Category Archives: Reviews & Interviews

Book Review: Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart – by Syr Ruus

Book: Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart
Author: Syr Ruus
Publisher: Breakwater Books
Date: August 1, 2012
Genre: fiction, comedy
Pages: 250
Price: $18.95
My rating: great reading for those looking for something different with humour and wit regarding the human condition
 

Having met the author, Syr Ruus, at another author’s (Laura Best) book launch, I made it a point to find this book. (It was on Amazon.)

Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is an adult novel, fictional and amusing.

Emmanuel Taggart is a forty-five-year-old man who feels his life is stuck in a rut. His two sons are grown and out, leaving just his wife and him. One cold February day he feels ill so leaves the office early. From there the story takes the reader on an adventure unlike any this reader has journeyed before – in a good way.

Believing himself to be living his last months of life, Emmanuel Taggart sees doctors, endures tests by specialists, and meets people along the way whom he never would have approached before.  His mind takes him places he wouldn’t have dared to think until then, and he begins – not without feelings of guilt – keeping secrets from his wife. It gets more and more complicated, and more and more amusing, as he convinces himself that he is dying while he spins a web in which he traps … himself.

Syr Ruus tells a marvellous story, one that has twists and turns and delightful visuals to keep the reader devouring the pages. It is enjoyable the way she words things, such as this when Emmanuel’s secretary, Rose, is concerned about him:  “I looked out and saw your car still sitting here in the lot. Then I started thinking you weren’t feeling so good and maybe you passed out or something, and I says to myself, Rose, you better check this out. And here you still are, Mr. Taggart. Are you okay? You don’t look so good.” Shivering. Pulling her coat together to protect her scrawny neck, sleeves blowing empty at the sides.

Can’t you just see those empty sleeves flapping in the breeze, and feel that shivery cold? brrrr

Emmanuel Taggart makes discoveries about himself along the way, and not only about himself. There are surprises – some nice, some awkward, some that shock him. And there are surprises for the reader. This is a novel to add to your library.

Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart by Syr Ruus won the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. I hope you will read it to find out why this author’s writing is so highly regarded.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 
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Book Review: Treasure Me, Book One in the Liberty series – by Christine Nolfi

Treasure Me by Christine NolfiBook: Treasure Me
Author: Christine Nolfi
Publisher: Christine Nolfi
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: April 19, 2011
Genre: romantic fiction for adults
Pages: 352
Price: $12.95 paperback; $5.00 Kindle
My Rating: Captivating characters and a story line that reels the reader in.
 

I received a copy of Treasure Me from Christine Nolfi to review.

Treasure Me starts out at a nervous pace, snagging the reader’s attention immediately. The main character, Birdie, is hanging from a ledge three stories above street level, trying to escape from a very angry man from whom she had just lifted a wallet. Now, is that enough to reel you in?

Birdie is a petty thief, taught by her mother. She has had a hard life alongside her mother who moved from town to town, stealing and playing her con games as she went, using her daughter to sweeten the con until cutting her loose at a young age, leaving her to fend for herself. Birdie learned well, and when the opportunity arose to strike it rich she grabbed at it.

Striking it rich, though, didn’t turn out to be as simple as she thought it would be. The only clue she had to hidden treasure in a lazy little town was passed down through generations and she could only hope it still existed. Little did she know her life was about to be drastically influenced by the unsuspecting people of that town in a way that would cause her much regret.

I won’t tell you any more! If this interests you then you will have to read it for yourself. ;)  But, beware: the author sprinkled flirtation, seduction and adult information (although not explicit) throughout so that this is not a book for pre-adult readers.  If it weren’t for that, I would recommend Treasure Me for advanced young readers because the main story line is a good one, well-executed with humour and mystery mixed into the interwoven relationships and fabric of the town’s history.

Christine Nolfi created memorable characters – although a couple are a little exaggerated, perhaps – who made Treasure Me a story in a fictional little town worth visiting.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

News about best-selling author Sue Harrison’s Alaska books! (Interview)

Today I’m doing things a little differently. For those of you who haven’t made this discovery yet on your own, I have an exciting announcement about Sue Harrison’s Alaska novels. Now you can purchase them for yourself for your electronic reader! Instead of a book review today, the rest of this post is a sort of interview and is dedicated to Sue for her relating of her e-book experience. Links are included to make it easy to find where you can purchase copies – if you are so tempted and just can’t resist. :)

My question to Sue was: Sue, I haven’t yet mentioned on my blog about your books becoming available as e-books. Do you have information for me regarding that? The following is her reply.

Lynn has asked me to share about the story of  the ebook release of my 6 Alaska novels, so this is a story about a little dream becoming a lot bigger than I ever thought it would.

In August 2012, my husband Neil mentioned that we really should look into my old contracts and see if we could get the ebook rights assigned to us by the publishers of my Alaska books, Doubleday, William Morrow, and HarperCollins. We weren’t all that motivated, thinking that it might take us a long time to jump through all the necessary hoops, but we dug out the contracts and were met with a very welcome surprise. We already owned the rights! The literary agent who represented my Alaska novels, Rhoda Weyr (now retired), had retained those rights – way back in the 1990s before ebooks were “invented,” and I am extraordinarily grateful for her foresight and wisdom.

My husband set to work finding a company that would scan my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY in preparation for us to self-publish the novel in ebook format. We found Golden Images LLC, and Stan Drew and his people did a super job for us. However, our plans did an abrupt turn around when I received an email on November 7, 2012, from Maggie Lichota Crawford. Maggie was the Avon paperback editor for my first two Alaska books, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY and MY SISTER THE MOON. Maggie wrote that she was now working at Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publisher based in New York City. She told us that Open Road publishes many distinguished authors digitally, including James Joyce, Pearl S. Buck, Pat Conroy, William Styron, Anne Perry…. 

And they wanted MY novels?  Wow, serious happy-dancing.

The next few months were filled with fun activities like updating and submitting my biography, reviewing cover artwork, and posing for new author photos. (Thank you, Erin Johnson!) The six novels were released in May 2013, and are available from Open Road and all ebook retailers. What a dream come true!

These are links to each novel (click link to see where to purchase book):

ebook mother-earth-father-sky 

 

Mother Earth Father Sky

 

ebook my-sister-the-moon

 

My Sister the Moon

  

ebook brother-wind

 

 

 Brother Wind

 

ebook song-of-the-river  

 

Song of the River

  

ebook cry-of-the-wind

 

Cry of the Wind

  

ebook call-down-the-stars

 

 

Call Down the Stars

 

But wait, we weren’t finished. Open Road decided to send producer Corey Maloney and cinematographer Luke Locurcio to our house to shoot a publicity video. Here’s the finished product:

Meet Sue Harrison   <– click here to watch the video

For those who are wondering, most of the video was shot here at our house and on our beach and surrounding woods. The hand hefting the axe is my husband’s. And no, we do not have that spectacular waterfall in our backyard. That is Tahquamenon Falls, located about an hour and a half drive northwest of us, and is one of the most recognized landmarks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Open Road had another big surprise for us in September 2013. It was a Tuesday, and I had begun the mundane work of washing bedding, cleaning, and generally getting back into a routine after a three-day weekend of company. I sat down at the computer and buzzed through the emails that had accumulated and just happened to notice that one of them was from my aunt, Ruth Danner. Ruth’s message said that she’d turned on her Kindle and up popped a very nice advertisement about my novel MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY.

I immediately did a little sleuthing, found an email from my publicist Laura at Open Road and discovered that MEFS had been selected as the Kindle Daily Deal. Wow! Was that a shocker.

The rest of the day, I was pretty much involved in watching the numbers. (I know that’s vain.) Wednesday was more of the same. Although my novel was back to normal price, people were still buying it. During those two days, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY rose to #3 nationwide for Amazon ebook sales, and my author ranking rose to #4 nationwide . That author ranking lasted only a few hours, but I have to admit that it was heady to see myself ranked higher than Stephen King and Clive Cussler.

Despite all this talk about fame, please know that I know fame is a very brittle, unstable foundation for life, for self-worth, or for happiness. I’m so grateful that I don’t need accolades to tell me that I’m loved. My Bible tells me that. My family tells me that. My friends tell me that. I don’t need high author ranks to motivate me to work each day in whatever way God intends. But I did enjoy my 15 minutes of fame, and this is my opportunity to thank all of you for your support, for your help, for your kind words, and for reading my books.

Sue Harrison

Thanks, Sue, for this fabulous and thrilling story of the revival of your books! 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

Book Review: Adventures in Mother-Sitting – by Doreen Cox

Adventures in Mother-Sitting by Doreen CoxBook: Adventures in Mother Sitting
Author: Doreen Cox
Publisher: Olmstead Publishing
Date: January 1, 2010
Genre: Memoir (adult reading)
Pages: 266
Price: $18.00; Kindle under $6.00
My Rating:  A good book for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia

* from the book blurb: ADVENTURES IN MOTHER-SITTING is a memoir that speaks to a journey through grief, through losses of many kinds.

I read this book with the intention of reviewing it, especially since I also am a caregiver of a loved one.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is a book written by the daughter of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Doreen Cox wrote from raw and real emotions and experiences. She took the reader through her journey, preserved in journals, in a way that draws the reader into her life, and into her home which she shared with her mother for whom she became a “care bear”.

Three things that stood out to me in a less positive way are:  1. I have never read anything where the author used quotation marks as freely as in this book.  2. It felt as if chapters 11 and 12 yanked me right out of the story and were not necessary.  3. Some repetition seemed unneeded as the reader can understand what was said and will likely remember most of it from before when encountering things that relate back.

Now, that out of the way, the great things about this book are the honesty with which the author wrote and her willingness to share it all. She told in great detail, some parts difficult to read because of the exposed reality of the disease, about how Alzheimer’s (dementia) steals from its victim. Not only are memories stolen, but the memory of how to do even the simplest things disappears. The brain is confused and damaged by the disease, affected in such a way so as to make it stop relaying the usual messages we all take for granted, such as how to eat, dress, carry on a conversation. There is so much to learn about Alzheimer’s, so much to understand in caring for someone afflicted. Doreen opens a window into seeing what it is like living with that horrible disease, and how acutely needed are love, compassion, patience, understanding.  She also bravely shared how it sometimes became too much for her when she was sleep deprived and exhausted, and how she coped – or failed to cope – with the demands on her.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is told with humour, love, and tenderness, but also with a sometimes shocking truth. It is raw, revealing, and perhaps awkward for some people to read, but it should be read anyway.

Two years ago I wrote a review of Still Alice  – a fiction novel about a woman who learned she had Alzheimer’s, and covers two years of her life as the disease gradually takes over her brain’s ability to function. It is a book highly recommended among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and during our Alzheimer Caregiver Support Group meeting this month I recommended Adventures in Mother Sitting by Doreen Cox.

If you are facing dementia in any way, particularly as a caregiver of someone so afflicted, I suggest you read this book. It will help you to understand more from the viewpoint of the caregiver, enabling you to see from the author’s experience how the disease changes a person’s abilities and mind to that of total dependence.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

Book Review: Operation Bonnet: a novel – by Kimberly Stuart

Operation BonnetBook: Operation Bonnet
Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: February 1, 2011
Genre: comedic fiction
Pages: 266
Price: $14.99
My Rating: An enjoyable read with tasteful humour; not totally predictable.
 

I won this book from somewhere, I think perhaps on Twitter.

This is the first Kimberly Stuart book I have read, and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure if a book written about the Amish community would hold my interest, but it certainly did. It isn’t even all about the Amish, but gives some insight into that lifestyle, while also following the main character in her own life in the mainstream community.

Operation Bonnet is about a young woman, Nellie, who wants to be a private investigator, but living in a small community she can find no one needing a PI. That is, until she meets Amos, a young man who, of his own accord, left the nearby Amish community and the girl he loves. He is forbidden to visit so hires Nellie to spy for him. To do that Nellie has to somehow infiltrate the strict community, so she pulls some trickery in order to get herself into the home and kitchen of the feared and respected matriarch of that community. It’s a nerve-racking experience for Nellie, for although she is quite good at keeping up in the kitchen (she loves to cook) she has trouble keeping out of trouble.

Even though Nellie is trying to help another in the romantic front, her own heart is tried because of her best friend, the guy with whom she grew up. As smart as she is she just doesn’t see what is happening in her own relationships.

What added another interesting dimension to this story, for me, is the fact that Nellie is trying to take care of her aunt who has dementia and resists allowing her parents to place her aunt in a home.

I don’t want to tell you anymore about the story because it is worth your reading it yourself. Kimberly Stuart writes with humour and heart, creating believable characters and realistic dialogue that I think you will enjoy in Operation Bonnet.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Infinity Ring, Book one: A Mutiny In Time – by James Dashner

Infinity Ring, book 1, A Mutiny in TimeBook: Infinity Ring, book one: A Mutiny in Time
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: MG (age 9+, grade 4-6); dystopian
Pages: 192
Price: $8.99 US; also available for Kindle and as an audio book
My Rating: exciting read to start off the series
 

I won this book with a poster, a 3-D sticker and a fold-out map to go with the online game.

It’s always fun to win something, and when I win a book it is a special thrill. I received an autographed ARC (advanced reading copy) of Infinity Ring, book one: A Mutiny in Time, so now you know (if you read the stats above) I read it quite awhile ago. Even though I wasn’t asked to, I decided to post a brief review because this volume is the first of a series that might interest a child (age 9 and up) in your life. Book eight of the series is due to be released in August of this year.

The first characters we meet are a couple of adventurous young friends, Dak and Sera. Quickly the reader learns there is trouble in their world – the very real chance it is going to end soon. Something has to be done to prevent it. Also, there is Dak’s parents’ very important invention – the Infinity Ring, a device that allows time travel – that someone bad is after, and that Dak and Sera have found. Worse yet, Dak’s parents have disappeared – lost in time! The young friends are determined to help, but their discovery of the Infinity Ring has put them in danger. Of course, that doesn’t stop them and they decide to go back in time to find Dak’s parents and also fix history while doing it.

Now, how is that for an exciting story a youngster is bound to like? This adventure is very easy to read and get caught up in, the pace keeps one’s interest, and surprises along the way keep the story moving. There is decent humour, too, which always adds a nice touch. I didn’t try the online game but that is something maybe my grandson will do with me now that he is nearly nine.

Look for book one of the Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time. The series is written by several authors, but James Dashner  is the author of books one and seven of the series.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

We have a winner of The Adventures of Tomato and Pea – by Erik Weibel!

Just a quick post to let everyone know ….

This evening, the name of each person who commented on my interview with Erik Weibel was placed in the random name picker tool I got for free online. (http://www.miniwebtool.com/random-name-picker/)  It’s the first time I’ve used it for this and it works so well I will probably use it for future draws.

I contacted the winner and already received her mailing info. So, with no further delay …

The winner of a copy of      The Adventures of Tomato and Pea

by Erik Weibel -      

is …

drum roll   …

snare-drum-th

Patricia Tilton!  

Congratulations, Patricia!  You will be receiving your book soon.

Patricia replied very quickly to my email, saying, “Thank you Lynn.  I’ve been wanting to read Erik’s book.”

Thank you, everyone, for participating in the draw to win a book. I know Erik appreciates your support. You can find his book on Amazon.

Stay tuned for more reviews, interviews, book giveaways as I am able to conduct them. I have loads of books to lose myself in!  :)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)