Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stockings, Cellulite, and Everything In Between

Stockings and Cellulite, Debbie Viggiano

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, Cassandra Cherry's life takes a turn for the worse when she stumbles upon husband Stevie lying naked, except for his socks, on a coat-strewn bed with a 45-year-old divorcee called Cynthia. Suddenly single, Cass throws herself into the business of getting over Stevie with gusto. Her main problems now are making her nine-year-old twins happy, juggling a new social life with a return to work and avoiding being arrested by an infuriating policeman who always seems to turn up at the most inopportune moments. Then, just when Cass is least prepared, and much to Stevie's chagrin, she crashes head over heels in love with the last person she'd ever expected. 

 Cover: A The cover is perfect. The color scheme is eye catching without being overwhelming. The white lettering of the title juxtapose to the black stocking/heeled foot is a nice touch. The eye is automatically drawn to the title...which begs you to read the book (if you are at all inclined to pick up lighter women's lit). I wouldn't change a thing.
Story: A+++ The dialogue in this book is some of the most witty material I've crossed since my deceased favorite author, Erma Bombeck. Debbie Viggiano spins a tale of hilarity and hi-jinx that will have you laughing out loud. Believe me, I'm not one to blow smoke, so when I tell you that I laughed out loud--I mean it. There are no boring bits in this book. Page one, when Cassandra walks in on her hubby bouncing a  middle aged, floppy chested, big bottomed neighbor around on his pelvis, is just the tip of the phallic iceberg. 
Overall: A+ I found this book so thoroughly enjoyable that I felt compelled to send Ms. Viggiano an email expressing how absolutely brilliant I found her story. That is a first for me. I have no idea why this book isn't a best seller, because it damn well should be. This book should be up there with every Jennifer Weiner and Emily Griffin listing. It is the bomb-diggety. For a good laugh,  stop by today and order your copy. It is available in both paperback ($13.95) and Kindle ($5.99) formats. Be warned: if you are sipping Chablis, you just might find it coming out your nose!

Newsie Tidbits:
My short story, Looking Glass Lilly, should be out soon! I don't have a date--but I will, I promise. In the meantime, while you're buying your copy of Stockings and Cellulite, search Istoria Books LUNCH READS and see what all the buzz is about. There are three volumes available for download. At a mere $0.99-- you can't go wrong. They are genius. I hope mine is as well recieved as the authors before me...
Lastly but not leastly:
I have a rather large order of CONFESSIONS OF A PTA MAFIA MOM scheduled to arrive at my doorstep August 1st. If you would like to be the proud owner of your own autographed copy, let me know. I'm offering them at a special discounted rate of $12.00 (plus shipping if applicable). It makes a great gift for the lady in your life (and though he'd never admit it, my hubby is enjoying it just as much).
That's all for now folks. Enjoy your weekend.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mistakes With Deadly Consequences

Hello blogger book review fans, long time, no see.
Where, pray tell, have you been? (That's me, pretending to be you)
Well, let's see. First, I was stuck from close to a week without power--and what fun that was, especially after my Kindle went dead, Arghh!--and for a lovely follow up, I am now smack dab in the middle of the Great Midwestern Heatwave of 2011. Three, yep I said three, people in Tennessee have already perished due to mishaps such as not realizing their window unit air conditioners were blowing hot air into their closed up, already insufferable, blazing homes.
At least I have a pool (which coincidentally nobody but me ever uses) to keep cool while I wind my way through Stockings & Cellulite (hilarious).  It's one of the last paper books I bought. After soaking the edges against my wet suit & watching it disintegrate, it will most likely be the last.
At any rate, I'm back, baby, Yeah! So, without further adieu....

1.    Mistakes by A.M. Hayward & L.J. Holder
Everyone makes them. We are only human.
Some of our mistakes are small... like the times you stay up till 2 am studying for a test that you end up failing because you are too tired to think.
Others are so catastrophic that they change your life.... forever....

Maddison regrets not listening to her parents, not being a 'good girl' and not staying at home like she was supposed to instead of sneaking off with her friends for a Spring Break getaway. How she wishes she could turn back time; then maybe she wouldn't be in the nightmare she is in now. Kidnapped and taken to a different country unaware of where she is or what these men want with her.

Maddy's parents can't help her, in fact they aren't even aware she is in Mexico. Who can save her? Or can she save herself?   

Cover: B It fits the book. Not the type of cover that will reach out & grab you at first glance, but nicely done just the same. 

Story: B+
This book is geared towards adolescents, but I would say older adolescents due to some minor amounts of sexual behavior etc. I never read too much of the preview of a book, since I like to be surprised. In the case of MISTAKES I'm exceptionally glad, because I truly did not have a clue as to the horrible place Maddison would end up. I knew it would be bad. I knew she would be kidnapped--but I kept thinking, "Hello, you stupid teenage girl, have you not heard of Natalie Holloway?" (Which, I really think this story...the disappearance, the circumstances, the company...closely parallels) But guess what? I was wrong. Then again, they never did find Ms. Holloway, did they?
Overall: B This story is a nice solid 'B'. The plot is entertaining. The action rev's up early on and the characters are nicely developed. I really enjoyed the concept of two different authors, in two different places, writing the same story. That has to be tough. After a bit I could detect slight stylistic nuances of each writer. it didn't detract from the book, it was more like a Where's Waldo? game added in.  
Mistakes is the first book in the Mistakes Trilogy. By the end of book one I could easily see the flow into book two, and I daresay a happy ending for Maddison (although as a parent, I can't say I'd approve of certain aspects of certain Knights in Shining Armour). 
Stop by & grab a copy of mistakes for your snotty, know it all teen today. It might make them think twice and avoid unnecessary danger.

2. Do You Know What I love About Jane Austen?
 I am so ashamed; and yet, so very proud. I'm ashamed because up until my power went out on Monday, I'd never ventured into the sweeping fiction of the late, great, Miss Austen. Now, I'm proud, because I read, understood, & loved my very first Austen book. (Pride and Prejudice, the very most commonly read of all the Austen lit's, but still...)
Now, I've never claimed to be a literary genius. On the contrary, I threw Wuthering Heights against the wall, repeatedly, before finally gaining a tiny inkling of what on earth people were saying. I know it's written in English...but really it might as well have been Portuguese. Even when I finally dissected it enough to understand the broad strokes, I failed to see why ANYONE would fall in love with an A$$hole like the extraordinarily bone headed Mr. Heathcliff. If memory serves, Catherine was a piece of work in her own right. I found them to be a well matched couple, where each works to outdo the other to win the Oscar of the self serving miserable bastard awards. It was the last classic I attempted due to the PTSD that comes from reading a page, coming to the bottom, and saying, "What the hell did I just read?" Before going back to the top & starting over...for the fiftieth time.
I expected the same of Austen. Ha! Can you believe that?
So, to answer the question posed at the top:
I love that I can read an Austen book and understand what's going on (from page one). Furthermore, I love that her love story, is a LOVE story. People make mistakes. They have faults greater than the San Andreas fault line; but in the end, they learn something & they are happy. Her morals lessons still ring true today(if this doesn't hold true for the rest of her work, please don't tell me. I downloaded all of it on my Kindle late last night). Lastly, I read a really great article about her inability to memorize the rules of grammar, thereby driving her editor to the brink of insanity.
Yes, all of this points to a woman I would love to have sat next to & had a drink with. I'm a fan, tried & true. Are you?
Next up on my classics list: The Count of Monte Cristo. I hear it's fabulous... 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm Stuck On This One!

Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith

From Publishers Weekly

Smith (Just As I Am) provides all the standard elements of inspirational chick lit in this first installment of the Sister-to-Sister series. Joan has been dumped by her long-term boyfriend, lives at home, has an unexciting job and can't quite figure out what to do with her life, until a single doctor (who is of course terribly good-looking and very serious about his faith) moves in next door. As the title suggests, Joan is the middle daughter and feels dwarfed by her older sister's happy family and her younger sister's beauty and success. She struggles with feeling abandoned by her father and angry that her mother forced him to leave when she was young. She wonders if there's more depth to her faith than she initially thought, and learns more about God from her new doctor friend. And she tries hard to take care of her elderly grandmother to prevent her from being sent to an assisted living home, though that may prove to be the best place for her after all. Naturally, this is the realm of happy endings, and readers won't be disappointed. The sisters are spirited and fun, and if the story takes a while to get going, it soon quickens the pace and entertains. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description

Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.
Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.
Cover: A
No matter what your thoughts are pertaining to Christian fiction, you cannot find fault with this cover. I always say, covers are the gateway to the literary amusement park. This book proves it. It is the kind of cover that stops a B&N, coffee slurping, stay-at-home-mom like me to pick it up (or download it, as the case may be). Kudos to the cover artist (who wasn't listed on the Amazon site tsk-tsk).
Story: C+
I'm really not sure how I missed that this book is Christian fiction when I downloaded it. I suspect that in my eagerness to find free books to try, I didn't read the description. I know I tried the sample...which oddly enough does not have one mention of the G man in it. Hmmm, can you say, false advertising? Nah, I'm just joshing ya'. Seriously though, this book goes from a light hearted, fun read, to GOD RULES EVERYTHING (he'll even bring you chocolate ice cream upon request) in a quick turn of the page.
In spite of that, I have to say, it is a nice little book...for those that are not only Christian fiction fans, but those that attend the mega churches (since that is the variety of Christianity this book touts as the right one).  It was far better than the last piece of Christian fiction I reviewed. This book had some actual conflict (always good in books).
Overall C+
If you are looking for serious Christian fiction this will be an A or a B. The rest of us--C. It is free for kindle, so if you've got one you could always give it a whirl...moving on.
I do have some other, very interesting things to report:
1. The 3 Diamond PTA PONZI SCHEME
How cool is it when life imitates art? I could not believe my computer bleary eyeballs when I opened up my Yahoo News & read:
Talk about good luck! Well, I guess if you were swindled by the ladies--who BTW fooled people by claiming that they had negotiated a lifetime contract with Disneyland to become the sole providers of their dairy products (because, let's face it, when you think Disney, you think dairy?)--it really isn't good luck at all, now is it? But for me, this is a clear case of Karma telling me that I'm on the right track.
I offered to donate some of the proceeds from the sales of the book to help the victims. So far, nobody has bitten. Personally, I think it's genius. A book about the PTA being mafia thugs saving the savings of those swindled by the PTA mafia? Yep, there's something there for sure.
2. Istoria Books: LUNCH READS
I had the most wonderful email from the Editor-in-Chief of Istoria Books, telling me that they would like to acquire the digital rights to my short story, LOOKING GLASS LILLY. I'm doing cartwheels over here. Not only is it a story that holds a special place in my dark & twisted heart, it is the first short I have successfully gotten into the reading market(odd considering I have three novels in print). I'm considering it a sign that the Writing Gods do love me, they were just a little busy at the beginning of summer. Stay tuned for my plug/high pressure sales tactics.
3. News Feature?
I received notice tonight that The Lombardian is interested in running a feature article about none other than little old moi. Very exciting stuff if you're a small potatoes gal like myself. Very exciting indeed!
That's all for now folks. Keep reading.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Read, Because We Must Never Forget

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

From Publishers Weekly

Russian refugee Bannister (1927–2004) rarely spoke about her brutal experiences under the regimes of Stalin and Hitler, not even to the American she married after the war. In this memoir, she reveals how a privileged childhood in the 1920s and '30s gave way to horror and loss in the 1940s. Although the sound quality of this production is poor (lots of rustling papers), Rebecca Gallagher does reasonably well with the multiple languages and wisely avoids attempting to replicate European accents. What is irritating, however, is the constant interruption in the form of unnecessary editor's notes, which make the narrative choppy and disjointed. More helpful is the seventh disc, which contains an interview with Bannister's husband and son, a precious audio reminiscence from Nonna herself, recorded in 1993, and abundant PDF materials, including maps, photographs and genealogical data. A Tyndale hardcover. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

How this story came to be written is a big part of the drama. The only World War II survivor of her wealthy Russian, devout Christian family, Nonna Lisowskaya came to the U.S. in 1950, married Henry Bannister, and never spoke about her Holocaust ­experience––until a few years before her death in 2004, when she revealed her diaries, originally written in six languages on paper scraps that she had kept in a pillow strapped to her body throughout the war. Now those diaries, in her English translation, tell her story of fleeing Stalinist Russia, not knowing what was waiting in Hitler’s Germany, where she saw her mother murdered in the camps, escaped a massacre of Jews shot into a pit, was nursed by Catholic nuns, and much more. The editors’ commentary in different type constantly interrupts the memoir, but the notes are helpful in explaining history and context. The added-on heavy messages celebrating Nonna’s Christian forgiveness seem intrusive and unnecessary, no matter how heartfelt. --Hazel Rochman --
Cover: A
The cover of this book is an old photograph of Nonna. The material that runs just under her eyes is the material from her childhood pillow. She carried that pillow with her her entire life, tucking in notes and scraps of things she cherished. The way the pillow is placed under her eyes, gives her a look of shock, surprise, I would even go so far as to say horror. It is perfect. Eerie (given the topic). It was the reason I purchased the book.

Story: A++
This story follows the life of Nonna Bannister. Her hand written notes, transcribed into a story, taken after her death to a publisher. Wow. It is amazing. The story itself--gut wrenching. True. Unbearable at times. The history & timeline are unwound and even challenged at times, by the publisher/'author'. I read this book on the airport. It was so good, so totally spellbinding, that I could not put it down until the very end.
Even after the war, when Nonna is safe & sound, the story is riveting. Married for over 50 years, she never shared her story with her family. And (even more interesting) her wonderful, loving, amazing husband, never asked. He knew not to press his he waited patiently. Then, not long before Nonna departs for the great beyond, she shares.

Overall: A+
 The story of Nonna Bannister is not to be missed. As the sole surviving member of her family, she carried a great deal of pain with her throughout her life; but she never let it jade her. She married, raised a family, loved and was loved. This book is an amazing read. A Must Read if you have any interest in Russian History, the Holocaust, or World War II. I openly wept in the airport (I believe I scared a few folks).
Get it.
 Right now you can get a copy of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The untold Story of Nonna Bannister for your Kindle, in paperback, hardcover, or audio edition on
It is a heavy read, but it is worth it! 
P.S. This post would *only* write in italics. Weird, right? I feel like Nonna is here, making sure it gets some extra special attention....Happy 4th of July everyone. Remember those who gave of themselves so we can be free.