Decapitating the Union by John C. Fazio

Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate LincolnDecapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln by John C Fazio

This is a comprehensive work on the assassination of Lincoln and the attempted decapitation of the United States Government in the closing days of the Civil War. After a Foreward by Joan L. Chaconas, it begins with the prelude to the national fratricide and ends with the incarceration, trial and sentencing of all but one of the assassin’s action team and one innocent man and an in-depth analysis of conspiracy. In between, the author covers the underground mosaic; John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators; the great kidnapping ruse that concealed the attempted decapitation; conundrums, enigmas and mysteries relating to key players (Parker, Forbes and Cobb); the assassination itself and Booth’s escape; attempted decapitation of the government; the death of the President; pursuit of the fugitives and the death of Booth; and Edman Spangler’s innocence. The author makes use of hundreds of sources to justify his rejection of the simple conspiracy theory and his affirmation of the Tidwell, Hall and Gaddy thesis of the complicity of the highest levels of the Confederate Government and its Secret Service Bureau, including the operatives in Canada, whose twofold purpose was retribution and snatching independence from the jaws of a toothless and chaotic government.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know what you’re thinking…oh no, not another Lincoln book–and whilst I understand that sentiment, allow me to ensure you that this one is worth the time to read and actually does present some new information and ideas.

Being fascinated with this subject myself, I’ve read most everything about it that I can get my hands on. When I saw this book I had fears that it would be a compendium of repeated information, but that is not the case. This author has made great strides to correct false information that has been repeated as truth, and to present ideas and back them up with hard evidence. Mr. Fazio asks questions in this writing that I have not seen elsewhere.

I found this to be a well-rounded book, with a good, solid background history. Whether this is your first Lincoln book, or if you have been studying the man and his life and death for some time, this book will have something to offer you.

Some of the points discussed at length in this book are:

The attempts on Lincoln’s life prior to the actual assassination.

Who was who in each circle, the president’s and that of the confederates.

Charles Forbes and his involvement.

A sensible debate over Booth’s supposed jump from the presidential box and his resulting broken leg.

Differences of opinion of historians on multiple events

As well as many more points. I was most impressed by the research this author compiled on Booth. John C. Fazio has presented the most worthwhile description of the man and his motivations that I have seen yet in any book.

There are photos included in this book that I have not seen used in prior books. I also appreciated the author’s view on Spangler and his role in the events.

This is an extensively researched, well-worded book that did more than just repeat a conspiracy theory for the millionth time. I appreciated the author’s approach to presenting information and not attempting to sway the reader in any particular direction.

This would be a perfect choice to introduce this subject to anyone who is just beginning to research it, as well as a great addition to any collector’s library. I was greatly impressed.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at HeartThe Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York: A Yarn for the Strange at Heart by Kory Merritt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book and everything about it from the concept of the story to the illustrations. I am not always one for graphic novels as often times I don’t feel like they tell a complete story, but that was not the case with this book.

The story here is fun, interesting and different. It wasn’t predictable and the illustrations are so good that you want to go back and flip through it again just to admire them. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for the main character. He goes through a lot.

The use of limited colours really worked here. They weren’t distracting as you read the story and I think people of all ages will have fun with this. According to the author bio, this is the first published work of this author, and I really hope that there will be more to follow. This would be a great addition to anyone’s collection.

The mixture of prose and traditional storytelling in this book makes for a nice flow as well.

Also–this book has a great message about getting out there and creating a life for yourself that is worthy of talking about later. Loved the monsters. Two big thumbs up for this one. I recommend you check it out–you will have a good time.

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

D. E. M. (Deus Ex Machina) by Lee Ness

D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina by Lee Ness

No good turn goes unpunished!

When Rachel is spurred to use her computing skills to find an abducted boy, she has no idea that it will bring her to the attention of an anonymous vigilante. Is the vigilante what he seems and what does he want with Rachel? As she gets drawn deeper into his world she tries to find out more about him only to put herself and her friends in grave danger. When she finally realises that he isn’t a vigilante at all, Rachel is in a race against time to save her friends and prevent him from escalating the war between Israel and Palestine.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pleasantly surprised is the way to describe my reaction to this book. Although I am not a huge fan of political thrillers and have limited knowledge when it comes to computer operations, this book offered a lot more than that to the general reader.

The author wastes no time creating an interesting situation for the main character and pulling the reader into the story. From the beginning I could identify with the main character, although we don’t learn much about her until later in the book.

I thought her background and the way the author connected it to the story was really well planned and I liked all of the unexpected twists in this story. Try as you might, you won’t be able to figure this one out until the very end.

The descriptions of the procedures the hackers used were interesting and kept me wanting to find out more, and the relationships between the characters grew more intense throughout the story. This is the kind of book where you are never sure who to trust and that makes in an exciting journey.

Overall, I thought this was a great book and would encourage other readers to give it a try.

About the author:

“I was originally a non-fiction author, having written two sports books (The Sports Motivation Master Plan and Growth: Using the Mindset Model for Sporting Success). But once I had the writing bug, I had to write a novel. The first one I created in my head while driving a very slow mini-bus full of athletes to and from a competition. After 5 hours driving, I had the basic plots for a series of novels about a future Olympian in ancient Greece. I wrote the first of these, Hoplite over the next year or so, but I wisely decided not to publish. I didn’t have the skill at that point and the book wouldn’t have been ready. I edited about 7 times and removed the first 8 chapters.
While I was deciding what to do, I wrote a short story. I enjoyed the story so much, and the two characters in it, I decided to turn that into a full novel and the short story became chapter 1. With what I’d learned from writing and editing the first book, I felt a lot better. It still needed some serious editing and I made a few mistakes originally, but I think the book is much more polished and has a great pace (in my opinion!)
So became D.E.M. – Deus Ex Machina. It came from the short story, which in turn came from a piece of advice given to me long ago as a young manager “No good deed goes unpunished!” Additionally, I just loved the term Deus Ex Machina. So three separate things came together and the story is where they intersect.
Writing D.E.M. has helped me rewrite the original novel, which I’m releasing in 6 parts on e-book over the course of 2015 and on paperback in December. I’ve written the follow up to Hoplite, which I’m just finishing the final chapters on now, and then I have the full plot for D.E.M. – Quid Pro Quo. I’ve given myself the target of releasing that one on 01/01/16, which will be a challenge, but people who’ve read the first one keep asking me for the second, so I can’t let anyone down.”

Win a really fun Prize courtesy of Disney!

Note: All samples and prizes provided through Disney Publishing

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Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

About the Book:

Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task…until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

Elise Allen

About the Authors:

Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury). In television, she has written for talent ranging from Bill Cosby to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.

Daryle Conners

Daryle Conners is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and video game designer. She writes joke and riddle books and has designed many game titles for the PC and iPhone/iPad including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scene It? Harry Potter, Hot Wheels Slot Car Racers, and Scene It? Twilight Saga. Her non-fiction books include Lunchtime LOLZ, Nintendo DS Hot Tips, ROFLs,Video Game Secrets and Monster High Jokes, all for Scholastic. Daryle lives in Seattle, where she still babysits from time to time.

READ AN EXCERPT

http://www.bighonchomedia.com/assets/Disney/Gabby/GabbyDuranExcerpt.pdf

LEARN MORE

Learn more at the Official Site

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 My Review
Gabby Duran and the UnsittablesGabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have decided that I am in the wrong business and Gabby Duran has the job that I want!

I loved this book–it made me giggle all the way through. I am a huge fan of middle-grade fiction. I love the fantastic story lines and the fun events that adult books just can’t quite pull off. This book is the epitome of everything a good mid-grade book should be.

Gabby Duran is a wonderful character that kids will have no trouble relating to. She is smart, sly and compassionate. One of my favourite things about this book was Gabby’s obvious affection for all the little kids (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial,) that she sat for. She is a good role model for patience and acceptance of those who are a bit different.

This is filled with the fun kind of danger that will keep young readers on their toes and wanting to turn pages. I loved the shape-shifting alien and the silly humour. This book doesn’t have any gross-out humour, so parents can feel good about their kids reading it. The authors took enough liberties with reality to make it fun, but not so many that you can’t follow the story. I am really looking forward to seeing where else Gabby goes and what adventures await her.

If you are looking for a book for a special child in your life, this would be a perfect choice. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, Disney Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

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Prize Pack!

COOLEST BABYSITTER IN THE GALAXY prize pack

One (1) winner receives:

· a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

· and branded Tumbler and UFO light-up flyer.

All you have to do is share this post with your favorite social media outlet–and leave a comment to let me know you did. One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday the 16th of May. Open to US residents only.

Remember When….by Dana Lehman

Remember When...(Walnut Grove Series,#4)Remember When… by Dana Lehman

Winter break in Walnut Grove was going to be sensational this year! Cold temperatures and ten inches of freshly fallen snow were perfect conditions for snowboarding and ice fishing. But there was problem: Bucky’s pet frog, Whopper, was missing. Bucky and his friends had looked everywhere for Whopper, but he was nowhere to be found.
Sammy was determined to help Bucky feel better. But Sammy and his friends soon realize that cheering up a friend when they have lost someone they love is not an easy task. Will snowboarding and ice fishing help to make Bucky feel better? Will Sammy and his friends find Whopper?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dana Lehman brings us another delightful children’s story with “Remember When.”

One of the hardest things to explain to children about life is loss. In this book, the author manages to broach this delicate subject in a tasteful way and in a manner that children will understand and respond to.

This is a cute story with a theme of remembering the good times we have with those that we love but can’t be with. Unlike some of the books out there that are fashioned to teach children important life lessons, this one is not depressing and will not make your child sad. The message is there and is clear, but the story still has a happy ending.

One of the things I love about these books, is that the story and illustrations always match. Judy Lehman has a gift for creating adorable and loveable characters and her artwork makes these books really special. In a world full of computer generated images, hand drawn pictures are such a treat. This is a beautiful book and is a lot of fun to read with the little ones.

Recommended.

Everywhere the Road Ends by Scott McCloskey

Everywhere the Road Ends (The Traveler of Ord #2)Everywhere the Road Ends by Scott McCloskey

Bullied at prep-school and unappreciated at home, all young Theodore Ellsworth wanted was to be like the heroes in his favorite fantasy tales. Whisked away to the Gossamer City and chosen to embark on a quest to save a kingdom, he thought he’d have his chance.

He was wrong.

Left for dead in a place where malicious spirits feast on the living, Theo has only just begun to learn that glory comes at a price. With his new friends fighting for their lives, Theo is thrown off course and embroiled in a murder mystery that must be solved before he can save his little sister from a gruesome fate. A crackpot inventor and a pure-hearted young knight are on the job, but Theo already knows the killer. He sees the Beast of Calharik every night, when he looks down in terror at his own bloodied hands.

Set against a backdrop of steam-powered robots, tall ships, and a seaside populace at the mercy of the rich, Everywhere the Road Ends picks up the action right where The Goldenwealth Light left off. Get ready for another exotic trip to the World of Ord, complete with new faces, twice the nail-biting action, and hours of page turning adventure!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all–this is a beautiful cover. Caught my eye right away and made me want to read the book.

Secondly, one can count on Scott McCloskey to write books that will capture your attention and demand all of it until the very last page. This book reinforced that belief.

If you enjoy novels with quirky characters that you remember long after reading, this will be an epic fantasy series that you don’t want to miss out on. Just as in the first book, I was delighted by the big personalities and the unexpected events. This time around, the author expanded his cast of characters and the journey took the readers to new places. As with the previous book, the author’s descriptions are fantastic and make you feel as if you are right there, in the scene with the characters.

I really enjoyed the dialogue in this book. The author does a good job of ensuring that his character’s actions and speech match the personalities we have come to expect from them and I never felt like the conversations were forced. There is humour where it is called for and you can see the characters change and grow as they learn throughout the story.

I am really excited to see where the author goes after this. A great book, certainly worthy of a recommendation.

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Siren's Call (Dark Seas)Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren: gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown-up, hot as an Alabama summer and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debbie Herbert has done it again, bringing her readers the magic of attraction and romance tinged with danger and the unknown.

Love this book. Just like the others in this series, this novel is filled with things that will make you swoon–most especially the male lead. Of the three books I have read in this series, this one is my favourite. It was nice to get updates on the lives of previously featured characters, and I really felt like the author tied everything together in this novel.

Debbie Herbert is really good at building unique situations for her characters and creating the kind of chemistry between them that you want to see in a romance. Her couples feel really genuine and the story line feels very natural and not contrived.

It is easy to become swiftly involved in these stories and find yourself lost in the lives of these women. The setting was as beautiful and mysterious as the rest of the series, and makes you wonder if there just might really be mermaids in the Bayou.

This was a great novel, and one that I happily recommend. If you are looking for a story that has more than just a simple romance, this is the way to go.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

Every Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Breath You TakeEvery Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Natalie Scott goes jogging along Chicago’s lakefront. She likes foreign films, cinnamon gum and strawberry yogurt. She smells like sunflowers in the summer and roses in the winter.

These are just a few of the things Natalie’s stalker knows about her.

In fact, he knows everything about her.

In one brutal act of violence, Natalie’s stalker will reveal himself to her, imprisoning her in the process, determined to own her body and soul. Now trapped in a madman’s web, Natalie finds herself in a terrifying battle of wills where the only way to survive is to beat the monster at his own game…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I look forward to new Bianca Sloane novels for a lot of reasons, but mostly it is her incredible ability to create plot twists that the reader never expects.

“Every Breath You Take” is a perfect title for this book. The author has not only shown us what it is like to be stalked, tortured and desperate, but has given us a more in-depth look at the world of serious psychiatric disorders and the darker side of obsession.

The main character in this story has been through a lot, and yet remains strong and even likeable all the way through the book. I could easily identify with her desire to be free of burdens from the past and want to start anew, and I found my own emotions following that of the character through each event in the book.

I was particularly impressed with the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped. Watching the main character gain understanding of her captor and how to use his own desires against him was interesting and kept me on edge.

Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to stop. I found it hard to put this novel down and do much of anything else. This story is quickly paced, intelligent and has the kind of characters that it is easy to love (and hate.)

If you are looking for a good book to take you away from everything, this is one you can get lost in.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft–and a chance to win a great book

Please scroll to the bottom of the post for a link to the Rafflecopter giveaway of a Landmark fiction prize pack, for your chance to win

ABOUT THE FAR END OF HAPPY:

The Far End of Happy is a powerful new novel based on author Kathryn Craft’s personal experience with a stand-off involving her husband.  Here Craft delivers “real, raw emotion” (Library Journal) exploring a marriage unraveled by mental illness; and one man’s spiral towards a violent conclusion that tests the courage, love, and hope of the three women he leaves behind.

When the emotionally troubled Jeff engages police in a deadly stand-off, his wife, mother-in-law, and mother struggle to understand why the man they love has turned his back on the life they have given him, the one they all believe is still worth living.

“Framing the novel within a 12-hour period keeps the pages turning (Library Journal).” Narrating from the alternating perspectives of three women, whose lives will be forever altered by Jeff Farnham, gives an intimate look at the steps a woman will take to get the help her husband so urgently needs while desperately trying to keep her children safe.

The Far End of HappyThe Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to write this review beginning with a confession. When I began reading this book I had not read that it was based on a true life event. Would it have changed the way I felt about it? Perhaps.

Since I did not know until after I read this that it was based on experiences from the author, I am going to write the review as I would have if I had not learned that information, with one minor exception–I now know how the author managed to make the feelings of pain and uncertainty so real in this story, and I applaud her for putting into words what only time and reflection will allow us to examine.

Now on to the review.

This is a powerful, painful, shocking, realistic and at times difficult to keep reading piece of literature. The author really knows how to express the pain that suicide and mental health issues, especially depression, inflict on the family members around the victim.

The thoughtful prose and highly quotable phrases in this novel are not few and far between. This is a book that will make you wonder how lucky you are to be you in this moment, make you think about the people you know ho have not been so lucky and make you realise that your problems may be small in comparison.

This isn’t a book that I would recommend to everyone. Although I do not see this as a selfish attempt from the author, but more part of a healing process for herself and her family, I also think that it is a highly personal sort of story. It is intense and as stated above, emotionally difficult.

It was a hell of a book, for the better or worse.

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

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Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberol

Doctor DeathDoctor Death by Lene Kaaberbøl
From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Boy in the Suitcase, a gripping historical thriller and poignant coming-of-age story set in nineteenth-century France.

Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed, Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor.

The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl’s family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease – or of a heinous murderer.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The author has given us once more a strong main character that is both intelligent and willing to get her hands dirty to get to the root of a mystery.

In the realm of early forensic science there have been quite a few recent novels, but most of them I felt were either using science too advanced for their time or not advanced enough. This book seemed to strike the right balance and also told an exciting story in the process.

The author did a good job of making her main character emotional enough that we feel her pain, and yet kept her sensible enough that she did not come off as silly and a damsel in distress.

Overall, I thought this was a great book with lots of mysteries to solve and characters that I could easily care for.

Recommended.

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