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Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

[ 0 ] December 19, 2014

not that kind of girl book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Not That Kind of Girl is a collection of stories and essays, biographical in nature, by actress/artist Lena Dunham. The book gives us a peek into Lena’s life and how she coped with everything from finding love and being in relationships, to being lonely and obsessed with weight, as well as various other experiences that are so bizarre, they couldn’t be made up.

Lena takes us on a journey through “taboo” experiences that just about every female has gone thru, such as losing your virginity and exploring your own sexuality. She teaches us that these things are just a part of life and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting until you find what does or doesn’t work for you as an individual. She also about being accepting of people who choose a way that doesn’t necessarily match the way that works for you.

As the book progressed, I felt like her character in “Girls”, the HBO series, is essentially a portrayal of her own self. By the way she tells us about her life, it’s mostly a matter of changing the names of the people around her rather than changing any personality traits or events that transpired. She’s the type of girl I’d love to know one minute, but would be exasperated to the point of wanting to strangler her the next minute. There were a few stories she told that made me wonder about boundaries and about the presence, or maybe lack thereof, of her parents. Either way, Lena apparently has no shame, is utterly unapologetic, and there’s definitely not a dull moment around Lena whether you like it or not.

Not That Kind of Girl is a rather curious biography, but it was intriguing and refreshingly honest. There are a full range of evoking moments that will make your jaw drop, put you into a depression, and make you giggle snort in surprise. (Which my co-workers must be wondering about as I listened via Audible while I was at work.) Love her or hate her, agree or disagree, Lena Dunham is blunt and honest, and I think that’s something to be respected.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Libby Morgan by Leah Zieber

[ 1 ] December 19, 2014

libby morgan book coverPlease join Leah Zieber, author of Libby Morgan: Reunion, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Reviewed by Charity Lyman

Today I have a review for a young adult book, Libby Morgan: Reunion. This isn’t my normal reading genre but as I have a teenager in the house, this looked to be right up her alley. So, I will give my thoughts but also include feedback from my daughter since she is the prime audience for this book. And believe me, she loved it and finished it in a day! More precisely, she devoured the book in about four hours. As you can tell, she is an avid reader.

True to the title, the story centers around a young lady named Libby Morgan. She is the twelve year old daughter of a family of seamstresses. Libby, however, only has rudimentary sewing skills–definitely nowhere near what her mother and grandmother can do. In this first novel of the American Heritage Quilt Series, we see Libby enter her thirteenth year and take a trip to visit her grandmother in Connecticut. We see history through the eyes of a young girl as she learns about her family’s past and present.

First of, I was very impressed with the writing style of the author. Leah Zieber writes novels that are on a teenage level but that I still found interesting. It isn’t childish in any way so your teenager will get the feel of an adult book without having to worry about mature materials. Libby is shown as having her faults and troubles but I quickly fell in love with her. She is loyal, mature and even though she is impatient, she is trying to better herself. I liked her fondness for her grandmother and her love of history. She is respectful and has a good relationship with her parents, a hard thing to find in a book nowadays. Overall, an excellent story!

Thoughts from my teenager: I really liked Libby Morgan and her mother. She has a lot of fun and sees a lot of the world. Libby is somewhat like I am, mischievous and full of laughter. One thing I really liked was how the quilt tied into the story. I can’t wait to read the next story in the American Heritage Quilt Series!!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided by Leah Zieber. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Fleeting Chance by Sherban Young

[ 3 ] December 18, 2014

fleeting chance book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield

Sherban Young has crafted a witty and entertaining mystery within the pages of Fleeting Chance. Young’s characters are both familiar and original. The mystery begins on a luxury yacht during a high-stakes poker game. Someone falls overboard, someone dies, and the yacht experiences mechanical issues. On top of the events of the mystery, the narrator is at a loss as to how he could lose when he was holding a perfect poker hand. This is just the beginning of Sherban Young’s Fleeting Chance.

The narrator, John (Johnny) Hathaway, is not the detective. Johnny observes. He sees things as a regular person might see them, yet his interpretations hint at another way of seeing the same scene as he has learned from his mentor, Enescu Fleet. Johnny has a tendency to be long-winded in thought. He combs over the events leading to his situation. Each rumination tends to bring forth a bit more memory into the proceedings of the infamous night.

Enescu Fleet is a detective’s detective. He is sharp-eyed, insightful, cunning, resourceful, and rather quiet. Fleet has a way of showing up at the perfect time and many of those times are to Johnny’s benefit. The reader is in Johnny’s head from the start of the book to the end, but the rare glimpses into Fleet’s thoughts are golden.

This is my first Enescu Fleet Mystery Book though I did not feel lost within Fleet’s world. Sherban Young does a good job introducing his repeat characters, Fleet, Johnny and others, without going into too much detail. Young develops characters throughout the book showing each character’s strengths, weaknesses, and possible culpability to crime. Not being a card player, I found the poker references trying at times, but the overall mystery and subplots helped to alleviate the card playing digressions.

My interest in the novel was not only grabbed by the main mystery, but also by the subplots. I wanted to know more about what Fleet’s daughter, Ate, Johnny’s best friend, Hutton, and Johnny’s fiancé, Lesley, were up to, why were they being coy about their time in town while Johnny and Fleet went off to their yacht, and why were they being mysterious throughout the story. All in all, Fleeting Chance was a lively tale. I enjoyed Young’s novel as an entertaining escape into a witty mystery.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sherban Young. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: Butterfly Stitching by Shermin Kruse

[ 5 ] December 18, 2014

butterfly stitching book coverI have a copy of Butterfly Stitching by Shermin Kruse to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

Butterfly Stitching is an intriguing ethnic fictional tale that explores post-revolution Iran through mixing narrative and screenplay formats, as well as changing perspectives and time periods. The tale follows two remarkable women, a mother and daughter, who must overcome political horrors, encounters with secret police and a forbidden romance, all of which increase their determination to flee the country in a nail-biting thriller.

An Iranian-American , Kruse, known for her work as a lawyer at Barack Ferrazzano along with her regular advice column for Chicago Lawyer, is passionate about creating awareness of the oppression in Iran while shedding light on the hypocrisies of Iran in American culture.

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Giveaway: The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal

[ 9 ] December 18, 2014

the anatomy lesson book coverI have 2 copies of The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal to give away!

Open to US and Canada residents only

About the book

A single day in Amsterdam, 1632. The Surgeons’ Guild has commissioned a young artist named Rembrandt to paint Dr. Nicolaes Tulp as he performs a medical dissection. In the swirl of anticipation and intrigue surrounding the event, we meet an extraordinary constellation of men and women whose lives hinge, in some way, on Dr. Tulp’s anatomy lesson. There is Aris the Kid, the condemned coat thief whose body is to be used for the dissection; Flora, his pregnant lover; Jan Fetchet, the curio dealer who acquires corpses for the doctor’s work; the great René Descartes, who will attend the dissection in his quest to understand where the human soul resides; and the Dutch master himself, who feels a shade uneasy about this assignment.

As the story builds to its dramatic conclusion, circumstances conspire to produce a famous painting—and an immortal painter. Vividly rendered, masterfully written, The Anatomy Lesson is a story of mind and body, death and love—and redemptive power of art.

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Review: Claudine by Barbara Palmer

[ 2 ] December 17, 2014

claudine book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

In order to help pay for her Yale graduate education, Maria Lantos chooses a career that is very profitable, but not respectable in society. Maria moonlights as a high profile, high class escort named Claudine. Claudine is well-known, talented, sexy, highly sought after and gorgeous. Her clients love her, reward her with huge sums of money, travel opportunities and spread the word of her charms. Maria is able to afford not only her Ivy League education, but also enjoys an affluent lifestyle complete with a full time assistant, Lillian, a luxury apartment in New York and personal bodyguard, Andrei. Living and working as Claudine has proven to be very successful for Maria over the years but her life soon takes a frightening turn after a young woman, who looks strikingly like her, is found brutally murdered.

The murder of the young prostitute reeks of warnings to Claudine (and Maria) yet Maria at first refuses to put her professional life on hold due to threats, even though they are very real and very dangerous. Against the urgings of Lillian and Andrei, Claudine will continue. When the threats begin to manifest on Claudine’s travels and hit close to home, Maria begins to question every client and connection. Maria’s horrific past, time spent in a Russian orphanage and her estranged relationship with her ice cold adoptive mother all seem to play a part, but she is unable to initially make the connection to her tormenter. Maria soon sees that she cannot keep her life as Claudine in the shadows anymore or remain untouchable as she once thought herself to be.

Claudine is an exciting adult novel; it is risqué, exotic and full of suspense and intrigue. Author Barbara Palmer, who writes under a pen name, spins a sexy, scandalous and engaging story. The relationships highlighted in the story, particularly between Maria and Andrei are relatable and intense; the conversations in the story flow just as well as the suspense. Fans of erotic fiction and suspense fans alike will be placed under Claudine’s spell like so many of her clients. The story will keep the reader guessing until the very end and the twists and turns will truly seduce throughout the novel.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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