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review 2017-06-26 11:01
Multi-award winner historical fiction in pre-revolution New York with a fabulous narrator and an intriguing main character
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York - Francis Spufford

Thanks to Net Galley and to Faber & Faber for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I had an interesting experience with this novel. In the last few weeks, every time I reviewed a novel that was nominated for an award and checked out what novel had won it, it was Golden Hill (among them, the Costa First Novel Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017…) and I thought I had to read it and find out what the fuss what about.

It is not difficult to see why people are fascinated by this novel. It is a historical fiction novel by an author who has written non-fiction extensively and has chosen a very interesting narrative style. (I must confess to being very intrigued by his book called The Child that Books Built. A Life in Reading, especially in view of a recent discussion we had on my blog about books on reading). The story is set in the New York of the late 1740s and is narrated by an anonymous narrator (or so it seems as we read) who tells the story of a man, Richard Smith, who arrives in the New World with a money order for 1000 pounds and acts quite mysteriously. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator breaks the third wall barrier often, at times to despair at being unable to describe a card game, or a fight, at others to decide where we can or cannot enter. Although the book’s language and style are word-perfect (and will enchant those who love accuracy), it appears more sensitive to certain aspects of the society of the time than perhaps a novel of the period would have been (slavery, gender, and race issues…) but the narrating style reminds us of Henry and Sarah Fielding, and in a nod to metafiction, in the book itself there are discussions of novels that include Joseph Andrews or David Simple. I have talked often about my fascination for narrators and this is one of those novels that will keep it alive for a long time.

The book transports the reader to the New York of 1747, a provincial and small place, with only a few streets and a mixture of inhabitants mostly from Dutch and English origins, with a jumble of different coins and bank notes in circulation, what appear to be the equivalent of small-town politics and an interesting judicial system, and dependent on ships from London for news and entertainment. Although I have read historical tracts and fiction from the era, I don’t think any of them managed to give me as good an understanding and a feel for what colonial New York was like.

The story itself is built around the mystery of Smith’s character. Who is he? Is the money order real, or is he a con-man? Is he a magician, an actor, a seducer, a trouble-maker, all of the above? Everybody wants him, or better, his money, for their own goals (political, financial…) and he allows himself to be courted by all, although he is only really interested in the daughter of one of the Dutch businessmen who is holding his money order until they receive confirmation of its true value, Tabitha. Tabitha is my favourite character, a shrew, sharp and witty, and somebody I wouldn’t mind learning much more about.

Smith is a good stand-in for the reader because although he is from the era, he is naïve as to the colonies and the different social mores, politics, and customs there, and keeps getting into trouble. Although his adventures are interesting, and the mystery that surrounds him seemingly propels the story (although half-way through the novel we get a clue as to what might be behind the intrigue), I found it difficult to fully empathise with him, perhaps because of the style of narration (although the story is told by a narrator, and in the third person, at times we get a clear look at what Smith is thinking, but, for me, the hidden information somehow hindered my full investment in the character). There are many other interesting characters, although we do not get to know any of them in a lot of detail. For a great insight into the book and all that it contains, I recommend you read the About the author note I have included above. The man can write, for sure.

The ending… Well, there is an ending to the story and then there is a final twist. If you picked up the clues, the ending will not be such a big surprise. The twist… Yes, it makes one look at the book in a completely different way, although it makes perfect sense.

I highlighted many fragments that I particularly liked, but on checking them again I was worried they might, either give too much away or confuse somebody who is not following the story. So I’d advise you to check the book sample available on your favourite online bookstore and see if you enjoy the style. If you do, it only gets better.

I recommend this book to anybody curious about its reputation, to lovers of historical fiction, in particular, those set up in the colonies prior to the revolution, and to readers and writers who enjoy narrators and look for something a bit different.

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photo 2016-07-16 16:19
An Interview with Award Winning Author, Ica Iova

An Interview with Award Winning Author, Ica Iova

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review 2015-07-17 15:24
An enjoyable, entertaining, action-dram award winning tale!
In-Sight - Gerard D. Webster


The award winning action-drama novel, In-Sight, written by author Gerard D. Webster, stands out among other Catholic books in this genre.


The book begins with Carrie Hope's dad's last words to her before dying in the hospital: ''I love you as my own.'' Carrie's parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a freshman at Florida State University (FSU). This event leaves Carrie alone and with no known relatives. When she turns 21, opportunity comes knocking at her door- she lands a Summer internship job in TV journalism in England. She needs to apply for a passport and is unable to find a copy of her birth certificate. She contacts Mr.Tom Eddington, the family lawyer, and asks for his assistance. Her meeting with Mr. Eddington reveals some shocking family secrets that find Carrie ill-prepared and send her in a life of busyness and internal turmoil.


Meanwhile, syndicated column writer, Ward McNulty, is enjoying the fame and the power of his political commentary column, Inside Story. His credibility and insight change the lives of those people he writes about. Ward has been very outspoken and supportive of State Senator Chet Garner in his column. This relationship, however, will proof itself shallow and manipulative as the story unfolds.


Carrie Hope buries her past and continues working on TV journalism. Her hard work earned her the position of co-host at the news program, Channel Five at Five. She and Ward McNulty meet at the studio as she interviews him for the news series,'Local People Makes Good.' Some time after this interview, Carrie and Ward start dating and end up with Carrie's moving in with Ward. At first, their relationship is full of lust and passion, but these slowly disappear as they get more and more involve in their careers.


Democrat State Senator Chet Garner will stop at nothing to gain the necessary votes to the US Congress, including, but not limited, to defamation of his competitor and all of those who stand on his way. He has been supportive of the ''North Beach'' development project to take place in Timuqua Island because he sees it is beneficial for Florida and also for the residents of the island.


Some of the residents are suspicious about the ''North Beach Project'' and they decide to hire real state lawyer, Bob Rohrback, to represent them in court. When Bob starts requesting papers from the City Council and taking some legal actions, this sets the wheel on as a set of unfortunate events starts affecting those obstructing and delaying the project. One of those victims is Ward McNulty, who refuses to use his column to defame former defense lawyer, Bob Rohrback. Ward suffers a car accident that leaves him blind for some time. Soon after his sight is restored, he discovered he has an in-sight into people's souls. This so discovered ''gift'' terrifies him and he doesn't know how to deal with it. But with the help of his dad, he learns to use his gift to better himself and help others in need.


The rest of the book goes back and forth between those in favor and those opposed to the project. Ward McNulty and Carrie Hope find themselves caught in the middle of the struggle and fighting in opposite sides. Lives will be turned up side down and others will be destroyed, while a handful of brave ones will find justice as the truth sets them free.


This is a tale of betrayal, faith, power, recovery, redemption, trust, and justice for all. I enjoyed the way the author weaved into the story the benefits of a regular confession, the AA Program for alcohol addiction, family relationship, and law. All these elements are tastefully discussed through the story without making the readers uncomfortable with some of these sensitive topics. The word of Jesus: ''Let your eyes be opened'' will take a whole new meaning after the reader finishes reading this book.


I recommend this book to those readers looking for a Catholic action drama fiction story with a cutting edge that doesn't jeopardize their beliefs and convictions. This book was awarded 2nd place in the 2009 Creative Arts Council Book Awards.

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review 2015-06-01 17:22
Senior Citizens Beware ~ Blood Ties by Ashley Fontainne

Ashley Fontainne is an amazing award winning and bestselling author that you will want to check out. Her novels are so good, they are being optioned for film.

Ashley Fontainne has teamed up with her mother, Lillian Hansen, in her new release, Blood Ties.

I am so excited to share all the goodies below, so please, grab a beverage, put your feet up and enjoy.


Add me to Goodreads now.


Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen's Blood Ties has a level of creepiness and reality that will linger long after you have finished reading the novel. The mother and daughter writing team continues into the characters of the story with Karina and her mother, LiAnn.

Karina, a private investigator for We've Got Ya, and LiAnn, a cop, had become sickened after their last case, that dealt with the abuse of senior citizens in assisted living facilities and quit their jobs. Now, it was off to Grandma and Grandpa's farm in Arkansas.

Karina does not have female friends, except for her mother, who is her best friend. I love Karina's badassery and the snarky dialogue between and her mother. My mother is my best friend and I spend more time around men than women. Who has time for cat fights, jealousy and shopping? Not me. I am not afraid to tell my mother anything, like Karina, sometimes in very "colorful" words. I do love Karina's foul mouth and her "take out my gun and shoot you" attitude. I love fast cars and beer, too, Karina. She has a black Charger, with dark tinted windows and racing tires. She named it Dragula, after a Rob Zombie song based on the Munsters. Makes me think of driving the country roads when I first moved south with my Monte Carlo SS and doberman. Karina has a big dog, a 100lb black lab. I sure see the similarities and feel right at home with Karina and her family.

Of course, we need a love interest and her encounter with one of the twin Greek Gods had me grinning at the descriptive writing, which drew me further and further into Blood Ties.

Karina's biggest Achilles heel is the mistreatment of senior citizens. She will not stand by and watch them be neglected or abused...by anyone.

The Magnolia is an assisted living facility that houses some of her grandparents friends. As Karina and LiAnn become aware of some funky goings on, they begin to investigate on their own.

Caesar is a mobster, a ruthless criminal and ex assassin that has taken many lives. When his wife dies, I find it impossible to feel empathy for him. What about the families he ruined? He has his sights set on The Magnolia, but...money isn't the only thing he will be taking from the seniors.

Nick runs The Magnolia and sold his soul to the devil - Caesar - in return for money. He stuck his head in Caesar's noose and would never get it out. Terror stalks him, day and night.

The Magnolia is understaffed with poorly trained workers, residents are neglected and abused - lawsuits and government investigations abound. How relevant is that today? Will you be in an assisted living facility? Blood Ties is a very thought-provoking novel that will haunt me into my golden years.

What can I say? I LOVE Blood Ties. Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen's ability to grab me from the beginning and keep me turning page after page, unable to put the book down, is proof of their awesome writing. The emotion I felt while reading ranged from happy and playful to rage and the need for justice. But is there any justice for crimes so despicable that I cannot find the words to describe them?

Blood Ties by Ashley Fontainne and Lillian Hansen is the first in a three-part murder mystery/suspense series and I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next!

I received the ARC of Blood Ties in return for an honest review.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 5 Stars


LiAnn Tuck and her daughter, Karina Summers, are settling into their new life, enjoying the small farming community of Sheridan, Arkansas. The slower pace, compared to the craziness of Los Angeles, is a welcome distraction for them both. Taking care of her aging parents and their small farm is just what LiAnn needs to forget her twenty-five-year career as a detective. And Karina's new love interest brings back the smile she lost from years of undercover work and her cheating ex-boyfriend.

The Bonds

Their idyllic lifestyle changes the minute a family friend, Cecil Pickard, pays a visit. He lives at The Magnolia, an independent living facility in Hot Springs, and believes someone is stealing from him. LiAnn and Karina offer to investigate and suddenly find themselves inside a living nightmare.

Are Permanent

Theft isn't the only criminal activity taking place inside the historic, stately walls of The Magnolia. Organized crime has infiltrated Hot Springs, and what they're after is not only money, but life itself. As LiAnn and Karina dig deeper, they might just be digging their own graves.


Award-winning and International bestselling author Ashley Fontainne is an avid reader of mostly the classics. Ashley became a fan of the written word in her youth, starting with the Nancy Drew mystery series. Stories that immerse the reader deep into the human psyche and the monsters that lurk within us are her favorite reads. Her muse for penning the Eviscerating the Snake series was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Ashley’s love for this book is what sparked her desire to write her debut novel, Accountable to None, the first book in the trilogy. With a modern setting to the tale, Ashley delves into just what lengths a person is willing to go when they seek personal justice for heinous acts perpetrated upon them. The second novel in the series, Zero Balance focuses on the cost and reciprocal cycle that obtaining revenge has on the seeker. For once the cycle starts, where does it end? How far will the tendrils of revenge expand? Adjusting Journal Entries answered that question: far and wide. Her short thriller entitled Number Seventy-Five, touches upon the sometimes dangerous world of online dating. Number Seventy-Five took home the BRONZE medal in fiction/suspense at the 2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards contest and is currently in production for a feature film. Her paranormal thriller entitled The Lie, won the GOLD medal in the 2013 Illumination Book Awards for fiction/suspense and is also in production for a feature film. The suspenseful mystery Empty Shell, released September 29, 2014. Ashley then delves into the paranormal with a Southern Gothic horror/suspense novel, Growl, scheduled for release in the Spring of 2015. Plus, she will be teaming up with Lillian Hansen (Ashley calls her Mom!) to pen a three-part murder mystery/suspense series entitled The Magnolia Series. The first book, Blood Ties, is due out the Summer of 2015. Ashley also hosts The WriteStuff, a popular BlogTalk Radio show, each Friday night at 10 p.m. CST.

For More Information

Check out my review for her awesome novel, Growl, here.

Blood Ties: The Bonds Are Permanent (The Magnolia Series Book 1) Growl


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Source: www.fundinmental.com/senior-citizens-beware-blood-ties-by-ashley-fontainne
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review 2015-03-09 19:40
Redwall [Audiobook - Full Cast]
Redwall - Brian Jacques

I can't remember when I first read the first book in Brian Jacques' extensive series. I do remember seeing the book at the library and knowing instantly I had to read it. I've always loved anthropomorphic animal stories (Charlotte's Web being the odd exception), but none till then had mixed that with my love of history. While I loved the sequel to this, I don't remember getting much past the third or fourth book.


Redwall is the story of an abbey of mice that raise food, keep the history of the area, and are deeply connected with the community of woodland creatures surrounding them. However, one night all of them are threatened when Cluney the Scourge - a huge black rat with a whip-like tail - arrives to destroy, subjugate, and kill. Redwall Abbey becomes a fortress as the mice and other animals fight to protect themselves and keep their freedom.

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