Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review The Sanctity of Sloth

Title: The Sanctity of Sloth

Author: Greta Boris

Genre: Suspense, Mystery

Series: The Seven Deadly Sins

Purchase: Amazon

There’s one thing more dangerous than testifying to a crime—staying silent.

Locked in the ruins of a California Mission, Abby Travers watches helplessly as a girl dies outside her window. As she struggles between her moral obligation to come forward as a witness, and her commitment to a Medieval religious practice that requires her to retreat from the world, the situation spins out of control.
Abby’s hesitation starts a series of catastrophes. She finds herself at the center of a deadly cover up where every minute counts and indecision could be fatal. She questions all her beliefs and everyone she knows becomes suspect. To save herself and those she loves, she must break free from her self-imposed prisons of stone and fear.
The Sanctity of Sloth is a taut, psychological thriller that answers the question: What happens when a good woman does nothing? Fans of Paula Hawkins and A.J. Finn will enjoy this third book in Greta Boris’s Seven Deadly Sins Series.
I’m a huge fan of mysteries that have somewhat different premises: not your typical, run-down-the-mill ‘someone was murdered and a lonely detective haunted by the past has to solve it’. And I did get that here, from “The Sanctity of Sloth”. The premise is unique: Abby Travers is lonely and haunted by the past, but she’s not a detective, she’s a regular person. And Abby struggles with her moral obligations and her commitments, and her choices has disastrous consequences. The other spins an excellent tale, with clever writing and an insightful way of creating characters that are quirky yet realistic. I felt sorry for Abby, I felt along with Abby, and even more importantly, I felt a connection with her; and it’s a great feat when an author can pull that off.
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Book Review: The Sacred Artifact

Title: The Sacred Artifacts

Author: Caldric Blackwell

Genre: Middle Grade

Determined to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact, fourteen-year-old alchemy student Craig Pike and his teacher, Cornelius, journey to the birthplace of alchemy to seek the advice of a wise, ancient alchemist named Quintus. With the help of a witty archer, Audrey Clife, they trek across dangerous lands, compete in a cutthroat tournament, and reunite with old friends. They soon find out the artifact is more powerful than anticipated, and they aren’t the only ones seeking to discover its secrets….

 

Review: This book reminded me of my childhood, and the countless fantasy novels I devoured day and night! It has an old-charm feel, reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series, and the classics of C.S. Lewis. Readers are transported through time and space to a world filled with alchemy, fantasy, numerous dangers, and characters you can root for and feel a real connection with.

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Book Review Inside The Chinese Wine Industry

Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry

Author: Loren Mayshark

Genre: Nonfiction

The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.

Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.

 

There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”

 

I would not consider myself a wine connoisseur, but I’m definitely a wine enthusiast. However, while I have some knowledge of the wine industry in France, I know next to nothing about the Chinese wine industry. Well, I knew next to nothing – after reading this book, I can certainly say I know more than I ever thought I would about the wine industry in China!

The Chinese wine industry has a rich history, and a lot of wine-related traditions. While there’s a lot of information, it certainly isn’t presented in a dry, dull fashion, on the contrary, the little tidbits of information are fun and entertaining, and the book is a fast read with a ton of interesting content.

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Book Review Dearly Beloved

Title: Dearly Beloved

Author: Peggy Jaeger

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s worried she’ll never find Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn’t plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

This was an amazing book. Colleen has so much on her plate: recovering from a catastrophic relationship with her ex-fiancé, taking care of her sisters and her 93-year-old grandmother, and running a bridal business. But then she meets Slade Harrington, a man who doesn’t believe in marriages, but who might just have what it takes for Colleen to start believing in happily-ever-after again.

The chemistry between the characters is spot-on, and the romance is great. I loved this book, and would recommend it to everyone!

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Book Review Love for Two Lifetimes

Title: Love for Two Lifetimes

Author: Martina Boone

Genre: Coming of Age / Young Adult

Two generations, two great loves, one devastating lie . . . 

When Izzy unexpectedly loses her mother in a car accident, her world shatters. Their relationship has always been so close that Izzy can’t imagine life without her. Nor can she begin to understand when she finds a secret box of love letters that her mother wrote but never sent. The idea of her mother hiding such intense feelings for more than twenty years without so much as a hint makes Izzy question everything she thought she knew–including the identity of her father.

Following a trail of clues overseas, Izzy steps into a world of glamour and English royalty, one which years ago forced her mother to choose between her obligation to her musical gift and her lover’s obligations to his family, title, and estate. It’s a world of secrets and masquerades, of heartache and betrayal. And in the midst of this world, Izzy finds a young man who feels as broken as she does herself. The two are drawn to each other–only to find that their parents’ lies may present an insurmountable obstacle between them.

Thrown together on a coming of age journey of discovery that spans two lifetimes and takes them from a grand estate in the Cotswolds to a hospital bedside in India and ultimately to the Taj Mahal, Izzy and Malcolm try desperately not to fall in love. But some things are impossible…

And some loves are worth any sacrifice… 

Uplifting, funny, tragic, and unforgettably, luminously romantic, Love for Two Lifetimes is a tale of two generations of love, a lifetime of friendship, a history of sacrifice, and one last, heartbreaking and hopeful choice revealed in prose, texts, and love letters. Written for young adults and grown-up romantics, if you love the romance of the royal weddings or any story by Nicholas Sparks, Love for Two Lifetimes will have you turning pages late into the night.

“Heartwarming, lyrical, soulful, and with just the right amount of humor: this book sparkles with authentic, layered characters and beautiful, thoughtful prose.” — Jodi Meadows, NYT bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane

 

I just finished reading Love for Two Lifetimes and I’m still amazed by how compelling and thrilling this book was. Protagonist Izzy starts on a journey of self-discovery after finding love letters written by her mother who recently passed away, a journey that will take her halfway across the world and explores hidden secrets of Izzy’s own history. The emotions were so real, so relatable, that sometimes I had to stop to catch a breath. These types of books, the ones that pull at your heart, that show you characters so realistic they could be your next-door neighbors, are my all-time favorites, and I really enjoyed this one.

Ian, Malcolm, Izzy, all of them had their own secrets, their own pains and struggles, their own, complex emotions they struggled with and that made them into some of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read about. Highly recommended.

 

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Book Review Amelia, The Merballs And The Emerald Cannon

Title: Amelia, the Merballs and the Emerald Cannon

Author: Evonne Blanchard

Genre: Children’s Books

Amelia and Uglesnoo land on Mercury.  They meet the Merballs, the friendly aliens that live there.  All goes well, until an asteroid hits their planet. Amelia and Uglesnoo find themselves in deep trouble. How will they convince the Merballs of their innocence? And how will they manage to collect the flying shoes, escape Mercury and continue their quest to save Uglesnoo’s sister?

 

Last week, I already interviewed Evonne Blanchard, the author of this fun picture book, so of course, after the interview, I was really looking forward to reading the book. My niece came over for an overnight stay this weekend, and I thought that was the perfect opportunity.

While I liked the book as an adult, my niece, who is seven years old, absolutely loved it. She loved the cute aliens, the main character Amelia, the colorful pages and the twisted adventures Amelia and her cohorts find themselves in. My niece told me she really wants to read the next book in the series and find out more about Amelia and Uglesnoo.

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Book Review and Author Interview The Immortal Seeds

Imortal Seeds eBook CoverTitle: The Immortal Seeds: A Tribute to Golden Treasures

Author: Sambath Meas

Genre: Family Memoir

This is a story about a father’s dream of escaping a war-torn country in search of stability and freedom, so that his children can live and thrive.

 

Sarin Meas, who was born and grew up in a remote village in Trangel, Kampong Chhnang, drifts from one place to another in search of a purpose, and a better life. In Pailin, a small town in western Cambodia known for its richness of gemstones, he meets a poor and uneducated girl whose daily life, from dusk until dawn, is strained by hard work: selling fruits and vegetables at the local market, along with cooking, doing laundry and cleaning up after strangers and relatives whom her aunt has taken in. If she doesn’t do her chores correctly and one of them tells on her, her aunt, a woman whose mood changes like a person suffering from a split personality, hurls foul language at her and beats her with any heavy object in sight. Sarin realizes that this young woman, whom everyone calls Thach, will die if she continues to live like this. So he marries her out of compassion. His compassion turns into love. Sarin and Thach form a family.

Tragically, after fifteen years of peaceful existence and independence from France, Cambodia gets sucked into the war of idealism between the world’s super powers—America, China, and the Soviet Union—by way of the Vietnam War. Cambodian leaders and people take sides. The Khmer Republic (backed by the United States) and the Khmer Rouge (backed by China, the Soviet Union and Vietnam) fight each other acrimoniously. After five years of battle, the relentless Khmer Rouge soldiers emerge victorious. Sarin has an opportunity to escape to Thailand with his family, but chooses to remain behind out of fear of the unknown. Soon he realizes the victors don’t know how to manage the country. Fear, paranoia and revenge turn them and their supporters into a killing machine.  Sarin, through cleverness and luck, helps his family navigate the horror of communism. When a second opportunity arrives, like thousands of other surviving Cambodians, he takes the chance to venture to the unknown—to find freedom, opportunity, and a better life for his family.

The Immortal Seeds: A Tribute to Golden Treasures is not only about the continuing of a family’s life cycle; it is also about a father’s idea—a purpose—that gets passed on to his daughter. In turn she hopes to pass it on to people not only within her community but also around the world.

“King Grandfather would like to wish that your memoir The Immortal Seeds will become successful.”

—Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia

The Immortal Seeds is a story of war, love, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Touchingly told, Sambath pays homage to her family across the generations, and shares how they helped the Meases to survive the war and thrive in peace.”

—Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child

The Immortal Seeds exhibits a memoir’s emphasis on highly personalized, if not fully contextualized, experiences.”

—The Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia’s Newspaper

So, where do I begin? The Immortal Seeds is part memoir, part family history, set against the backdrop of a political regime that is far from democratic. The communist Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia was something I’d only vaguely heard and read about in the past, but this book was a real eye-opener for me.

The author’s research is incredible, and the setting is described in a very detailed, plausible way, that makes it easy for the reader to imagine themselves being there. The strength portrayed by the people showcased in this book is phenomenal, and an inspiration to everyone.

 

Author Interview

1. Have you been writing for a long time? 

I have been writing for 13 years now.

2. What inspired you to start a writing career? 

My writing stems from me wanting to learn more about my family history, especially about my father who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He and I experienced a hostile relationship. It was so combative and toxic that we could not bear to be in the same room. He was a miserable person and he was making me miserable, too. My mother was forced to be in the middle of it all. I was sick of our fights and his soul-crushing sarcasm.  I wanted our relationship to change. But first thing first: I changed myself. I started to read self-help books. They changed my life. I became a more understanding person and wanted to find out what was wrong with my father. I started to talk to him, to ask him about his pasts, as I was reading about refugees like him who suffer from post-traumatic and sudden death syndromes. I knew we fled a war-torn country, but I never knew the details of my parents suffering and what they went through to provide for me and my sister. I asked him and my mother about it. My mother had buried it so deep that she forgot about it. As for my father, he refused to tell me. I finally manipulated him into telling me about his pasts by relaying what journalists and orphans who survived the “killing fields” of Cambodia were saying about this dark period of our history. He was mad. He thought those people either did not remember or manipulated their stories to fit their biased or ignorant narratives. He finally opened up and when he did, he would not stop. This was when I started to record my family history, research, and interview my family, friends, and relatives.

3. Is this book a stand-alone, or is it part of a series? 

It’s going to be a trilogy: the first book is about my family’s pasts; the second is going to be about me growing up in Uptown, Chicago; and the third book is going to be about my struggle to find success and happiness against all odds.

4. Which character did you enjoy writing about the most? 

I enjoy writing about my father and mother, because I learn how much they have changed as human beings.

5. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

If you want to write, do it! Don’t let fear and procrastination get in the way. Just dive into it. You’ll learn a lot along the way. The end product will make it all worth it.

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