Archive for May, 2011

Review: Revenge Served Cold – Jackie Fullerton

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Thomas House LTD (May 10, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780984381500
ISBN-13: 978-0984381500
ASIN: 0984381503
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Characters:

Elliott Spence
Kathy Spence
Anne Marshall
Shirley Williams
James Marshall

Synopsis:

A man (Elliott Spence) is run down on a busy intersection. Evidence suggests that his wife (Kathy Spence is responsible. Anne Marshall, amateur detective is asked by a friend of Kathy’s, Shirley, to help clear Kathy’s name. Kathy is aided on this quest by the ghost of her dead father.

Review:

I had mixed feelings with this book.  It seemed to follow most of the general rules of mysteries. However, the characters were created in such a way, that I knew before the end was who the killer was. I was also bothered by the fact that a lot of the information was provided by James (Anne’s Father) who was able to eavesdrop and do other things that Anne couldn’t do to obtain information. Another drawback was steppiing outside of reality with James at times. For instance, he couldn’t hug, but somehow was able to do other things that required touching.

Those drawbacks aside, it was an allright mystery. I”m not sure I’d run out and buy the others in the series. It was good, but I’d like to have seen Anne rely more on her abilities, and less on her ghost dad. Language and situations are minimal, so I think if given a rating, I’d say this is good for teens and young adults. For those age groups, or just for a lighter mystery, I think it’s good. I just prefer my mysteries a little darker.

Check it out though, and make your own decisions about it. While I wasn’t blown away by it, it’s just my opinion. Others may enjoy it more.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at Cadence Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Interview: Meg Mitchell Moore – The Arrivals

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Thank you Ms. Moore for taking time to talk to us.

Thank you for having me!

Rhodes Review: What inspired the story of The Arrivals?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I started writing this book in March 2008. The year before that, I had written a big chunk of a novel that was very different, except for the setting of Burlington, Vt. That book was about a man whose daughter died unexpectedly, leaving her two young children in his care for a summer. For several reasons that book really wasn’t working, but I still felt strongly about the themes of grandparents and adult children leaning on their parents. I started thinking about a different way to enter that story, and I came up with the characters of Ginny (the mother) and Lillian (the eldest Owen child). Ginny was originally the sister of the grandfather in the other story. I thought it would be interesting to have two grandparent-age siblings dealing with having their grandchildren around for very different reasons. The first scene in the new book came very quickly, and I could tell by then that the tone and my sense of the story had shifted dramatically. I had somebody read twenty pages that still included some of the old book, and that person (who had no history of the origins of the project) pointed out that the part with the two young children who had lost their mother didn’t seem to fit with the rest of it. Suddenly, the new characters and story were a lot more alive and more interesting to me than the old characters and story had ever been. Once I was able to admit I was now writing a whole new book and not just a revision to the other one I was able to focus and keep the tone more consistent throughout, and I was able to explore themes that I know from my conversations and friendships with other mothers of young children to be very relevant.

Rhodes Review: Have you always wanted to write?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I have! The next question addresses the background so I won’t go into that here.

Rhodes Review: Can you tell our readers a little about your background?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: After college I got a master’s degree in English Literature, thinking I wanted to go into academia. I decided after the master’s degree not to pursue a PhD and I became more interested in journalism. I eventually got a job as a copyeditor at a group of technology magazines in Massachusetts, and after some time there I became an editor, then a writer. After three years there I left to become a freelance writer, which I did for several years. My kids were born during this time so the amount of work I took on fluctuated with the amount of child care, etc. I started really concentrating on the fiction in about 2008, which was when I began the first draft of The Arrivals.

Rhodes Review: What is your writing process like?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: It’s sort of a mess. I have now written two novels (the second will come out next year) and it was no easier the second time around. I usually try to get a first draft out in a reasonable amount of time–less than a year–and then I spend months revising, often undoing a chunk of the original draft. I would love to be a writer who plots ahead of time, always knows what’s going to happen, etc., but so far that hasn’t happened. Though I have heard somewhere that if you don’t surprise yourself while you’re writing you won’t surprise the reader.

Rhodes Review: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: Learn as much as you can from people who know more, remain humble as you’re learning, read the people who write the sort of thing you want to write, try to learn from rejection without letting it crush you, and settle in for a long ride.

Rhodes Review: How did you decide to move from journalist to novelist?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I have always enjoyed both. I think the two naturally feed on each other. I wasn’t consciously giving up journalism for fiction but because of timing (a bad freelance economy coupled with the sale of my novel) that sort of happened. I haven’t written any nonfiction lately and I miss it. I would like to go back to doing both sometime.

Rhodes Review: If you couldn’t write, what would you want to do?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I’m not much good at anything else!

Rhodes Review: What are your follow up plans?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: My second novel will come out next year around this time; The Arrivals was part of a two-book deal. This summer I hope to begin writing a third novel.

Rhodes Review: What was the publising process like for that first novel?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: A learning experience, to be sure. There was so much I didn’t know about the process, from what goes into choosing a cover to how books are marketed and sold to different stores to how much first-time novelists need to do to promote themselves through social media. I feel like I’m still learning about the process every day.

Rhodes Review: Who are some of your favorite authors/novels?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: There are so many! I love Elin Hilderbrand. I am a big Kate Atkinson fan. I can’t wait for Elizabeth Strout to come out with something new. One of my favorite books of the year was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I am consistently blown away by anything—anything—Alice Munro writes. I just started Faith by Jennifer Haigh, which I love already as I have loved all of her books. I love Virginia Woolf. John Updike. Ann Patchett. I could go on forever but I’ll stop there.

Thank you again Ms. Moore for taking the time to talk to us, and letting our readers know a little about you. Ms. Moore will be dropping by to visit sometime on the 29th, so if you have any questions. Feel free to leave them.

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Review: The Arrivals – Meg Mitchell Moore

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

 

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (May 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316097713
ISBN-13: 978-0316097710
Order book here:

 

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Order E-book here:
 
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Ginny and William thought they were finally enjoying their golden years. All their children had moved out and gone on with their lives.

Their daughter Lillian had a career in PR until the birth of Olivia. Now she’s just given birth to Phillip. When life at home gets to be too rough for her, she runs back to the safety of her parents.

Stephen works as a freelance book editor. His wife Jane has a big paying job with a mortgage broker it seems. Jane is pregnant. When she gives birth, their plan is for Stephen to be a stay at home father. They head to see his parents, and due to circumstance, end up staying there longer then they planned.

The youngest sister Rachel is having problems with her boyfriend Marcus, who s unwilling to commit. Rachel works in casting for movies and tv shows. Will events in her life force her to follow her siblings back home?

I really liked the characters that Ms. Moore created in this story. Prior to the writing of this, I had a friend voicing issues with similar problems that Ginny and William went through.

The character of Ginny came across at times as a controlling woman. There were times I didn’t like her too much, and other times I could understand her better. William seemed to be the glue that holds things together. The character of Lillian, I thought, came acroas as a spoiled rotten brat. Stephen was insecure, and married to a woman, who in essence was a little dominating, like his mother. There was also the conflict between Ginny and Jane, probably because they were so similar. Rachel seems a bit jealous, and wants what her siblings have.

These characters I think anyone can relate to, they could be your family, and probably are. The overall story is about family. You might hate them sometimes, but in the end you know you can count on them. No one can get on your nerves more than those you love the most, and Ms. Moore does an excellent job in bringing that thought to life within the pages of this book.

There was some stronger situations so I’d recommend this for older teens or adults. Pick it up, I think you’ll like the story.

About the Author:

Meg Mitchell Moore worked for several years as a journalist. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of business and consumer magazines. She received a master’s degree in English literature from New York University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their three children. The Arrivals is her first novel

Be sure and enter our giveaway to win one of 2 copies. The giveaway is located here. Also be sure and drop in and see our interview with Ms. Moore here and ask some questions if you want. She’s dropping by and may answer some.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss the book here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Giveaway – The Arrivals – Meg Mitchell Moore

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book group I”m able to offer my readers 2 copies of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until 6/14/2011.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).
8) Only one winner per household, if you win the same book in another contest, you will only receive one copy.

See our review here.

News: Congratulations

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Congratulations goes out to Alison and Jessica who each won a copy of Once We Were Kings in our recent giveaway. For those who didn’t get chosen this time, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of Joshua’s book, you’ll enjoy it.

2 people like this post.

Review: What could happen if you do nothing? – Jane Murphy

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Paperback: 147 pages
Publisher: Giraffe Business Publishing (June 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984426205
ISBN-13: 978-0984426201
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
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This book presents many of the different situations that can come up when a boss has to communicate with an employee. It offers the manager an alternative way to say things, or ways to get others to open up and say things.

The author has many real world examples that is applied to discussions in order to show how the reactions can be different based on the approach. For managers who have trouble communicating with those who report to them or for new managers, I think this book could be quite an asset.

It’s a pretty thin book and can probably be read within a night or two. A Table of Contents divides the book into different categories, so you can more easily address the particular situation you need to.

I won’t give this book a rating, because it is for general purposes and not a work of fiction. But there is no objectionable content in it. Check it out and see if it helps you communicate better.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ruby at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Finding Our Way Again – Brian D. McLaren

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

 

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849946026
ISBN-13: 978-0849946028
Order book here:

 

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Order E-book here:
 
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I’ve loved other books by Brian D. McLaren. He’s always had a way of bring religious issues into an area where they made sense to me. On some levels, we have similar beliefs and values, and I think that’s why he’s appealed to me. In this book, Mr. McLaren describes some of the old practices that have fallen out of use in Christianity. He goes into great detail on what these practices were, and how they are valuable. The practices are broken up into Contemplative, Communal, and Missional. These practices he says are ways to become aware and stay awake to God.

Contemplative practices are broken down into solitude, Spiritual reading, spiritual friendships, learning to be aware of God, prayer, journaling, and contemplation.

Communal Practices are joining together with others in a community such as churches, volunteering, etc.

Missional is going out to help others and minister to others.

Mr. McLaren did do a good job from the Judeo-Christian standpoint of showing common areas in belief between Christians, Jews, and Muslim’s. At the end of each chapter, he also includes practices, etc. to help you develop those particular areas a little more.

I think this book for someone already posessing a strong faith, would be help greatly in allowing them to focus more deeply on it. As the first book in a series called The Ancient Practices Series, it left me a little flat. But I think it’s because it was an introductory volume. I’d love to read the others in the series to see if they go deeper into his ideas.

If you like different looks at spirituality, then I’d say you might find this book interesting. If you are looking for a training guide to show you how to tap into these practices, then you may want to look at one of the other books in the series. It’s not an awful book, I managed to learn a great deal, I just didn’t learn what I expected from it.

Here are the other books in the series:

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson
Sabbath by Dan Allender
Fasting by Scot McKnight
Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
Sacred Journey by Diana Butler Bass
The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister
Tithing by Douglas LeBlanc

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Booksneeze for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Giveaway – Once We Were Kings – Joshua Graham

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Thanks to Joshua Graham I”m able to offer my readers 2 ebook copies of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) You must be a follower.

2) Entering is simple, just comment below .

3)  This giveaway is open to everyone.

See our review here.

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Interview: Ian Alexander – Once We Were Kings

Friday, May 20th, 2011

We here at Rhodes Review would like to Welcome Ian Alexander here. Mr. Alexander is the author of an Epic Fantasy called Once We Were Kings. Welcome Ian.

Rhodes Review: Tell us a little about Ian and about Once We Were Kings.

Ian Alexander:  Well, as many of your readers may know, Joshua Graham and I are twins.  Not physically, nor person-wise, just literary twins.  He likes to joke that I’m his evil twin, but really, I’m not evil.  I’m the handsome twin, rather.  (LOL.)

Seriously, though.  Once We Were Kings is a work of epic fantasy that I might never have ventured to write, had it not been for my son (six years old at the time) who, while I read to him at bedtime The Chronicles of Narnia, stopped me and said, “Daddy, will you write me a book?”  That is how the entire book series idea came about.  And, I daresay, how I, as Ian Alexander came into existence as a result.

Rhodes Review: What was your inspiration for Once We Were Kings?

Ian Alexander:  In addition to my son’s request, I would say that the two major influences have been those of C.S. Lewis (Narnia) and the Bible.  This is not a religious book, but there are overtones and allegorical references of which I believe whether religious or not, readers will enjoy and find depth and meaning.

Rhodes Review: Where did you get the story idea?

Ian Alexander:  Right, well you see, I have the little closet in the back of my house where I store many things such as old brooms, cleaning solutions, orphaned socks, and story ideas.  Once I’ve dusted the cobwebs of any of those potentially useful items, I begin to employ them for any number of tasks that might arise.  (Chuckling)

Seriously (if that were even possible for me), the story idea arose from my desire to wed the lore and mythos of both European history with that of Asian history and culture.  I wanted to write a story that illustrates how one’s identity need not be tied to his/her outward circumstances; wealth, station, education, social status, etc., but rather, is defined by their innate nature, their calling and destiny.  I believe that every human being (in the world of Once We Were Kings, and our own) has been designed and called to a specific purpose in life.  And happy is the one who knows and flows in this.  Likewise, miserable is the one who does not.

Here is a quote from the Good Book which exemplifies my view on destiny and calling:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Though there is no mention of God, or Jesus in Once We Were Kings, many of the universally held values of courage, integrity, faith, hope and good vs. evil can be found alive and well within the pages.

Rhodes Review: There were a lot of similarities with today’s socio-political climate. Was this accidental?

Ian Alexander:  Well, I didn’t set out to write a socio-political treatise, if that’s what you mean.  :)  Though it wasn’t a conscious effort to address such topics, I didn’t shy away from them either.  I believe people of all ages face prejudice, social inequity, moral dilemmas, and live in unstable political and societal climates.  Sure, this is a book of fantasy, but I believe it must resonate with the lives of my readers in order for them to connect with the characters and the story.

Rhodes Review: Music seems to have a certain importance throughout the story, is this related to your own life?

Ian Alexander:  Indeed, music plays a very important role in my own life, and therefore by mere association, it does so in my books too.  I have three degrees in classical music (Bachelors and Masters from Juilliard, and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.)  I’ve performed as a cello soloist nationally and abroad, and have served as principal cellists in several professional orchestras.  I simply adore chamber music!  So you might say that I have music flowing through my blood.  It inevitably finds its way into my writing.

Rhodes Review: Where do we see the story going in the next volume?

Ian Alexander:  Ah, therein lies the rub, eh?  I can’t commit to anything yet, but suffice it to say, I’ve got several possible ideas vying for my undivided attention in the Sojourner Series alone.  And this is not even to mention, that pesky Joshua Graham who is always encroaching on my mental territory for some of his own Suspense/Thriller book ideas.

There are manifold possibilities.  I have considered skipping a generation and bringing in the daughter of the newly established king and queen (from the ending of Once We Were Kings), but I have also in mind to write some prequels that fill in the gaps regarding some of the supporting characters.  The wonderful thing about world building is that you get to create the history of the world which you’ve built.  And as the story of the Sojourners spans several millennia, there is an endless amount of story to write.  It could go on forever.

Rhodes Review: I’ve seen in your numerous writings, that you mention workshops. How did you get involved in these?

Ian Alexander:  Beware.  Not all workshops are created equal.  Some are at best a big waste of time and money, and others will just pump you full of bad advice and information.  But there are exceptional ones out there too.

I happened to get invited to attend professional writer’s workshop after my second short story sale.  I was blessed to have gone to a wonderful, life-changing workshop and began to network with some fantastic professional (published) writers and editors.  I am of course speaking of the workshops of Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  It doesn’t always happen that you get invited to a workshop, my stories that I sold just happened to catch the eye of the editor, who believed in my future as a writer and informed me that it would be a good idea to fly up to Oregon and attend their workshops.  It was the best investment I ever made!  Writers of every level should visit the priceless resources on Dean and Kris’ blogs.  If you’re serious about writing, you should invest in their workshops.  I would not be a professional writer (nor would Joshua Graham) had it not been for their tutelage.

Rhodes Review: How would our readers go about joining similar workshops if they are interested in pursuing writing?

Ian Alexander:  As my legal-thriller-writing-twin-brother would say, “Asked and answered.”  :)  see answer to the question immediately above this one.

Rhodes Review: When you aren’t writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Ian Alexander:  Excellent question.  I’m somewhat disturbed that I don’t quite know the answer to that.  Hmmm…let’s see…Right, well, I enjoy reading (of course) the Bible and praying, spending time with my family (traveling), playing video games with my children, going to Barnes & Noble to drink coffee and read and write (oh bother!  You said when I’m not writing!) playing Texas Holdem and dining with good friends.

Rhodes Review: What are some of your future writing projects?

Ian Alexander:  More in the Sojourner Series, and some tie-in short fiction as well.  Joshua Graham, on the other hand will be releasing a suspense/thriller called Darkroom (Howard Books/Simon & Schuster) in May 2012.

Rhodes Review: Do you have any appearances that you would like to promote?

Ian Alexander:  Indeed, I am currently on a virtual book tour (of which this interview is one of the many stops) from now till the middle of June.  I will do another virtual book tour in July as well.  More information on the current tour can be found on facebook here:  http://on.fb.me/owwktour

Thanks for having me on Rhodes Review!

Readers, please visit me at:

The Official Ian Alexander Website:  www.ianalex.com

facebook:  http://on.fb.me/IanAlex

Twitter: @IanAlex77

Drop me a note, send me a message, and if you love Once We Were Kings, please recommend it to everyone you know, that’s how you take part in creating a bestseller!

Once We Were Kings is available:

For nook: http://bit.ly/jeio82
For Kindle: http://amzn.to/iAWsMm
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/lUlOM8

Thank you Joshua for taking the time to talk to us.

Review: Once We Were Kings – Ian Alexander

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

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Publisher: Dawn Treader Press (March 1, 2011)

Order E-book here:
amazon

Synopsis:

A young slave boy Render is taken in by a King and raised as a warror against a race or group of people known as Sojourners. He embarks on the mythical hero’s quest of self discovery

Ahndien is a young girl, and the only survivor of her village. Every indication is that her father survived the attack. She sets out to find him and herself.

Ahndien is Tianese and Render is Torian. There two sides are opposed to each other, but is it possible that other forces are manipulating them behind the scenes.

Characters:

Ahndien – A Young woman discovering latent talents within herself.
Render – A young slave boy who is seeking his destiny.

Review:

This story reminded me in many ways of the Narnia books. The characters of Ahndien and Render are well developed, and likeable. Other characters such as Mooregaard are pretty dispicable. The plot follows an epic quest of discovery. Discovery for both Render and Ahndien who each must discover their destinies.

Writing under the Pen name of Ian Alexander, Joshua Graham delivers a very pleasing fantasy epic. There are times when the story seems to parallel some of our own socio-political climates, in regards to terrorism, racial and cultural biases, religious biases, etc. The conflict between the Tianese, the Torians and The Sojourners was very accurately portrayed. Mr. Alexander does a good job of showing that the views we are raised with regarding others, may not always be how they truly are, that we are affected by our own cultures biases, beliefs, and what we hold dear.

There were many pleasant surprises, and some sadness as can be expected of novels such as this. The author did a good job of creating mix between fantasy and the spiritual aspects of our world.

This book is definitely aimed at the Young Adult, or Older Teen Market. While there was no strong language that I recall, there were scenes that were very intense and may not be for young readers.

I look forward with great anticipation to see what occurs next with some of the characters from this, and definitely recommend it, especially to those who are fans of novels such as Narnia. You won’t be disappointed.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ian Alexander for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.