Monday, December 5, 2011

Teenage as a Second Language - Book Review and Giveaway


As a mother to a preteen boy, I am still trying to catch up preteen language and since he turns twelve next month; the teen years are not that far away.  Rumor has it that something happens between the cute baby days and age thirteen that makes us wonder how our children turned into aliens from another planet overnight.

Understanding your teen seems nearly impossible and trying to read up on their unpredictable moods and actions isn’t as easy as it was when they were younger. That is where “Teenage as a Second Language” can be pretty helpful.  Two doctors, Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder help you to better understand the teen years. What is more is that the doctors have removed all the psych stuff that none of us actually understand and give you information that actually makes sense. 

Despite the fact my son is not yet a teen, I recommend buying this before your child hits the teen years.  This way you will be ahead of the game when you when your sweet little child morphs into an alien who barely gives you a glance as he or she walks into the front door and heads to the bedroom.  The book will also allow you to turn to it over and over as you get through the teen years with your kids.  Every chapter is full of information you will need to work with and better understand your teen. The authors cover issues such as sneaking a peek at your teen’s cell phone, understating signals that your teen might be in distress, understanding outward appearance, knowing when to back off, when to be involved, and even the dreaded talks about sex and sexual behaviors.  “Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual” can be purchased through many fine retailers including Amazon. 

Be sure you visit the Talking Teenage website for more helpful information.


One lucky reader of this blog will win a copy of Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual.  All you have to do is share with us one tip you have learned about raising teens or that someone else shared with you.  It can also be one that you learned by driving your parents crazy.  You can also let us know if you have no tips to share because unless you have raised a teen, there is no way of knowing what it is like.  

Leave your email address as well so I have a way to contact you.  The winner will be picked via a random number generator on Monday, December 12 so you have until 11:59 pm on December 11 to enter.  Leave your email address so I have a way to contact you.  U.S. addresses only. 

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. Meryl L. Moss Media Relations sent me copy of Teenage as a Second Language for review. The opinions expressed belong entirely to me. Thank you Deb and Meryl L. Moss Media Relations for allowing me the opportunity to review Teenage as a Second Language.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

eChook Swag Bag Giveaway and Review of eChook Memoir Review

E-VENT:  So, You Want to Write a Memoir -- Live-chat with Tessa Smith

Meryl L. Moss Media Relations has another fantastic E-VENT coming up It is their first ever writing workshop with eChook Founder Tessa Smith McGovern   The event is titled “So, You Want to Write a Memoir.”  It is a live chat with author, memoirist, and digital publisher Tessa Smith McGovern.

Tessa Smith McGovern.
You may be thinking that this isn’t something for you but if you have ever written a blog, updated a Facebook status, tweeted your thoughts or even sent a text, you are part of the latest social media treads.  This move from emailing to blogging to Facebook shows one very important thing: the need to share our personal stories.

Tessa Smith McGovern will be chatting about what it takes to write and publish a short memoir live on BookTrib on December 7 at 3 p.m. eastern standard time. Tessa will be ready to answer your questions and discuss her memoir writing tips. It doesn’t matter whether you are a seasoned writer, journalist, or just a blogger, stop by, ask questions and be entered to win awesome eChook prizes. All you have to do is send an email to and you will be registered to attend the free event. You can also learn about Tessa’s writing classes by clicking HERE.

Review of Memoir Vol. 1

Memoir, Vol. 1
Tessa Smith McGovern has released a new eBook app story collected called Memoir, Vol. 1. It is available for an introductory price of $0.99 on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Nook, Kindle and online e-book.  This app which is part of a short story collection called eChook that features short memoirs from various authors with unique writing styles. It includes chapters from writers such as Tricia Tierney, Leslie Feller, and Rebecca Dimyan. You can check out a sample story by Megan Smith-Harris titled “Makeover” at the eChook site.

The eChook app idea came from the 16th century chapbook which is a small single chapter book. The apps are based on this idea and designed to be read in about ten minutes. A couple of my favorites were “One Night Strangers” by Rebecca Dimyan and “Dating Writers” by Jennifer Armstrong.

eChook also has calls for open submissions.  If you are in aspiring writer, check the submissions page out and attend the “So, You Want to Write a Memoir” E-VENT.

Tracy at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations was kind enough to offer for giveaway an eChook swag bag of teas and treats with a mug, mouse pad and Chap Stick to help the winning eChook reader relax while reading.  This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. The contest is open through November 30 at 11:59 pm.  I will announce the winner the following day.

If you would like to enter to win, visit the authors’ page and scroll down the page to where it states: “Congratulations to the authors of Memoir Vol. 1.”  Review the available excerpts and tell which one of the stories sounds the most interesting to you.  Leave your email address as well so I have a way to contact you.  The winner will be picked via a random number generator. 

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. Meryl L. Moss Media Relations sent me copy of Memoir Vol. 1 for review. The opinions expressed belong entirely to me. Thank you Tracy and Meryl L. Moss Media Relations for allowing me the opportunity to review Memoir Vol. 1.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins – Review and Giveaway

The Novel

Jackie Collins brings back heroine Lucky Santangelo and this time Lucky is back with a vengeance in Goddess of Vengeance.   Lucky isn’t alone because she has her family alongside in her latest adventure.  Collins’ latest novel is full of power, passion, revenge and family dynamics but as in the past and typical Lucky style and pizzazz, Lucky comes out on top.

The daughter of the infamous Gino Santangelo, Lucky has it all.  She runs a high profile casino and hotel, The Keys, in Las Vegas.  She is married to movie writer and director, Lennie, has a stubborn teen daughter, Max, and a son, Bobby who is successful in his own regard, owning a chain of hot clubs.  Lucky has everything she ever imagined but someone is determined to take it all away from her.

That someone is billionaire businessman man Armand Jordan who was born a prince in an small affluent Middle Eastern country who is nothing more than a spoiled brat.  He came to the United States a young child with his American mother, who raised him but allowed him to visit his father every summer.  He rose to become a real business tycoon but treats women as nothing but breeding machines or sexual playthings.  In his home country, he is married and has four children but this arrangement is only to please his father.  He believes he will be king one day despite the fact that he has many older brothers.  His relationship with his father is nothing more than a business arrangement but he is too spoiled and too stubborn to realize that. 

Armand wants to buy The Keys and Lucky Santangelo gives him more than he expected when she refuses to sell.  She even has him evicted from her hotel after he humiliates her and her hotel.  Being the ignorant jerk he has, Armand is shocked that a “mere” woman would turn down his offer to buy The Keys.  How could she? Who did she think she was? Did she really believe that she was any match for him? Armand vows to force Lucky’s hand and he does not care what it takes.  He even contemplates killing her.  Let the power struggle begin. After all, every good novel needs a villain and a heroine and Jackie Collins delivers just that.

As for Lucky’s kids, Bobby is dealing with shady Russian investors while dating Denver Jones, an intelligent and strong woman who is become a Deputy DA in a Los Angeles drug unit.  Then, there is Max, Lucky’s soon to be eighteen year old daughter.  Max has just embarked on a forbidden relationship with a sexy young movie star that is twelve years older and getting a divorce from her mother’s best friend, the famous actress Venus, a world mega star.  The young actor is actually thirteen years younger than Venus.  Lucky will soon find out about this affair and will respond and take action Lucky style. Max is visiting Vegas with her two best friends, Cookie and Harry.  Cookie is the daughter of a music legend and Harry, the gay son of a TV network honcho.   Max’s longtime boyfriend, Ace, shows up to surprise Max while Billy Melina, the actor that Max slept with, follows Max to Vegas to profess his love.

Lucky’s family motto is “Don’t mess with a Santangelo!” And Jordan Armand will find out just what that means along with anyone else who messes with her family.  See, Lucky Santangelo isn’t your ordinary strong and independent woman.  Lucky knows revenge considering she avenged the death of her mother, her brother, and a man she loved very much many long years ago and has no regrets.   Let’s just say, that leaves Armand Jordan to fear her.

The Santangelo family is not the only one with secrets. Armand’s mother, Peggy Dunn, has kept a secret for nearly forty years.   Peggy, the only woman who can control Armand, convinces Armand to allow her to come on the trip with him saying that she wants to see Vegas again and spend time with her son but that is not entirely true.   A long time ago when Peggy was only eighteen, she had a one night stand with Gino Santangelo, Lucky’s father.  She was also involved with another man, a former mobster at the time, and she also shared one night with the Armand’s father, the king.  She had slept with all these men in a about a week’s time.  Two weeks after her encounter with the king, Peggy was whisked off to the Middle East to be one of the king’s many wives.   She has never really been sure who Armand’s father is, but she is about to find out and when she does, she does not plan on sharing that with anyone.

You can read Chapter One HERE.  You can also listen to an excerpt from the audio book HERE

The Audio Book

I received Goddess of Vengeance as an audio book for this review, courtesy of Macmillan Audio.  I want to warn if you have sensitive ears.  The novel is not just crude (for lack of a better word) at times but it was also purely unadulterated. There is also a difference between reading it and listening to it.  Being my first audio book experience with Jackie Collins, I was shocked at first but in time, I got used to Jackie’s usual manner and style of writing.  It was a unique experience because it was the first time I had heard Jackie’s voice as she is one of several narrators.  It is an experience like radio was before television.  One of her co-narrators, Sydney Poitier has a very deep voice and brings Armand Jordan and his conceited chauvinistic personality to life.  He does the voiceovers for other male characters but for some reason that one really stands out.  Armand Jordan is the villain that everyone loves to hate while Lucky is the heroine we are all rooting for.

Jackie Collins

Oddly enough, I have never read a Jackie Collins’ novel.  It is possible I may have in the past and just don’t recall but I have become a fan.  In particular, I have become a Lucky Santangelo fan.  There are six other previous novels about Lucky which I plan on picking up pretty soon.  Chances, Lucky, Lady Boss, Vendetta, Lucky’s Revenge, Dangerous and Drop Dead Beautiful are the names of those in the order that they came out.  If you are not a Lucky fan, you should consider picking up any of these novels.  The good thing about the Lucky books is that they do not need to be read in order.  Jackie Collins does a good job of reintroducing Lucky to the reader each time.

Jackie Collins has been around for quite some time with 400 million copies of her books sold around the world. She has 27 New York Times bestsellers and is one of the top novelists in world.  If you have not tried her novels, you should.  Trust me, you will be hooked.

Watch an interview with author, Jackie Collins HERE.

For the Giveaway

One lucky reader of this blog will win an audio book copy of Goddess of Vengeance.   All you have to do is leave a comment letting me know whether you have read any Jackie Collins books.  If you have, have you read any in the Lucky Santangelo series?  Leave your comment below and don’t forget to leave your email address.

If you don’t win, don’t despair, you can purchase a copy through Macmillan Audio, Amazon, and many other fine retailers.

You have until Monday, September 26 at 11:59 pm to enter.  I won’t accept any entries after that.  U.S. addresses only. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001 – A Day We Will Always Remember

September 11, 2001 will be a day that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. That was the day that an attack was carried out on U.S. soil and an event none of us could have ever imagined. But it happened and thousands were lives were lost that day. Some of them were unsuspecting as they started out their work day. Some were brave public servants and others were ordinary people who risked their lives to rush into a situation that went beyond anything anyone could have imagined to save lives. Others were members of our armed forces who we lost in effort to seek justice for the victims of 9/11 and to continue to keep our borders safe and then there are those who continue to fight for our freedom and safety daily.

Please take a moment to think about those remarkable people we lost, those who were left to mourn their loved ones, and those who continue to keep us safe – our men and women in the armed forces and our men and women that serve as public servants. Share the story of September 11, 2001 with your children and grandchildren because in doing so, we can all continue to honor the memories of all the heroes we lost that day.
As We Look Back – Author Unknown
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering.....
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us .....
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgment,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We're thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.

When you have a minute, please check my review of  the memoir of Lauren Manning and titled Unmeasured Strength. On September 11, Lauren was at the World Trade Center when a wall of flame burned more than 80 percent of her body. No one believed she would live to tell her story but she did offering hope to so many who lost loved ones that tragic day. Lauren's story is about her ten year journey of survival, strength and revival.  Lauren not only overcame tragedy but also, recreated her roles as a woman, a wife and a mother. Unmeasured Strength is now available through Macmillan Audio, Amazon, and other fine retailers. You will find that review and giveaway post at my chronic illness blog, Living Life as I See Fit.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Upcoming Review and Giveaway: Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins

Goddess of Vengeance is scheduled for release on September 13.  You can pre-order at many fine retailers including Amazon. The people at Macmillan Audio were kind enough to forward the audiobook which I will be reviewing.  There will also be a giveaway with that review. My review will not be up until the later part of the week of September 19 so if you are interested in the purchasing the book, do not wait until then.  It is by Jackie Collins’, one of the world’s top novelists so you don’t need to wait for my review.
In the meantime, I will have a new review up on September 11, the ten year anniversary of 9/11. That review is the memoir of Lauren Manning and titled Unmeasured Strength. On September 11, Lauren was at the World Trade Center when a wall of flame burned more than 80 percent of her body. No one believed she would live to tell her story but she did offering hope to so many who lost loved ones that tragic day. Lauren's story is about her ten year journey of survival, strength and revival.  Lauren not only overcame tragedy but also, recreated her roles as a woman, a wife and a mother. Unmeasured Strength is now available through Macmillan Audio, Amazon, and other fine retailers. You will find that review and giveaway post on Sunday at my chronic illness blog, Living Life as I See Fit.

 Below is more information (from Macmillan Publishing) about Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins.
 Lucky is Back!!!

By Jackie Collins
Read by Jackie Collins with Sydney Poitier and a full cast
Previous Praise for New York Times bestselling author Jackie Collins:
"Collins is at her best with this raunchy, retro hot-sheets romance… And it’s impossible not to fall for it. Again.” – PW on Poor Little Bitch Girl

“I was a Jackie Collins virgin… I have been guiltily, divertingly deflowered.” – Washington Post on Poor Little Bitch Girl
"Sexually charged." – Vanity Fair on Poor Little Bitch Girl
“Nothing says summer like lathering on the sunblock, laying in a lounge chair, and pulling a very steamy novel from the queen of romance from your beach bag.” – NBC’s TODAY on Married Lovers
 Jackie Collins’ fierce heroine Lucky Santangelo is back with a vengeance – in a novel full of power, passion, revenge, and the raging family dynamics of the Santangelo clan – and, as always, Lucky comes out on top!
Lucky runs a high-profile casino and hotel complex, The Keys, in Vegas. Lennie, her movie star husband, is still writing and directing successful independent movies, while Max, her stubborn and gorgeous teenage daughter, is about to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, and her son, Bobby, owns a string of hot clubs. Lucky has everything. Family. Love. Life. And everything is exactly what billionaire businessman Armand Jordan is determined to take away from her one way or another!
Born a prince in the small but affluent Middle Eastern country of Akramshar, Armand comes to American with his American mother at an early age and rises to become a real estate titan. Armand regards women as nothing more than breeding mares or sexual playthings, so when his people inform him that the one property he covets more than anything, The Keys, is not for sale, he is shocked. And so the battle for power begins…
Meanwhile, Bobby is dealing with shady Russian investors, while his girlfriend, smart and independent Denver Jones, is becoming a Deputy DA in the L.A. drug unit. And Max is busy embarking on a forbidden love affair with a sexy young movie star.
We all know that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but what happens in Goddess of Vengeance will blow your mind! With Jackie Collins, herself, reading as Lucky Santangelo, accompanied by a polished and delightfully racy-sounding cast, this audio blockbuster will entice Lucky virgins and devoted followers alike!
About the Author:
There have been many imitators, but only JACKIE COLLINS can tell you what really goes on in the fastest lane of all. From Beverly Hills bedrooms to a raunchy prowl along the streets of Hollywood; from glittering rock parties and concerts to stretch limos and the mansions of power brokers – Jackie Collins chronicles the real truth from the inside looking out. With more than 400 million copies of her books sold in more than forty countries, and with some twenty-seven New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Jackie Collins is one of the world’s top-selling novelists. “I write about real people in disguise,” she says. “If anything, my characters are toned down – the truth is much more bizarre.”
Goddess of Vengeance
By Jackie Collins
Read by Jackie Collins with Sydney Poitier and a full cast
Unabridged | ISBN-13: 978-1-4272-1152-1| 11 CDs | 14.5 hours | $39.99
On Sale 09/13/2011
Published simultaneously with the print edition from St. Martin’s Press
For additional information, review copy requests, or to obtain a clip from the audiobook for your site, please contact:
Esther Bochner, Senior Publicist, Macmillan Audio
175 Fifth Avenue | 3rd Floor | New York, NY 10010
T: 646-307-5043 | F: 917-534-0980 | E:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

The Audio Book 

I received Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio. This is written for a middle school audience and some parts of the book are written as experiences from the author’s childhood. There is an interview at the end of disc six which can be either listened to on a CD player or viewed as a video interview when inserted in your computer.  Despite the fact it is written for a middle school audience, it can be enjoyed by all ages.  Jack Gantos has written an absolutely hilarious and brilliant book about murder, mayhem and blood in a small town where nothing is supposed to happen.

The Review

Dead End in Norvelt written and narrated by Jack Gantos.  Ironically, the main character in his book is also named Jack Gantos.  Jack is twelve years old, growing up in the early 1960s and grounded for the entire summer.   He gets grounded after mowing down his mom’s corn stalks and shooting at loaded gun at a war movie he is viewing that is steaming a short distance away at the drive-in theater near his home.  
Young Jack is a boy who loves reading about history, watching war movies and playing with his Dad’s war trophies.  Among those trophies is a Japanese war rifle which leads to Jack getting grounded.   He pretends to take a shot at the outdoor movie theater screen which is quite a distance away but unbeknownst to him the gun is loaded. He ended up scaring a neighbor who loses her hearing aid in the toilet, getting a bloody nose out of fear, and receiving a warning from his mother who he begs not to tell his father.   Jack also gets caught up in a feud between his parents after his father convinces him to cut the cornfield so that they can use the space for building an airplane runway.  

Jack is boy who is plagued with nosebleeds that happen with he is scared, emotional or surprised.   The nosebleeds act like a measurement of his emotions and his character giving us an inside look at what makes young Jack tick.   Norvelt is a town created by Eleanor Roosevelt to get poor Americans a helping hand.  At some point in the town’s history, as Jack mother tells Jack, the economy was based on trading but in recent years, it seems that everyone is out to make a buck.  Additionally, most residents have either passed away or moved away, no new people are moving in, and homes are either being sold or demolished.  The town is not faring well and everyone, including Jack’s father, thinks that it makes sense to just leave Norvelt and find good fortunate elsewhere.   

Spending the summer grounded means the closest thing to fun is helping neighbor Ms. Volker write the local obituaries of the original settlers of the town of Norvelt.  Ms. Volker has severe arthritis and asks Jack be her scriber.  However, writing the obituaries isn’t as simple as it sounds because, as Jack finds out, Ms. Volker is also the local medical examiner and her duties go above and beyond the call of duty.  At one point, she has Jack dress up as the grim reaper to investigate whether one of the original settlers has actually passed away after a source tells Ms. Volker she may have.  As the grim reaper, Jack ends up making a deal with the elderly woman offering a humorous twist to the story.

When original residents of Norvelt start to die off, Jack wonders whether it is murder or old age.  With each obituary, Jack learns about the history of Norvelt while dealing with Mr. Spitz, an annoying elderly man and the town police offer who rides on an adult tricycle, and Bunny, the annoying daughter of the funeral director.  It turns out the funeral director is selling homes of the now dead founders of the town and hauling them away.  There is also the mystery of the dead Hell’s Angel biker, a possible dancing plague, and a even a murder mystery creating a scenario that will make you laugh out loud when you least expect it.

Young Jack tells the story from a first person perspective.  It is no wonder he perceives growing up as confusing, surprising and shocking.  Even his parents make life appear complicated. Jack’s mother worries about everything including the mushrooms she used to cook meals for the elderly residents of the town leaving her to wonder if she is the one killing off the elderly residents.  Jack’s father fears a surprise attack from Russian Communists because the Cold War environment they are currently in.  Jack’s parents argue all the time mostly about living in Norvelt.  Jack’s mom wants to stay in Norvelt and his dad wants to move away.  Jack has a wandering mind and this is where the author takes advantage of Jack’s funny and observant nature.  He is intrigued by history and often tells Bunny that “history is alive” and “everywhere you look.” “Don’t ever forget your history,” Ms. Volker repeats telling him, “or any wicked soul can lie to you and get away with it,” as if she is answering all of Jack’s questions.

Once all the original Norvelters are dead, Ms. Volker is reminded by Jack that this means she has to marry, Mr. Spitz.  Many years ago, she said would marry him once all the original Norvelters were dead.  She didn’t imagine that he would live that long when she made the promise.  However, as Jack finds out, all the original Norvelters are not dead, as she is one of them, and is safe from marrying Mr. Spitz.  Unfortunately, the stakes change when Ms. Volker is arrested for murder and Mr. Spitz ends up playing guard. However, things are not as they seem and you will have to read the book or listen to the audio book to find out what is really going on.

At the novel’s end and the end of Jack’s summer, Ms. Volker repeats, “Don’t forget your history,” and “life is a cycle.”  That is when you see that you have just spent the summer with Jack as he has learned all about history and his town’s history firsthand.

The Giveaway

Jack Gantos latest audio book, Dead in Norvelt, goes on sale September 13 but one lucky winner of this blog will be receiving a free copy of the audio book. The audio book includes seven CDs for a total of eight hours. 

To enter to win, leave a comment below letting me know if you have heard of the author Jack Gantos and if you have read any of his other books.  I will pick the winner next Monday, September 12 so you will have until Sunday, September 11 at 11:59 pm to respond.  I will pick the winner on Monday using a random generator from  U.S. addresses only. 

If you don’t win, don’t despair, you can purchase the audio book through Macmillan Audio or the hard copy of the book through several fine retailers starting September 13, 2011 including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book retails, online and in store. 

I was not paid for this review. The author sent me an audio book to review. The opinions expressed belong entirely to me. Thank you Macmillan Audio for allowing me the opportunity to review Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

Monday, August 15, 2011

40 LOVE by Madeleine Wickham: Audio Book Review and Giveaway

I was recently contacted by the good people at Macmillan Audio Publishing to review 40 Love by Madeleine Wickham. I reluctantly agreed because I thought it would be a gushy romance novel which really wasn’t my thing but I was very wrong about the genre of the novel. 40 LOVE is like a British comedy of errors and manners and we all know from watching British TV that you never know whether you will be laughing, gasping or crying as you follow along with the storyline.

40 LOVE was originally published in England as The Tennis Party by Madeleine Wickham who many of us know as Sophie Kinsella, author of The Shopaholic series.  I am a big fan of audio books because of how many busy my life is.  For anyone who loves to read but really doesn’t have a lot of time, you should consider audio books. You can listen in your car on the way to work (as I did), while traveling, or while working. 

The Review

The novel comes out of Bowden England, and our host, Patrick Chance, a real estate investor/salesman, and his wife, Caroline invite several friends to a tennis party at their home which they call the White House (Caroline finds that name ironic considering the current political environment).  The White House is the perfect setting with a tennis court, horse stable, bar, and Jacuzzi.  You would think that Patrick just wants to visit with old friends but he has an ulterior motive in mind and his wife Caroline is no stranger to his motives.  However, she is just happy to see her old friends, former neighbors (who are poor), Stephen and Annie, not so thrilled to see newly rich Charles and his aristocratic new wife, Cressida, and can barely stand father and daughter, Don and Valerie. 

The tennis party isn’t really the center of attention.  If anything, there is no question who the winners and losers are when it comes to life but things aren’t always as they seem on the surface.  It is sort of like a British comedy of errors and by the end of the party, the truth about their lives comes out. In two days, the adults find themselves dealing with arguments - many during drunken moments -, new revelations, the arrival of an unwanted guest - Ella, Charles’ former wife - infidelity, and the stark realization, that tennis has nothing to do with the gathering. 

As the novel starts, you think you know who the villain and villainess are. However, you won’t know the real answer until you figure out that Patrick trying to sell his expensive investment packages is more innocent than actions of two other characters, in particular, the villainess who isn’t as innocent as everyone thought.  You will either have to read the book or listen to the audio book for that answer.  What I can tell you is that you will also see a side of Annie and Stephen that even Caroline, their dearest friend, doesn’t even know.  Then, there is Don and Valerie who aren’t as stuffy as they appear. Last, there’s Cressida – she will win your heart as she wins Caroline’s heart.  

The Giveaway 

Madeleine Wickham’s newest audio book, 40 LOVE goes on sale August 30, but one lucky reader of this blog will be receiving a free advance copy of the book prior to the release date. The audio book includes six CDs for a total 7.5 hours.  

If you would like to win a copy, please leave comment below about whether you have read any of Madeleine Wickham’s books, either those published under real name, or under her pen name, Sophie Kinsella.  If so, which ones?  I will pick the winner next Monday, August 22 so you have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 21 to respond.  On Monday, the winner will be picked using a random generator at U.S. addresses only.

If you don’t win, don’t despair, you can purchase the audio book through Macmillan Audio or the hard copy of the book through Thomas Dunne Books starting August 30.  After the release date, you should be able to purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book retails, online and in store. At the Macmillan page, you can also listen to the first chapter of the audio book, read by Katherine Kellgren.
Listen to a message from Madeleine Wickham below.

I was not paid for this review. The author sent me an audio book to review. The opinions expressed belong entirely to me. Thank you Macmillan Audio for allowing me the opportunity to review 40 LOVE by Madeleine Wickham.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take Me Home From the Oscars (book review)

In “Take Me Home from the Oscars,” TV makeover expert and fashion consultant Christine Schwab was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in her early 40s. Because of the line of work she was in, she learned to hide the debilitating pain she was in. Before her diagnosis, she lied to everyone in her life, including her husband, the former Universal Studios president of television distribution, about how much she was dealing with and how much of struggle her health was. After her diagnosis, her husband was her number 1 support. The two of them even left the Academy Awards in 1995 due to Christine’s RA symptoms and pain.

Read More.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Would you like to read a novel you cannot put down? If so, Still Missing by Chevy Stevens is the novel for you.

About Annie

Annie O’Sullivan is a 32 year old real estate agent who is kidnapped after an open house and then, after a year in a captivity, escapes.  Her story unfolds chapter by chapter in twenty-six sessions with her therapist.  Still Missing is Chevy Stevens first novel and from reading her debut novel, you know she will be around for quite some time. 

It is clear from the first few sessions that Annie is permanently scarred by whatever torture she has endured by her capturer whom she calls The Freak.  As a result of what she has endured, she sometimes hides in her closet when she does not feel safe and she hates being touched.  As she tells her story, you find out that she no longer works as a real estate agent because she fears strangers. She is also still dealing with the schedules and the control methods that her capturer put her through.  Stevens invites the reader to find out more and more about Annie through flashbacks during her therapy sessions. 

The Freak
The Freak takes Annie away to a remote area in a mountain somewhere.  Annie talks to her therapist about her year up in the mountains enduring cruelty at the hands of the Freak including rape and physical abuse. He forces Annie to behave in specific ways and insists that she is well groomed and that her nails and her skin are perfect.  He makes her go through a bath time ritual and tells her how to dress and even when everything is done to his specifications, he still finds ways to torment and abuse her.  Annie learns through much trial and error how to please the Freak and how to keep his behavior under control.  In addition, although she hates him, at some point the Stockholm syndrome kicks in, and she actually starts to sympathize with him.  At one point, she calls him “interesting and articulate” and even says, “How can I ever tell anyone he made me laugh?”

During her time in captivity, Annie becomes pregnant with the Freak’s baby and all the things he wants to control about Annie are out of his hands.  He hates the way her body changes and then when the baby is born, he is not able to control the baby’s behaviors as he did with Annie.  Annie also changes when the baby is born through her actions and responses to the Freak.  All of these things further anger the Freak and force Annie to fear for her and her daughter’s safety even more.  However, there is a violent end that leads Annie to take things into her hands. 

Finding Her Way Home

She is finally free but when she returns home, she realizes that her nightmare is not over.  Her boyfriend and her best friend are not as loyal as she thought they were.  Her mother and her step-father have a lot to hide as she unravels what led to her fate of being victim.  It does not take her long to figure out that the reason she was taken was because someone in her old life wanted it to happen.  And if you were already shocked - the answer of why Annie was kidnapped and who was involved is the biggest shocker of the entire novel!

My Impressions

Chevy Stevens did an amazing job crafting the storyline.  It is like Annie is writing her diary rather than sharing the story with her therapist.  From the very first chapter, you know you are about to hit an emotional rollercoaster into Annie’s life for the past year. In Still Missing, Chevy Stevens finds the right balance of suspense and tension that leaves you at the edge of your seat to the very end.  Annie tells her story with a lack of emotion which is the first indicator to the reader of the horror and torture she has endured.   Annie struggles with finding a sense of normalcy and she allows the reader to follow along as she finds her way.   The reader builds a connection with Annie wherein you start to sympathize with her and to understand her pain and her ordeal.

Still Missing is a thriller that leaves chills down your spine.  It also can, at moments, bring you to tears or leave you laughing.  Annie is a character that forces you to listen while allowing you to sympathize with her ordeal.  Still Missing and Chevy Stevens are both amazing additions to the suspense thriller genre.


If you want to find out more about Chevy Stevens’ Still Missing, Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. has a fantastic E-VENT coming up on May 24 at 3 p.m. ET in honor of the paperback release of Still Missing.  Chevy Stevens has been nominated for an International Thriller Writers award for “Best First Novel.”

If you would like to purchase Still Missing, visit Chevy Stevens’ official website.