My Interests

My photo
Avid reader who loves finding new authors with well written books. Am interested in reading and reviewing various genres and am always looking for the next good read.

Upcoming Books to Read and Review

  • 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel
  • Code Blue by Richard Mabry
  • Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
  • Vandalism of Words by Derek Haines

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Fifth Vial Review

The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer, 2007, Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks, 544 Pages
Natalie Reyes has a chip on her shoulder. She’s had a tough life and worked hard to get herself, against all odds, to Harvard Medical School. But her efforts are thwarted when she is suspended from school. With time before her reinstatement, her mentor sends her to Rio de Janeiro Brazil to present a medical paper. There, Natalie is kidnapped, shot trying to escape, and left for dead in an alley. She survives, but loses a lung. And now, all her dreams are shattered.

Halfway around the world, medical genius Joe Anson is working on a serum that could save millions of lives…if only he can battle a fatal illness long enough to complete his research. Brilliant and paranoid, Anson is running out of time. And those watching from the shadows will stop at nothing to see him succeed.

In Chicago, detective Ben Callahan is hired to find the identity of a dead man with mysterious marks on his body. One lucky break could lead Ben into a conspiracy bigger than just a missing person and a mysterious accident.

Three people, with no apparent connection. Three people who don’t realize they hold the key to a secret society with God-like aspirations and roots in antiquity. Three people who will learn the meaning of trust and betrayal, power and genius, lies and truth, in a world where everything is give or take.

Another amazing book written by Michael Palmer. I am a huge fan and he did not disappoint in this fast paced medical thriller. One of the things I like most about Michael Palmer is his ability to really make you think and consider medical issues. It certainly made me want to check out the information regarding organ donation which he included at the end of the book. This provided a wealth of information and was very enlightening.

Unbeknownst to millions of patients, when they are having bloods drawn, there is a Fifth Vial being used for tissue typing. The “guardians” are basically acting as God and deciding who lives and who dies. There are important individuals who require various organs (some lungs, some heart, etc), then the group tries to find a 12 point match from the samples which were collected. The evil twist is that the donors are not willing participants and placed into a category depending on their importance and contribution to society. The group kidnaps the donors and most times kill them after the procedure has been completed and the transplant has been a success.

I loved the heroine in the story, Natalie Reyes, who is a medical student and whose lung is taken without permission. She is very spunky, a well-disciplined athlete and very intelligent doctor.

Ben Callahan, the PI hired by an organ trafficking watchdog group uncovers this deadly, macabre plot that is being conducted. He is a great hero and I love his determination.

I could not put this book down and really enjoyed it cover to cover. A must read!!!

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Very Valentine Review

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, 2009, Publisher HarperCollins, 558 pages
Synopsis (Provided by Editor)
Meet the Roncalli and Angelini families, a vibrant cast of colorful characters who navigate tricky family dynamics with hilarity and brio, from magical Manhattan to the picturesque hills of bella Italia. Very Valentine is the first novel in a trilogy and is sure to be the new favorite of Trigiani's millions of fans around the world.

In this luscious, contemporary family saga, the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of exquisite wedding shoes since 1903, is one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village. The company is on the verge of financial collapse. It falls to thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli, the talented and determined apprentice to her grandmother, the master artisan Teodora Angelini, to bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century and save the company from ruin.

While juggling a budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother to learn new techniques and seek one-of-a-kind materials for building a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. There, in Tuscany, Naples, and on the Isle of Capri, a family secret is revealed as Valentine discovers her artistic voice and much more, turning her life and the family business upside down in ways she never expected. Very Valentine is a sumptuous treat, a journey of dreams fulfilled, a celebration of love and loss filled with Trigiani's trademark heart and humor.


This was the first book I have read by Adriana Trigiani which happens to be a first in a new trilogy and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It moved along at a good pace and was humourous and heart warming.

Adriana Trigiani captured my attention in the first few pages and knew when I laughed on the first page that this was going to be a good one. Her descriptions are so vivid that I could actually see everything she was talking about be it the one-of-a-kind wedding shoes, the apartment and shoe shop in Greenwich Village, Tuscany, Naples or on the beautiful Isle of Capri. She made me want to go to those places and soak in the culture and beauty of those locations.

I loved the complex characters we were introduced to especially Valentine and her grandmother, Teodora. The whole Italian-American family is a hoot and has very real problems be it money or not getting along with certain members (like clickety clack). I enjoyed getting to know her family. I found the book was not only character driven but also had a very interesting plot. Valentine lives with Teodora above the shoe shop and they make custom wedding shoes (about 3,000/year) and make enough to get by but as we learn, not enough to be able to keep operating. Valentine proves that she is a very intelligent business woman and works hard to come up with ideas and plans on how to turn the shop into a profitable venture.

Valentine goes on a personal discovery and finds her true self and her inner strength along the way. In the midst of juggling her job, she also finds love but realizes in the end that he is just not “the one”. Her family and friends go through many ups and downs and it was refreshing to read something that wasn’t all “happily ever after”. It felt real and I enjoyed how Adriana Trigiani ended the book as you get the feeling that there is just so much more to come for Valentine and that she is on the right track. It leaves it wide open for a sequel and we would like to see Valentine find love and make the shoe company successful.

I did find that some of the descriptions were a bit drawn out in places and skipped over a couple of part which I found tedious. All in all, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend you give it a read and I now plan to read more books by Adriana Trigiani.

Rating 4 out of 5

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Girl with a Pearl Earring Review

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, Deluxe Edition, 2005, 256 Pages
Celebrate Tracy Chevalier's modern classic Girl With A Pearl Earring, featuring a gorgeous new edition illustrated with eight pages of Vermeer's masterworks. History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. The story of Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with a genius as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil, is new again.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in Tracy Chevalier's luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Griet, the world of 1660s Holland comes dazzlingly alive in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.
The unknown subject of a Vermeer masterpiece is the basis for this remarkably evocative novel. The illiterate young Griet, held captive by the strict social order of 17th-century Delft, becomes a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer to help support her family. She knows her role well: tend the laundry, keep up with the housework, and make sure Vermeer's six children stay out of the way. Griet even thinks she can handle Vermeer's shrewd mother-in-law, his bitter, neglected wife, and the family's jealous servant. But what no one suspects is that Griet's quiet manner, uncanny perception, and fascination with her master's paintings will draw her inexorably into the painter's private world. And as Griet witnesses the creative process of a great master, her long-suppressed passion becomes the catalyst for a scandal that irrevocably changes her life.

This was an amazing book and would highly recommend it. I now plan to see the movie.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Longest Trip Home review

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan, A Memoir, 2008, 331 Pages

In the highly anticipated follow-up to Marley & Me, John Grogan again works his magic, bringing us the story of what came first. Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy growing up in a devout Catholic home outside Detroit in the 1960s and '70s. Despite his loving parents' best efforts, John's attempts to meet their expectations failed spectacularly. Whether it was his disastrous first confession, the purloined swigs of sacramental wine, or the fumbled attempts to sneak contraband past his father, John was figuring out that the faith and fervor that came so effortlessly to his parents somehow had eluded him.

And then one day, a strong-willed young woman named Jenny walked into his life. As their love grew, John began the painful, funny, and poignant journey into adulthood—away from his parents' orbit and into a life of his own. It would take a fateful call and the onset of illness to lead him on the final leg of his journey—the trip home again.

With his trademark blend of humor and pathos that made Marley & Me beloved by millions, John Grogan traces the universal journey each of us must take to find our unique place in the world. Filled with revelation and laugh-out-loud humor, The Longest Trip Home will capture your heart—but mostly it will make you want to reach out to those you love most.

John Grogan does a fabulous job effortlessly taking readers through his childhood, teen years, and adult journeys. He offers the perfect balance of humor and enlightening self-examination. You will laugh and cry, and won't be bored for a single moment.

John Grogan grew up in a deeply religious Catholic home near Detroit in the 1960's and '70's. His parents loved him and tried to get him to abide by their strict Catholic beliefs. However, John was rebellious and much like many other boys in that he liked sneaking peeks at naked ladies including wanting a telescope to stare at the woman next door (his parents thought he was into astrology), drank holy wine, smoked cigarettes and dabbled with drugs. Unlike his parents or his brother Michael who turned towards priesthood and was as a devoted believer as their parents, John was devoted to the altar of female breasts; at best an agnostic as pure faith seemed illogical and tedious. When he met Jenny, he fell in love and began the real transition to adulthood, but remained practically faithless. That is until his father's illness led him to re-look his values including Catholicism.

This memoir is well worth the read and really makes you think back to how things were and how times have changed. You will find something to relate to no matter your religious beliefs or upbringing.

Rating 4 out of 5

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jackie M. Smith Interview

I had the pleasure to interview Jackie M. Smith (MJ Smith) recently on her newly published book, "Forever Yours". It was very kind of her to take the time to do this interview and I enjoyed getting to know her and her book better and hope you will too. I have included a prologue of the book below.

Excerpt from Forever Yours by MJ Smith

Normandy, France

Liz looked at the starry sky and prayed she’d find the British troops camp in time. The allied invasion began in the French region of Caen. And if the Nazi soldiers found her, she would never go home.

An eerie silence surrounded her. But she knew the enemy patrol was near. And they would arrest anyone involved in the invasion. As she rode Arnaud’s old bicycle down the dirt road, a breath caught in her throat. The calm June night didn’t bring her any comfort or joy. Every little noise brought her uneasiness.

Quickly, Liz changed paths and rode behind some trees and bushes. She heard voices shouting behind her. And their frightening dogs barked incessantly. Her heart hammered in her chest as she pedalled faster. “Over there,” one of the soldiers called out. They approached her way. Liz looked around her, finding a hiding place while they passed by her. The moonlit sky offered some light guiding her way through the thick bushes but it also did not help her in finding the perfect hiding spot.

The voices and barks grew closer and closer.

Liz covered her bicycle with a few leafy branches then she huddled in a ditch. She prayed the soldiers wouldn’t find her. She closed her eyes and saw Philip’s face, remembering the last summer they spent together with their families; so much happened since then. Their love grew into a magical reunion of two souls; an unbreakable bond. Now she had no idea if she would ever see him again.

Glancing around again, she could hear the German soldiers and their dogs a few feet away. Her heartbeat drummed in her ears. Her whole body trembled as tears filled her eyes.

Be brave, she repeated to herself.

Closer and closer still, the soldiers approached the edge of the ditch. Liz brought her legs closer to her trembling body, and she closed her eyes. “Philip. Please come find me,” she whispered.

by MJ Smith, Eloquent Books, © 2009 MJ Smith


1. What led you to write a historical romance novel?
I’ve always loved reading historical romance novels so writing this genre came naturally to me.

2. What is your favourite part of writing?
I love creating stories with unique characters and settings.

3. What is your least favourite part of writing?
My least favourite part is the whole editing process. It’s so long and daunting sometimes.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t really have a writing quirk. When writing, I do need to sit in a comfortable chair. I write everything by hand first, and then type it.

5. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My information comes from different sources. The internet has always helped. Books, tv and documentaries are my major sources. My ideas usually come like flashes. I write them down right away so I don’t forget them.

6. Do you plan to write more historical fiction?
Definitely. I love going back in time and researching events from the past.

7. Would you be interested in writing any other genres?
The other genres I’d like to write are contemporary and paranormal.

8. What do you think makes a good story?
A good story must have believable characters, a unique setting, a sexy hero, and of course, lots of romance.

9. How many books have you written?
Now, I only have one published book. But, I’ve written two more, and working on a third.

10. What are you working on now?
At this moment, I’m editing my second historical romance called A Soldier’s Vow. It’s a story set during WWI France and Belgium where two strangers are united by love and war.

11. What job would have if you were not a writer?
I can’t see myself being anything but a writer. Before deciding to write full time, I was looking for a purpose in life. I worked in call centers, but always felt something was missing. Now I feel complete.

12. What is an interesting fact about you that people may not know?
I’m a huge hockey fan.

13. Anything else you would like to share with your readers?
I’d like to leave you a few links where you may get more information about my work.

Dear John Review

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, 2006


When Savannah Lynn Curtis comes into his life, John Tyree knows he is ready to turn over a new leaf. An angry rebel, he had enlisted in the army after high school, not knowing what else to do. Then, during a furlough, he meets the girl of his dreams. Savannah Lynn Curtis is attending college in North Carolina, working for Habitat for Humanity, and totally unprepared for the passionate attraction she feels for John Tyree.The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty, and John realizing that he''s ready to settle down with the young woman who has captured his heart.Neither can foresee that 9/11 is about to change the world and will force John to risk every hope and dream that he''s ever had.Like so many proud men and women, John must choose between love and country. And like all those left behind, Savannah must decide to wait or move on. How do we choose wisely? How can we face loss-without giving up on love? Now, when he finally returns to North Carolina, John will discover that loving Savannah will force him to make the hardest decision of his life. An extraordinary, moving story, DEAR JOHN explores the complexities of love-how it survives time and heartbreak, and how it transforms us forever.


This was a most enjoyable Nicholas Sparks novel full of heart wrenching and tearful scenes. I found the characters to be likeable and thought that John had real depth. He wasn't a typical "hero" but an average man with problems who was insecure and troubled but wanted to change. He showed us his flaws along with his good qualities which I thought made him a character we could connect with and understand.

The character of Savannah was not nearly as good as John and I did not really get a complete picture of what she was really like and what attracted John so strongly to her.

I did enjoy this book very much even though it was very sad. Savannah's love opened John's heart and showed him about true love. In doing so, John was then able to connect with his father on a whole new level and was able to finally appreciate all of the his dad struggled to provide him with growing up.

John really grows so much as a person in this novel it's really more about one's own capacity to love and grow than a romance story. I think the ending is a true testament to John's development into a strong loving person. He loved Savannah enough to let her go. 
I am anxious to see the movie and imagine that it will be another cryfest like The Notebook was. I will have to get my tissues ready for when I see it.
Rating 4 out of 5 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Scoop Review

The Scoop by Fern Michaels, 1st book in the Godmother series, 2009, 279 pages.


Teresa "Toots" Amelia Loudenberry has crammed a great deal of living-not to mention eight much-loved husbands-into her varied and rewarding life. Newly single, Toots is ready to taste life again, and fate has just handed her the perfect opportunity.

The owner of the gossip rag where Toots's daughter works is about to lose the paper to his gambling debts. Eager to find a way to keep her daughter employed among the movers and shakers of Hollywood, Toots calls on her three trusted friends-Sophie, Mavis, and Ida-to help her pull some strings. Together, they'll hatch a plan that promises thrills, laughter, and more than a hint of danger. Putting aside her widow's weeds (black was never her color), Toots will prove that you should never underestimate a Southern lady of a certain age, and that each day can be a gift, if you're willing to claim it. . .


I have been a fan of Fern Michaels for quite some time but unfortunately, cannot give this book a glowing review.

I know that this is the first book in her new godmother series, however, felt that the book should be able to stand alone and it did not. This book was entirely a setup book for the series yet to come. We learned about the main characters and their idiosyncrasys but wanted to see them further developed and interesting. There were not many challenges faced in the book and there was no conclusion. It was a very quick read and then it came to a screeching halt and i felt cheated. I couldn't find myself connecting or caring about any of the characters and the animosity emanating between the main characters was very uncomfortable. The godmothers and Toots who are supposed to be best friends, seem to be anything but, I cannot imagine speaking in that manner to my best friends.

Very disappointing start to a series.

Rating 2 out of 5

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Lightning Thief Review

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, 1st Book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, Young Adult, 2005, 375 pages.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just 10 days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief; he must come to terms with the father who abondoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns his of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.


This was a great adventure and I really enjoyed the Greek mythology. Percy Jackson is a true hero. You get the feeling that even though Percy faces many struggles, he will overcome them all and be able to succeed where others have failed. The premise is wonderful and very creative. They also inject humour throughout the book which makes for a very enjoyable read.

My 11 year old son read the book first and read it quickly as he could not put it down. This was for him, one of his favourite books of all time. He could not wait for me to read it as well so that we could discuss the book. There were so many wonderful and endearing characters that it is hard to pick out the favs but the 3 main characters are so well developed, loveable and interesting that it is hard not to love them. Percy, Annabeth and Grover are a very funny trio.

We are planning on seeing the movie and will let you know how closely they came to reproducing all of the action as we read about in the book.

I am certainly planning to read the entire series so that I can have many book discussions with my boys. A truly delightful read.

Rating 4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Against Medical Advice Review

Against Medical Advice by James Patterson and Hal Friedman, October 20, 2008, Little, Brown and Company, 384 pages, Non-Fiction

The Premise:
Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head and his life was never the same again. From that day forward his life became a hell of uncontrollable tics, urges, and involuntary utterances. Eventually he is diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and Cory embarks on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist, enduring countless combinations of medications in wildly varying doses. Soon it becomes unclear what tics are symptoms of his disease and what are side effects of the drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Despite his lack of control, Cory is aware of every embarrassing movement, and sensitive to every person's reaction to his often aggravating presence. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life is a living hell. 

My Thoughts:
I found this to be a very interesting and fast-paced book. It was educational in that I have not read much about Tourette's Syndrome prior to this book and as such found the information quite enlightening. The way this affliction is protrayed in movies is certainly off the mark and to make fun of someone's affliction is uncalled for.

The story was told through Cory's voice which brought the book to life and made it real. The family support that Cory received was instrumental in his recovery. It was nice to show his thankfulness for his parents and realizing the struggles they faced and how they worked so hard for his benefit.

I would strongly recommend this book as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating 4 out of 5.