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Archive for the ‘What I Am Reading Now’ Category

Rub a dub dub
Three men in a tub
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker
The candlestickmaker
And all of them lost at sea.

Aboard the spy ship U.S.S. Argosy in the war-tossed waters off the coast of Vietnam, three young American sailors form an unlikely bond. Each has fled an America they were raised to love but somehow no longer understand. When forced to choose whether to face combat or stay and fight the war in the streets, they sign up for a war that reflects the conflict that raged inside each of them. The one thing of which they were certain was that the only people in the world they could depend on were each other.

As their friendship deepens in the bars and brothels from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Ernie Brigham and his companions slowly become aware of a dark secret aboard the U.S.S. Argosy. Upon their return to the America they left behind, they are changed at best, lost and damaged at worst, but ultimately sobered by a war that never should have been fought.

In the tradition of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”, Denis Johnson’s “Tree of Smoke”, and Philip Caputo’s “A Rumor of War”, “The Candlestickmaker” recalls a Vietnam that seared disenchantment into a post World War II generation who learned to question authority at all levels. A coming-of-age story bookended by revelations that shatter readers’ illusions about patriotism, government, and the nature of modern warfare, “The Candlestickmaker” takes readers on a voyage that will guarantee they never read the Mother Goose nursery rhyme to their children in quite the same way again.

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Katrina Reece Warren, affectionately known as Kitty, had the perfect career, followed by a gorgeous wedding and a blissful honeymoon. She and Malcolm, her handsome, successful husband, have only just begun to enjoy life in their exquisite Victorian dream home when tragedy strikes. As her devastating loss causes Kitty to hoard and shut out those around her with a mountain of stuff, it falls to Misty, her bad girl cousin, to keep Kitty from losing everything. But their relationship is so strained by the hoarding, and Kitty’s sanity is so fragile, it may be impossible for Misty to save her without getting herself killed in the process.

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Alois is the Chicken Thief, an intelligent young man struggling to find his way in a southern African country wracked by political unrest and a crumbling economy. A chance encounter gives Alois the opportunity to make some fast money, and hopefully improve his future. However, his assignment goes horribly wrong and he unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of a complicated and perilous struggle to rescue a war hero and transform the political landscape. Though something of an unlikely hero, Alois ultimately learns that both dreams and justice are within his grasp.

Described as a cross between Dan Brown and Alexander McCall Smith, The Chicken Thief reads at a cracking pace, is dramatic and colourful, and will appeal to lovers of quality fiction. In essence a political thriller, it is particularly topical and poignant in relation to recent events in North Africa and the Middle East. Australian author, Fiona Leonard, has travelled a fascinating road across four continents to arrive in her current home in West Africa. Her life experience, including years spent living in southern Africa, has contributed to the creation of this deeply evocative novel, the rich construction of its realistic characters, and detailed, depiction of both the political and physical landscape.

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Being hardheaded is a common character flaw, but most teenagers can’t crack a concrete curb with their skull. And while a skilled skateboarder appears to defy gravity, he can’t keep water from pouring out of an upturned cup. Unintentionally tapping into latent powers has brought Jayke Wolff to the attention of the Aduro, an ancient society plotting an apocalyptic new world order. He’s now their number one draft pick, and they’ve dispatched their most seductive member to close the deal. It shouldn’t take much convincing a hormonal teenage boy to turn his back on a cryptic covenant for a future of self-indulgence and unchecked power. But if Jayke can’t be tempted by pleasures of the flesh, the flesh can be influenced in less pleasant ways as well. Armageddon can’t wait forever. Killing Jayke will also work.
Not remembering your past and not believing in your future can make it hard to choose who you’re going to be. Jayke has to decide how much of his teenage life he’s willing to sacrifice for a greater good. After all, you’re only young once.

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Born a genius; education, wealth, and prestige came easy to Logan Richards. Actually, there wasn’t much that Logan couldn’t learn or acquire. However, he knew there was more to life than money and power. Logan was determined to find the woman who he’d dreamed of his entire life and know what it was like to love her before he died.

Amber Lewis, a waitress for a five-star restaurant in, Dana Point, California, was overworked, stressed, and wary of life since her sister, Heather, had passed away. Then, one evening while working she fell hopelessly in love with Logan Richards, a chivalrous man who felt deeply familiar.

For Amber, it was the beginning of a voyage of self-discovery and renewal. For Logan, it was the completion of life. For each of them it was the deepest sort of love.

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Avin del Bors has a problem. His brother Drew has run off to fight in a war against the wolves, even though the wolves weren’t responsible for the vicious attack against the humans on the Free Plains. Avin’s companions—the warrior Ax, one-armed sorcerer Jocen, plucky owl Ulkia, drug-addled cheetah Summon the Wind and raccoon stand-up comic Onesso—all have their own reasons for accompanying him through the animal territories across the Bladebone Mountains. Their travels will take them from the highly regimented wolf cities, to the richesse and luxury of the Equine Commonwealth, all the way to the vertiginous tunnels of the serpents’ underground Net and across the waters of the Autonomous Dolphin Collective—to whatever unknown awaits them.

What neither Avin nor his companions yet understand is that the real force behind the Free Plains attack is neither canine nor feline, nor yet crocodile, insect, raptor, bear or shark. Far to the east, in the scorched wasteland known as The Barrens, lives the ragged clan that calls itself The Godless. There, Avin will confront his brother, his companions and himself, and discover two truths: one that changes everything he understands about himself, and another that threatens the balance of the entire world.

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Local rock band Ragman is finally taking off. Stephanie Case’s flamboyant performances and scorching guitar work have started attracting crowds, and singer John Tsiboukas–aka Johnny Tango–is delivering the best performances of his life. After months of playing to dead rooms, it looks like success is at hand. The thing is, there’s something wrong with Johnny’s voice. Until just a few weeks ago, he couldn’t hit the right pitch if you painted a target on it and let him stand real close. Now he sounds amazing. . . and strange things happen every time he sings. Lights burn out. Whole rooms become cold and hushed. People get violent. For Johnny and Case, Ragman is a ticket out of a life of meaningless, dead-end jobs and one lousy gig after another, but as the weirdness surrounding Johnny begins to turn into outright nightmare, they find that the price of stardom might be higher than either of them could ever have imagined.

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Jack Addington is stuck. A carefree life wandering the globe has morphed into a monotonous existence working for an oppressive Manhattan-based software company peddling products which destroy the lives of decent people. Jack struggles through soul-sucking affairs with despotic executives and eccentric scientists by mentally projecting himself out of the present and into past adventures. Avoidance, however, is temporary, and it does not take long for his overly medicated mind to lose perspective, causing him to act increasingly irrational in a brutally rational world. Jack attempts to reconnect to reality through the guidance of a colorful group of ‘advisers’, but, a bleak situation continues to spin out of control despite his best efforts. Ultimately for Jack, a slice of contentment is found only when luck stands amid the rubble of his failed attempts at perseverance. Sharply satirical, funny and painfully honest, Where’s Unimportant is a snapshot of one man’s failed attempt at the American Dream.

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Hidden (Marchwood Vampire Series) is a paranormal romance that spans the centuries from modern England to 19th century Paris and ancient Cappadocia. The novel begins in gritty urban reality, but soon descends into horror, romance and historical adventure.

Sixteen-year-old Madison Greene is in foster care until one day she inherits a fortune and a house with a cellar full of danger. Eighteen-year-old Alexandre Chevalier lives in 19th century Paris. On an archaeological expedition, he discovers a lost underground city where his life changes forever.

Their lives entwine, but someone is watching and waiting. The story ramps up to an explosive ending.

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Another new arrival to the house and I must thank Marina Sbrochi for sending her book to me – thanks, Marina!

I finished another book the same day as this one arrived and decided to pick this one up, therefore it is not just a new arrival but also what I am reading now. 

Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life bucks the notion that a woman needs a husband to be happy. Ever think the reason the divorce rate is so high is because women have been, taught that life isn’t complete without a husband? We rush into marriage only to discover that it was never meant to be. Quick, find that man before you reach a certain age, and seal the deal. Make him commit or else! The truth is, a marriage will never work when its foundation is set on shaky ground.

Author Marina Sbrochi tells the modern, intelligent woman that she will only find real love when she gets the objective for marriage out of her head-a fundamental mind shift. Change your goal from finding a husband to finding the love of your life, and you’ll find happiness.

Women have been conditioned to search for the perfect man who will fulfill the dream of a white dress, a diamond, 2.5 kids, and a house in the ‘burbs. Nowhere in this fairy tale is there anything about falling in love with the one you can’t live without-and having fun doing it!

The honest, straightforward advice-and the often hilarious accounts-speak to anyone who has read all the “rules” and tricks, yet can’t seem to get off the starting line.

Stop Looking for a Husband will not only give the intelligent woman ideas for a new and enhanced approach to finding love but will also keep her in stitches with sage advice and true tales that can only happen in real life.

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Many thanks to Peggy Tibbetts for one of the latest additions to my bookshelf in the form of Letters to Juniper – thanks, Peggy!

It just so happened I finished a book and was able to pick this one up pretty much right away and so this is also what I am reading now.

If you haven’t already please check out Peggy’s profile by clicking here

Letters to Juniper

“Letters to Juniper” is a gripping story about life inside a Separatist compound during an FBI standoff, from 12-year-old Sarah Smith’s perspective.

Sarah Smith doesn’t remember much about her early years. She knows her mother died when she was six, and her father moved her and her younger brother to Northern Idaho. Once there, her life changed drastically. The only vivid memory she has of her early childhood is time spent with her best friend Juniper Holland. In her letters to Juniper, Sarah reveals her innermost thoughts and feelings about her reclusive life with three younger brothers in under the rigid oppression of her father and stepmother, who call themselves Separatists. Their lives are turned upside down by an FBI investigation of her father’s association with members of the Aryan Nation. When he refuses to be arrested on an illegal weapons charge, a standoff occurs. As the tension and violence escalate, Sarah faces life and death decisions in order to survive.

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As miraculous as our wired world may be, everything connected to everything else eventually shows its downside. A rumor, a virus, a financial crisis – these days, they all cascade throughout the world in record time. SIX CLICKS AWAY tells the story of a single ripple through a tangled web, and how one person can affect us all.

In Bonnie Rozanski’s captivating novel, the social network becomes a stage for six indelible, interconnected characters: a lonely writer in Toronto, pining for her lost love; an unemployed engineer in Seattle who finds himself working at the Pike Place Fish Market. There is a young collections operator in Bangalore, India, who can’t stop caring about the people from whom she collects; and a seedy real estate magnate who gets his just desserts. Finally, there is a down-on-his-luck actor, an old friend of the Dalai Lama, who finds enlightenment from a most unlikely source.

A chain of falling dominoes is set in motion when Jeremy and Rachel, an unlikely duo of a geek and a Jersey girl, contact a friend on Myface.com, the largest social network on the planet. That friend contacts another, and another, each link bringing the pair one step closer to the goal of reaching the Dalai Lama, their choice of exotic target on the other side of the world. What they expect is that their simple classroom project will demonstrate “six degrees of separation,” the idea that everyone on this planet is connected in six short links to everyone else. What they get, however, is a cascade of the unexpected.

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Loss and loneliness in childhood lead introvert middle-class Kit Ramsay into forbidden friendship and taboo territory with Liverpool tough boy, Terry Dacosta. Violence and deprivation in Terry’s childhood, drive him to aspire to a life like Kit’s. Their early experiences in 60s and 70s Liverpool are to have far-reaching effects on their adult lives and relationships in 90s Bournemouth.

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See, I didn’t lie, told you I would pick up Beatrice Munson sooner rather than later!!

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.

Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will arrive with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.

How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt.

This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties.

Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you just might be one of them.

“Thanks for making me cry several times on the plane. Seriously, thank you for writing this great piece of art.” Jody W –

“I rarely cry in movies and here I was crying for the last twenty minutes reading your book. Lorena this is an awesome book so full of underlying messages and lessons.” Erica E –

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The arrival of a charismatic neighbor splits apart a small dysfunctional community. Alliances change, lovers become estranged and the catalyst remains forever unknowable in Kate Rigby’s short-listed novella.

“Suddenly Hassan laughs, a warm infectious laugh which utterly transforms him. ‘What fun. Come on. Entertain the Shah. Some more names.’ And Mark finds himself admitting Hassan to the world of Seaview Terrace’s more notable characters.”

Acutely realised observations of a micro society disintegrating under the tensions of its own contradictions. A novella that delights, informs, while inviting the reader, at the end, to change their point of view.

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Passion turns to envy. Love to murder. One way or another, everyone is spoilt.

A sadistic serial killer is stalking the streets, carving his hate into the bodies of beautiful, young women.

When her best friend goes missing, a distraught Chelsea meets Lucas, a detective on the case who is struggling to remain focused, as the murders are stirring up painful memories.

After Elle is discovered murdered and another girl is abducted, the detectives do their best to locate the killer. As they hit one dead end after another, Lucas and Chelsea begin to fall in love, despite Lucas bearing scars from the past, and Chelsea still hurting from being rejected by her fiancé.

As the murders continue, things take a turn for the worse when they realise that Chelsea is being stalked. Lucas must do all he can and more to protect the woman he loves. Can he succeed, or is the world itself spoilt?

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This family memoir describes a woman’s search for her birth mother. Despite all Heather’s efforts while growing up, the truth was denied. She invented macabre reasons for the total secrecy, so frightening she kept them hidden.

Searching for Grace combines Heather’s vivid and often amusing memories of childhood in 1920s London with the story of two young people whose love is threatened by lies and hypocrisy.

Years later, living in New Zealand, Heather finallly receives a letter confirming the identity of her birth mother. As the story opens in 1975 she is battling immigration officials to grant her special permission to travel to England to prove her identity. Without a birth certificate this is no easy task.

When Heather meets her birth family extraordinary facts emerge – and what Heather and Carol find is that appearances are one thing, truth another.

In the early 1980s Heather began to record her memories, but as she entered the shadowy realm of Alzheimer’s, her daughter Carol took over, continuing to tie together many of the missing strands of their story.

You can purchase Searching for Grace by clicking the following links:

www.thenile.com.au

www.thenile.co.nz

www.amazon.co.uk

Or via Carol’s publishers by sending an email to info@SteeleRoberts.co.nz

More details are available on Carol’s website carolhenderson.co.nz

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When Elise Vanderzell plummets from her bedroom balcony one gorgeous summer night, her children awaken to a nightmare.

Their mother is dead. Their father is charged with her murder.

Lawyer Kate Lange knows all about nightmares. She’s survived the darkest period of her troubled life and the wounds are still raw. Now she’s been handed a case that seems utterly unwinnable: defending her boss, high-profile lawyer Randall Barrett. A prosecutor’s dream suspect, Randall is a man who was cuckolded by his ex-wife. A man who could not control his temper. A man who had argued bitterly with the victim the previous day in full view of the children.

With limited criminal law experience, Kate finds herself enmeshed in a family fractured by doubt. Randall’s teenaged son is intent on killing him. His daughter wants only to feel safe again. And the entire legal community would like nothing better than to see Randall receive a public comeuppance. As Kate races to stay a step ahead of the prosecution, a silent predator is waiting for the perfect time to deal the final blow–and this time his victim is Randall’s own daughter.

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All her life, Laoise has longed for adventure and daydreamed her days away. But the time for dreaming is past. Deep in the bowels of the earth a dragon wakes and the fate of her people and the entire world now rests in Laoise’s hands. Can she and her guide, Bearach, complete their quest to the Underworld in time or will her first real adventure also be her last?

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“All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song brims with amplitude and vitality. By virtue of her unsentimental warmth of spirit, Foust brings to life an immense range of experience and feeling. This poet’s emotional intelligence correlates, too, with her formal skill, that unique talent for phrase and rhythm with which she makes a whole world palpable, from the hugest events that mark a life to those moments as subtle as ‘some nuance you knew once like breath.’ Rebecca Foust is a superb poet, and All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song is a tremendous book.” –Peter Campion

“Rebecca Foust moves us with passion and intelligence as she broods over what ‘divides false / from true.’ Her voice, attuned to beauty and hope though often engaged with the hard news of life, startles in its honest, unstinting inventiveness. She writes of generations, of hardscrabble origins, of striving against odds, of motherhood, nature, intimate triumphs and woes. This is poetry of the greatest promise, a book not to be missed.” –Barry Spacks

ATGPS won the 2008 MMM Book Prize and will be released at AWP in April 2010. About this book Susan Griffin has written, “I find the poems astonishingly strong and beautiful. It’s not common for me to find an unpublished collection of poems as good as this one.”

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