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Archive for the ‘3 Star Books’ Category

Aphra Behn: A Secret Life

The Secret Life of Aphra Behn by Janet Todd

Aphra Behn (1640-1689), poet, playwright, novelist, traveller and spy, was the first woman to earn her living as a writer. This biography uses recently-discovered documents in England and the Netherlands to unmask this elusive author whose works include The Rover, The Fair Jilt, Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister, and The Forc’d Marriage.

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 Janet Todd

Author’s Bio

Janet Margaret Todd is a Welsh-born academic and a well-respected author of many books on women in literature. Todd was educated at Cambridge University and the University of Florida, where she undertook a doctorate on the poet John Clare.

She is currently the Herbert JC Grierson Professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen. On 1 September 2008, Professor Todd took up the post of President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She is the seventh President of the college.

Janet Todd’s research concerns literature and culture of the Restoration and eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Over a long career, primarily in the US and the UK at Cambridge University, University of East Anglia, Glasgow University and University of Aberdeen, she has published and contributed to more than 38 books, mainly on women’s writing, cultural history and the development of fiction. She also edited full scale editions of Mary Wollstonecraft (with Marilyn Butler) and Aphra Behn, as well as individual works of women such as Helen Maria Williams, Mary Shelley, Mary Carleton and Eliza Fenwick.

She is the General Editor of the nine-volume The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen, editing the volume Jane Austen in Context and co-editing Persuasion and Later Manuscripts.

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My Review

3 Stars

Aphra Behn is the first woman to make her living as a writer of plays during the Restoration period. But the knowledge of her is very limited because over her years she had many versions of herself that she told from her parents, her name, and such. Janet Todd has done a great job of filling in the possibilities of Aphra’s life from what is known. But with intense review of her work, Janet Todd has done a great job of putting together a story about Aphra.

Aphra was many things over her years and a study in complete opposites seemed to be the main thing. She wrote plays, translated books, was a spy, loved both men and women, and although she was famous she also wanted her privacy. But the thing I liked the best about her was that she didn’t knuckle down to the critics and the men that expected her to write a specific way just because she was a woman.

Janet Todd does break down Alpha’s plays but I’m sorry to admit that I don’t mind reading things but when you start analyzing them like a high school English class my mind shuts off. I did think this was a well written story of Aphra Behn and it introduced me to an author that I had never heard of before.

I received The Secret Life of Aphra Behn from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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The Trial of Prisoner 043 by Terry Jastrow

What Would Happen If George W. Bush Were Prosecuted for War Crimes?

On a glorious autumn morning in St. Andrews, Scotland, former US president George W. Bush approached the first tee of the world-famous Old Course to play a round of golf he would not finish.

Unceremoniously abducted off the course by a team of paramilitary commandos, he was transported to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to stand trial for war crimes in connection with the Iraq War.

The ICC had spent one year accumulating sufficient evidence to indict George W. Bush as the single person most responsible for the war. Would he be found innocent or guilty, or would something happen to disrupt the pursuit of justice?

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Excerpt

Chapter One: The Abduction

 Excerpted from The Trial of Prisoner 043 by Terry Jastrow (Four Springs Press) © 2017 by Terry Jastrow

 The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

—William Shakespeare

Early on a glorious September morning in St. Andrews, Scotland, former president of the United States George W. Bush approached the first tee of the world’s most famous golf course to play a round of golf he would not finish.

Assembled around the first tee were a few hundred local residents and a handful of members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. Known simply as the “R&A,” the club is the governing body and custodian of the rules for all golfing countries except the United States, which has its own governing body. The occasion was the annual driving-in ceremony of the newly elected captain of the R&A. Mr. Bush arrived at the first tee, scanned the Old Course, which had been the site of many historic championships, and began to mingle with the members.

Precisely at eight o’clock, the retiring captain preceded the new captain as they marched out of the R&A Clubhouse, down the ancient stone steps, and onto the first tee. In typically understated R&A fashion, nothing was said. The new captain took a few modest warm-up swings, addressed the ball, and hit a lovely tee shot down the middle of the fairway.

BOOM. At the precise moment of contact, an ancient cannon situated off the first tee was fired to mark the occasion. A few dozen local caddies scattered about the fairway scrambled for the ball as it careened down the fairway, until the winning caddie scooped it up, raised it over his head triumphantly to the jeering of his peers, and proudly strutted up to the first tee.

When the caddie arrived, the captain shook his hand in congratulations and, as was the custom, gave him a gold sovereign coin worth about two hundred pounds.

If it sounds unusual, it is. No other club has such a ceremony, and it has occurred in exactly the same way since 1863, when the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, “drove in” as captain.

The tee times following the driving-in ceremony are traditionally reserved for former prime ministers, presidents, or other visiting dignitaries. And so it was on this occasion that George W. Bush and two club members stepped onto the first tee and were greeted by R&A secretary Harold Maxwell. “Gentlemen. Mr. President. Good day to you all.”

“It’ll be a good day,” Bush said, shaking hands, “if I don’t make a fool of myself by chunking it into the Swilcan Burn on the first hole, or yanking it into the Road Bunker at seventeen.”

“I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

“You’re more sure than I am.”

Secretary Maxwell chuckled. “We were very pleased to welcome your father here as a new member after he finished his presidency.”

“Yeah, he loved golf and he loved St. Andrews, that’s for sure.”

“There’s a little-known story about your father that says a lot about him as a man. In December of the year he played his first round at the Old Course, he sent his caddie a handwritten letter thanking him for making his experience in St. Andrews so special and wishing him a Merry Christmas. I do believe that was a first.”

“He must’ve been a good caddie.”

“Must have been.”

“Guessing you fellows don’t allow mulligans,” Bush said, looking out at the fairway.

“No mulligans, but we can offer a swallow of scotch if that will settle your nerves?”

“Not my nerves I got a problem with. It’s my damn golf swing. Forsakes me every time when I need it the most . . . like now!”

The secretary commented, “That’s just about the widest fairway in the world, so it shouldn’t present much of a problem. Enjoy.”

It would be fair to say every golfer in the world dreams of playing the Old Course at St. Andrews. Bush approached the ball, took his stance, and then nervously jerked the club away and swung. Mercifully, the ball curved only slightly to the right and came to rest in the fairway.

Bush smiled mischievously. “Not bad for a broken-down ol’ president. What’s the course record around here anyway?”

“In the Open Championship . . . sixty-three.”

“Sixty-three, hell! I will’ve hit it that many times by the twelfth hole,” Bush said as he winked at the secretary and stepped aside to allow his playing partners their turn.

From a position three hundred yards away on a public footpath that bordered the fairway, a middle-aged man of generic features lowered his binoculars and turned to saunter away, whistling as he went. As he reached up to scratch his nose, he spoke quietly into a microphone buried inside the sleeve of his sweater. “Blue sweater, white shirt, gray pants, black shoes, no hat.”

In a secluded wooded area two kilometers from the golf course, a nondescript brown van and midsize blue car were parked side by side. Huddled inside the van were eight British paramilitary commandos. Sitting inside the car were four more commandos. Six of the twelve were carrying assorted weaponry. Hearing the description of Bush’s wardrobe, the driver of the van keyed his radio and answered in a noticeably British accent, “Copy that. Cowboy Justice a go.” The drivers of the van and the car exchanged informal salutes, started their vehicles, and sped away.

Poised with engines running on the edge of a runway at the Rotterdam Airport, pilots strapped inside the cockpits of a Hawker 800XP and Learjet 85 received the same message and answered back in turn: “Cowboy Justice a go. Hawker 1 copy.”

“Learjet 1, copy that as well.”

The Hawker took off in an angry roar, followed quickly by the Learjet.

The most famous hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews is the seventeenth, commonly referred to as the Road Hole. The green sits hard by a cobblestone road, on the other side of which is a stone wall that for centuries has presented unusual and difficult challenges for golfers.

George Bush, midway through a Cuban cigar, and his caddie, Oliver Croft, stepped onto the seventeenth tee along with his playing partners and their caddies. Bush tossed his cigar to the ground and considered his options as Oliver offered a word of encouragement. “Nice and easy does it, sir.”

“Nice and easy? Not my strong suit,” Bush said before pushing his tee shot into the right rough. “More or less like Jack Nicklaus did it.”

“More ‘less’ than ‘more,’ I’m afraid, sir,” Oliver responded.

Bush picked up his cigar and headed down the fairway, saying, “Let’s go see if we can birdie this bad boy.”

As Bush made his way along the seventeenth fairway, the brown van and blue car pulled into the parking lot of the Jigger Inn, a famous St. Andrews watering hole located short and to the right of the seventeenth green.

Just as Bush arrived at his ball, the twelve British commandos poured out of their vehicles and precisely according to a well-crafted and rehearsed plan, sprinted straight for the former president, his playing partners, and their caddies.

Immediately realizing what was happening, Bush turned and ran for his life. The much faster commandos quickly tackled him to the ground. With the former president lying facedown on the turf, one commando lifted his head back allowing a second commando to put a cloth soaked with diethyl ether over his mouth and nose to both mute and anesthetize him. Two other commandos strapped a leather belt around his ankles, slapped handcuffs on his wrists, and slipped a hood over his head. Once Bush was unconscious, gagged, shackled, cuffed, and hooded, the commandos carefully lifted him and carried him away.

Simultaneously and similarly, five commandos contained Bush’s caddie, his playing partners, and their caddies.

Immediately upon seeing the attack, three distinctly American-looking men dressed in Scottish golf attire rushed to Bush’s aid. Expecting Secret Service protection for the former president, the remaining commandos fired stun guns at the oncoming agents, who, one by one, stumbled and fell to the ground.

The commandos carrying Bush placed him in the back of the van and fled.

The entire series of events took less than six minutes and occurred with little commotion and hardly any noise. The stealth abduction of a former president of the United States from the world’s most famous golf course—against his will, in broad daylight—was a stark contrast to the peace and grandeur of this ancient town, the resting ground of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

Eventually, a few passing townspeople noticed the bound bodies strewn over the seventeenth fairway and rushed to help. Once Bush’s playing partners and the caddies were untethered, the lot of them raced up the eighteenth fairway waving their arms and yelling hysterically, “Help! Help!” “They abducted the president!” “Help, please, for the love of God!”

Author Bio

Terry Jastrow is a descendant of one of the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and of American president John Adams. He was born in Colorado, grew up in Texas, and has lived his entire adult life in New York and California.

After graduating from college in 1970, Jastrow was hired by ABC Sports, and in December 1972, at age twenty-four, he became the youngest network television producer in history. He directed his first telecast in April 1974 and continued producing and directing at ABC Sports for twenty-two years. Jastrow was a producer/director of six Olympic Games, including the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where he directed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. He was a director of Super Bowl XIX and produced or directed sixty major golf championships and approximately fifty episodes of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. For his work in sports television, Jastrow won seven Emmy Awards (with seventeen nominations).

Next, he served as president of Jack Nicklaus Productions for twelve years. The company’s principal business was to create and televise entertaining events that ultimately generated over fifty million dollars for worthy charities.

Later, Jastrow studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City, where he was invited to be in Mr. Strasberg’s Master Class. This led to an eventful few years as an actor, during which he did his share of theater, film, and television.

In 2015, Jastrow wrote, produced, and directed the feature film The Squeeze, which was released theatrically around the world and purchased by the Golf Channel for television. In 2016, he wrote a stage play, The Trial of Jane Fonda, which was produced at the Park Theatre in London and received a nomination for Best New Play (off West End).

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My Review

3 stars

George W. Bush is out golfing on the Old Course when he is abducted and taken to The Hauge, Netherlands where he is brought in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges relating to his invasion of Iraq. But the deck is stacked against him with a prejudice counsel and with all the evidence it is not looking too good Bush.

This story is a great what if idea. What if Bush was held accountable for everything that happened when he invaded Iraq? Would he be found justified? Would he be sentenced? The possibilities are endless. It started out great. A former US president is out golfing when British special forces abducts him.

But then he is put on trial. Normal processes have been sped up and shortened and of course the opposing counsel is bias. But instead of having a top legal team represent him, Bush uses a family friend. What the heck?!? From there the story gets inundated with legal information, processes, etc.

This book was a great concept but got bogged down with the legal portion.

I received The Trial of Prisoner 043 from FBS Associates for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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The Use of Fame

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The Use of Fame by Cornelia Nixon

Abigail McCormick and Ray Stark are both poets, married nearly twenty-five years in what has always been a passionate relationship despite deep class differences. Ray is the son of West Virginia coal miners and was abused as a child—but now he is a distinguished poet with a part-time position at Brown. Abby grew up in San Francisco’s posh Pacific Heights and, having abandoned poetry, she spends her energy on a new teaching position at UC Berkeley. Abby’s decision to accept the post sets the stage for Ray to stray, especially as he struggles with a heart condition.

He’s tortured by his affair with the graduate student he’s fallen in love with, but is determined to stay married—he fights to get over Tory for years. A despairing Abby finds solace in her return to riding horses and writing poems, but as she suffers privately, she becomes dependent on sleeping pills and alcohol. Ray’s health worsens—proves nearly fatal—and another cross-country move threatens to push them further apart.

Alternating seamlessly between Ray’s and Abby’s perspectives, The Use of Fame is a gripping exploration of how closeness and despair can warp a lover’s perception.

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Author’s Bio

Cornelia Nixon has written three novels, Jarrettsville, Now You See It and Angels Go Naked, as well as a book of literary criticism. She has published stories in numerous publications, and has won two O. Henry Awards, two Pushcart Prizes, a Nelson Algren Prize, and the Carl Sandburg Award for Fiction. She lives in Berkeley, California.”

My Review

3 stars

Ray is a renowned poet that teaches at Brown in Providence and Abby who teaches at UC Berkley. Their cross country marriage is both comforting and straining. Ray is torn with his affair with a younger student and health condition. Abby looks to her horses, alcohol, and sleeping pills for solace. This is a marriage stretched to its limits and yet one just can’t seem to leave the other.

This is a heartfelt story of two people trying to keep their marriage going when it is clear that things are falling down around their heads. Ray falls for Tori because he feels Abby is neglecting their marriage. Abby learns of Tori and feels that she is too needy and pushed him to another woman. They try to plan moving together to a potential teaching job for Ray in Florida but that falls through too.

I will admit that sometimes I like contemporary romances and figured that I will give this story a shot. I’m sorry to admit that I was about done with both of them. I understand how it’s easy to get wrapped up with yourself when you are not around your significant other like Ray and Abby. But I was just done with the whole thing even if they were too comfortable with the situation to get out.

Over all I think most people will enjoy it so don’t take my whining as something wrong with this book. It was just me.

I received The Use of Fame from Sherri Rosen Publicity for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Perfect on Paper

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Perfect on Paper (Waverly Byrson – 1) by Maria Murnane

Waverly Bryson is a late-20s successful businesswoman who almost has it all: dream job in Sports PR, two best friends, and a bar where everybody knows her name. What she doesn’t have is a ring on her finger, and after being left at the altar, she’s in no hurry. Besides, she has plenty of other issues to tackle, including her wayward father, a new rival at work, and an ever-shrinking amount of personal time. To keep sane, Waverly makes a habit of jotting down “Honey Notes,” her own brand of self-deprecating wisdom and pipe-dream for a line of greeting cards.
As Waverly stumbles back into the dating scene (no stalkers or jean shorts, please), her personal and professional lives threaten to collide. Perfect on Paper reminds readers that everyone has a bad date (or twelve), and that everyone needs a best friend to tell them, “Honey, you are not alone.”

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 Maria Murnane

Author’s Bio

Maria’s road to becoming an author is a little crazy. She used to work in high-tech PR but hated it, so she quit and ended up playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina for a year. While she was down there she decided to write a novel, which was something she’d always dreamed of doing. Fast forward a few years and a LOT of perseverance, and she’s now the best-selling author of Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. Her next book, Wait for the Rain, will be released in Feb 2015. And yes, she still plays a lot of soccer!

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My Review

3 stars

Waverly Bryson is a Sports PR and a loving boyfriend that she is about to marry. But a couple days before the wedding her boyfriend dumps her. Of course she is just shattered but she is determined to find the right guy with several bad dates in the meantime. But that is not all, a new person is hired at work and she believes that she is out to get Waverly’s job. Is Waverly going to find her place?

I am torn on how to review this book. I Waverly thinks she has everything planned until she gets dumped just before her wedding. Then follows a string of dating adventures that lighten the mood, especially when her friends share their dating disasters. I felt for her and at the same time was laughing about the different people they’ve dated.

But I had a hard time with part of this book. Waverly is so immature and obnoxious that I had a hard time dealing with some of the stuff that came out of her mouth and the stupid stuff she did. For example, the whole get stupid drunk, act like a fool, then worry what everyone thought of her, wash, rise, and repeat.

Overall, Perfect on Paper is a cute contemporary romance. There are some funny places and I can’t help but feel for Waverly with some of the things she gets into. I am curious to see what she gets herself into next.

I received Perfect on Paper from the author for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Adirondacks Artemis by D.L. Luke

Author D.L. Luke vividly portrays the intriguing tale of one of life’s greatest fears-being lost in the wilderness. In Adirondacks, Artemis faces not only her present fears but fears for the future with only her dog and past experiences to guide her through her lonely introspection, her strengths, and weaknesses. Artemis and her dog are left deserted and alone with winter approaching, in the Adirondacks, with only a prayer and a hope for survival. Real and imaginary fears cloud Artemis’s judgment, but not her desire to reach the county road and safety.

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Author’s Bio

L. Luke, author of the newly published women’s literature Adirondacks Artemis and writer of the children’s book B: The Tale of the Halloween Cat, also known as Diana Denner was born in New York City, 1965. A published short-story writer, painter, and former printer, Denner earned a free education and graduated in 1993 from The New School in New York City with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Fiction Writing and American Literature.

Editor for New York State Watch, a website dedicated to government and politics, Denner also works as a community inclusion counselor for ARC Rensselaer. She owns an old Dutch Colonial home in Lansingburgh and is working on the completion of her second children’s book How the Dog Saved the Squirrel from the Hawk.

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My Review

3 stars

Artemis had a fight with her boyfriend the night before and wakes up to find that he left her in the woods. Now, with the help of her dog Jesse and her own skills she has to get out of the forest.

This story is touching. We find Artemis alone after her drunken boyfriend and she got in a fight the night before. The problem is he is the one that knew this spot that they camped at and Artemis has to try and remember the way out. But along the way she remembers the different things that have shaped her life.

This is a journey of growth and reflection. And as Artemis struggles to get out of the woods she struggles with her life.

I received Adirondacks Artemis from Sage’s Blog Tour for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Wyvern Awakening

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Wyvern Awakening (Mage Chronicles – 1) by Joanna Mazurkiewicz

A Wyvern dragon shifter. Revenge, lies and a deadly magical challenge

When her parents were murdered eleven years ago, leaving her physically scarred during the event, dragon shifter Astri never learned the identity of their killer. That is until he appears to her in a nightmare.

The powerful Duke Jorgen not only rules the city of Rivenna where she lives, he is also responsible for her parents’ death and for the disability she’s had to bear most of her life. When the chance arises for her to compete to become Duke’s assistant, she realises this is her opportunity for revenge.

But everything in Astri’s world comes with a price. Can she overcome her disability and make Duke pay?

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Author’s Bio

Joanna Mazurkiewicz was born in Poland. She moved to United Kingdom when she was only nineteen and just finished high school. She had aspired to be a writer upon completion of the Harry Potter series but also enjoyed reading books like ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘The doll’. She graduated from Swansea University with a bachelor degree in American Studies. While studying in the UK she made a decision to start writing fiction in English.

The “Whispers of the Sprite” is her first debut novel and she is currently working on the second book in the series. Joanna lives in Cowbridge, a small town in South Wales near Cardiff with her boyfriend Bruce. She enjoys cycling around Welsh countryside some of which has become the settings in her first series.

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My Review

3 stars

When Astri was young her parents were killed and she was disfigured. She comes to live with her aunt and uncle and has a horrible life. The only thing really keeping her going was thinking about getting revenge on the person that killed her parents. She gets her chance when he holds a contest to become the Lords assistant and she decides to try to win it to get close to him. But then she starts having second thoughts and doubting that he is the one that really killed her parents. Astri also finds herself falling in love with him.

Astri is physically deformed and has been teased about it her whole life. Because of this and her abusive aunt and uncle she has no confidence. But then she plans on getting revenge for her parent’s deaths by competing to kill the killer. But is he really the one that killed her parents? Is she really falling for the killer of her parents?

I understand that Astri has been beat down but it did get to be a bit much. I was getting so frustrated by her being so wishy washy that I ended up skimming to the end of the story. Where is this bad ass with training that you constantly hear about? This book has so much potential but fell flat for me.

I received Wyvern Awakening from Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Haunted Historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia by Tim Scullion

Join ghost photographer and researcher Tim Scullion on a two-year tour of Colonial Williamsburg, America’s haunted historic city of ghosts. Visit 43 creepy locations where Scullion describes his paranormal odyssey to capture and explain each apparition, a bit of historical and paranormal background of the building it appears in or over, and insights about these ghostly beings that he has learned from careful observation. With more eighteenth-century buildings and homes than any other place in America, Scullion has learned the secret to consistently capturing ghostly apparitions of all kinds on camera. Examine 230 paranormal images that are beautiful, ugly (if not horrifying!), bizarre, and defy explanation. He also provides historic accounts, ghost sightings, and narrative, insights, and introspection for each location. Colonial Williamsburg is a hotspot for ghosts!

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 Tim Scullion

Author’s Bio

Tim Scullion specializes in fine art photography as well as the paranormal. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from William and Mary and is a published author/photographer.

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My Review

3 stars

Tim Scullion takes us along on a night visit of 43 different locations in Williamsburg, Virginia. We find ourselves in various churches, houses, and taverns. We learn the history of each location with other sightings. We see many photos of these locations many with orbs. Then Tim uses his editing to separate and sharpen these orbs or flashes found in the pictures which results in faces being seen.

I loved the pictures and the history behind all the locations. That is itself made this book for me. I love the paranormal, especially ghosts, and I enjoyed all the stories behind each location. There are beautiful color photographs and I love the little notes of paranormal activity.

Where I’m torn on reviewing this book is the enhanced photographs. They could very well be real and I’m just too skeptical. But when you see the enhanced photos they look rather over edited. The faces are exaggerated and look off. This took away from the book for me.

If the book stayed with the history, stories, and picture of the locations I would have liked it more. But the edited photos ruined it for me. If you like paranormal that focuses around ghosts I would say check it out, you may have a new vacation destination.

I received Haunted Historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia from Schiffer Publishing for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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