Hello from the Gillespies

Hello From the GillespiesHello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is most definitely one of my favourite books of the year. I was really surprised actually, by how easily I fell into the rhythm of this book and how much I liked all of the characters. Generally, I end up liking one or two characters a lot and not feeling much for the rest of the cast, but that was not the case with this book.

When you read this novel, you instantly feel like you are part of the family. There is such a special quality to Monica McInerney’s writing. If you are a woman with a husband and children, you will no doubt find something in this book to identify with. I think we all have feelings similar to that of the main character, Angela. I was head nodding a lot whilst reading this book.

The location descriptions are beautiful and the author clearly knows what she is talking about. As this story unfolded, I began feeling terrified of reaching the end of the book. What would I do after this? I felt such a kinship with the characters that it was hard to imagine leaving them and moving on.

Family dynamics take centre stage in this novel, and the author did a beautiful job of showing the difficulties of marriage, growing up and maturing into adulthood.

I would happily recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read with a strong family theme.

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

Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

Bad RomeoBad Romeo by Leisa Rayven
When Cassie Taylor met Ethan Holt at acting school, sparks flew. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy about campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing, Cassie and Ethan’s romance seemed destined. Until he broke her heart and betrayed her trust. Now the A-list heartthrob is back in her life and turning her world around. One touch at a time.

Cast as romantic leads once again, they’re forced to confront raw memories of the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their secret college affair. But they’ll also discover that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks. –from Goodreads
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are into books that are steamy-sexy-I-can’t-believe-she-said-that, then this is the book for you. Seriously, the chemistry between the two main characters in this book is off the charts.

I am not much for new adult books, nor am I usually one for the steamy books (they are usually so predictable,) but this book was interesting and held my attention. If you don’t mind some graphic language and some super sexy love scenes, this book will likely appeal to you.

The female lead in this novel is a good heroine in her own right. She is smart and independent and brings a lot of life to these pages. I liked her from the beginning and was sorry to see her go at the end. As for the male lead, he is anything but your typical Romeo. He is not a brainless body as so many of these novels tend to feature. I think overall, this author did a really good job with these characters and I would definitely recommend this book to others.

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

The Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

The Winter SeaThe Winter Sea by Di Morrissey

Escaping an unhappy marriage and an unsatisfactory job, Cassie Holloway moves to the little Australian coastal town of Whitby Point. There she meets the Aquino family, whose fishing business was founded by their ancestor, Giuseppe, an Italian immigrant, some ninety years before. Life for Cassie on the south west coast is sweet as she sets up a successful restaurant and falls in love with Giuseppe’s great grandson Michael. But when the family patriarch dies, a devastating family secret is revealed which threatens to destroy her dreams. Cassie’s future happiness now rests with her quest for the truth.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and captivating novel that will not let you put it down until the last page has been read. This story begins many years ago and allows the reader to become acquainted with the family at the heart of the book before moving to the present.

Through multiple years and generations, this story bends and weaves around the D’aquino family as well as a main character that you can’t help but love for her personality and passion for life.

This is a book that I found it easy to get lost in and didn’t want to put down. It has been a long time since I got so involved in the lives and world of characters that I forgot about my own, but the break was appreciated.

This author has a certain talent for painting pictures with words and allowing you to really get a sense of the character’s intentions and emotions. If you are looking for a book with a quick pace and a lot of action, this will not be your thing, but if you enjoy generational family tales with secrets, amazing writing and a lot of heart, this will be perfect for you.

Simply put, it is a wonderful book.

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

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 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.

Mirror Interview with Tim Therien

“Mirror, Mirror on the ceiling…”

Now that I have your attention, I don’t actually have a mirror on the ceiling. In fact, the only mirror in my apartment is the one in the bathroom. I take a quick look at myself once a day to make sure I’m presentable to the world, other than that I avoid mirrors with the fervor of a vampire. After reading the clever, witty and intelligent “mirror interviews” featured her at “Readful Things” I have to admit to being a little intimidated. For starters I am not a big fan of tooting my own horn. If I took tooting my own horn I might just have to get that mirror for the ceiling. That said; let’s get on to the crux of it, shall we?

On Poetry

Poetry is very near and dear to me and perhaps I will always be a Poet first and a Writer second. I do make a distinction between the two. Both may be mediums of the written word, but I believe Poetry is more akin to Music than to Prose, especially in its connection to the soul. While Prose may be poetic, it does not make it Poetry.

I am a big proponent of writing in Form, or at least having the ability to do so. I don’t think someone should be able to call themselves a Poet without first being able to express themselves in at least one of the Fixed Forms of Poetry. I am not anti-Free Verse, in fact most of what I have written was without thought of form, but I do believe most Free Versed Poems would have been better served being put into Prose.

On Writing

I take writing very seriously, probably more seriously than I should. I was almost illiterate when I left school at age 15 and taught myself to read and write. I take great pride in that accomplishment. People have called me a “Natural Talent,” but they did not witness the long hard years I’ve dedicated to this craft. It has taken more than thirty years to get from barely being able to fill out a job application to penning these words you now read. This in my mind is not talent, but perseverance. Writing has been my Life’s Labour and my Life’s Love.

Writing is so much more than sitting in a room and putting pen to paper. That is only a small part of it. The bulk of writing is living life, experiencing things, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. It is these things that allow the Writer to relate to the reader. If someone cloistered themselves off from the world and wrote, none but the humble hermit would identify to the words.

The best advice I’ve ever received concerning writing would have to be “write like you speak.” It was in applying this advice to my writing that I discovered my literary voice. If I were to impart this advice myself, I would expand upon it and say “write what you think, but write like you speak.” In my opinion, just as important as literary voice is to a writer so too is the ability to express the things that are oft not expressed. Also I would tell the would-be writer to challenge themselves in all things writing. Lastly, write with the Reader in mind, but write the story you want to read.

On Editing

I am not a big fan of editing and not too long ago I refused to edit anything I had written outside of spelling errors and typos. I wanted to remain as true to the essence of what I had written as I humanly could. I do believe a lot of the soul of a piece of writing can be lost in the editing process. I write from the heart and rely on my gut and editing in my mind puts both into doubt. Editing is a game of second guessing ourselves and our instincts.

I have since moved on that position, at least as far as prose is concerned, but I still try to keep as much of that original draft intact as I can. I would call what I do now “Shading” and not editing. It is more akin to the artist who works in charcoal, first outlining his form and then filling it in to give it depth and three dimensions. The original lines remain, even if they have been shaded over.

On Marketing

I think it’s ridiculous to think that a writer must personally interact with every reader and potential reader out there. Really, it is unrealistic for an author with even a modest bit of success to be at the beckon call of their target market. It puts too much pressure on a writer. It also takes up too much time, time which could be better used to relate to the reader the way a writer should relate to a reader, through the written word, through Storytelling and through Poetry.

Writing, for me, has never been about commercial success. Truth is I am resigned that my success, if I am to have it, will most likely come after I have departed from this world. Many great and beloved writers have been misunderstood, even loathed in their own lifetimes. For me, my success will be measured by the ability of my words to stand the test of time.

I am not a big fan of self-promotion. It is, I’m afraid, a necessary evil for the self-published author, but it still feels like I’m pimping myself out and prostituting myself when I engage in the practice. So how then to gain exposure without selling my soul? This is something I haven’t found an answer for. I have contented myself with the belief that if I write something and if I put it out there and if it is truly worthy it will find its way into the hands and hearts of the Reader. That is a lot of ifs, but Life is full of ifs.

On Future Works

Since my move back to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after over a decade in the Eastern Townships in Quebec, things have been very hectic. I have spent most of the summer working on a book of Poetry (“Crossing Main”) and a Romance (“Forever: The First Epoch”) simultaneously and haven’t been getting very far with either. My life has settled down a little now and I have turned my focus to the Romance until November 1st when I will turn my attention to and again take part in NaNoWriMo to write the second installment of “The Scrolls of Sion.” I have also couple of other projects on the back burner that will see light at the first opportunity.

In 2015, at least two books can be expected from me. “The Scrolls of Sion: Broken Bloodlines” and “Forever: The First Epoch.” If at all possible I will also publish “Crossing Main.” Beyond that, I cannot say.

The opinions expressed here reflect the man in the mirror, me and no one else. In no way is what I say a reflection, or judgement of anyone else. In closing, I would like to thank Ionia for having me here on her wonderful blog.

Links to Books

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/434284

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-scrolls-of-sion-t-j-therien/1119459677

Links to Blogs

http://insidethepoetsmind.wordpress.com/

http://thescrollsofsion.wordpress.com/