Monday, March 26, 2012

(21) Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright

Title: Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright by Justine Saracen
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
264 Pages
Genre: LGBT (historical fiction)

I received this book as an electronic e-galley through netgalley.com it was released March 13, 2012.


Synopsis: Twelve years of terror end with a world in flames. Behind filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s stirring footage of a million joyous patriots, the horror of Nazi Germany slowly unfolds. It engulfs Katja Sommer, a “good German” with dangerous desires; Frederica Brandt, a traitor to her homeland; Rudi Lamm, a homosexual camp survivor and forced soldier for Hitler; and Peter Arnhelm, a half-Jewish smuggler on the run. Under the scrutiny of the familiar monsters of the Third Reich, their enablers, and their hangers-on, these four struggle for life and for each other. Love does not conquer all, but it’s far better than going to hell alone.

Review: I expected your typical lesbian love story but what I got was something completely different. Saracen gives us a history lesson of what it was like to live in Berlin during Hitlers rein.  We watch Katja struggle with what is happening in the world around her and with the changes she sees in her homeland and her military husband.  She finds herself being drawn closer to Frederica Brandt one of the secretaries for a top Nazi in the department of Propaganda. When her affection turns to love and when she realizes that several other of her friends are considered perverts for similar feelings Katja starts to question her loyalty to Germany and to her husband. When Katja watches as one of her good friends is imprisoned in a concentration camp for being gay she can't take it anymore and joins the resistance movement.

There are many books about what happened to the Jews during Hitlers time in power but rarely do we hear the stories of the gay and lesbians who were imprisoned for loving the wrong people or the regular people who were imprisoned for minor infractions as political prisoners of war.  All were treated horrible, tortured and killed, held in concentration camps and subjected to the same treatment you read about in other stories of the holocaust. Saracens book tells this little known history and its riveting. Interweaving real speeches, and real people into the story only makes this book stand out more.  Very well researched and written. It deserves a wide audience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

(20) Blinded by the Light

Title: Blinded by the Light: A Tess Camillo Mystery by Morgan Hunt
Publisher: Alyson Books
244 Pages
Genre: LGBT mystery

Synopsis: While doing temp work, Tess Camillo and a pregnant friend visit the Lightning Field, an earthworks art piece in the New Mexico desert.  400 lightning rods + 6 visitors + 1 bun in the oven = a mystery that will zap you with suspense and bolts of laughter!

Review: I wasn't overly fond of the last two Tess Camillo books but maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind.  I found this one to be fun and witty, not as witty as Layce Gardners books but witty none the less.

Tess just turned 50 is not thrilled with being single again, afraid to have her roommate leave and just sort of fumbling along after battling breast cancer and being attacked by a crazed lunatic.  She takes a temp job in New Mexico and travels with a friend to an earth art show in the dessert. When one of the other visitors is found dead in the lightening field Tess sticks her nose into the investigation to help out a friend.

Its not so much the action or even the mystery that kept me reading it was more the observations and witty remarks that Tess makes that made me keep reading. If you are looking for a quick witty mindless beach read this would be a good series to pick up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser Tuesday is from: Blinded by the Light by Morgan Hunt

    "As I raised my living room blind on this mid-June morning, I knew that whatever Club Med of Misery lay beyond, it had a reservation with my name on it. What else could await someone who spent her morning nibbling apple butter on whole wheat, sipping Kona blend, and hoping for a murder?"


Thursday, March 15, 2012

(19) Infertility and Adoption

Title: Infertility and Adoption: A Husband and Father's Perspective by Roy Sokol
Publisher: Rosedog Press
48 Pages
Genre: Adoption

Synopsis: Roy Sokol offers men a chance to be heard and women a rare opportunity to view the struggle with infertility from a male perspective.Infertility and Adoption: A Husband and Father's Perspectivebrings to life the frustration, anger, humor, heartbreak, and sense of helplessness and a mental philosophy learned in Marine Corps training that helps in overcoming the psychological barriers.

While miracles in technology have brought joy to new families, those very advances have placed many couples into a spiraling cycle of hope and heartbreak. One failed attempt may lead to another, but how do you give up when there is always another doctor, another procedure holding the possibility of your dream for a family?

Roy Sokol has captured the emotional turmoil he and his wife, Elizabeth, endured as they tried to conceive, the years their lives were put on hold, and the excruciating sense of loss and finally great happiness. He writes too of the couple's journey through the bewildering world of adoption-a path to parenthood fraught with financial, legal, and emotional risks of its own.

Review: This small book is honest and insightful.  If you ever wondered how infertility effects the man in your life this short read is the book for you.  If you are a husband going through this roller coaster ride of infertility this book can help validate your emotions and concerns. Roy Sokol describes his frustration in watching his wife go through painful procedures, the helplessness of not knowing how to “fix” the problem and trying to balance life and the all consuming need to start a family.  When they decide to adopt he takes you through their journey, the frustrations the ups and downs and ultimately the joy of adopting internationally from Russia.  An honest, quick insightful read.

(18) House at Seas End

Title: The House at Sea's End (Ruth Galloway Mysteries) by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Harcourt Mifflin
384 Pages
Genre: Mystery

I had received this book as an e-galley through netgalley.com 

Synopsis: Just back from maternity leave, Ruth is finding it difficult to juggle motherhood and work. The presence of DCI Harry Nelson—the married father of her daughter, Kate—does not help. The bones, skeletons of six men with their arms bound, turn out to be about seventy years old, which leads Nelson and Ruth to the war years, a desperate time on this stretch of coastland. Home Guard veteran Archie Whitcliffe reveals the existence of a secret the old soldiers have vowed to protect with their lives. But then Archie is killed and a German journalist arrives, asking questions about Operation Lucifer, a plan to stop a German invasion, and a possible British war crime. What was Operation Lucifer? And who is prepared to kill to keep its secret?

Review: This is the 3rd book in the Ruth Galloway series.  Set in the mysterious little town of Norfolk, England where the sea is reclaiming land through erosion.  There were rumors that Germans had invaded England but no one ever found evidence until now.  The bodies of six German men have been found buried in the sand just below the house at seas end. Ruth is called in to try to identify the bodies.

This book really waffles back and forth between the struggle to be a career woman and a mother as well as  the mystery of who is buried in the sand and how they got there.  Struggling to find a balance to her new life Ruth does not feel very confident in her ability as a single mother. Her ability as a forensic anthropologist isn't in question.  She finds herself in a quandary about whether to leave her new daughter with sitters while she goes to work or remove herself from police work and focus on her daughter.  The fact that the father of her child is the married DCI Nelson doesn't help her situation.

This book moves at a fast pace although I'm not sure I loved it.  I actually found Ruth's struggle with new motherhood a bit more fascinating than the murder mystery which seemed to lack something.  I'm also starting to think that while Ruth is a brilliant woman she is a bit lacking in common sense.  She often finds herself in vulnerable situations that she is baffled how she got into.  I am however intrigued by the druid Cathbad who seems to turn up at the most opportune times and always seems to know everyone's secrets.  I would love to learn more about this character and I hope that he continues to show up throughout this series.

The Ruth Galloway series in my opinion is a fun series but not riveting, but for those who enjoy a mystery without the blood and guts of many thrillers this might be a series for you.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

(17) Grave Mercy

Title: Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
560 Pages
Genre: YA

I received this book as an electronic galley from netgalley.com. This title is due to be released April 3, 2012

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Review: I really liked this book.  I whizzed right through it. There is a lot of politics and political maneuvering that might not be over the heads of some of the younger YA audience but it reminds me of some of Tamora Pierces books with the strong female lead character.  Grave Mercy is like a romance mystery novel without the graphic sex.

Ismae is a strong female character who goes from being a victim to being a strong independent woman who learns that she doesn't have to follow someone else's orders but can think for herself. She goes from being an abused child to a convent where she becomes a handmaiden of Death and learns the art of assassination.  She has several gifts, like being immune to poison, and the ability to see those whose life is leaving them. She gets her assasination orders from the convent but what if they are wrong? While she is left on her own to navigate high society and the political workings of court she discovers that blindly following orders isn't always the best thing and that maybe her purpose is different than what she was originally told.

I like that you see Ismae develop, going from naive girl to a more self confident woman.  This is a strong start to a series.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My teaser Tuesday is from: Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers


    "I have been in Guerande three days. As urgently as the abbess wanted me here, I would think there should be someone who needed killing by now.  
    Duval throws back his head and laughs. " You are a bloodthirsty thing, I'll give you that."
    I stab a knife into my pear.

Friday, March 2, 2012

(16) Door to Lost Pages

Title: The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumiere
Publisher: ChiZine Publications
224 Pages
Genre: Fantasy

 I received this book as a free e-galley from Netgalley.com - it was released April 2011 


Synopsis: Step through the door to Lost Pages and escape a life you never wanted. On her tenth birthday, Aydee runs away from home and from her neglectful parents. At first, surviving alone on the streets is harsh, but a series of frightening, bewildering encounters with strange primordial creatures leads her to a bookshop called Lost Pages, where she steps into a fantastic, sometimes dangerous, but exciting life. Aydee grows up at the reality-hopping Lost Pages, which seems to attract a clientele that is either eccentric - or desperate. She is repeatedly drawn into an eternal war between enigmatic gods and monsters, until the day she is confronted by her worst nightmare: herself.

Review: Very strange and hard to follow I'm not sure I can say I actually liked this book.  It is a series of short stories that all seemed to blend together. This was quite disappointing since the first few stories were actually quite good and related to the quirky bookstore Lost Pages which I was much more interested in than some of the other stories. Not all of the stories were horrible though but the later ones do come with a caution since many of them were very sexual and erotic but not over the top. There was however a varied mix of sexual encounters that might not be suitable for younger readers.

I first picked this book because something about the book store reminded me of the Cemetery of Lost Books in Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books but then it seemed to twist into something else.  Some readers might find a bit of Neil Gaiman in this author since some of it did remind me of American Gods, which I wasn't particularly fond of (and I think one of the only people who feels that way). There is a battle going on throughout the book between darkness and light, nightmares and good dreams, Angels and Demons but its all sort of vague and the Lost Pages bookstore is at the center of it. I would say if your a Gaiman fan you might really enjoy this book.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

(15) Crucial Confrontations

Title: Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
284 Pages
Genre: Business

Synopsis: Discover skills to resolve touchy, controversial, and complex issues at work and at home. Behind the problems that routinely plague organizations and families, you'll find individuals who are either unwilling or unable to deal with failed promises. Others have broken rules, missed deadlines, failed to live up to commitments, or just plain behaved badly--and nobody steps up to the issue. Or they do, but do a lousy job and create a whole new set of problems. Accountability suffers and new problems spring up. New research demonstrates that these disappointments aren't just irritating, they're costly--sapping organizational performance by twenty to fifty percent and accounting for up to ninety percent of divorces.

Review: Once again - this is not my typical genre of book but I had to read it for school and I'm glad I did.  Easy to read and follow, a bit repetitive but not annoyingly so, this book touches on so many confrontation styles and how to have them more effectively.  I thought I was pretty good at confrontations but I learned that I still could use some work.  There are some really great practical ideas that can be used for home and work environments. Coming out of silence and confronting people in a honest and non-threatening way can make all of our lives easier.  This is a great tool for supervisors, leaders and line workers as well as parents and couples. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book.  Once I'm done with my class I will be passing it around the office to whoever is interested.
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