Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy release: The Vestige by Caroline George

The Vestige
by Caroline George
Release date: June 30, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

What if the end of the world has already occurred? What if our final demise happened slowly, secretly . . . and we’ve been oblivious to it all?

Julie Stryker has spent her life in the scenic streets of Charleston, South Carolina, bicycling to the local college, working at a coffeehouse, watching her family fall apart and back together. She has plans, dreams—all of which seem out of reach. Then she meets a handsome stranger at work, and she believes her life is on the brink of a much needed change. But after a tragic accident, Julie is whisked away from the only home she’s ever known and confronted with a life-altering secret: The end of the world has already occurred and a portion of humankind has been kept oblivious.

Tossed into a hidden world of deception, Julie must confront the truth within herself and reveal the government’s layers before the end of the world becomes a permanent reality.


Rain drips from my nose, treats me as a stone caught in a rushing river. I crouch in the mud with limbs like chiseled rock and bandaged, blistered hands. The wind saturates my clothes—if I don’t stop shivering, I might crack teeth, have a seizure, or lose all feeling in my feet. Do I still have toes?

“Your lips are blue.” Jack drapes his jacket over my shoulders to protect me from the cold. Water spews from his mouth and nostrils, streams down his skin. “Ready for takeoff?”

“Yeah, it’s ready.” Nash and Charlie rise from the ground, plastered from head to toe with grass shards and dirt. “We have a functioning drone.”

“Shouldn’t we wait for the storm to die down?” I shield my eyes from the torrential downpour. Fog creeps through the trailer park, thicker than smoke. Its ashy tendrils claw at the remote-controlled aircraft. Chunk of plastic and wires. Determiner of our fate.

“Rainstorms are terrific cloaking devices, and since the drone won’t be going to a high altitude, the clouds will not hinder our imaging system. We’ll have a clear view,” Nash shouts over the patter. He pumps a weather balloon with hydrogen and activates the drone’s navigation system. “The weather balloon along with a thick coat of paint will prevent a heat signature. We should be off-grid.”

Jack stares at the overcast sky with his jaw clenched. He must sense it, too—danger lurking around us like a predator, the stench of change. “Let’s head inside.”

We squeeze through masses of people to reach the Command Center’s main room. Why has everyone come to witness the big reveal? We’re screwed whether we live or die.

“Move.” I fight through the sea of dirty bodies and emerge at the front of the crowd where General Ford, Ezra, and their crew of logistic officers stand at attention. Someone activates the drone’s flight sequence. Static shifts across the monitors before clarifying to reveal aerial footage.

Jack grabs my hand. He’s trembling. “Are you afraid?”

For all the strong, compassionate parts of him, there are also scared, broken parts, and until this moment, I’ve been so focused on the layers I love, I’ve overlooked the layers that make him human.

“Please. Make me afraid because feeling fear would mean I wasn’t numb.”

The footage shifts focus, replacing dilapidated trailers with acres of forest, tumultuous whitewater rivers and mountains blanketed in mist. Learning the truth won’t destroy Earth in a blink, so why should I worry? I’ve experienced the worst-case scenario, lost all that mattered to me. The apocalypse can’t take or return what’s been stolen. It won’t leave me any more scarred and changed than I am now.

“Approaching the dome,” Nash says. “Increasing altitude.”

Silence plagues the crowd like a virus, spreading fast. Some of the Listers appear to be holding their breath. If the drone doesn’t pick up speed, I might have a bunch of unconscious people to resuscitate. Jack—he squeezes so tight, my knuckles pop. Why are they freaked? How could life in a world beyond the dome be any better than life inside the bubble?

Reality flickers onto the computer monitors.

Charred buildings rise from the horizon, black as soot, void of vegetation. Stillness. Darkness. Dead. The clouds unspool to reveal cracked highways and mounds of abandoned cars.

There lie the remains of America: skeletal ruins, necrotic residue. The surviving evidence of humankind is all that’s left. And it’s not enough.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks

Modern Persuasion
by Sara Marks

Find out more about this book and author:
Blog | Facebook
Instagram | Twitter

Just released: May 29, 2017
Publisher: Illuminated Myth Publishing
Genre: Romance, Jane Austen
Paperback: 228
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
"Your father's art collection is quite… large," said the woman sitting before me.

Which would you pick: the person you love or your own dreams? What would you do if given a second chance at that decision? Eight years ago Emma Shaw picked her career and family over the man she loved, Fredrick Wentworth. Since then she has built a career in publishing and spends her free time making sure her father and sisters are taken care of. Fredrick has spent the same years building his career as a screenwriter under increasing public scrutiny as a celebrity. When the editor of Fredrick s first book is injured, Emma is forced to travel with Fredrick on his book tour. Tension builds for the two former lovers over the course of the tour. Emma and Fredrick must face their emotional baggage and their misunderstanding about how their break-up impacted the other. Will they be able to find their way back together for a second chance at love?

My two-bits:

Loved this retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. The characters are re-worked well into the modern day American culture.

The setting was especially fun as it is in the world of publishing with behind-the-scenes book tour and author event details as well as romance shenanigans thrown in.

It was amusing to read the description of experiences at the fictional publishing convention, PubCon. Anyone who has attended BEA can relate.

The romance pacing was similarly and properly drawn out.


* review copy courtesy of tour

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Happy release: The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sophia Rose
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Hello, all!

I’m Sophia and I dropped by to share with you, dear vvb32Reads readers, about the recent release for a collection of stories that I was privileged to be a contributing author. I am pretty certain that no matter how you like your Mr. Darcy; you will find him inside the exquisite covers of our book.

The Darcy Monologues
edited by Christina Boyd
-Short stories, Jane Austen theme, Romance
Just released: May 21, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

"You must allow me to tell you...”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know his mind? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein The Darcy Monologues, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Call Upon Us Anytime:
Facebook: The Darcy Monologues
Instagram: #TheDarcyMonologues
Twitter: #TheDarcyMonologues
Before I head out, I have a mouthwatering breakfast or brunch recipe to share with vvb32’s readers.

This is the French Toast I was envisioning when I wrote the scene between Darcy and Lizzy at Daily Bread in Darcy Strikes Out, my short story, when she orders the restaurant’s special French Toast.  The recipe is one from Grandmere’s Inn, a B&B our family frequented up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California when I was a kid. Easy, but oh so decadent.


1 loaf of Sourdough bread                            
8 oz cream cheese
2 ½ c milk                                                        
8 eggs
1 c pure maple syrup                                     
½ c butter, melted

Cube 1 loaf of sourdough bread.  Spray 9” casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer as follows:  bread, sliced 8 oz block of cream cheese in ¼” slices, bread.  Mix 2 ½ c milk, 8 eggs, and ½ c pure maple syrup (you can get away with regular maple syrup).  Pour over casserole, making sure that bread is saturated.  Bake for 2 hours at 350`.  Pour mixture of ½ c syrup and ½ c melted butter over all.  Optional:  Add cinnamon to the milk and egg mixture or sprinkle on afterward.

Thanks for hosting me, vvb32!  


... expressive prose, thoughtful renderings, and charm, this anthology gives readers an intimate look into the thoughts and feelings of the illustrious and proud Mr. Darcy. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time in Darcy’s head?!? —Austenesque Reviews

The Darcy Monologues is a collection of stories that I find myself returning to again and again, for who could resist spending more time with Mr. Darcy? The combined efforts of this talented dream team are evident within each story, spanning from the Regency era to Contemporary times, as readers explore new sides to the man who is considered the most popular book boyfriend of all time…romance and historical fiction readers alike will want this book on his/her bookshelves! —Just Jane 1813

...fantastic group of authors, each delivering their own delightful spin of Darcy from his point of view…This well written and endearing anthology does not disappoint! —More Agreeably Engaged

There’s nothing more addictive than a collection of fresh, heartwarming stories about one of the most beloved classic book boyfriends. Prepare to fall in love with Mr. Darcy over and over again. —Of Pens and Pages

About the authors:

—Formally trained as a fine artist and illustrator, Susan Adriani discovered her passion for storytelling over a decade after she graduated from a local art college near her childhood home in New England. Susan is the author of The Truth about Mr. Darcy and Darkness Falls upon Pemberley.

Sara Angelini is a lawyer living in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, three kids, two dogs, a frog, some fish, and a few hundred stick bugs. She never went to veterinary school but if she had, she would have been a true proficient. She enjoys writing from Darcy’s point of view in a way that shows his humor and vulnerability. Her first book, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, was published in 2008. She is the co-founder of, where her other Pride and Prejudice-inspired works can be read.

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

J. Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen’s quote “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery”. Bearing witness to her fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter are Joanne’s light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight, a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014, her humorous short story, “Spyglasses and Sunburns”, in the Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer anthology, and a playful novella, A Little Whimsical in His Civilities, Just Jane 1813’s Favorite JAFF Novella of 2016.

—Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of four Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, and A Peculiar Connection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” She is a member of Jane Austen Society of North America, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of gorgeous grandchildren.

Jenetta James is a mother, lawyer, writer, and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practices full time as a barrister. Over the years, she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. She is the author of Suddenly Mrs. Darcy and The Elizabeth Papers.

Lory Lilian fell in love with Pride and Prejudice thirty-three years ago and discovered the charm of Jane Austen fanfiction exactly twenty years later. She lives in Bucharest, Romania, is a proud mother of an amazing daughter, and addicted to anything Austen. After a career in business, she dedicates her time to reading and writing. Lory is the author of six bestselling books: Rainy Days, Remembrances of the Past, His Uncle’s Favorite, The Perfect Match, Sketching Mr. Darcy, The Rainbow Promise, and A Man with Faults. The JAFF readers call her the “Queen of Hot Mush” and she loves it.

KaraLynne Mackrory is no newbie to the writing world. She made her debut as an author at the tender age of 13 when she wrote her first set of bad poetry. As a young adult, she steered clear of bad prose and achieved a degree in social work. Years later, she has published four Austen inspired novels so full of romantic sensibilities as to give you a swoon and hopefully a few laughs. Her books turned out better than her poetry and are: Falling for Mr. Darcy, Bluebells in the Mourning, the IPPY award-winning Haunting Mr. Darcy, and Yours Forevermore, Darcy.

Beau North is the author of Longbourn’s Songbird, The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy, and a contributor to the anthology Then Comes Winter. Beau is a native southerner who now calls Portland, Oregon home with her husband and two cats. She attended the University of South Carolina where she began a lifelong obsession with literature. In her spare time, Beau is the co-host of the podcast Excessively Diverted: Modern Austen Onscreen.

—Mild-mannered business woman by day, hopeless romantic by night, Ruth Phillips Oakland was always a fan of the fictional gentleman from Derbyshire, but it was her discovery of Jane Austen fanfiction in 2006 that inspired Ruth to become a writer. Ruth has written dozens of short stories posted online and the published novel entitled, My BFF. Ruth lives in New England with her favorite husband of over thirty years and is thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many of her favorite authors and friends.

Natalie Richards is a writer, blogger, and singer. She started her book review blog, Songs & Stories, in late 2010 after falling in love with Jane Austen fanfiction. Her writing can also be found on Figment, the Darcy & Lizzy Forum, TeenInk Magazine, and in the Austenesque anthologies Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter. She resides with her family in the Oregon countryside and currently works as a waitress and babysitter.

Sophia Rose is a native Californian currently residing in Michigan. A long-time Jane Austen fan, she is a contributing author to Sunkissed: Effusions of Summer and Then Comes Winter anthologies. Sophia’s love for writing began as a teen writing humorous stories submitted for creative writing class and high school writing club. Writing was set aside while Sophia pursued degrees and certificates in education, special education, family history, and social work leading. Health issues led to an opportunity to read, beta, review books, and writing humorous stories that always end with a happily ever after.

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives in Canada with her husband and four kids. She is the author of SWAY, a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and the short story “Becoming Fanny” featured in the anthology Then Comes Winter. Her second novel, Collide, inspired by Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, is coming soon. You can find her at, on Twitter @MelMStanford, and on Facebook via MelanieStanfordauthor.

Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats—physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst—but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine. She is the author of seven Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley, The Subsequent Proposal, The Second Chance, The Falmouth Connection, The Unthinkable Triangle, Miss Darcy’s Companion, and Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter. You can connect with Joana through her website and on Facebook via All Roads Lead to Pemberley.

Caitlin Williams is an award-winning author of two novels, Ardently and the best-selling The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, both of which spin the plot of Pride and Prejudice around but keep the characters just the same. Originally from South London, Caitlin spent thirteen years as a detective in the Metropolitan Police but is currently on a break from Scotland Yard so she can spend more time at home with her two children and write. She now lives in Kent, where she spends a lot of time daydreaming about Mr. Darcy, playing with dinosaurs, and trying not to look at the laundry pile.

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor under her own banner The Quill Ink, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist and proprietor of Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen's England was made possible by her book boyfriend and star crush Henry Cavill when she won a trip to meet him on the London Eye in the spring of 2017.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Sophia Rose
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City:
Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson
narrated by Tony Goldwyn

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2003
Publisher: Crown
Genre: History, True Crime
Hardback: 447
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The date was April 14, 1912, a sinister day in maritime history, but of course the man in suite 63-65, shelter deck C, did not yet know it.

In The Devil in the White City, the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

My two-bits:

What is special about this story are the rich details provided for both the makings of the Chicago's World Fair 1893 and of a serial killer during that time period.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Diesel Book Club, Larkspur (here)

The Darkest Promise by Gena Showalter

The Darkest Promise
by Gena Showalter

Find out more about this book and author:
Pinterest | Twitter

Just released: June 13, 2017
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Hardback: 432
Rating: 3

Lords of the Underworld series:
The Darkest Fire (bonus story)
The Darkest Night-- Maddox (Violence)
The Darkest Kiss -- Lucien (Death)
The Darkest Pleasure -- Reyes (Pain)
*The Darkest Prison -- Atlas and Nike (bonus story)
The Darkest Whisper -- Sabin (Doubt)
The Darkest Angel found in the anthology Heart of Darkness -- Lysander and Bianka
Into the Dark-- a compendium of The Darkest Fire and The Darkest Prison printed inside, plus the original The Darkest Facts
The Darkest Passion -- Aeron (Wrath)
The Darkest Lie -- Gideon (Lies)
The Darkest Secret -- Amun (Secrets)
The Darkest Surrender -- Strider (Defeat)
The Darkest Seduction -- Paris (Promiscuity)
The Darkest Craving -- Kane (Disaster)
The Darkest Touch -- Torin (Disease)
The Darkest Torment -- Baden (Distrust)
The Darkest Promise -- Cameo (Misery)

First sentence(s):
Like Alice on her way to Wonderland, Cameo, host to the demon of Misery, tumbled end over end down a long, dark cavern.

Possessed by the demon of Misery, Cameo isn't allowed to experience joy. If she dares, her memory is wiped clean. With no other recourse, she sneaks into a land more fantastical than any fairy tale, determined to find the one man with the key to her redemption.

Lazarus the Cruel and Unusual rules his kingdom with a single unwavering focus: to build his army and annihilate his enemies. Nothing distracts him—until Cameo. He is relentless in his quest to make her smile…and seduce her into his bed.

As dark forces conspire against them, threatening to destroy the fragile bond they've forged, the once-calm Lazarus grows crazed. Every heart-stopping kiss and wicked touch causes Cameo to teeter on the brink of happiness. But if she falls, she risks forgetting him forever…

My two-bits:

The story takes you into the underworld with its own set of beings wielding various powers.

The romance moves slowly forward with lots of back and forth of "should i / should i not" vibes which kind of got frustrating.

Of course being otherworldly creatures, their individual set of problems aside from the usual stirrings of lust and love come into play for much conflict and difficulties for the couple.


* review copy courtesy of tour

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy release: Life Would Suck Without You by Jennifer Preuss

Life Would Suck Without You
A Girlfriend Memoir
by Jennifer Preuss
-Memoir, Humor
Just released: May 16, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

When life makes no sense, and the world is going straight to hell, a girl knows she can count on her best friends

There are all types of friends. Rich friends. Poor friends. Fair weather friends—and then there are Best Friends—your BFF’s. Meet Jennifer, a wannabe soap opera star, new to LA and waiting tables in Century City. She makes three new friends, and they turn out to be inseparable.

Together they go from one hilarious adventure to another; crashing concerts and movie star bars, lingerie shopping, and laughing about men’s shortcomings, all revealed through the razor-sharp, self-deprecating humor of the author. Life is good, even laugh-out-loud funny, and Jen discovers the real meaning of friendship. But when life throws them a cruel curve ball, which rocks them to their very core . . . is friendship enough?

Life Would Suck Without You is a feel-good story that will make you laugh and cry, Jennifer Preuss’s comical and heartwarming book tells the tale of an inseparable group of four women who navigate their 20s and 30s, dealing with life, death and all the things in between.


Chapter One

Perhaps I should back up a little bit. I moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, by way of Miami for college, to be a soap opera star. Yes, that’s right. Most people who want to act dream of being a movie star or landing on a sitcom. Not me. I wanted to be on General Hospital. The year was 1999. My first job was waiting tables at Houston’s Restaurant in the Century City Mall.

“Full hands out!” That’s what we shouted as we exited the kitchen at the Century City Houston’s Restaurant. That meant we didn’t have an empty hand to take anything out for anyone to his or her tables. There were so many rules you needed to know at this restaurant. It was unlike any other waiting tables job I had ever had. I worked at many restaurants as a hostess and server since I was sixteen. Very much a people person, I loved interacting with my customers. Only they weren’t customers at Houston’s. They were my guests. No. They were the restaurants’ guests and me, nothing but a humble servant. It was my first week without shadowing a trainer, and it was overwhelming, to say the least.

We only had a three-table section. This should be easy. In college, I had six, sometimes seven tables in my section and I prided myself on my excellent service. But Houston’s was unlike any other restaurant I had ever worked. It was run like the military. I will never forget ordering someone’s lunch on the computer and hyperventilating because I had to get drinks to table 33, a “guest request” to someone not in my section (still my responsibility, though), and ring in a long order with more modifications than ingredients. As I tried to run out of the kitchen to get the guest request to the table, the manager shoved two plates in my hand reminding me not to leave the kitchen without full hands. When I arrived at my table, they yelled at me for not having their drinks. I promised to check on them.

“This might sound silly, but I can get back here much faster if you give me your empty bread plates to carry to the kitchen,” I said. They looked at me like I was insane as I grabbed the untouched plates so I could have “full hands in” and made my way back to the kitchen. A manager stopped me and would not let me into the kitchen because I did not have FULL hands! Bread plates or “tip plates” as they were called, were small enough to grab other things. I scurried around the restaurant trying to find plates that needed clearing so I could get back to the drink area to make sure my drinks were going out to my table. I was so overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to wait tables in Los Angeles? I found a few more big plates to clear and got back to the kitchen. When I put the plates down, I started crying. Like “ugly girl” crying.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lovely Books and Things - 6.24.17

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)


Neglected to post last weekend as it was time to retrieve the young one from the college dorm. So nice to have the kid home again.

Lots of review books came in over the last two weeks. I am set for the next couple months.

And yet, I still request and pickup books from the library ;-)


For Review:

Lady of the Tarot
(Reign of Tarot Book 2)
by Juli D. Revezzo
-Historical, Gothic, France
audio version
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

THIS is a download from It is my first experience using this service.

The Darkest Promise
by Gena Showalter
-Paranormal, Romance
courtesy of tour by BookSparks - Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THE paranormal romance reading continues this month with this latest. Also, another first for me... although I have mentioned Gena in a previous post regarding her Alice in Wonderland zombie series, I have yet to read her works.

That Crazy Perfect Someday
by Michael Mazza
-Women's Fiction, Sports
courtesy of Wunderkind -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THE surfing aspect of this story is what caught my attention.

Perfectly Oblivious
by Robin Daniels
-YA, Humor
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THE premise for this sounds really cute.

The Baller
A Down and Dirty Football Novel
by Vi Keeland
-New Adult, Romance
courtesy of Romance Read-of-the-Month Club -Thanks!
BarnesNoble | Goodreads

AHHH, so behind with my romance book club reading.

Life Would Suck Without You
A Girlfriend Memoir
by Jennifer Preuss
-Memoir, Humor
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THIS looks like a fun one.

The Brass Compass
by Ellen Butler
-Historical Fiction
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

LOOKING forward to reading the doings of female spies in this one.


From Owlcrate package (details & signup):
OwlCrate is a subscription service that sends you magical monthly boxes tailored to a chosen theme. Each OwlCrate will contain one new Young Adult novel, as well as 3-5 other bookish treats to help you get your nerd on. @owlcrate

JUNE Box includes:
theme: Make It Out Alive (dystopia)
- Owlcrate spoiler card with creepy mysterious tinge
- Owlcrate button - monthly theme
- The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
- Signed bookplate, letter and sticker sheet from author
- New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson
- Magnet inspired by An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir created by Little Inklings Design
- Bookmark inspired by A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas created by Hey Atlas Creative
- Bath bomb inspired by Divergent by Veronica Roth created by Fizzy Fairy Apothecary
- Sleep mask inspired by zombies from Archie McPhee
- Patch inspired by The Giver by Lois Lowry created by Laserbrain Patch Co.

The Sandcastle Empire
by Kayla Olson
-Dystopia, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. And even though Eden has lost everything to them, she refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves. But the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

New World Rising
by Jennifer Wilson
-Dystopia, YA
Amazon | Goodreads

Worlds collide in debut author Jennifer Wilson's graphic dystopian series where Divergent meets Mad Max. Since witnessing her parents' murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix's only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother's dying words - to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls - outside of The Sanctuary - is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, "Join or die."

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world.

But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself...

The first of a trilogy, New World Rising is an epic tale of survival, instinct, trauma, and the extraordinary power of human connection.

OTHER things (kinda book-related):

Heroine Training
Jane Austen Theme (details)
hosted by Xandra
at Crown and Crumpet

LOVED this mashup of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice themed tea party. There was much talk of P&P, Harry Potter and books with delicious tea and treats!

Check out Xandra's details for other literary tea party gatherings.

AND watched: in theatre

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)
Director: Steve James
Starring: Neil Barofsky, Ti-Hua Chang, Margaret Colin
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

A small financial institution called Abacus becomes the only company criminally indicted in the wake of the United States' 2008 mortgage crisis.

After the show, we were treated to Q&A with the producer, Mark Mitten, and the Sung family. Topics of fraud, business dealings and justice relating to this family and case were fascinating to learn about.

FYI: This will be presented on PBS later this year.

Okja (2017)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Jon Ronson
Starring: Seo-Hyun Ahn, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano
-Action, Adventure, Drama, South Korea | imdb | my rating: 5

Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend - a massive animal named Okja.

AS a fan of Bong Joon Ho's previous works, I totally enjoyed this latest creation. Definitely gets you thinking of the bond between man and animal.

Fans of The Walking Dead tv show will be thrilled to see Steven Yeun as part of this cast.

FYI: This will be available on Netflix later this year.

AND watched: online

Maya Angelou and Still I Rise (2016)
Directors: Bob Hercules, Rita Coburn Whack
-Documentary, Biography, History | imdb | my rating: 5

The first feature documentary about the remarkable writer, poet, actress, activist Maya Angelou.

INSPIRING, amazing and versatile woman. This documentary covered Maya's life from start to finish.

AND watched: on DVD

Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (2012)
Directors: Matthew Akers, Jeff Dupre
-Documentary, Biography, History | imdb | my rating: 5

A documentary that follows the Serbian performance artist as she prepares for a retrospective of her work at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

ANOTHER amazing woman artist. Wordless human connections.


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


Friday, June 23, 2017

Lady of the Tarot by Juli D. Revezzo

Lady of the Tarot by Juli D. Revezzo
by Juli D. Revezzo
narrated by Christina Marie Morris

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Goodreads
Audible | Audio sample
Website | Facebook
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Just released: May 5, 2017
Publisher: Raven Queen Publications
Genre: Historical, Gothic, Paranormal, England
Rating: 3

Reign of Tarot series:
House of Cards
Lady of the Tarot

First sentence(s):
September 6, 1793
The morning dew sent a refreshing scent up from the roses, and Emilie tucked the Girandon propaganda pamphlet under her arm, seeking the gazebo. A little time to read before she made afternoon calls.


1793: Having escaped the Reign of Terror, Emilie Maigny took refuge in England, trying to come to grips with the life and loss she left behind. When her brother, Sinjon, returns, a terrifying evil swoops down upon her. Nightmares plague her now, providing strange clues ... but to what?

Scottish-born Linton Morrison spent his entire life in luxury, whiling away the hours in intense study of the tarot and the cards' hidden meanings, but until he met the lovely Emilie Maigny, he would never have guessed how important his study might be--to his life and Emilie's survival when terrible evil strikes.

A Cypher is all Emilie needs, but what is it? Is Linton the key? He may charm her heart--and he may be her only salvation.

My two-bits:

The audio version brings a fun color to this story with the french and british accents interspersed throughout.

Although the protagonist, Emilie, escapes the Reign of Terror, she enters another kind of dark world that requires cautious navigating.

A love triangle and tarot readings certainly creates action and adventure for Emilie.


* review copy courtesy of author via

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Release: That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

That Crazy Perfect Someday
by Michael Mazza
-Women's Fiction, Sports
Amazon | Goodreads

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world's wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she's intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri's personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.


Google “Mafuri Long.”

Click video.

And voila!

That’s me, surfing the monster of all waves—an eighty-foot beast. I’m like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue that’s rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first “chick” to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddy’s advice before we left the dock for the open sea. “Don’t ride that horse with half your ass,” he said, sending me off with a fist bump. “Go after it, cowgirl.”

The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spot’s called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. It’s one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.

You’d usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, it’s monumental—like, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated it—not my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling above—but a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, that’s what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and it’s bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the board’s feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I pulled out of the wave.

When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs. Jax—that's what people call my dad—says I have a gift. He says he noticed it the first time I stood up on a wave in Sendai, Japan, back when I was five and we were surfing together, years before that tsunami leveled the place.

The sponsorship money let me set my marine biology degree aside for a while. I couldn't find a job in the field anyway. Let me restate that: I was offered one at SeaLand San Diego straight out of UCSD, basically to put on a carnival show with a thirteenth-generation orca after her act was reintroduced, but I passed because that isn't science, and a creature like that should be ambushing seals out in the ocean and not squeaking for mackerel treats in a man-made swimming pool for some spoiled kids' amusement. So the money lets me spend my days training, and my eyes are on the big prize when the Olympics begin on August 4.

© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Black Bullet by L.D. Rose

Black Bullet
by L.D. Rose

Find out more about this book and author:
Website | Facebook
Pinterest | Playlist | Twitter

Published: 2016
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 3

The Order of the Senary series:
Releasing the Demons
Black Butler
Beautiful Liar - tba in 2017

First sentence(s):
Oh God, the pain.
Being torn limb from limb, cracking down the middle, shattering into pieces, his blood boing in his veins and his organs twisting in this belly. Shards of glass hammered into his eyes, wave after wave of agony crashing over him, and he roared, his howls filling the enclosed space around him.

Zombie sighting:
Blaze chuckled and glanced up at Jon. "Well, Look who it is. The walking dead."
-chapter 4

Fledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.

Not even his past life as a former Marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight.

After escaping near death and suffering unspeakable horror at the hands of vampires, Lawan trusts no one, regardless of species. In between bouts of drunken stupor, her only goal is to exterminate all those who've wronged her, including every member of Jon's vampire bloodline. But Jon's soulful eyes and quick smile crawls under her skin, transforming her black and white world into a hazy shade of gray.

As the days rapidly grow darker, Jon and Lawan turn to one another, but their inner demons threaten to tear them apart. The only way either of them will survive is if they overcome their greatest fear--


My two-bits:

This novel continues the main storyline of romance and action in a paranormal world involving mostly vampires, hybrids and leeches.

Characters from the previous novel are spotlighted while others have minor roles in the background.

Along with the usual push and pull of the start of love relationships, the couple here must also deal with the struggles that involve battles with evil beings.

Includes: guns and a fierce cat


* review copy courtesy of author

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Happy release: Lady of the Tarot by Juli D. Revezzo

Lady of the Tarot
(Reign of Tarot Book 2)
by Juli D. Revezzo
narrated by Christina Marie Morris (audio version)
-Historical, Gothic, France
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

What the cards foretell may be real, after all

1793: Having escaped the Reign of Terror, Emilie Maigny took refuge in England, trying to come to grips with the life and loss she left behind. When her brother, Sinjon, returns, a terrifying evil swoops down upon her. Nightmares plague her now, providing strange clues...but to what?

Scottish-born Linton Morrison spent his entire life in luxury, whiling away the hours in intense study of the tarot and the cards' hidden meanings, but until he met the lovely Emilie Maigny, he would never have guessed how important his study might be - to his life and Emilie's survival when terrible evil strikes.

A Cypher is all Emilie needs, but what is it? Is Linton the key? He may charm her heart - and he may be her only salvation.

Excerpt: from Chapter two

The curricle rushed down a country lane but the driver pulled their horses to a sudden stop. Emilie’s nerves accelerated. Would she ever stop shaking? Her fear made her borrowed wool dress itch even more.

Her aunt clutched her hand. “Courage, ma chère.”

“Tante, what’s happening?”

The carriage driver spoke to someone and Emilie peeked out the window, wondering with whom he conversed. A man approached in dark cape and hat. Handsome, but a stranger, and Emilie wasn’t sure she trusted strangers anymore.
“Tante, who’s he?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

He opened the door and Emilie cowered in the corner. Did she detect a hint of gunpowder in the air?

“Come on now,” the stranger said. She didn’t recognize his accent. “We haven’t got all night.”

“Who…who are you?”

The carriage driver appeared behind him and Emilie’s heart slipped back where it belonged.

“Captain Bartram,” the carriage driver said. “He’s going to take you to safety, Mademoiselle. Monsieur Richard arranged it.”

Wary, she hesitated.

“Do I have to carry you over my shoulder, Miss?” Captain Bartram said. His gaze flitted over her. “I don’t think many would believe you a sack of potatoes, but all right.”

Emilie held out her hand in a halting gesture. “Prove to me who you are.”

His eyes darkened. “Your father and I are well acquainted.”

How horrid could he be if he was one of Père’s colleagues?

“All right,” she said and stepped down, then coaxed her aunt to follow. He hustled them to a waiting cart, and when Tante Collette settled, he helped Emilie up. However, he didn’t make a further move, but stood at the foot of the cart, studying her.

Fear gripped her throat. “Is something wrong, monsieur?”

“I don’t believe,” the man said, “we ever discussed payment.”

“What the devil?” her aunt said. “My husband said you agreed to take us. He never discussed payment, monsieur.”

He smiled at her. “Perhaps so, but I won’t go anywhere, unless—”

“Unless what?”

Tante’s eyes grew wide and she pulled up her skirt, ripped the hem, and offered him a gemstone bracelet she’d earlier sewn inside. “Take it and be damned!”

“No, that won’t do.” The man laughed a little. “I prefer the little miss give me a kiss.”


Was he serious?

“Now see here!” Tante raged.

Emilie blinked. Kiss him? He was handsome with strangely beautiful dark eyes, pristinely dressed, and debonair. Surely, a gentleman and yet…

Perhaps if they’d met at a dance back home, and after attending a dance or two together, she might—might— consider it. But here? Now? She didn’t know him!

He shrugged and turned his back. “Suit yourself. Good luck, mes dames.”

If the choices stood between sitting here and facing who knew what horror, and a kiss? Emilie took a deep breath. “Agreed,” she said.

She leaned off the end of the cart and gave him the kiss he asked for, quick and demure, on a cheek that hadn’t seen a razor in at least two days.

“Can we go now?” she asked.

His dark eyes studied hers and something smoldered there she didn’t know how to name. Or maybe, right now, she didn’t want to know its name. A smile dawned across his face.

“That will have to do,” he said. He held up a length of tarp piled on the cart’s floor. “Get under here and try not to squirm. Give or take a stop, we should reach the coast with no trouble.”

Emilie pulled the tarp up, and folded her aunt’s hand in hers. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll be all right.”
“How can you be sure? How can you trust his word?”

Emilie peeked over, watching him take the carriage driver’s place and send him in an opposite direction. “I don’t know, but who else can we trust?”

About the author:

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker's Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Release: Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Perfectly Oblivious
by Robin Daniels
-Humor, YA
Just released: May 31, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at Franklin High School…except for the one he wants. Unfortunately Bebe seems to be immune to his flirty charm and good looks, which means one of two things: a) she’s completely oblivious to how he feels, or b) she’s just not into him. If that’s the case, declaring his love would be disastrous for their friendship.

Bianca Barnes (Bebe) has a huge problem: the universe hates her. Every time she admits feelings for a boy, he ends up falling for her sweet, popular, and beautiful sister Beth. To avoid a broken heart, Bebe has sworn herself to secrecy. Nobody can know how she feels about Cam…Ever!

Neither person wants to confess their feelings, but the universe has its own plan. Out of the blue, Bebe is courted by a secret admirer. Cam has to step up his game and Bebe has to make a choice. Play it safe and accept the affections of her mystery man or challenge fate and take a chance on the boy she loves.

Content Description: This is a stand-alone YA contemporary romance with companion novels to follow. It contains minor language, innuendo, crude humor and steamy tension but is generally very clean. No sex. Recommended for ages 12 and up.


I’d hoped to catch the new kid’s attention by shooting some hoops on the driveway next to his. But after five minutes of flawless shots, his face was still hiding under his hat and his eyes hadn’t left that stupid phone. I wasn’t desperate enough to go talk to him (Ok, I almost was) so I devised a plan to get his attention in a more subtle way.

On my next shot, I intentionally hit the backboard so the ball would bounce off and roll toward him. If he’d seen that shot, I’d have been super embarrassed. I’d never want anyone to think I sucked that bad. But, as luck would have it, embarrassment was not in my cards. Mortification was a better word for what had happened. The missed shot that was supposed to bounce somewhere in his general vicinity was alarmingly accurate. It beaned him in the side of the head, knocking his cap off.

“What the hell?” he grumbled as he rubbed his head and shot a dirty glance in my direction. Oops. Not quite the first impression I was hoping to make. So much for subtle.

“Sorry.” I offered a quick apology, then ran to fetch my ball from the street. I made it back to the driveway, and he strolled over. Now that his baseball cap was off, I could see that he was pretty stinking cute. He had light-brown hair that was long enough to be messed up from wearing his hat but short enough not to stick out under the sides. His blue eyes sparkled (yes, I know how cheesy that sounds, but there is no other way to describe them), and he had a cute button nose. I must have admired him a little too long because he cleared his throat and smirked, revealing the most adorable dimples.

Crap, crap, crappity-crap. He totally realized I was checking him out. Play it cool, Bianca, play it cool…

“Hey,” was all I could manage. I gave him a head nod. Great; in my attempt not to look desperate, I managed to look like a loser instead.

“You play ball?” he asked, a cocky smirk plastered to his face.

“It would seem so. Seeing as I’m standing here, under a basketball hoop, holding a ball of the basket variety.” That’s good, Bianca; go for snarky. Maybe he’ll forget the moony eyes he caught you making at him.

The new kid snorted. His cocky smirk morphed into a cocky smile. “Well then, I propose a deal. I challenge you to a game of PIG. If you can beat me, I promise to pretend that I don’t know you purposely tanked that shot as an excuse to talk to me.”

My eyes bugged and my jaw dropped for a moment before I was able to regain my composure. So that’s how he was going to play it?

“Hmmm…” I pretended to think as I brought my finger to my lips. “Then I guess if I win, I promise to forget that you’re a conceited ass.”

Find out more about this book and author:

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

by Yaa Gyasi
narrated by Dominic Hoffman

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2016
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Historican, Literary, African American
Hardback: 320
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father's compound.

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

My two-bits:

From the 1800s to present, perspectives of both the African and African American experiences are portrayed through various characters.

Beautifully written with references to past histories, spirits and folk tales.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* Winner of the NBCC's John Leonard First Book Prize
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
One of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016
NPR's Debut Novel of the Year
One of Buzzfeed's Best Fiction Books Of 2016
One of Time's Top 10 Novels of 2016, Winner of 2017 PEN Hemingway award for debut fiction.

* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Release: The Brass Compass by Ellen Butler

The Brass Compass
by Ellen Butler
-Historical Fiction
Released: March 30, 2017
Amazon | Goodreads

A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces.

Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Ellen Butler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Hidden Figures of the OSS

Sabotage. Seduction. Couture dresses with hidden pockets. All were techniques and tools used by female spies recruited by the Office of Secret Services (OSS) during World War II. These women were critical to Allied success and audiences have been thrilled by their exploits in novels and on the screen, yet their very real accomplishments have been ignored for generations.

This year the OSS marks the 75th anniversary. Just in time for that celebration The Brass Compass, a book set during WWII, places one female spy in the spotlight.

The novel reveals the extreme dangers agents faced when Lily St. James, the heroine of The Brass Compass, parachutes behind enemy lines, destroys rail lines, and infiltrates a high-ranking Nazi household. The Brass Compass is the latest story to celebrate the uncompromising intelligence and composure displayed by real operatives. From Greta Garbo in the film “Mata Hari” to Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, audiences are riveted by the tough-and-tender ways women approach espionage. These fictions reflect reality.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor spurred President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create one overarching espionage office, formalizing it on June 13, 1942. Scrambling to cobble together an effective system, the OSS recruited without prejudice. Race, religion, gender, or formal education had no impact on ability. Like St. James, often the people who became field agents were bilingual having spent time living abroad. According to CIA historian Linda McCarthy, the war department knew that women excelled at infiltrating enemy networks and organizing resistance movements. In The Brass Compass, St. James calls on her training as well as her wits to fulfill a number of these roles, and like many of the agents who parachuted behind enemy lines in France, her life expectancy in the field is about six weeks.

Fortunately, OSS spies had a specially designed arsenal. They used single-shot Liberator pistols, button compasses, and escape maps printed on silk. Espionage equipment tailored for female spies included secret pockets, codes embedded in compact mirrors, and suicide pills disguised in jewelry. St. James makes use of false documents, hidden compartments and a tiny matchbox style camera invented by the OSS. Even with this specialized equipment, she must be clever or the tiniest slip might prove fatal.

Of the 13,000 employees working for the program in 1944, nearly 35% were women. Roughly 1,500 female agents were deployed overseas. By allowing women to utilize their natural talents and their specialized training, the OSS preserved freedom worldwide.


Guest post created for event by Ellen Butler
© 2017. All rights reserved.

About the author:
Ellen Butler is the award-winning author of The Brass Compass, a novel about a female OSS agent behind enemy lines. Butler is a member of the OSS Society and her grandfather was a WWII cryptographer. The Brass Compass was inspired by the brave women who served in the OSS.

Find out more about this book and author:
Book Trailer
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~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Ellen Butler
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

The Sound of Things Falling
by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2013
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Literary, Historical, South America
Hardback: 288 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The first hippopotamus, a male the color of black pearls, weighing a ton and a half, was shot dead in the middle of 2009.

From a global literary star comes a prize-winning tour de force – an intimate portrayal of the drug wars in Colombia.

Juan Gabriel Vásquez has been hailed not only as one of South America’s greatest literary stars, but also as one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation. In this gorgeously wrought, award-winning novel, Vásquez confronts the history of his home country, Colombia.

In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past. His journey leads him all the way back to the 1960s and a world on the brink of change: a time before narco-trafficking trapped a whole generation in a living nightmare.

Vásquez is “one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature,” according to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Sound of Things Falling is his most personal, most contemporary novel to date, a masterpiece that takes his writing—and will take his literary star—even higher.

My two-bits:

This drug war story was not riddled with violence as seen in many shows these days. It is a post-modern piece told in a hazy, mysterious way with dreams, metaphors, memories and reflections.

Some moving passages got me writing down quotes.

Got me thinking of hippos, billiards and planes.


* National Bestseller and winner of the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

* part of Book Passage Literary Prize Book Group (here)

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