“Darkroom” by Joshua Graham~A Thriller Not to be Missed!

Dark, deceptive, political intrigue and ghostly images…all this and more await the eager reader who loves a thriller and a mystery in “Darkroom.”  I lived through the Viet Nam War era, but don’t recall having read a single suspense novel that has its focus around the Vietnam cross-culture that made its way to the US. This book is unique in many ways. It has a bit of everything to recommend it:  love, mystery, conspiracy, family connections to ancient times and places, politics, terrorism and murder; not to mention the Viet Nam War and the vets that brought home not only images, but other baggage, and loved ones.  A must read, this book is fast moving, intriguing and beautifully written to tantalize!  Joshua Graham is a fantastic writer who knows when to dangle the carrot and when to pull it back.  I loved the whole reading process!  His characters are rich in detail, lovable, sad, frightening and strangely familiar.  I was literally up all night reading “Darkroom” having such a good time in the process.  I couldn’t put it down…   If you’ve ever been placed in the moral dilemma of wondering whether you should tell the truth and risk it all, you’ll love this book.  If you’ve ever wondered if there are conspiracies and cover ups in political arenas we aren’t privy to, you’ll love this book…  I have to give it a solid…              5 stars!!

Published by:  Howard Books/Simon and Schuster

Visit Mr. Graham’s website here:  http://joshua-graham.com

Also see his blog at:  http://joshua-graham.com/blog/

Quick Overview of “Darkroom”:

After scattering her mother’s ashes in Vietnam, photojournalist Xandra Carrick comes home to New York to rebuild her life and career. When she experiences supernatural visions that reveal atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, she finds herself entangled in a forty-year-old conspiracy that could bring the nation into political turmoil.

Launching headlong into a quest to learn the truth from her father, Peter Carrick, a Pulitzer Prize Laureate who served as an embedded photographer during the war, Xandra confronts him about a dark secret he has kept–one that has devastated their family.

Her investigations lead her to her departed mother’s journal, which tell of love, spiritual awakening, and surviving the fall of Saigon.

Pursued across the continent, Xandra comes face-to-face with powerful forces that will stop at nothing to prevent her from revealing the truth. But not before government agencies arrest her for murder, domestic terrorism and an assassination attempt on the newly elected president of the United   States.

Darkroom is a riveting tale of suspense that tears the covers off the human struggle for truth in a world imprisoned by lies.

Click here to see the exciting book trailer:                                      Darkroom by Joshua Graham~The Trailer

About Joshua Graham :

WINNER OF 2011 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble #1 bestselling author Joshua Graham’s novel BEYOND JUSTICE is taking the world by storm, one reader at a time. Many of his readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, neglected dishes and family members, and not allowing them to put the book down.

Suspense Magazine listed BEYOND JUSTICE in its BEST OF 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor.

His short story THE DOOR’S OPEN won the HarperCollins Authonomy Competition (Christmas 2010.)

Publishers Weekly described BEYOND JUSTICE as: “A riveting legal thriller…breaking new ground with a vengeance…demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn,  NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins  University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western  Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).

Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in Southern  California. Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press.

Writing under the pen name Ian Alexander, Graham debuted with his first Epic Fantasy novel ONCE WE WERE KINGS, an Amazon #1 Bestseller in multiple categories and Award-Winning Finalist in the SciFi/Fantasy category of The USA “Best Books 2011″ Awards, as well as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of The USA “Best Books 2011″ Awards, and an Award Winner in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards in the Teen/Young Adult category. ONCE WE WERE KINGS is available in ebook and hardcover editions.

Look for his next Suspense/Thriller DARKROOM (Simon & Schuster/Howard Books) to be released May 1, 2012!

For Film Rights Josh is represented by UNITED TALENT AGENCY.   Please use the CONTACT button on this website for all inquiries.

You can visit his website at www.joshua-graham.com.

A Bookish Libraria is pleased to be on the virtual book publicity tour for Mr. Graham sponsored by Pump Up Your Books.  To find out more about the GIVEAWAY, please go to this site:  http://pumpupyourbooks.com

                                     and search for “Darkroom” on your upper righthand “Search” section.

 

You can purchase “Darkroom” at http://amazon.com or http://barnesandnoble.com

Thanks for stopping by!   Deborah/TheBookishDame

“Megan’s Way” ~ A Novel of Eternal Love, Friendship, Death & Dying by Melissa Foster

Book Notes

“Megan’s Way is a fine and fascinating read that many will find hope in.” Midwest Book Review


The Megan’s Way film will be entered in the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, South By Southwest Festival (SXSW In Austin Texas), Amsterdam Film Festival, as well as New York, LA , and Miami (just to name a few). This is a “Fest-Best” type of film and expected to make a major impact on festivals world wide.

My Review:

I first want to share with my readers the personal perspective I bring to this review of “Megan’s Way.” Some 29 years ago I was widowed as a young woman with three children under the ages of 9. My precious young husband died of melanoma that had metastasized to major organs: we had several months to prepare for his death. This came after the original cancer of 11 years in the first year of our marriage. So, I’m someone well acquainted with cancer’s toll on a person and those who love them. I read this book with that intimate awareness.

Melissa Foster has given us a true-to-life rendering of the process of dying. From the earliest stages of the person’s acknowledgement of impending death, to their release of loved ones, their body and spirit; to the angst and responses of those who live with and love them, Ms Foster paints a portrait of the struggles and survivals. She understands the pain of those left behind and the awareness of those who have to do the leaving.

 Through her very beautiful and tender portrayals, we come to know Megan and her intimate friends as if they were family. We get a clear and close up understanding of Megan’s loving and tumultuous relationship with her teen aged daughter, Olivia. And, we are given unique insights into Megan’s personality, thoughts, fears and death and dying processes from her own perspective, as well as from the perspectives of her friends and daughter. Ms Foster is spot on in her every detail of this experience with death, in my experience. 

I found Melissa’s writing, however, to be somewhat stilted in her efforts to get across all the points of the process, and then the major theme of the choices we have about our own death and dying. There is something lost in the flow of a story as the book progresses when it starts to be overtaken by a series of details on these numerous processes and points of dying, rather than having it more balanced within a storyline. This, however, does not take very much from the book or enjoyment of it in total, since I think it’s worthy on many other levels.

While Megan considers her options of ceasing any other chemo or “prolonging” measures, and as she also contemplates the virtues of taking into her own hands the method and timing of her death, we are allowed to witness her conflicts. This option to choose is one that many come face-to-face with. Ms Foster gives us a balanced and open view of a woman who looks boldly into the face of death, weighs her options and takes into loving consideration the daughter she will leave behind.

The complexity of “Megan’s Way” made this novel one that I loved reading. Certainly, it rang true to me in so many ways. It also touched my heart with its attempts to bring readers into a center of meaning and choices that will be an evitability in most of our lives.

The intertwined tale of friends and surrogate family lends itself to be a realistic possibility in light of the “secrets” that people tend to hold close in relationships. While one is living, the secret is easily kept and the “family” can pretend to overlook and rationalize…but once a foundational/pivotal person is going to be removed–the structure that holds it all together is jeopardized and must be delicately “readjusted.” This is an element I’m also familiar with, personally, and one I thought Ms Foster handled elegantly.

I recommend your choosing to read “Megan’s Way” before it’s made into the movie for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s going to have a great impact! And, it’s a very enjoyable read on the order of a Jodi Picoult novel.

Strongly urge you to read more about Melissa Foster and her outreach programs, her book “Chasing Amanda,” her soon to be released book, and her social community for women called “The Women’s Nest.”

http://www.melissafoster.com/


4.5 stars from TheBookishDame

“Houses”~A Nostalgic and Brilliant Novel

“Houses” is about the many beautiful, enduring and literally earth-shattering epidodes that women and men experience in life. It’s how the locust-like numbers of “baby boomers”…in our gusto for living, for challenge and change, helped bring about impassioned awareness, and long standing, meaningful new ways of living in our generation…not just social unrest, mindless war, entitlements and greed. And, we continue to effect social, spiritual, political and cultural change even today.

Ms Parks processes the conflicts of being a woman during the turbulent years of the mid-to end of the 20th century. Specifically, we follow the life story of Lacey Winters, a girl whose growing up years to current “golden years” will leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

Readers are taken on a nostalgic trip through childhood days of playing outside with neighborhood friends, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King days, civil and women’s rights, the Viet Nam War, the bliss of first love, and the self-affirming conviction of being politically active for the first time. We come to know and love her family members, her friends both male and female and her loved ones.

We relive Lacey’s agonies, [the agonies we, ourselves, may have endured, possibly still do!] to be a “good Mom” while minding the house and budget, working for a pittance at a boring/stagnant job, and trying to take one or two classes at a time to finish a college degree so that some day it might be possible to become what she “is.” All of this only to find herself alone and most of those she loved gone by the time she “got there.”

Ultimately, Lacey does find a satisfaction from things fought for and won, and they give some consolation keeping her in the game, though the questions and conflicts of the nature of being a nurturer and/or a concerned parent still linger even to our childrens’ generation.

In chosing the title, “Houses,” Ms Parks chooses a metaphor relating to the different houses either lived in, toured, loved or hated, by Lacey to define the stages of her life, and the expressions of her “self.” This brilliant symbol leaves an indelible mark, causing us to examine ourselves in the same context. Parks is a powerful writer.

I want to leave these quotes of so many brilliant ones in this novel:

“Maybe I’m naive, but I’m hopeful that our daughters and granddaughters will find it easier. The internet and telecommunicating now offer the promise, not just of a greener way of working, but of an avenue, for both men and women, to productive and fulfilling work that doesn’t require abandoning the home, especially the children, whose needs don’t always correspond to nine to five scheduling. We have the Family Leave Act now and the notion of daycare in the workplace seems less radical. The stay-at-home dad is not such a joke.”

and:        

” This, chickadees, is (sic) the things about happiness.  You must take it where you find it.  Don’t question or second guess or wish for minor modifications.  Laugh, eat, joke.  Bounce the baby on your knee.  Don’t look forward or back.  Keep your eyes focused on the faces around you.  One of them may be missing come next year. Come next year everything may be entirely different.  Memory may have to darken your perfect day with its tincture of melancholy and the happiness will never seem so clear and real again…Should you find yourself happy, as happy as I was that Thanksgiving Day, don’t even think. Just be….Eat all you want”

This book is brilliant and readable. Ms Parks is a writer you’ll not soon forget.
While we sit on the cusp of the lst quarter of the 21st century, I know many of us will never rest on the footings we’ve gained in so many areas of our American lives…I hope and pray our children and grandchildren will continue to walk with us.

Deborah/TheBookishDame

“The Last Train from Paris” ~ Love, Art and the Resistance ~ WWII

The Last Train from Paris”~Love, Art and Parisian Patriots in WWII

A novel about Paris, not just the beautiful “City of the Lights,” but a city captured and terrorized in the grip of a hostile German army in WWII, this is a book I couldn’t help dying to read. I love Paris above all European cities, and my heart just stops at the thought of anyone destroying a single piece of its architecture or fine arts.

So, I could hardly wait to tell you that this book will leave you breathless and pensive. From the very first paragraphs you will be taken in to the epic story of lovers and liars, artists and anti-heros…

Stacy Cohen paints with a gentle hand and delft stokes the story of an occupied Paris that is so confined and crippled that you feel the constraints of it as you read. We come to know and love favored contemporary artists Miro and the grumpy but irrepressible Matisse, who take under wing the talented but fledgling young artist, Jean Luc Beauchamp.

Jean Luc becomes the hero of this story as we follow his passions of art, true love for a beautiful Russian ballerina with a secret, and love of Paris…all elements of the human story and the battle of good vs. evil. Ms Cohen also provides us a German Oberst officer villian to heat up the struggles. He’s interesting, darkly intriguing and easy to hate.

A novel that will set you adrift into another time, “The Last Train for Paris,” will catch you up in a story that will rush over your heart and bring you to tears. It is a story that will create a righteous indignation about the savaging of the arts, and the art thefts of WWII. And, it is a novel that will remain with you should you visit Paris or when you think of its beauty and many treasures.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself taking the last train from Paris…but always going toward Paris. It is the most beautiful and mysterious of European cities. Just like cities all over the world in these times and in the past, it is worthy of our concerns and protection.

I’m grateful to Ms Cohen for reminding me of that. It took many brave hearts in the Resistance to liberate Paris and France from a hostile enemy. Theirs is a story that is beautifully rendered in “The Last Train from Paris.”

Highly recommended and timely.

****
Since Ms Cohen is a most admirable woman in every respect,  I wanted to add this very interesting information about her for you:
 
“Stacy Cohen, author, philanthropist, and life-style consultant continues to bring her passion for love and life to everything she does.  With her first novel, she creates a distinct voice that combines her passions for art, history, and the undying power of love….
In the world of international philanthropy, she has been a tireless advocate of children, including her support of Camp Okizu, the largest camp in Northern California for children and their families affected by cancer.  She has raised hundreds of thousands for children’s hospitals and funded a special performance by the Russian National Orchestra in support of Russian orphans, bringing her love for children and her passion for the arts full circle.”
 
Your Bookish Dame/Deb

“Swallow” A Novel by Tanya Plank

Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She’s the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, “now what do I do to one-up everyone” generation. She “gets it” and she’s telling!! LOL

I thought her author’s voice–her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one…or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations.

Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie’s fiance’s Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie’s own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as “when you’re young,” as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all–and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses….which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it’s caused Sophie to choke, hasn’t it?

It’s caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction…a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender’s Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel.

Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie’s secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify…and the fiance’ who can’t believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!…all make for a fun ride!!

I loved Tanya Plank’s book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons)

This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vs the “real” people. It’s a look into the workings of the public defender’s life and the big city lawyer’s mindset. It’s a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young “brave ones” who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren’t in their favor.
This is a book that’s easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That’s how good Tanya Plank is at writing!

You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again, and you’re going to be listening and loving her!! Just like I do.

Muslim-American in “Saffron Dreams”

“Saffron Dreams,” is about letting go and learning to live despite every challenge life brings.  It’s about the strength of women and relationships.  It’s about the experience of women left behind in the 9/ll Twin Towers/World Trade Center terrorist attack.  And, it’s about the Muslim woman’s experience in America. 

Ms Abdullah has a big order to fill, and she comes shining through like a bird of paradise!  I loved this book for so many reasons, it will be difficult to convey them to you, so you’ll ultimately just have to read the book for yourself to understand.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was a novel and not a memoir…looking back again and again at the gorgeous cover and searching the eyes of the beautiful Pakistani woman for clues of the inner soul of such a writer.

The main character, Arissa, is a young woman who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. After having survived a home of material wealth and non-existent maternal love, Arissa becomes wed in a traditional “arranged marriage.”  Surprisingly, this marriage is to a young man she had previously met on a trip to New York visiting relatives!  Fortune seemed to be with them from the beginning.  On the flip side of that fortune, however, rests a bad omen flung at them by a seer woman who predicts that the young husband will dance with fire.  Arissa and Faizan also have dreams of flames and smoke, but set these things aside and ignore them.  Of course, these omens find their fulfillment as Faizan is killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.

We learn along the way such interesting information as Muslim life in the everyday workings of the kitchen cookery (recipes are included), the different meanings of the veils the women wear, the landscape and gardens of Pakistan, and the role saffron plays in the life of Arissa. I will never look at or smell Night Blooming Jasmine in quite the same way again.  Arissa is an artist, writer, observer of the world, and faithful woman.  Her agony is quietly and honestly shared with us.

Ms Abdullah knows grief and heartbreak.  Her novel tells us truly the pain of loss and the redemptive qualities that keep one living despite them.  I was widowed at a young age with young children so I speak from experience, when I say that this book conveys the feelings and experiences I had so profoundly and gently that it was shocking to me.  I was moved by Ms Abdullah’s gift for giving life to her characters.

I learned that women and widows are the same no matter what their religion or culture.  I learned that not all Muslims are terrorists. I knew that children can save you, but was delighted to see that Arissa found that gift.  That family can hold you up but can’t save you.  It was good to know that somebody else unknown to you can have the same experiences and live to tell about it.    

 Please do yourself a favor and read this wonderful book.  It will help you know how it feels to be a widow of the 9/11 attack….  It is a gorgeous and poetic book with an abundance of truth and beauty for everyone who loves fine literature.    I would love to hear how you like it.

Your Bookish Dame

Books I’m Anxious To Read Before 2011

I simply cannot believe we’re fast approaching a new year and I’m way behind in all the books I wanted to read this year!!   Now I have to make a list of those I want to finish before January 1st, 2011:

1)   The Iron Duke  by Maljean Brook

2)   The Widower’s Tale     by    Julia Glass

3)   Mothers & Other Liars   by   Amy Bourret

4)   Dark Origins ~ Level 26      by   Anthony E. Zuiker with Duane Swierczynski  (NEW! Access digital cyber-bridge videos..immersive storytelling experience)

5)  Look Again      by   Lisa Scottoline

6)   Adam and Eve        by   Naslan

7)   The Windup Girl      by   Paol Bacigalupi     (a steampunk novel….Hugo & Nebula prize winner for 2010)

8)   33 AD by David McAfee

  *I’ve begun this great book and will soon be writing my review on it.  It’s a fantastic Vampire novel with a bizzare twist that’s not to be missed!  David was kind enough to send a copy to me with a personal note.   I’ve been slightly afraid to read this book, though…        You’ll see why when you search for it!!!

See  www.amazon.com    for link to these books above……

There are several more that I’ve started and need to finish quickly, but the above are the ones I simply have to read before it’s too late! 

Let me know what’s on your “Before the New Year List.”     I’ll be busy making my “Books I Have to Read This Winter List!”

Your Very Bookish Dame

Snakewoman of Little Egypt Review

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Snakewoman of Little Egypt” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1279844559m/7980890.jpg” /></a><a href=”Snakewoman” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt”>Snakewoman”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt”>Snakewoman of Little Egypt</a> by <a href=”Robert” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2119.Robert_Hellenga”>Robert”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2119.Robert_Hellenga”>Robert Hellenga</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/127953979″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/127953979″>5 of 5 stars

“Snakewoman of Little Egypt,” is an intelligent, witty, engaging and oddly twisted tale of love, adventure, education and life’s defining moments.  It’s a book written with no apologies for it’s use of vocabulary and substance, and I love it for that alone, if nothing else!    Professor Robert Hellenga, the author, is an author of several other novels, which I will be reading just as quickly as I can get my hands on them.

Let me depart for a moment just to comment that so much of today’s popular literature is “dumbed down” and lacking the intellectual element we need in our continuing walk toward self-improvement. So often authors tell a great tale, but either lack sophistication themselves, or think they need to leave out intellectual “meat” to keep their fan base.  I not only enjoyed this story and the substance of “Snakewoman…,” but I actually learned something in the bargain.  All that being of great value to me!  I treasure the book, the experience and the education.

Flawless in it’s writing and character development, this book brings us immediately into the singular lives of its main characters: Jackson, an anthropologist with Lyme Disease who seems inclined to accept his disabilities and loneliness; and Willa Fern/Sunny, a feisty convict who shot her snakehandling husband and brings her, “I don’t need any man to take care of me,” attitude with her from prison. 

 There are anthropologists, pentacostals, assorted adolescent-acting professors, killers, preachers, students, spritualists, African tribes and adventurers:  all, in this fantastic mix of humorous, serious and amazing novel!

I’m not saying I’ve finished it, because I’m just pacing myself slowing through the last 50 pages.  Does it really have to end??  This is one of those books that you wish would go on and on.  All I can say is that if you’ve ever wondered about what happens inside those deep country churches with “signs following,”  you better run fast and find this book!   I loved it.

Highly recommend to everyone!!  There’s something here for all of you….    Your Bookish Dame