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LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES starts with a double whammy of problems for Libby; we are right at the first paragraphs when the Doctor uses the word malignant and cancer right together and Libby retreats into the Kubler-Ross steps of death defying stages in her mind. If this were not enough Libby goes home to tell her husband, Tom, and he guesses she has “found out” his problem and blurts out that he is GAY never hearing her tough news.  Libby quietly packs a suitcase for her partner and sends him away, she curls up to think about her mother’s death, when she was 9 from cancer; then begins sorting what she will do next.

The story is a full gambit of emotions and we should not leave out humor at all.  Libby is very clever and sarcastic and decides not to treat her cancerous growth and begins planning for her death.  Right away she decides to quit her job and to tell her twin brother Paul and her father about Tom’s reveal not about the cancer.  Libby also wants to do something that will make a difference such as starting a foundation and leaving her money there; after all she has been supporting her husband and purchased their condo while he was in school, getting his degree and a job.  A month long vacation sounds like just the thing to give her space to find acceptance and determine how to proceed.  Puerto Rico becomes her destination, which adds another near death experience or two to her life.

The book is cleverly written and of course, full of communication glitches and bad thinking which actually turn out all right in the end.  There is a great deal of thinking about her mother’s death and how that affected her life and her future decisions.  Because she was deciding not to get treatment, she waited a long time to tell her family but then there are pesky folks on the island and beach, who are antagonistic to her decision.  Throw into the mix a little love story and self-awareness emerges, which opens up new possibilities and lets her know Tom truly is gay.

LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES was sent to me by TLC Book Tours for review and I appreciated the interesting read.  I think you will also.

About the author (from TLC page)

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes, Glamour, Men’s Health, Parade, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple,, and Women’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

The Art of Forgetting

THE RAVEN ROOM: A Trilogy Mystery (Book 1) ~Ana Medeiros

“Anything you can imagine. Everything you crave.”

“The Raven Room will have everything you could possibly want and more.” (The San Francisco Book Review – cover)<‘blockquote>

You need to be in Chicago to find the RAVEN ROOM finely tuned into Chinatown and the underground levels under traditional storefronts.  It is a Sex Club and offers its membership every delight they could possibly imagine and now there is a murder involved with the club; the press and police would like access.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review and I have mixed emotions about this request.  I was only offered Book One, which has a very unsettling ending and no book two or three in the offering.  The book is very well written and finds a hold on the reader very quickly and the sex keeps coming full throttle and does not let up page after page after page.   The characters are well developed and disturbing at times and have numerous psychological attributes, which can be overwhelming.  Even though I would rather not know about this kind of club and it’s activities the story is believable.

Meredith is a young journalism student and has discovered an older fellow who arouses many new feelings in her.  She wants to write an expose’ about THE RAVEN ROOM club and Julian is her point of entry member.  Julian is self-destructive, because of his abandonment as a child and his trials within the foster care system, and yet he is working on healing himself and has developed a fine reputation as a child psychologist and caregiver.  Meredith wants to keep him from self-destruction and yet will she be pulled into his controlling side life situations?

The book is about sexual deviations and I know I should not feel like there was too much sex, but I did feel there was just too much.  A loving encounter would turn into beatings and cutting and choking….  I just had to set the book aside and go do something else.  The who-done-it part of the story was wonderful and the development of the backstories was very good and kept me proceeding until the very rude, abrupt last page.  Yikes!  I kept trying to figure out where the story was headed and could not get it out of my mind.

I would offer a warning for those who are not wanting to read about such violence and so much sex – The RAVEN ROOM has it all and will take the purchase of 3 books to get the whole story.

About the Author

“Before THE RAVEN ROOM there was Paris, books, coffee, chocolate and zombies. Ana Medeiros lives in Toronto, Canada, with her boyfriend and two cats. THE RAVEN ROOM is her first novel.” (From Amazon’s page)

“Readers who enjoy complex stories with strong characterization and psychological depth will find The Raven Room a satisfyingly story of emotional turbulence…” – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

STOLEN YEARS: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned ~Reuven Fenton

10 well researched stories about real people who have been incarcerated for many years when they were innocent of the crime and how they found a way to be released and regain their own lives.   It is estimated that 5% of all the prisoners in the USA have been incarcerated and are actually innocent!

Fenton is a journalist who became very interested in this dilemma and continued his research until he had enough material for publishing this book.  The 8 men and 2 women whose stories are shared in the book spent between 12 and 30 years of their lives serving time in penitentiaries for crimes they did not commit.  They were found guilty and it took them years and years to be exonerated and their names cleared.  Most lost a great deal in the process, including their children, their jobs, their homes, and their families.  Several have successfully sued and recovered some assets, but most have lost more than could ever be recovered.

How to find someone to believe in your case and in the individuals has been a major obstacle.  Absolutely every inmate says they are NOT GUILTY!   Many of the victims do not know their rights and the INNOSCENCE PROJECTS in various states were highlighted in their work and efforts on behalf of these human beings.   It still takes an interested person to pursue the process for the prisoners and assist them in being recognized and their cases reviewed.  It is a slow and painstaking process.

“Prosecutors need to say, “I will not judge you on your wins and losses.  I will judge you on the quality of the justice you dispense.”’  (From the conclusion section of the book)

From the Author – 5 Most Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions:

  • False Confessions
  • Eye witness mis-identifications
  • Improper forensic science
  • False Accusations
  • Government misconduct

The stories in the book were scary to read and yet made me very sad; each victim had a fairly happy ending to their ordeal and yet how easily it happened, how long it took to be released and find recovery was overwhelming. Could you be that brave?  Would you know what to do to find freedom?    What the people had to endure while incarcerated was horrendous.  Prisons are not the answer for anyone.

We need to teach our young more about how the system operates and what are the consequences, because not knowing one’s rights is definitely a problem if one is wrongly accused and does not have resources to defend yourself it becomes very serious.  Our society is quick to blame.

I believe a number of people could benefit from reading this book and we could start making some changes that would reduce the incidence of incarceration.

About the Author:
Reuven Fenton has been covering murder and scandal for the NEW YORK POST since 2007 and has earned national recognition for his exclusive reporting on a myriad of national stories.  He is a graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism.  He lives in NYC with his wife and 2 sons.

TLC Book Tours sent me a PDF copy of this book for review.

The Bounce
Life From Scratch
Glimpsing Heaven

SING THEM HOME: A Wonderful and Restorative Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

I have just finished reading LANGUAGE ARTS by Stephanie Kallos and just wanted more of her writing to explore, so I treated myself to an e-copy of her novel SING THEM HOME.   I was not disappointed.  The read was delicious and it is going to challenge me to share just 500 words about it.  I am definitely going to read this book again.

I could approach this book by saying the Jones Family was the main characters of the story and I would be right.  Each member was well described and had enough story to make you feel as though you knew them well.  Dad was defined by the other members of the family and did not have long chapters of his life on his own merit but rather how he related to his family and community.

I could say that the community of Emelyn Springs, Nebraska was the main character of this story.  What is life in a small village, which is suffering from a demise of business supposed to do to prop themselves up and keep going?   It is a community with strong roots and traditions – it is Welsh, and the men all enjoy singing.  The folks spend a week singing the dead “home” and truly celebrate a life.  Music is vital to these people and they start singing as to give voice to problem solving and to call all to come together.

Actually, I think the weather in this part of Nebraska is the primary villain in the story.  Too hot and then again right in a Tornado Alley.  What they must contend with and the ways they must be safe are a tremendous part of the towns experience and it’s crucial to the Jones family and the lives that are shared.  Bonnie and her mother, Hope, are carried away by the storm and this changes the family forever.  The town finds Bonnie is a fallen tree and sings to her until a fire truck can arrive from a neighboring city to rescue her.  They keep her alive and now years later she is obsessed with picking up interesting finds and discoveries, riding her bike everywhere and talking to the dead.  Hope, who has MS completely disappears and is presumed dead.  The house is gone.

“When grounded, the dead mothers feel every footstep of every human being all over the world.”  (page 16)

Dad is the local doctor for the community, Larken is the oldest daughter and teaches Art History at the University, and Gaelan, the son, is now the weatherman at the big city TV station.  What happens to a family when their mother is ill and then gone? How are they changed?  How do they love again and what brings them home?

I could not put the book down, I was so transported into the story and the lives of each character.  I did not want to live in their town or even go for a visit, but I so enjoyed the way they used traditions and song to keep in touch and to sing each person “home”.  There was so much meaning and connection.

The writing weaves the story home and the weird keeps a twinkle in the reader’s eye all the way through until the plot straightens out and one finds restoration of the narrative to complete the picture.  It was just a perfect length and had a great ending and I was able to say; “Now the story is complete.”   It was just right.

Stephanie Kallos lives in Seattle, Washington with her big family and works at her art of storytelling.  BROKEN FOR YOU was her first novel and that was quite the wonderful read also.

Language Arts
Broken For You
Animal Dreams