Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Book Journal: Your Reading Adventure

There are more than a few book journals out there, but I've run across one I believe to be one of the most, complete and user friendly. It's simply called, "The Book Journal: Your Reading Adventure" by James-Laymond Publishing.

One of the first things I found useful (very useful in fact) was the do-it-myself Table of Contents. There I write down the title of a book and the page number of The Book Journal where I put my entry about it. So if I want to find my notes/entry about "The Last Hybrid: Bloodline of Angels" by Lee Wilson, I can quickly and easily find it and remember a certain detail that I had forgotten or the observations I had about the book.

The book provides two pages for each book entry, and on those pages provides basic information-gathering areas such as the genre, title, setting, year written, publisher, main & minor characters and other books by its author. It also asks you to rate the book based on several areas such as writing quality, pace, plot, character development, and others before finally having you rate the book over all. Then it provides an additional full page to make whatever notes and critiques you wish. It's actually quite an eye-opening, self-exploratory adventure!

It also has a section for those of us in book groups, allowing me to keep track of the books read by my group, things people said in our meeting, my notes from meetings and other details including a calendar for meetings.

The Book Journal also has a section for me to record books I've lent out to people (the book calls this section "My Lent List" which I think is cute). This is helpful because often times people will borrow a book from me and forget to ever bring it back to me! Then one day I go looking for that book but can't remember that I loaned it out or to whom I loaned it. So that part of the book is also extremely helpful!

The Book Journal also has a list entitled "My Favorite Books," "My Wish List" and a couple other nifty areas you'll discover when you make it yours. It's a helpful journal for avid readers and I think would make an excellent Christmas or birthday gift for people on your list who like to read, are students, teachers, etc. You can get your copy of The Book Journal on AMAZON HERE

Corruption of Power

                                   **Book Promo**

From the Publisher: Independent troubleshooter, Alex Leksin, is recruited by Prime Minister Saidov when the plan to reduce Russia’s reliance on an ever more hostile Europe is put at risk. Hell bent on expansion, President Karpev’s strategy is first to shift the markets for his country’s vast energy resources to the East and Saidov has been charged with overseeing a planned pipeline for Russia’s oil through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to access these markets. Failure could mean catastrophe, spreading the conflict raging in the Middle East to Russia’s own borders.

Fearful that the pipeline deal might be tilting off course, Leksin has only twelve days to report back before Karpev is due to sign the pipeline contract with the Turkmen President in Ashgabat.

His investigation begins in Moscow at the conglomerate responsible for planning and funding the pipeline. Once the province of larger-than-life oligarch, Lev Usenko, the group is now run by his daughter, Vika, the woman Leksin was once to marry. Trickier still is the prospect of dealing with her embittered brother, Max.

Against a background of political corruption, state-sponsored terrorism and increased Taliban insurgency, Leksin moves on to Turkmenistan, one of the world's most sinister countries, right at the heart of Central Asia. Initially his enquiries reveal nothing to cause alarm. Other factors, though, suggest otherwise: wherever Leksin goes, someone tries to kill him; people in a position to help him are assassinated; and information turns out to be misinformation.

And when at last he discovers the truth, he finds himself unsure of whom he can trust as the stakes get frighteningly higher.

Now, to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt from the book:

Inured by hard experience as Anna Politska (the investigative reporter at Novy Novoski) was, she'd wept when the shock news of the mass murder of children and teachers at School No 86 in Pechatniki had broken two days earlier. She'd covered many atrocities, but the day when a massacre of innocents no longer moved her, she'd give up. As a journalist, she had a part to play. Blinking back the tears, she'd assimilated the scene. The banner hastily erected across the front of the school had registered with her immediately. Islamic Democratic Freedom Movement, it had read. Subsequently she'd listened intently as an FSB spokesman confirmed the IDFM's responsibility.

The IDFM was a Chechen group, and as a journalist during the Chechnya war, Politska had established links with its leader. The group were certainly no saints, but the mass murder of children was not their style either. Something smelt wrong. Using her contacts, Politska had succeeded yesterday in talking to the group's leader, who'd vehemently denied any involvement with the school bombing. It's all a set-up, he'd told her, and she believed him.

Her next move had been to arrange a meeting with her FSB informant. A reliable source - at a price - in the past, on this occasion he'd refused point-blank to discuss the subject.

"You're walking on quicksand, Anya," he'd warned. "Let this one drop."

"I can't, you know better than that," she'd replied. She'd experienced more than her fair share of threats and intimidation over the years - beatings, poisoning, electric shocks, days of confinement in a pit, even a mock execution. But these were the occupational hazards of investigative journalism in Karpev's Russia, and if you weren't prepared to risk them, then you needed to change your job.

When she'd got back to the office, though, she'd felt despondent. All she had was the denial of the IDFM's leader, but on its own this meant nothing. No one would believe him without independent evidence supporting his claim, yet she was running out of leads. Then, this morning, everything had changed.

When she'd arrived in the office, she'd found an email sent to her anonymously overnight. Nothing in the body of the text, just an attachment and a heading 'Look at the date'. Opening the attachment, she'd found a draft press release on FSB-headed paper describing the terrorist attack on the school. As she'd started to read through, she'd felt her professional instincts take hold.

The press release summarised an incident at School No 86 in Pechatniki. It detailed how terrorists had taken over the building during school hours, rigged it with explosives and held children and teachers captive. But in this version there was no actual explosion, no death toll, and the terrorists had escaped. Politska scrolled up and down the text, confused. Suddenly her eyes fixed on the top line - the draft press release was dated the day before the actual incident occurred.

She swiveled in her chair to stare out of the window as the implications fell into place. The school bombing, as she'd suspected from the outset, was no straightforward terrorist incident. Now she had solid evidence that the FSB had themselves been responsible. The appalling consequences might not have been their intended outcome, but they had always been a possibility. As her father used to say, if you play with fire, there's always a chance you'll get burned.

Of course, she acknowledged, this was not the first time the FSB had stage-managed terrorist incidents. All the evidence pointed to the apartment bombings in 1999 being perpetrated by the FSB in order to legitimise the subsequent invasion of Chechnya and the assumption of power by one of its own. Almost simultaneously, an unexploded bomb had been found and defused in Ryazan, and subsequent police investigations identified the three men responsible as FSB agents. Even these were not isolated examples: it was now clear that the FSB were complicit in bomb explosions in the marketplace in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan in 2001, at the bus stops in Voronezh in 2004 and on the Moscow-Grozny train in 2005. And, as Politska herself knew well, during the Chechnya conflicts, the FSB organised numerous kidnappings of journalists and foreign NGO workers, pretending to be Chechen terrorists, in order to build up international support for the Russian invasion.

Nonetheless the mass murder of children . . . well, that was in another league altogether. She'd got President Karpev now.

Here's a little more about the author, G W Eccles, as well as links for social media, and the link to purchase Corruption of Power on Amazon:

George Eccles, writing as G W Eccles, graduated from the London School of Economics with a law degree and subsequently became a partner in one of the major international financial advisory firms.

In 1994, George left London to move to Russia and Central Asia during the tumultuous period that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. His work involved extensive travel throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - often to places with restricted access to foreigners. During his time there, he advised a number of real-life oligarchs how best to take advantage of the opportunities that became available as regulation crumbled and government became increasingly corrupt. Against this background, while his novels are fiction, many of the anecdotes and scenes are inspired by actual events.

His first thriller: The Oligarch, was awarded a Silver Medal both at the Global E-book Awards 2013 and at the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2013, as well as being selected as IPPY Book of the Day.

George is married and now lives with his wife in a hilltop village not far from Cannes in the South of France.



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Leo's Toy Store by Warren Peace

If you've seen the new Peanuts movie, you might remember Charlie Brown asking for the wrong title at the library. The reason he asked for the wrong title is that he went to Peppermint Patty to find out book options for the class book report. Peppermint Patty told him that one of the options was "Leo's Toy Store by Warren Peace."

Peppermint Patty meant to say, "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Oops! Charlie asked for "Leo's Toy Store" by "Warren Peace" when he got to the library. They were able to straighten him out on what he was really looking for.

With that being said, the children's book, "Leo's Toy Store" by "Warren Peace" is actually a very cute children's book about Christmas and a man named Leo who owns a toy store.

He lets children play with the toys before they buy them - even if they don't buy them.

The town loves Leo and his store and parents will often drop their children off for them to play with the toys while the parents run errands.

But when the landlord decides he's going to raise the rent to an amount that Leo can't afford (probably due to the terrible taxes businesses have to pay now days), Leo's Toy Store might have to be closed down forever. To find out if Leo can save the store in time for Christmas, you can order the book at

This Blank Cookbook Let's You Ditch Those Recipe Cards!

The Blank Cookbook: For Your Recipes

You might recall a day when you had a box of recipe cards in your pantry. And when you wanted to make a special Christmas recipe or someone's favorite dish, you would go through those cards one by one until you found the right recipe.

Then there were some of us who had the cards listed in alphabetical order with tabs. That was a little less trouble. But now I've found The Blank Cookbook. It allows me to put all of my recipes in a book that's laid out to gather the exact information I need such as ingredients, directions, serving instructions, and even has a memories section so I can remember who liked this food and who didn't!

It's really a great idea and this blank cookbook is actually quite beautiful. I also like that if I get some water on it the cover is coated so that the water just beads away (of course the interior pages aren't water proof so don't drop it in the sink).

I can also pass it down to my children so that they'll have my recipes. And, while I'm mentioning ways to use it, I could also record my grandmother's recipes and have them to keep, pass down or give to one of my sisters. This has become my go-to as far as a gift for house-warming or as an accessory gift for a newlywed. So there you have it. You can get The Blank Cookbook at

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Memory Challenge

(From Reading in Winter)

I haven't wanted to do a post in a while, just a mood I guess, but this looked so fun over on Kristilyn's page that I thought I'd try it.

The rules: answer the questions without searching the Internet or looking at your bookshelves and tag five bloggers.
*If you want to try this yourself, do it before reading my answers:)*
memory challenge_thumb

1. Gone by Michael Grant
2. Eragon (I think that's the name of it?)
3. Does a Curious George book count? I'm counting it.
4. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.
5. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crawley.
6. Saving June by Hannah Harrington
7. Um, a knife...I'm guessing one of Jennifer L. Armentrout's books has to count, but let me try to go more specific...nope, drawing a blank.
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
9. Epony-what?
10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Now...checking my answers...
After cheating with the internet:

2. Yes!!! Eragon is by Christopher Paolini. I feel like he's the same guy who wrote that children's book about the pasta that flowed over the whole town, but as I look it up on Goodreads, I get nothing. Maybe it's because he has an Italian last name.
5. Yep, except the author's name is Cath Crowley. A cute love story.
7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I have a version with a different cover, so thanks for your help, Google.
8.  Embarrassed to say that I didn't know the author was Ken Kesey. I wonder if this answer is a popular one?
9. Does anyone not have to look this word up? I believe it means giving of one's name to something, so I'll go with Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

I'm breaking the rules by not tagging five bloggers, but definitely try this! I appreciated the break. Plus, you'll never know when you'll be on Family Feud. I could imagine some of these questions being asked to 100 people...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

"Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal other-wordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?" -Goodreads
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Page Count: 418
Buy Link:
Favorite Quotes:
"She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if if might expand and...cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust."

"It was like stepping into the pages of a book-- a book alive with color and fragrance, filth and chaos-- and the blue-haired girl moved through it all like a fairy through a story, the light treating her differently than it did others, the air seeming to gather around her like held breath. As if this whole place were a story about her."

"The blade of his long sword gleamed white from the incandescence of the wings-- vast shimmering wings, their reach so great they swept the walls on either side of the alley, each feather like the wind-tugged lick of a candle flame."

"It was a remarkable sight, the sky beginning to flush pale at the roots, all the towers bathed in a soft glow, the streets of the city still shadowed and aglitter with fireflies of lamplight and the weaving, winking beam of headlights."

"The sun climbed above the hills and she watched as its glow herded night into the shadows where it gathered, all the darker for its density-- all of night crowded into the slanting places beyond the reach of dawn."

"Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort."

Wow, wow, wow. Liani Taylor, you are my new literary hero.

Karou is a normal girl, if you consider normal knocking on doors behind which lie the portal to another world. She has tattooed eyes on her hands, wishes on a magical beads from her necklace, and meets bounty hunters to collect teeth. She was raised by Brimstone, a Wishmonger, and three of his chimaera hybrid friends. She fills her sketchbooks with pictures of her creature companions but feels a void inside. She doesn't know her parents or her past or what Brimstone does with the animal teeth.

Creative and fantastical storyline. The made up mythology blew my mind, especially about the sun and two moons. The connection between characters was electric. Not just between our two main characters who have the hots for each other, but even the friendship between Karou and Zuzana was entirely believable. I absolutely adore Zuzana's patience with Karou. She puts up with her "errands" without explanation, gets really protective when meeting "the new guy," and artistically carries out Karou's semester project idea.

You'll love this book if you like...
- Artists or hobby driven characters (Karou and Zuzana both attend an art school in Prague)
- Exotic locations intrigue you (Did I mention Prague? That's only the tip of the iceberg)
- People leading double lives (Behind door number one is...)
- A good love story that builds in tension
- Creativity
- Mystery (I couldn't guess the twist)
- The non-traditional angel (fiery wings, guys)
- Wishes and/or knives (Be surprised)
-  Writing that sweeps you away

I couldn't put this book down. And even though a ton of the book was flashbacks, they built the world up in such a strong way. I know this has set the second book up to be amazing. I even saw there's a 2.5 volume that goes into Zuzana's love story!

The best thing about discovering a series so late...all the books are already out.  I don't have to wait that agonizing year in between books and forget all the details.

This brings me to my question for you:
What awesome series did you discover after some or all of the books were out?


Saturday, August 23, 2014

PitchWars Mentee Bio: Just Your Typical Lifter-Upper

Hi! If you're here, you've probably been biting your nails, refreshing your inbox, and stalking Twitter feed for #PitchWars! Mentors and fellow mentees, let me tell you what I'm all about.
  • I, Jenna Klein, am a bubbly, lift-you-up-at-all-costs person. If you jump into my arms and you're twice my weight, I'll probably make a face similar to the one in the picture, but I will try my darndest to keep you up for five seconds. I find that walking around with a smile on your face can make or break someone else's day, and it makes me feel awesome! I teach, so if you see me in the halls, you will see me grinning because I'm happy to see you, even if my arms are full of butcher paper and I've been holding my bladder for three periods because they're back to back (I've stopped doing this, by the way. High school students are understanding when you talk about bathroom breaks. They want you to remember that convo later when they ask you if they can go.) (P.S. Love my students' style!)
  •  I adore grammar like the common citizen adores puppies. I'm one of those annoying people who gets pleasure from correcting punctuation errors. This comes in handy for critiquing purposes. Commas are practical and dashes are beautiful. I never correct anyone speaking to me. I don't even always think to myself, "She just said 'I' when 'me' was appropriate." On an airplane, that's the first question people ask when I reveal my job as an English teacher. I'm not correcting your grammar as we speak, but I will think you're rude if you make me straddle your lap to get to the toilet (has happened, quite embarrassing. At least she was female and got up the second time around).
  • The military and my family occupy approximately half each of my heart. My dad retired from the Air Force after 22 years. My mom got us through each move and expertly aced the role of military spouse (spouses serve as well!). My little brother (in the first picture) is a Navy nukes engineer. My father-in-law is retired Navy; my mother-in-law, active duty at the Pentagon. I work for the DOD school system in Puerto Rico, which caters to military children. People who protest anything troops-related boggle my mind. I try to excuse naive behavior the first time it happens. If you want to piss me off, don't freeze at 5 PM for the retiring of the flags on base or do say something ignorant about our soldiers. Also, we might have an issue if you don't shed at least one tear at Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American."

  • Traveling rocks, and I feel beyond blessed to be able to see exotic lands (thanks, in great part, to Lasik eye surgery). I've lived in Missouri, Italy, England, Japan, Texas, and Oklahoma. You can decide which ones fall under the above mentioned "exotic" category. My husband and I are cruise fanatics (OMG, the food!). Ireland is my goal; we're working on a trip at Christmas!

     We'll be staying in a bed and breakfast thanks to the appeal of the one in Leap Year!

Favorite things:
  • Going to the gym with my husband
  • Purple shirts
  • Nachos topped with all kinds of goodness
  • Spider monkeys
  • YA books (Maggie Stiefvater, Tahereh Mafi, Sarah Ockler, and Sara Zarr are among my heroes!)
  • Calligraphy
  • Fruity adult beverages (some concoction of orange and pineapple juice mixed with coconut rum and splashed with grenadine or cherry flavor...turns out brown, but my taste buds go crazy!)
  • Inspiring teenagers
  • The smell of grass after it rains
  • Dexter
  • Reviewing submissions for the Belle Reve Literary Journal.
Why I'd Make an Amazing Mentee:
I'm not huge on bragging on myself, but I am a hard worker.
  • For four years I was sponsor and editor of my school's 500+ page yearbook. 
  • I (just yesterday) oversaw and helped implement a new school-wide writing assessment. 
  • I'm co-writing curriculum for a new Honors English/history course for this year that will be adopted by other schools in the district. 
  • I sent out my first flash fiction pieces this summer and got 2 out of the 3 published!
  • My critique group pushes me (shout out to the OKC Plotholes!). We are HARD on each other. The kind of brutal honesty that could make a person go home and cry at night. But I don't. I just fix what doesn't work. 
  • I make time to write. I love my job, but I've been doing it for seven years. I don't need as much time for lesson planning as I used to. This means that after-school time is spent writing and revising (and sometimes binge-watching Netflix with the hubby).
  • I'm organized. These bulleted lists aren't just for show!
  • And finally, I don't use parentheses in my writing. Don't let this post fool you!
Why I'd Appreciate a Mentor:
  • I value experience.
  • I love talking writing with anyone who'll look my way, but bouncing ideas and books faves around with a passionate cohort is my dream come true.
  • I know my manuscript's not perfect, but I believe in it. 
  • My characters WANT YOU (cue Uncle Sam poster) to guide them on their journey.
So there you have it. That's me. I'm nervous for the results on September 3. I'm up late stalking tweets from the mentors rummaging through their slush piles. But I wouldn't trade sleep for this experience.

To all the mentees out there, I'd love to get to know you. Everyone brings a different talent to the table. It makes me insanely tingly to read your writing. Let's face it-- that writing's infused with your experiences, opinions, and a unique style. Bring on the chills!

Good luck, everyone!
To view other mentees' profiles, hop around our blogs!