Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.




My Review

What would a Russian dictator's daughter think of living in America? It's an apt question both in our time and in the post-World War II setting of this novel, when Josef Stalin's pride and joy, his dear Lana, seeks refuge in New York City. Everyone knows who she is, she can't hide. Yet the infamy that surrounds her family doesn't seem to bother her. When she's gawked at from the moment she enters the illustrious Rainbow Room, she readily admits afterward that she loved every second of it.

Fame is a fickle thing, especially when you're known not for something you did, but for your last name. Lana laughs when good-hearted people in Nebraska and Kansas write to her, offering to adopt her. Yet the only person in America she experiences some sense of kinship with is the "supposedly" exiled Polish writer, Jerzy Kosinski. After seeing his wild eyes on a book jacket, she knew that she'd found her soul mate.

The two of them never become romantically involved, but they sure act like a squabbling couple. Lana's father was notorious for playing mind games with her, kind to her one minute, and cruel the next. Stalin's bipolar behavior is what Lana's accustomed to in a man. So when she says about Jerzy, "It was my misfortune in America that Jurek revived this addiction and made it worse. I was drawn to him and his maddening games." It doesn't bode well for the two of them.

Since they're both, in essence, Stalin's children. Jerzy admits that he could never relate to American heroes like Patton or Eisenhower because the Russians were the ones who saved his skin from the Germans. However, replacing one oppressive regime with another doesn't seem to bring any source of relief, even though that's what he wholeheartedly believes, illustrating the way that he thinks. No one is going to change him.

Lana recognizes this quality in him. She knows that beneath his calm demeanor, he's screaming inside, and she knows why. At any moment, the Kremlin could snatch her off the streets and send her back to the motherland. While Jerzy is convinced that the Polish secret police are out to get him. They're both paranoid, walking a tightrope they willingly stretch between them.

Recognizing the dark side in each other, they are, in fact, children of war. They hate what they've become, yet they can't stay away from it, either. As Lana adds, "His love was shot through with hate. He clawed at my weaknesses while he held my hand."

Some soul mate.

***

Jerzy can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Historical, Jewish
Pages: 240
Release: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781942658146
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Excerpt

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.



About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories, I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel. Among other honors, he has been longlisted for the PEN Award for Biography, honored as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

David E. Grogan - Sapphire Pavilion - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Steve Stilwell’s former Navy JAG Corps buddy Ric Stokes has been jailed for possession of heroin in Vietnam. He was found in the same room with his traveling companion Ryan Eversall, dead of an overdose and in the company of a prostitute. Steve knows his friend is a straight arrow. Was he set up? If so, for what reason? Steve travels to Ho Chi Minh City in search of the truth. In no time Steve is targeted by the people who framed his friend. A beautiful young American businesswoman insinuates her way into the case. Can she really help, or is she just a dangerous distraction? Ric and Ryan came to Vietnam in search of an Air Force transport plane that disappeared in 1968. The pilot was Ryan’s father. Before the heroin bust, they had located the wreckage. Ryan’s notebook, which Steve manages to obtain, spells out the exact location. Ryan’s widow has given Steve’s associate Casey another piece of valuable evidence, a file labeled “Sapphire Pavilion.” Someone is willing to go to any lengths to steal both the notebook and the file. From Virginia and Texas to DC and Vietnam, powerful, all-seeing forces with unlimited resources are determined to bury the truth about Sapphire Pavilion. But they have grossly underestimated Steve Stilwell and his associate Casey, a former Army pilot who lost her leg in a helo accident. And the ability to inspire loyalty wherever you go can come in handy when danger lurks behind every corner.




My Review

This book is set in Vietnam.

The American author wrote it while in Vietnam.

And that's why I like it.

It's an authentic portrayal of an oft misunderstood place and it shows how it is right now, today. The author could've relied on his imagination, secondhand research, TV, movies, the Internet, etc. But he chose not to. Instead, he did the legwork and brought current day Vietnam to life from his own personal perspective. And let me tell you, it makes for a much more interesting read.

I felt like I could trust him, and what he was showing me. The ever present bribery. The oppressive heat. The crowded streets of a bustling Saigon. What he saw and felt, he was letting me see and feel too. And from one American to another, he was giving me a glimpse of the generational effects that the war has had on both countries. There's a great line that I just have to quote that comes from the point of view of Steve, the American lawyer/tourist and how he views his young Vietnamese motorcycle driver, Phan.
"Keenly aware that he was insanely wealthy compared to Phan - made him appreciate Phan's willingness to reach across the divide to help him even more. He offered to help at a basic human level."
The encounter begs the question: Is Phan more open minded because he was born after the war?

Because in a similar exchange Steve has with an older woman in a public park, he gets a much different reaction.
"The woman's hostile glare stayed with him reminding him Americans weren't the only ones scarred by the Vietnam War."
It's interesting that even in America today, many feel the up and coming generation is more tolerant of differences and displays more initiative to help others, even people who look different from them. It's an encouraging sign that the author noticed this in Vietnam too. It seems that the youth of both countries are able to look beyond the past and see a brighter future of cooperation and hope.

And that's what I'll take away from this book. Thanks to an author who was considerate enough to bring these two encounters to light, and what they meant to him. Whether they're fictional, based on real life, or a little bit of both—it's all good.

***

Sapphire Pavilion can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 280
Release: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603816038
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

David E. Grogan was born in Rome, New York, and was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from the College of William & Mary in Virginia with a B.B.A. in Accounting, he began working for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co., in Houston, Texas, as a Certified Public Accountant. He left Arthur Andersen in 1984 to attend the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, graduating in 1987. He earned his Masters in International Law from The George Washington University Law School and is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Grogan served on active duty in the United States Navy for over 26 years as a Navy Judge Advocate. He is now retired, but during the course of his Navy career, he prosecuted and defended court-martial cases, traveled to capitals around the world, lived abroad in Japan, Cuba and Bahrain, and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf onboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. His experiences abroad and during the course of his career influence every aspect of his writing. Sapphire Pavilion is his second novel. His first was The Siegel Dispositions.

Grogan’s current home is in Savoy, Illinois, where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their dog, Marley. He has three children.

Links to connect with David:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, March 6, 2017

Kate Bloom - The Legend of the Dwarf - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Ever Trollkiller is a young dwarf, twenty-three years old, who had lived her entire life in an isolated cave far away from the dwarven kingdom. She lives with twelve other dwarves who have raised her in complete isolation, keeping the surviving dwarves a secret from the rest of the word. They hide form Terrisino, the Great and Evil Sorcerer, who demolished their kingdom a quarter century ago. But when Ever accidentally meets an elf, she decides that she is no longer satisfied with the stories she hears from her clan. She decides to seek out the mysterious elf so that he might show her the world. But it isn’t long before she realizes that the freedom of the world and the future of the races of elves, men, and dragons will soon end like the dwarven race. Orcs run rampant in the land, killing innocents and plundering the villages. Strange creatures are given rise as they bring death to those who dare harbor the dwarf that they seek. Evil men lie in wait till they might strike. And each of them is allied under Terrisino himself. The stories of hope reach Ever. The stories of legends that all center around one strange dwarf who is destined to defeat Terrisino and ensure the freedom to the world. Convinced that she is the dwarf of legend, she unites with the unlikely company of men, sorcerers, elves, and dragons to save the races and discover who she is.




My Review

It's not easy growing up as a refugee.

Even if you happen to be a dwarf, living in the Earth of Eald.

However, the parallels ring true to reality. When roots are stripped away, there's nothing left to ground you to your heritage. You're not where you're supposed to be, the place where you belong. You're just wherever you ended up in order to escape persecution. You didn't choose to end up in a certain place, you just did.

So how does a young dwarven woman like Ever cope? Her mother fled their homeland when she was pregnant with her, only to die, leaving her - not only an orphan - but the last surviving child of their doomed race. She went through her entire childhood without anyone her age to socialize with. Being around adults all the time made her long for the experiences they talked about, the ones of home, the ones she'll never have.

Until she decides to runaway and find out for herself what remains of their forsaken kingdom.

But there's just one problem. She's never ventured far from the safety of their cavelike dwellings. She knows nothing of the world since she's been hidden away her whole life with just a dozen or so other dwarves for company. That's it. That's all she's ever been exposed to. And she knows that if she leaves, something big is going to happen. She just doesn't expect what awaits her to be as monumental a mission as it turns out to be.

For Ever discovers that not only does everyone think that dwarves are extinct, but she carries the fate of the entire world on her tiny shoulders. From marshlands to dragon lairs, she is hunted, haunted by a psychic vision of a dark sorcerer who wants to, in his words, "Kill the dwarf!"

Oh boy, what has Ever gotten herself into? You'll just have to read the first of these fantastical tales to find out.

***

The Legend of the Dwarf can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $15.00 ebook, $15.00 paperback
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 260
Release: December 18, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781540574176
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Kate Bloom is a tenacious and edgy millennial with a BS in English and history, giving her a knack for story-telling. As a fantasy writer, her mind is constantly running wild in fictional worlds, such as that of her first project, Alice in Dreamland (kindle2016). Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1994, and where she has lived her entire life, Kate found the dry dessert scenery to grow tiresome to look at. She found her escape in the fantastical worlds that played out in her head. She has fallen in love with the idea of putting those worlds in print so that everyone else might see those worlds as well.

Links to connect with Kate:
Web Site
Facebook
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A. Keith Carreiro - The Penitent - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

A baby is born and placed in his dead mother's arms. When the funeral shroud is cast over her, his father decides to name his son Pall. It will soon become a name that strikes a shiver into the hearts of those who hear it in combat. A lone survivor on a battlefield many years later, Pall dazedly recovers from the wounds of war. Despite the dead cast about him, everything he looks upon is unfamiliar to him. Wandering away from this scene of carnage, he encounters John Savage, a giant of a man who puts Pall within the sight of Savage's seven–foot, nocked longbow. What ensues from this deadly encounter is an elusive journey for truth. Yet, it is haunted not just by a ravening demon that is out to destroy Pall and John, but by the vision of a startling beautiful young woman protecting Pall from afar.




My Review

The year 2156 is a frightening place. Probably because it looks more like a scene out of earth's feudal past than a promising glimpse into the future. In fact, it reminded me of something you might see in a "Walking Dead" episode, where the strongest humans enjoy picking off the weakest one by one, while making them suffer. Existence in this land is a day-to-day, minute-by-minute game of survival.

But evil doesn't just lurk in the hearts of men. Oh no, it takes a definite physical presence in the form of the supernatural creature called Unger, a black serpent that can break off into multiple animal shapes to devour human life in "a high mass of death." This demon-like entity is as unforgiving as it is scary. Once it has a human in its sights, watch out because there's no getting away from it.

Yet there exists a ray of hope in all this gloom in a boy named Pall. He seems to have the power of heaven on his side when an angel appears to him, rescuing him from danger with its song. Not to mention how he's guarded by a forest full of illuminated trees, shielding him against the encroaching terrors of darkness.

The power of unspoiled nature, itself, delivers him from his enemies, granting him mercy from the sort "who take grim satisfaction at the fear they put in men's eyes."

So when Pall utters an ancient plea for help, his prayer is heard and answered from above. And what a comforting thought, that is. He's not alone, and therefore, neither are we, as we travel with him on this perilous journey.

There's a higher power watching over the good people who are left in Pall's world (and hopefully in ours, too).

***

The Penitent can be purchased at:
Amazon
Lulu

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $13.99 paperback
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 254
Release: November 1, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781365287077
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

A. Keith Carreiro earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the sequential help and guidance of three advisors, Dr. Vernon A. Howard, Dr. Donald Oliver and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Israel Scheffler. Keith’s academic focus, including his ongoing research agenda, centers upon philosophically examining how creativity and critical thinking are acquired, learned, utilized and practiced in the performing arts. He has taken his findings and applied them to the professional development of educational practitioners.

Earlier in his teaching career he was a professor of educational foundations, teaching graduate students of education at universities in Vermont, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Bridgewater State University, as well as teaching English, philosophy, humanities and public speaking courses at Bristol Community College.

He lives in Swansea, Massachusetts with his wife Carolyn. They have six children and 13 grandchildren. They belong to an eighty–five–pound golden retriever, an eight–pound Maltese, and an impish Calico cat.

Due to his love of family, he has seen his fervor for history, as well as his passion for wondering about the future, deepen dramatically.

Starting on May 23rd until October 9th of 2014, he sat down at his computer on a daily basis and began writing the first book of a science fiction/fantasy thriller in a beginning series about the quest for human immortality.

Links to connect with A. Ketih:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Friday, February 3, 2017

Bonnie M. Hennessy - Twisted - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened. The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back. With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day. Well almost… Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber. This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out. Not until Aoife came along.




My Review

In a fairy tale, the forest is usually a place to be feared. But not for Aoife. For her, it's her sanctuary—a place she goes not to become as bitter as her mother. Among the sturdy trees, she's able to find something much more dependable than her father. In her heart, she knows that nature will always be there for her.

Or at least, the infamous little man with the big name will be.

Unbeknownst to Aoife, Rumpelstiltskin has been her faithful companion during her outdoor jaunts. When she almost drowned in a pool of water, he was the one who jumped in and saved her. But he's never shown himself to her.

Until now.

All because a rival for her attention has arrived on the scene—a handsome duke who wants to marry her.

Aoife knows she going to need the little man's help, if she's to escape marrying the duke. But he's curious to see how she will react once she finally sees his face.

And unfortunately they both end up disappointed.

For a second, Aoife fights her repulsion and allows herself to imagine what it would be like to take him up on his offer and agree to live in his warm, safe, peaceful cottage in the woods. She's never known what it's like to be cared for and appreciated, and she's quick to dismiss the notion. Suspicious of his motives, it's hard for her to believe that all he wants from her is her company.

During the stolen moments he's had with her in the woods, she knows he's seen all of her—the good and the bad. And she can't believe, that now that he's aware of every single one of her flaws, he'd really give so much and ask for so little in return.

And sadly, her lack of faith in him causes everything to unravel, setting into motion a chain of events that will tragically end with the death of one of them.

TWISTED is a fresh, gripping take on a classic childhood tale—similar to "Beauty and the Beast" but with a much more poignant ending, one that will make you stop and think: what is love?


***

Twisted can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
Pages: 306
Release: November 11, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781539753421
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.

Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story.

Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media.

Links to connect with Bonnie:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Goodreads


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