Sunday, May 31, 2015

Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy by Ed Marx

Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy
by Ed Marx

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @marxists

Published: 2014
Publisher: Charles Pinot
Genre: Memoir
Paperback: 240 pages
Rating: 4.5

Ed Marx considers himself an ordinary guy, raised from humble beginnings and possessing mostly average qualities. He struggled through his early adolescent and adult years and truly believed that his life was headed nowhere. But through the examples set by his parents (both holocaust survivors) and the lessons he learned from his early mistakes and failures, Ed began to experience what he calls his extraordinary tales, experiences that changed his life and helped him create his own playbook for living an inspired life.

In Extraordinary Tales from a Rather Ordinary Guy, Ed shares many of extraordinary stories he has experienced in his life and sets out the 14 rules he lives by every day. He found that integrating these rules into his daily life resulted in even more of these amazing experiences. Extraordinary Tales is not a magic bullet; simply reading it will not change your life. But Ed Marx believes that if you take the stories to heart and fully embrace this playbook, you can be inspired to create your own extraordinary life.

First sentence:
For my generation, each day of growing up presented some new risk to take or some new challenge to meet.

My two-bits:

Definitely an inspirational set of personal tales of life lessons from the perspective of a person with experiences from the Army, Athletic, Healthcare and IT worlds. Also, a touch of christian influence.

Plenty of food for thought on how to get ahead in life, most of which I could relate to.

--~ eBook Giveaway courtesy of publisher ~--
signup to win this eBook


* review copy courtesy of publisher

* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge - square: Nonfiction

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stacking the Shelves - 5.30.15

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!



My Brilliant Friend
by Elena Ferrante
-Italy, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads

=====> wanted to start this trilogy as book 3 has been getting great reviews

For Review:

Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel
by Laura Dave
courtesy of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

The Measure of Temperance
by Ichabod Temperance
-steampunk, zombies
courtesy of author
Amazon | Goodreads


You're on Your Own
(But I'm Here If You Need Me):
Mentoring Your Child During the College Years

by Majorie Savage
courtesy of friend
Amazon | Goodreads


Finder, Vol. 04: Talisman (Finder #4)
by Carla Speed McNeil
-Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Amazon | Goodreads

Finder: Talisman is a great stand alone entry into an amazing world! Since 1996, Finder has set the bar for science-fiction storytelling, with a lush, intricate world and compelling characters. Finder: Talisman is the story of a book - the book beloved by misfits and castaways, once glimpsed and forever longed for - and of Marcie, the kid who never gives up her search for magic and meaning. Now, the fan-favorite story is collected in a new, oversized hardcover edition!

AND binge watching:

tv series, season four
-humor, drama
Amazon | imdb | wikipedia

An alcoholic man lives in a perpetual stupor while his six children with whom he lives cope as best they can.


* some of these may be offered as giveaways within the next two months

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Friday, May 29, 2015

Happy Release: The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall

The Balance Project
by Susie Orman Schnall
Destination: Hit the streets of New York City
Release date: April 28, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and balance that will resonate deeply with all women who struggle with this hot-button issue.

Loyal assistant Lucy Cooper works for Katherine Whitney, who seems to have it all: a high-powered job at a multibillion-dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, a successful husband, and two adorable daughters. Now, with the release of her book on work-life balance, Katherine has become a media darling and a hero to working women everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and Lucy is the one holding it all together, causing her own life—and relationship with her boyfriend Nick—to suffer. When Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy must decide whether to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her choice will affect the trajectory of both of their lives and lead to opportunities neither one could have imagined.


* currently reading...

* part of Summer Reading Challenge 2015. It's not too late! You can join the challenge here. @booksparks #SRC2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Happy release: The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

The Talon of the Hawk
The Twelve Kingdoms
Book 3
by Jeffe Kennedy
Amazon | BarnesNoble | Goodreads

Genre: Fantasy, Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Kensington
Date of Publication: May 26, 2015
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7582-9447-0
ISBN: 10: 0-7582-9447-6
Number of pages: 438
Word Count: ~130K
Cover Artist: Design by Kristine Mills,
Illustration by Don Sipley


Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…


The bright pennants of Ordnung, High King Uorsin’s rampant bear topping them all, snapped in the cool breezes from the high mountain peaks. Those pristine white towers, the banners of the Twelve Kingdoms gathered under one, all symbolized my father and King’s greatest triumph. One I believed in with all my being.

Or had once believed in.

From the ravages of internecine wars and crippling enmities, Uorsin had united the kingdoms, bringing them together in lasting peace, capped by the shining castle he built on the ruins of the past. Always, no matter in what condition I returned home, I’d felt a surge of elation at the sight, pride in my legacy and sacred duty.

Not this sick dread.

As we rode closer, the formidable grandeur of Ordnung only mocked me for my many failures of the past months. Soon I would stand before my King, and I had no idea how I would explain myself and my actions. Or what price he would exact.

“Nervous?” Dafne, riding on her gentle palfrey, studied me with serious eyes. A scholarly woman with a quiet manner, she asked with complete sincerity what might sound like a taunt from another.

“Being nervous would imply that I’m uncertain about the confrontation to come,” I told her. “I am…readying myself for King Uorsin’s sure disappointment.” And his rage. Never forget the bear’s towering fury. As if I could.

“You don’t need me to tell you, but you did the right thing, Your Highness. I wasn’t sure which you would choose—love or duty.”

“Think you I could have ripped a newborn from my baby sister’s arms, with her barely recovered from thinking her daughter dead, hard upon the heels of her husband’s murder?”

Dafne considered the question with due gravity. Which made her interesting. No court sycophant she, with ready answers to most please the people who governed her fate.

“Before I answer, I’d like to make clear that I don’t agree with the word ‘murder.’ You did not kill Prince Hugh in cold blood, but rather in the heat of battle. More self-defense than anything.”

Remembering the sickening feel of my sword cutting through Hugh’s neck, realizing I’d killed my sister’s husband, I knew better. All of it had happened so fast—Hugh lunging to kill Rayfe, my other sister Andi thrusting herself between them. I’d acted without thought, though hardly without consequence.

“Self-defense means defending one’s own self. I was in no danger. He was my ally and did not deserve to die by my blade. Nor for me to compound my guilt by fobbing off responsibility for it onto Andi and the Tala.”

“Queen Andromeda was right to insist on taking the blame. If Princess Amelia hadn’t taken it as a reason to incite Avonlidgh to civil war, Old King Erich would have.”

“Which is happening anyway. Warring over an infant heir.” The disgust and frustration that had ridden me these past months leaked into my tone. Speaking to Dafne, though, and surrounded by my loyal Hawks, I could say what I normally would not. Ami and Hugh’s son belonged neither to Uorsin nor to Old Erich, though you wouldn’t know it from the way the two kings behaved, both claiming him as heir. If I hadn’t killed Hugh, we wouldn’t be in this particular battle. One the Twelve, already plagued with problems, could ill afford.

“That’s on Erich, not you. As for the question of murder, I’d put forth that defending your sister is the same for you as defending yourself. Both of your sisters are part of you on a profound level. In a way that even Queen Andromeda and Princess Amelia don’t fully appreciate.”

A legal scholar’s mind, there. Always useful in a companion for someone in my position. “And the answer to my question?”

“Yes,” Dafne decided. “I think you would and could do anything. You’re certainly capable. If you believed it to be the right thing to do.”

“Obeying the High King is the right thing to do,” I replied, knowing full well I hadn’t done so. The grind of guilt and failure made my bones ache. “Semantic arguments aside, the High King commanded that I bring Amelia’s son to Ordnung. I could have and did not.”

“Some truths exceed the law of man.”

“But not the law of the King.”

“The King is but a man.”

“Don’t let High King Uorsin hear you say that, librarian. You won’t long keep your place—or your head—speaking that way.”

“Would you report me?” She cocked her head, brown eyes sparkling with curiosity. No trepidation there—only apparent genuine interest. As if she had already gathered her information and predicted my actions. The answer I gave her would simply confirm or deny her theories.

“Have you no fear at all, Lady Mailloux?” I asked, instead of feeding her the insights she sought. Let her continue to speculate.

She transferred her gaze to the castle, imposing on its rise, framed by the snowcapped mountains. The corners of her soft mouth tightened. “It’s always strange to me to see it as it is,” she commented. “In my mind’s eye, I still see Castle Columba, though it’s been gone nigh on thirty years. I don’t know if it’s fear or something else that digs at me now.”

“And yet, you return, for a second time.”

“It seems to be my fate.” She gave me a wry smile. Amelia was right that Lady Dafne Mailloux often failed to observe courtesy. Not that it bothered me. So did my Hawks and the other soldiers I regularly trained, traveled, and fought with. Something about focusing on a greater purpose relegated the bowing and scraping to the negligible category. “Besides, I owe you. When we thought Stella dead, you wanted to spare Princess Amelia the pain of it, to let her rejoice in having Astar happy and healthy. I expected you to be angry with me for forcing the truth into the open.”

She would be the one to lay it out there, when others would avoid the subject. Those had been dark hours, Ami near death from birthing the twins, then finding the girl, Stella, dead in her cradle. At least the boy, Astar, had stayed strong.

“I was wrong to conceal it from her.” I shrugged, using the motion to loosen my shoulders. Not that it worked. “Not only because she had the wit to see through the trick that I did not.”

“I saw Stella’s dead body, too,” she reminded me. “That black magic fooled us both.”

Enough that we’d even buried her, giving someone enough time to abduct little Stella. Everything in me champed at the bit to be searching for my niece, to be helping Amelia instead of riding into Ordnung. Infinitely preferable to facing the High King with the news I brought. Nevertheless—and though it had nearly killed me—I’d followed my duty and returned home. Though we’d traveled fast, a messenger could have caught up with us. I kept expecting one, saying they’d recovered the babe. With each passing hour that the news failed to arrive, my dread and uneasiness that I’d made the wrong decision grew. Lately what had once been black and white had shaded into disturbing grays.

“I disobeyed a direct command,” Dafne persisted. “You would have been within rights to kill or dismiss me for it. So I owe you.”

“I should have given her credit for needing to know the truth, for being strong enough to stand up to the pain. You owe me nothing.”

“Nevertheless, I have an idea of what you’ll have to deal with at Ordnung, and I couldn’t live with myself if I let you face it alone. Returning with you was the least I could do.”

She meant that well, in all earnestness, so I didn’t comment. Didn’t say that no one and nothing could spare me my father’s wrath. I’d learned that lesson early.

We’d passed through the outlying farms and rode through the extensive township that surrounded Ordnung. People moved about busily, with the many chores of summer at hand. They acknowledged our passing with respectful bows and salutes—and something else. A sense of wariness that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

We did not travel with fanfare. Out of long familiarity with my comings and goings, the people did not dote as they might have on the rest of the royal family, so I did not expect effusive greetings. I preferred it this way—in part because it relieved me to dispense with the pomp and formalities when not necessary, but also because it gave me opportunity to take the measure of the people of Mohraya, the small kingdom that housed Ordnung.

Uorsin saw to his own first, so the Mohrayans generally fared better than the other eleven kingdoms, regardless of the swings in harvest yields and other variable producers of wealth. No matter how severe the troubles in other parts of the Twelve Kingdoms—some I’d seen too much of lately, sorrows that weighed on me—I could usually count on at least Mohraya to be doing well.

Not so, it appeared. One more problem added to the precarious pile that threatened to topple over onto us all.

No, things were not right here. The town burst at the seams, crowded with people. Overly so, despite the increased activity of the warm season. The farmers and livestock growers ought to be out on their land, tending to those concerns.

Perhaps I’d lost my count of days and they’d come into town for market or a fair. But I didn’t think so.

For a start, many of the people gathering in the squares were neither buying nor selling. I’d never expect to recognize all the faces, but the citizenry teemed with unfamiliar looks. More men than usual. Tall ones, light haired, with broad, exotic features.

I called over my lieutenant. “Marskal.” I kept my tone easy, conversational, so he wouldn’t go on alert. “What am I seeing here?”

“Seems the population has grown during our travels, Captain,” he replied blandly. He’d been taking note, too, then. Part of why I relied on him.

“What do you put it down to?”

“We’ve long heard of the increasing conscription rates.”

“Those are foreigners, not raw recruits and new conscripts.”

“True,” he agreed.

“I’ve read the people of Dasnaria across the Onyx Ocean described as such,” Dafne, still riding on my other side, observed. “Tall, fair-haired, strongly built.”

“Is that so,” I replied. Both of them, knowing I did not ask a question, remained silent. I misliked it, foreboding crawling up my already aching spine. They could be here only with Uorsin’s knowledge, which made no sense to me. But then, so much of his behavior had become erratic. Ever since Andi rode home with the Tala on her tail. Absolute loyalty to my King and father meant I should not question him. As his heir, it fell to me to give him my unqualified faith and support.

I hated feeling that erode, even in the quiet depths of my heart, where I harbored doubts I spoke of to no one. That I could hardly bear to examine myself.

The nearer we drew to the castle walls, the more of these exotic men we spied. All hardened warriors to my eye, all heavily armed. Uorsin had dropped hints about having other resources beyond the somewhat questionable loyalty of the Twelve. Ordnung’s guards manned the outposts and the usual positions on the walls—and then some. I counted surreptitiously, lazily turning my face to the sun. More than twice the standard posting. Looked like he’d dug into those other resources after all.

The conflict with the Tala and the overall unrest in the Twelve had made the High King wary. Understandable. But these changes edged past that into paranoia. Along with an expense we could not afford. More fears I’d never give voice to.

“Jepp reported no alert, correct?” I asked Marskal. I knew our scout hadn’t, but it never hurt to confirm.

Jepp, at Marskal’s head tilt, jogged her agile mountain pony closer. “Captain.” She nodded at me. “I checked only at the guard gates, and they gave the all clear. No mention of… this.”

“Pass the word to be on alert, then.”

Jepp saluted and fell back. Not that I needed to tell my Hawks that something was awry in Ordnung. They knew it as well as or better than I did. As much as we could not be less than on alert, telling them so meant that they pulled in closer, taking long-rehearsed positions. Dafne remained placid, a pleased smile on her lips, though she had to be aware of her vulnerability.

“You might have done better to stay at Windroven, after all,” I commented to her.

“I’ll stick with you, if that’s all right. Right with you. I’ll keep up.”

Before we undertook this journey, I had doubted that. Now I felt certain she could keep up with the best of my Hawks. Unless we fled flat out, and it was frankly too late for that. Even if I hadn’t been honor bound to return to Ordnung to face the King with the bad news, my instincts warned we’d have to fight our way free—impossible odds, not to mention a traitorous act.

On that thought, guards stepped up to bar our passage into Ordnung. More of the foreigners, their helms making them look even taller.

“Who approaches Ordnung?” one demanded in our Common Tongue, though his accent twisted the words.
I stared him down, showing my great displeasure at being questioned, transforming the deep unease into righteous fury. “Who dares raise a blade to a Princess of the Realm, Heir to the High Throne of the Twelve Kingdoms?”

Jepp and Marksal drew up closer, their battle readiness almost an audible buzz in my ears. For a moment, it seemed it might come to that, the foreign guard undaunted, scrutinizing me for some sign that I was who I claimed to be. I flexed my hand on the hilt of my sword, edging Dafne more behind me.

A series of shouts in another language relayed from the walls and my challenger cocked his head, nodded, and stepped aside. “Welcome home, Your Highness.” He bowed but did not apologize. I ignored him and rode forward, not feeling welcome at all.

We passed through the outer gates, the shadow of the walls passing chill over me.

About the Author:
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Find out more about this book and author:
Word Whores blog - every Sunday
Twitter @jeffekennedy


* Guest post courtesy of tour

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Rant of Ravens by Christine Goff

A Rant of Ravens
by Christine Goff

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @christinegoff

Published: 2014
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
Genre: Birds, Mystery
Rating: 4.5

The Birdwatcher's Mystery series:
A Rant of Ravens
Death of a Songbird
A Nest in the Ashes
Death Takes a Gander
A Sacrifice of Buntings
A Parliament of Owls - release date: October 15, 2015

In an attempt to escape hellish matrimony, Rachel Stanhope sojourns to her Aunt Miriam’s ranch in Colorado in search of some peace and comfort. As a favor to her aunt, a bird enthusiast, Rachel agrees to host meetings of the local birdwatching society. On her first expedition, however, instead of finding a LeConte’s sparrow, she makes a much more disturbing discovery: a dead body. Identified as a reporter for Birds of a Feather magazine, this man was trying to dig up troubling information on Miriam’s deceased husband and a bird trafficking scheme…and now sweet Aunt Miriam is the prime suspect in this fowl play.

My two-bits:

Enjoyable cozy mystery that even a non-birder would like.

Along with solving a murder mystery, this story introduces you to the world of birds in a bird rehabilitation center. Bird issues and bird facts and history (not only ravens) were definitely interesting topics covered.

I found this book to be a nice start to the series which has me curious about book two - more for the bird info than the characters.


* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge - square: Animal in Title

* review copy courtesy of publisher

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy release: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Adam wants to know...

"What makes you #MoreHappyThanNot?"

vvb says:

Sitting on a comfy couch with a good book and cup of coffee.

Find out what Adam says here...

More Happy Than Not
by Adam Silvera
Release date: June 2, 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Meet the author:


* Share with @Soho_Teen or @AdamSilvera or

* guest post sponsored by SoHo Press

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Books On The Nightstand Bingo

Books On The Nightstand
Summer Bingo
Memorial Day (May 25) – Labor Day (September 7)
details | Goodreads group

The Books On the Nightstand is hosting a 2nd annual Summer Bingo challenge. As I have been loving the quarterly Bookish Bingo card challenges, I decided to add another card for the summer session.

Here's what the randomizer came up for me:

Looks a bit more challenging and will take me out of my comfort zone in some cases!

Books read:

Square - Self-Help
You're on Your Own (But I'm Here If You Need Me):
Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Marjorie Savage -my review coming soon

Square - Western
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman -my review

Square - Currently on the non-fiction bestseller list
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown -my review

Square - Child on Cover
The Red Sun by Alane Adams -my review

Square - with Time Travel
The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Hayes Palmieri -my review

Square - By an author of a different gender
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter -my review

Square - Published before 1970
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham -my review

Square - Romance or Love Story
Longbourn by Jo Baker -my review

Square - Set in another country
Pieces by Maria Kostaki -my review

Square - Red Cover
Us by David Nicholls -my review

Square - With a protagonist/narrator over the age of 50
Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde -my review

Square - Six Words or More in Title
Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer by Lisa Pliscou -my review

Square - With a number in the title
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave -my review

Square - A non-human main character
El Deafo by Cece Bell -my review

Square - Nonfiction
Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy by Ed Marx -my review

Square - Animal in Title
A Rant of Ravens by Christine Goff my review

Stacking the Shelves - 5.23.15

Stacking the Shelves
hosted by Tynga's Reviews (details)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


For Review:
The Balance Project
by Susie Orman Schnall
-Women's Fiction
courtesy of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Amazon | Goodreads

Wishful Thinking
by Kamy Wicoff
courtesy of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015
Amazon | Goodreads | my review


Right Ho, Jeeves
by P.G. Wodehouse
-classic, humor
My rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads

Bertie must deal with the Market Snodsbury Grammar School prize giving, the broken engagement of his cousin Angela, the wooing of Madeline Bassett by Gussie Fink-Nottle, and the resignation of Anatole, the genius chef. Will he prevail? Only with the aid of his gentleman's gentleman Jeeves.

=====> Listening to the audio version and finding it a hoot. Thought I would give P.G. Wodehouse a try. This being my first venture into a Jeeves story, I found it no problem to jump right without having read the first in this series. Interesting to note that Bertie attempts some match-making in this story - in a bumbling manner. Not something you usually read about - men doing match-making. Lots of chuckles.

AND binge watching:

tv series, season one
-drama, thriller

A family of adult siblings find that their past secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep of a brother returns home.

=====> first episode just sucks you in! But what I really like are the visuals of the Florida Keys.


* some of these may be offered as giveaways within the next two months

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

* per usual, check out the sidebar for my current giveaways offers

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gone for You by Jayne Frost

Gone for You
by Jayne Frost

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @jaynefrostbooks

Just released: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Sixth Street Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Paperback: 139 pages
Rating: 4

As the guitarist for the rock band Caged, I know the rules: no relationships. No complications. Leave ‘em willing when you go, but always go. Besides, it’s not like I’m ever in one place for more than a few days at a time. As the next hottest thing out of Austin, the band and me are riding the wave, and the music is all that matters.

Until her…

Lily Tennison has “complication” written across her beautiful face. But I can’t get involved. The timing’s all wrong. But she’s under my skin, and I can’t resist her troubled eyes and sweet smile. And I do have a little time to kill. Not much, just a few days in Dallas.

So I’ll scratch the itch and move on, like I always do.

Simple, right?

My two-bits:

A hot and steamy romance with the modern rock vibe that turns out to be more than a quickie.

This one takes you into the life of a rock band member who falls in love with a non-groupie, college student. Although there is a bit of unpleasantness with former lovers, this romance turns out sweet.

What is different and the most interesting to me in this story is that it is told from the perspective and thoughts of the male main character, Cam.


* review copy courtesy of publisher

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Giveaway & Excerpt: Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy by Ed Marx

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Ed Marx
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

The unEXPERIENCED Life Is Not Worth Living

Socrates’ famous phrase about “the unexamined life” has made its way into many lectures and speeches. It is advice known to many. I’m not a philosopher, but I researched Socrates and, I stumbled across a distinction he made between people (Athenians) who watched life and those who experienced it. Olympic athlete crossing the finish line displays a “semblance of success,” but is it true reality? We love to admire superb performances and bask in a new world record. But what would happen if we personally strove for such experiences ourselves?

I choose to experience life. It doesn’t need be extravagant or expensive. Life can be as simple as turning off the soccer match on TV and joining a local team, or signing up for a ballroom dance class rather than just watching “Dancing with the Stars.” Instead of reading books about the missionaries in India, you can instead sign up to help at your local soup kitchen. You can step away from your Facebook account and instead host a get-together with people you know or would like to know.

Doing is better than spectating.

My original plan in writing this book was to share with you insights from a recent climb I made of Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus. That was a victorious experience tempered by a tragedy that unfolded two days after the climb.

Tradition in the climbing world calls for celebration following a summit. While touring St. Petersburg, I was walking down the city’s bustling Main Street with five members of my team. We were trading climbing stories and talking about what motivated us to climb. People we met along the way said interesting things about the danger of climbing mountains. Our response was, “Life is short, and a sheltered life was no life at all. You might get hit by a car while playing it safe, so you may as well embrace risk.”

Although still light outside, midnight was approaching as we began the journey back to our hotel. Approaching the intersection by the Kazan Cathedral, we formed a quasi-column so we could pass pedestrians coming from the other side. I entered the crosswalk, leading my friends. We were immediately behind two ladies who looked to be in their twenties. Then, in a split second, tires screeched, headlights blazed, and I instinctively dove out of the way. To my left, I heard flesh hit metal...then glass breaking (a windshield). As I landed on the ground, from the corner of my eye I saw the two women cartwheeling through the air. By the time I rolled to a stop, they had landed ten meters away. Unconscious. Contorted. Broken. A surreal scene.

After a few seconds to express our rage and gather our wits about us, we jumped into action. JJ, our mountain guide, took command. We became doc- tors, EMTs and comforters. We stabilized both of the women. A dozen police- men showed up but then stood around completely clueless, staring at us. I have a vivid recollection of my bunkmate Frank clasping one woman’s hand and speaking calmly to her. She told us she was visiting from Siberia. Her friend lay un- conscious with her head held stable by our buddy Zac. At the ten-minute mark, a “first aid” vehicle showed up, and a woman wearing scrubs emerged. But she was with infection control and had no actual medical supplies. Limited to applying smelling salts, she was trying to get both women up and walking without having assessed the severity of their injuries.

Adding to the chaos, a policeman grabbed Zac, thinking he was the negli- gent driver, and tried to arrest him. Bystanders intervened, and Zac was released. We continued providing support to the women, but our counsel to the “infec- tion lady” and the swarming, interfering bystanders was ignored. Ms. Infection Control was forcing the second patient, now conscious, to move despite obvious skeletal trauma. I backed off and prayed over the situation, asking God to send the Holy Spirit for comfort, healing and wisdom. Not having our passports in hand, we left a few minutes later as the mob grew more aggressive. My team prayed from a distance.

Back in the hotel room, I buried my head in a bath towel and sobbed. I Skyped my wife. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw those ladies doing cart- wheels over me. I slept for three hours and then returned to the scene, which had since been cleared. I wondered what had happened to the two Siberian women and how they were doing. Who was looking over them? Who was holding their hands? Were they still alive? I spent another thirty minutes simply praying and reflecting on the evening’s events. I could not stop crying.

To this day, my team is still processing what we experienced. As traumatic as it was, we were glad we’d been there and hoped the aid we provided had helped to save a life. We witnessed first-hand how quickly life can be taken away in a blink of an eye by while doing something as innocuous as crossing a street.

Life is filled with tragedy and heartbreak. You can bank on it. But does adversity really hold us back? I’d venture to say it’s our fear-based beliefs gleaned from painful incidences or even simply the possibility of tragedy that paralyzes us. Instead of falling prey to paralysis, when we experience the depth of heartbreak we grow stronger from it. Conquer the fear and keep living.

Living life with no regrets means requires us to crawl out of the ashes of tragedy and walk away stronger. With purpose.

Determine to live a life fully experienced. We live.


Guest post created by by Ed Marx, author of Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy
© 2015. All rights reserved.

About the author:
Edward W. Marx is the senior vice president and chief information officer for one of the largest faith-based non-profits in the country. Additionally, Edward is the governor-appointed chairman of the Texas Health Services Authority, providing leadership over health information exchange. He has served in this position since 2010. Concurrent with his healthcare career, he served 15 years in the Army Reserve, first as a combat medic and then as a combat engineer officer. Edward earned his B.S. in psychology and a M.S. in consumer sciences from Colorado State University.

Edward began his career working in the OR and then with physician services at Poudre Valley Health System. Recruited to Parkview Episcopal Medical Center, he served as CIO for its management services organization and director over physician systems. In 1997, he joined HCA as chief technologist for its physician services organization. In 1999, Edward moved to University Hospitals, a multi-hospital academic health system. In 2003, he became CIO and served for five years before being recruited by Texas Health.

Edward is active with professional organizations, advisory boards and higher education. He is a Fellow of both the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). He is on the CHIME Faculty for the CIO Boot Camp, training aspiring health care technology professionals. He served as president of the Ohio and Tennessee Chapters of HIMSS and chaired the Membership Services Committee. Edward is a member of the CIO advisory boards for HP, Cisco, AT&T, KLAS and Microsoft. He serves on boards for Texas Christian University, University of Texas at Dallas, and Southern Methodist University.

The HIMSS/CHIME 2013 CIO of the Year, Edward is branded as one of the top 10 disruptive forces in healthcare. 

Edward published his first book in 2014, an autobiographical volume called Extraordinary Tales From A Rather Ordinary Guy.

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @marxists

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

The Year My Mother Came Back
by Alice Eve Cohen

Find out more about this book and author:
Reader's Guide
Twitter @Alice%20Eve%20Cohen

Just released: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Memoir
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 4.5

"For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her--the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break."

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.

First sentence:
One day, my brilliant, beautiful, complicated mother appeared at my kitchen table, thirty-one years after her death.

My two-bits:

A story on relationships between mothers and daughters with more of a mother focus.

I liked how this story was presented. The author tells her tale with a past and present self. Upon reflection of the past, life lessons and advice for the present come forth.

There are touching and poignant moments that got me thinking of the true meaning of motherhood in relation to me and mine.

About the author:
Alice Eve Cohen is a writer and solo theatre artist. Her new memoir, THE YEAR MY MOTHER CAME BACK, is published by Algonquin Books, March 31, 2015. Winner of Elle's Magazine Grand Prize for Nonfiction, Oprah Magazine’s 25 Best Books of Summer, and Salon's Best Books of the Year for her memoir, "What I Thought I Knew" (Penguin).

She has written for Nickelodeon, CTW, and CBS, and has toured her solo shows nationally and internationally. Alice has received fellowships and grants from the NYS Council on the Arts and the NEA. She graduated from Princeton University and got her MFA from The New School. Alice teaches at The New School and lives with her family in New York City. She is currently working on a novel.


* added this to my Bookish Bingo challenge - square: Memoir

* review copy courtesy of Summer Reading Challenge 2015. It's not too late! You can join the challenge here. @booksparks #SRC2015
Destination: Find the miraculous in Manhattan

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

The Grown Ups
by Robin Antalek

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: January 27, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Women's Fiction
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 5

From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together.

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.

First sentence:
It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus.

My two-bits:
Just like the title suggests, this story is a kind of coming of age process. A group of characters experience the ups and downs and eventually find their way through life's lessons.

The story is told through the perspective of three characters each of which have distinct voices and personalities. I liked being in the shoes of each equally.

Loved how the group of friends in this story remained in contact and their sideline stories and growth development were monitored as well.

Along with a reading guide, the book includes a playlist for each of the three characters with descriptions of why the songs were selected which was fun to read for extra insight on character background.

About the author:
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins 2010) which was chosen as a Target Breakout Book. The Summer We Fell Apart was also published in Turkey by Artemis Yayinlari. Her non-fiction work has been published at The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown and collected in The Beautiful Anthology, Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema, and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review and Literary Mama among others. Robin has received three honorable mentions in Glimmer Train's Family Matters and New Fiction Writer's contests as well as an honorable mention for the Tobias Wolf Fiction Award.


* part of Summer Reading Challenge 2015. It's not too late! You can join the challenge here. @booksparks #SRC2015
Destination: Escape to the Northeast

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