Thursday, March 31, 2016

Introducing...Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

It was snowing already, in early November, after days of hot, clear fall weather. The flakes landed on her tent like slow rain. She lay still, aware of every small, square inch around her, and in that stillness imagined changing her mind, sleeping almost warm for a few more hours, and after daybreak and coffee, packing up with the others and driving home.

Earlier that night, Kenny had asked her, "Do you still love him?" They'd been sitting by the fire. Aaron had already turned in.

-- Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

Monday, March 28, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: The Soup Cleanse by Vivienne Vella and Angela Blatteis


Souping is the new juicing!

When Angela Blatteis and Vivienne Vella set out to create Soupure, the LA-based soup company at the forefront of the souping movement, they wanted to share the power of healing soups with the world. With a few simple, delicious recipes they've helped people lose weight, boost their energy, and feel better every day. Now with THE SOUP CLEANSE they are bringing their satisfying, 100 percent good-for-you, whole food-based soups straight into your kitchen.

With more than 50 delicious recipes and a flexible, easy-to-follow detox program, you'll learn how to nourish and purify your body while flooding it with essential nutrients. You will sip your way through high-fiber soups packed full of regenerative whole food ingredients. Unlike juicing and many other quick-fix diets, THE SOUP CLEANSE is built on simple, satisfying recipes that won't leave you feeling hungry or deprived, making it accessible and easy to stick to-even for those with the busiest lifestyles.

Get ready to rejuvenate, revitalize, and reclaim your health-one sip at a time!

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published December 29th 2015 by Grand Central Life & Style
ISBN 1455536660 (ISBN13: 9781455536665)

My Thoughts

I came upon this book quite fortuitously. I had learned of Soupure on the Today Show, and checked them out online where I learned of this book. I thought, "I wonder whether Netgalley would have this book?" Sure enough, it did!

I got side-tracked by the flu, and this book wound up expiring before I was able to give it a thorough review and try any of the recipes. However I can tell you the following:
  • There is an introduction to how the company Soupure began, and the thinking behind the soup cleanse.
  • The book includes beautiful photography, and I loved the colors that reminded me of cantaloupe and honeydew melon and lemons.
  •  It offers up guidelines for several cleanse options, including one-day, three-day and five-day cleanses. You can make the cleanse as extreme or easy as you wish. Go totally raw with no dairy or meat, or do a modified cleanse.
  • It includes a list of ingredients that are great for detoxification, like almonds, flax, pineapple and turmeric.
  • It instructs how to choose and prepare for your cleanse.
  • It includes a detox journal and worksheet for you to log physical complaints before you start the cleanse, and how you feel after the cleanse has been completed.
  • It includes broths, cold soups, hot soups and even infused waters.
  • It also includes some other recipes for a less restrictive "mini-cleanse", like Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad with greens and cherry tomatoes, and even a dessert of Chocolate Soup with Sea Salt, Almonds and Whipped Coconut Milk.
I definitely think if you enjoy soup, this is a great option that can even be included in your regular diet.  And if you like to do the occasional cleanse, this is much more appetizing and satisfying than simply drinking juice, or honey and lemon water.

Check out the Soupure website, to get a better idea what they are about, or to order their book.

My Rating: A-

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

QUICK REVIEW: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian


From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes the spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room; two women are on the run from police; and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams.

When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law's for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother's friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard's life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Doubleday
ISBN 0385538898 (ISBN13: 9780385538893)

About the Author

Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Hi new novel, The Guest Room, a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women, just went on sale.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

His awards include the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia's Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for the Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.

Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated are Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands and The Guest Room.

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My Thoughts
Richard Chapman presumed there would be a stripper at his brother Philip's bachelor party. 
I was introduced to author Chris Bohjalian through his book The Sandcastle Girls. I enjoyed that book, so when offered the chance to read his new book The Guest Room, I jumped at the chance.

Richard somewhat begrudgingly throws his younger brother Philip a bachelor party. He finds the home he shares with his wife and little girl filled with men he doesn't particularly care for, and seeing things he didn't plan on seeing. He knew that there would probably be strippers, but he gets way more than he bargained for when the girls begin having sex with his brother and other attendees, and even doing so right in front of him and the other party goers. Then before he knows it, he finds himself in an upstairs guest room with one of the strippers lying naked on the bed.

Fast forward a short while later, and Richard is left standing in a living room splattered with blood and two dead men. The strippers have killed their "bodyguards", and run off armed and with money lifted off the bodies.

In the days to follow, Richard learns that the "strippers" are actually believed to have been victims of human trafficking-- possibly Russian sex slaves. And his life soon begins to spiral out of his control as he must suffer the consequences of his poor decisions that night, and must answer to more than just his wife.

My final word: This was an interesting book. I'm feeling a wee bit ambivalent about it. I liked it okay, but it felt a little light. It sort of felt like a short story-- a little abbreviated, not too much depth to most of the characters (other than Alexandra). It was "okay". It was good enough to recommend for consideration for my book club, but it just wasn't a really exciting or deep read.

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  

QUICK REVIEW: Angel's Burning by Tawni O'Dell


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Gallery Books
ISBN 1501132547 (ISBN13: 9781501132544) 

About the Author

Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Tawni's screen adaptation of Back Roads is currently in development to be made into a film with Adrian Lyne set to direct. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and been published in over 30 countries.

Tawni was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania where she now lives with her two children.

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My Thoughts
The last time I was this close to Rudy Mayfield he was leaning across the seat of his dad's truck trying to grope my recently ripened breasts.
Dove Carnahan is the police chief in a small town. She and her sister both inherited their mother's beauty, but have never fully embraced it. In fact, her dog trainer sister does everything to downplay it. They survived a difficult childhood along with their brother Champ (or half-brother, as they all have different fathers). Their mother was a party girl who was always seeking to find happiness in some new man, and when the siblings were just kids, they endured through their mother's murder and with finding themselves orphans.

Now in her 50s, Dove finds herself in charge of the murder investigation of a young girl found partially burned. The investigation leads her to the girl's family-- a family even more screwed than her own.

My final word: This story has a couple of mysteries woven throughout it. This was my introduction to author Tawni O'Dell, and I enjoyed her writing. It is very easy to read and engaging. It wasn't overly predictable, and held my interest throughout. And I love, love, love the cover! I would definitely read Tawni O'Dell again. Very effective without being overdone, and a fast read (even for a slow reader like me).

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble
Simon & Schuster

My Rating:


The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release. 

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

Paperback, 624 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN 0062347268 (ISBN13: 9780062347268)

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About the Authors

Stephanie Dray writes historical fiction and fantasy. Using the transformative power of magic realism, she illuminates the stories of women in history so as to inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

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Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Check out Laura's website
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My Thoughts
Sons of a revolution fight for liberty. 
The idea behind this story is that Jefferson’s daughter Patsy is going through Jefferson's collection of letters after his death. Jefferson was known for being an eloquent writer (having been the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence), and wrote many letters in his lifetime. Jefferson's letters guide us through the life of his daughter Patsy, indeed through history itself, and the resulting story reveals to us Jefferson through the eyes of a devoted daughter.

The story opens during the American Revolution, with the Jefferson family on the run and in hiding. Tragedy strikes repeatedly, and Jefferson falls into a depression after the loss of his wife. Being the eldest child, a young Patsy becomes the "woman of the house" at 10 years of age after her mother's death, and it is her job to look after her father and sisters. She takes her duty to her father very seriously, and won't leave his side, eventually accompanying him to France.

Patsy is a strong-willed and intelligent young girl who grows to be a well traveled and worldly young woman. She acquires over her youth the social grace to handle herself in politically-charged gatherings, and even smooth things over when her father flubs something.
Accompanying them to France is Jefferson’s apprentice William Short. He essentially idolizes Jefferson and would do almost anything for him. He is also quite fond of Patsy. They share the same beliefs about slavery and the “wrongness” of it.

Also accompanying the family to France is Sally Hemings, the beautiful slave that is rumored to be the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. She is also rather intelligent, even regal, and has a will of her own that she will enforce when she feels it necessary.

I think we've all heard the stories about Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. This novel takes the perspective that Hemings and Jefferson may have been in love, or at least had some sort of connection. The story portrays an apparent tenderness and affection between the two, and a long-term relationship resulting in numerous supposed children together.

After the first 100 pages, the book held me every moment. I was bored in the beginning by Jefferson and his misery after his wife's death, but once he came out of it and the story picked up, it held my attention and had me craving to know what would happen next.

Then I found myself wanting to finish the story, so I could then go on to read up on Jefferson, his daughter and the other characters, to see how much of this story seemed to be true.

As Patsy matured and found romantic interests, I found myself concerned that the story may degrade into some tale of flowery romance, but the story in fact maintained its integrity.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, March 1st: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, March 2nd: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, March 3rd: From L.A. to LA
Friday, March 4th: Read-Love-Blog
Monday, March 7th: Luxury Reading
Monday, March 7th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, March 8th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, March 9th: Reading Reality
Thursday, March 10th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 11th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, March 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 15th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, March 16th: bookchickdi
Thursday, March 17th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, March 18th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, March 21st: Puddletown Reviews
Tuesday, March 22nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

My final word: The story was slow to start and grab me, but in the end I really, really liked the tale told about Patsy and her life as the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. The authors really brought the characters to life, and made them highly sympathetic. Jefferson is actually a secondary character in this story. It is really all about Patsy-- her strength, her determination, her loyalty and devotion, commitment and constant love. It's an extraordinary tale, with an extraordinary woman and cast of secondary characters, not the least of whom is Thomas Jefferson himself. Jefferson is known for having said "I cannot live without books", and you, my friends, should not live without this one! Get thee to a book store posthaste!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.