And Then There Were Three: Taking a Longer Break From Blogging

Back in June, I announced the arrival of a new member of the family.  I had intended to start blogging again in mid-July, but I am enjoying motherhood so much and want to make sure not to miss out on any of these precious moments with our bundle of (mostly) joy.  So while I fully intend on getting back to this blog and already have a pile of post ideas waiting to be written, I will not be getting back to it this summer.  A tentative date of fall 2016 has been set for a full return to blogging.  Until then, a sporadic book review, featured post, music review, or post on something particularly thought-provoking might make an appearance.  Any support for the blog in the form of sharing older posts would be much appreciated.  See you soon!

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And Then There Were Three: Taking a Short Break From Blogging

It happened; our family went from two to three!  It was, as expected, an intense and beautiful experience.  We are now settling into life as a family of three, learning how to function in such a way that the needs of all three members are met.

And so this is why this blog is going on a short, month-long hiatus.  There are going to be some music reviews going up on Mondays, some book reviews going up on Thursdays, and some featured posts on Saturdays (hey, a girl’s gotta read, and will do so extensively during the long hours feeding a newborn!)

Until 15 July, I wish those of you in the northern hemisphere a great beginning to the summer!

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

Book Review: ‘Candidate for Murder: A Mac Faraday Mystery’, by Lauren Carr

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

About the Book

It’s election time in Spencer, Maryland, and the race for mayor is not a pretty one. In recent years, the small resort town has become divided between the local year-round residents who have enjoyed their rural way of life and the city dwellers moving into their mansions, taking over the town council, and proceeding to turn Deep Creek Lake into a closed gate community—complete with a host of regulations for everything from speed limits to clothes lines.

When the political parties force-feed two unsavory mayoral nominees on the town residents, Police Chief David O’Callaghan decides to make a statement—by nominating Gnarly, Mac Faraday’s German shepherd, to run as mayor of Spencer!

What starts out as a joke turns into a disaster when overnight Gnarly becomes the front runner—at which point his political enemies take a page straight out of Politics 101. What do you do when you’re behind in a race? Dig up dirt on the front runner, of course.

Seemingly, someone is not content to rest with simply embarrassing the front runner by publicizing his dishonorable discharge from the United States Army, but to throw in a murder for good measure. With murder on the ballot, Mac Faraday and the gang—including old friends from past cases—dive in to clear Gnarly’s name, catch a killer, and save Spencer!

Book Review

Lauren Carr has put together another addictive page turner.  Featuring many of the characters in “Cancelled Vows”. It is yet another mystery that emerges from an unlikely place, rather than a good old fashioned case, which makes it all the more interesting to read.

The plot this time is entwined with the political life of the town of Spencer.  This provides Carr with the opportunity to delve into various topics related to politics, namely the corruption that is so intimately related with it as well as the frustrations of a populace who doesn’t feel taken care od by those whose job it is to do just that.  Another related topic she touches on is that of gentrification and it’s relationship with corrupt politics.

It is a sign of Carr’s writing and wit that yet again, the weight of the book doesnt become a drag.  Oftentimes it can feel like an author pads his or her book with awkwardly placed and phrased statements that are meant to make a point about a certain aspect of our society that turns out to be an interruption to the flow.  But Carr’s book is packed with thought provoking conversations that are such a natural part od the story that one only notoces them by the number of times one starts reflecting on the points raised and insights shared by the characters.

I have come to accept that Carr’s work will cost me more than a night’s sleep; she now owes me a good, strong mocha (or rather, three) instead.  Unless she finds oit that the sleepless nights were well worth it.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing
a copy of this book for me to review!

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Book Review: ‘The Wish Rider’, by Barbara Casey

About the Author

Reviews 2016 05 05 Book Review The Cadence of Gypsies Barbara CaseyOriginally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books where she is involved in acquisitions and day-to-day operations and oversees book production.

Ms. Casey’s two middle-grade/young adult novels, Leilani Zan and Grandma Jock and Christabelle (James C. Winston Publishing Co., Trade Division) were both nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award. Shyla’s Initiative (Crossquarter Publishing Group), a contemporary adult novel (occult romance/mystery), received a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and also an award of special literary recognition by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. The Coach’s Wife (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a novel for adults (contemporary/mystery), was semi-finalist for the 2005 Dana Award for Outstanding Novel and listed on the Publisher’s Best Seller List. The House of Kane (ArcheBooks Publishing), released in 2007, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination. Another contemporary novel for adults, Just Like Family, was released at Christmas 2009 when it received “Special Recognition from the 7-Eleven Corporation.” The Cadence of Gypsies, a novel written for new adults, was released in 2011 and was reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute for its List of Most Notable Books. Her novel for adults, The Gospel According to Prissy, received a 2013 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction. In 2016, Ms. Casey’s biography/true crime Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly was released as well as The Wish Rider, the sequel to her young adult book The Cadence of Gypsies.

About the Book

Reviews 2016 07 11 Book Review The Wish Rider CoverSeventeen-year-old Dara Roux and her two best friends, Mackenzie Yarborough and Jennifer Torres, the three collectively referred to as the F.I.G.’s (Females of Intellectual Genius) because each has an intelligence quotient in the genius range, have just returned from Frascati, Italy. It was there that their much loved teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, discovered that her birth parents were gypsies, and that she had a connection to the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world.

Now, with graduation from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women behind them, Dara asks her friends to help her locate her birth mother when she learns that she might be living in New York City. Relying on Dara’s gift for speaking and understanding foreign languages, the black and white images that stir musical cadences in Jennifer’s mind, and Mackenzie’s mathematical calculations that normally provide numerical solutions and answers to life’s most difficult questions, the determined young women tirelessly go from one address to another in search of Dara’s mother.

Their determination turns to desperation, however, as they encounter a dark hidden society more dangerous and terrifying than they could have imagined. It is there that Dara hopes to find out why she was abandoned in a candy store all those years ago.

Book Review

Heavy to read at the beginning, a large chunk of “The Wish Rider” goes over what happened in he prequel, “The Cadence of Gypsies”.  Actually, it’s more than going over—there is a lot of repetition, from character description to location description to historical information, at times feeling like a never-ending, redundant synopsis of the prequel more than anything else.  While its great for a first time reader, it becomes quite tedious for recent readers of the prequel.

Just like with “The Cadence of Gypsies”, there is a lot of interesting information to be learned about history as well as about certain locations featured in the book.  This time a lot of the information was based on various locations and historical details pertaining to New York City and its Grand Central Station.  I didn’t look up all this information to check its accuracy, but I’m assuming that author Barbara Casey did a lot of research before writing both books.

The emotions driving the story were tougher to get into than they were in “The Cadence of Gypsies” mainly because the context of the story wasn’t well fleshed out.  For example, at one point in the book, the main characters go somewhere dark and dangerous (which I am purposefully not describing in more detail for fear of spoiling the story).  But because the context wasn’t well-described, I didn’t get a feel for why the place was dark and dangerous and even just how dark and dangerous it was.  For that reason, the section of the book in question didn’t affect me emotionally as it should have.

Add to Bookshelf?

The previous tome was interesting enough and the next one has enough to potential to warrant adding to your bookshelf.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing a
copy of this book for me to review!

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

Mutual Support and Assistance in the Book Blogging World: My First Bloggiesta Experience

Bloggiesta September 2014I spent a large chunk of last weekend working on a list of blogging related tasks as part of Bloggiesta. Every couple of months, the website hosts an event during which a group of book bloggers take on certain tasks and complete them during a set number of days. Lists are posted on the website, mini-challenges are organised, and Twitter chats are attended.  By spending four days working at the same time on one’s blog, we can more easily connect with other book bloggers.  It aims to create an environment in which book bloggers can help each other in achieving goals.

While there are some limitations to online interactions as opposed to in person ones, Bloggiesta has been quite successful in creating an environment of mutual support and assistance. Bloggers commented on each other’s lists and offered not only encouragement, but advice. The Twitter chats were filled with good advice and encouragement, but also a good amount of healthy teasing (i.e. nothing close to bullying).

Another thing that I found interesting is how participants helped one another counteract any pressure to do things other than increasing the quality of their blog. This was quite significant, as statistics tend to become somewhat of an unhealthy obsession. There were quite a few conversations in which participants encouraged one another to focus on the book blogging, not on writing to get numbers up, knowing that the former would lead naturally to the latter. There was also a number of conversations focused on encouraging one another to remain polite, loving, and cheerful in the face of the abuse sometimes encountered at the hands of irate, frustrated authors.

All of this created a joyful environment in which both fun and light and profound and meaningful conversations happened, which in turn contributed to creating a space in which book bloggers could get back in touch with the reason they started blogging while at the same time, they gave and received honest advice on how they could improve their blogs.

Book blogging is already fun; you read and write about books. But book blogging within a group creates friendships which strengthen during intensive events like Bloggiesta. It also seems like thanks to these friendships, book bloggers are engaged in increasing numbers of enthusiastic conversations about their efforts, resulting in increased quality book blogs. It’s no wonder that participants return to Bloggiesta, and it’s no wonder then I will, too.

And now, onto NaNoWriMo!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 23 September 2014




5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

Did I Win? Some Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 came to a close on 30 November, but I was lucky enough to reach the goal a couple of days before. Although I don’t know if all of them will make the final cut, I managed to write over 50,000 words of the sequel to the Spirit Within Club. I had discussed at the beginning of the month how a great community can take all its members to places they never dreamed possible. I also reflected on how the internet allows an increasing number of people to be part of thousands of communities they would otherwise not even have access to. I also expressed the hope that the online NaNoWriMo community might trigger insights about the working of online communities in general.

Just like with my previous NaNoWriMo experience in 2008, it was quite enjoyable, to say the least. It was nice to have an objective I knew was being shared by so many others, and felt, in the forums, a sense of encouragement and mutual support. Writing blocks were quickly removed, and plot holes neatly filled by an online community of writers who, for the most part, had never met each other in person. I also loved e-meeting new authors. Should I be in a place where there are other NaNoWriMo-ers, I plan on meeting up with them at least once next year.

Winner-2014-Web-BannerI think it is also quite wise that the objective is not to come up necessarily with a last draft publication ready novel, but rather to put your first draft together. I worked on the sequel to the Spirit Within Club. I had prepared an outline prior to November, but realized halfway through the month that while I would be able to write 50,000 words, the book would need a lot of ironing. There are so many concepts packed in the second volume of this series that I found that most of my time taken up by research. How do you deal with the question of justice in the life of an eleven year-old Canadian child? How does a parent discipline one’s son who is misbehaving in a way that is empowering, rather than anger-inducing? How to you deal with an eleven year-old girl’s budding sexuality in a balanced, wise, moderate way? These are some heavy questions that I realized would have to wait a post NaNoWriMo life to answer, because my exponential progress had stalled halfway through the month.

Which brings up the question of how to participate in NaNoWriMo. I know that some fellow participants are most probably not going to make the 50,000 word goal because their writing methodology is not compatible with an initial burst of words that needs editing, sometimes heavy amounts of it. One friend of mine will rework a paragraph until it is perfect before moving on. He has yet to win NaNoWriMo, but he still participates every year and enjoys it very much. I feel he is much wiser than I am, having learned that the journey is much more important than the end result.

At times, I felt that my 2014 experience with NaNoWriMo reflects many lessons that all who have received a higher education have learned.   You have to prepare – the month-long writing is not something you can do in a vacuum. You have to prioritize – write the parts you know a lot about, and they will help you write the parts on the topics you don’t know much about. Working with some buddies who can reflect with you enhances the end result. But ultimately, you need to do what is best for you, engaging at a deep level in every aspect of writing your novel.

This year’s experience was completely different from the one I had six years ago, and each were enlightening in a different way. And with my first Bloggiesta experience earlier this year also quite successful (read about it here and here), it brings to mind that perhaps an online community can provide similar loving support as an “in real life” community.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 29 November 2014




5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 2 votes

Modern Gaming Thrives On Communities & Friendships

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about just how much my life has changed with regard to personal entertainment. I’ve never been too much of a “gamer,” per se, but when I did play video games I usually did so alone. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I always saw it as a pleasant way to relax and escape from the real world for an hour or so at a time. But in the past few years, even as my life has gotten busier, I’ve actually become more interested in gaming — and I’ve come to realize it’s because I don’t really do it alone anymore.

What I’m suggesting is something Sahar has actually already written about at some length. Specifically, I’m drawn to her description of participating in NaNoWriMo. Sahar discussed “how a great community can take all its members to places they never dreamed possible,” and how wonderful it was to have the interaction with and support of other writers in online forums. Indeed, this speaks to the nature of the internet as it has evolved. There are communities of strangers everywhere, and when they’re focused on a single purpose or like-minded pursuit, incredible things can happen.

I wouldn’t presume to suggest that completing video game missions is quite on the same level as finishing a 50,000 word novel in a month’s time — but it’s still an enjoyable pursuit! And while it’s strictly a hobby for me, I can’t help but draw a parallel between the way I now enjoy internet-connected video games and how writers experience NaNoWriMo. That is to say, there’s always a sense of community and support, and what was once a solo venture is now, in one respect or another, a team pursuit. There are a few different games I play, on completely different platforms, that illustrate this point.

The game in which I’ve enjoyed the greatest sense of community and collaboration is probably Marvel: Contest Of Champions, one of several mobile strategy gaming options from Kabam. In this game, the goal is to collect superheroes and villains from the Marvel comics (and films), and then fight with them in one-on-one battles. You can do so in special events, a “story mode,” versus battles against other users’ characters, or, most interestingly, through alliance quests and wars. Without any social interaction, it would actually be a fairly enjoyable fighting game — think Street Fighter, but with Wolverine instead of Ryu. With its social aspects, however, Marvel: Contest Of Champions becomes not only a communal experience but a place to make friends.

That’s not to say I’m ever going to meet up and grab coffee with the people in my Marvel alliance — but in a way, that’s the beauty of it! I’m in an alliance with 29 other people from all over the world. We strategize with each other, offer advice, share congratulations when things go well, and sometimes simply chat about whatever’s going on in life. One alliance member has had to walk away to handle his newborn baby so frequently that he’s now regularly asked how the little one is doing! Another found support in our alliance following a rough break-up. Ultimately, we’re just trying to take down computerized villains together, but in doing so we can enjoy a real bond. It’s truly unlike gaming experiences from five or 10 years ago.

Another platform on which I’ve found a lot of fun through community is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, online casino gaming. I’m not one for things like computer slot machines or roulette, necessarily, but not too long ago a friend directed me to Gala’s selection of chat bingo games, which frankly were unlike anything I was aware of online. It’s hard to describe them all under the same umbrella, but basically the idea is that a “chat host” runs a game that’s at least loosely related to bingo, while participants try to win by providing various responses in a sort of communal forum. The real-time interaction with other players mirrors the social experience of going out to a real bingo hall and goes a long way providing a larger sense of community for the gamers.

This is not a place where you’ll necessarily find the same partners and opponents every time you play, as is the case with Contest Of Champions, but I’ve found it enjoyable just because it so thoroughly enhances games that would be boring without input from other people. A particular favorite is “I Spy,” a title based on the childhood verbal game in which the host “spies with his little eye” a given object, and you and other players have to guess at what it is. It’s a little bit frenzied (in a good way), and it’s a lot of fun to guess along with others — particularly given that you’re playing for real prizes.

So, I’ve basically covered two completely different, but equally satisfying, types of collaborative gaming. Those being finding a full group of new friends through a game, and consistently interacting with new individuals to improve an otherwise unremarkable (at least to me) activity. But a conversation about modern video games and communities would probably be incomplete if I didn’t also mention console multiplayer options. And while I’ve dabbled in the likes of Call Of Duty, Fallout, Star Wars: Battlefront and the like, the ones that really stand out to me are the sports games.

Now, maybe that’s because I happen to be friends with a few rabid sports fans. Nonetheless, the likes of NBA 2k16 and FIFA 16 are wonderful in that they allow you to set up leagues, tournaments and the likes with other users – which can easily include your real world friends! You’re not interacting with anyone new in this case, but it’s still taking a solo activity and turning it into a way to hang out with your friends – which may just be the coolest thing about modern gaming, in the end. Personally, I can’t wait for NBA 2k17, with early reports suggesting that it might be the most impressive game yet in the series! I’ll be starting a league with friends soon after release.

Again, none of this is to suggest that playing games in a group is quite equal to writing an original novel. But in a way, the two subjects speak to the same concept: that the internet has done a remarkable job of fostering community-building across all different pursuits and aspects of entertainment. In my case, it’s turned gaming into a completely new activity, and one through which I constantly interact with other friendly people.

Larry Schnyder is a passionate blogger from New York. He is currently fulfilling his dream of being a freelance writer, writing on topics that interest him including technology and society. His hobbies include reading crime novels and playing video games with friends in his spare time. He also enjoys searching the City for “hole- in-the-wall” restaurants.

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Book Review: ‘Freshly Brewed’, by Pamela Ford

About the Author

Reviews 2016 07 11 Book Review Overwasy Pamela FordPamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot – and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

About the Book

Fresh BrewedBreanna Mitchell is on her way to a relaxing vacation at the ocean. Maybe she’ll even have a beachside fling to help her get over a recent breakup.

ut when a tropical storm makes her destination hotel uninhabitable, a chance encounter at continental breakfast delivers a fabulous option—with a catch. She and her friends can stay at a privately-owned, three-story oceanfront home—if she pretends to be the girlfriend of the owner’s heartbreaker grandson, Ethan. Since he won’t even be there, how hard could it be?

Everything is going swimmingly until Bree drinks too much wine and regales the family with romantic tales about her relationship with Ethan. His adorable brother Adam gets suspicious. His marriage-minded grandma gets engagement fever. The beautiful woman next door gets teary-eyed.

And then, Ethan unexpectedly arrives. Suddenly Bree is about to get everything she’s ever wished for—but is it what she really wants?

Book Review

More believable than its predecessor, Pamela Ford’s “Fresh Brewed” brings back the characters from “Overeasy” with a small switch in roles.  This time the story focuses on Bree while Allie takes a back seat to the action.  Bree’s story is quite different and a little more believable than Allie’s, which makes this series all the more readable—nothing like an obvious copy-paste to discourage me from reading the second book in a series!  But not only the story is different, the main character is also quite different, although she and Allie share one major thing in common that kept both their stories going: the ability to make the wrong decision again and again.

A cute, fun, well-written and engaging quick read, Bree’s story is that of a series of unfortunate decisions, not a series of unfortunately events like Allie’s was.  Although I chuckled my way through the book, I have to admit that I also rolled my eyes a few times and groaned a many others as well.  I can’t help but wonder: do people like this actually exist?

There are two complaints I have, but they are not major enough for me to not recommend this book.  The first is that lack of deep enough realisation like Allie had; long time readers of my blog know how I like me some sort of deeper level understanding to emerge from any book that I read.  The second complaint is that although we get to meet a fun new character who will be featured in a future book, we don’t get to see Allie or Megan, Bree’s sidekicks who were also present in the first book featuring Allie’s adventure, as much as I’d like to.  But, again, these are minor quibbles that don’t take much away from the reading experience.

Add to Bookshelf?

If you are looking for an easy, fun, unrealistic read, then yes.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing a
copy of this book for me to review!


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Book Recommendation: ‘Life Unaware’, by Cole Gibsen

Happy Sunday! As you ready yourself for another great week, are you wondering what book to take along with you on your commute? Take a peek at this week’s recommended commute companion!

‘Life Unaware’, by Cole Gibsen

Review here.

Purchase here.

Author website here.


Life Unaware by Cole GibsenRegan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success: cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.


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Blog Review: ‘Texas Sweet Tea’ by Sarah Morrison

Name: Sarah Morrison
Blog Reviewed: Texas Sweet Tea
Her favourite post:

There is something definitely sweet about the look on Sarah’s blog, Texas Sweet Tea, straight from the moment you land on her home page.  The palette is both feminine and unique—where most bloggers choose pink and gold, Sarah went with a couple of tinges of pastel blue, which, combined with the pictures used, the fonts picked, and her signature, combine into an overall feminine, sweet, and unique feel.

Just like with so many other blog however, the site is hard to navigate.  The top menu only includes three options, the home page, an about page, and a contact page.  There is thankfully a widget on the right hand sidebar that allows for navigation directly to posts sorted in seven categories: advice, college, DIY, fashion, Greek life, lifestyle, and OOTD.

I don’t have a particularly favorite category but in this case, it’s for a good reason: I really enjoy Sarah’s writing style.  Turns out that she is that friend that makes just about anything sound fun—the friend you find yourself talking about the most boring topic as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.  It makes for quite an eye opening experience in that readers will be drawn into reading posts about topics they might otherwise have skimmed over.  This puts quite a bit of responsibility on Sarah’s shoulders, but it looks like she is well on her way to fulfilling it brilliantly.

You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Add to your blog reader?

Definitely worth a look!

Update: This is the 31st blog review posted on Sahar’s Blog
since the summer of 2015.  I was hoping this feature
would generate interest in the blogs reviewed.
But although a lot of love and energy go into
each review, it isn’t yielding enough
interest by either the bloggers reviewed or
my readers to warrant continuing.  And so, the
remaining seven blogs I promised to review will be the last
ones, of the Blog Review feature.  It’s been a great ride and, should interest be generated again in the future, I will reconsider my decision!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 4 June 2016

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

Book Review: Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

I have been a fan of Mary Higgins Clark for many years now, and a new book release is always cause for celebration. In Shadow of Your Smile, her newest one, Mary Higgins Clark manages yet again to flawlessly weave a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Monica Farell’s father spent his life searching for his biological parents, but to no avail; he passed away without ever finding them. Thirty-one year-old Monica isn’t particularly concerned with her biological heritage; after all, her own family is everything she could have asked for. On top of that, the demands of her job as a beloved and successful pediatrician don’t leave much time for anything else.

But her biological heritage catches up with her. Her biological grandmother, Catherine, told only a handful of people about her pregnancy, which occurred right before she entered a convent to become a nun. Since that fateful day, Catherine and most of the secret holders have passed on. The only secret holder left is Olivia, Catherine’s cousin and adoptive sister. Olivia has in her possession letters proving the latter is Monica’s grandmother. She has kept this knowledge safe throughout her life but now, the 82 year-old is on her deathbed. Faced with at best two to three weeks, she has to decide: will she share what she knows with Monica, or take it with her to the grave?

The situation is delicate for many reasons. Telling Monica who she really is entails Olivia betraying Catherine’s wishes by revealing the story behind Monica’s ancestry. As a nun, Catherine has served the cause of children as a nun during most of her life and is being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church when a four-year-old boy diagnosed with terminal brain cancer is miraculously cured after his desperate mother organized a prayer crusade to Catherine. Curiously enough, this little boy’s pediatrician is none other than Monica Farell. While there have been rumours of this child before, Catherine’s good name had, up to then, kept the gossips at bay.

There is also the fact that Monica Farell would stand to inherit all of her grandfather’s holdings — or whatever is left of them. After his adventure with Catherine, Alex Gannon became a internationally renown doctor, a scientist at the cutting edge of his field and the inventor of numerous hip & knee prosthetic replacements. Alex Gannon knew about the child Catherine carried and gave away, but was never able to find out the identity of said child. However, in the hopes that, one day, his fortune would return to his rightful heir, a stipulation in his will and testament clearly states that were his biological child ever to be found, the Gannon fortune will go to it or it’s descendants.

But while Alex Gannon and his direct biological descents are hardworking, honest people, the inheritors of his estate certainly are not. Alex Gannon’s nephews have been squandering their uncle’s fortune, and there is almost nothing left of it. Greg and Peter Gannon hid their inclination towards extravagance with philanthropy, but their carefully constructed public image is falling apart. Thankfully, no one knows about Gannon’s biological child and the one who did know had no intention of sharing the information — until Olivia found out she was dying.

Unfortunately, Olivia confides in the wrong person. Since there is no money left, and since their public image would be ruined were the truth to come out, neither nephew wants anyone to come poking around in their finances — something that would certainly happen were Monica to be identified as Alex Gannon’s descendant.

How do you solve a problem like Monica? You get rid of both the cause and the source, i.e. Monica and Olivia — permanently.

It’s not for nothing that Mary Higgins Clark is known as the Queen of Mystery. The author of twenty-eight previous suspense novels, all of which have been best-sellers, she once again delivers a flawless book that bit by bit builds tension, bringing together a collection of people who would have otherwise never met. And the years have been kind to her writing, as its quality been steadily increasing. Not only has the level of intricacy of her stories increases, but the number of themes covered in her stories has also been increasing. In Shadow of Your Smile, Monica struggles with the seeming conflicting concepts of religion and science, in particular medical science, as well as the definition of what one’s identity is and entails.

Another great piece of literature, a great travel companion that is bound to make summertime traveling a lot easier, since you won’t notice the time passing while you read it.

Just make sure you don’t miss your flight.

First published here on Blogcritics.
First publishing on Sahar’s Blog on 8 June 2013.

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Book Review: ‘OverEasy’, by Pamela Ford

About the Author

Reviews 2016 07 11 Book Review Overwasy Pamela FordPamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot – and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

About the Book

OverEasyAllie Parker’s had enough. Just because she’s a dog groomer, her overachieving family of doctors and lawyers treats her like a child. She’s convinced that a successful husband is all she needs to change their attitudes. So when she and her friends come up with a brilliant new way to meet eligible men, Allie squeezes into her sister’s stylish clothes and sneaks into continental breakfast at an upscale hotel to find herself the perfect guy.

Before Allie has taken her last bite of syrup-laden waffle, she’s met the man of her dreams. But what she doesn’t know is that he’s a jewel thief who mistakenly thinks she’s his contact—and so does everyone else who’s after his stash of diamonds.

Suddenly Allie’s world is crazily upended. And as she scrambles to prove her innocence and get back to her old life, she discovers happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it.

Book Review

Well written, engaging, with a great flow and no hiccups of any sort that distracted from my reading, Pamela Ford’s “Overeasy” features a main character that is quite likable and sidekicks intriguing enough that the idea of sequels featuring them is appealing.  It is not meant to be a serious book; it’s a beach chick flick read, after all, featuring a series of incredible and sometimes hilarious events that build into an overall fun story that will leave readers shaking their heads incredulously.

But there are still some things that can be gleaned while reading this book.  For example, it can hit readers how the main character is 28 years-old and yet unable to take ownership of her career decision.  Sure her family isn’t happy with her being a dog groomer, but that was a decision she herself took.  It begs the question: if Allie was truly satisfied with her life, would her family’s disapproval weight that heavily on her?

Allie is hit with a realisation at the end of the book which I am purposefully not explaining here.  This realisation had great potential with regards to opening readers’ eyes.  However, it kind of came out of the blue and wasn’t too well explained, which is unfortunate as its impact becomes a little diffuse.

The ending was surprisingly real, despite the surreal nature of Allie’s overall experience.  Things in life rarely end cleanly; there are always loose ends and this to me made the book all the more enjoyable.

Add to Bookshelf?

If you are looking for an easy, fun, unrealistic read, then yes.

Thank you to iReads Book Tours for providing a
copy of this book for me to review!



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