Book Tour: Gideon Lee by Lisa Orchard

GideonLee 500x750Blurb:  Seventeen-year-old Lark Singer only has two things going for her, her music and her best friend Bean. While entering a competition she hopes will launch their music career, Lark searches for answers that will make her whole. Her quest reveals some secrets that those around her would rather keep hidden. As the competition looms closer, Lark discovers not only who she really is, but also who her real friends are. Then tragedy threatens everything she has worked so hard to accomplish. Can she pick up the pieces and move on?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I want to be like Gideon Lee. My lips move as I read the title of my essay. They twitch as I stifle a snicker. Looking around the room, I make sure no one has seen my facial tic. My eyes light upon the Presidents’ pictures lined up on the wall. They face me, each with a unique expression, and I wonder what they were thinking while they posed. They are above the clock so my gaze naturally falls on it. It’s almost time for lunch.

I settle back in my seat and my lips twitch again. A feeling of defiant exhilaration washes over me like a tidal wave.

Montgomery’s going to freak when he reads this.

Despite my best efforts, a giggle escapes and the boy in front of me turns around and gives me the evil eye. I return the glare. He is slumped over, and sweat beads on his upper lip. I think this is odd — it’s rather chilly in the room — but dismiss it before I turn back to my essay.

I bet old man Montgomery doesn’t even know who Gideon Lee is. This thought sends another giggle to the surface, but I quickly squash it by biting my lip.

I picture him searching Gideon Lee’s name on the Internet. I see his expression changing from confusion to disgust. I imagine him taking off his black, thick-rimmed glasses and shaking his head. I hear him mutter, “Lark Singer, what are you doing?” He rubs his face. I can actually hear the rough sandpapery sound as his hand finds his day old stubble. He sighs and puts his glasses back on. “What am I going to do with you?”

I remember when Mr. Montgomery first told us about the assignment. We were supposed to write an essay on someone we admire, someone who has contributed to society in some way. I know when he says this he wants us to write about an a historical figure. After all this is history class, but I raised my hand anyway.

“Lark,” he called out as he stood at his lectern.

“Do they have to be dead?”

He cocked his head as he studied me with his piercing blue eyes. Then he ran his hand over his military style crew cut, and I watched as his salt and pepper hair flattened then popped back into place as if each hair was standing at attention. I could tell he wasn’t sure where this was going. “Well… I guess not.” That’s when he froze, as if he realized he had just opened a door for me and he wasn’t going to like what was on the other side. He shifted his weight, and looked down at the floor before he backpedaled. “But they have to have made a positive contribution to society. It can’t be about a mobster or anything like that.” Pursing his lips, he stared at me, fiddling with those glasses. “This is one half of your semester grade, Lark. I wouldn’t pull any funny stuff.”

“Oh, I won’t. Scout’s honor,” I answered sweetly, placing my hand over my heart and giving him the scout salute, while inside I planned my rebellion.

I have him. I’m going to write about Gideon Lee, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

 20111210_ABS_1296[1]Author Bio: 

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. Hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade, she even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. Her first series, The Super Spies,” has reached bestseller status

  After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree, she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, shes working on a Coming of Age Young Adult series called The Starlight Chronicles. When shes not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Guest Review: Abe Lincoln Public Enemy No. 1

My lovely friend and fellow book lover Pamela

has agreed to share her thoughts on “Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1.  It’s a great review from a trusted reader. Check out the review and check out the book. Looks like fun!

 

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WATCH THE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiiiOh…

When John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln with a bullet cursed by the notorious Chicken Man, a local voodoo practitioner, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events extending far into the future. Instead of killing Lincoln, the bullet puts the president into a coma for sixty-eight years, his body remaining limber and ageless. When he awakens in 1933, Abe Lincoln is a man out of time, a revered icon…and a political pariah. FDR and J. Edgar Hoover not only do not want him around, they want him to retire. But their plan to be rid of him backfires and Lincoln is on the run, a fugitive from justice.

Determined to reach Chicago and retrieve the small fortune left in trust for him by his long-dead son, Lincoln discovers that Hoover has confiscated all his money, leaving him destitute. With Bureau of Investigation agent Melvin Purvis in hot pursuit, Lincoln finds his way to a hobo camp where he befriends a young runaway, who agrees to accompany the former president back to Washington. There Lincoln hopes that Hannah Wheelhouse, the Chicken Man’s granddaughter, can help him find the peace he longs for.

Then fate deals Lincoln another strange hand when he and the boy end up as hostages to infamous bank robber John Dillinger. Instead of leaving them by the side of the road after the robbery, Dillinger takes a liking to Lincoln and invites him to join the gang, promising him he’ll get all his money back.

Will Lincoln survive long enough to recapture his fortune and get away, or will he be hunted down in a manner unbefitting a martyred President?

In Brian Anthony and Bill Walker’s inventive and entertaining novel, history gets a work-out, the action is flat-out, and almost everyone gets rubbed-out!

–From Goodreads

 

Pamela’s Review:

 

It’s a bit risky to take historical figures and events and create a new reality, but factor in that the historical figure is a beloved and highly respected one and you have the recipe for a potential disaster. In this case though, the disaster was averted with good writing and a compelling story.

I’m a fan of all things Lincoln so I was curious how this story would play out. The book started out with the facts of Lincoln’s assassination, embellished with a bit of voodoo magic. In a nutshell, Lincoln ends up in a coma instead of dead. Rather than tell the American people the truth, he is allowed to live asleep…for 70 years, without aging.

Once Lincoln wakes up, his adventures begin. FDR was President and J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of damage control. Honest Abe meets a boy and they begin a life on the road trying to avoid being hunted down by Hoover and his men. There were a couple of places where the story seemed to skip some crucial information.

The paranormal aspect of this book requires the reader to suspend reality. While I was able to look past many things, it still felt like a story. When I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter I was able to actually believe this is what could have happened. With Public Enemy, there was never any doubt this was just a story.

There were passages where Lincoln would say and do things that were in keeping with his historical self. Then there were others where it was too far fetched to be Lincoln as we know him.

I wasn’t happy with the ending of the book. Not like it didn’t end the way I wanted it to end, but it just felt incomplete. It was almost like the authors ran out of steam and gave up.

The book was entertaining and well written, however. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a little history sprinkled into their reading. The best line in the book was when Abe was told he should shave his beard so he wouldn’t be as recognizable, “You can’t go around lookin’ like a penny, Mr. Lincoln.” Four out of five stars.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane AustenFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

A thrilling literary mystery co-starring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield.  Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is certainly a book that will pique the interest of Jane Austen Admirer’s as well as warm the heart of bibliophiles. It is a book very much about books, but also has an unexpected mystery at its core.

As a love story, I enjoyed this book for the fact that it showed many different facets of love, not just the romantic type that readers usually encounter.

Charlie Lovett is good with words. He knows how to bend them and craft them carefully until he has chosen just the right ones. This was true in his first book, and now again in his second. He seems to understand what we as readers, want to see in a character and a story and ensure that we do not leave disappointed.

I found myself caught up in this novel quickly and was more than pleased with it overall. Both of the stories were interesting and the way the author co-mingled the past and the present was sheer talent.

I’d definitely recommend this book to other book lovers.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley, all opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The Carpathian Assignment by Chip Wagar

The Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of TransylThe Carpathian Assignment: The True History of the Apprehension and Death of Dracula Vlad Tepes, Count and Voivode of the Principality of Transyl by Chip Wagar

Kalvary Istvan, widower and former Hungarian cavalry colonel, hopes for a quiet life when he accepts the position of chief of police in the Carpathian city of Bistritz. It’s no less than a man deserves after years of service to his Kaiser and king. Sadly, Istvan’s going to be disappointed. Someone or something haunts the streets of Bistritz and the surrounding Transylvanian mountains. Ask Istvan’s new colleague, Gabor Kasza of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie, and he’d say evidence points to a well-established serial killer, possibly hidden among the oppressed and reviled Roma, who call the nearby Borgo Pass home. Ask Freudian devotee Baron Krafft-Ebing and he’d agree, although his interest lies more in studying the psychopath’s mind than bringing him to justice. Ask the mountain people of the Carpathians, however, and they’d disagree. They’d point to the long history of killings and disappearances in the region, which stretch back longer than any one man’s lifetime. They’d speak in hushed voices of the Roma’s supposed master, and an abandoned castle where he lives with his demonic wives. The bravest residents might even risk whispering a name: Dracula. Kalvary Istvan, like Kasza and Krafft-Ebing, considers himself a modern nineteenth-century man, with little time for legends and superstitions, but as he and Kasza pursue their investigation, reason and deduction begin to give way to dark, ancient truths and local belief. At once a thrilling detective yarn and intriguing backstory to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Carpathian Assignment immerses readers in the rich setting of the Hungarian kingdom at the end of the nineteenth century, a nation in which science and logic clash with centuries of cultural conviction and superstition.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So…this is possibly the best sort-of-Dracula-like-book I have ever read. It is also possibly the worst ARC copy that I have ever bloody seen. Through no fault of the author, there are large chunks of text missing and most of the beginnings of each paragraph. The Final copy, of course will not look like this, so it is of no real concern to the final book readers, but I would have felt bad if I didn’t mention that there were parts of the book I did not get to read.

As far as the story goes, this is very well written and has the historical backing that most books of the sort completely lack. It is obvious that Chip Wagar is familiar with the geography of the places he writes about as well as the historical matter. This was a nice change from many books that simply have Dracula featured as a bloodthirsty vampire.

This story progressed nicely and at a good clip, with lots of mysteries to be solved and a villain that did not simply skulk off into hiding or get defeated at the drop of a….wooden stake. I liked that the historical angle was used to back up the story and flesh it out.

The only thing that irked me about this novel, were the sex scenes. It wasn’t that they were poorly written, but they seemed misplaced, as though they were an afterthought. People have been dying for years due to this monster, we should have sex! Really, it just didn’t work for me.

An entertaining romp into the remote Carpathian wilds, exciting for a girl from Romania. If you are interested in the historical Dracula, then you will likely enjoy this novel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Mathematician’s Shiva

It isn’t often that I feel the need to recommend a book to a specific person, especially not fiction novels, but in this case, Chris McMullen, I thought of you.

 

 

The Mathematician's ShivaThe Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer

A comic, bittersweet tale of family evocative of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Everything Is Illuminated

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar, Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave. To Sasha’s chagrin, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution—even if it means prying up the floorboards for Rachela’s notes.

Written by a Ph.D. geophysicist, this hilarious and multi-layered debut novel brims with colorful characters and brilliantly captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m going to keep this review short so I’m not tempted to give away parts that you need to read for yourself. I loved this book, plain and simple.

This is a book that will make you laugh out loud, make you smile and keep turning pages long into the night. It is the kind of book you want to talk about with the neighbour you’ve never spoken to or the guy on the bus next to you, because it is so good you just want people to know.

Read it.

The characters are so vibrant and alive and the family dynamics are wonderful. If you are a maths geek, you won’t be able to resist.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley.

The Accidental Alchemist

The Accidental AlchemistThe Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

A modern tale of ancient intrigue from a USA Today bestselling author

When Zoe Faust–herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon–begins unpacking her bags, she can’t help but notice she’s picked up a stow away: a living, breathing, three-and-half-foot gargoyle. Dorian Robert-Houdin is no simple automaton, nor is he a homunculus; in fact, he needs Zoe’s help to decipher a centuries-old text that explains exactly what he is. Zoe, who’s trying to put her alchemical life behind her, isn’t so sure she can help. But after a murder victim is discovered on her front porch, Zoe realized she’s tangled up in ancient intrigue that can’t be ignored.

Includes recipes!

Praise:

“The Accidental Alchemist is a recipe for a great read. Gigi Pandian’s pen never disappoints.”–JULIET BLACKWELL, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY SERIES

“A magical, whimsical cozy that will delight readers who enjoy Juliet Blackwell and Heather Weber mysteries!” –AVERY AAMES, AKA DARYL WOOD GERBER, AUTHOR OF THE CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, is this not an awesome cover? Immediately drew me to the book.

As far as the actual book went, I had mixed emotions. There were some great ideas in this story and some of them were expressed wonderfully, and some…well, not so much. I loved the gargoyle and the main character had her moments where she was highly likable and interesting.

The mystery angle of the book–for me at least–fell flat. The story was interesting as was the concept for murder, but the author spent a lot of time on minor characters and insignificant happenings, thereby killing the excitement of solving the crimes. Honestly, by about half way I was wondering if she was ever going to get to the actual point.

I will say, that the writing is good for the most part and that she has quite the imagination. I liked the way she included small details that became important later and kept the curiosity of the reader piqued with ever more possibilities that things would not go as one expected, I just wish we could have gotten there a bit sooner. I really don’t feel the need to know every time a character eats something.

There are some great recipes in the back of the book and an interesting bio of the author. The end of the story wasn’t terribly surprising, but put a smile on my face.

If you are looking for a nice fantasy/reality cross and have the patience for a book that does have some slow spots, this is a good one. I’m curious to see what else this author does.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Hitler’s Last Witness –Rochus Misch

Hitler's Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler's BodyguardHitler’s Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Bodyguard by Rochus Misch

After being seriously wounded in the 1939 Polish campaign, Rochus Misch was invited to join Hitler’s SS-bodyguard. There he served until the war s end as Hitler s bodyguard, courier, orderly and finally as Chief of Communications. On the Berghof terrace he watched Eva Braun organize parties; observed Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer; and monitored telephone conversations from Berlin to the East Prussian FHQ on 20 July 1944 after the attempt on Hitler’s life. Towards the end Misch was drawn into the Fuhrerbunker with the last of the faithful . As defeat approached, he remained in charge of the bunker switchboard as his duty required, even after Hitler committed suicide. Misch knew Hitler as the private man and his position was one of unconditional loyalty. His memoirs offer an intimate view of life in close attendance to Hitler and of the endless hours deep inside the bunker; and provide new insights into military events such as Hitler s initial feelings that the 6th Army should pull out of Stalingrad. Shortly before he died Misch wrote a new introduction for this first-ever English-language edition. The book also contains a foreword by the Jewish author Ralph Giordano and a new introduction by Roger Moorhouse.REVIEWS [Misch s] memoir is full of details, asides and digressions, which allow the reader a rare and fascinating insight into the Third Reich s inner sanctum . . . Misch overheard conversations, watched the comings and goings and was a keen observer of events . . . He was as close to being a fly on the wall as one could get. Roger Moorhouse, author Berlin at War . . . convincing first-person testimony (of) the dictator s final desperate months, days and hours. Huffington Post The memoirs of Hitler s bodyguard and unquestioning servant who was one of the last people to see him alive. The Times(UK) Misch glorifies nothing, criticizes nothing and justifies nothing, not even himself. He has a sharp eye for detail, which despite the passage of the years he depicts in a credible manner. Gottinger Tageblatt An insignificant man, who experienced significant events. Neue Zurcher Zeitung”

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world changed on the 30th of April 1945, when Hitler chose to take his own life. Most people know this and there have been tons of books written about it. This book, is not another copy of that event.

This is not the portrait of a man of power, nor is it the story of someone famous for knowing someone in power. This is a human story of a simple man, told from his viewpoint, in his own words–words that are both haunting and exciting for anyone interested in the history of war, the Nazis or Hitler.

Rochus Misch was not a Nazi. He never joined the movement. He lived until 2013 and was the last remaining member of the Fuhrerbunker. He was a man who through fate and as a result of a terrifying injury was sent to work closely with Hitler. This book is his story. Some of the events he recounted were surprising, some of them familiar. By his own admission, Hitler was “the boss.” He viewed him as simply an ordinary man that he worked for. Along the way, Rochus mentions several times that he was chosen to occupy the position simply because he did not cause trouble.

I found this book incredible. To listen to the actual viewpoint of Mr. Misch, telling his story in his own words rather than those of a third-party biographer was amazing. So many things accepted as fact in history have been recounted differently here.

This is a look inside the walls of a popularly misunderstood compound and at the lives of the men closest to Hitler. The human side of a man we tend to believe was nothing but evil is revealed in the course of this book, making it a very thought-provoking account.

From dealings with Eva Braun, to his duties for Hitler, Rochus Misch has allowed us entry into a world rarely glimpsed. Memories both fond and difficult to relay have been recorded through his writings.

If you are a fan of historical non-fiction, and are curious about the truth behind the stories, do yourself a favour and read this book. I was fascinated from the first page to the last.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, all opinions are my own.