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