Monday, May 8, 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

Let me be perfectly honest. This is a challenging novel to review. It centers around the actual flesh and blood figure of Jerzy Kosinski, yet plenty of creative license is taken by author Jerome Charyn as he views Jerzy's life through an extremely imaginative lens. Fact blurs with fiction, yet Charyn still remains true to the man, capturing how Jerzy, himself, must have projected his concocted Holocaust survivor persona to the public.

Throughout the book, the different people in Jerzy's life provide insight into who they thought Jerzy was. Yet none of them get it quite right, only catching fleeting glimpses of the chameleon here and there. He amuses Princess Margaret so she invites him over. Comedian Peter Sellers becomes obsessed with him, determined to resurrect his acting career by bringing Jerzy's book, The Painted Bird, to the big screen. Charyn slyly adds this about the legendary Pink Panther, "[Sellers] had glanced into the novel's crazy mirror and seen himself."

However, familiarity becomes a double-edged sword. When Charyn has Jerzy counter with, "I can see that I'll have to be careful with you now, or you'll use my own words against me." The two indulge in a cat and mouse game until Jerzy finally grants Sellers the movie rights to the book, but egotistical Sellers is so thrown off his game having Jerzy on set that during filming he kicks him out, taking away any input Jerzy had in the production.

It's sad because even after achieving some degree of success, Jerzy is still "the little boy who sees himself as a changeling who has to avoid being picked to death by his own kind." In his tortured mind, he'll always be the painted bird, who sticks out like a sore thumb among the rich and famous. The Jew who doesn't belong. Not here, not there, not anywhere.

Falling into disgrace after being deemed a plagiarist later in life, Jerzy commits suicide, leaving behind the crowned royalty and Oscar winners he had so desperately tried to fit in with, but never really could. Charyn is the only one left to tell his story for him, and tell it he does.

***

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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Monday, May 1, 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 a supporting character really steals the show, and in this one it's an ex-Army fighter pilot, who just so happens to be a woman.

Her name is Casey and after completing a grueling rehab stint at Walter Reed—as the facility's only female amputee, no less—she's currently in the private sector, looking for work. It hasn't been easy finding employment since she's still suffering the affects of PTSD, unable to get over the crash that claimed the life of her co-pilot. The cause was determined to be a mechanical failure, yet she can't put the sense of lingering guilt behind her.

So when a former JAG attorney turned civilian offers her a position in his law firm, she's overjoyed, especially when he tells her that he's okay with her full schedule of treatment appointments at the VA. He not only understands, but encourages her on the road to making a full recovery. He doesn't avoid talking about her leg, he accepts her for who she is, and that is pretty cool.

However, Casey faces difficulties from the get go, when on her very first assignment, she has to console a woman who just lost her husband. Not only that, but it occurs right on the heels of the annual Memorial Day phone call she makes to the widow of her co-pilot.

Casey's emotions are the brink, but all is not lost. Throughout the course of the story she battles through them, even when she feels like giving up when terrible things keep happening to her. On assignment, she's attacked by an assailant in the bathroom of her hotel room. Then she has to use her prosthetic leg to break through a window to escape a blazing office fire. But through it all, she doesn't let anything stop her. She continues on, until the case is solved.

In the end, she's even able to work through the issues from her past. At the conclusion of the book, while attending a service at Arlington National Cemetery, jets fly overhead in the missing man formation. And at that moment, she's given a rare second chance to honor her dead co-pilot, whose funeral she was unable to attend on account of her injuries.

Now, finally, after all these years, she's able to walk away with a bit of peace in her soul and a much-needed "W" in the win column.

***

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 1, 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

Why would anyone want to follow a dwarf?

Well, Ever isn't your typical dwarf. Sure, she's ferocious and stubborn, fumbling about on heavy feet. And yeah, after being sheltered in a mountainous cave all her life, she's naive to the ways of the world, exhibiting a child-like innocence that's bound to get her in trouble.

Yet when she emerges from the seclusion of her exiled people, there's something about her that others pick up on. She's special, different. There's a mysterious quality to her. She's petite for a dwarf. Her ears are too pointy. Not to mention, she's able to wield the swords of a dragon like a natural. Which makes everyone who comes in contact with her want to know: just who is this girl?

As it turns out, there exists a legend about an unstoppable dwarf, a savior. But is it Ever? People seem to know more about her than she knows about herself, and it starts to unsettle her. She begs for some form of enlightenment, an inkling to her true identity. But no one can tell her. It's something she has to discover for herself.

And what she starts to uncover, she doesn't like, especially when the branding of a dragon tattoo appears on her face. Horrified that dragon blood runs through her veins, she doesn't want to be a part of what's considered to be a more sinister race. Feeling conflicted, she knows that the dwarves will never take her back now. Not when she's descended from a line of schemers, schemers who stood back and let her dwarven people be virtually annihilated.

But not everyone sees her that way. The companions on the journey to avenge her people, accept her for who she is. They see her as family. In fact, they believe she can be a game changer, if presented with the right opportunity. She could, indeed, end up having the greatest story of them all.

***

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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Monday, February 6, 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

In the midst of a post-apocalyptic descent into savagery, the tender heart of humanity is still beating strong.

Where?

In the family.

Pall is a young warrior who is brutally tortured by a gang of marauding thugs. Before they're able to kill him, he's lucky enough to escape into the forest, where he takes comfort in his happy childhood memories. Even though his mother died giving birth to him - hence his name, Pall - he grew to love his stepmother just as much. Looking back, Pall deeply appreciates, how along with his father, the two of them created such a loving environment for him to grow up in, despite the tragic way he entered the world.

As he grasps the sword his father made for him, he is filled with pride, knowing how it was forged from the metal of "heaven's own starry host." It's a blade that knows not defeat, a priceless gift, and Pall is well aware that by wielding it, he is sworn to uphold his calling to protect the weak, the ill and the aged. The job falls to him to uphold justice in a land ravaged by violence and cruelty, and Pall willingly shoulders the burden of responsibility that comes along with that.

Yet even among so much hostility, Pall encounters kindness in the form of a young, married couple and their two little girls. His heart immediately goes out to them when he sees how vulnerable they are, and he agrees to help them cross a raging river with their wagon full of supplies. It's a beautiful expression of camaraderie and goodwill, knowing that even if they make it, they're still going to be facing nearly insurmountable odds to stay alive.

Despite the unforgiving environment, Pall is able to see in them a reflection of his own upbringing, and it gives him hope that maybe all is not lost. A glimmer of what he remembers so fondly still remains, and Pall cherishes the love this family has for each other. For him, they are a bright light shining through the darkness, refusing to go out.

And I, for one, love the message that goes along with that.

***

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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Wednesday, February 1, 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

Aoife is a strong, modern heroine, a girl who's not only out to define herself, but a girl who flat out refuses to be defined by others. She's not interested in fitting into any preconceived gender roles that are laid out for her. She's ready to wear the pants in the family if she has to. Getting all dolled up to land a rich husband … no, thank you. Her freedom is what's most important to her. She's definitely not someone who's won over by false flattery or sparkly gifts. How refreshing!

All she's looking for is for someone to have faith in her abilities. That's it. Sounds simple, right?

Yet even in a fairy tale setting, those around her continue to underestimate her. And I admire how their lack of insight only fuels her determination even more. She's had enough of the hypocrisy. She's not about to be subdued by anyone or anything—not if she can help it. No one's going to control this feisty lass.

Until her drunk, philandering father loses her in a game of cards to an arrogant, young duke. Yet even then, Aoife doesn't let the overwhelming sense of disappointment crush her. She's good at getting herself out of impossible situations, and she's quick to hatch an escape plan in order to free herself from this hasty, unwanted marriage.

But after awhile, she comes to learn that the idea of ever finding a soul mate, or "perfect" love, may not really exist. It becomes clear to her that, when threatened, darkness lurks inside every heart, including her own. When the duke finally lets down his guard and shows her the light he has burning inside his tormented soul, I really started pulling for the two of them to make it—especially when Aoife, herself, begins to hope that she can ultimately win in this twisted game of love, despite the losing hand she was dealt at the beginning.

Even though she's willing to give the duke a second chance, it's still not going to be easy for her to adapt to being a wife. The insecurities that her mother repeatedly drilled into her head begin to influence her—like how a man would only ever want her for her body or that she's a woman so therefore she needs the protection of a man in order to survive.

Yet Aoife is not a girl who runs away from what scares her. Instead, she courageously decides to trust her new husband, and when she does, she discovers that she may be the only true source of love he's ever had in his life. Thus, giving her what she's always wanted—a purpose.

***

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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