Category Archives: BOOK REVIEWS

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A Celebration of Life in the Midst of Tragedy

Book Review

…And the Whippoorwill Sang…by Micki Peluso

This book left me breathless. From beginning to end, I was spellbound by this haunting and beautiful memoir by Micki Peluso, written as a beautiful love story to her daughter. This story was a celebration of life in the midst of tragedy. It is a tale of love, laughter, and then many tears as a tight-knit family experiences a wonderful life and then a grievous loss together.

The story begins with the family in the ER at the hospital, reeling from a fateful chain of events. It then quickly moves back in time to the very beginnings of Micki and Butch more than a decade before–from their crazy double matrimony ceremony with her mother, to keeping their new marriage a secret, to Micki being thrust into the role of wife and mother at a very young age.

We are drawn into the fun and crazy patchwork quilt that made up the Pelusos and their friends. Yes, there is a tragedy in the loss of their daughter, but the author has chosen to take out her grief on the written page, and allow us a glimpse into their lives. I am thankful that she has, because the story of Micki, her family and her precious daughter showed us the fragility of life–and truly touched my heart.

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Gothic Tale of Terror “The Roses of the Moon I, Mara” – Book Review

Mara by Alyne de Winter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author weaves a spellbinding and utterly be-witching tale of a young girl caught up in a magical yet dangerous world. Alyne de Winter, author of several other gothic tales, The Lady in Yellow and Roses, Briars and Blood: A Gothic Re-telling of Sleeping Beauty: Revised Edition (Gothic Faery Tales) has taken us back in time to a world of a moonlit, rose-covered castle, Turks, lords, ladies, brave warriors, gods, gypsies, spells, superstitions and witchcraft.

As I read and became totally immersed in the story of our heroine, Mara, I also felt acute pain for her and her dismal surroundings. It is hard to imagine how such a young girl could survive the daily frightening experiences here. Mara is sensitive, and only nine years old with terrible, ongoing nightmares brought about by the horrible sounds and cries in the night that echo through the walls of Castle Szeppasszony. At age 16, Mara is moved into the Countess’s wing of the castle, only to uncover the source of her nightmares and her mother’s terrible secrets. She experiences extreme loneliness, pain and horror. It seems that the weird happenings inside the Castle Szeppasszony and the Trefoil Tower will never come to an end.

This book will take you on a journey of your imagination that you will not soon forget. You will also experience all that this young girl lived through in this dark, dank castle of secrets in the mountains of 17th Century Hungary. Mara also has her own secrets, and we will soon discover right along with her, the truth as she peels back the layers of her past in this wildly engaging tale.

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Sneak Peek of Book “…And The Whippoorwill Sang”

 

Book: “…And The Whippoorwill Sang”

Profile of Author, Micki Peluso on Shelfari: Click Here

and her contact info:

Facebook Page
Blogspot Page
Twitter Page @MickiPeluso

 An interview will soon be featured by this very talented author on KimberlyShursen.com  on January 28th

 

SYNOPSIS

How does one describe a mother’s love? Her beautiful girl, funny and bright, breathes life into every moment, considers each day special, as if sensing there might not be another. She does cartwheels in piles of Autumn leaves, sings and dances down country lanes–loves her family with all her soul. A drunk driver has severed her spinal cord–no hope. How can a mother let her child go?
 
 This lively story opens with eloping teenagers, Micki and Butch, in a bizarre double ceremony with Micki’s mother. The couple share wonderfully comical escapades, spanning decades, until tragedy strikes. There has been a terrible accident in a placid valley nestled in the Susquehanna Mountains of Pennsylvania. A drunk driver has struck down their teenage daughter on a sunny Autumn day, severing her spinal cord. Micki grabs hold of happier days, musing over their delightful past to confront an uncertain future—as the family copes with fear and apprehension. One of her six children is fighting for life in the hospital; in a semi-coma, hovering between this world and the next. The family embarks upon its unbearable journey to the other side of grief and grasps the poignant gift of life as they begin. . .to weep. . .to laugh. . .to grieve. . .to dance–and to forgive.
 

Excerpt

 School started and Fall, as always, descended upon us at once, mourned again by the whippoorwills, who had to migrate to warmer lands. I had come to grips with the ghosts; whether true ghosts or poltergeist activity by my wacky teenagers. The house blew a lot of fuses that strangely, flew clear across the large basement, a good thirty feet—which baffled Butch. It happened mostly on weekends when he was home to change the fuses and always in the middle of a good television show.
 
Butch had traded the white pickup truck, aka camper, for a ridiculous looking UPS truck, painted a bright orange. Inside, it was nicely furnished as a large camper, with a kitchen, bed and bath. It had two comfortable, large swivel chairs in front which made for comfortable driving. He’d had enough of New Jersey and took a job in Massapequa, Long island, working for a Ground Round Restaurant, as General Manager. It was about an hour and a half from our old home in Island Park, Long, Island. Our friend, Danny, from Benny’s, had also moved back to New York and told him about the job. The traveling time was longer than from New Jersey, but Butch was more comfortable and loved the job. It was similar to what he did at Benny’s, except more a family style restaurant—a cross between fast food and fine dining.
 
That Sunday he left early for his long ride back. The younger girls and I were all home watching the movie,”Halloween,” when we heard odd thumping sounds from the basement. The ghosts never appeared there, and I feared an intruder had come in through the unlocked basement door. I grabbed the shotgun and put a shell into it, hoping not to have to use it and break my shoulder or hip. I peeled Nicole, who had wrapped herself around my legs, to keep me from going downstairs, off me and made her sit down and be quiet. I snapped my fingers for Sheba to follow me downstairs, although the usually good watchdog hadn’t barked at the noise. I quietly opened the door to the basement, warning all the kids to stay on the couch. They actually obeyed. Maybe it was the sight of me brandishing a shotgun. Sheba stayed behind me, brave dog that she was—watching my back, I supposed. I tiptoed down the steps, scanning the basement, shotgun ready to fire, when I saw a large potato at the bottom of the steps. I held my fire. The menacing spud had fallen off the pantry shelf and thumped down the basement steps. I tried to bribe the kids to secrecy, but never lived down the story of the night that Mom nearly shot an Idaho potato.

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Book Review – Corruption is Rampant on “The Road”

 The Road

by Clive West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My interview with author Clive West is posted on the blog under “Author Interviews”.  Here’s my review of the book:

This seemingly innocent road project is rife with greed, corruption, intrigue, and downright sleeziness. What makes this book chilling is the fact that these kinds of underhanded deals are being carried out around us every day, as we blindly go about our everyday lives. People are way too trusting of their government leaders, and think that everything they do is “for the people” and “above board”. Not so.

You will get a taste of the seedy side and the underbelly of what REALLY goes on in your community, state, country, and in your world. The author has created a cast of characters that we love to hate, while we root for sweet justice to right all of the wrongs that have been perpetrated.

“The Road” will keep you guessing until the very last page. What you think will happen, may or may not–and this book keeps you riveted until the shocking end.

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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Book Review


Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It seemed to me, through reading her words, that the author was truly healing from incredibly reeling life experiences. Not just one–but two in succession. I could feel her pain as I read, but a little bit of humor started peeking through at times. Not only did her husband leave her for a guy on Gay.com, but she was also in a devastating car accident, that left her crushed, broken in body, and lucky to be alive. As a woman, it is a blow to our egos when our husbands leave us for another woman–but another man? I cannot image this. Of course, the only place left for her to return to was her roots–a place she knew she would be accepted no matter what. This place was the Mennonite community in which she was raised–and rejected. She was welcomed by her family and friends with open arms and hearts. It was interesting to read about this cloistered community; how they live, work and love.

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Clive West, Author Interview Jan. 4, 2013!

 

Author Profile: Clive West

Clive West was born in the West Country of England in the early 60’s. He was educated at a traditional English public school before going on to university to study civil engineering. Over the years, he has worked as a civil engineer, tutor of maths and science, schools quiz-master, employment agency boss, and writer.

His work includes a collection of short stories with twists called Hobson’s Choice (also available in print), a full-length novel called ‘The Road’ about the consequences of corruption on ordinary people and an accessible job hunting interview guide (based on his years of experience as the boss of an employment agency).

He has also written a book about lymphedema. This is a disfiguring, life-threatening and incurable disease he now suffers from and which his experience shows that most fellow patients have (like him) been abandoned by their respective health services.

Clive now lives in a rebuilt farmhouse in the Umbrian region of Italy along with Damaris, his writer wife of 22 years and their three rescue dogs. Apart from his fictional work, Clive also writes commercial non-fiction on a variety of topics but especially relating to business and employment. He and Damaris run an indie publishers called Any Subject Books Ltd – www.anysubject.com

You can also follow Any Subject Books on Facebook – www.facebook.com/anysubject

Clive is now disabled but, aside from his writing, he also enjoys playing the keyboard, listening to music and reading.

Contact details: books@anysubject.com

Facebook site: www.facebook.com/anysubjectbooks

Genre: Crime

Every crime has its victim.

  • The Giddings family – enjoying their rural idyll until events start to spiral out of their control turning paradise into hell.
  • Henry – trapped in a loveless marriage who sees a chance to climb on board the gravy train for a one-way ticket out of misery but doesn’t want to know about the consequences of his actions.
  • Sandra – frustrated by a system where the rich get richer and the poor pay to get a ringside seat.
  • John – a shrewd developer who knows all the tricks and is the guy flicking the switch when the smelly stuff hits the fan.
  • The parasites and hangers on, too numerous to mention, who abuse their positions of trust to feather their own nests but who are outraged when those lower down the pecking order try to do the same.

Excerpt

The noise from the diggers, mixers and other machinery was driving Caroline to distraction. It would start when she was waking the children for school and persist the whole day until just after she returned home with Athelstan. It provided a constant background track of banging, roaring, scraping and shouting that only marginally quietened for a brief period at lunchtime.

It wasn’t as if she could find some way of escaping from it. Work at the hairdressers had been slack with many of the regulars choosing to save money and perm their own hair because of the downturn in the economy. As a result, Sandy had told Caroline that she would only be needed on an ad hoc basis and that she would fully understand if Caroline found another job.

In reality, there were few other positions that Caroline was either suited to or inclined to take up. She just couldn’t see herself working in a supermarket – as an ex farm girl, she would feel like it was a form of imprisonment. Not that sitting at home was especially enjoyable any more because of the hubbub.

She had tried shutting all the windows but the noise had somehow penetrated along with the omnipresent dust which got in no matter how hard she endeavoured to keep it at bay. She tried watching the television but its largely mindless daytime babble was somehow eclipsed by the activities taking place on the adjacent land. She felt irresistibly drawn to watching the desecration of her beloved countryside and the television was a poor distraction.

Even when there was little or no noise, which wasn’t often, she still felt confined to her house. On one occasion she had tried tending the little vegetable garden that she was so proud of but had then been confronted by a burly workman clad in dirty jeans and a torn shirt taking a pee against the fence that bounded her garden with the site. It wasn’t the act in itself, goodness knows she had been taken short enough times, nor was it the sight of a man’s penis (and he wasn’t deliberately exposing himself to her), it was the fact that he had smiled and carried on as if he hadn’t a care in the world. This simple act seemed to limit her space still further. Up till then, the back garden had been hers. Historically, anyone within her range of view would be subject to her code of behaviour. Now the garden had been lost and even her presence there seemed only to be tolerated. As long as she accepted what went on immediately outside of her frontier, she would be permitted to access the territory her side of the border, but it could only be on those terms.

While in the back garden, she also felt the leers of the workmen on her and would catch odd snippets of conversation when they came within earshot. One of them she was sure was commenting on her behind when she had bent over to pick up some toy that one of the children had abandoned in the garden. She could have sworn she heard another one commenting on the underwear she had pinned up on the washing line and she knew for certain that one of them had laughingly warned her that one of his mates wasn’t called the ‘knicker pincher’ for nothing.

She resolved henceforth to dry her smalls inside the house – she certainly couldn’t leave the house with washing out in case the labourer who had spoken was right. For weeks afterwards, when she couldn’t find something in her bedroom chest of drawers, she would immediately become convinced that the missing bra or pair of panties had been stolen. Invariably the offending garment would be discovered folded inside another or mistakenly placed inside the dirty linen basket, but it rattled her nevertheless.

It wasn’t that the workmen were particularly close by. Most of the time they were just dots in the distant background and not near enough to have either faces or identities. Logical thinking didn’t stop her from feeling that there would be at least one of them peering over the garden fence to see what she was up to. She always made a point of pulling the curtains in both the bedroom and the bathroom if she went in there.

There was a loop in the housing estate road that came to within about forty metres of their fenceline where it ended in two intersecting circles which she assumed would be turning heads. It didn’t seem too bad – forty metres was quite a long way off, she told herself. At that distance, she needn’t be too disturbed by cars starting up in the morning. It could be a lot worse, she supposed.

Stuart had by this time moved on with his thoughts and didn’t seem particularly bothered or affected by the changes to their environment. Caroline considered that he was lucky, although he admitted that it vexed him that he could no longer take the children for a walk in the woods armed with his I-SPYbooks. The truth was that by the time he got home from work, the gangs were packing up and, besides, the children were now getting older and making friends that took them away from the house. Apart from what the estate agent had told Stuart about the loss in value of their property, he seemed both unaffected and unbothered by the work going on.

In any case, there was less and less of a reason to go for a walk where the fields used to be. Lucian was getting on and he didn’t need as much exercise nowadays and it was also true that the children were no longer particularly interested in playing there. Perhaps they had all been lucky enough to be permitted the enjoyment of the countryside at a time when they were able to appreciate it the most. For the rest of her family its absence no longer seemed relevant. Caroline deeply lamented losing the principal thing, other than her family, of course, that made her life worthwhile.

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Self-Publishing Authors can Connect with Readers INSIDE their E-Books.

See on Scoop.itEBook Promotion and Marketing

I thought I had heard it all until I read this post. I had to read it twice to make sure I was reading correctly. Yes, authors can now interact with their readers INSIDE their ebooks as the reader is reading. The new connection platform is called a WeJIT.

 

You won’t disturb your reader–they can ignore WeJIT if they like. The readers can link up with their social media platforms like FB and Twittter. Readers can engage with the author on book discussions and post the discussions on their FB, twitter, etc. and get their friends involved! Their friends can then become a part of the discussion and could, in turn, become interested in your book.

 

Why put WeJITs in your book?

Increase readership Increase awareness Sell more books

The future is here now! Can you see the possibilities? This is very exciting news to me.

 

This review was written by Penelope Silvers for her curated content on Ebook Promotion and Marketing at www.scoop.it/philosbooks
See on selfpublishingadvice.org

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Daniel – Christian Bible Study

Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy - Member BookDaniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy – Member Book by Beth Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was used as part of a small group Bible study, and I really wasn’t quite sure I would like it. After all, Daniel is a book in the Old Testament, and I figured it was going to be pretty dry. Was I ever surprised! Once we dug in, I was actually looking forward to the study each week. The book was used in conjunction with a DVD featuring Beth Moore. She did a great job of helping us pronounce names such as “Jehoiakim” king of Judah, “Hananiah”, “Belteshazzar” or “King Nebuchadnezzar”. The video also took us on a guided tour back in time–showcasing actual historical landmarks in Israel that were discussed in the book. The book of Daniel is a wonderful historical study. I soaked up the history lessons, as we also discussed a life of sacrifice–and what that means to our modern day lives. Very interesting, informative and life-changing.

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Thin Places–A Kick to the Gut

Thin PlacesThin Places by Mary E. DeMuth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever read a book that kicked you right in the gut? This was such a book. Mainly, the gut wrenching kick you will feel is from vividly experiencing the author’s harrowing childhood. All children should be loved, protected and cherished. No small child should ever have to suffer the way she did, and all the neglect, sorrow, and abuse was front and center with nothing held back. I also appreciated the skillful way the author wove the love of God into her story, and how this love saved her. She wrote beautifully and poignantly, and held me rapt all the way through to the end. I felt as if I had made a new friend, and didn’t want to leave her as I turned the last page. You will never be the same after reading Mary’s story. I am now on a search for more books by this author.

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Mary Higgins Clark Does it Again…..

The Lost YearsThe Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been quite a while since I read a MHC book, but the style remains the same. She always brings you along on the journey quite nicely with an interesting cast of characters, locations, suspenseful situations, and a murder mystery. I appreciate the fact that you always know what the main character is thinking, and feeling, and the writing will leave you wanting to know more at the end of each chapter. Of course, she brought in Alvirah and Willy, the amateur detectives, to help solve the crime. Since I have become accustomed to her writing style, I figured out the murderer about halfway through. That does not take away from the fact that her story was well written and suspenseful. Just what we’ve come to expect from Mary Higgins Clark.

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