Saturday, October 31, 2015

Almost Invincible: Mary Shelley's Ambivalent Rebellion

As we celebrate Halloween, readers might want to recall an iconic gathering at Villa Diodati in Switzerland for the purpose of reading spooky stories.  Two literary luminaries, Lord Byron and Mary's future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, were participants.  Another contributor to the evening's entertainment who is not so well known was Byron's physician, John Polidori.  That night isn't remembered for what Byron and Shelley wrote for that occasion.  Nor is it remembered for what Polidori  wrote, though perhaps it should be. His novel The Vampyre that emerged from that dusk assemblage is a landmark work for those who are interested in the history of vampire fiction.  Yet that confluence of creativity draws people's interest because Mary Shelley first imagined the book that became Frankenstein.   Suzanne Burdon opens her Mary Shelley novel, Almost Invincible, with a re-creation of that remarkable evening. 

 A while back I  reviewed The Lady and Her Monsters on my old blog.  It was a non-fictional history of the literary and scientific background behind Frankenstein.  So Almost Invincible is not the first book dealing with Mary Shelley that I've blogged.  It's a biographical novel that focuses on her marriage, but I thought it was appropriate to begin this Halloween review with a mention of Mary Shelley's best known work.


 After reading Almost Invincible,  I've come to the conclusion that Mary Shelley was truly caught betwixt and between her heritage as the daughter of the radical and unconventional Mary Wollstonecraft and her upbringing in the Godwin household run by the second Mrs. Godwin, Mary Jane Clairmont, who was obsessed with respectability.   Mary ran off with Shelley, who was then a married man, but she worried about the scandal that ensued.  At one point, she complained to Shelley that his metaphorical umbrella that protected him from malicious talk didn't  shield her. It seems to me that if Mary wanted to share his metaphorical umbrella, she needed to shelter under it.    Shelley's protection was a mindset that the opinions of conventional people didn't matter to him. Stepping under his umbrella would mean that Mary would have to adopt that mindset, and she seemed incapable of doing so.   The only explanation is that Mrs. Clairmont-Godwin had influenced Mary far more than she had managed to influence her own daughter, Claire.   Mary recognized that her father,  philosopher William Godwin, had become a hypocrite who no longer supported the social radicalism that he advocated when he and Mary Wollstonecraft were a couple.  Yet she didn't perceive that she was equally inconsistent.

The title of the novel is taken from Godwin's evaluation of his daughter, but Mary was by no means invincible.  She was hurt by Claire who she viewed as a rival for Shelley's affection, and she was very wounded by the deaths of all her children except for Percy.   In fact, I thought that Claire was far more resilient because she lacked Mary's emotional sensitivity. Claire was unsympathetic, but I thought she was stronger than Mary.  Claire's response to loss was anger.  She refused to  completely surrender herself to grief, and was able to move on with her life.

What I liked most about this book were the references to what was happening during the period. For example,  in Villa Diodati Byron and Shelley discussed the increasing unrest due to serious climate change.   It was known as "The Year Without a Summer" which was caused by a volcano eruption in Indonesia in 1815.  There is an excellent article about it here by Gillen D'Arcy-Wood.  It includes descriptions of the uncanny weather that Mary wrote in correspondence with her half-sister Fanny Imlay.  These reports of  extreme climate in 1816 eventually found their way into Frankenstein.  

Another compelling example of historical context in this novel occurred when Mary, Shelley and Claire traveled through France in 1814. Burdon describes the devastation and misery of the Russian invasion and occupation that had taken place at that time. For more information, see an article about it on the Napoleon Society website here.

So although the main focus of Almost Invincible was on Mary's relationship with Shelley, Burdon did provide a frame of reference which shows us the truth of their times.



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Isolation by Mary Anna Evans

I've been a fan of the Faye Longchamp mysteries by Mary Anna Evans for some time, but I've never blogged about any of them. This is the ninth book in the series.  So it's about time that I did. These are contemporary mysteries that often have a strong historical element. 

I think that Book Babe readers who haven't encountered Faye Longchamp should know about her.   Faye is an African American archaeologist who first practiced archaeology by excavating Joyeuse, the island off the coast of Florida where she lived.  By excavating on Joyeuse, she was uncovering her own family's heritage.  Her family had lived on Joyeuse for generations.  Isolation deals very directly with one of Faye's ancestors.


It starts out as a contemporary case.  A woman who owns a bar has been murdered.  At the same time, a man that is looking for the truth about a Civil War ancestor of his who disappeared, starts asking questions about a woman who was Faye's ancestor.   This particular ancestor is significant to Faye.  So that's when this mystery starts getting very personal.   Faye discovers that everything she loves may be in jeopardy.  She will end up having to fight for her family, and for her life on Joyeuse.   Books don't get more dramatically intense than this.  Mary Anna Evans pulled out all the stops in Isolation.

The strength Faye exhibits is more astonishing because the novel opens with Faye having been depressed for some time over a miscarriage.   She isolates herself while she grieves over the loss of her baby.   The level of threat that she experiences over the course of the narrative, snaps her out of it.   She becomes herself again.  A woman who is weak would have no resources to call upon, but Faye is a hero.

One of male heroes in this novel who fights alongside Faye is her husband, Joe Mantooth.  Joe is a Native American flintnapper.  Flintnapping is a stone age skill.   Very few people in the current day practice flintnapping.  He is also an expert consultant on flintnapped artifacts for archaeologists.  I think this makes him a pretty amazing man.  Flintnapping doesn't play a role in Isolation, but I wanted to introduce readers of this review to Joe.  He's central to both this book and to Faye's life.  I always imagine that Joe looks like the actor Joe Lando as he appeared on the TV show, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman where he played the role of Sully.   I imagine that Faye looks like the actress  Halle Berry.   Faye and Joe make an extraordinary couple.

It would be possible to read Isolation without reading the rest of the Faye Longchamp series, but you would probably be better off getting all the background by starting off with the first book, Artifacts.  Live through Faye's adventures as Mary Anna Evans wrote them.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Spotlight & #Giveaway: Clutch

Clutch: A NovelClutch: A Novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.


Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses.  Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag.  It was always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry.  She was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette.  From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow.  A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.
“Open it… …sweetie.  Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.
Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi.  She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later.  The glossy paper was less of interest and she ripped through it quickly.  She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones.  An enormous smile overcame her.  Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.
“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi.  It’s lovely.”
And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began.  From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs.  Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses.   She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.
By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags.  And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.
“Caroline, sweetie… …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.”  It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career.  The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”
Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading high-end handbag designers.
She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf.  And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive.   But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi of course encouraged her.
“You’ve got this, sweetie. ,” she said.  “It’s in the bag.”

Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded).  That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers.  He oozed charisma.  Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.
Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand.  After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.
Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here.  You look like you’re going to need this.”
“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.
“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.
“I’m Caroline.  Thanks for the…”
“Latte,” she confirmed.  “Thanks.  But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.
“I know,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up.
“Please take note of where you are seated.  I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot.  This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”
“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.
“Looks like it,” she replied.

About three months into the first semester, Caroline learned that her fun-loving, easy-going new best buddy Mike wasn’t exactly who he appeared to be.
A blanket of white snow dusted the Harvard grounds and it was a particularly slow day in another mutual class, LEAD – Leadership and Organizational Behavior.  Professor Moss, a frail man who weighed less than his years, was droning on and on about establishing productive relationships with subordinates or something to that effect.  He initiated a discussion about what works better – the carrot or stick approach.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” he called, referring to his seating chart and scanning the room until he found Mike in the fifth row.  “What are your thoughts?”
“Well, it seems to me that good management is all about empathy and being able to enthuse and inspire your staff.  You know, appreciating them and respecting them.  Showing you care,” he said, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture of true compassion and concern.  “And if they can’t get that through their thick skulls, you fire ‘em,” he continued, drawing his finger across his throat.
Several students sitting around them started to chuckle while Caroline stifled a laugh.  Mike looked around the room and nodded his head, soaking in the appreciation of his sense of humor.
“Mr. Barnsworth,” said Professor Moss in a menacing tone, “I would have expected a better answer from you, considering your family history.”
Confused by the conversation unfolding before her, Caroline leaned over and whispered to Mike, “What is he talkin’ about?”   Mike put up a hand to quiet her.
“Later,” he hissed.
Twenty minutes later, the two shared a bench outside Baker Library, the chill of winter causing Caroline to pull her scarf closer around her neck.
“What was that all about?” she asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.

Reluctantly, Mike began to speak.  “My full name is Michael Frederick Barnsworth the Third.  

Lisa Becker
About Lisa Becker

In addition to her new book, clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters. To learn more, visit

Books: Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click, Right Click and clutch: a novel

Find Lisa: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Web | YouTube


One commenter of this post will win an ebook copy of Clutch. Giveaway lasts for two weeks. Please be sure to leave your email address in the comment so you can be contacted. And DO answer this question: what was your funniest date ever?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Shomeret's Not Changing Much on Book Babe

I began posting on Book Babe because my friend Tara needed help with coverage and I loved Book Babe.  I still love Book Babe and I want to preserve it.  I have a personal blog called Shomeret: Masked Reviewer.  It reflects my tastes and personality.  I don't want Book Babe to be a clone of my blog.   I want it to continue to be a blog that focuses on fiction with strong woman protagonists.  That's the hallmark of Book Babe.  I will review non-fiction and fiction focusing on male protagonists on Shomeret: Masked Reviewer.

Another continuing theme of Book Babe is Strong is Sexy.  Like Tara, I'm sex positive and I genuinely believe that a strong woman is also sexy.   Are you still with me, readers?  I hope you are.  

One thing that I do want to change is the inclusion of ratings.  I admit that I'm not a big fan of ratings.  I've always thought that the content of a review reflects the opinion of the reviewer more completely and more accurately than a rating.  So I will no longer rate books on Book Babe.

I support Tara in her choices about her life.   She is a gutsy feminist whose determination to be who she is has impressed me.  She will always be welcome to post on Book Babe.  I wish her well.

Lost in America - Episodes 1-3 by Laura Fitzgerald

This book grabbed me from the beginning. It had a unique plot and as the story went on, I couldn't put it down and needed to know what was going to happen. I wasn't crazy about the heroine, Kendra. She just wouldn't listen to anyone, but she did it with well intentions to figure out the truth and protect her mom. Kendra has a strong need to keep her mom safe after she lost her father and her mother lost her husband on the day of 9/11.

After almost dying herself, Kendra is given a gift called Insight, where she can see things that happen in the future and try to stop it. Such as kidnappings, rapes, murder, etc. There are several people telling Kendra to trust them, but she isn't sure who to trust. And I can't blame her. By the time episode 3 ended, I was as confused as she was.

This book ends with a cliffhanger. I was under the impression the series was complete, but it is not. I checked the authors website and Amazon, but did not come across when book 4 will be out. :insert frown face: because I am dying to know what happened.

For now, I will be keeping an eye out for the book and hope that it is released soon.

Lacey's Rating

About The Book

New Adult Thriller - How far would you go to save your mother's life?

It's the near future, and the next big thing is already here. Smartphones, tablets, even TVs have been replaced by Butlers, your own digital personal assistant who knows you intimately. It's killer technology ... really, it is.

Billed as "luxury for the little guy," your Butler knows your clothing sizes, your favorite pizza toppings, the music you like, and gets you whatever you want at your command. Your Butler is always there for you. Watching. Waiting. Listening. It knows everything about you, and so does the company behind it.

That's where the danger comes in.

Meet Kendra Sinclair. She'd be the first to tell you there's nothing special about her, until she uncovers a massive conspiracy designed to kill millions of people, including those she loves most. Kendra's the only one who can stop it ... unless the bad guys stop her first, which means she needs to get Lost In America.

But how can she, when privacy is just an illusion?

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Huge Change to Book Babe

Many of you have probably noticed that Book Babe's had a major change of late. The posts went from everyday to one a week. Book Babe nearly stopped reading.

I feel it's past time I told everyone why.

First, I got a divorce. No, don't say you're sorry, because I'm not. My ex-husband and I shall remain cordial friends forever, but I think divorce was the best choice for us. You either have what it takes or you don't. You're either compatible or you're not.

But with divorce comes stress, division of assets, dogs, houses, furniture, and someone moves, and in this case it was me. So I got a divorce, moved, lost a dog to his care. At the same time, I had to put little Jazzy down. Her heart murmur became bronchial and tracheal collapse and she was struggling just to breathe, to live everyday. This experience broke my heart.

I lost and gained a job.

I met a wonderful man and began what I hope will be a long relationship.

That was just my summer.

As fall begins, I am about to possibly say goodbye to Pudgy, who has come down with a mysterious growth (they think tumor) on her urethra. She can no longer pee on her own. She is absolutely miserable with a catheter. All options the vet gave us gave her only 6 months to a year to live, no matter how we treat it.

And while visiting her the other night, I was robbed. The perp took not only my wallet and ids and mace and ipod and all kinds of things (including tampons. I hope he one day accidentally sits on one the wrong way, if you get my drift.) and my Kindle that contains about 200 Netgalley titles or titles authors and publishers sent me. That's 200 titles I can't put on another Kindle due to the anti-sharing crap on the files. I can't redownload them. I can't review them now either, meaning 200 authors are going to be disappointed.

As I sat here realizing much work it would be to get all those books back, I realized I just can't do it. I can't tackle this latest issue too.

So I apologize, but I cannot keep blogging and reviewing books anymore.

Many of you have come to enjoy Book Babe though and all the things it offers. Also many reviews posted previously get enjoyment to this day. I will not archive anything. I will not shut the blog down. Instead I'm happily handing it over to Shomeret. You may still hear from me from time to time, a random book review. But if you're an author expecting a review because I got your title on Netgalley, it's most likely not going to happen now. I am sorry.

Thank you, all, for sharing books and movies and women power with me over the years. It's been a fun ride.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Maddox Brothers by Ella Jade and Lacey Wolfe

Two bestselling authors, two sexy alpha brothers in one explosive book!




Ella Jade and Lacey Wolfe are excited to announce their joint venture. Each author took one brother and wrote a steamy story to tantalize and entice your senses. The Maddox Brothers is told in two parts, but both books intertwine to give you double the pleasure. Ella and Lacey are bringing you something completely different!

 Get lucky with the Maddox Brothers...

Successful brothers Hudson and Liam Maddox are living the lives they’ve always dreamed of. Neither is looking for a relationship, more interested in keeping their single status with the ladies. That all changes when Kennedy and Chelsea enter their lives.

Hudson has been focusing on his career and building a solid business in the real estate industry. The charismatic attorney has recently been named the most eligible bachelor in town. He's never been interested in settling down until he collides with the easygoing Kennedy. She invades his orderly life in a matter of days. Has this carefree younger woman been what's missing in his meticulous world?

Content with his life, Liam has built his own construction business and takes pride from it's excellent reputation. After having his heart broken years ago, he’s decided not to take any relationship too seriously. But then the woman who tore his heart up years ago returns and hires his company for her home renovations. Trying to keep his cool around Chelsea is damn near impossible. All he has to do is complete the renovation and then never see Chelsea again. As if it was that simple.


Have you joined The Maddox Brothers celebration event scheduled for November 15, 2015? Lots of prizes, teasers, excerpts and awesome authors are planned.

Tsura by Heather Anastasiu

I accepted a free copy of Tsura by Heather Anastasiu for review from the author because the central character is a  Romani woman.  Romani are what the gypsies call themselves.  I've read a number of books about  Romani  history and a couple of anthropology studies about Romani in the United States.  I've also read some Romani memoirs, and a great many novels dealing with Romani.  So you might say I'm interested in the subject.


I admit to being somewhat disappointed about the extent of Romani cultural content in Tsura.  There was a slight Romani flavor sprinkled throughout Tsura, but ideally I would have liked to see a great deal more.   The plot line justification for there being so little Romani content is that Tsura was exiled from the Romani community for reasons that are huge spoilers.  Based on my reading and what I heard from a part-Romani acquaintance, Tsura probably wouldn't have ever been part of the Romani community because her grandmother was non-Romani.  Romani have a very strong sense of purity and the non-Romani grandmother would have brought about the exile of her grandparents. Her family would have been part of the non-Romani world for three generations.  They would have needed to make a strong effort to preserve their Romani culture in isolation from their community.  They might have forgotten some traditions and this would have impacted Tsura's ability to live like a Romani woman.

When the novel opens Tsura is in hiding with her Jewish lover who was calling himself Andrei.   She believed that she had a future with him and was prepared to convert to Judaism.  If so, she really needed to change her own name.  Tsura is very similar to the Yiddish word for trouble.  The plural form is much more familiar.  It's tsuris.   I can just see Andrei introducing her as Tsura around the Jewish community.  The response would be "Oy vey!  We don't have enough tsuris already?"  Yeah, that would go over really well.

So why were Andrei and Tsura hiding? Tsura  takes place in Romania in World War II.  Some years ago I had read a Holocaust memoir about a Jewish woman from Poland who took refuge with relatives in Romania in World War II, and was therefore safe from the Nazis. Yet I knew that there were Romanian Jews who were sent to concentration camps.  I was confused.  Why were some Romanian Jews safe from the Nazis while others weren't? 

 Tsura finally answered this question.  Northern Transylvania was annexed by Hungary as a result of The Second Vienna Award in 1941.  The Axis Powers essentially gave this land to Hungary.  As a result, its Jews were no longer under the protection of Romanian Marshall Antonescu  who refused to cooperate with the Nazi Final Solution when it came to the Old Kingdom's Jews.  These were the Jews who lived in the original territory of Romania.  He regarded them as Romanians.  Marshall Ion Antonescu was no angel.  He should not be nominated for a humanitarian award.  He was responsible for the deaths of Jews who had joined the Red Army.  This was known as the Odessa Massacre. Antonescu was a Romanian nationalist and extremely anti-communist.  He was executed in 1946 for the Odessa Massacre and other war crimes.  I'd like to thank Heather Anastasiu for helping me to understand Romania's role in World War II a little better.

On the other hand, I had a problem with the way the Jewish Holocaust was portrayed in this book.  Something occurred that could never have happened.  I can't discuss it specifically because that would be a significant spoiler, but it undermined the believability of this book for me.  There is another aspect to this problem that I can't even mention in order to avoid spoilers, but my knowledge of this other area combined with my knowledge of concentration camps caused me to realize that this plot event was an impossibility. I will probably discuss it in the Goodreads version of this review because spoilers can be hidden on Goodreads.

So far I haven't discussed what I thought of the romance factor in Tsura which would be the most important component for those readers who chose to read this book because it's a romance.  Well, it's a delayed HEA situation.  There's a sequel and the relationship issues are presumably resolved over the course of that narrative.  I wouldn't read the sequel for that reason myself, though I did like the romance hero very much.  Tsura's difficulties with understanding him in this first book irritated me, and caused me to be impatient with her throughout the novel.  



Friday, October 16, 2015

Inches Aren't Everything by Sarah B. Daniels

Inches Aren't Everything by Sarah B. Daniels isn't your typical romance story. You'll follow several points of views for several characters, getting to know each on different levels. Every chapter takes on a different character. Stores like this have always been harder for me to read. It makes me feel like  I need a notebook as I read it to keep up with who is who. Especially in Inches Aren't Everything because there were so many characters and the way they related to the BMC club.

I found the writing to be excellent. The author is a great writer and knows how to draw you into the scenes. Her writing is easy to follow and flows well from scene to scene. She wasn't overly descriptive, which can sometimes get me lost because I'd much rather spend time with the characters than worry about what color a wall is.

As for the story itself, it was good. There were some twists and turns a long the way that kept it interesting. It did take me longer than a usual book for me to read, simply because it just didn't grab me like I wanted it to. And I think for me it was the about of characters point of views I needed to keep up with.

I would like to check out a story from this author again in the future because I did like her writing.

Lacey's Rating

About The Book

The elite trainers at Body Management Corporation (BMC) have more than sculpting the perfect body on their agendas. Working with hot rock stars and professional athletes, they often spend as much time between the sheets as on the treadmill.

Head trainer, Dean Stoddard, is known for his good looks and stunning bedroom endurance with his more than willing clients. Orlanda Kennedy, one of Dean’s colleagues, is an exquisite goddess on a quest for success and wealth. Orlanda despises the shallowness of the fitness industry and the simple-minded men she works with. She uses her curves and intelligence to manipulate the men who lust after her, to maintain control of the situation – and the men.

Dean can't deny his attraction to Orlanda but refuses to give her the satisfaction of turning him down, so he desires her in quiet from a distance – until he thinks she sends him a signal to approach for landing.

Orlanda's plot for domination unfolds around BMC's owner, Zack Johnston, who is in a power struggle with his business partner, and in another kind of struggle with Leena Ryan, the mysterious woman who seduced him during a flight and hasn't let him rest since. She is about to push Zack into a whole new understanding of the word “action”, causing him to question himself and everything around him.

Luckily, Zack has Keith Langley, his right-hand man and head trainer, keeping him grounded and protecting the business. Keith is a natural leader who longs for love instead of one-night stands.

Burned out rock stars, sex-driven sports stars, clients who tempt, and trainers who accept, round out the roster of characters in this page-turning, intriguing romp of a novel. You'll get to laugh at 'em, love 'em and want to join them!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lethal in Love 6 by @msomerswriter - Book 6 - the final episode in a thriller serial

Be sure to check out my reviews for book 1, book 2,book 3, book 4, and book 5.
The series has come to an end and we've discovered who the killer was. The killer was a tad bit of a shocker as well as their accomplice. I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the predicament that Jayda was in. Even after being captured, she fought hard and wasn't willing to just give up.  I don't know what I would do in the situation, but Jayda was going to go out punching.

Thankfully, that didn't happen and we got the happily ever after we are after as a reader. I really like the way this whole series unfolded and the way the story ended for Sean and Jayda. As characters, they both grew a lot.

The only thing I would have liked to see was a scene with the mother in the last book. Through out the episodes, Jayda is needing to support of her mom after her sister's murder. We meet her in only one book and I felt like we needed a scene with her at the end.

Over all, I really enjoyed this series. I like who it was split up into different episodes. I didn't feel like the books were too short. They were all a good length and ended with the cliffhangers we all hate to love.

This is an author I will be looking for more from in the future.

Book 6 Rating:

Series As A Whole Rating:

About The Series:

Lethal in Love is a steamy romantic suspense about an instinct-driven detective and a sexy, scoop-hungry reporter, both on the hunt for a sadistic killer.

Jayda Thomasz is a sassy homicide detective who never lets her emotions get in the way of a case. So when a serial killer re-emerges after 25 years, the last thing she expects is to catch herself fantasizing over the hot, smooth-talking stranger who crosses the path of her investigation.

Seth Friedin is a reporter chasing the story that'll make his career. When he enters the world of swinging for research, he never imagines he'll be distracted by a hard-talking female detective whose kiss plagues his mind long after she's gone.

Past experience has shown Jayda that reporters are ruthless and unscrupulous. But when the murders get personal, will she make a deal with the devil to catch the killer? How far will she and Seth have to go? And do you ever really know who you can trust?

PS - Book 1 is free on Amazon. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ten Questions from Tara: Interview with Alex Rosenberg

Welcome. You’re here to promote The Girl from Krakow, a historical fiction. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story? How did it come to you?

The Girl from Krakow: A NovelThe Girl from Krakow is set in the period from 1935 to 1947 in Europe—from Barcelona all the way across to Moscow. It’s mainly about one young woman but the story in part traces the real lives of five people I knew growing up, and whose experiences shaped my take on that period of 20th century history from an early age. I helped tell the real story of one of these people in a memoir published about 25 years ago. Then, after thinking about what wartime really meant to people who experienced it, I had to write my version of what happened to them, less constrained by the actual trajectories of the real people but faithful to their fates as I saw them.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong.

Rita, the girl from Krakow, starts out strong enough to want to live her own life in a time—the ‘30s--that made it difficult for women to do so. And then things get infinitely harder. Once the war comes her challenge is sheer survival. The choices she faces are fraught, the burdens they impose are tragic, the threats she faces are universally mortal. But it’s not enough for Rita just to survive. She has to understand her fate in a Europe destroying itself by war, in which whole nations are gripped by madness, consumed by delusions, and make millions their victims. And she has to carry a secret that could lose the Allies the war. All that makes her a heroine in my book at any rate!

Did any particular woman in your family or life help inspire some of her (or their) traits?

The bare bones of The Girl from Krakow are based on real events that happened to real people. What happens to Rita is inspired by my mother’s own experiences in the war. The qualities and character that enabled her to survive under terrible and very dramatic circumstances animate Rita and drive her trajectory. My mother lived a long life after the war, a life she never should have had much reason to expect to have. She made it a life worth living. I wanted Rita to have the same chance, so I had to give her much of my mother’s strength, optimism, and intelligence.
Was there any particular part of this story that was the hardest for you to write? Tell me why.

A great deal of The Girl From Krakow is set in Poland and Germany during the war. These are hard times for us to conger 70 years on from the 1940s. Hardest were the scenes in Warsaw Ghetto when Rita has herself smuggled into it, searching for her son. Readers have reacted strongly to those passages, some can’t bear them, others find them gripping. Capturing the horror in details and sensations, describing what she sees and feels, was difficult. These are scenes too easy to write about in familiar terms of outrage, and much harder to convey in ways that enable people to viscerally feel the catastrophe.
What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? (Perhaps something you had no need to put in the book but stayed in your mind nevertheless?)

I am afraid I did no research for this book. I have spent a lifetime reading about these times, from the early ‘30s through the war and afterwards, not just in Germany and Poland, but in France, Spain and Russia. All of what I retained came flooding back as I wrote. I don’t think the span of years and places would have come together in a story if I had set out to stitch one together from systematic historical research.
What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something about a particular subject/person, ponder a point?

I started out writing this book with a story to tell, and a set of views about what those years really mean for human history. Readers have recognized these views in Rita’s thoughts, her actions and the ideas that emerge in her relationships with others—men, women, family, friends, strangers. These ideas are controversial ones—Darwinism and atheism, especially. Readers have reacted to this “message” both favorably and unfavorably.

But once I began writing the “message” became less and less important to the story, and now I think people can and should read the novel without feeling any need to take sides on whether Rita’s way of making sense of it all is one they can share. The Girl From Krakow is a thriller, not a work of philosophy.

Your book takes place in Europe. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country? 

Think of all the settings in The Girl from Krakow: Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Krakow, Heidelberg. They are all in their different ways destinations. For history, especially parts of it we know less about, Warsaw, Moscow, Krakow, are magnets. Warsaw was rebuilt after the Germans razed it to the ground in 1944. But Krakow survived intact and is one of the most authentically central European cities to survive 50 years of Communism. The vast church rising over the main square is wonderful. For fun and pleasure, those cities can’t beat Paris and Barca’. When I go back to these two places, I try to visit the sights that figure in this novel, Barceloneta and the beach at Barcelona, the left bank and the Cremerie Polydor restaurant in Paris. Of all the places in The Girl From Krakow, the one I love most is Berlin, a city that nowadays combines the gaiety of Paris with the history of the 20th century in a way that makes it endlessly interesting.

Moving on to personal things...if you could time travel to absolute any time and place in history, where and when would you go and what is it that draws you to this time period? What would you do whilst there?

There are two moments in history worth being there for, just to share the joy. Paris on the 25th of August 1944 and Berlin on the night of November 9th 1989. Watch the faces of the people you can see on Youtube from the wartime newsreels and the video footage from the nightly news programs on TV. You’ll feel so jealous you weren’t there.

What would I do if I could be transported back to those events? Sing, drink, kiss strangers, feel that sometimes the arc of human history really does bend towards justice.

There are so many books out there nowadays... What makes your book stand out from them?

The author is not the best person to answer that question. I know what I want people to find in my book more than in others. But what if anything does stand out to readers is for them to say. Here’s what I hope: readers will find it’s a better way to think about the meaning of what happens to us than the ways we have inherited from our traditions, our culture and our history.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets? If so, tell me about them and do provide pictures.

Alas, my sainted yellow lab, Meg, died a few years ago. We still talk to her many times a day. Our memories and our frequent travels have made it impossible to share our lives with another dog, though wherever we go, it’s the dogs we remember most, and keep pictures of.


Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Duke University and the codirector of the Duke Center for Philosophy of Biology. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Louise's Chance by Sarah R. Shaber @SShaber

Louise's Chance: A 1940s Spy Thriller Set in Wartime WashingtonI've really been enjoying this series since I picked it up at book three and despite missing books one and two, I have never felt like I'm missing anything, thought I can't for the life of me remember her previous experience with Agent Williams. Either he was in book one or two, or there's been too much time between novels and I've forgotten.

But I digress. Louise is a former clerk for America's secret agency. It's WWII and she's in D.C. working a new job with the Foreign Morale committee. I've heard of this before and this is extremely interesting to me. During the war, we made fake letters and postcards and graffiti to discourage Nazis and German lower their morale. Louise takes us into the backrooms of this project. Her mission is to turn German POWs who've recently been incarcerated in the States. They are needed to plant the propaganda behind enemy lines.

But while interviewing the POWs Louise gets involved in a murder mystery.

And her secret lover pops up again, though there's very little of this twist this time.

I like how the author delves into the attitudes toward women and women working during the war, the changing attitudes and the resistors. The writing is stellar, and I must applaud the author for something. Often when reading mysteries in which there are a lot of suspects, I grow confused. Too many characters are introduced too soon and too many backgrounds, causing me to lose track of who is who. Not so in this novel. All the prisoners relevant to the story are introduced with just enough detail that we can tell them apart and remember who's who.

I can't wait to find out what Louise does next. Terrific novel. Perhaps not as exciting or intense as the last one, but a great installment to the series regardless. Did I mention we met another interesting and strong woman in this story? Louise's boss. I have a feeling we'll be reading more of her.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital review of this galley.