Sunday, April 29, 2012

Titanic 2012 by Bill Walker

Rebuild the Titanic? Who would want to do that and relive that nightmare?
Well....Harlan Astor, descendant of John Jacob Astor IV who perished in the original Titanic, wanted to rebuild it, and he did rebuild it to the tune of six-hundred million dollars.  The question of why he wanted to do this was left unanswered to the public, but nevertheless it was built, it was launched, and it set sail on the exact dates of its original journey. 
The story begins with the meeting of Solly, Ken and Trevor....all college buddies of Harlan.  They met to ask Trevor why he had been invited on the boat and how Harlan died on his dream ship.  Solly and Ken were skeptical with the story Trevor told them.
The book then moves to where most of the action takes place........on the ship.   The action includes Trevor's adventures and his main purpose of the trip which was to interview the passengers for the book his publisher had put no stops to in terms of cost.  Each of the passengers had been carefully interviewed and selected by Harlan because of specific reasons known only to Harlan and the passenger.  During his interviews, Trevor was finding that most of these handpicked passengers had sad, troublesome lives, and a past.  Trevor did find an irresistible young lady on board, but she too fit the bill the other passengers did, and he wondered what Harlan's true purpose had been when choosing these 200 particular passengers.  
As you read, you will feel the excitement of the boarding, the chill of the launching, and the thrill of history being recreated.  The reconstruction of the suites bearing photos and descriptions of the original occupants will fire up any history buff's love of a past era coming alive.  Harlan even had the Marconi wireless system restored along with the exact menu in the dining room on the last fateful night of sail. Everything was done as it had been 100 years ago.  Mystery and emotions played a large part in this book.
The book became tense at times with danger, and despite the boat’s opulence, nostalgia, and charm, you will find out this voyage had a completely different purpose other than a pleasure cruise.  Don't miss this recreation of history that is filled with secrecy and intrigue. You will ask yourself why, and you will find out the answer of why Harlan Astor spent six hundred million dollars for this ship.  It is a splendid book.  What do you think?  Would rebuilding an historical disaster be a good idea?  Read Titanic 2012 and decide for yourself.  5/5

Please Click on the book cover to review and/or purchase.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

ENZA by Kristy K. James

Click on the book cover if you want to purchase ENZA.

Every character in this book is as interesting as a character can get. They all had depth and were beautifully described by the author. You will love all but one of them for their innocence and genuineness, and one of them you definitely will not like simply because of the unpleasantness she brings to every instance of meeting her.

The book is set in a small town in Michigan during the early 1900's during a time of stay-at-home women, large families, and just plain sweetness. It is a charming, nostalgic trip back to a time when life was much more simple and family oriented....lots of kids in each family, marriage proposals on knees, women expecting their man to be chivalrous, and men being the main bread winner.

The book is totally character driven and gives a glimpse into each family or single character's emotions and daily lives. You will feel when they are happy, frightened, or worried. The author did a fantastic job of putting you into the story and into the characters' lives....and you definitely will want to be a character in this heartwarming tale and to be a part of this town.

As the pages turn, you will be looking forward to seeing what your favorite or least favorite character is doing next. There is humor as well as friendship and all around genuine concern for the community and each other.

But.....will this wonderful life and the population be gone if and when the influenza reaches Charlotte, Michigan, and the rest of the world? Can they escape what is happening around the world with the Spanish flu?

It took a few pages to get used to the book's setup since its main focus was on each character and not really a plot, but once you get to know the characters, you will find it quite difficult to leave them as you turn the last pages through your tears. 5/5

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dark Room by Joshua Graham

If you love narrow escapes, deep secrets, on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, and murders, you will love this thriller.

Dark Room begins with a scene during the Viet Nam war with Grace, a Vietnamese girl, being shot and Peter Carrick, a photo journalist, rescuing her.  It then flashes forward to Peter and Xandra, Grace and Peter's daughter, spreading Grace's ashes in her childhood neighborhood in Viet Nam.   The book then moves to present day in California and New York with Peter and Xandra, and the chilling ride begins. There are flashbacks to Viet Nam throughout the book, and these flashbacks play a major part in the story.

As the book continues, Xandra questions....can this really be happening?  How could developing pictures in a  dark room and seeing visions as the pictures are being developed lead to clues in a murder investigation and subsequently her arrest for a murder she didn't commit and one that was contrived to cover up a crime from 30 years ago. 

The scenes are intense and very descriptive, and they will keep you turning the pages. You will learn about Viet Nam, political campaigns, political conspiracy, political deception, and lies that go unexposed, but you will mainly share the fears of Xandra as she experiences her visions, her struggle with trying to find out her father's secret from his past, and the horrors of being accused of numerous crimes and murders she didn't commit.

You will also escape with Kyle and Xandra and be a part of their solving the mystery of why everyone in Echo Company during the Vietnam Nam war is either  dying an unexplained death or being murdered.  The book is action-packed until the last page.

Graham is a commanding writer that will keep any lover of thrillers entertained with his non-stop action and unbelievable revelations of things that could easily happen.  As you near the end, you realize there are very powerful messages being sent out to the reader.  Dark Room can't be labeled anything but an excellent read.  5/5

I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books for my honest review.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gods and Fathers by James LePore


Police, politics, attorneys, terrorists, ruthless murderers, and money.....lots of money.  Put all of these together and you get a complicated, "shady" case of who done it. Had Matt really killed his girlfriend or was he framed?

The characters are intense, wealthy, and quite interesting.  They range from police detectives to wealthy attorneys and from spoiled, rich children and wives to house help....some who really shouldn't be trusted. Each character has his or her own unique characterization and connections.  The reader will get a glimpse into corruption in investigations and the alarming happenings that occur inside and outside of the courtroom when trying to prove an accused person is innocent.  This may include "eliminating" some of the suspects or folks that would have been able to testify.

Matt, the accused, was sequestered in his mother and step-father's home on at 500K bail for the murder of his girlfriend who he was going to marry in a few months.  Matt denies the charge, but the evidence whether honest or contrived kept mounting and evidence tampering by skilled people couldn't be proven.

The book takes you from New York to Syria showing how intelligence operations and conspiracy works.  If you enjoy police investigations, criminal happenings, devious characters, and just plain intrigue, this is a book you won’t want to miss.  It gets a little confusing at times, but the intrigue and plot are excellent and keep you interested.  There are a few surprises as well.  It is an easy, good read that you can also learn from with respect to international contact and police investigations.  4/5

Click on the book cover below or the banner at the top to buy the book from Amazon. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Old Loves Die Hard by Lauren Carr

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Mac Faraday, Archie Monday, and Gnarly are again working their magic to solve a murder in Spencer.

Spencer, Maryland, was hit again with a double murder inside the penthouse at Mac's Inn. This sequel brought in new characters that included high profile attorneys and judges who may be murderers. The twists and turns involved in the solving of the murder is quite creative.  Lauren Carr is a great mystery writer. This book gives you more background about the characters that you loved in her first book and gives you a lot of information about investigations and how the judicial system works.....great research done by the author.

The murderer in this tale is pretty clever and knows a lot about the connections the people she is killing have with each other.  The way the story weaves definitely keeps you it the judge and his attorney it the Spanish-speaking it Mac's murdered ex-wife who got herself killed as well or someone totally out of the blue?  When will we find out?  They all seem to be guilty.  I guess you will have to read OLD LOVES DIE HARD to see. :)

This sequel is first-rate but not as gripping as her first didn't grab me from the first page as much as the first one did, but as it continues it gets intense and good....and ooh la la on the will love it.  It actually is good in a different way from the first book by including more of Mac's previous experiences as a detective and giving insight into the solving of crimes.

For someone who loves twists and turns and suspense up until the last page you won't want to miss this brilliant mystery.   I am definitely delighted I found the Mac Faraday mystery series.  I love his character and the mysteries.  4/5 

Looking forward to Lauren's next book in the series:  SHADES OF MURDER.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Murder, My Son by Lauren Carr

Click on the book cover to will love the book, so go ahead and click.  :)

A murder next door to Mac, earlier connected murders, a small town filled with wealthy, cunning residents, a detective who is now a millionaire and also the illegitimate son of a recently deceased mystery-writing author, Robin Spencer, make up part of the "crew" in this well-written, intriguing murder mystery.  And.....we can't forget Gnarly, a huge German Shepherd who steals food from anyone he can, causes havoc in the neighborhood, and even helps find clues for the murder investigations.

The characters in this book are absolutely wonderful. You will fall in love the minute you meet Mac, the new millionaire, and Archie, Robin Spencer's assistant. Gnarly is a little scary and mischievous, but he grows on you.  The small town of Spencer seems to be a dream town, but it is a haven for infidelity, a corrupt police force, and a creative author's twist of having mystery writers as characters.  The eccentric, well-to-do neighbors enhance the storyline and bring a special focus to the plot.  Each character has a background that won't quit and a background that you will love.
Amusing, frightening, and unusual things do happen during the investigation that will keep your interest and keep you guessing until the last page.  Just when you think you have the mystery solved, another character and more clues pop up leaving you still unsure.  Lauren Carr is a master at and has a great knack for keeping you guessing.   A great ending and lots of surprises make this book a treat for mystery lovers.
If you haven't guessed it yet, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give a huge, "gnarly" 5/5 for IT'S MURDER, MY SON and an equally-sized thank you to Ms. Carr for allowing me the pleasure of this read.  

Be on the lookout for her newest book:  


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Happiness Blog Tour and Giveaway

 GIVEAWAY of Digital Review Copies and a KINDLE FIRE!!  

See below for directions on how to enter the contest.

Please click on the book cover to purchase the book.

Bryan Cohen here, guest poster and author, promoting my new book The Post-College Guide to Happiness for The Happiness Blog Tour. I'm giving away free digital review copies of the book and doing a giveaway for paperback copies, audio copies and even a Kindle Fire! Read on and check out the info below the post.

"I can sympathize with people’s pains, but not with their pleasures. There is something curiously boring about somebody else’s happiness."

– Aldous Huxley

I believe that there is a formula to happiness. If you work on certain parts of your life and you take on certain happiness workouts, you are bound to be as happy as you can possibly be. There's only one fly in the ointment here and Huxley touches on it in his quote. Everybody's happiness formula is different. These formulas may be similar from person to person or drastically different. The problem that a lot of people run into is that they think something that makes their neighbor, friend or family member happy is going to make them happy as well.

I used to be the kind of person that would really latch onto what made other people happy. I'd see a friend's eyes light up when he received a toy or a cool magazine. I'd watch a character on TV find his true love and I obsessed over getting the same for myself. I loved seeing these people and characters find happiness because it meant that maybe someday I could secure that happiness as well. It took me a long time to realize that this was not the best way to approximate my own happiness. In many cases, I was way off from what would truly make me fulfilled.

I needed goals and hard work to feel like I was being useful and productive. My friends would go out drinking and partying and would use these things to blow off steam. I didn't want to blow off steam because getting things accomplished made me feel as good as a whisky sour made my friends feel. If I had simply assumed that what they did to have a good time should make me happier, I would probably be pretty down in the dumps right now. By the same token, what I've done to find improved levels of happiness might not work for you either.

This is why in my book, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, I've set out seven different chapters for seven different kinds of people. There's a chapter for those looking for love and one for those trying to get as much education as possible. There's a career-oriented chapter, a religion-oriented chapter and several others as well. I hope that the book can help you to create your own formula for happiness. Don't get caught up in how I did it or how your friends have done it. Sit down with a sheet of paper and think for a minute about what would make you happy. Follow that formula and it won't take long for you to start solving the equation of your joy.

Brian will take care of choosing the winners.
Please become a follower of my blog or an e-mail subscriber so you don't miss any posts!!
Good Luck!!

Bryan Cohen is giving away 61 paperback and audio copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness and a Kindle Fire between now and May 7th, 2012 on The Happiness Blog Tour. All entrants receive a free digital review copy of The Post-College Guide to Happiness. Bryan hopes to give away at least 1,000 copies during the blog tour.  

To enter, post a comment on my blog with your e-mail address or send an e-mail to postcollegehappiness (at) 

Bryan will draw the names at the end of the tour. Entries will be counted through Sunday, May 6th.

Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005 with degrees in English and Dramatic Art and a minor in Creative Writing. He has written nine books including 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job and his new book, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. His website Build Creative Writing Ideas helps over 25,000 visitors a month to push past writer's block and stay motivated.

Feel free to follow along with the tour at The Happiness Blog Tour Hub Page or on the book's Facebook Page.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Literally Dead by James Conroy


Chicago, Chicago my kind of town.....but at the moment it definitely wasn't Amos Jansen's kind of town since he is being accused of murder simply because he found his boss, Dwight Eldon, dead at his desk. Amos' only saving grace was that Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg, yes both of those famous authors, came to his rescue and got him out of the interrogation room and out of jail for now.

You will follow the story from present day back to the rioting that caused the death of Amos' father.  You will love the characters especially Nelson who is an aspiring author and a real con man who has an answer for any dilemma.  Nelson is Amos' best friend, and he even talks Ernest Hemingway into something not above board and gets them both into trouble.  Underneath all of this, though, is police corruption and other individuals who are covering up the murder of Amos' father and Dwight Eldon while trying to pin it on an innocent person.

I really enjoyed the book because of the time period, because of the numerous famous authors brought in as characters, and because it made me laugh out loud at some of the antics.   It is funny and serious at the same time, and is a great inside look at what life was like in Chicago for law-abiding and non-law-abiding citizens in the 1930's during the depression.  

LITERALLY DEAD is a wonderful history lesson with many names you will definitely want to look up to find out what part they played in America's history of unions and civil liberties.   Murder mixed with laughter make this book an historical page turner.  If you want to laugh and truly enjoy a book's characters, you will want to read this book.  5/5