Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reading Challenges Update: February 2013

Here is where I stand with the challenges I have joined after the month of February (only challenges that I read books for this month are featured here):

E-Book (9/10)
4. The Key to Love by Meg Mims
5. Echoes from the Infantry by Frank Nappi
6. Summer Spirit by G. Jay
7. The Visitor by Robert J. Pielke
8. The Translator by Robert J. Pielke
9. The Game of the Gods by E. J. Dabel

Audio Book (2/12)
1. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

100 Books in a Year (27/100)
16. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
17. The Key to Love by Meg Mims
18. Echoes from the Infantry by Frank Nappi
19. Summer Spirit by G. Jay
20. Jump Cut by Ted Staunton
21. The Visitor by Robert J. Pielke
22. The Translator by Robert J. Pielke
23. The Namesake by Steven Parlator
24. Starters by Lissa Price
25. Bad Girls by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, & Rebecca Guay
26. The Game of the Gods by E. J. Dabel
27. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

Historical Fiction (5/10)
3. Echoes from the Infantry by Frank Nappi
4. The Visitor by Robert J. Pielke
5. The Translator by Robert J. Pielke

YA Contemporary (3/10)
2. Jump Cut by Ted Staunton
3. The Namesake by Steven Parlato

Debut Author (1/12)
1. The Namesake by Steven Parlato

YA Mythology (1/10)
1. The Game of the Gods by E. J. Dabel

Dystopia (2/15)
2. Starters by Lissa Price

Standalone (2/15)
2. The Namesake by Steven Parlato

YA/MG Fantasy (4/10)
4. The Game of the Gods by E. J. Dabel

Telling Tales (2/10)

British Books (1/12)

Free Reads (6/12)
4. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
5. The Key to Love by Meg Mims
6. Jump Cut by Ted Staunton

A to Z (17/26)
11. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
12. Echoes from the Infantry by Frank Nappi
13. Jump Cut by Ted Staunton
14. The Visitor by Robert J. Pielke
15. The Namesake by Steven Parlato
16. The Game of the Gods by E. J. Dabel
17. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

Self-Published (1/10)
1. Echoes from the Infantry by Frank Nappi

Paranormal Fiction (2/6)
2. Summer Spirit by G. Jay

Elsewhere Online: February 2013

As you know from my Stacking the Shelves posts, I review for two other websites ( and As I cannot post my reviews there and here, but I would still like to count the books I read for the challenges, I am going to have a post like this at the end of the every month listing the books I reviewed and what challenges the went towards.

Title: The Namesake
Author: Steven Parlato
Challenges: YA Contemporary, Debut Author, 100 Books in a Year

Title: Starters
Author: Lissa Price
Challenges: Dystopia, 100 Books in a Year

Title: Bad Girls
Author: Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, & Rebecca Guay
Challenges: 100 Books in a Year

Title: The Game of the Gods
Author: E. J. Dabel
Challenges: eBook, YA Mythology, 100 Books in a Year

Title: Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
Author: Donna Gephart
Challenges: A to Z, 100 Books in a Year

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leap into Books Giveaway Hop

Hop: Leap into Books
Host:  Am a Reader Not a Writer & Jinky Is Reading
Prize: Used ARC of Three Seconds by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Translator

A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator
by Robert G. Pielke
published by Whiskey Creek
ISBN 978-1-61160-361-3
Why Read?: Review
Challenges:  eBook, Historical Fiction, 100 Books in a Year

The second installment of Robert G. Pielke’s A New Birth of Freedom, The Translator, starts exactly where the first part, The Visitor, left off.  In fact, Pielke picks up so seamlessly and with very little exposition that it feels like one must read the two back to back.

Having captured a number of the Pests, and with the rest of them dead or holed up in their alien crafts, Edwin Blair, President Lincoln, and the Union army continue to try to communicate with the Pests and find out the reason for their attack.  Unfortunately, Blair altered history enough by sending the Pests to Gettysburg that he is starting to lose his memory.  Will they find out what the Pests want before history is changed beyond recognition?  Blair can only hope so or the future he came from may no longer be there.

Pielke still has an interesting concept, especially when he introduces how the Pests “learn”, but The Translator drags a little more than The Visitor.  Being a longer novel, it is lacking some of the fast-paced suspense from the first.  Also, the wonderful illustrations from The Visitor are missed.  However, Pielke still shows great breadth of imagination with an alternate history that is fully researched and very believable…providing giant insect-like aliens could invade Earth in the future.

The Translator must be read in conjunction with The Visitor to be understood, but together (and with the anticipated third novel), The New Birth of Freedom trilogy makes for a great historical sci-fi.  I cannot wait to see how Robert G. Pielke ends this adventure.

Rating: 3/5

The Visitor

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor
by Robert G. Pielke
published by Altered Dimensions
ISBN 978-1-936021-23-9
Why Read?: Review
Challenges:  e-Book, 100 Books in a Year

Robert G. Pielke has quite the imagination!  His A New Birth of Freedom series tells the story of giant aliens sent back in time to be defeated during the Civil War.  The Visitor is just the start of this fascinating series that mixes history with science fiction.

Edwin Blair, a history professor, is sent back to the Civil War area with one mission:  gain President Lincoln's support in defeating the Pests, an insect-life alien race that has overtaken the Earth in Blair's time.  With the help of his "map machine" (aka computer), Blair does manage to convince Lincoln and his advisers that he is indeed from the future and that something bad is coming their way.  However, as soon as the Pests land, history begins changing and Blair is unsure of anything anymore...including why the Pests are trying to wipe out the human race.

The Visitor is one interesting read.  Pielke makes sure the action never lags and that Blair's visit to the past is historically acurate, postulating believable outcomes as Blair starts to change history.  The historical figures really come to life on the page in ways that they never do in history books.  The Pests are also very unique as the reader just starts to really find out about them when the story ends with a great cliffhanger.

The Visitor is a must for any fan of sci-fi and the Civil War.  Robert G. Pielke shows great skill in imagination and storytelling, leaving the reader eagerly anticipating the second A New Birth of Freedom novel, The Translator.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jump Cut

Title: Jump Cut
Author:  Ted Staunton
Publisher: Orca
ISBN: 978-1-55469-947-6
Why Read?: Early Review
Challenges: YA Contemporary, Free Reads, A to Z, 100 Books in a Year

Thoughts: Each of the books in the Seven series follows a grandson as he carries out his grandfather's last request.  Jump Cut is Spencer O'Toole's story.  Because he dreams of being a filmmaker, Grandpa D sends Spencer to visit aging B-movie star Gloria Lorraine and film her giving him a kiss on the cheek.  Spencer cannot understand the reason behind the request, but that is all part of what proves to be an interesting journey as Spencer, as do all good YA protagonists, learns a lot about himself along the way.  This is a wonderful, quick read perfect for more reluctant readers or anyone who enjoys a good YA aimed at boys.

Rating: 4 stars

Summer Spirit

Summer Spirit
by G. Jay
published by Publish Green
ISBN 978-1-938008-66-5
Why Read?: Review
Challenges:  eBook, Paranormal Fiction, 100 Books in a Year

With his first Ryan Kincaid mystery, Summer Spirit, G. Jay has given us a ghostly mystery with a realistic gay protagonist.

Antiques dealer Ryan Kincaid is feeling rather lonely and unsatisfied with his life, so he decides to leave his store in the hands of an assistant and spend the summer on a buying trip in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  He and his friend Laura rent a three-story brownstone for the summer and settle into life away from New York City.  However, their luxuriousness summer home comes with a secret: the ghost of Nicholas, the handsome son of a former owner.  Ryan knows he needs to help Nicholas, but the big question is how.

Ryan Kincaid is a very realistic character and he is a gay man, which is a big part of the story.  Jay's very first sentence might startle more sensitive readers who are expecting a simple cozy or paranormal mystery.  At it's heart, Summer Spirit is a gay paranormal mystery, but Jay takes a tad too long to get there, especially for a relatively short novel.  The mystery does not start until almost halfway in, with the first part being overrun by mundane routine.  Yes, this does give us insight into Ryan's character, but it makes the story drag more than a mystery should...and it is billed on the front cover as a mystery.

Despite its pacing problems, Summer Spirit shows a lot of promise.  Hopefully G. Jay will skip the extensive exposition in further installments of the Ryan Kincaid mysteries, which would actually help to bring this interesting character more to the forefront.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: 2/17-2/23

For possible review (here and on Bookloons):
On the Ropes by James Vance & Dan E. Burr
24 Bones by Michael F. Stewart

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Requested from Paperbackswap:
The Mystic Rose by Stephen R. Lawhead
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
After Dachau by Daniel Quinn

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Echoes from the Infantry

Echoes from the Infantry
by Frank Nappi
published by author
Why Read?: Review
Challenges:  eBook, Historical Fiction, A to Z, 100 Books in a Year

Echoes from the Infantry is Frank Nappi’s first novel, and the one that established him as a writer of historical fiction.  This touching story alternates between the present and World War II, helping to bring the past to life for both the protagonist and the reader.

After their mother died, John and his two younger brothers must clean out their father’s home to sell.  Being the oldest, most of the work falls to John.  Growing up, John was never close to his father, James, although he could never understand why his father was so distant.  In the attic, John discovers his father’s letters home to his mother, and as the story of James’s tour of duty during World War II comes to light, John begins to understand his father a little better.

Nappi does an excellent job of bringing the past to life, and it was these passages of Echoes from the Infantry written in past tense that really stood out.  The modern day story about John seems rather stilted in present tense and definitely points out that it is Nappi’s first novel.  However, whichever tense they were written in, both John and James are very powerful characters who will stay with the readers long after the book is closed.

While the writing in Echoes from the Infantry is not quite up to par with Frank Nappi’s later works, it is a wonderful look at World War II and the relationship between a father and adult son, and for that alone, it is a remarkable read.

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: 2/10-2/16

For Review:
Assured Destruction by Michael F. Stewart

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
The Midas Tree by Leslie Phillips
Fallen by Laury Falter

Requested from Paperbackswap:
Western Shore by Juliet E. McKenna

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Key to Love

Title: The Key to Love
Author:  Meg Mims
Publisher: Astraea
ISBN: 978-1-62135-003-3
Why Read?: Book Club
Challenges: ebook, Free Reads, 100 Books in a Year

Thoughts: This is such a cute, sweet story, but I wish it were longer.  There were some questions I definitely wanted answered, and a longer story could do that, but The Key to Love was all about the courting, and the short length of this novella contained plenty to make the reader "ooh" and "aww" and swoon.  Luckily, Mims has more in story for Jennette and Steve.

Rating: 3 stars

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: 2/3-2/9

For Review (here, on Bookloons and on Bitten by Books):
Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland
The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland
The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen
Bad Girls by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, & Rebecca Guay
The Grace Painter by Mark Romang

Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichesen

LibraryThing Early Reviewers:
Echo by Alicia Wright Brewster
Contemporary Dance in Cuba by Suki John

Requested from Paperbackswap:
Torment by Lauren Kate

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Prophet

Title: The Prophet
Author:  Kahlil Gibran
Publisher: Random House Audio
ISBN: 9780739333280
Why Read?: For Fun
Challenges: Audio Book, Free Reads, A to Z, 100 Books in a Year

Thoughts: This is a very interesting listen.  The Prophet is not so much a story as treatise on Gibran's understanding of philosphy and religion.  There are some beautiful points made, but others that seem confusing.  The narration was rather odd.  Paul Sparer has an amazing voice, but it would work better in an epic fantasy, and therefore gave the whole work a feel of the fantastic.

Rating: 3 stars

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

It's Game Time Somewhere Spotlight and Giveaway

Today we are spotlighting It's Game Time Somewhere by Tim Forbes.  Also, Tribute Books is offering an ecopy to one lucky winner!  Scroll down to read more about It's Game Time Somewhere, including a guest post from the author, and to enter the giveaway. 

Guest Post:
Cards on the table – yours truly is not quite right.

How else could you explain the fact that I spent a year of my life attending and writing about 100 uniquely different sporting events involving 50 separate sports? But that’s what I did, and literally thousands of readers helped me keep score. And when it was done, we all knew more about sports in America than it was thought to be humanly possible. Or at least I did, anyway.

“But why?” you ask. Well here’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

As Bill Cosby once said, I started out as a child. A child inexorably drawn to sports – the organized kind and especially the disorganized kind favored by my circle of friends. Consequently I grew up chasing a ball. It didn’t matter what size or shape, I chased them all. I was fortunate enough to have come of age in a time when kids themselves scheduled their own games and “officiated” them via the kid’s code of sports ethics – an arcane collection of arguments, declarations, and insults that inevitably led to the Do Over. Or somebody taking their ball and going home.

On those occasions when a quorum wasn’t available for even the most streamlined of games, I played them solo. Some might call it “practicing”, but I knew it as “having fun”. And as is the case with many things one repeats endlessly, I managed to develop some level of skill. So it came to be that I went to college on a basketball scholarship.

Annoyingly enough, they don’t let you just major in Basketball – well, not in 1977 anyway, and not in any conference that, like mine, did not start with the word “Big”. So I chose to pursue a degree in Psychology. Don’t ask me why. And when my undergraduate days ended, I decided to obtain an MBA, because, well…because.

The ironic thing was that neither Psychology nor Business Administration would have even been in the race had Sports Management been an academic option. Ubiquitous now, at the time that I entered college there was no such degree program. And so, a career match made in heaven went by the boards…for the time being, anyway.

In my mid-30’s, having acquired over a decade of experience in Corporate America, I became vaguely aware of the fact that people were getting paid to work in sports! Having thus discovered the existence of what was rightfully MY chosen field of work, I spent the next several years alternating between a state of agitation over having been born a decade too early, and thoughtful rumination on how I could still pull off a second half rally and transition to my natural calling.

At the age of 40, the confluence of a certain set of circumstances, not the least of which is the most understanding wife in the cosmos, enabled me to take the plunge. I enrolled in an accredited four semester program that rewarded me upon completion with an Associate’s Degree in Professional Golf Management. I was on my way – a little late out of the gate, but with a full head of steam and ready to use my transferrable skills to claw my way to the top of the sports business.

Nearly a decade later, having come to know quite well the good, the bad and the ugly about pursuing a second career within the sports industry, I was innocently confronted one day with the following question:  ”After working in the industry for ten years, do you still love sports?”

Hmmmm…great question. One I honestly didn’t have an answer for. As you can imagine though, it became critically important for me to find one. And thus began germinating the idea of a “sports walkabout” – an effort to reconnect with my ball-chasing, sports-loving roots.

I went to a game. And then another. And another. Big games, little games. Tournaments, matches, meets and bouts. Men’s games, women’s games. Professional. Amateur. High School. College. Games that I was intimately familiar with. Games that I didn’t have the faintest idea as to their rules.

To those that virtually accompanied me I offered to share everything that I found – both positive and…not so positive. I promised to keep it light-hearted, and they in turn agreed to laugh, learn and share the link with others. This blog, this portrait of Americans at play, became a love letter to sports, warts and all. My friends at Google Analytics tell me that it has been read by thousands of people all over the world.

I hope it brings a smile of pleasure and recognition to your face as well. Because it’s always game time somewhere. 

To read more of my stories, please visit: 

It's Game Time Somewhere Book Summary:
Tim Forbes was like many Americans: painfully unsatisfied in his corporate job but making too much money to walk away. But then, one momentous day, he and his wife struck the Deal, leading to a career in the one field he loved more than anything: sports.

Years later, having carved out his place in the sports business, he was surprised when a friend asked, "Do you still love sports?"...And stunned when he didn't know how to reply. Of course he still loved sports! Didn't he? Was it possible that walking away from a perk-filled Corporate American life had all been for nothing?

His year-long quest to find that answer started with a single game. But what he discovered there soon led to an unlikely coast-to-coast “sports walkabout” involving 100 more games and 50 different sports—from major-market events to the smallest of the small. Poignant, irreverent, and ultimately inspiring, It’s Game Time Somewhere chronicles one man’s search for the love of the game.

YouTube Tim Forbes video interview HTML embed code:
<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="169" src="" width="300"></iframe>

YouTube video book trailer HTML embed code:
<iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="169" src="" width="300"></iframe>
Tim Forbes's Bio: 
Alternately blessed and cursed by the notion that everyone should do what they love for a living, Tim Forbes creates and writes about the games that people play.

Tim grew up in the farmlands of northern Connecticut, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College—where he played Division III basketball in front of literally tens of people. He received an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an Associate’s Degree at the Professional Golfers Career College in Temecula, CA. Yes, in that order.

After 15 years spent meandering about in Corporate America, Tim went on to work for three professional golf tours: the Symetra Futures Tour, the LPGA Tour, and the PGA Tour. He also served as general manager for golf clubs in Nashville, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida. In 2009, he founded Outside the Mode, a sports marketing and production company based in his adopted home of Los Angeles.

Tim lives in Redondo Beach, California with a perennially underachieving fish named Halo, a cat, and a wife he fondly calls Bird.

Format/Price: $15.95 paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781938008122
Publisher: Bascom Hill
Release: February 12, 2013

Barnes and Noble buy link ($15.95): buy link ($15.95):


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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: 1/27-2/2

For Possible Review (on Bookloons):
Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
Regine's Book by Regine Stokke
Zoo Station by Christiane F.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Shadow of Time by Jen Minkman
Mare's Nest by Lesley Kagen
Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson
The Alias by Mandi Tucker Slack
Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon
The Turning by Francine Prose

LibraryThing Early Reviewer:
A Week with Fiona Wonder by Kelly Huddleston
The Conjuring Glass by Brian Knight

Downloaded from Discover a New Love:
Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester

Selection for Astraea Press Book Club:
The Key to Love by Meg Mims