Category: Book Review (non-blog tour)

#PubDay Book Review | “The Fortune Teller” by Gwedolyn Womack Sophomore release by the author of “The Memory Painter”

Posted Tuesday, 6 June, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: Originally, as a hostess of HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) I was able to participate on the blog tour for Ms Womack’s debut novel: The Memory Painter. (see also Review) I was contacted by the author to gauge if I had interest in her sophomore release ‘The Fortune Teller’ of which I researched on her site and found the premise to be quite intriguing. I readily accepted her offer to read this for an honest review and she had her publisher send me a paperback copy of which I was grateful. I received a complimentary copy of “The Fortune Teller” direct from the publisher Picador in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I enjoyed reading this author’s previous release: The Memory Painter

Womack uses creative juxtapositions throughout her novel – where we’re with Bryan and Linz one moment, whilst being treated to a sequence of knowledge not yet introduced to the main thread of the story-line. This is where she shifts both perspective and the trisectional splitting between the main context of how Bryan & Linz are inter-connected to each other, the critical research on Alzheimer’s and the mystery History has attempted to shroud out of memory and sight from humanity. She presents her characters with a depth of being who are grounded as much as they are dimensional. You can sense their emotions, even at a first glance to how they hold themselves and how they allow themselves to interact with others. There is quite a lot bubbling just below the surface – not only of the narrative direction but through the stitchings of how her characters are moulded together.

Womack writes with a subtle accuracy of giving you just enough information per each scene or character visit to allow you to tie everything together in the larger scope of things. It’s an interesting told narrative, from the point-of-view of shifting perceptions and how you are augmented through different portals of how the story-line is moving forward. The main focus is centred on Bryan and Linz, but you have other influences moving the timeline as well as how each cross-section pertains to the two protagonists who hold the key to the whole story! You can simply let your mind alight through Womack’s graceful narrative and let yourself wander as you wonder how the author knitted the story out of the ethers!

I give a nod of excellence to Womack for compellingly giving her readers a visceral level of realism towards understanding how Bryan painted his portraits of life and death! She used words as he uses paint – you could not help but feel as if you were standing below his portraits, seeing how everything felt alive and telling in that stance you took to see what shouldn’t be able to be seen. It’s a lovely novel of depth for the world of art, as similar to music, art is at times hard to conceptionalise on the page; Womack had such an organic way of presenting the art, you could not help but appreciate it in full!

How Womack was able to intervene on History to such a level of intriguing juxtapositions, I am uncertain! As she even brought back to life the compelling argument of how sometimes not everything is fully resolved before or after death! She interwove Egyptology in such a fascinating and inventive way as to cross their Ancient History with our current timeline! It was wonderful to watch her pull her layers together, explore the details further and to watch how even her characters were a bit startled by how everything was inter-connecting straight through to the finish! Her mind truly has captured the intricacies of a plot that is told not only through multiple perspectives but through a threading of counter current lives who are affectingly drawn to each other due to how their past lives originally affected their soul’s journey. Now that’s beyond impressive for a debut novel!

-as quoted from my review of The Memory Painter

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#PubDay Book Review | “The Fortune Teller” by Gwedolyn Womack Sophomore release by the author of “The Memory Painter”The Fortune Teller
by Gwendolyn Womack
Source: Direct from Publisher

Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, specializing in deciphering ancient texts. And when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele's life. But what happened to the cards? As the mystery of her connection to the manuscript deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Brossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Brossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781250099778

Also by this author: The Memory Painter

Genres: Ancient Civilisation, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Published by Picador

on 6th of June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 368

Published By: Picador (@PicadorUSA) via St. Martin’s Press
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

About Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema.

Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Tuesday, 6 June, 2017 by jorielov in Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Content Note, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Modern Day, Pharaohs & Dynasties, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Seers, Supernatural Fiction

(Not quite a) Book Review | “The Smoke Hunter” by Jacquelyn Benson one reader’s struggle with how ‘dark’ fiction can become for #YALit

Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I initially received this ARC Autumn 2016, however, it was during a period of time where my computer died (in a fierce lightning storm), my migraines were frequently giving me grief and shortly thereafter, right as things felt they were going to calm down for a bit, my father had a moderate bilateral stroke (see also Post). Ergo, I had to table a lot of my readings which were in queue towards the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. I have been progressing towards resuming where I left off and finding a renewal of joy reading the stories I was not able to alight inside until now. I received this ARC for review consideration and I was wicked happy for the discovery of finding an author who set her story in Central America. My keen interest is also linked to my own adventures in the Mayan ruins of Mexico City and the Yucatan peninsula inasmuch as my former field of choice to study: Archaeology. (see also Review to a bit about why I love Mexico)

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Smoke Hunter” direct from the publisher Grand Central Publishing (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in consideration for an honest review. I was not obligated to post a review but I decided to share my thoughts for my own edification as much as broach the topic of discussion about how ‘dark’ fiction is becoming. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comI positively LOVE Action & Adventure stories yet finding stories with a healthy dose of Archaeological Intrigue is not always as easy to unearth.

My wanderings inside this niche of literature has it’s roots in the Graphic Novels based off of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the fictionalised novels of Indiana Jones. One in particular truly celebrated what I loved about finding inside stories like these which was Indiana and the Seven Veils. Finding stories which suit my interests with the archaeological angle and keep me on the edge of my chair whilst reading the adventure the lead character is undertaking is sometimes a bit hit or miss depending on how the story evolves.

In the recent past, I have become re-inspired to seek out these stories by my discoveries of the following stories:

  • the Cobbogoth series by Hannah L. Clark (see thread)
  • the Awesome Jones series by AshleyRose Sullivan (see thread)
  • the Jaya Jones series by Gigi Pandian (see thread)
  • the Space Opera series by Cindy Koepp (see thread)
  • the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series by Iain Reading (see thread)
  • The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk by Sally Malcolm (see also Review)
  • The Land of Look Behind by Aaron Blaylock (see also Review)
  • the first Ian Quicksilver novel, not the second (see also Review)
  • *if I said ‘see thread’ this denotes a series is still in-process

I was hoping this novel might be one I could appreciate in the similar vein of interest I had felt with Jaya Jones; as I truly do appreciate finding Lara Croft-esque characters who are wholly true to themselves but have a fierce passion for their fields of study. I love strong female leads who have a penchant for adventure and of uncovering the historical past in a way which will benefit humanity by the artifacts and discoveries they are making. I also loved The Mummy films starting Brendan Fraser where he was only one-half of the duo of archaeological explorers seeking to understand the lore and legacies of Ancient Egypt. So you can see, I have a healthy interest in reading these kinds of stories but it’s finding the stories which I can truly rally behind and say “I loved reading this!” which has become a quest of it’s own!

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(Not quite a) Book Review | “The Smoke Hunter” by Jacquelyn Benson one reader’s struggle with how ‘dark’ fiction can become for #YALitThe Smoke Hunter
Subtitle: Unlock an Ancient Mystery. Unleash an Earth-shattering secret.
by Jacquelyn Benson
Source: Direct from Publisher

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781455569069

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Archaeological | Anthropological Historical Perspectives, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense


Published by Grand Central Publishing

on 13th September, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 448

Published by: Grand Central Publishing (@GrandCentralPub)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks)

Formats Available: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #Historical + #YoungAdult or #YALit, #AdvFict, #HistFic and #TheSmokeHunter

About Jacquelyn Benson

Jacquelyn Benson Photo Credit: Jasmin Hunter

Jacquelyn Benson has always known who she wanted to be when she grew up: Indiana Jones. But since real archaeology involves far more cataloguing pot shards and digging through muck than diving out of airplanes and battling Nazis, she decided to devote herself to shamelessly making things up instead.

Jacquelyn studied anthropology in Belfast, Northern Ireland and married a man from Dublin, New Hampshire. She wrote a thesis on paranormal investigators and spent four years living in a museum. When not writing, you may find her turning flowers into wine, herding an unruly toddler, or hiding under a blanket devouring genre fiction.

Photo Credit: Jasmin Hunter

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Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Discussions, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Grand Central Publishing, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Treasure Hunt

Non-Fiction Book Review | “Winning Plays: Tackling Adversity and Achieving Success in Business and in Life” by Matt Mayberry

Posted Tuesday, 2 May, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I received a complimentary copy of “Winning Plays” direct from the publisher Center Street (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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An unexpected joy: #PurposeInYour20s Chat on 25th April, 2017

I had an unexpected joy in receiving a note from the publicist I work with at FaithWords to inform me there was going to be a chat on Twitter this afternoon revolving around two books: Winning Plays and Quarter-Life  Calling. I’ve been sorting out which days I want to feature the lovely batch of Non-Fiction inspiring biographies, memoirs and self-motivating tomes of joy for awhile now. Ever since I came back to blogging after my father’ stroke, I’ve been trying to sort out the best days to focus on my Non-Fiction reads vs the stories of fiction which electrify my mind with innovative narratives and characters whose stories never quite leave me afterwards.

I started to notice the tag on Twitter: #TuesdayMotivation. Even before today’s chat, I was thinking I should re-think which day I post these wicked Non-Fiction titles. I was thinking the messages within the books would work well with the Twitter meme, as who doesn’t need a bit of extra motivation in their lives? Today, whilst participating on the chat itself, I found I enjoyed conversing with the two authors (as I requested the second one for review afterwards) whilst sharing my own thoughts on the subjects at hand.

The purpose behind the chat itself was to reach out to Millennials – which by some people’s standards includes myself (*cough, cough*) except that I disagree with that statement (hence the coughing!). I’m booking it towards thirtyten and although I loved recapturing my childhood during the Harry Potter film years (who didn’t?) I was a full ten years old than Daniel Radcliffe in the first film! (he was eleven, you do the math!) Those are the children who are Millennials – leave me and my generation where it belongs – we’re GenX! Oy.  Let me digress. The point is the chat was geared towards anyone in their twenties, thirties or older who feel they are at a crossroads in their lives; where finding a way through adversity and the status quo isn’t always as easy as it would appear. This is where your walk in faith comes into play and how you choose to set your attitude, as well.

Attitude has a lot to do with a lot of things in life. This is why I participated in the chat today – I totally support finding pro-positive ways of helping yourself get through the obstacles and hurdles which unexpected disrupt your life’s path. It doesn’t matter if it’s financial, medical or personal loss – there are set-backs in all our lives. Not getting the raise in pay. Living paycheck to paycheck without hope of equal pay for equal work. A limited hope of an increase in minimum wage. Missing a scholarship to college. Marrying younger and starting a family earlier. Staying back for family and putting your life on hold. Taking a hit in your personal health and wellness; due to illness, injury or something else equally unexpected. Grieving the loss of loved ones and finding your way back through grief not as easy to transition as you’d first thought. Striking out on your own without a net of support. If you sit and contemplate it – life is full of a myriad array of things that can go wrong.

How to trudge through the muddling hours where you feel a bit more full of life’s doubts and the fears of never exiting this chapter of where your not really progressing forward and your not back-drifting either; your just ‘caught’ betwixt and between where you want to be. Adversity and strife are put of life – you cannot circumvent the harder days and exchange them for sunshine and rainbows; where nothing will happen which takes a hit on your emotional resolve. We have to live through our lives, embracing the good days with the bad; to find courage to rise through the adversities and seek out our faith for the moments which try to overturn our Hope.

In other words, with my faith as my rock and shield, I never would have been able to work through my father’s stroke. (see also this Post and this one) I might not have had the resolve inside me to re-affirm my own path as a writer during Nanowrimo 2008 (see this Guest Essay of mine feat. on Priya’s Lit Blog). Life happens fast. You have to have the strength to adapt, adjust and get through the rough patches with the Light and Hope of tomorrow. Even if your in the ER and even the doctors aren’t sure if your father will wake up the same way he did the day before his stroke. Even if you worry your gift to use words as a palette of inspiration to build worlds and characters might be lost, you still have to walk forward. You have to turn introspective and seek the truths from within your own heart, spirit and mind. And, always… lean hard on your faith.

NOTE: Previously, I talked more about being a blogger and writer whilst reviewing ‘Full Tank Life’.

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How I shared my own living truths as applicable to the chat’s topic:

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Non-Fiction Book Review | “Winning Plays: Tackling Adversity and Achieving Success in Business and in Life” by Matt MayberryWinning Plays
Subtitle: Tackling Adversity and Achieving Success in Business and in Life
by Matt Mayberry
Source: Direct from Publisher

No one goes undefeated when playing the game of life. Matt Mayberry is no exception. He's faced setbacks beyond his control and lots more he created himself. But even after conquering addiction, realizing his lifelong dream to play in the NFL, and then having it taken away from him in an instant, he came from behind yet again to achieve more success than ever before.

Sometimes we are knocked down-and even out-by circumstances within or beyond our control. That's life. But these moments can be opportunities to tap into inner strength and start over. By sharing how he treated failure as a way to start over, Matt is now a nationally sought-after speaker and success coach to audiences of more than 100,000 people per year for Fortune 500 companies, NFL and NBA teams, government and nonprofit groups, professional associations, and universities. In WINNING PLAYS, he presents his strategies to survive and thrive in the real world, no matter what gets thrown your way.

Just as no football team can be successful without a solid game plan, you can't be successful without one either. This book is full of Matt's inspirational, motivational, and prescriptive advice, such as: be authentic, create opportunities, power through adversity, reaffirm your goals, rebuild, and many other strategies for developing your own personal game plan to succeed in business and in life.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

ISBN: 9781455568284

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation


Published by CenterStreet

on 6th September, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 272

Published by: Center Street (@centerstreet.com)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

Converse via: ##nonfiction, #SelfHelp #INSPY

About Matt Mayberry

Matt Mayberry Photo Credit: Susan Mazeika

MATT MAYBERRY is a highly acclaimed keynote speaker and performance strategist. A former Indiana University and Chicago Bears linebacker, Matt is one of the most widely-read columnists for Entrepreneur.com, where he writes on peak performance, overcoming adversity, leadership, and motivation. Matt's work has been featured on ESPN, Forbes, Huffington Post, ABC, NBC, Fox Business, Fox News, Business Insider, and MSN Lifestyle. As the CEO of Matt Mayberry Enterprises, he helps individuals and organizations all over the world to maximize their potential to achieve breakthrough performance.

Photo Credit: Susan Mazeika

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Posted Tuesday, 2 May, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), CenterStreet, Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Vulgarity in Literature

Book Review | “Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye projects for your home & wardrobe” by Sasha Duerr #BloggingForBooks

Posted Thursday, 27 April, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Fiber Art Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I decided to join the “Blogging for Books” programme (on 9th July, 2014) which is a book for review programme created by the Crown Publishing Group. As a book blogger you are offered books in exchange for an honest review on your book blog as well as the ability to reach new readers when you cross-post your review to the Blogging for Books website. The benefit for the blogger is exposure as a reviewer as they put direct links back to your blog post on the book you select to review as well as your homepage.

I received a complimentary copy of “Natural Color” direct from the publisher Watson-Guptill (an imprint of Crown Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to review a book about Natural Dyes:

As I have intermittently tweeted on Twitter and mentioned off-handedly on my blog, I am a knitty girl at heart who loves creating projects out of the stitches she casts onto her bamboo needles! The afterglow of feeling the Zen of creativity by knitting is wondrous, too! I feel renewed somehow by the method of focusing on stitches and the throwing of yarn one inch at a time whilst creating this wholly new ‘something’ out of what as once a simple hank or skein of yarn!

I took up knitting alongside my Mum, as we were seeking a new Mum & daughter hobby we could pursue together that was a bit easier on the budget than rubberstamp art & mixed media collage; inasmuch as saving on long distance commute times, as the former only had shoppes which were so far afield from our local region, you had to nearly take a TARDIS just to arrive home in time! Laughs. No seriously! We felt it was time to re-direct our time and creative hearts – so whilst I was saying ‘good-bye’ to my twenties we discovered we both were itching to take up knitting!

Mum was returning to the craft after *forty!* plus years absent from it’s yarny blissitude and I, was the dyslexic whose previously failed attempt to learn how to properly cast-on was not going to blind her to the prospect of finding a teacher *somewhere!* who could get her to master the long lost art by combining two styles of knitting to formulate her own hybrid style! The way I approach knitting is AmeriBritish inasmuch as my personal writing voice reflects the unique combination of bi-continental influences!

When we first started to notice we were ‘catching-on’ to knitting together with a fierce passion, we started to dream a bit about what we could do in the future with our ‘newfound’ love and skill set! Mum was re-encouraging herself to contemplate picking up crochet on the side; whereas I decided that would muddle knitting for me if I attempted it. (too confusing to keep it all separate!) Whilst I started leaning towards natural dyes, more complicated patterns (ie. my heart is set on learning Fair Isle!) and potentially learning how to spin roving.We started to contemplate how to move forward in our journey with fiber arts, each finding our own pathways to walk! Some of what we want to do is together and a few times we’ll divert and take separate paths!

The beauty for us both, is finding a green and natural way to craft! I developed several allergies in childhood and as an adult, I live as green as I can by using alternative household products and by seeking out arts and craft projects which do not upset my allergy triggers by the toxicity of products which tend to flood the market. This is one reason why we love using Natural Yarns (except for the synthetics we sometimes receive as Charity Knitters; such as Acrylic); and by extension, a natural way to dye our own yarn would be quite ideal! Hence why I was so wicked excitement when I first saw this book come up for review! Imagining how we could take our love of this craft one step further and find ways to ‘create our own fiber colour palette’ naturally would be incredible!

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Posted Thursday, 27 April, 2017 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Blogging for Books, Book Review (non-blog tour), Eco-Friendly, Education & Learning, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Solutions, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Horticulture, Knitting, Non-Fiction, Old World Arts & Crafts, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World, Upcycle & Recycle Practices