Friday, November 6, 2015

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

24001083The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro, author of the bestselling The Art Forger, is an enthralling and gripping historical suspense mystery thriller with life, art and politics of pre-World War II New York City as the setting, with the story shifting back and forth from the past to the present, and the author bringing to life historical characters from the past and imaginatively mingling them with an array of fictional characters. Written in a style only B.A. Shapiro can, with a subject close to her heart as the pivotal theme of the novel, what you have is a mix of factual and fictional events vying for centre-stage as the story unfolds.

The story begins in the present-day with Danielle Abrams, who is the great-niece of Alizee Benoit, trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of her great-aunt over seventy years before. Her family has been clueless, and disinterested, about the whole affair drawing her curiosity. The stoic silence of Danielle’s Holocaust-surviving grandparents shrouded what little might have been known until something happened, lifted the veil and takes her further into the mystery.

Alizee Benoit’s story begins in 1939. She was working as a muralist for WPA project. She was “charismatic, headstrong and talented.” One day, she disappeared into pre-World War II New York City at almost the same time her entire family disappeared into Europe. Just as lost, just as gone, but with no bombs, no concentration camps, no lists of the dead, no explanation. In a sense, The Muralist is a family mystery with a strong narrative as Danielle tries to uncover everything about Alizee. But it is much more than that.

Though Alizee Benoit and Danielle Abrams’ intertwined stories are at the heart of the novel, the author explored various issues of the period, from politics to war to art, and examined the degree of anti-Semitism prevalent in the 1930s and ‘40s with restaurants placing signs barring Jews and blacks. It was a moment in American history when instant communication was still a dream, and in the pages of The Muralist, author B.A. Shapiro deconstructed history, misconceptions and misapprehensions about historical events, and throws new light on them in more ways than one would dare to imagine. Compelling and fascinating, it is a must-read if you loved The Art Forger!

Cross Justice (Alex Cross #23) by James Patterson



It’s twenty-three years and twenty-three installments of justice the Alex Cross-way since the first book in the series, Along Came a Spider, appeared in 1992. James Patterson has changed little. His trademark short chapters continue to enthrall readers, and his books continue to sell like hot cakes. They continue to generate interest, and make for an exciting and fast read. My admiration for him is full to the brim though I also have a huge pile of gripes, mostly relating to the frequent releases bearing his name and the over-pricing of Kindle versions of his books. I’m almost tempted to give up on his novels occasionally, but as a die-hard fan, though I groaned, grumbled and berated his propensity of churning out book after book almost every month, I can’t get myself to actually act.

With Cross Justice, bestselling author James Patterson returns with his most famous character in a plot that is both gripping and fast-paced. Fans of the master storyteller can rest assured in the knowledge that this episode of the series is much better than the insipid Cross My Heart and Hope to Die. It is as entertaining as ever with Cross returning home for the first time after thirty-five years, only to be confronted with a daunting task as he finds himself ensnared in a quagmire of harsh reality and secrets, and an enemy as dangerous as any other. What prompted Alex and his family to return home was the upcoming trial of his cousin, Stefan Tate, a gym teacher accused of torturing and killing a thirteen-year-old boy named Rashawn Turnbull.

Alex Cross series is the only series that James Patterson writes without any co-author, which is a good thing. With sharp twists and turns, readers are in for shocking and fascinating treat in Cross Justice. The appearance of a family member whom Alex thought was dead was a nice surprise. The Reverend Alicia, Marvin Bell, the police chief and the local judge all played a pivotal role in the story. The toast "May God bless the Crosses" at the end beautifully sums up one of the best Alex Cross novels, and James Patterson fans couldn't have hoped for a better ending. I’m glad Cross Justice has renewed my faith in him, and I look forward to many more from him.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Christmas in Good Hope by Cindy Kirk

25770647Christmas in Good Hope by Cindy Kirk is designed to be an entertainment for the holidays in the author’s range of contemporary romance. The first in the Good Hope series, and set in the pleasant small town of Good Hope, Wisconsin, it is the story of the four Bloom sisters who are pining for something deeper than their beautiful selves. There, however, is a hitch. Good Hope is a small town, and opportunities for new love seem few and far between.

Amaryllis (Ami), Fin, Prim, and Marigold have lost their mother, Sarah Bloom, three years earlier. And with the passing away of one member, Ami was invited to join the Women’s Events League for a probationary period of 60 days. And for this group of women their biggest problem is Beckett Cross whom one member described as “Mr. Grumpy Pants.” He had refused to allow his home to be part of the annual Victorian Tour of Homes. As Ami’s Bloom Bake Shop is located next to Beck’s café, her first assignment as a Cherrie was to him to open his home to the tour.

Though Ami and Beck have acted neighborly, they are not close as everyone else suspected. She was shocked by the insinuations and the suspicions that something is going on between them. Beck was once a trial attorney and no one in Good Hope knows about his past and why he quit. And as Ami follows on with the assignment, the two find increasingly getting closer to each other. But the story is not without its twists and turns. Author Cindy Kirk scripted a marvelous story that will warm the heart as love blooms again with the Bloom sisters.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright

Book Cover ImageThe Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright is a humorous take on life, love, parenting, and domestic life and follows a single mom, microbiologist Rebecca Meer, who is a partner in the local fertility clinic. As someone who has survived life as a single parent, there’s nothing Rebecca can’t handle. Or so she thought. But once things started spiraling out of control, there little she could do.

The floodgate opened with her partner Dr. Thad Sorensons. His destructive behavior is a major cause of concern as it could ruin their business. Her 10-year-old fifth-grade son Mitchell gets a new teacher in the form of her ex-boyfriend Kevin Holts. Rebecca can’t understand why in the world would Kevin return to Ward after starting such a successful tech business in California, and what prompted Mitchell’s principal Calvin Chester to engage him. Mitchell is expelled from the school on flimsy grounds, and Rebecca messed up the annual food drive that her sister entrusted her.

Even worse, she is prone to making poor romantic decisions that will result in embarrassing outcomes. Full of interesting and well-conceived characters, The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska by Eileen Curtright is the story of a woman who wants to live a well-constructed life but makes a mess of everything. It is an engrossing read, and you will find much delight in it from start to finish if what you want is a story that is full of social commentary but sparkling with wit and energy.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons

25789569Matthew Fitzsimmons’ debut novel, The Short Drop, is a stunning and gripping political mystery thriller which centres over the disappearance of Suzanne Lombard, the 14-year-old daughter of U.S. Senator Benjamin Lombard, almost ten years ago. The search for the missing teenager fails to yield any result. Beatrice Arnold, the last person to see her, couldn’t provide any useful lead. No one ever came forward to claim the 10-million-dollar reward offered by her family and friends. Davy Oskenberg, the first and best suspect in the case, a long-haul trucker with a history of domestic violence, was cleared by the FBI but not before he lost his job and received several death threats. It was a frustrating dead end in a case of dead ends.

Through the years, Suzanne’s disappearance has remained an enduring American mystery. With the tenth anniversary of her disappearance looming, her childhood friend Gibson Vaughn is persuaded to look for her with the sudden reappearance of a faceless chatroom friend of Suzanne. Gibson is not only a disgraced computer hacker but a man haunted by the past. While still in high school, he hacked into Senator Benjamin Lombard’s site, which ultimately proved very costly for his family. Suzanne’s father, Benjamin, is now the Vice President and he’s running for the presidency. The stakes are high.

Assisted by an ex-CIA officer and a former police detective, Gibson has to steer cautiously through the treacherous paths of political intrigue, a hired killer, and a web of deceit if he is to ever connect the dots and find Suzanne. The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons is a real page-turner, skilfully plotted with an ending that will satisfy many thriller lovers. For a first-time author, Matthew Fitzsimmons has done a wonderful job in almost all departments. What really got me into the book was the way he builds up the tempo, and an opening that really arouses one’s curiosity. I strongly recommend the book and look forward to reading many more of Matthew Fitzsimmons’ novels.


Monday, October 19, 2015


25010281The Crossing is what every fan of author Michael Connelly wants – to see his two most formidable characters together again. If memory serves me right, it was The Brass Verdict (2008) which brought Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, and LAPD Detective Harry Bosch together. It was followed up with The Reversal (2010) as defense attorney Mickey Haller changes sides to prosecute the high-profile retrial of a child murderer, with LAPD Detective Bosch as lead investigator. In The Crossing, the two teams yet again but Harry Bosch is no longer a detective of LAPD, rather he is living perilously closer to the fringe side of the law.

Harry Bosch had worked almost all his adult life pulling up crime suspects and putting them behind bar until his suspension resulted in early retirement. His half-brother Mickey Haller, who is a defense attorney, worked relentlessly to get crime suspects freed. It’s not difficult to understand that they don’t see eye to eye. But when Mickey Haller’s investigator Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski is put out of action by a hit-and-run incident, he approaches Bosch to find evidences to back up the claim of his client Da’Quan "DQ" Foster against whom the LAPD has watertight evidence. DQ has been accused of the murder of Lexi Parks in her home.

His foray into the other side of the law, the premise of which inspired the title of the book, though initially marked by reluctance and guilt, soon opened his eyes. With the help of his former LAPD partner, Lucia Soto, Bosch uncovered a well-connected and thriving racket of prostitution and pornography, and cops gone rogue. As the plot thickens, it builds up to a crescendo as the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall into place. The Crossing by Michael Connelly has everything that you’d expect from the master storyteller. What makes this new Bosch novel different from the earlier ones is the difficult “crossing” that he has to make, the judgment that determines his decision and actions not as a cop but as a person outside of the law. Riveting and mesmerizing from start to finish, The Crossing opens a new chapter for Harry Bosch as well as author Michael Connelly.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Apricot Kisses by Claudia Winter

26859349Hanna Philip is restaurant critic from Berlin, and her latest review of a restaurant in a peaceful village tucked away in the apricot grove of Tuscan in Italy set off a chain of events which transformed her life. The owner of Tre Camini restaurant, Giuseppa Camini, dies of a fatal heart attack after reading the disparaging and contemptuous review. When Camini’s grandson Fabrizio Camini filed a lawsuit accusing Hanna and the magazine she works for of causing the death of his grandmother, it is left to Hanna to convince him to drop the case or she will be left without a job. Reluctantly Hanna set off and soon the half-hearted steps turned into a wholehearted adventure of a lifetime, full of love and hope.

What immediately attracts one to the story and the setting is the beautiful way in which the fictional village of Montesimo in Italy is portrayed. Claudia Winter leaves nothing to chance and her vivid imagery and description of the place makes you want to go there on a vacation. The description of the apricot fields, the sunrises and sunsets makes the place come alive in your mind. This fictional village is representative of all the little Italian villages where one finds the hope that everyone yearns for in our hearts. Hanna’s character is also finely drawn without holding anything back. She’s downright clumsy and unlucky, and worst suffers from kleptomania.

The story is written in alternating chapters from the perspective of Hanna Philip and Fabrizio which enables the reader to gain more insights about the two main characters. Readers will enjoy the drama, complications and the flowering romance between Hanna and Fabrizio. You will be moved to tears as Apricot Kisses by Claudia Winter is a book that goes to the heart and stays there. Claudia Winter’s protagonists are characters with endearing weaknesses but formed with the ability to outgrow in the course of their stories. Hanna and Fabrizio’s story is a lesson about life and love, and how to go about it. You can’t always take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you need to go with the flow of life. Open your hearts, close your eyes, raise your arms and you’ll grow wings to fly. A most delightful and charming book, I strongly recommend Apricot Kisses by Claudia Winter if you have a heart for romance and adventure.



21104828House – the name conjures many different things to many different people. And in my readings I have come across quite a number of books where houses are pivotal to the overall scheme of things. While the house may not actually figure in the title, many readers may recollect that in Gone With the Wind it was central to the story. You can feel their heartbeat as if they are living creatures. In The Lake House by Kate Morton, the house where the characters dwell play as much important role as the characters themselves.

The story begins in 1933 with a couple named Eleanor and Anthony Edavane, living in Cornwall in a house called Loeanneth with their three daughters Deborah, Alice and Clemmie and their 11 month old son, Theo, along with grandmother Constance and several other people. Theirs was a happy and contented family, and nothing seemed to disturb their peaceful and tranquil life until a midsummer eve party throws everything out of gear. Nothing the Edavanes did could undo what happened. Broken and shattered, leaving the lake house for good, the family moved to London where the girls grew up.

Fast forward seventy years later to 2003, and we have detective Sadie Sparrow of the Metropolitan Police, with strong views and a no-nonsense attitude, who is forced to go on leave while handling a case involving a grandmother, mother and a supposedly abandoned child. Sadie visited her grandfather Bertie in Cornwall, and it was during her stay at Cornwall that she stumbled on a dilapidated Loeanneth, and learned of how it came to be abandoned after an infant went missing. With nothing else to occupy her, Sadie started investigating into the disappearance of Theo many years earlier. One of Theo’s sisters, Alice, now a septuagenarian, and a writer of mystery books, seems to know more than she is willing to tell. Sadie must unearth the secrets that kept Theo’s disappearance a mystery for over seventy long years.

In The Lake House by Kate Morton, there are different threads which the author brilliantly knitted together. The case which leads to her disciplinary leave, and thereby the visit to Cornwall, was also superbly resolved. Author Kate Morton also filled in with flashbacks to more than twenty years before the beginning of the story which gives us an idea about the characters and their background. The nail-biting suspense, twists and fine storytelling will keep you late into the night, refusing to let go until you uncover the family secrets that plagued the lake house, Loeanneth, and its owners for over seventy years. Kate Morton is as brilliant as ever, and I’d rate The Lake House as one of her best works to date, and definitely one of my best reads of 2015.



24875398I have been immensely fascinated by The Dogs of War, The Fourth Protocol, The Kill List and The Day of the Jackal, all written by Frederick Forsyth. To this day, The Day of the Jackal remains one of my all-time favorite political spy thrillers and Frederick Forsyth one of my favorite authors. His latest offering, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, is a spellbinding compilation of autobiographical vignettes, and is as entertaining as any other Frederick Forsyth book.

In this sixty-chapter memoir, British author Forsyth tells the most thrilling experiences of his life from his early childhood to the present day. Beginning with the first chapter Whispered Words to the last, Dream Come True, Forsyth, the master-storyteller that he is, gives a compelling account of his life which is as riveting and enthralling as his fictional works. His stint with the Royal Air Force, Reuters and BBC, and his life as the author of bestselling spy thrillers are well documented. What makes The Outsider such an exciting read is the surprises that Forsyth strewn all over the book.

Forsyth reveals that it was not until he was thirty-one that he got the crazy idea to write in order to pay off his debts. That was the time he was home from Africa, and stony-broke as usual, with no job and no chance of one. And Forsyth claims that he almost started the Third World War. The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue by Frederick Forsyth not only gives insights into the person behind the number one bestsellers of fourteen books, but also gives panoramic views of the political landscapes and social turmoil which he witnessed as a journalist, RAF pilot and author. If you love a good book, well-written and compelling from start to finish, you won’t want to miss this gripping memoir.



25387351Sebastian Rudd is inconceivably poles apart from the other central characters in John Grisham’s novels. He is impatient, contemptuous and dangerous but he’s also smart and resolute – someone you’ll easily root for. Or for that matter, he's someone you’ll instantly find repulsive. He’s divorced, with negligible parenting concerns for his young son, except that occasional visits. Yet, he has strong concerns veering toward madness for the cause of justice, and most of his clients are people with cases the average lawyers would hesitate to touch. With a bodyguard who bundles up as his driver, bodyguard and all-in-one, Sebastian Rudd, the rogue lawyer in Grisham’s latest thriller is unlike anything you have read before.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham follows Sebastian Rudd’s legal battles as he works out of a van after his office was bombed. Our legal ace has a lot on his hands as he battles for others as well as himself. One of the cases involved the molestation and drowning of two little girls. The accused Gardy was once a member of a satanic cult with a history of sexual perversion. With this fact known to the prosecution, Sebastian has much work to do. There’s also a case involving a crime lord who killed a judge and is facing death row, and a retired homeowner who opens fire on a SWAT team. Sebastian is also confronted with the daunting prospect of losing his visitation rights with his young son as his ex-wife is mounting a legal challenge to cancel it.

When John Grisham spins his brand of fascinating legal thriller which is a cocktail of a swiftly paced thriller, twisted tales and legal rudiments, you are in for an exciting ride. There’s the excitement and the huge anticipation. But Rogue Lawyer fails to meet my expectation. Though a huge, huge fan of the author, and someone who really wanted a massive blockbuster of read, this is more like Sycamore Row and a notch of an improvement upon Gray Mountain. Having said that, let me make it clear my appetite for Grisham’s legal thrillers will never wane. I largely enjoyed the book but it is nowhere near the intensity and appeal of A Time to Kill. The character development, pointedly that of Sebastian Rudd, was polished and finely done. And I really enjoyed the first-person narrative. Though the different stories, or rather the different cases, were all tied in together at the end, the climax was a bit flat and rather disappointing. Yet, I’d try out a John Grisham thriller any day than any other book for the simple fact that he's the best out there.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker

25755194Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker is a historical romance novel that follows the life of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra and Empress of the East in the 3rd century AD, as she defies her family’s expectations, fights to gain control of both her own life and the throne, and challenges the dominance of the Roman Empire. Strong-willed and courageous, Zenobia was considered a woman who doesn’t know her place as she was determined to shape her destiny on her own terms, this novel is an epic story of a young woman who breaks free of the shackles and rose to become Empress of the East.

The youngest of the three daughters of the great chief, the Ras, Amr Ibn Zarib, affectionately called Zabbai by the citizens of Palmyra, and his wife Berenike, Zenobia’s two siblings are Nafsha, the eldest, and Zabibah, second born. Her father is a powerful chief, second only to the Governor but for the Amlaqi tribe, Zabbai is the only authority. His words are as powerful as his actions. Zenobia’s sisters are married but living with her parents as their husbands are waging war. At seventeen, Zenobia is considered too old to be unmarried though eight suitors have sought her hand in marriage during the past two years, and her father would have been proud to call any of them son-in-law. Zenobia has more important things in mind.

In Daughter of Sand and Stone, author Libbie Hawker painted a sweeping picture of the land, the people and the strength of character of its main protagonist Zenobia. The story is atmospheric. The book makes for a gripping read. Captivating yet tragic, it is the story of how a young woman driven by a strong desire established herself as the ruler of her people against all odds. A romantic at heart yet someone not easily swayed, her towering presence and Libbie Hawker’s powerful narrative combined well to bring Zenobia’s character to life.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Promotion Services

Authors/publicists/publishers may contact for the following book promotion services which we are offering:

Book Spotlight:
This service is available to authors who wish to share information about one book (i.e., new release, cover reveal, free day, price drop, etc.).
This package includes the following:
-a post containing information about one book
-social media promotion across our social media networks
-a minimum of ten blogs


* If a giveaway is to be included with Book Spotlight post, additional $25 administration fee is required. Name and contact information of the winner(s) will be provided and it will be the author’s responsibility to send the prize(s).

Author Interview:
Authors will be provided with approximately 25 – 30 questions, out of which they must answer at least 10 – 12. An author will be required to provide profile photo along with book images for the post. This service is available to all authors.
This package includes the following:
-a post containing the questions, answers, and responses + images
-social media promotion across our social media networks


* If a giveaway is to be included with the Interview, additional $25 administration fee is required. Name and contact information of the winner(s) will be provided and it will be the author’s responsibility to send the prize(s).

Book Review:
We accept books for review. It will take approximately 10 – 15 days for the review to be posted live on our blog. If you need expedited review, from 24 hours to less than ten days, you can make a request.
This package includes the following:
-a review post on our blog. If you required Amazon post you will have make a specific request
-sharing of the review through our social media networks


Book (less than 10,000 words) = $40
10,000 to 40,000 words = $60
40,000 to 80,000 words = $80
80,001+ words = $100
Expedited review , add $100 for less than 3 days and $50 for 4 – 9 days.

* If a giveaway is to be included with the review, additional $25 administration fee is required. Name and contact information of the winner(s) will be provided and it will be the author’s responsibility to send the prize(s).

Book Blast:
A Book Blast involves multiple blogs (we normally arrange 10 – 15 blogs) with all participating blogs posting the same material about the book, purchasing information, author information, etc. A Book Blast also involves a shared Rafflecopter giveaway (usually for a $25, $50, or $100 Amazon gift card and/or PayPal cash) where individuals gain entries by adding the book to a Goodreads shelf, following the author, following the participating blogs, and so on. A Book Blast’s main purpose is to gain exposure for the book and followers for the author.
This package includes the following:
-A sign-up post and book blast post
-Social media promotion which includes tweets, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram shares
-Coordination and management of a 2 week giveaway

Cost:$100 (includes $25 giveaway prize)

Blog Book Review:
A Blog Book Review requires the participation of bloggers to post reviews on their blogs and spread words about the book. This program requires about four weeks to recruit bloggers. All participating bloggers will be sent Kindle gifted copy of the book and they may post a review on Amazon as well (but not a must).
All reviews must be constructive, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
This package includes the following:
-A Blog Book Review sign-up post and social media promotion
-Email reminders to individuals who sign-up
-A final Blog Book Review post highlighting reviews obtained during the promotion period
-Managing of the Blog Book Review giveaway

Cost: $150

Blog Tour:
A Blog Tour involves multiple sites posting book reviews, author interviews, excerpts or other information about a book; a shared giveaway and, promotion via a number of social media outlets. Tours will last between 1 week and 3 weeks depending on how many stops you would like. There is a guarantee of a minimum of 10 stops. Electronic copies of the book (mobi, pdf, and epub preferrably, mobi and pdf, minimally) must be available for the tour. Print copies may also be requested at times. The purpose of a Blog Tour is to gain exposure for the book and the author as well as obtain public reviews of the book. This package includes the following:
-Supervision and personal comment for each blog tour stop
-Each blog stop tour gets tweeted
-Facebook shares
-Google+ shares
-Book recommendation
-Goodreads TBR list
-Pinterest pin
-Managing of Rafflecopter Giveaway for an Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize


-10 to 14 stops: $200
-Each additional 5 stops will increase the price incrementally by $25. Add cost of gift card/cash for the Giveaway Prize ($25, $50, or $100; minimum $25)
-Minimum of 5 weeks prior to the start of the tour. Minimum 2 blog tours per week

30 Days Social Media Blitz:
If for some reason you are unable to keep up with promoting your book via social media accounts or don't even have them set up, we can help. This will help create buzz around the book and gain widespread exposure. This package includes the following:
-Set up account with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and others
-Management of daily social media tasks such as updates, promotion, etc.
-Gain new followers for your social media accounts
-Maintain your blog and website by posting new updates
-Create buzz around the book, etc

-30 days: $200
-60 days: $300

Here's a look at our statistics:

- approximately 2,50,000 Twitter followers
- approximately 30,000 Facebook likes
- approximately 7,000 blog followers
- approximately 4,000 Pinterest followers
- approximately 1,000 Instagram followers
- approximately 1,000 Tumblr followers
- plus LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads connection

For additional information, please contact thegreatreads (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

24611456A book that shines a small light on the large history of China’s relationship with the West, The Courtesan is a novel that distills, with the economy of a poem, a woman’s journey of untold miles to discern what is real and abiding.

A timeless novel of one woman who bridged two worlds in a tumultuous era of East meets West

The Courtesan is an astonishing tale inspired by the real life of a woman who lived and loved in the extraordinary twilight decades of the Qing dynasty. To this day, Sai Jinhua is a legend in her native land of China, and this is her story, told the way it might have been.

The year is 1881. Seven-year-old Jinhua is left an orphan, alone and unprotected after her mandarin father’s summary execution for the crime of speaking the truth. For seven silver coins, she is sold to a brothel-keeper and subjected to the worst of human nature. Will the private ritual that is her father’s legacy and the wise friendship of the crippled brothel maid be enough to sustain her?

When an elegant but troubled scholar takes Jinhua as his concubine, she enters the close world of his jealous first wife. Yet it is Jinhua who accompanies him--as Emissary to the foreign devil nations of Prussia, Austro-Hungary, and Russia--on an exotic journey to Vienna. As he struggles to play his part in China's early, blundering diplomatic engagement with the western world, Jinhua’s eyes and heart are opened to the irresistible possibilities of a place that is mesmerizing and strange, where she will struggle against the constraints of tradition and her husband’s authority and seek to find “Great Love.”

Sai Jinhua is an altered woman when she returns to a changed and changing China, where a dangerous clash of cultures pits East against West. The moment arrives when Jinhua’s western sympathies will threaten not only her own survival, but the survival of those who are most dear to her.

A book that shines a small light on the large history of China’s relationship with the West, The Courtesan is a novel that distills, with the economy of a poem, a woman’s journey of untold miles to discern what is real and abiding.

Review: The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry heart-breakingly beautiful and a real joy to read. There are different threads in the story which beautifully merges in the end. I love the way author Alexandra Curry weaves the story and her handling of the prose is simply superb. It makes the story all the more richer.

What is particularly fascinating about the book is the larger picture contained in the story and I really feel connected with the characters. While the setting may be a bit strange to many readers, no one would feel lost once a grip is made on the story. This is a story that will resonate deeply with women all over the world.

Minute Zero by Todd Moss

24611506Fresh off the harrowing events of The Golden Hour, State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is suddenly thrown into a quickly developing emergency which threatens the lives of millions, including his own.

An extraordinary international thriller by the former deputy assistant secretary of state and author of the national bestseller The Golden Hour.

In the life of every country, at a moment of extreme national disruption, there is a brief period of breakdown, when everything is uncertain, events can turn on a dime. That is the moment to act, to shape events how you want them to go. That is Minute Zero.

Fresh off the harrowing events of The Golden Hour, State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is suddenly thrown into a quickly developing emergency in Zimbabwe, where a longtime strongman is being challenged for the presidency. Rumors are flying furiously: armed gangs, military crackdowns, shady outside money pouring in, and, most disturbing for the United States, reports of highly enriched uranium leaking into the market.

And that’s all before Ryker even lands in the country. It gets much worse after that. If he can’t get control, shape his Minute Zero, a lot of people are going to die—not least of all himself.

Review: Minute Zero by Todd Moss is an absorbing story that deals with diplomatic intrigue in which US State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker is tasked with overseeing the tricky Zimbabwean presidential election, a direct face-off between Winston Tinotenda and his rival Gugu Mutonga, a female candidate but certainly not a pushover.

Both candidates have strong backers, and it is apparent that foreign money is being pumped in. To resolve the fluidity of the situation Ryker comes up with an idea known as Minute Zero enabling either candidate to grab power at the opportune time. Todd Moss' second Judd Ryker is hugely entertaining, brilliantly paced and plotted craftily. Ryker is a character who will endear to readers and the suspense is almost unbearable. With his experience as a fromer diplomat, Moss knows what he is writing about and gives a touch of authenticity to the story.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddy. He lives alone in a small but extremely safe penthouse apartment, and his primary piece of furniture is a vintage pool table. He drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun.

Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house.  Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior.

Sebastian Rudd is one of John Grisham’s most colorful, outrageous, and vividly drawn characters yet. Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer showcases the master of the legal thriller at his very best.

About John Grisham: Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom


Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

An epic story of the greatest guitar player to ever live, and the six lives he changed with his magical blue strings.

In Albom’s most sweeping novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures—with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.

At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear—just before his spectacular death—to change one last life.

With its Forest Gump-like romp through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers a remarkable novel, infused with the message that “everyone joins a band in this life” and those connections change us all.

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hot Sur by Laura Restrepo

Image Not Found.From revered Colombian writer Laura Restrepo comes the smart, thrilling story of a young woman trying to outrun a nightmare.

María Paz is a young Latin American woman who, like many others, has come to America chasing a dream. When she is accused of murdering her husband and sentenced to life behind bars, she must struggle to keep hope alive as she works to prove her innocence. But the dangers of prison are not her only obstacles: gaining freedom would mean facing an even greater horror lying in wait outside the prison gates, one that will stop at nothing to get her back. Can María Paz survive this double threat in a land where danger and desperation are always one step behind, and safety and happiness seem just out of reach?


Still Waters by Viveca Sten

Image Not Found.On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.