be determined to the point of obsession. The whole book reminds me of that song from Richard Marx back in the 1980s. "It don't mean nothin' till you sign it on the dotted line." The corollary to that is read the contract very carefully. Good book for anyone who wants to know about going into the movie business, and then decides to do it anyway.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Start

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That MattersStart: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know. Another motivational book. "Reach your full potential! You can be amazing! Just follow the 29-step plan in this book exactly and the world is yours! Then pay thousands of dollars for our seminars, where we reveal all the secrets you need to know for an amazing life!" Fortunately, this is not that book. This is a book about starting. Start is more than a menu on Windows (at least versions up to Windows 7; I'm not sure about 8). The concept is simple. If you want to do something, start. If you want to be a writer, start writing. If you want to exercise more, start exercising. He identifies 5 stages of activity, Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting, Guiding. Traditionally, you would start the Learning phase in your 20s and gradually work your way up to Guiding in your 60s. That's not the way it is anymore. Thanks to the Internet, you can start anywhere, anytime. The book doesn't claim that the Internet is some miracle tool that will magically transform your life (like some books I read in the late 1990s-early 2000s). The Internet simply removes some of the traditional barriers that used to hold you back. You go through the steps in order. Don't worry about making mistakes, that's just part of the process. The book also says not to settle for average. Dexter Yager, one of the largest distributors in the Amway network, said that average was, "bottom of the top, and top of the bottom. Cream of the crap." (His words, not mine.) Obviously, there's no cookie cutter approach to this. The hardest thing in all of this, or any book like this, is to actually do what the book says. Do it, and you could be awesome. No guarantees. The author does mention his availability for speaking engagements, but there aren't any expensive follow-up seminars. All in all, a good book.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Kindle Fire Giveaway

Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes. Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash! The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to bloggers who post about this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter. June Kindle Fire  

Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
  Sponsors I Am A Reader Feed Your Reader Author Rachael Anderson Author Karey White Chelsea Author Promotions Illusio & Baqer BookReviewsAndGiveaways Author Alecia Stone Lori's Reading Corner Author Inger Iversen Shelf of Imagination Candace's Book Blog Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer Helen Smith (author) Christine's Blog Reviews from a Bookworm More Than a Review Tressa's Wishful Endings Pieces of Whimsy Laurie Treacy, Author The Loopy Librarian Author Dorothy Dreyer Author Deanna Lynn Sletten Author Steven Brown Claudia Burgoa Launching Sisters to WitchCamp Rhiannon Paille Author Amanda Tru Melissa McClone, Author Author Michelle Merrill Author M. Kircher Author A&E Kirk Author Melissa Lemon My Story That I Like Best Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf J.L. Weil Maia Sepp Luthando Coeur Making it Happen Jennifer Laurens Author Extraordinary Reads Grimmtastic Girls series: Snow White Lucks Out (tween)   Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here: http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash. Ends 7/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Giveaway

ofrivers:

Hi, guys! I decided to give this book since I have another one which was given to me by a friend as a Christmas gift. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. I hope you enjoy reading this!

(My favourite JG book is Looking for Alaska, hands down!)

Contest ends on August 31 and the winner will be announced on September 1, 2014 here.


OR YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO JOIN (if the Rafflecopter widget does not show up)!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Promises

Promises (Syrenka, #1)Promises by Amber Garr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

This is the classic tale of star-crossed lovers, and a love triangle, with a twist. The lovers are Eviana, a mermaid, and Brendan, a selkie. (A selkie wears a seal skin.) They are not permitted to mate. Eviana is pledged to Kain, leader of a rival clan, in an arranged marriage. It is to take place on her 18th birthday, which is within one week. She really doesn't want to marry Kain, and tries to run away with Brendan. Soon, however, events occur which force her to make choices she doesn't want to make, and unleash power she doesn't know she has. Any more would spoil the book. Since this was already planned as book 1 of a trilogy, it ends with a cliffhanger. The copy I had included the first chapter of book 2, which gives an indication of where the book is going. (I haven't read books 2 or 3 yet.) All in all, good storytelling. It's always interesting to see how authors explain mermaids living as part of our world, like Ariel. It definitely adds new life to the genre, with the interesting lovers' twist. I look forward to reading books 2 and 3 someday, to see how the story finishes. All in all, a good book.

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Beached

BeachedBeached by Ros Baxter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Fish Out of Water. This one follows Rania and Princess Lecanora as they explore the land and find the secret to the end of the world. The novel starts with Lecanora attacking the manager of a fast food restaurant for serving fish. They have just come back from their water kingdom of Aegira, and are trying to find connections to recent destructive events in their home kingdom. They're going to need help, so they recruit Rania's mom, as well as Doug and Larry, Rania's friends. I can't say too much more without spoiling the book, and without spoiling the first one for those who haven't read it. Suffice it to say, things don't always work out as planned. They also have to contact Susan Murray, presidential candidate, for her help in this. There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot, but it wasn't too hard to follow. It also ties up neatly at the end, which means that there probably won't be a 3rd novel. Fish Out of Water was written in 1st person, from Rania's point of view. This novel is written in 3rd person. It was a little jarring at first, but that may have been because I read both of them back to back. If I had read them when they were each first published, it may not have been an issue. It was also jarring when the novel switched to present tense during one very big scene (I don't want to give it away). Usually when that happens, the different scene is in italics, to distinguish it. This one wasn't, and I felt it should have been rewritten to reflect the rest of the book. These are relatively minor quibbles, though. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Beached

BeachedBeached by Ros Baxter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the sequel to Fish Out of Water. This one follows Rania and Princess Lecanora as they explore the land and find the secret to the end of the world. The novel starts with Lecanora attacking the manager of a fast food restaurant for serving fish. They have just come back from their water kingdom of Aegira, and are trying to find connections to recent destructive events in their home kingdom. They're going to need help, so they recruit Rania's mom, as well as Doug and Larry, Rania's friends. I can't say too much more without spoiling the book, and without spoiling the first one for those who haven't read it. Suffice it to say, things don't always work out as planned. They also have to contact Susan Murray, presidential candidate, for her help in this. There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot, but it wasn't too hard to follow. It also ties up neatly at the end, which means that there probably won't be a 3rd novel. Fish Out of Water was written in 1st person, from Rania's point of view. This novel is written in 3rd person. It was a little jarring at first, but that may have been because I read both of them back to back. If I had read them when they were each first published, it may not have been an issue. It was also jarring when the novel switched to present tense during one very big scene (I don't want to give it away). Usually when that happens, the different scene is in italics, to distinguish it. This one wasn't, and I felt it should have been rewritten to reflect the rest of the book. These are relatively minor quibbles, though. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 13, 2014

Take One With You

Take One With YouTake One With You by Oak Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This book brings up an interesting concept: if you're going to commit suicide, why not "take one with you", the "one" being someone who should die anyway. Someone who committed an unspeakable crime, such as murder or rape, and either got away with it or served a lot less time than they should have for the crime. It's vigilante justice taken to a new level. For me, it's also the mindset behind the suicide bombers in the Middle East, and all of the recent shooting sprees at various places in the US. Some would argue that the examples in the book were criminals who deserved to die, but the real-life examples I gave involve innocent bystanders. The problem with any vigilante justice is that it's a slippery slope. What you and I consider innocent, the killer may consider either criminal or simply means to an end. That's what plays itself out in this book. I was a little confused at first. The book kept going back and forth among several sets of characters. Eventually, we get to Charlie and Sarah, the ones who start the website publicizing this movement. We meet them and get to know them, and discover some of their motivation. We also see what happens when the situation spirals out of control. The book also intersperses realistic transcripts and pictures showing the national scope of this movement, making it seem more real. Part of me wanted the book to be written in a more lineal fashion, instead of bouncing back and forth in time. Part of me appreciated the suspense. All in all, a good book. It should come with a warning label, though. "This is a work of fiction. Do not try this yourself."

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Birthright

Birthright (Talmassa Chronicles, #1)Birthright by Vivian Eve
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was familiar. We have a teen heroine trying to overturn the established government, and she also happens to be good with a bow and arrow. Even the cover photo shows that. Then she gets dolled up for a big banquet.Didn't they just make two big budget movies about this? But then as I started reading it, I realized it wasn't that at all. It's told in 1st person from the heroine (Hedy's) point of view. This seems to be the trend in YA novels. Her family is killed in a brutal attack, and she is captured and becomes part of the rebellion. She and her companions travel to the kingdom, where she has to get close to a prince. The plot is full of twists and turns, and sometimes it can be easy to get lost in all of the details. You never quite know who's who and what side they're on. But then, neither does Hedy. This is why it was a bit jarring to have the epilogue in 3rd person. I didn't understand the switch, and I thought it weakened the book. It definitely keeps you engaged. The subtitle, Talmassa Chronicles, implies that there will be more books in the series. I look forward to reading them.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fish Out of Water

Fish Out Of WaterFish Out Of Water by Ros Baxter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting twist on the mermaid formula. This time the mermaid, Rania, is a sheriff who only has 3 weeks to live because of an ancient prophecy. She's in a town far away from her home in the ocean. One night, a dead body washes up, and she has to investigate. It turns out the dead body is another mermaid. (Don't worry, this is all in the early part of the book, so I'm not revealing any spoilers.) Her investigation will take her back to her home, where the secret is much more than she realized.

I liked the plot twists and turns in this one. The description of the mermaids and the mermaid world is 180 degrees from Disney. The book is written in first person, so everything is told from Rania's perspective. We learn about the characters and the circumstances from her. It reads like a mystery novel, trying to find out who the dead body is, and who could have done this. Plus, all of the other details of a mermaid living on land, and trying to enforce the law. The ending is set up to handle a sequel, Beached, which was published in April. There were still some questions I had about the characters, though. I won't go into them here, because I don't want to spoil anything, but I'm hoping some of them will be answered in the sequel. All in all, a good book.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Siren's Secret

Siren's SecretSiren's Secret by Debbie Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

I don't usually read Harlequin romances. When I was growing up, they had the reputation of being the cheap novels you bought at the checkout counter. All of them had the same basic plotline: Young, innocent woman goes to some exotic location and meets a man dressed like Fabio. THey have an instant attraction, and fall into a night of steamy lovemaking. After some intervening issues, they come back together and profess their everlasting love for each other. There's even a book, first published in 1984 and still available on Amazon, called the Romance Writers' Phrase Book, which has all kinds of phrases romance authors can use to punch up their novels. I remember Johnny Carson parodying this on the Tonight Show with a segment called You Are the Author, where he allowed audience members the chance to write romance novel phrases. Besides all of this, as a 50 year old heterosexual man, I'm not their target market.

All that said, this is not the stereotypical Harlequin Romance novel. You had a creepy guy who was the murderer (this is established at the beginning of the novel, so it's not a spoiler). He likes to collect dead bugs, which reminded me of Silence of the Lambs. (I almost expected the killer to be wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask at some point.) Then, somehow, a mermaid finds the body in the ocean and brings it to shore so the sheriff can find it. In typical Harlequin fashion, the sheriff is a hunky guy, and the mermaid is drawn to him for a night of passionate lovemaking. However, this part is kept to a minimum. The sheriff has a developmentally disabled brother and an alcoholic mother. The mermaid has 2 mermaid cousins who specialize in treasure hunting. The novel follows all the characters as they interact with each other, until the climactic final scene. This actually reads like a mystery novel rather than a romance. You feel for the sheriff and his family. You understand the mermaids' motivation to keep things secret. The killer is somewhat stereotypical, but even there, there are some things from his past that play a big part in his future. It ends with enough loose ends to possibly generate a sequel. I haven't said too much, because I don't want to spoil the ending, but there is a lot more going on in this book. All in all, a good book. I don't know if I'll read any more Harlequin books (except to review them), but I won't dismiss them any more either.

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