April 30, 2012

Book Spotlight: UNCONQUERED by J. D. Davis

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  The saga of cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley.  In 1935 and early 1936, three cousins were born into tight-knit families in Ferriday, Louisiana. Rare piano talent, strong parental relationships, the Pentecostal church, family struggle, and a variety of musical influences worked together to produce men who changed twentieth-century music and culture. The individual stories of these three cousins illustrate their varied paths from small-town America to a world stage. Woven together, the collective story becomes even more compelling and amazing.

Unconquered is a story so unlikely that it would not be believable if written as fiction.  It tells of rock 'n roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and country music star Mickey Gilley.  These very different men, raised in the same time and place, with similar talents, were fated for entirely different destinies even as their lives would always be profoundly intertwined.  Born into poverty, each man, in his own way, would become an iconic figure blessed with the ability to thrill and inspire. 

The story's touchstones of music, perseverance, and faith could wield such force only in the American South.  There, in the Louisiana lowlands' Concordia Parish, their story began in the midst of the Great Depression.
  

About the Author

J.D. Davis was raised in Quitman, Texas, a quiet community in the northeast part of the state. Having grown up in a small town in the rural South—similar in many ways to the cousins’ hometown of Ferriday, Louisiana—with many similar influences as the cousins, he has meaningful insight into these three men.

Davis attended the University of Texas on a full academic scholarship, received a B.A. with highest honors in economics, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He later received a master’s degree from SMU.

As a successful businessman, Davis achieved the highest credentials as an actuary and became a principal in a large firm while still in his twenties. He currently manages an employee benefits consulting practice that covers the southern region of the United States, with offices in four cities.

Davis remembers his father watching Jimmy Swaggart on television and being intrigued by the evangelist's magnificent piano talent. As a teenager, Davis became a huge fan of Jerry Lee Lewis. He first attended one of Lewis’s live performances as a college student and was awe-struck to see this man put on a breathtaking performance. Davis grew up listening to country music of the seventies and eighties, when Mickey Gilley was consistently producing number one country hits. He became fascinated by the ways these three very different cousins achieved and dealt with eventual success and has been a dedicated fan for years.

Davis has worked with a talented team of many. His editors included Elizabeth Kaye, an award winning journalist who has often written about southern music and southern preachers. As a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, she interviewed Sam Phillips and gathered firsthand experience of Jerry Lee Lewis when covering sessions at which he played with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison. As a contributing editor to John Kennedy’s George magazine, Kaye wrote extensively about Billy Graham and his son Franklin, traveled on several missionary trips with Franklin, and worked with ABC’s 20/20 to produce and write a major Billy Graham profile.

You can visit his website at http://www.unconqueredthebook.com.

Visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UnconqueredTheBook

Visit his Twitter page at https://twitter.com/Unconqueredbook

Unconquered is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

Thank you to Tracee Gleichner and Pump Up Your Book for including me on this tour!



April 29, 2012

DARKROOM Online Launch Party!

 
Join Joshua Graham, winner of International Book Awards, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble #1 bestselling author live on camera as he talks about his latest high-stakes thriller,  Darkroom

The chat lines will be opened for questions and answers and a chance for readers to win a brand new Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, free e-books and autographed copies of paperback and hardcover books by the author himself.

DATE:  May 1, 2012
TIME:  6:00 p.m. Pacific/9:00 p.m. Eastern

How to join:   
click this link: http://t.wbx.me/ges8v
- use the guest tab (not registered users tab)
- enter your name in the guest field
- click enter button to join


For more information on author Joshua Graham, please visit his website

To read my review of Joshua Graham's Beyond Justice, please click here

Please stop by Psychotic State Book Reviews on May 1 for my review of Darkrooom.

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

April 22, 2012

Book Review: SIMPLY DIVINE: A GUIDE TO EASY, ELEGANT AND AFFORDABLE ENTERTAINING by Lisa Vanderpump

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Lisa Vanderpump has become the breakout star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Her unique mix of sparkling glamour and down-to-earth style has appealed to thousands of fans.  On the show, viewers can see her hosting dinner parties and running her popular Beverly Hills restaurant Villa Blanca with what can best be termed "easy elegance."

Now Lisa shares her tips and tricks for creating the perfect gathering; whether you're hosting a cozy winter dinner for six, throwing a poolside BBQ, or just hanging out with your closest friends, Lisa has just the menu and entertaining hints that will make it both simple AND divine.

Lisa offers simple decor ideas and more than 50 recipes in mix-and-match menus for any kind of "Day", including:

*   Cozy Days:  Wintry day, rainy days, snuggle-in days
*   Sexy Days:  Intimate dinner for 2 by the fireside or by candlelight
*   Days to Impress:  Formal dinners fit for friends, heads of state or when the boss comes to dine
*   Holidays:  Celebrations, English Christmas, New Year's, Anniversaries
*   Sunny Days:  Picnics, pool parties, and barbecues
*   Lazy Days:  Informal get-togethers,  lunches, having the girlfriends over
*   Darling Days:  Tea parties, baby showers and kids' parties
*   Frantic Days:  10- minute meals to whip up from pantry staples

My Review

I absolutely loved Simply Divine.  Maybe because I enjoy books in the home/entertainment category, especially those that make it possible to achieve in your own home and with stunning pictures to boot.  Or maybe because I adore Lisa Vanderpump and would like to come back as her in my next lifetime. 

The very stylish Ms. Vanderpump shares her trademark style in everything from home decor to carefully thought out meals to flower decor to manners.  If you watch her on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (guilty!) reading Simply Divine is akin to hearing her voice in your ear as you savor each page.  I loved the tips and hints, told in Lisa's witty and conversational style.  I liked knowing that Lisa considers white the perfect decorating backdrop, a clean and crisp canvas that allows any accent colors to be used. 

The recipes - - more than 75 of them! - - that she's included cover every occasion from a formal sit-down dinner to a casual and yet romantic meal for 2.  They are easy to make and delicious.  Special mention goes to Lisa's Shepherd's Pie (the best I've ever had, hands down), VanderPerfect Roasted Potatoes and Slow Roasted Tomatoes.  Her Mashed Potatoes recipe taught me a new way to keep the potatoes smooth and dry.  Yum.  I can't wait to try her dessert recipes, which sound absolutely delicious. 

I do wish there were more photographs of Lisa's place settings and maybe detailed instruction from Lisa on flower arranging as her arrangements are always so gorgeous (and she does the arrangements for one of her Los Angeles area restaurants). 

I am pleased to have this book as an addition to my home library.  Here is hoping that Ms. Vanderpump will thrill us with a sequel and soon!

Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant and Affordable Entertaining is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon Affiliate.  I will receive a small commissio if you make a purchase through my link. 

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of my review. 



April 20, 2012

Giveaway Winner: ÂMES SOEURS PERFUME



And the lucky winner of the Âmes Soeurs perfume sample is . . .

D.A.

Congratulations!  I will be emailing you directly to get your mailing address for your sample.

A big THANK YOU to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway. I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here. I hope you all will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.

Thank you to Media Muscle for making this giveaway possible.


Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winner.

Happy reading!




April 17, 2012

Speed Giveaway: ÂMES SOEURS ORIGINAL PERFUME


Thanks to the lovely ladies at Media Muscle, I have a sample of the original perfume Âmes Soeurs to give away.  Âmes Soeurs was inspired by The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose.  I have a sample myself and I love it - - it's light with a hint of floral, decidely sweet and feminine without being overbearing.  (At least to my nose!) 

Would you like your own sample?  Simple, just leave a comment on this post mentioning your favorite scent, whether it be a particular perfume, or vanilla or the scent of coconuts, whatever it is for you.  Just share!

Be sure to leave your name and email address (or at least indicate that your email address may be found in your profile). NO EMAIL ADDRESS = NO ENTRY!

No P.O. boxes. No Military APOs. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada only. My apologies to my overseas friends.  
And here is the twist.  This is a speed giveawayThe contest will end on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. PSTSo don't hesitate!

To read my review of The Book of Lost Fragrances, which inspired this lovely scent, please go HERE.

Good luck!

April 15, 2012

Book Review: 101 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT THE TITANIC . . . BUT DIDN'T! by Tim Maltin and Eloise Aston

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  People have an endless fascination with the Titanic, yet much of what they know today is a mixture of fact and fiction. In one hundred and one brief and engaging chapters, Tim Maltin, one of the foremost experts on the Titanic, reveals the truth behind the most common beliefs about the ship and the night it sank. From physics to photographs, lawsuits to love stories, Maltin doesn't miss one tidbit surrounding its history. Heavily researched and filled with detailed descriptions, quotes from survivors, and excerpts from the official inquiries, this book is guaranteed to make readers rethink everything they thought they knew about the legendary ship and its tragic fate.







My Review:
I am one of the above-mentioned people who has an endless fascination with the Titanic.  I've read many books on the subject, as well as fictional takes on the doomed ship.  And who hasn't seen the 1997 movie?  (I've seen it multiple times, as well as the 1950s flick). 

When I heard of this book, I thought it would be right up my alley.  Happily, I was correct.

This book is a fantastic read for Titanic junkies.  It is chock full of facts that may be well known - - such as the ship's conception and design, the famous passengers - - and those that are little known, such as the most of the victims died not of drowning but of hypothermia (and many within twenty or so minutes after submerging in the water) and that third class passengers were not locked into steerage to allow upper class passengers the opportunity to get to the lifeboats first.  In fact, the male lower class passengers had a higher survival rate than the male first class passengers. 

The book is divided into sections such as the ship, passengers, omens, etc. and numbered, as the title suggests, 1 through 101.  The numbered facts are kept relatively short but informative, making for a quick and yet rewarding read.  I appreciated that 101 Things didn't give short shrift to the Titanic before the sinking, giving a plethora of facts (as well as myths) on the famous ship.  Authors Tim Maltin and Eloise Aston make judicious use of both the U.S. and British inquiry transcripts.   

I was also pleased to see that Morgan Robertson's 1898 novella, Futility, Or The Wreck of the Titan, was one of the facts included in the book.  Being a Titanic junkie I had heard of the Robertson book, with the fictional ship Futility's eerie parallels to the real doomed liner, as well as her sister ship, the Olympic.  101 Things included where Futility differed as well - - although I must admit that the coincidences are chilling.  Equally chilling, and included, are that Robertson also wrote a novella about a war between the Americans and the Japanese which began with a sneak attack by the Japanese on Hawaii and involved the use of a device developed by Americans similar to the atomic bomb, causing blindness, heat and facial burns - - in 1914, nearly 30 years before World War II actually took place.

101 Things shined a very real light on a much publicized tragedy.  Captain E. J. Smith was a captain with great skill and experience, a very respected man, husband and grandfather.  He wasn't showboating on the night the ship struck the iceberg, nor was he accident prone or drunk.  The Titanic was a ship of a different beast, so to speak, a type that no one up to that time in 1912 was accusomed to navigating.  "Unsinkable" Molly Brown was not treated with condescension by other first class passengers for coming from "new money"; in fact, fellow first class passenger Isidor Straus was also relatively "new money".  Two young boys were indeed kidnapped by their father and while their father did not survive the sinking, they did indeed and were cared for by a fellow passenger in New York until a month after the sinking, when their mother recognized them from newspaper photographs and was reunited with them.  The Goodwin family of Fulham, England was wiped out by the sinking - - all eight members, including the eighteen month old baby. 

If you would like a book to add to your Titanic library, I cannot recommend this book enough.  It's factual without being boring and clears up many previous myths and misunderstandings about the ship, its people and the horrible tragedy that night in 1912. 

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . But Didn't is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link I will receive a small commission. 

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of my review. 



April 6, 2012

Book Review: COMEBACK LOVE by Peter Golden

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  What would you do if you had a second chance with the one that got away?


More than thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving behind Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn't imagine living without.  


Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globe-trotting consultant with a grown son, an ex-wife and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again.  Though she's stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink.  As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they rediscover the passion that once drew them together - - before it tore them apart.  And as the evening unfolds, Gordon will finally reveal the true reason for his return . . .


Comeback Love is an evocative journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s and who never truly let each other go.  Plumbing the depths of youth, regret and desire, Peter Golden deftly illuminates the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change. 


My Review


I so wanted to fall in love with this book.  I appreciate a good love story and really like the idea of a second chance love with characters who aren't in their teens.  Unfortunately, Comeback Love just didn't work for me.

I think the biggest problem for me was that I just didn't connect with either Gordon or Glenna, which amounts to a lot when you're reading a character driven story.  Because I didn't feel I had a connection with either character, I didn't feel involved in the story and wasn't drawn in.  As a result, I didn't finish the book.

I really dislike it when this happens.  This is through no fault of author Peter Golden, who is obviously a talented writer.  Books are indeed subjective and there are very positive reviews on Comeback Love out there.  Check out Amazon and/or Goodreads to see for yourself.  The majority of those reviews are extremely positive so I appear to be the exception to the rule.

Comeback Love is available for  purchase at major booksellers now, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

With thanks to Crazy Book Tours for including me on this virtual tour.

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  In no way did the provision of this book affect the outcome of my review.



April 2, 2012

Guest Post and Excerpt: THE MINEFIELDS by Steven Eisner

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Situated smack between the cigarette and martini days of Mad Men and the nihilism of House of Lies, Eisner paints a classic roman a clef in stinging detail.  Protagonist Sam Spiegel is the Golden Boy with the New York business world at his feet when he is called home to Philadelphia just as he has begun to make his mark.  His father, Holocaust survivor Harry Spiegel, is ailing and it's with reservations that Sam takes on the challenge to grow his father's firm, Spiegel Communications, into national prominence.  The complex themes of the father and son relationship, like those found in the works of Chaim Potok and Mario Puzo, are brought vividly to life as Sam and Harry battle over the future of the family legacy.

Excerpt from The Minefields


At least five tubes ran from his arms, legs, and groin.  The ribbons of his hospital gown were untied and the flaps spread over him like a second top sheet.  These were the least of his problems.  A heavy, soiled sandbag had been draped over his right leg up to his hip.  I wondered whether the patchwork of stains had come only from his insides or was left over from other soldiers in decay?  The sandbag had a purpose - - to stop the bleeding after a routine injection poke.

Click here for the previous excerpt.  Click here for the next excerpt.

Personal Stories in Writing:  Do or Don't?  
by Steven Eisner


While The Minefields is most definitely a novel, it draws heavily on stories I know, understand and have experienced, in part both in my business life as well as my personal.  And as these stories evolve in my writing, there is no question they take on a life of their own.  My tales become more interesting, often more vivid, at times more provocative and, generally speaking, more imaginative when they gain new rhythm, speed and texture.

So often real life can bog down on us.  And then meander back on itself, as if to slow the forces of good storytelling to a crawl.  I've learned that readers don't take to languishing in the details all that much, unless it is in the details that the reader learns more important things about the story.  I think the author's "job one" is to keep the story flowing, connecting all the dots concisely and to wander little.  You wander only when the overriding theme is about wandering.  A writer, certainly this one, needs to curb the inclination to become overly indulgent about back story, unless of course back story is the primary driver.  I keep finding myself repeating as I write "less is more."

As for real life giving the nourishment to new stories, this is absolutely a truism.  And there is nothing like reliving a moment in your head that pecks away at you . . . so as to capture it just as you're recalling it with what you're seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling.  It's one of the greatest joys for me as a writer to get what I remember down . . .from head to paper with authenticity.

About the Author


Before writing his novel and after learning the ropes at Doyle Dane Bernbach, New York, Steven C. Eisner created and led Eisner Communications, a Baltimore-based advertising agency for more than two decades, creating hundreds of effective ad and PR campaigns for leading corporations and associations including Black & Decker, Marriott, McCormick Spices, PhRMA, US Airways, Lenox China, the Maryland Lottery, the Nature Conservatory, and the United Way.  Eisner Communications won numerous industry awards including CLIOs, ADDYs and EFFIEs, and the O'Toole for creative excellence across its entire client roster.  The Minefields is Steven C. Eisner's first novel.

Visit his website here.

With thanks to Book Trib for including me on this book tour!