Category Archives: I heart books

Love and Romance à la Audiobook

HappyEndingsGuaranteedWhat better day to celebrate romance than Valentine’s Day?

I’m picky when it comes to fiction audiobooks. And I’d never listened to a romance (see previous statement). But I’ve discovered an author and a narrator who will make anyone fall in love with the spoken language of love.

It all started with PARIS IN LOVE. Nonfiction, on my regular audiobook menu. I’ve been dreaming of Paris, gobbling up books about the city as if they were plump, aromatic fresh baguettes. In PARIS IN LOVE, Shakespeare professor/bestselling historical romance author Eloisa James chronicles the year she and her husband took sabbaticals from their professorships and immersed themselves in Parisian life.

I know, sounds rough. But they had two teen/tween kids. TEENAGE KIDS. That alone is enough fodder to fill a book. Her short piece format reads like blog or Facebook snippets, entertaining with humor, heart, and joi de verve.

If her historical romances were anywhere near as smart and delightful as her, I had to give them a read. (Note: I’m ridiculously late to this party. She’s been writing bestsellers for forever.)

Why not listen?

I downloaded ONCE UPON A TOWER. After five minutes, I was in love–with Eloisa’s clever story, spunky heroine, and the talented narrator, Susan Duerden.

I went for hour-long walks four times last week just so I could listen. It kept me company as I filed my taxes, cleaned the house, and toiled over my 2016 Family Photo book. Pure escapism. Well, until the thirteen-yer-old returned home while I was in the middle of a rather naughty scene…. Oops!

Next came WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST. Loved it! Witty banter. A head-strong beauty. A  “beast”  of a Duke. (Okay, he has one physical flaw, but his cantankerous personality is all love-to-hate him Dr. Gregory House.) And the same fabulous narrator Susan Duerden.

I’m officially hooked. And you will be, too. Check out this CBS News story that ran this Sunday:

To her students at New York’s Fordham University, she is professor Mary Bly. But to legions of readers, she’s bestselling romance writer Eloisa James, a reigning queen of romance fiction. Faith Salie discusses the English scholar’s surprising double life, and talks with author Beverly Jenkins and with the writer behind the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, as she explores the sex, love, empowerment and HEAs (the “happily ever afters”) of romance novels.

 

ONCE UPON A TOWER by Eloisa James

To win her love…
As an extremely wealthy laird, Gowan Stoughton, Duke of Kinross, can have any of the maidens at the ball he attends. The only problem is they are all English and Gowan is not so certain they are suitable. He is accustomed to the hard-working lasses from his Highlands, not these dainty noblewomen who spend their days drinking tea or some other such nonsense. But then he makes the acquaintance of Lady Edith Gilchrist. Utterly bewitched by the emerald-eyed beauty with lush golden locks, he knows he must have her.

He must free her from her tower…

“Edie” had the misfortune of being dreadfully ill at her debut ball and barely remembers what Gowan looks like. Even worse, she accepted his proposal the following day. Edie’s only true passion is playing music – until Gowan writes a scandalous letter and stirs the most irresistible desire. Yet when they marry, Edie realizes her husband needs a lesson and locks herself in a tower. Somehow Gowan must find a way to enter the tower and convince his new bride that she belongs in his arms.

Listening Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: May 28, 2013

 

PARIS IN LOVE by Eloisa James 

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: She sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. This memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as she overfeeds Milo, the family dog). Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 38 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: April 3, 2012

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When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James 

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty… Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love – in just two weeks.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed… what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

Listening Length: 9 hours and 20 minutes
Publisher: HarperAudio
Audible.com Release Date: October 11, 2011

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Cover Reveal: The To-Hell-and-Back Club!!!

I am absolutely delighted to present the cover for THE TO-HELL-AND-BACK-CLUB, the debut Women’s Fiction title by none other than my critique partner extraordinaire, Jill Hannah Anderson!

to hell and back club full wrapWho can you turn to when your life falls apart? The To-Hell-And-Back Club!

Can you tell I’m excited??

Seriously, folks, I’ve had the privilege of reading more than a few variations of this story (yes, novels go through dozens of drafts) and it’s good. You’re going to want to read this one. So keep your eyes peeled for its May 2017 release by PandaMoon Publishing! (I can’t help all the exclamation points. If I was the type to squee, my family would be deaf now.)

the to hell and back club jill hannah anderson
Isn’t it gorgeous?

kerry ann morgan and jill hannah anderson

Jill has been one of my critique partners for over three years thanks to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Let me tell you, an honest critique partner is worth her weight in gold…or maybe printer ink? (That stuff costs more than fine wine!) We share the highs and lows of our quests to get the words right and get published, and we’ve been at it so long I’d forget that we’d never met in real life. Fixed that Tuesday. Thanks for visiting Florida, Jill Hannah Anderson, and thanks for always being there to shred my work for me–in purely constructive ways, of course. Now if only our CP Lynne could join us for some sunshine and conversation!

Can you tell which one is from Minnesota and which is a native Floridian? Guess again.


The To-Hell-And-Back Club
by Jill Hannah Anderson
Pandamoon Publishing – coming May 2017
Presale links available soon!!!

Follow Jill Hannah Anderson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at JillHannahAnderson.com

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My (belated) year of romance novels

romance bookYes, I know I’m late with all these 2016 reading list posts. Better late than never?

Some of my romance reading was for research. All was for pleasure.

My greatest discoveries: I go for smart, spunky heroines and imperfect heroes. And forget about the must have deep dark secrets–my favorite characters must have a sense of humor. Quirkiness is appreciated. Heroines should want the hero ( and whatever hot hanky-panky, money, or fame comes with him) but not need him.

Here are my 2016 Romance Reads via Goodreads. The tally comes in at 24, I have the feeling I forgot to add a few.

2016 romance 2

Do we follow each other on Goodreads? If not, join me here!!!

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2016 – A Year in Audiobooks

I am hooked on audiobooks. Overdrive is one of my best friends. It’s ridiculously easy to download books to my phone, and I always have at least one loaded and one waiting. My “friends” accompany me wherever I go, making commuting a pleasure and keeping me company while running errands.

Most of the audiobooks I choose are nonfiction and I prefer ones narrated by the author. So yes, it really does feel as if they are taking me along with them on their journey, holding scientific discussions with me, or encouraging me on a rough day. (And 2016 had plenty of rough days…)

And you know the best part?  It’s all FREE! If you don’t take advantage of Overdrive, head on over to your local library’s website to find out more. Tens of thousands of audio books at your fingertips. Literally!

The whole family enjoyed listening to Bill Bryson’s A REALLY SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and Bill Nye’s UNDENIABLE. Though both were heavy on science, they were highly entertaining. The 12-year-old kiddo listened attentively (without playing video games) for the entire 10 hour drive to Washington D.C. over spring break. High praise.

Bill Bryson’s AT HOME kept me company as I painted, refinished, and redecorated my dining room and kitchen. (While laying inside a hutch and painting above my head, he explained how several painters of note died from inhaling lead paint fumes. I could do nothing buy nervously laugh. And wipe paint droplets from my face.)

My favorite of the year was a surprise came as a surprise–Shonda Rhime’s A YEAR OF YES. I loved the book. I loved the message, her messy reality, her determination, passion for creating, and everything about her. Shonda (yes, I feel as if we’re on a first name basis now) gave me one of my favorite books of the year. I actually listened to it twice.

2016 books audioThe Girl with the Lower Back TattooYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding YourselfAt Home: A Short History of Private LifeBecause I Said So! : The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its KidsA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

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One of my favorite gifts, from one of my favorite people

2016 may have been a challenging year, but Christmas brought us nothing but peace, love, and thankfulness. Hope you all reveled in some joy and cheer, too!

 

xmas-mug-2

 

My kiddo left this mug under the tree for me. Does he know his mother or what? Now if only I could use this at work–set it atop the circulation desk at the library…

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#Friday Reads (& a listen): Let it Breathe and my Hamilton Obsession

tawna fenske let it breathe
I’ll admit, part of me just wanted to salivate over this picture taken on a recent lovely summer afternoon. Hurricane Hermine is currently slinging buckets of sideways rain outside. I’d snapped this pic with solid intentions to share my love of the book. I’m slightly belated.

Let it Breathe by Tawna Fenske is a recommended read–hold onto your funny bone and your heart, because it’s a delightfully zany and romantic ride!

The details:
Forbidden fruit can be downright intoxicating.

Vineyard manager Reese Clark is determined to bring her family’s Oregon winery into the big leagues, and she knows building a new tasting room and event pavilion is her ticket there. Having her ex-husband’s best friend—and her secret college crush—turn up to head the construction project, however, doesn’t pair well with her plans. Between her nauseating lovebird parents; her motorcycle-riding, pot-growing grandfather; and her pet alpaca, fond of head-butting groins, Reese has more than enough chaotic characters in her life.

Back in college, Clay Henderson was more likely to be sprawled over a bar than building one. But even if the new clean-living Clay has matured as deliciously as an oak-aged chardonnay, he’s still off-limits. As Reese’s well-laid plans for the winery crumble like bad cork, Clay the newly sober gentleman is sweet enough to rescue Reese from a wardrobe malfunction and still spicy enough to play “I Never” with her. Can he overcome his past rep to offer her a love too heady to ignore?

Let it Breathe by Tawna Fenske
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Released date: March 22, 2016

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No audiobooks for me this week, as I am currently obsessed with Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording).

I’d heard it was good, but holey sugar nuts, HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME HOW GOOD?

Yes, I’m late to the party, but what else is new? When I watched the Tony Awards in June, I knew I had to get my hands on the CD. I haven’t listened to anything else since my copy arrived.

Few videos of the show exist, at least on the legal internet, (trust me, I’ve looked) but below is a recording of the Tony performance of Yorktown.

I’m in love with HAMILTON as a writer, as the story flows with wit and clever turns of phrase. It’s poetry set to music.

I’m in love with HAMILTON because it vibrantly brings history to life for a new generation (and us old folks).

I’m in love with HAMILTION because it proves that rap can be eloquent and erudite, and through with the nimble tongues of the ridiculously talented Broadway cast, every world can be beautify enunciated and understood.

I’m in love with the catchy melodies that I cannot stop singing. (In my head. You do not want to hear me try to rap with a French accent–I’ll leave that to the brilliant Layette.)

I’m in love with HAMILTION because even though the events took place 240-or-so years ago, it feels fresh. Today we’re still dealing with dirty politics; immigrant, women’s, and  minority rights; and the continuous fight for freedom. Our county is still evolving and trying to figure out who it wants to be.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a bloody genius.

I NEED TO SEE THIS SHOW.

Alas, I searched for tickets in the oft chance we could take a family vacation to NYC next year. Cheapest seats found: $900 bucks a pop. Maybe not.

Oooh, but there’s a touring company! Closest stop: an eight hour drive to Atlanta.

Dear Hamilton Touring Production:

Please, PLEASE bring the show to Florida. We have many bright and shiny new performing arts centers that would love to host your production. We have beaches, theme parks, and outdoor activities galore, and I’m sure your cast and crew would appreciate some down time in the sunshine.

Please, I’m begging you. Give us some culture. We are desperate for entertainment that doesn’t involve sports, race cars, or theme park lines. And if you could keep the ticket prices less than that of a decent used car, I’d appreciate it.

Thanks!

Watch the video above. Then buy or borrow the full Broadway Cast Recording. Sit down with a decent pair of earbuds and two hours of quiet time to just listen. Be amaze-balls.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

#FridayReads: Results May Vary and The View from the Cheap Seats

bal·ancebalancing act
/ˈbaləns/
noun – a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

As I struggled to describe how challenging it can be to find balance in life between work, family, passions, and sanity, my gaze fell on this lithograph by James Christensen hanging in my front hall. It sums the conundrum up perfectly. (Even the cat is a doppelganger of my own big tomcat reflected in the glare at the bottom of the photo. Wait, no, the beautifully rendered feline would have to be allergic to people and trying to lick himself into becoming a hairless Sphynx. See, messy life.)

To find balance in my life, I chose to drop the ball on blogging.

I must allow myself reading time to maintain my sanity. I have stacks of books I want to recommend, to shout their praises from the virtual rooftops so readers everywhere can enjoy them as much as I have. Though I no longer do formal reviews, I still need to share the love, not only to my patrons at the library, but with my friends out there in Internet Land.

This month I’ve met my writing word count goals (holler!) AND my workout goals, so it’s time to step it up with shaing-the-love goals. Expect to see something bookish, be it here on the blog, or on Facebook or Instagram each Friday.

Because you never know where you’ll discover your next favorite book or author.


Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

From Bethany Chase—whom bestselling author Emily Giffin calls “a great new voice in fiction”—comes a wise and delightfully relatable novel about a woman’s journey to rebuild her life, and her heart, after a stunning betrayal.

Can you ever really know the person you love?

She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.

Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.

I devoured this book in two nights. One might imagine a novel about a woman’s betrayal would be a drag, but not in Bethany Chase’s deft hands. The well-crafted story is both charming and sweet. I couldn’t help but root for the multi-faceted characters on their journeys to not just grow up, but grow into themselves. Beautifully written.

Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016


The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

My husband first introduced me to Neil Gaiman and his Sandman comics not long after we met. (It’s entirely possible he may have every graphic novel, comic, and work of fiction Gaiman’s every produced squirreled away in his library/office. He still reverently hand washes his faded and well-loved Sandman coffee mug several times a week.) While I have read and enjoyed several of Gaiman’s works, I’m generally not a fantasy or graphic novel novel aficionado. There are always exceptions. Neil is shining one.

View from the Cheap Seats is magic, especially if you listen to the audio book narrated by Neil himself, of course. It’s a love letter to the the craft of writing, to artists and creators in a multitude of mediums, and to the pure joy of reading.

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • 1st edition (May 31, 2016)

 

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Pokemon Chapter Books & Manga Kids Will Love

Pokemon chapter books and manga

Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm, a cultural phenomenon that has won the hearts and imaginations of players of all ages. Chances are that if you’re here, you have a Pokémon-loving child in your life that you want to encourage to read. What better way to entice kids read than to give them a book related to the current new craze?

But Pokémon is far from new. Since 1995, fans of all ages have enjoyed the video games, trading card game, and animated series. Pokémon’s appeal comes from the exciting stories and dynamic personalities of Trainer Ash, his friends, loyal Pikachu, and the other Pokémon (short for Pocket Monsters).

The books and Manga listed below have always been popular items at my library, but now, we can’t keep them on the shelves. Countless times each day, excited kids come in begging for Pokémon books.   Excited Kids + Books = Win for All

Check out these recommendations at your library or buy them for your Pokémon fan at your local bookstore, Amazon, or ebay. See for yourself what all the excitement is about!

Pokémon Chapter Books


These chapter books by Tracey West follow Ash as he sets off on his journey to collect all badges and become the World’s Greatest Pokémon Trainer. The series is loosely based on the television cartoon, so fans will find some familiar story lines. Each book is under 100 pages, and the recommended age range is 7–10. (Think equivalent of The Magic Treehouse series, therefore good for any young independent reader.) This series was introduced 15+ years ago, and my library’s copies are battered, worn, and very well loved. You can still find the books new and gently used via Amazon and Ebay.

I Choose You
Island of the Giant Pokemon
Attack of the Prehistoric Pokemon
Night in the Haunted Tower
 Team Rocket Blasts Off!
Charizard, Go
Splashdown in Cerulean City
Return of the Squirtle Squad 
Journey to the Orange Islands
The Secret of the Pink Pokemon
Race to Danger
Talent Showdown
Thundershock in Pummelo Stadium
Go West, Young Ash
Ash Ketchum, Pokemon Detective
Prepare for Trouble
Ash to the Rescue
Tough Enough
Winner Takes All

Pokémon Easy Readers (DK Readers)

Get to know Ash Ketchum, his Pokemon, and his friends in this DK READERS series, part of a multilevel reading program aimed at capturing children’s interest while developing their reading skills and general knowledge. Lively illustrations combine with engaging age appropriate stories. According to DK, Level 2 is ages 6–8, Level 3 ages 7–10, but many younger readers would be encouraged to read by these easy, under 50-page books.

Meet the Pokemon (DK Reader – Level 2)
Meet Ash (Pokemon (DK Reader Level 2)
Pokemon: Meet Ash’s Pikachu! (DK Reader Level 2)
& many more

 

Pokémon Manga

MANGA is a popular style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels that reads right to left. It sounds weird, but most readers have no problem adapting. Though geared towards children, it has garnered legions of tween, teen, and adult fans worldwide.

Pokémon X•Y by Hidenori Kusaka

This is the most recent Pokémon Manga series (2014 – current). The awesome adventures are inspired by the best-selling Pokémon X and Y video games. All the favorite Pokémon game characters jump out of the screen into the pages of this action-packed manga!

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Paperback: 96 pages each
Reads R to L (Japanese Style)

Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 1
Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 2
Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 3
Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 4
Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 5
Pokémon X•Y, Vol. 6
Pokémon X•Y Vol. 7 

 

Pokémon Adventures by Hidenori Kusaka

This MANGA series follows the adventures of Red as he tries to defeat all eight Kanto Gyms and the Elite Four. It sticks more to the video game story lines instead of the TV series (which is why the main character’s name is Red and not Ash). Many enthusiasts consider this their favorite Manga series, but please note that it’s slightly more violent, as some Pokemon actually die instead of just fainting.

Available individual editions or 7-volume boxed set.

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Grade Level: 4 – 7
Paperback: 208 pages each
Reads R to L (Japanese Style)

 

Pokémon Black and White by Hidenori Kusaka 

Meet Pokémon Trainers Black and White!

This Manga series, started in 2011, is very popular with kids at my library. His entire life, Black has dreamed of winning the Pokémon League! Now he embarks on a journey to explore the Unova region and fill a Pokédex for Professor Juniper. White has an exciting career as the Trainer of a talented troupe of performing Pokémon. She dreams of making her Tepig Gigi a star! Together, Black and White continue on their journey… What surprising new Pokémon—and people—will they meet next?!

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Grade Level: 4 – 7
Paperback: 80 pages
Reads R to L (Japanese Style)

Available individually or in boxed sets:
Pokemon Black and White Box Set 1: Includes Volumes 1-8
Pokemon Black and White Box Set 2: Includes Volumes 9-14
Pokemon Black and White Box Set 3: Includes Volumes 15-20

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Just for fun


Pokemon Go: Ultimate Pokemon Go Secrets

This beginner’s guide to Pokemon Go goes over the essentials of the wildly popular game. Know why Razz Berries are important? How about Stardust? This guide features tutorials with pictures that explain everything from how to set up your Pokemon Go account to fighting gym battles and farming XP.

All ages.

 

Pokémon Origami: Fold Your Own Pokémon!

Turn your favorite Pokémon into folded art with the easy origami projects in Pokémon Origami: Fold Your Own Pokémon! 80 full color pages featuring 48 pages of instructions and all the special sheets of origami paper needed to complete 10 Pokémon!

 

 



How to Draw Pokemon

Have an aspiring artist or Manga illustrator? Encourage them to grab a pencil. Pick up some paper. And get ready to draw the coolest, most action-packed Pokemon art ever. Catch step-by-step secret tips on drawing your favorite Pokemon, like Pikachu, Togepi, Chikorita, Meowth, Pichu, Houndour, Lugia, Cyndaquil, and more!

 


Pokémon Visual Companion

This is truly a must-have reference for every Pokémon fan, and is the ultimate reference to key characters, famous battles, and important places. Every region has been revised and updated, including new events, people, and Pokémon from Unova. You also meet Ash, trace his journey, and get to know his Pokémon, friends, and travel companions, as well as villains and rivals throughout the Pokémon world. This is the ultimate guide to the Pokémon animated series, guaranteed to delight any Pokémon fan!

 

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Pokemon chapter books and manga kids will love!  These books are perfect for ages 6-8, 9-12, and even tweens and teens love Manga.

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The Black Widow – When is fiction is too real to be entertainment?

At 12:56 a.m. a massive boom rocked my house, setting off every dog and car alarm in the neighborhood. After a few eternal moments, I remembered that a Space X rocket landing had been scheduled for the wee hours. Eventually, my pulse slowed.

It’s no wonder that window-shaking booms stop my heart. Eighty-five dead in Nice. Five officers gunned down in Dallas, another three in Baton Rouge. At least five injured in a knife and ax attack in Germany. In Turkey, 294 killed in a failed coup. A terrorist attack in Orlando: 49 killed, 53 injured, the horror that blooding the streets just a few miles away from my home. We’re talking just the last few weeks. Brussels. Paris. Who knows how many lives lost in the Middle East.

Every bang, pop, and crack make me jump. My nerves need a break. I hide from reality in books.

Maybe not this time…

Two minutes before the sonic boom, I’d ripped through the ending of THE BLACK WIDOW, the latest installment of Daniel Silva’s international thriller series featuring Israeli Master Spy Gabriel Allon. It’s a novel that pulls no punches regarding the brutality and ruthlessness of Islamic terrorists. It’s book about death and those who want to cause as much of it as possible. And in light of the world today, it didn’t read like fiction. It it felt all too real.

Now, THE BLACK WIDOW is an excellent novel. I’d give it a solid 4.5 stars, and only that low because it wasn’t my absolute favorite installment in the consistently strong Gabriel Allon series.

But honestly, this book kind of rocked me to the core.

I should have expected what was to come when I read the trigger warning. I raced to finish The Black Widow long past my bedtime, needing something more than the answers to who would live and who would die. (Answer: far too many people would die, far too close to home.) I needed to  escape from my escapism. I wasn’t reading for pure enjoyment. The story and descriptions zoomed over the line between fictional constructs of an author’s imagination and the evil and ugliness that is exploding across the globe now. I needed closure.

Heads strewn on balconies. Crucifixions. Beheadings. Limbs tangled in tree branches raining blood. Viscera on walls. Calculating scrounges of humanity systematically shooting the wounded and dying.

We desperately block these images from our imaginations. But many once ordinary people in places as civilized as Paris – as Orlando – will forever be haunted by such gruesome memories seared upon their souls.

Is art reflecting reality, or is reality reflecting art?

I need a break. Next up: a romance novel that guarantees a few hours of blissful escapism and a happy ending. I don’t think we’re going to find one in reality any time soon.

florida poisonous spiders, brown widow, brown widow florida, brown widow eggs

Did I mention I found  this BROWN WIDOW and her seven egg sacs on my porch Friday night?

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 #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva delivers another spellbinding international thriller—one that finds the legendary Gabriel Allon grappling with an ISIS mastermind.

Gabriel Allon, the art restorer, spy, and assassin described as the most compelling fictional creation “since Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond” (Rocky Mountain News), is poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again.

Acclaimed novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled, entertained and educated readers with eighteen thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back—from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. From its shocking opening to its explosive denouement in Washington, D.C., The Black Widow reveals itself as Silva’s most timely and powerful novel yet. Following the success of his smash hit The English Spy, this electrifying thriller showcases Silva’s consummate skill and brilliant imagination, and is sure to be a must read for his multitude of current and future fans.

 

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