Friday, May 30, 2014

SPOTLIGHT: Deathbed Dimes by Naomi Elena Zener

Deathbed Dimes by Naomi Elena Zener

Deathbed Dimes exposes the reality that if you can outlive your relatives, friends and sometimes even strangers, your odds of hitting the inheritance jackpot are better than playing the lottery! Joely Zeller is a beautiful and ambitious 32 year-old attorney and only daughter of Hollywood film royalty, who is determined to build a successful career, find love and marriage without their help. To emerge from under her parents’ cloud of notoriety, Joely fled to New York upon graduation from Stanford Law School to practice Estates and Trust law at a blue chip Wall Street law firm. Over the next eight years she endured ninety-hour work weeks and sacrificed her love life (jilted by her fiancĂ© for his best man) only to have her career efforts foiled by her male and incredibly incompetent counterpart. A serendipitous encounter with a former professor reminds her that with the impending inevitable demise of aging baby boomers, an unprecedented wealth transfer would take place, making Joely realize that with her experience, Hollywood connections, she could start her own law firm back in L.A. With her two best friends and former law classmates, as her partners in her new L.A. law firm, Joely sets about helping the recently disowned, dispossessed and penniless sharpen their claws as they stake their claim to the fortune of the dearly departed.
“Deathbed Dimes is a sassy and energetic novel about women making the best out of the worst. With Naomi Zener’s  satirical edge, even “rock bottom” is hilarious. Readers are bound  to have fun watching Joely as she claws her way back to the top. (Go, Joely!)” Angie Abdou, CBC Canada Reads 2011 finalist and author of Anything Boys Can Do, The Canterbury Trail and The Bone Cage.
“This book is an hilarious, incredibly well-written, shrewd insider’s look at the zeitgeist of greed predominating battles people fight to inherit wealth. Reminding me of Nora Ephron’s quick wit, this contemporary story’s humour, married with intrigue and its relatable characters, had me in their grasp from page one and I couldn’t put it down.” Rebecca Eckler, author of How To Raise A Boyfriend and The Mommy Mob.
“Deathbed Dimes is a funny, acerbic, and raucous read written by someone who clearly knows the world she’s so vividly created.” Terry Fallis, author of Best Laid Plans (winner of the Stephen Leacock Award), Up and Down and No Relation.
“Deathbed Dimes is an edgy and witty debut novel – I can’t wait for the sequel.” Paula Froelich, NYT best-selling author of “Mercury in Retrograde” and Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Travel.
“Deathbed Dimes is a hilariously witty novel that proves you can’t keep a strong woman down. I hope there’s a sequel!” Bunmi Laditan,  author of The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting.
Deathbed Dimes will be released on May 30, 2014.

Author contact information 





Naomi Elana Zener

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Introducing... The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

We had magic before the crows came. Before the rise of the great villages they so roughly carved on the shores of our inland sea and named with words plucked from our tongues-- Chicago, Toronto, Milwaukee, Ottawa-- we had our own great villages on these same shores. And we understood our magic. We understood what the orenda implied.

But who is at fault when that recedes? It's tempting to place blame, though loss should never be weighed in this manner. Who, then, to blame for what we now witness, our children cutting their bodies to pieces or strangling themselves in the dark recesses of their homes or gulping your stinking drink until their bodies fail? But we get ahead of ourselves. This, on the surface, is the story of our past.

-- The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Introducing... Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Introducing books through the first paragraph or so...

On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado's great resort hotels burned to the ground. The Overlook was declared a total loss. After an investigation, the fire marshal of Jicarilla County ruled the cause had been a defective boiler. The hotel was closed for the winter when the accident occurred, and only four people were present. Three survived. The hotel's off-season caretaker, John Torrance, was killed during an unsuccessful (and heroic) effort to dump the boiler's steam pressure, which had mounted to disastrously high levels due to an inoperative relief valve.

Two of the survivors were the caretaker's wife and young son. The third was the Overlook's chef, Richard Hallorann, who had left his seasonal job in Florida and come to check on the Torrances because of what he called "a powerful hunch" that the family was in trouble. Both surviving adults were quite badly injured in the explosion. Only the child was unhurt.

Physically, at least.

-- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Friday, May 16, 2014

REVIEW: Eat Raw, Not Cooked by Stacy Stowers


Can spinach really taste like chocolate ice cream? YES!

Just try Stacy Stowers’s Happy Shake—cupfuls of nourishing greens, plus a dash of raw cacao, a big handful of blueberries, and a few other delicious fixings that you can blend up every morning and enjoy with a spoon!

Stacy travels the country teaching families like yours how to add more whole, raw, unprocessed foods into their diets in the simplest, most satisfying way possible. Her clients soon discover they stop eating out of bags, bottles, cans, and boxes—and start feeling healthier, lighter, and more energetic. Eating raw is easier and tastier than you think. The gift of Stacy’s approach is that it’s not about becoming a “raw foodist” or joining some food religion; it’s about adding foods that will make you thrive.

What are the potential benefits of eating raw? Weight loss and management, more energy, relief from chronic pain and allergies, better moods, and a younger appearance—to name just a few! From Stacy’s comforting and crispy Cheatos and enticing Rainbow Fajitas, to her rich, delectable Chocolate Macaroon Fudge Bars, her more than 70 recipes will give you and your family an irresistible nutritional boost. 

Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Gallery Books
ISBN  1476752079 (ISBN13: 9781476752075)

My Thoughts

I became a pescatarian about four years ago, and since then I've been inching forward toward healthier eating. I'm not always that good at it. Sometimes dinner will be some greasy chips, or a pint of ice cream. But other times I'll eat something like an uber-healthy meal of a raw marinara made with tomatoes and red peppers, served over steamed spaghetti squash. My life is a measure of two steps forward-one step back.

So when I saw this cookbook available on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to give it a little looksy. And am I glad that I did! The book is chock-full of great ideas for eating raw foods. Why eat raw? Well, what could be healthier? When you are eating food raw, you are eating it whole, with its fiber intact and without the nutrients cooked out of it. Not cooking it also means saving calories that may be added when cooking in oil or butter. That's healthier eating all around!

The author came to healthy eating at 39 years of age after finding herself plagued with health issues, which started with a valley fever infection at the age of 22. 

In 2013, New York Times described valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) as a "disease without a cure." After just ten days of eating my food raw and unprocessed, I started feeling better! My head was no longer foggy and the pain in my body: gone. I immediately went to work learning everything I could about raw food.

The book stresses eating alkaline, as when our bodies enter an acidic state, we feel lethargic, bloated, dehydrated, and some suffer from chronic pain. The author has since converted her family to her diet by showing them how good the food can be!

One thing I was surprised to see was the use of the dehydrator in raw food preparation. It seems it gives it more of a "cooked" feel, when removing some of the water from the vegetables. The pictures of these dishes made in the dehydrator looked and sounded so good, I was inspired to buy a dehydrator (although I haven't had time to try it out yet). Dishes like the Rainbow Fajitas and China Bowl. 

I tried the Spring Rolls, which are raw julienned vegetables in rice paper wrappers, with a simple soy marinade for dipping. They were rather tasty! And I selected from the wealth of desserts available and chose one that I've heard about for years and always wanted to try, which is a chocolate pudding made from avocado. The book has a recipe for Vermont Joe's Chocolate Moose, and it was quite tasty, too! It's mainly just avocado, cocoa powder, a little agave or honey, and vanilla.

This morning I tried a variation adapted from the recipe for the Happy Shake. My variation was a couple cups of spinach and water blended to a puree, then a frozen banana, a cup or so of frozen blueberries, and a handful or two of frozen cherries thrown in with 2-3 tablespoons of unsweetened Special Dark cocoa powder, and a drizzle of agave nectar.
Yum! It was like a thick, creamy, rich shake made from chocolate-cherry ice cream. And so good for me, too! 

My final word: Looking to eat healthier? Cut calories? Eat whole foods? Check out this book and the benefits of eating raw. You won't regret it!

My Rating: B+

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley 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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Introducing... The Untold by Courtney Collins

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

Who hasn't heard of Harry Houdini? The Big Bamboozler. The Great Escapeologist. The Loneliest Man in the World.

-- The Untold by Courtney Collins

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SHARING: Always read something that will make you look good...

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: Natchez Burning by Greg Iles


An American writer at the height of his creative powers, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years—Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage.

Raised in the historic southern splendor of Natchez, Mississippi, Penn Cage learned all he knows of honor and duty from his father, Dr. Tom Cage. But now the beloved family doctor and pillar of the community has been accused of murdering Viola Turner, the African-American nurse with whom he worked in the dark days of the 1960s. Once a crusading prosecutor, Penn is determined to save his father, but Tom, stubbornly invoking doctor-patient privilege, refuses to even speak in his own defense.

Penn's quest for the truth sends him deep into his father's past, where a sexually charged secret lies waiting to tear their family apart. More chilling, this long-buried sin is only a single thread in a conspiracy of greed and murder involving the vicious Double Eagles, an offshoot of the KKK controlled by some of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. Aided by a dedicated reporter privy to Natchez's oldest secrets and by his fiancée, Caitlin Masters, Penn uncovers a trail of corruption and brutality that places his family squarely in the Double Eagles' crosshairs. With every step costing blood and faith, Penn is forced to confront the most wrenching dilemma of his life: Does a man of honor choose his father or the truth?

Drenched in southern atmosphere, Natchez Burning marks the brilliant return of a genuine American master of suspense. Tense, disturbing, and filled with electrifying plot twists, this novel commences the most explosive and ambitious story Greg Iles has ever written.

Hardcover, 800 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by William Morrow (first published February 20th 2014)
ISBN 0062311077 (ISBN13: 9780062311078)

About the Author

Greg Iles was born in Germany in 1960. He grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983. He was active in a band called "Frankly Scarlet", but quit after realizing that the touring lifestyle was not conducive with his family life. Once no longer busy with the band, he turned his attention to writing.

Greg's novels have been translated into various languages and are published in more than 20 countries. In addition to his popular novels, he wrote the original script for the movie 24 Hours (later renamed Trapped).

When not writing, Greg spends some of his time playing music. He's a member of "The Rock Bottom Remainders", which includes other authors (Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount, Jr., Matt Groening, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, and James McBride).

Greg still lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife and two children.

Check out the author's website
Friend the author on Facebook
Follow the author on Twitter

My Thoughts
Albert Norris sang a few bars of Howlin' Wolf's "Natchez Burnin'" to cover the sounds of the couple making love in the back of his shop.

This story takes place mainly in Natchez, Mississippi.
Historical House at Natchez Mississipi self made PRA from Wikicommons
Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, although he was previously a novelist and a practicing attorney. He is an honest and ethical man, and devoted to his family. He has taken on the role of mayor in the hopes of saving his hometown from corruption.

Penn’s father Dr. Tom Cage has been the town's well respected doctor for decades. He’s seen it all. And now he is being charged with the murder of his old nurse Viola. Tom and Viola worked together in the ‘60s, during the heat of the civil rights movement. Now she’s been found dead, and there is video footage of her death, leaving Dr. Cage charged with her murder.

Henry Sexton owns the local paper and has spent decades investigating the local branch of the Double Eagles, an off-shoot of the KKK. He's been driven to uncover the truth when no one else seemed to care, attempting to connect the Double Eagles to countless murders from the '60s, and leading back to one of the country's wealthiest men Brody Royal. Henry has often felt alone in his battle for justice, and his attempts to bring closure and validation to the surviving family members of murder victims.
“Where are the black reporters? I need all the help I can get. But it’s white men working these cases, almost exclusively. And I’m not sure why. Is it guilt, like you said? I’ll tell you this: when I read my list of black murder victims from the sixties, hardly a person in America recognizes a name. There’s something wrong with that, brother.”
I was very excited for the opportunity to read this book, as the subject matter is right up my alley. However I was unaware that this is #4 in the Penn Cage novels by Greg Iles. It's always a little disappointing to enter a series partway through, with the constant allusions to previous novels. There are characters that are reintroduced and mentions of past events. But this book stands on its own just fine. There was no need for me to have read previous editions in order to follow this one.

Penn is a very likable and believable character, as is his father Tom. Penn is engaged to Caitlin, who is a driven Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Sometimes her fierce competition to be the best and break the next story can bring her at odds with Penn, as she resents when he holds back information that she could use.

I found this story to be absorbing, if at times a little uncomfortable. The subject matter is often unsettling, but necessary. These types of stories are our history, particularly here in the south, and we mustn't forget our history, lest we repeat our mistakes. The KKK and other similar organizations are the most cowardly of all "activists". They perpetrate their actions cloaked in darkness and hoods and anonymity. They have a history of committing heinous crimes and cruelty, driven by a twisted belief that they are somehow superior.

For the most part, I loved this story. The first half felt like an A+ book that had me totally captivated as we unearthed all the mysteries that abound in Natchez and the civil rights era. The second half got a little overdone at times. I wasn't a fan of Penn's friend Kirk Boisseau, an ex-military friend and diver who felt a bit like a caricature. He at times was a little over-the-top, like some crazy surfer dude with ADD, and Kirk's relationship with his own girlfriend felt contrived and pointless.

But overall I have become a huge fan of Greg Iles, and the character of Penn Cage!

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Tuesday, April 29th: Anita Loves Books
Wednesday, April 30th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, May 1st: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, May 5th: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, May 6th: Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, May 7th: cupcake’s book cupboard
Thursday, May 8th: Chronicles …
Tuesday, May 13th: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, May 14th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Monday, May 19th: The House of Crime and Mystery

My final word: I loved this book so much I have already bought the first one in the series (The Quiet Game) in order to start from the beginning with Penn Cage.

This book shows the yellow underbelly of the cowards that fill the ranks of white supremacist groups, as well as the heroism of those who fight them, and who struggle to uncover the truth. The author has a wonderful quote from Aristotle that was very appropriate for this story:
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals;
separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
This book spotlights both kinds of men, and does so expertly. Natchez will be burning in my heart and mind for a long time coming!

Buy Now:

Barnes & Noble

My Rating:  A


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.

Friday, May 9, 2014

REVIEW: The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner


Dale M. Kushner's novel The Conditions of Love traces the journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she reckons with her parents' abandonment, her need to break from society's limitations, and her overwhelming desire for spiritual and erotic love. In 1953, ten-year-old Eunice lives in the backwaters of Wisconsin with her outrageously narcissistic mother, a manicureeste and movie star worshipper. Abandoned by her father as an infant, Eunice worries that she will become a misfit like her mother. When her mother's lover, the devoted Sam, moves in, Eunice imagines her life will finally become normal. But her hope dissolves when Sam gets kicked out, and she is again alone with her mother. A freak storm sends Eunice away from all things familiar. Rescued by the shaman-like Rose, Eunice's odyssey continues with a stay in a hermit's shack and ends with a passionate love affair with an older man. Through her capacity to redefine herself, reject bitterness and keep her heart open, she survives and flourishes. In this, she is both ordinary and heroic. At once fable and realistic story, The Conditions of Love is a book about emotional and physical survival. Through sheer force of will, Eunice saves herself from a doomed life.

This engaging examination of a mother and daughter's relationship will appeal to the same audience that embraced Mona Simpson's acclaimed classic Anywhere But Here and Elizabeth Strout's bestselling Amy and Isabelle.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 2nd 2013)
ISBN 1455519758 (ISBN13: 9781455519750)

About the Author

Dale M. Kushner grew up in New Jersey and moved to the Midwest to study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a recipient of a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant in the Literary Arts and has been honored by a fellowship to the Wurlitzer Foundation, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Fetzer Institute as a participant of their first Writers’ Conference on Compassion and Forgiveness. Her work has been widely published in literary journals including IMAGE, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, Witness, Fifth Wednesday and elsewhere. Her most recent poetry collection More Alive Than Lions Roaring was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award at Utah State Press and The Prairie Schooner Book Competition. In 2010 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ms. Kushner has studied at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich and has an ongoing interest in Buddhism and spiritual life. She lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin. The Conditions of Love is her first novel.

Check out the author's website and sign up for her mailing list

My Thoughts
My mother was dead set against me calling her Ma.
This story follows the life of Eunice, a young girl from Wisconsin being raised in poverty by a narcissistic single mother.

What a wonderfully timed story, given that Mother's Day is right around the corner, although Mern would win no prize for Mother of the Year!

This was a curious story and felt a little "off beat". I found Eunice to be for the most part a likable girl. You really felt for her, and her lot in life. While I couldn't identify with Eunice on a personal level (while I was raised by a divorced mother in borderline poverty, my mother sacrificed for us kids and did everything she could for us), I felt like I knew Eunice. She resembled many girls (and boys) that I have known in my life. Kids who never had enough-- enough food, enough attention, enough schooling, enough guidance, enough love, enough of anything except perhaps more than enough hits and barbed words thrown their way-- and kids who grew up way too fast.
I’d never had anything in common with other girls, their piano lessons, dancing lessons, their canopied beds, girls whose mothers taught them only sluts chew gum and smoke in public, girls who gave tight-lipped good-night kisses and saved the rest.
Eunice's mother Mern never wanted to be a mother. She even insists Eunice call her by her first name rather than "Ma". She is self-centered and self-absorbed, putting her needs and desires before that of her young daughter. She's always seeking happiness and self-worth in strange men. Her moods are mercurial, wavering from resentment toward Eunice and the demands of a child, to wanting to cuddle Eunice and be her best friend.
I had the feeling she wanted to shed the old Mern, and Ma too. I was watching her molt.
Eunice longs for a father she doesn't remember, and other men take on the role of father figure, from Mr. Tabachnik who lives downstairs and has sweet nicknames for her like "CC Dumpling"...
...nicknames that were kisses to my ears. her mother's new live-in boyfriend Sam, sweet and gentle Sam who brings life to the house and cares tenderly for Eunice.

And later there is the enigmatic animal-loving wood nymph Rose, who becomes a mother figure to Eunice and teaches her much about independence, survival and self-reliance.
Rose had rules about living right, which meant treating animals with respect. Life threw out provocations but we had choices, she said-- we could be selfish bastards or we could care. We were all creatures of the same divine hand.
And later still, the moody Fox who is drawn to her and captures her imagination.
He was curt and bossy. He has no right to speak to me this way! I thought. I have licked salt from this man’s neck. I have watched dreams flash under his eyelids. I have seen him almost betray himself with tears.
I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

Monday, May 5th: Daily Mayo
Wednesday, May 7th: Bibliophiliac
Friday, May 9th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Tuesday, May 13th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, May 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, May 15th: Anita Loves Books
Monday, May 19th: Knowing the Difference
Wednesday, May 21st: Missris
Thursday, May 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, May 23rd: Sweet Southern Home
Tuesday, May 27th: Love at First Book
Monday, June 2nd: The Relentless Reader
Friday, June 6th: Books a la Mode

My final word: The characters were well-drawn, leaving me with an understanding of who they were and why they behaved the way they did. The story reminds me of Mr. Tabachnik's advice to Eunice:
Mr. Tabachnik placed a trembling hand on the crown of my head and bent to kiss me. Out of the ugly and terrible comes beauty. I shouldn't forget, he said. 
That's how this story was. It was a little dreary and depressing, and yet beautiful. Heartbreaking and yet uplifting. And while I found it sweet and gentle and moving, I fear that it will also be forgettable. I don't think this will be one of those stories that haunts me. We were two passing ships in the night, this story and I. And that's okay. We had a good night.

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through the 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 ebook that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Introducing... Close Reach by Jonathan Moore

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

The timer above the narrow pilot berth started buzzing at 2:50 a.m., but Kelly had been awake at lest an hour, thinking of the last radio call. The signal had come the morning before, while they were still anchored off the Antarctic Peninsula's Adelaide Island. She'd been making breakfast before they weighed anchor, when the voice of a young British woman came blasting out of the ether and into the bulkhead-mounted VHF.

It's coming, this girl had screamed. It saw us and it's coming back! Oh God, Jim, hurry, please hurry!

And then her voice cut off.

-- Close Reach by Jonathan Moore

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Introducing... The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner

Introducing books through the first chapter or so...

My mother was dead set against me calling her Ma. When the offending sound passed from my lips, she pinched my chin and enunciated very slowly, the way she later talked to her parakeet, Mr. Puccini-- "Baby, say Mern not Mama. Baby say Mern." She was hoping, no doubt, that with time and a little encouragement, I might grow into an adaptable companion whose demands were minimal, someone with whom she could discuss Cary Gran't perfect profile, Shelley Winter's yen for men.

-- The Conditions of Love by Dale M. Kushner