Monday, February 29, 2016

The Color Purple

All the feels. Seriously. I'm scared to even review this book because I doubt I'll do it justice, it's heartbreaking on like a billion different levels. It's the story of two sisters living two vastly contrasting lives on different continents. Celie, the older and more pliant of the two, learned from an early age that it's best to just obey. Men wield the power and it's easier to get on with life if you just accept your place in it, she admires strong women, but she doesn't think she could ever become one. Nettie on the other hand, knows what she wants and that is education and escape. Years pass but they always remain faithful to each other in their own way. Nettie as an African missionary and Celie as an abused wife and stepmother. A hauntingly captivating story that will have readers sucked in from the first page.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Every Exquisite Thing

The latest Matthew Quick novel does not disappoint! Quirky as ever, this young adult novel tackles depression, conforming to society, bullying, and choosing one's own destiny. It's heartbreaking, adorable, and inspiring all in one go. Nanette O'Hare should by all rights be a popular teen. She's star of the girl's soccer team, has the most stylish clothes, and is by all accounts, very pretty. However she could care less about being popular, she's happiest reading her favorite book, "The Bubblegum Reaper" and hanging out with her only real friend, the elderly author of her favorite novel. The out of print cult classic,"The Bubblegum Reaper," brings out Nanette's inner rebel and she starts to really enjoy life instead of just coasting by, especially when her reclusive author sets her up on a blind date with another fan, the strong troubled poet, Little Lex. Together they learn that sometimes teenage rebellion has a higher price to pay than they bargained for. I wasn't always thrilled with Nanette's decisions but Quick does a wonderful job illustrating her state of mind. A wonderful read.

I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.


"I remember…
Rolling off the couch to change TV channels (no remote, not many channels and the shows were mostly in black and white)

Running and playing in our neighborhood without fear of strangers

Rotary phones, loved my pink Princess

Sandra Dee and Tab Hunter, Saturday matinees cost a quarter and drivein theatres

No air conditioning in school and we survived the brutal Texas heat

The Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis

The assassination of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King

The Vietnam War, protests against the War, and soldiers being spit on for serving their country

I remember a lot of things because I’m a baby boomer, born in 1949. My father started his real estate business in Houston, Texas that same year and my mother—like many women of her generation—stayed home to raise the kids, which in our family included my brother and me.

In 1971, I graduated with a degree in psychology from UCLA, then lived a year in Guadalajara, Mexico and three years in Albany, NY before returning to Houston. Somewhere within that period of time, I figured out psychology wasn’t the right career path for me but discovered the comfort of balancing a general ledger. So, I walked through Albany’s sleet and snow to attend Russell Sage College, worked in public accounting and passed the CPA exam. When my entrepreneurial spirit took flight, I founded my own business, Feldt Personal Consultants where I assisted candidates with new career opportunities. After selling my business, I dabbled in real estate, built a lake house and started to write. And write and write. Usually for my own personal enjoyment but do have two suspense thrillers tucked away in boxes--perhaps one day I’ll pull them out to see the light of day. Then three events shattered our lives and eventually, after several years, I started writing again, as much for therapy as for enjoyment. The Oys & Joys started to sing to me and the ladies insisted I write their story. And the name sounds melodic, suits them and feels sort of like…fate.

Peaks & Valleys, Rain & Rainbows, Oys* & Joys. That’s life!

Sometimes, when you reach the back side of middle age, the past and the secrets it harbors, collides with the present. And secrets never die quietly. Meet The Oys & Joys—Lizzie, Grace, Sassie and Ruby—baby boomers tied together with the strength of their steel-laced friendships. Until they’re forced to confront a decades old betrayal, and the tragic consequences threatening to sever the trust between them.

Four women, who step into the crossroads between choosing action or forever facing regret—and define their moment by revisiting their past to embrace their future. Their journey, seasoned with their hearts and souls and hey, an abundance of humor, includes attempted murder (oops), DNA surprises (who knew?), boatless boat slips (damn, he got the boat), and sexual awakenings (yes, at their age). Oh, and then there’s the pole dancing for seniors.

Sassie’s Wine List, Ruby’s Italian Feast recipes, Lizzie’s Heart to Heart picture (Love. Only for a moment. Only for an eternity.), and Grace’s Nancy Drew quote can be found at

*Oy or Oy vey:
Terms to express exasperation, dismay, calamity or any other sense of woe. Yiddish origin but so widely used, now integrated into American colloquialisms, and in dictionaries around the world.

“Brilliantly voiced and inspiring, The Oys & Joys defines challenges facing baby boomers through the eyes of four unforgettable women. The current electrifying every page is that everyone, at any age, has the power to change her life.” — Gloria Feldt, Take the Lead, author, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.

“Life’s tapestry woven with pain and joy, passion and heartbreak. Readers will adore this excellent debut novel. Not to be missed.” — Chris Rogers, author, The Dixie Flannigan suspense series.

“These characters are both intimately familiar and impossible to forget. A truly complex and celebratory novel.” — Carol Dawson, author of Miles and Miles of Texas, Body of Knowledge, and The Mother-In-Law Diaries

Genre: Baby Boomer, Chick-Lit, Women’s Fiction, LGBT Fiction
Subject: Baby Boomer, Coming of Age, Bucket List, Friendship, Humor
Awards: Houston Writers Guild award winner in Romance/Women’s Fiction
Available wherever books are sold
ISBN: 978-0-9779048-2-2 print
ISBN: 978-0-9779048-1-5 e-book
Publisher: LadyLake Publishing

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Miss Mina Murray's Little Book of Better Burlesque

After backing the kickstarter for this book I was expecting a little something bigger, but as the adage goes, size doesn't always matter. This cute little edition is filled with some truly helpful tips that even non-performing burlesque dancers (like myself) will utilize; how to get rhinestones out of the carpet, how to quickly chill champagne, how to straighten seams. Written by "the Martha Stewart of Burlesque" this guide is compact and dead useful. A must read for performers and a fun read for those of us without the magic talents :)

Bridget Jones's Diary

I don't know if I've ever identified more with a fictional character. Bridget Jones is a slightly older, much skinnier, equally eccentric single girl and we're practically the same person. Why did I wait so long to read this gem?! It was love from page one. The diary starts on January 1 and takes readers all the way through the year and all through her exploits, beauty and dieting struggles, dating catastrophes and more. It's zany and hilarious and I can relate on so many levels. Her parents are a little nuts (specifically her mom), her friends are all married or dating, and her coworkers are insufferable (save her super hot boss!), no wonder she drinks so much! A fantastic read, I can't wait to read the rest in the series and to watch all the movies. Why did I wait soo long in my life! Wonderful screwball English comedy!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ashley Bell

The hype behind this was too good to be true, I mean it was a little, but... not enough for me. I hadn't picked up a Dean Koontz book since middle school so I was excited to try this one out when I heard all the advance praise this book was getting. While it was good it failed to live up to my expectations and wasn't anything that I had expected. The story follows young author, Bibi Blair from her diagnosis of terminal cancer to her miraculous recovery and subsequent descent into the occult and dark dark magic. After her recovery her parents send over a masseuse/scrabblemancy medium, the "parlor trick" turns dark fast and Bibi finds herself on the run from dark and mysterious forces. All she knows  is what the medium told her, she was saved from cancer to save Ashley Bell, but that won't stop the bad guys from trying to kill her. With twist after twist, this thriller will keep readers guessing. Can memories from the past help her with her dark new quest, why does it feel that something was hidden in the recesses of her mind?! For fans of paranormal thrillers.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy

The third in an inspirational romance series, this cowboy love story leaves little to the imagination. Cassidy Starr escapes her loveless marriage and retreats to her aunt's house where she spent many a summer growing up. With her aunt dead six years, Cassidy hopes to turn the farmhouse into a bed and breakfast and organic strawberry farm. She happens to forget that the boy who broke her heart as a teenager lives right next door, and of course he's a gorgeous cowboy. Jarrod Monahan's biggest mistake was fleeing Cassidy's love. They shared a beautiful kiss and then he fled; her heart broken she threw herself onto the first man she saw, her awful ex-husband. Now he is determined to right his wrongs and win her back but she's having none of it, he already had his chance and Cassidy wants to be an independent women. It's the usual romance story and the reader knows how it will end after the first chapter. It's not too "Christian," so some reader's won't be scared away by excessive preachiness. The book justifies divorce, helps out unwed teen mothers, and the characters attend a "cowboy church." It's a light fluffy read with a little God, an eccentric town (my favorite part), and a happy ending.

I received this book for free from Litfuse publicity in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hippie Chick

Acclaimed jam-band and Grateful Dead photographer, Jay Blakesberg, has compiled an excellent collection of photographs, essays, and quotes from hippie chicks all over the United States.  They range over several decades worth of live concerts, mainly Grateful Dead shows. The pictures themselves are beguiling, but the accompanied quotes and mini essays really add depth to this photography collection. There is nothing more awe inspiring then the freedom and devotion of the hippie chicks; they are weightless, dancing, hooping, laughing, swaying with the music and Blakesberg's photographs really make these women shine, they are beautiful inside and out. This collection really plays tribute to the music and the culture that created and sustains decade after decade of hippie chicks. Reading through this gorgeous collection will inspire you to start planning your next live show immediately. As an added bonus there is a wonderful foreword penned by Grace Slick and an afterword by Grace Potter. This gorgeous photography collection is not to be missed.

Fare Thee Well

Deadheads who were unable to attend the 50th anniversary Grateful Dead farewell tour will go nuts over this beautiful coffee table book. Those who were lucky enough to attend the sold out two city tour will also find themselves clambering for this gorgeously photographed memento. Photographer Jay Blakesberg, a lifelong Deadhead, does a wonderful job capturing each night of the tour, outlining the set-list, and highlighting the musicians and the fans in their element. The quality of the photos and the emotions they capture make this book worth every penny. Blakesberg captures shots during rehearsals, on stage, off stage, in the stands, with the fans, as well as some stuning aerial views. For an additional treat, Bill Walton writes the foreword, David Lemieux writes the afterword, and the interspersed essays are by Gary Lambert. All in all it's a magnificent treat for any dedicated Deadhead and an essential addition to every Grateful Dead library.

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

I can hardly even begin to describe this 1970 masterpiece. Literally I can't, words evade me. This how to manual on catching, keeping, and ditching men must have been quite the scandal when it was published, my eyes were boggling with the advice and witticisms put forth. So rather than try to prattle on and do this book an injustice, let me just let Zsa Zsa tell you with her own words:

"Don't marry for money, you can borrow it cheaper."

"It is said that the right age for a man to get married is when he is twice the woman's age minus 7 years."

"The best way to attract a man immediately is to have a magnificent bosom and a half-size brain and let both of them show... Remember - the only place men want depth in a woman is in her decolletage."

"I think it is a good thing for a husband and a wife to fight with each other...By fighting I don't think of just arguing with words. As a matter of fact, those are the most dangerous. Hitting each other, and throwing things around isn't so dangerous. A black bruise heals fast. A broken vase can be replaced. But some terribly heartless words can never be changed."

"Is it a good idea that your husband should know that his good friend is also your lover? I would say no."

"So I say if your husband takes care if you in every way and you know he loves you very much, don't pay any attention to his affair. Just overlook it as long as you make sure you know who the other woman is so you can keep an upper-hand on things."

"It is one of the wife's most important jobs to spend her husband's money for him."

"You should by all means try to make your ex-husbands friendly with each other... I think every woman should have at least three husbands."

"... you shouldn't make such a big thing out of faithfulness. As I keep telling you, jumping into bed with somebody is, for most men, nothing more than a gymnastic."

"Your husband's you husband while you are his wife, But your ex is your ex for the rest of your life."

There you have it, an almost 50 year old self help book by the infamous Zsa Zsa Gabor. Read at your own peril, the advice is, shall we say, a little outdated.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Moonlight Over Paris

This is a nice easy beach read. There is virtually no plot, the characters are all likable and the imagery is beautiful; you can zone out and enjoy it but you won't learn a whole lot from it. Moonlight Over Paris is set in 1920's Paris after the first World War and focuses on Helena coming to terms with her life, friends, and art. The book starts with Helena on the brink of death, vowing to change her life if she can pull through the scarlet fever. When she gets better she decides to move to Paris and live with her aunt while attending art school. While there she makes great friends and attracts the eye of a handsome American. The scenery, descriptions of art, and detail to imagery make it a pleasant read even though there isn't much, if any, plot to propel the story forward. Not a bad read, but not great either. This book would also appeal to fans of gentle reads, inspirational fiction (no sex, very PG), and historical fiction.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Five Days at Memorial

Engrossing and impossible to put down, this non-fiction book will grip readers from page one. Author, Sheri Fink, interviewed hundreds of doctors, nurses, patients, family members, and prosecutors, involved in the horrifying experiences of Memorial Hospital to paint a picture of the awful conditions and the hard decisions that were made. When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Memorial Hospital was under water, lost power, and eventually lost generator power and hundreds were stranded without power, over 100 were patients. Doctors and nurses struggled with no sleep, dwindling supplies, deathly sick patients, and trying to keep people from overheating and dying. Despite their best efforts many died, and controversy arose that some of those patients had been helped to die with additional morphine. Many adamantly disagreed saying that morphine was given to alleviate the dire conditions and pain. After five days when the last living patients were rescued, controversy arose and many of those involved found themselves embroiled in controversy with what really happened in the hospital. The mounting tension and terror is hard to read and you feel as if you're right there with them. The included pictures really help paint the picture and set the scene. It's unfortunate, but reading this will help you think about how well you could cope in an emergency. A must read!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gypsies, Tramps, and Weeia

Separate from the Unelmoija Series, although part of that world; "Gypsies, Tramps, and Weeia" focuses on Danni, a young Weeia marshal assigned to protect Paris. Sure that she would get assigned to some hellhole, Danni is pleasantly surprised when she is assigned the most plum placement out of anyone in the academy. Although she graduated top in her class at the academy, she was sure that her undesirable heritage would hinder her getting a good job, instead she gets the city of love, Paris.

There is no fanfare when she arrives, her superior can't even be bothered to meet her and her living quarters haven't been inhabited in nearly half a century. Stuck working on cleaning, plumbing, and orienting herself to this new city, she almost loses excitement, but then excitement finds her. She uncovers some shady dealings and starts working to prove herself to her boss and to herself. Soon she'll have the respect of everyone. A great read, perfect for fans of Elle Boca and urban fantasy. Mix "Nancy Drew" with "Vampire Academy," set it in France and you have an idea of what to expect.

I received this book for free from the author in return of my honest, unbiased review.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Living

A little slow to start but endlessly absorbing once you get into it! Shy thought it would be an easy summer working on a cruise ship, anything to get his mind of his grandmother who recently passed away from Romero's disease, but things are about to get a lot more complicated. Things are all fun and games on the ship, until they're not. When a huge earthquake takes out the west coast, massive tsunamis are headed towards the cruise liner and Shy is in for the ride of his life. He's worried about his safety, his crush Carmen, and of course the safety of his crew mates and the passengers, it's going to take everything in him to survive. It's an emotional roller coaster and an excellent survival story. There are also political and ethical quandaries for teens to ponder. An excellent read, I can't wait for the next in the series. For fans of Ashfall and other natural disaster survival books!

A Summer of Sundays

A cute book that is a must read for middle children. Sunday hates being the "third of six" children, she always gets lost in the shuffle. This summer her family moves to a small town so that their father can finish renovating a library and Sunday is determined to make her mark. She plans to do something so that she finally gets noticed. The only problem is she has no idea what to do. While looking for light bulbs in the library basement she stumbles across an old manuscript and some letters, it's good, really good. She thinks if she can discover who wrote it she'll get some credit. she and her new friend Jude, start spying around town to see who could have written it. Was it the crepe lady? Jude's mom? The mean, old, scary neighbor? While trying to make her mark she makes some new great friends in the process and discovers a lot about herself and her siblings. A cute, touching, middle grade read.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Odette's Secrets

A beautiful book, written in poetry-like prose; this tale of a young Jewish girl living in France during the Nazi occupation will be sure to thrill readers. Loosely based off a true story, this fictionalized young adult novel is essential for those interested in historical fiction, World War II, and the Holocaust. Told through the eyes of a child, it is heartrendingly innocent and tells of fear and hope and what it means to be a Jew. Once Paris is overrun with Nazis and Jews start getting deported, Odette's mother sends her to a small village in rural France to pretend she is a Christian cousin of some friends. Although Odette was scared at first she finds she likes the peasant life and even better, she actually likes Church. Things change though when her mother rejoins her and some people suspect them of being Jewish. A great introduction to the Holocaust for young readers.

Some Girls Are

This is essentially, "Mean Girls" on steroids. No exaggeration. One of the girls is even named Regina and they wear matching clothes on certain days, plus... they're evil. Regina is almost raped by her best friend's boyfriend, and no one believes her. She goes from being the best friend of the most popular girl to the most hated girl in high school. She is a social pariah. She seeks solace in Michael, one of the boys she used to mercilessly bully and torment but that doesn't seem to be enough. She's angry and she wants revenge. Now that she knows how awful it feels to be bullies, beat up, and laughed at she suddenly has sympathy for all those she used to torture. Rather than lying low and dealing with the bullies (like she deserves!) she keeps trying to get even. Michael tries to get her to stop but she's convinced that it's not fair and she needs to take down others with her. Ugh. Soo much ugh! Thank goodness high school was nothing like this. Super violent, bullying is the norm, and no one seems to learn their lesson. I couldn't stop reading it though, it was a train wreck and I wanted Regina to grow up. I would have even taken a cheesy ending but instead... ugh!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Absurd, over the top, and probably good fun for younger audiences. This short graphic novel picks up where the classic tale of Pinocchio left off and liberally fills in the blanks. Geppetto and many townspeople have been murdered by something mysterious. The townsfolk don't believe when Pinocchio tells them that something is underfoot. They just believe that people are missing because there are no bodies and no visible bad guys. Whenever Pinocchio kills one of them the body disappears and he has no proof. What's a poor puppet to do? Campy, ridiculous and good fun. Pinocchio lies and then rips off his nose to use as a stake, I couldn't make that up if I tried, just look on the cover. He is gripping two bloody wooden noses. Apparently there are more graphic novels in the series but I am content with just reading this one. Kids will get the most kick out of this.

The Thirteenth Tale

This novel is a book lover's dream; it's lush, gorgeously written, and the way the author lovingly talks about reading and the power of books makes you want to curl up with this unique novel even more. Margaret Lea, a book lover of the highest order and part time antiquarian book dealer and amateur biographer, finds a mysterious note. It turns out to be from the world's most famous living author, Vida Winter. Margaret is stunned, she has never even read one of Vida's 50+ novels, and how on earth does Vida even know who she is? Vida knows she is reaching the end of her life and she wants to set the record straight. For years, she has spun tales about her life, fearful for people to peer too closely in at her. However, now she is ready to get it off her chest, so she asks Margaret to be her biographer and thus begins a complex tale of deceit, mental health issues, and overall a most peculiar childhood where nothing is as it seems. Once you get started reading this there is no stopping, you have to barrel along to the end where even more surprises wait. A complex, beautiful, and haunting read. I can't wait to discuss this with my book club!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Walking Dead: Book Twelve

Holy cow, just when I think I can't be shocked anymore, Walking Dead punches me right in the guts and laughs in my face. Damn, this one was brutal. It started off a little slow, Carl has some anger issues, finds a lady friend and... "becomes a man." Maggie has some crap to deal with at her camp and Rick wrestles with his humanity. Why is he really keeping Neegan alive? Underlying this whole book is a new threat, the whisperers, and they are even creepier then you could imagine. Seriously, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of. The ending... sigh. Awful. I don't want to have to wait to see what happens in the next installment!

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Revenant

There's something to be said about reading a good wilderness survival book. That something is I wouldn't last two minutes. However, just because I wouldn't survive, doesn't mean I don't thoroughly enjoy reading all about someone else who would. Even from an early age reading Gary Paulsen, I was always captivated by those much stronger than me. To survive in the wilderness you need to be not only physically strong, but mentally strong, something that the main character in The Revenant certainly is.

Loosely based off of historical events; Hugh Glass, a fur trapper travelling up the Missouri river in 1823, finds himself in a perilous situation. Having been brutally mauled by a bear, the captain of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company leaves two fur trappers behind to look over Hugh while he slowly dies and then give him a proper burial. Unwilling to wait for Hugh to succumb to death, the two trappers not only leave him on his own, but take his weapon and tools, ensuring that he will never survive. The betrayal spurs Hugh Glass into action, slowly he heals with only one thought on his mind, revenge. He will hunt down those who abandoned him and deal out his brand of wilderness revenge. Dodging wild animals, Native Americans, and the perilous winter, revenge is what he heals Hugh and keeps him going. An astoundingly fast paced read. Filled with death, despair, and survival, this will make you glad to live in modern times.