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ONCE UPON A LIE: A Novel ~Michael French

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“Michael French is the author of 25 books, which include adult fiction and young adult fiction, art criticism, biographies, adaptions, and gender studies.” (Cover)

There is tremendous skill in the writing of ONCE UPON A LIE and the hooks captivate the imagination within the first few pages.  The characters are extremely well developed and the reader is able to empathize quickly; they pull at a feeling level as well as moving the story forward. Word usage is intelligent. The suspense is just right and definitely not to thriller level, keeping the reader figuring out what is next.  I liked the mix of voices; first and third person perspectives were finely synced.

The reader is meshed into a huge family drama, well two families with lots of drama and some huge lies to contend with and that makes for a lifetime of attempting to find the truth and a whole realm of situations that do not create relief from the tensions of the stories.

“…the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again.  Justice, Alex learns, can be a betrayal.  Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful –but dangerous- rock on which to build a life of honor and courage.” (Cover)

Alexandra is the daughter of a Los Angeles lawyer and a socialite mother and Jaleel is the only child of a black couple living on the financial edge in Texas.  The police are prepping Jaleel, who is 12, to be the murderer of his father – he is on the run.  The two children meet over a cup of lemonade and the author builds a good coming of age story around these two individuals and their survival.  The secondary characters are strong and agile in assisting the unraveling of the lies.

“Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and of Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism.  A native of Los Angeles, he also is a successful businessman, activist, and, with his wife, Patricia, a philanthropist raising money for programs aiding teachers in Santa Fe, N.M., public schools which are some of the most challenged in the country. They divide their time between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara, CA.”

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me an advanced copy for review.

Connect with characters on Online:
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Jaleel
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OLIVAY: A Novel ~Deborah Reed

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

I was totally captured by OLIVAY.  I was driven to turn every page of OLIVAY.  It was very suspenseful and demanding the reader to find resolution and yet it was not a comfortable read at all.   I am so pleased that TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review; OLIVAY was a most interesting read.

Deborah Reed teaches writing in Los Angeles and Germany and is an extraordinary writer and storyteller.   I did not wish to miss a word or paragraph for fear of missing some phrase or line of description.   OLIVAY is the main character’s name and it is used often in the story and as she interacts with Henry sometimes you have to guess at who said that line or phrase because it is not crystal clear; either one is possible.

A year earlier OLIVAY’s husband has been killed in an accident while on his way to work.  The driver of the vehicle has not been found or arrested.  OLIVAY has been made a media star as the video of her caring for her dead husband has been circulated millions of times.  She is still hard pressed to leave her loft apartment for all the notoriety and she is a very private person.  She has quit her job as an architect and is now just venturing out to a local coffee shop to try and leave her home with out gaping attacks.

At the coffee shop, a handsome young man, Henry, approaches OLIVAY and their conversation lasts all afternoon. She invites him to her loft and he spends the night.   In the morning, there is a terrorist attack upon the neighborhood and the windows are blown out of the loft and OLIVAY has her knee severely injured.  People on the street are dying as the water main ruptures and the electricity shuts down.

Most of the story takes place in the loft as Henry cares for the injury and takes care of OLIVAY, who is trying to figure out the real Henry.   OLIVAY appears to be one of the meanest characters I have ever read, and yet as one reads on there is something very wise about her and her thoughts.  Who is Henry really?

The second section of the story included Henry’s story and more of his thinking in alternate chapters that goes by very quickly.  There is a tension in the telling of the story as revealing as it proves to be.

I do not think I would have picked this book for myself, and once again I thank TLC Book Tours  for sending this gem along and putting it on the schedule.  The writing is amazing and the premise interesting and yet it is something I would not like to experience myself – in any aspect.   I believe it is a book more folks need to read.  The writing is inspiring.

From the book cover:

“Deborah Reed’s novel, Things We Set on Fire, sold over one hundred thousand copies in the first six months, while Carry Yourself Back to Me was a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors Pick.  She wrote the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune, and its sequel, Fortunes Deadly Descent, under her pen name Audrey Braun.  She holds a master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing, and teaches at the UCLA Extension Writing Program.  She is also co-director of the Black Forest Writing Seminar at the University of Freiburg in Germany.  She resides in Los Angeles.”

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SCENT OF BUTTERFLIES: A novel of betrayal ~Dora Levy Mossanen

Monday, February 16th, 2015

“This is all a butterfly’s life amounts to.  Evolving from egg to worm to adult, with nothing better to do than obsess over a quick sip of nectar so as to get on with the senseless frenzy of mating.” (Page 59)

SCENT OF BUTTERFLIES was just the perfect read for a rainy day, knowing that the camellias were blooming and the bulbs pushing upward out of the ground.  Mossanen has written quite a story that includes the garden and the fragrances surrounding not only the flowers but the people as well.  The nose knows and having a very sensitive smelling instrument it was lovely to identify with this trait.

Soraya is a woman of Iran and she was in school during the revolution and the rise of the Mullah controlled society.   She is a tall, blond Jewish woman, the only child of a very, very wealthy family.  Her life includes a father, mother, and a wise old Grandmother – Emerald, who was the jeweler to the Shah and his family.  Her life is as she wishes and includes a best friend who she protects because this friend lost her family and is being cared for by an abusive aunt.  Soraya’s father covers her Parvaneh’s expenses including the private school they both attend.  At age 13-14 Soraya falls in love with Aziz and they are married when she is 15 and of age.  The story begins when they have been married for 20 years and do not have children.  Soraya is a photographer, limited by the mullah’s rules for women in Iran.

With a warning from her Grandmother, Soraya discovers how she has been betrayed and with her safety net in place she leaves Iran for the United States to plan her revenge.  She purchases a mansion in Los Angeles and develops a butterfly garden and a trap for those who betrayed her.   She is aware that she can never go back to Iran and although this upsets her she forges ahead in preparation.

Lots and lots of secrets in this story and Soraya is so in love with Aziz she does not see as clearly what is happening nor that her obsession and perception is controlling an extremely limited view of relationship and adoration.  She is changing to be like the butterfly as she lives in her anger.

The writing was the true gem of this story.  The author states that this story took her years to write, is written and re-written, and is her most personal.  It was just a pure pleasure to read this story and about a different culture.  It had enough fantasy with the incredible wealth involved and yet the fine details were not to be missed.  The political nuances were very descriptive and assisted the reader in finding a way to identify with the characters and understand how the situation created change and new coping skills.  It is valuable to know the story behind the world news headlines.

I say thank you to TLC BOOK TOURS  for sending this book to me for review and to the author for creating a story that I am able to highly recommend.

About the Author (from the book cover)

Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine.  At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family were forced to leave Iran and settle in Los Angeles.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s in professional writing from the University of Southern CA.

Dora is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels HAREM, COURTESAN, and THE LAST ROMANOV, translated into numerous languages. She is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ Choice Award and has been featured in various publications and media outlets, including SH’MA, LOS ANGELES TIMES, KCRW, Radio Iran, Radio Russia, and numerous television programs.  In 2010, Dora was accepted as contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

She blogs for the HUFFINGTON POST and reviews fiction for the JEWISH JOURNAL.  She is working on THE VISIONARY, her fifth novel.

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13 HOLLYWOOD APES: A Layla Remington Novel ~Gil Reavill

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

“You see? We treat people like they’re nothing, like they might as well be inanimate rocks.  But when we open up our hearts we see them as fellow creatures, then as humans, and finally as friends.” (Location 1812)

Putting on the Top Hat and wrapping myself around a lot of old movies and actors in my archives division, I curled up to see what was going on in Los Angeles in 13 HOLLYWOOD APES; I found it stylish, interesting and loaded with some meaty issues to keep my mind questioning and problem-solving.  The reader finds the first pages full of chimpanzees being shot in a sanctuary during a raging hillside fire and the first question arises; was it a mercy killer or was it murder?

Layla Remington is a detective investigator for the police substation in Malibu.  The daughter of a police officer and a person who worked her way up the ladder to her current job,  Layla has a wealth of old movies in her mental archives and a father who likes to watch them even now.   She grabs onto each question which arises and digs deeply into figuring out the answer and solving the next problem. Remington perseveres even when her superiors are running in other directions.  When she discovers the 13 HOLLYWOOD APES were movie stars and abused lab animals which were given this sanctuary for their whole lives, she becomes extremely glued to the case and figuring out the answers.  The reader journeys with Remington and may even figure the plot early on, and yet the twists are tricky making the reader want to help Layla while being well characterized, some by well-placed snippets and clues.    The pacing of the story was just right for my need to enjoy this escape.

The theme of the story I found truly captivating.  I realized I did not have an answer as to what I deeply believed about animal rights.  Are they individuals with rights, just property, slaves and what is cruel and unusual behavior towards them?   While reading this story, I read an article about a beloved dog which is healthy and fairly young being held in a shelter until it can be decided whether or not the dog should be euthanized and buried with it’s deceased owner according to the designated will or does the dog have rights to a new life contrary to the original owner’s wishes?  The courts are being challenged to decide this dog’s fate. The courts and lawyers are being challenged in 13 HOLLYWOOD APES.

I would recommend this book to those who like thrillers and I would caution this book for younger readers who are not versed in animal rights, neo-Nazi style protesters, and racist insinuations.  A smart read and I enjoyed the new information shared and thinking about animal rights from various perspectives.

TLC Booktours sent me an Uncorrected Proof ecopy of this book and I appreciated the read and style of the book very much.  Thank you for the opportunity.

About the Author:

Gil Reavill is an author, screenwriter, and widely featured in magazines, Reavill is the author of Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home,  and the co-author of Beyond All Reason: My Life with Susan Smith and the screenplay that became the 2005 film Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.  He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his wife, Jean Zimmerman, and their daughter.  (From the ebook cover).

Gil Reavill LinkedIn
Gil Reavill Webpage 

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