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Review # 253: The Tale of Lucia Grandi - The Early Years by Susan Speranza


Description: (from Amazon)
     When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.   
     The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.This timeless story of one woman’s courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it is powerfully and poignantly told.
*This novel recently made it to the Quarter final rounds in the 

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest!!!


 There comes to a point in time when a person has to evaluate their life - what is to come, what has been, and how it is/was lived. Everyone’s life is wholly unique, filled with a conglomeration of seemingly random events, emotions, triumphs and regrets. Each individual has a distinct personality for leaving their mark on the world - no matter their age. Everyone has a story, and The Tale of Lucia Grandi: The Early Years is one that I will not soon forget! I was hooked to Lucia’s story from the first page, her kind and down-to-earth wits creating a welcoming and slightly comedic tone. I knew that she was going to be a handful of a character, but I felt an instant resonance towards her and her temperament. Susan Speranza weaved an emotional tale that can be enjoyed by a diverse readership - perfect for any walk of life. Her poetic writing style was visually stimulating, as well as easy-to-understand. Lucia’s fictitious biography, although rather large, proved to be a powerful and  worthwhile read. I learned a great many life lessons from her actions and experiences and was left wanting more, (The Later Years?). The novel carried a moderate pace, a structured story-line, bold characters, and a historical charm that never ceased to keep me interested; Lucia’s life was thoroughly lived - through thick and thin. I would definitely read it again. Highly recommended for all readers!

Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

***I received a copy of this book from the author (Lightning Book Promotions) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Aurthor: (from Amazon)

     Once upon a Time…I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island where I had an interesting and creative childhood. Once in college, I studied Psychology and Philosophy, but since “thinking” didn’t translate into earning money or job security, I worked at a variety of different and unrelated jobs both in New York City and on Long Island.

     In order to keep me sane through all the craziness of life, I spent my spare time writing. Anything and everything. The culmination of this was a fantasy - The City of Light - which has recently been reissued as an ebook.

    I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and produced many Pekingese Champions. You can see them over at our Castlerigg Pekingese website (

     Somewhere in the middle of my life so far, after a great personal upheaval, I went back to school, became a High School Librarian. I managed to fulfill my childhood dream of living in the country when I finally escaped suburbia and moved to Vermont where I now happily live with my beautiful Pekes.
But I’ve never stopped writing. My biography (as with my life, I hope) is to be continued…

     THE TALE OF LUCIA GRANDI, THE EARLY YEARS is my first novel. I recently entered the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, where this novel made it unexpectedly to the Quarter finals. It was also on the short list of finalists in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Competition. The book was entered in both contests under its former name, MY LIFE IN DOGS, THE EARLY YEARS. For more information


Tour schedule:


1st Phaedra @ Identity Discovery (guest post)

2nd Sheila @ Sheila Deeth (guest post)

3rd Andi @ Radiant Light

5th Vidya @ Books are Magic

7th Denise @ The Pen Muse

9th Darryl @ Savage Lullabye (spotlight)

10th Nicole @ Pretty Opinionated (guest post)

11th Georgiana @ Coupon Clipping Texan

12th Bette @ 4writersandreaders (interview)

13th Marissa @ For The Love of Film and Novels (guest post)

14th vb @ Books For Me

15th Julia @ Talk Story TV (interview)

16th Melina @ Melina’s Book Blog (guest post)

21st Kathleen @ Celticlady Reviews

22nd Allizabeth @ The Paperback Pursuer 

25th Autumn @ The Avid Reader

Review # 252: Alien Illuminati - Abductions, Psychic Dreams, Premonitions & Paranormal by Benjamin Hulett


      Alien Illuminati is based on Benjamin Hulett’s personal experiences with alien abductions, psychic dreams, premonitions, and the paranormal. The first section of the book documents Benjamin’s true accounts and experiences with these supernatural occurrences, also providing “undeniable” proof of their existence. The second section is written as a novel and recounts these experiences in story format.


     As a scientist, I have always wondered about what - or who - lives beyond our solar system. I figure, if Earth has the conditions to support life, then why can’t other planets sustain living organisms as well? Which is why I jumped at the chance to read Benjamin Hulett’s Alien Illuminati, a first-person account of the extraterrestrial. First-off, I noticed the neat cover-art, the colors and sharp lines immediately grabbing my attention. Second, I discovered the format - the first section was an in-depth overview of the author’s experiences, with documents and facts supporting his supernatural claims; while the last half was a story-like recounting of events leading up to, during, and after his run-in with an otherworldly being (no spoilers!). The first section started off slow, the pace was not ideal, but the content quickly picked up speed, blurring the lines between the normal and the paranormal. I had never given much thought to alien abductions/ modifications, but the first few sections were shocking and thought provoking. Benjamin’s timeline and stories seemed impossible, yet hauntingly believable. I was not a fan of the overall set-up or the minimal editing, however I was still very interested in hearing what he had to say, so such trivial errors were simple to ignore. The sections about his psychic dreams were the most bizarre and unsettling, but I liked his accounts and vivid descriptions. Alien Illuminati was a very interesting and unexpected book, indeed. Sure, I am still a skeptic, but Benjamin’s well-documented experiences with the unknown have left me eager for more instances of intergalactic truths. Are non-earth life-forms already here? In my lifetime, I may never know, but the evidence seems to indicate that “they” are definitely among us. Recommended to readers interested in science-fact/ science-fiction pertaining to space and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Rating: Bounty’s Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

     Benjamin Hulett is a diverse author. He writes horror, as well as sci-fi/fantasy and is also into topics involving paranormal, and government conspiracies. He has written three novels to date, “Alien Illuminati,” being his first release. Benjamin Hulett is a single father whom has survived much adversity in his life, and has beaten death on many occasions. He has survived for a reason, and his reason is detailed in this first release. To contact Benjamin Hulett, please email him at You can also find Hulett Publishing on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

Review # 251: Blaming Japhy Rider - Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived by Philip A. Bralich PhD


Description: (from GoodReads)
     Blaming Japhy Rider is a memoir/expose of the seedier side of the beats, the hippies, and the new age. Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginzberg, and others, this book reports on a 30 year journey into Eastern and Western psychology and philosophy to resolve an intractable case of PTSD brought on by an accident in the Peace Corps in West Africa which cost the author’s wife her life and him much of the use of his left leg.


     Blaming Japhy Rider was a very interesting memoir; full of emotion, heartbreak, triumph and inspiration. Philip A. Bralich’s spiritual and psychological journey was supplemented with content influenced by the most prolific writers of the “Beat Generation”, particularly Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. I was surprised by how much I learned from his surroundings and experiences, especially his fight with PTSD, a disorder that is misunderstood even in today’s society. The story was well-written, had a median-pace, and was highly affective. Philip’s “character” was anything but boring, and his story was one that I will definitely recommend to friends and readers.

Rating: Bounty’s Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 250: Smeared by Mark Rogers


Description: (from GoodReads)
     In Washington D.C. where actual policy change is a fool’s game while voter manipulation an every day occurrence, Hartford Keepe is everybody’s go-to guy. Chief of Staff to six term, senator, Harold P. Feldstone, chairman of the almighty Senate Appropriations Committee, Hartford wields his influence like a skilled marksman with uncanny aim. His job, his lot in life, his sole reason for being, is to keep the senator in power. Annie Green, Hart’s live-in girlfriend, doesn’t buy the image he pedals. She believes government’s claim of attracting the best and the brightest is pure fraud and sees her boyfriend as one of those geniuses helping to shove her country over a cliff. She wastes entirely too much of her time trying to uncover his conscience, temper his actions and salvage their relationship. When a formal little man named Thomas, decked out in eighteenth century colonial garb, with no last name and no recent memory, pokes his head into the crosshairs, Hart can hardly believe his luck. He figures the gods aren’t just smiling on him, they’re throwing him a party. Then somewhere between the “no return point” and “what the hell have I done,” Hart realizes he’s unleashed a smear campaign on this unsuspecting little dupe, of gargantuan proportions. Not only is the man’s survival in jeopardy, so is the fate of a nation. 


     I have never been one for political-based novels, but the blurb of Mark Rogers’ Smeared sounded very interesting - not to mention funny. I was intrigued at the start, the well-written and researched story-line very relevant to Americas’ current political state. The historical aspects, as well as the “what-if” scenarios were entertaining, easy-to-understand and highly educational. I would have loved to read this back in high school, however, I was not a fan of the conservative-bent during the last half of the book. I felt that the beginning provided a balanced view of the political spectrum and a more developed picture of the characters, but I was disappointed by the one-sided rhetoric of the book’s overall climax and resolution (no spoilers!). Although Mark Rogers’ ideas about Americas’ political system and its shortcomings were interesting, I was put-off by some of the “smears” against more liberal methods. Recommended for readers interested in an attention-getting political read with some very timely subject matter! Good read for election month!

Rating: Bounty’s Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 249: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing


Description: (from GoodReads)

     An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.
     How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


     I used to be quite obsessed with the young adult vampire genre, devouring several paranormal reads per week, but the popularity of the Twilight series spurned my attention. Suddenly, everyone was writing, (and reading), vampire-based novels; most of which were bloodless in comparison to their predecessors. About 60% of the teen vampire books that I attempted to read after 2008 paralleled Twilight - or tried to - Girl meets sexy vampire. Girl wants to be a vampire too. Brooding vampire tells girl to stay away because he’s dangerous. Girl ignores vampire, etc… I could only take so much of this “originality” before I was entirely burnt out on the genre. Until recently, I wouldn’t even accept vampire fiction review requests, but a couple of interesting blurbs managed to make it into my inbox, and What Kills Me by Wynne Channing was one of them. First-off, I’ll admit I was lured in by the cover art - loved the color palate and the ethereal detail. Usually, I try not to be swayed by the cover’s literary agenda, (thus, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”), however, It spiked my interest enough for perusal.

     After the first chapter, I was worried. I loved Wynne Channing’s way with words - evocative and well-balanced - but I was not a fan of Axelia (Zee). She seemed like she was going to be another immature, limp-wristed heroine with a penchant for trouble. I was rather annoyed with her, unable to get into her personality, but when push-came-to-shove, she not only transformed from human to vampire, but also from sad-ass to bad-ass! As soon as the action kicked in, I was hooked; the pace just quick enough to propel me from cover to cover in a single night! Zee’s will to survive against all odds resonated with me. Sure, she needed protection - cue Lucas - but she was not a weakling by any means; her lite sarcastic streak a notable indication. Speaking of Lucas, I enjoyed his character as well. He was not the typical “handsome hero”, he had a realistic and well-crafted back-story, as well as a great set of family/relationship dynamics. I will admit, he too took getting used to, but in reality, how long does it take to really get to know someone? I was surprised how well-developed the characters were for a YA novel, especially since this is the first in a series, (and the first book by this author!). The interactions and dialogue were believable, although Zee tended to talk too much, but the build-up of the action, romance, and overall tension towards the novel’s zenith was my favorite part! The entire story-line leading up to the pulse-pounding climax (No Spoilers!) was thought out and executed smoothly. I was glad to see such a refreshingly original take on vampire mythology, only noting the slightest trace of the Twilight-esque. I will definitely be on the lookout for Wynne’s next novel, and recommend What Kills Me for teens and adults ready for a new take on the vampire genre!

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.

She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories, and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”
Reblogged from mcnallyjackson


“You want a sense of humor in a person, but it’s even better when it’s in a bookstore. McNally Jackson has a hilarious Twitter account and website.”

(via algonquinbooks)

Reblogged from waitrose
  • Level of concentration while reading: A plane could crash into my house and I wouldn't notice.
  • Level of concentration while doing homework: A speck of dust could distract me for 15 minutes.

Review # 248: The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages - A Book Promotion Reference Guide for Authors and Small Press Publishers (3rd Ed.) by


     The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is one of the most comprehensive guides to finding quality online book reviewers who specialize in specific genres. This resource gives author’s/ publisher’s the marketing information that they need to promote their books, no matter what format - eBooks, paperbacks, self-published books, etc…! Each reviewer is asked to be included in the book, no website pays to be added to this resource. Every listing details the reviewer’s guidelines for submission and contact information. In addition, all reviewers are rated based on their “quality and influence” levels - taking into account the review site’s age and follower count.


     Being The Paperback Pursuer, I understand the value of an honest book review - for both the author, and the book itself. Everyone who writes a book, no matter what subject or genre, deserves to have their work read, critiqued, and shared with readers. That is why it is critical to find reviewers who take pride in their work and appreciate the written word - in any format. With the advent of eReaders, audiobooks, and other digital resources of the electronic age, reading has evolved, and the readers have changed with it; thus why it can be so hard to find a reviewer specializing in the genre, as well as the format, of a particular book. Just try typing “paranormal nonfiction psychic eBook .pdf book reviewer” into the Google search box and browse the results. There may be 20,800 results, but most of them are not what you are seeking, and there is no rating system for reviewers, (that I’m aware of), so the search can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes, expensive. That is why I was so excited to hear about The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages! Authors/Publishers no longer have to sift through endless review sites to determine a reviewer’s influence and submission guidelines because this book rates reviewers based on their reach and preferences. Each review site (including TPP) has its own page which includes a description, a chart describing frequency of posts, site activity, and number of followers; blog URL, contact info, book format info, genres accepted/denied, blog tour and giveaway info, review turn-around time, reviewer pet-peeves, promotions, fees, and info on where reviews are posted (FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, LibraryThing, etc…). Most review sites even include an overall influence rating (1-5 stars) and advertising info. There are also tips for contacting reviewers and requesting a review! There are more than 130 reviewers included, most of whom have been around awhile and take the review process seriously -  all of whom are book lovers! There are a few typos, but the resource itself is not affected; we are reviewers, not editors, :P. Highly recommended for those seeking honest, well-written, and influential reviews! If you are looking for a review, you can find The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages in many formats onAmazon, as well as at these links:
  • Buy it now as a downloadable PDF for $3.99
  • Buy it now as a PDF: $3.99 (No DRM!)
  • Buy it now as a paperback: $14.99 On Amazon
  • Buy it now on Kindle: $3.99 (No DRM)
  • Buy it now on Nook: $3.99 (No DRM) 
  • Buy it now on Kobo: $3.99 (No DRM)

Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 247: Voices in the Valley by Suravi Sharma Kumar


Description: (from Amazon)
     Against the backdrop of a politically turbulent Assam, a young girl named Millie is determined to make her voice heard. She spends her childhood in a rural set-up with seven sisters, three anxious matriarchs and a resigned father this is what her small world is all about.
     Born in a family of priests, she struggles with orthodoxy and convention, and goes on to become a student leader something which only foreshadows the bigger role she is destined to play. A flawed horoscope delays her marriage, but hastens her emancipation. Her tryst with romance is overwhelming, and sweeps her off her feet, but…
     Ethnic clashes, militant activities, violent elections disturb the countryside, otherwise home to several tribal communities, lush tea gardens, exotic orchids, sundry birds, one-horned rhinos and much more.


     I have always wanted to travel the world in order to experience the richness of other cultures. Architecture, landscapes, ethnic cuisine and historical tidbits have fascinated me my whole life; so when I get the chance to read about these places, especially countries of the Middle- and Far East, I do not hesitate to make the most of the opportunity. Voices in the Valley is the story of a middle class Indian family told from the point-of-view of their oldest daughter, Millie. Millie and her four sisters are seeking suitable husbands, but their parents are very particular about the candidates, causing unneeded family drama and inevitably pushing Millie in another direction - graduate school. Here, Millie takes on more of a leadership role and begins standing up for her politico-ethnic ideals and doing what she can to protect her country, even though she is up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Her family disapproves, more persistent about marriage, but their constant bickering hinders the situation more than it helps. Only after a tragedy does Millie discover that the only choice besides marriage is to break Indian tradition and follow her own path. This novel took me on a journey through a side of India that I had never experienced. The vivid and fully-immersive writing style transported me to the lush and colorful lands of Upper Assam, allowing me to “feel” the liveliness and emotion of such a beautiful culture/ location. My senses were enlivened by the aesthetic descriptions and artfully crafted dialogue. Even with the need for some grammatical corrections, I found Suravi Sharma Kumar’s use of metaphor and Indian language poetic and culturally stimulating - I loved the the ebb and flow of the Indian names; Leelaboti, Satya Nanda, Manosi, Zunaki, Omiya, and Bibha, etc…. I do not often hear names like these, and have an appreciation for their sounds and meanings. Speaking of characters, I was impressed by their well-developed personalities, as well as the integration of cultural/ societal norms and tradition. I enjoyed how the characters, particularly Millie and her sisters, interacted with each other and their environment(s). I could tell that Kumar was invested in each character, as was I. I learned a great many things about Indian culture and politics by reading this novel; every page held something new and exotic for me to perpend. There were a couple translation issues - to be expected - but they were only a slight deterrent from experiencing the rest of the book. That said, I admit Voices in the Valley was a challenging read - in a good way - due to the flowering prose and the use of beautiful, yet difficult to pronounce, foreign names. The book also took a few chapters to get into, but my interest in the topic kept me captive. I enjoyed the cover art as well! Recommended for readers interested in a sensory journey throughout northeast India, as well as in its ethnic and political spheres.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About Dr. Suravi Kumar

     Suravi Sharma Kumar is a doctor by profession but has always been fascinated by the world of literature. What inspired her to write this book was the fact that most of mainland India is still unfamiliar with the country’s Northeast and is unaware of its innate beauty. This is her first book and is based on her research and experiences in the valley.


Tour Schedule:


29th Andrea @ Andi’s Book Reviews

30th Phaedra @ Identity Discovery

30th Georgiana @ Coupon Clippin Texan

31st Gaele @ I am, Indeed


1st Angie @ Angie Mangino

4th Elizabeth @ Stuffed Shelves

5th Autumn @ The Avid Reader

6th Jade @ Jade Kerrion