Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Oui Oui Gigi by Jeff Minich

Hardcover:  34 pages
Publisher:  Nuggies, Inc Jeff Minich
Language:  English
ISBN-10:  0996811508
ISBN-13:  978-0996811507
Author/Illustrator:  Jeff Munich
Source:  Goodreads

This is one of the best children's books I have read in a very long time.  My 2.5 year old grand daughter loved it also.  She often is not able to sit still long enough to read an entire book, but with this one, she sat until the end.  For me that was the true test of this book's quality.  Ever since we read it she has been saying oui oui.  This is the 4th book in the series, but it is also a stand alone book.  However, I will now get the other books in the series to read to my grand daughter.  

The story is centered around two dogs, Cocoa and Chomper aka Nuggies.  Cocoa and Chomper get separated from their Daddy and are trying to make their way back to him.  Along the way they are being chased by a French dog catcher.   Then they  meet a beautiful white dog named Gigi.  Gigi helps them look for their Dad and at the same time she introduces them to some French history.  They visit Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower.  

I think this book is a great way to introduce young children to a different culture.  My grand daughter
loved repeating the French words and will likely want to read this book again and again. And, if you have Amazon Unlimited, it is currently free to read. 

The Hours Before by Robert Parry

File Size:  4464KB
Print Length:  424 pages
Publication Date:  March 1, 2015
ASIN:  B00ufz10AC
Source:  I read this book free through Amazon Unlimited

Another great read by one of my favorite writers, Robert Parry.  This book  keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.  It is the story of a woman's desperate search for  her daughter.  Her daughter was reported to be dead among other dead members of an occultist group.  The members' charred remains was discovered among the rubble of the building they were living in.  Deborah Peters is the mother of Penelope,  "Poppy" Peters..  Deborah Peters is the ex wife of Hugh Peters, a newspaper tycoon and she is  a very well known and  well loved clairvoyant   Their only daughter, Poppy had recently left home to live with an occultist group that is focused on doomsday and preys on  Europe's wealthiest citizens.  When the bodies of some of this group were found, it was assumed that Poppy was one of the dead.  Hugh accepts that his daughter is dead, but Deborah does not believe that Poppy died in the fire.  Because of her  clairvoyance she just knows deep within her soul  that  her beloved Poppy  is still alive.  

Hugh begins to make Deborah's life a living hell.   He blames her for influencing Poppy to make bad choices.  He makes vicious accusations and does his best to turn admirers against her.    He goes as far as claiming that she is insane.  With his influential power, he makes sure that there is something on every paper's front page on a daily basis.  He even employs a particularly despicable reporter to follow her around.  The reporter manages to always be around to take photo's  of her for the newspapers when she is looking her worst. To make matters worse, Deborah  is also  betrayed by her best friend, because she marries Hugh.  Deborah eventually hits rock bottom.

Deborah is determined to find  her daughter.  Along the way she meets Herman "Manny" Grace, a magician.  Manny is drawn to her and doesnt know why, but he  gets deeply involved with finding Poppy.  Over time Deborah runs out of things to sell and she becomes destitute and a mere shell of the wealthy lady she used to be.  Just as Manny gets information about Poppy's possible whereabouts,  he and Deborah are separated and he cannot get in touch with her. In an effort to find out if Poppy is at Castle Schloss Lethe, Manny makes the decision  on his own to infiltrate the group and pretend to be a new follower.  What he discovers is taking place  in this remote place is shocking

This is an awesome Gothic Victorian  tale.  It is a nice, long read that will keep you engaged from the first page until the end.  As you read this book you will have a hundred questions, but I assure you that you will not be disappointed with the answers.  And, all of them will be answered.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Urban Boys by K.N. Smith

Publication Date:  September 29, 2015
Publisher:  Two Petals
ASIN:  B015zS01M1
Version:  Kindle file size 928B

This book starts with a bang and does not let up until the very end.  The story is centered around a group of  five high school boys that have known each other almost their entire lives.  These boys all feel like brothers, even though they are not. But, they have such close ties to each other, they are more like family, than just friends.  These boys come into contact with a mysterious energy source at the edge of a forest and their lives are forever changed.  After coming into contact with this mysterious energy, each of the boys gained a different superhero type of sense.  It turns out the that it was a good thing they received these gifts, because they would need them for the battles they were about to be up against.  They soon came into contact with a group of evil thugs in the town next to theirs.  These evil doers were destroying the town.  The town's name was Sandry Lake, and their police department was almost non-exist-ant.  So, the boys felt it was their job to get these evil doers under control.

Through the guidance of a dark stranger and a beautiful, great fighting girl named Alina, the boys became protectors of Sandry Lake and the surrounding area.  They would keep their visits to the area from their family and friends, and all of the secrecy created a lot of stress and tension.  The fights were always brutal and left the boys exhausted, and it became more and more difficult to keep their secret to themselves,

K.N. Smith has proven herself to be a great writer with this debut novel.  She grabs your attention on the first page and keeps it until the very last page.  She brings depth to the characters and the scenery that feels genuine, and makes the reader feel like they are part of the story.  I recommend this book for any person wanting to read a great, action packed story.  The target population might be for young adults, but I loved it, and I have not been considered a young adult for several years. Having done such a wonderful job on her debut novel, I can't wait to read her future books!  I received this book from K.N. Smith in exchange for my honest review, and I am truly glad I was able to read it!

Here is a short excerpt from the book to give an example of the kind of writing you can expect:

"And it took only a few steps for their senses to flare as they saw numerous thugs running behind them.  Practically tripping over one another to get to the boys, they advanced with Olympic level speed, and swarmed like ants upon the group.  Loc 2169 of 2480 or 80% 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn

Source:  Book Browse
Type:  Advance Readers Copy
Pages:  304
Publication Date:  August 1, 2016
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN-10:  1250109787
ISBN-13:  978-1250109787
Language:  English
FCC Statement:  I received an ARC copy of this book from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review.

This is a wonderful book that takes the reader on a trip through modern day NYC, as well as to Russia during the time of Catherine the Great (Sophia Agusta Frederica).  The transition between the two time periods flow flawlessly.  During the modern era in NYC, the protagonist is Tanya, a Russian expat.  Tanya works for  a high end auction house in Manhattan.  She is an expert on Russian Art. Of course the protagonist in Russia during the 1700's is Sophie, the future Catherine the Great.

The auction house that Tanya works with comes into possession of a priceless Russian artifact, which
Tanya becomes responsible for.  It is at this time the two stories begin to merge.  While Tanya is trying to make sense of her husband's disappearance, Sophie, the future Catherine the Great is facing a new life in Russia.  She has gone  to Russia to be married.  Both Tanya and Sophie are having marital issues that seem to stem from their determined inner strength and their husbands' egos.
This book is beautifully written. The two time periods blend together perfectly.  The way Irina Reyn was able to blend the two time periods together is reminiscent of Kate Morton's work.  Anyone that loves history, art, and romance will likely enjoy this book. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Title: The Little Paris Bookshop
Author:  Nina George
File Size:  2058kb
Publication Date:  June 23, 2015
Publisher:  Broadway Books
Language:  English
ASIN:  B0000286ms
Source:  Purchased from Amazon

     This is a delightful story centered around a man by the name of Jean Perdu.  Jean owns a most unusual book store in a barge named "Literary Apothecary."  The store lives up to its name, because Jean Perdu has a special talent of being able to prescribe the book a person needs based on what the person has going on in their life.  He can do this without  the person telling him what they are experiencing.  
     Jean Perdu lives alone in an apartment that he has had for many years.  He has spent the last 20 years grieving for his lover who left him 20 years ago.  He works in his bookstore and goes home to an empty apartment every night.  His only friend is his cat.  When a new neighbor moves into the apartment building and is in  need of furniture, Jean gives her an old table.  Then later when he meets the new neighbor in person, the lady gives him an unopened  letter she found in the table he gave her. When Jean sees the letter he feels overwhelmed, because it is the letter that his lover, Manon had written when she left him.  He had never been able to bring himself to open it.  However, he does open it and was very surprised by what Manon had written.  All of the past 20 years Jean had believed that she left because she no longer loved him.  However, Manon had left him because she had found out that she was dying from cancer.  Now, Jean realized that she was likely dead and had died thinking he did not care enough to come see her.
     Jean decides that he is going to take his barge to Manon's home town.  Much to his surprise, the young man that lives in his apartment building, that is also a well known author asks to go on the trip with him.  The young man, Max has always seemed a little peculiar because he wears earmuffs all the time, even though it is not cold.    Jean reluctantly agrees to take him along . While on this trip they meet some interesting people and also learn a lot about themselves.   Jean also fluctuates between thinking about his new neighbor, and how much he misses Manon.  Jean is convinced that if he goes to where Manon lived and was buried, that he will somehow find some peace.  
     This story is about love and loss, friendships and new beginnings.  I love the idea of a floating book store with an owner that has the ability of prescribing the perfect book for customers.  I did find it a bit sad that he can prescribe the perfect book for others, but not for himself.  It is a story that stands out from the crowd.  This book is perfect for anyone looking for something different to read.  I will leave you with a short excerpt from the book.

"Do you know that there's a halfway world between each ending and each new beginning?  It's called the hurting time, Jean Perdu.  It's a beginning; it's where your dreams and worries and forgotten plans gather.  Your steps are heavier during that time.  Don't underestimate the transition, Jeanno, between farewell and new departure.  Give yourself the time you need.  Some thresholds are too wide to be taken in one stride."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection by Barbara Venkataraman

Title:  Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection:  Box Set Books 1-3
File Size: 799KB
Print Length:  338 Pages
Publication Date:  September 3, 2014
Language:  English
Sold by:  Amazon Digital Services, LLC

This box set includes "Death by Digeridoo," "The Case of the Killer Divorce," and "Peril in the Park."  All of the story lines are connected to a young woman named Jamie Quinn.  Jamie is a family attorney that is taking a break from her practice, because her Mother has recently died.  Jamie has found herself a bit depressed since her Mother's death, and she had basically withdrew from society.  It takes her cousin getting accused of murder to get her back into the world.  She was in no hurry to start practicing law again, but gets pulled into her cousin's case in an effort to exonerate him.  Even though she is a family practice attorney, she gets involved in the crime and works nonstop  to exonerate her cousin.  This not only  involves pulling her back into  her practice, but  she also confronts intrigue, deception, and vengeance.

In "The Case of the Killer Divorce," Jamie has started practicing family law again.  She finds herself defending a very influential woman that is in the middle of a messy divorce.  The client's biggest concern is that her husband will gain custody of their daughters. Not only is the divorce messy, the ex husband gets murdered and it appears that the wife might have murdered him.  So, again, Jamie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

The last book in this box set is "Peril in the Park."  Romance has entered Jamie's life and she has a boyfriend named Kip.  Kip is the director of the park system in Hollywood, Florida.  Jamie once again finds herself involved in a murder case when Kip disappears, and a body of a man is found in the park.  Jamie works feverishly to solve the crime before it is too late for Kip.

These books fit into the cozy mystery category.  Among the murder and mayhem in each of these books there is just enough humor to keep them interesting.  Anyone looking for a quick to read, enjoyable book cannot go wrong with this one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Testament of Sophie Dawes: The Queen of Chantilly and a Scandal of Victorian Society By Robert Parry

Title:  The Testament of Sophie Dawes:  The Queen  n of Chantilly and a Scandal at the Heart of Victorian Society
Publisher:  Create Space Independent Platform 
Publication Date:  March 16, 2016
Language:  English
ISBN-10:  1514777878
ISBN-13:  978-1514777879

The year is 1862 and the place is England.  To be more specific, the place is actually Queen Victoria's Island residence of Osborne  House.  The time is actually a dark time, because Queen Victoria is  mourning the loss of her beloved, Prince Albert. This time period was really a National Catastrophe for all of Britain.  Victoria was distraught and her only interest was to memorialize her beloved forever.  During this time the nation mourned with her and almost everyone dressed in black mourning wear. Therefore, everyone around her was dressed in black, which I am sure added to the dark atmosphere.

A young archivist, new at his job was sent to this dark place to find, organize, and process any type of papers, documents, or letters pertaining to or written by Prince Albert.  However, all the archivist really wanted to do was to take strolls around the property bird watching. But, shortly after arriving at Osborne House, he came across a letter written by woman he had never heard of.  This letter contained scandalous information centered around the son of Marie Antoinette. This information had the potential to change the history of France.   The young man does not know what to think about this information.  To make matters worse, he meets a woman on one of his walks and then kept running into her time and time again.  Eventually they began to talk, and the woman claimed to be Madam Feucheres, the actual writer of the letter he had found.  Although, he had seen this woman's grave and believed her to be dead, here she was in the flesh.   He does not know what to make of this woman, but she turns up everywhere and tells more of her story at each meeting.  The young man becomes haunted by this mysterious woman and grows more and more confused.

Although the story occurs during a dark time, Robert Parry managed to bring enough humor into the story to balance out the dark.  For example, the young archivist hires a woman to tend house for him during his stay and they develop an unusual and unexpected relationship, which is quite entertaining.  I have read most of Mr. Parry's books and have loved every one, this one included.  I recommend this book for anyone interested in Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Marie Antoinette, or Louis XVI. Or, for anyone just wanting to read a great book!