Friday, May 12, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

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

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




My Review

Jerzy Kasinski was a bit of a head case.

In Jerome Charyn's colorful portrayal of the mid-20th century writer, we get a look at this tragic figure from many different angles. Peter Sellers. Lana Stalin. His mistresses. His ex-wife. His parents. And yet in the end, when the book circles back to his early childhood years in Nazi-occupied Poland, we still don't know who the guy is, not really.

Jerzy's claim to fame was the book, The Painted Bird. His name was on the cover, but as it turns out, a young woman, he picked up off the street, is the one who honed it to perfection with her little green pencil. This unknown girl knew how to work on instinct alone, something Jerzy was never able to do. He could think in chapters, in swaths of connected material, but he couldn't put it down on the page, never mind translate his thoughts into English. Charyn describes his futile attempt at writing as "chaotic, without a fine thread…the charm of his narration wasn't there."

Meaning Jerzy could BS with the best of them, but when it came to knowing how to fully capture his haunted voice in print, he was clueless. His audience was expecting a factual story of a Holocaust survivor. Instead, they got a book filled with pious little lies about himself. Charyn even labels Jerzy's duplicity as "the greatest disease of his life."

When he's found out, the critics decide to either ignore him or crucify him. Yet even as they mock him, Jerzy remains defiant. Charyn explains his response in this way, "All his gifts, all his talents, are tied up in mischief. His currency was pain - pain he inflicted on others and himself."

Jerzy's defense? That his father burnt it into him, that he couldn't have gotten through the war "without a million lies." But upon reaching the final page of Charyn's intriguing portrayal of him, the question still remains: Was it worth it?

***

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

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

***

Excerpt

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.



About the Author

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

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

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Friday, April 28, 2017

David E. Grogan - Sapphire Pavilion - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

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




My Review

Sometimes an author's profile reads as interesting as the book itself. David E. Grogan is a retired Navy Judge Advocate, just like his main character, Steve Stilwell. However, in this case I really hope that the international intrigue that unfolds in the novel is more a product of the author's imagination, and doesn't have any basis in reality.

It all starts on May 14, 2000, Mother's Day, when Steve's good friend, Ric, is arrested in his hotel room in Vietnam. His business partner is dead in the adjacent bed, and a wad of heroin is found in Ric's suitcase. It's clearly a setup, but in a country where possession is nine tenths of the law, Ric has little chance of avoiding the death penalty.

And the corruption doesn't end there. Ric was in Vietnam investigating an American plane that disappeared mid-flight during the Vietnam War. He actually found the remains, however, no one at the State Department is willing to confirm operation "Sapphire Pavilion" or even the names of the downed crewmen who were onboard that fateful flight in 1968.

As the action transitions from the violent, racketeer culture of Vietnam to the more genteel, colonial-lined streets of Virginia, the duplicity doesn't end there. Because in the back of Steve's mind, he can't help wondering, "What if it's our own government?" And he can't help putting himself in Ric's shoes, the innocent man he left behind, who's unjustly languishing in the bowels of Chi Hoa Prison.

But the scope of the matter goes far beyond one man's desperate plight. Steve learns that the "S" and "P" in Sapphire Pavilion stand for "secret peace," as in a top secret peace mission ordered by President Lyndon B. Johnson that was supposed to bring an early end to the Vietnam War, until the plane carrying the diplomat sent to negotiate peace was mysteriously shot out of the sky—by antiaircraft missiles bearing American-made serial numbers. Does this newly unearthed knowledge free Ric from prison or does it simply embroil Steve in a political scandal that's way over his head?

Their ultimate fate harkens back to the Latin inscription Steve saw above a church in Vietnam: Deo Optimo Maximo. It means: "To God, who is the best and the greatest." Man may try to hide the truth, but it always resurfaces sooner or later, and the old cliché still rings true—the truth will set you free.

***

Sapphire Pavilion can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

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

***

About the Author

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

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

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

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


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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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



About the Book

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




My Review

"Every great history starts with one brave soul."

These inspiring words serve as a rallying cry for the mystical creatures of a land, soon to be plunged into a pitched battle between good and evil. The only problem is, it is a land divided. Elves, dragons, sorcerers, all keep to themselves. No one wants to stick their neck out for anybody who doesn't look or act like them. Until a little dwarf arrives on the scene and changes everything.

A dwarf? Yes, a dwarf. They're not all dead, as commonly believed. Some did, in fact, survive the last massacre of the wicked sorcerer, some twenty-five years ago. And it's curious that now when the sorcerer is believed to be gearing up for another attack, this long lost dwarf suddenly appears among them, seemingly out of the blue.

And she does one thing that no one ever thought possible - she unites them under the banner of a common cause. She tells them what it's like for her race to face extinction, and she doesn't want it to happen to them. Together, she urges, they have a chance to make a difference before it's too late.

However, the enemy they're facing has no known weakness. He's an all powerful sorcerer. The only advantage they have is that he doesn't know who they are, not yet. They may have enough time to warn the right people.

What started off as a whimsical urge of humoring one of the last known dwarves in existence is now no longer a game. This innocent dwarf is willing to place herself in the direct line of fire in order to save them all. They had no idea what they were stumbling upon when they crossed paths with her, but now they have no doubt that by helping her fulfill her destiny, they have a chance to restore the light to their ever-darkening world.

***

The Legend of the Dwarf can be purchased at:
Amazon

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

***

About the Author

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

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


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Friday, February 10, 2017

A. Keith Carreiro - The Penitent - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

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




My Review

Evil has spread throughout the world, a dark, unforgiving evil, eager to decimate everything in its path. In a grim portrayal of life in the twenty-second century, the earth is a desolate wasteland where corpses float down rivers, running red with blood. Packs of merciless men ravage the land, pillaging and plundering the innocent and defenseless, in a futile attempt to stay one step ahead of their own demise.

Since man is not the only one hunting man, not when demons from hell, itself, have been unleashed.

Fear is running rampant—in all but one place. The sacred Wood of the Royal Guard. Here nature remains in its original, untouched state, providing a refuge for tired, forsaken souls to revive their shattered spirits. Despite the tragedy and chaos going on around them, here joy is still felt in creation.

The feeling is beautifully captured in the image of the Sentinel Tree, a copper beech, hundreds of years old, standing tall and proud as the guardian of all that is good. Shining like a beacon of hope, its light is poetically likened to "God's candles." But it's not just impressive to look at, it also exudes a source of power and strength, a divine love, that's ready to protect mankind from the all-pervading sense of evil surrounding it.

A "beauty rarely seen in this life," the tree serves as a reminder of the eternal promise made to man: no matter what, the creator will never abandon creation. Pray for peace and the right order of things will be restored. Yet many do not turn to this oasis of revival, in fact, only a few are able to find rest under the protection of its branches.

THE PENITENT is a remarkable allegorical tale about where humanity may be headed in the next hundred years. If we continue to ignore our roots, our true identity, we're doing so at our own peril. Nature is calling out to us, begging us, pleading with us, that it's never too late to turn back. There's still time to rediscover our origins, be the people we were created to be.

***

The Penitent can be purchased at:
Amazon
Lulu

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

***

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bonnie M. Hennessy - Twisted - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

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




My Review

The gift of sight. What we observe vs. what we ignore. Life is full of distractions, and plenty of details get missed. But what if we decided to pay more attention to the world around us. What if we were magically cured of our apparent blindness. What would we see?

In a nutshell, that's what this story chooses to examine. Told under the guise of a Rumpelstiltskin-spun narrative, a young woman is gifted with the ability to peer beneath the facade people hide behind and uncover the truth of life.

It's a heady thing, discovering so much untapped potential, "finding worth in that which makes others turn away." Some embrace her for it, while others feel threatened by her. She's not scared of the darkness she sees in the hearts of men. She's able to look beyond it, and love them anyway. The innate ability to piece together a person's true identity, is a power that's both craved and feared.

But it's also able to bring peace between two brothers who have been pitted against each other all of their lives. Both want to win her favor, and openly admit they yearn to be better men for her sake. However, when they both end up falling in love with her, she can only choose one, and that's where the trouble sets in.

One feels unworthy of her because his body is crooked and malformed, while the other knows his heart is in desperate need of being resuscitated from its torpid state. They both vie for her hand, wanting to bask in the glow of her affections. But by doing so, they wind up taking her away from who she really is.

She begins to lose what they admire about her: her strength and purity of heart. If they refuse to let go of their stupid rivalry and make amends, she's in danger of becoming corrupted like they were before they met her. All she wants is to love them both, even if they won't let her.

With her prophet's eye, can she look inside and mend their broken hearts, and finally bring peace to their family before it's too late?

***

Twisted can be purchased at:
Amazon

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

***

About the Author

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

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

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

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


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