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LEFT TURN AT PARADISE: A Rare Book Mystery ~Thomas Shawver

“The more I observed, in fact, the more  I thought Professor Middleditch’s instincts were correct – the marae was nothing more than a Potemkin village established to fool the Inland Revenue and the Ministry for Maori Development; a ruse to grant Ivo Mackin full title to the land.”  (At 64% on Kindle –unproofed copy)


Michael Bevan’s at it again trying to make his Antiquarian bookstore in Kansas City his main business enterprise. His friend Josie is certainly helping him make the best of a tough situation, and yet they both hope the bookstore will find it’s prize treasure.  Wouldn’t you just know it; Bevan’s finds a hidden journal by a mariner who was on Captain James Cook’s voyages to the South Seas and Hawaii. The bookstore may just make those dreams come true if a buyer can be found at the California International Book Fair.  This certainly could be the turning point.

In California, Bevan’s discovers that there are actually three journals and a British bookseller owns journal #2 – until both journals are stolen and a young man disappears.  The adventure begins and takes the reader to New Zealand and into the mountains, to rugby games and to meet scholars galore all of whom are hoping to cash in and own the whole set.  The pace is fast and steady, with many of the most interesting pitfalls and distractions one can imagine happening on boat rides and in the mountains with the natives attempting to protect their leader, the multimillion dollar mining expert, rescuer of the Maori youth and owner of the third journal.  There is never a dull moment and lots of surprises along the way.

I once again enjoyed learning about rare books and I loved looking up words and geography of New Zealand’s National Parks and Mountainous regions.  I brushed up on my Hawaiian legends and myths, I took a small detour to read more about Captain James Cook and his travels, and I thought about the rich and the poor in many communities and how they are acting out in various ways – including with violence towards each other and certainly towards Caucasian people.

I was happy to read LEFT TURN AT PARADISE because I had also reviewed THE DIRTY BOOK MURDER  by Shawver earlier this year.  It was a good days read maybe for a hiking trip, although I was glad to be home and looking up extra research on the work, and it is an ebook and quite inexpensive with an e – reader.  Books will not be available until after August 26th, 2014 so I should not have put a quote on this review because I cannot check it against the final copy of the printed material.

tlc logo Thank you to TLC online Booktours  for choosing me to review this fun book.  I know many of my readers will enjoy the adventure in this mystery – LEFT TURN AT PARADISE.

Book #3 – THE WIDOWS SON is on the way in the Rare Book Mystery Tour

Thomas Shawver Facebook
Bloomsday Books

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2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS: A Novel ~Marie-Helene Bertino

“GIRLS, thinks Ben.  Flutelike, gauze-filled, late-afternoon sunshine.  Rainbow bracelets on the carpet.  They use their tongues to wet their lips. Girls.  They pretend to like each other.  Dotting their i’s with hearts, arching their backs, manipulating their confusing hair with flat irons, curling irons, glisten, extra, ultra hold, hold my purse, hold me close, no duh, bubble gum, gym socks, tube socks, tubes of gloss, tube tops, purrs, pert collars, full hair, full tits, just the tip!  Their sound, the upper notes of an xylophone.  Their legs, downed in fur, Girls.

“The one from Ben’s Advanced Lit class says, ‘That dress is vintage.  You can totally tell.’”  (From location 66% on unproofed Kindle Copy- highlighted)


2 A.M. At the CAT’s PAJAMAS is a unique and driving debut novel that I am sure will capture your imagination and turn the pages not “even” fast enough for your desire of finding out what happens next.  Do not even think about speed reading this book, because you will miss the magic and delight captured within every word on the page.  It is wonder FULL and does not miss a beat, you will be sorry if you do not know this book; you will want to share this with you friends right away even if the speed confuses you – I am sure you will read it again to capture the whole experience.

Philadelphia on Christmas Eve Eve at 7am in the morning, we are introduced to nine year old Madeleine Altimari practicing her shimming and heading off to her last day of school before the holiday.  Madeleine is an amazing little girl and her mother has recently died of cancer; her father has given up and just sits in a chair listening to music. Madeleine just wants to sing, she is anticipating making and tasting her first caramel apple at school  and that which starts out as an okay day goes from cockroaches to worse, until the most amazing experience  of a lifetime becomes hers.

Serina Greene is Madeleine’s fifth grade art teacher and she has just moved back to Philadelphia after a divorce. She is re-connecting with high school “friends” this evening for a dinner party. She is apprehensive about the event when she discovers Ben her high school prom date will be attending.  Serina’s father has abandoned her also just a few days before that prom.

Lorca is the current owner of the CAT’s PAJAMAS the second best jazz club in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.  He has just a few hours to come up with $30,000 to pay off the fines against the club and keep it open.  He is having troubles with his 16 year old son who wants to play jazz guitar with the Cubanistas the current band of the establishment.

The quirky and interesting other characters in the story just keep arriving at the correct moments in time and then are all pulled together by “all that jazz!”  The reader will want to get to know each and every one.

2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS is a unique and sparkling novel which will refresh and release your spirit.

Marie-Helene Bertino Blog   
Marie-Helene Bertino Facebook

You and I will have to discover Bertino ourselves…She is winning awards and Oprah approves of this book!

TLC online book tours ent me an unproofed copy of this book for review on my Kindle.  Wow, am I very happy that they did – What a sweet treat.  Thank you

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FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT: A Novel ~Michaela Carter

“As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.” (Page 11)
“ __ how small she wished she could become.  So she could hide from even herself” (page 77)
“If things weren’t hard, something was wrong.” (page189)
“After all, she was the one with the key.” (page226)

FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT is a fictional story about a week in 1992 in Los Angeles.  After receiving the early uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours for review, I immediately read the cover and was thrilled to be reading a work by such an amazing poet and writer – Michaela Carter.  Several of her poems have been included in our poetry study group over the years.


The cover said, “Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.”

Gwen is a doctoral candidate in poetry, working as a nude dancer in a strip club in L.A.  She is our confused and sorting heroine of the story.  She also pays the way for the others to live and rationalize their lives.  Valiant is an older lounge singer who is suffering in the last days of AIDS, who is smoking himself and possible drinking himself to death while living in Gwen’s apartment building.  Len is Gwen’s boyfriend and a musician who attempts to sell his CDs on the street corner dressed in a revolutionary period costume.  I would have to say that cockroaches are high up on the character list along with dirty dishes, disorder, and dysfunctional actions.  Nothing resolves until the Rodney King Riots began and the whole city was shut down to control looting; the city was permeated with smoke from the burning fires.  Everyone was stuck at home, with no view or running out of distractions.

Almost every chapter of FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT had a theme song and shared lyrics and poetry.  When I had finished the book, I went back and noted the metaphor or concept these words entered into the theme of the story. It was not a very fruitful exercise and I was left with tons of metaphors that seemed to overwhelm the story. Red, red, red, water, water, water, smoke, smoke, smoke, drinking, drinking, drinking, drugs, drugs, drugs, dance, dance, dance, dark, dark, dark; the list is even longer and  I personally found it exhausting to read and attempt to figure out.  Too much poetry?

The backstories of the three friends were well done and kept the story moving forward for me.  I so felt a sense of release when the trio decided to head to Tijuana to escape the riots and curfews and the ocean air allowed for clarity of thought to arise.  I was happy dancing when Gwen found the Grandmotherly Mexican Psychic and she believed the reading of the cards.  Whew! It was relief for the reader also.

Several days after finishing this book, I went for a walk to think about Robin William’s death and review all that I know about suicide, pain and healing.  It struck me that the erotic parts of Further Out Than You Thought are all based on the American addiction to violence and how it permeates our lives and is so common it is out of the awareness. Violence is common as dirt.  In this story, it is the riptide and strong undercurrent in the search for meaning and happiness.  The strawberries are blood red and release juicy, sweet joy.

“Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer.  She studied theater at UCLA and holds a MFA in creative writing, and her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of American Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals.  Recently she cofounded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and story-teller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.  This is her first novel.”

Michaela Carter Online
Michaela Carter Facebook
Michaela Carter Peregrine Book Company 

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INAMORATA: a Novel ~Megan Chance

“Inamorata: a woman with whom one is in love or has intimate relations; to inspire with love.”  (dictionary)

“Succubus: A demon assuming female form to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep” (dictionary)


The artist’s muse has always been an important mythology and particularly during the 1700s in Italy.  Who inspired the great works of poetry, music, sculpture and paintings?  It could not just be the artist themselves, it had to be a god or a demon which freed the spirit and produced the fame and fortune of their work.  I personally believe this idea has been around for all the ages and I hear writers speak of it now and entrepreneurial spirits also.

INAMORATA is just one of those stories with some nice twists and turns to increase the historic romance qualities.  The beauty, sex, and expectations are all centered around Venice during this interpretation of the story because a stunning Courtesan is living within the city – Odile’ Léon.   Nicholas has figured her out and all the dead bodies floating by and is going to reveal her true nature to the world to cause her destruction.

Young twins arrive in Venice, one an artist the other a storyteller, to find fame and fortune and make a name for themselves.  They are intensely attractive and talented.  They were orphaned as children and only have each other to depend on for their livelihood.  Nicholas is trying to shield them and connect them to the proper sponsors and Léon is trying to find them to perpetuate her life.

One of my most favorite twists in INAMORATA is the Odile’ Léon, after 350+ years would like not to just give artists fame and fortune before she sucks the creativity out of them, she herself wishes for fame!    She has all the fortune she needs, yet she wishes to have her own abilities to remain a part of history and the mythology.  This tale gives her name to the world, but does the demon muse still live on today?

The demon muse theme has come to my attention numerous times in my studies and where as I love the romantic concepts it inspires I now see more where the theme brings along so much destruction of the human spirit and may even block a great mind in the current technological generation.  Steve Jobs comes to mind, his eating pure, meditation, and clean lifestyle allowed creativity to flow in huge bounds of energy release.

INAMORATA is definitely a good read if you like romantic historic fiction and it will capture your attention. I would recommend this book to young adult readers and creative people. How does your muse assist you in your success?

“Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction.  Her novels have been chosen for the borders Original Voices and IndieBound’s Booksense programs.  A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.”  (from press release)

Megan’s Official website
Also by Chance: Susannah Morrow, An Inconvenient Wife, The Spiritualist, Prima Donna, City of Ash Bone River

tlc logo TLC Online Booktours sent me an unproofed PDF copy of this book for review and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to read this book

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