Books: New and Noteworthy

(from usatoday
by Jocelyn McClurg)


USA TODAY’s Jocelyn McClurg scopes out the hottest books on sale each week.

1. A Perfect Lifeby Danielle Steel (Delacorte, fiction, on sale July 22)

What it’s about: The “perfect life” of TV anchor Blaise McCarthy gets complicated when her blind teenage daughter returns home from boarding school.

The buzz: Fifty-two of Steel’s books have made the top 10 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list.

2. Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces by Miles J. Unger (Simon & Schuster, non-fiction, on sale July 22)

What it’s about: Examines the artist through his greatest works, including The Pietà, David and the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The buzz: A “breezy biography … highly readable,” says Publishers Weekly.

3. The Forsakenby Ace Atkins (Putnam, fiction, on sale July 24)

What it’s about: Quinn Colson investigates a decades-old rape and murder case that led to the lynching of an innocent man; fourth in a series.

The buzz: Atkins also now writes the Robert B. Parker Spenser series, and his three titles have all made USA TODAY’s top 50.

4. Travels With Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (Simon & Schuster, non-fiction, on sale July 22)

What it’s about: It’s a canine road trip for the author and his Lab mix as they ask why the USA is so doggone dog crazy.

The buzz: “Sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership,” says Kirkus Reviews.

5. Tomlinson Hillby Chris Tomlinson (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s, non-fiction, on sale July 22)

What it’s about: White journalist writes about his family’s slave-owning past and discovers black descendants who share the family name, including the NFL’s LaDainian Tomlinson.

The buzz: The book grew out of a documentary that appeared on PBS last year.


The Man Booker Prize 2014: Predictions For the Longlist


Man Booker prize

Any predictions I make about this year’s Man Booker prize longlist, which is announced on Wednesday, will most likely be wrong. Even before I was a judge in 2013, I realised that one should probably judge the judges, not the novels, if one were planning a trip to the turf accountant’s. That explained my singular failure to predict a winner – my intellectual bitcoins were on Will Self not Hilary Mantel in 2012, Tom McCarthy not Howard Jacobson in 2010, and indeed, had I been alive in 1969 for the first Booker, I’d have gone for Muriel Spark, GM Williams, Iris Murdoch or Nicholas Mosley over PH Newby. The rare year when the book I thought should win did win – Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries – was when I was a judge. It’s especially difficult to cast the runes this year, as The Rules Have Changed, which is usually translated into The Americans Are Coming, usually with an exclamation mark. It’s not only a wider field for the judges to choose from, but the judging panel has been increased to six (a mistake in my view, giving a casting vote to the chair), and the number of books publishers can submit has been altered to a sliding scale, dependent on their previous success at what the 2011 winner Julian Barnes once called “posh bingo”.

That said, there are some things we do know. Previous winners get a free pass to the judges’ attention – so Ian McEwan’s The Children Act and Howard Jacobson’s J will both have been considered. Given McEwan’s novel is about a female judge dealing with a religious young man who wants to opt out of life-saving medical treatment, it will perhaps strike a chord with the chair, the vocal atheist and philosopher, AC Grayling. Jacobson’s novel is set in the future, where certain words are self-censored: quite a change from his earlier comedic work, and speculative fiction doesn’t have the best track record at the Man Booker. I’ve read neither book, but, on their past performances, would happily see neither on the longlist.

Other big names have obviously been read and pondered over. I’d hope that Will Self’s Shark, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, Nicola Barker’s In The Approaches and Ali Smith’s How To Be Both were given critical scrutiny and vigorous debate. No doubt Martin Amis, the doyen of not-winning-the-Booker, was considered for his Holocaust romance, The Zone of Interest. I’d be surprised if Alan Warner’s Their Lips Talk Of Mischief wasn’t in the running, and equally surprised if Irvine Welsh’s The Sex Life Of Siamese Twins were. Philip Hensher’s Cloud Atlas-y The Emperor Waltz and Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives Of Others would be worth a punt on review coverage alone. The judges will have had to trudge through the usual bilge and no-hopers – my only regret at being a Man Booker judge was how much drivel I assiduously read that year – and they will have found gems that the wider reading public, even the literati, didn’t catch. I hope there’s an equivalent to NoViolet Bulawayo or Richard House on their longlist. I’m hopeful about this year’s Man Booker because Erica Wagner, the former literary editor of the Times, is there. She previously was on the panel that surprised everyone with Life Of Pi, and I can’t but imagine that she will push through at least one book of awkward excellence.

But the question is: which American writer will make it through? The novels that impressed me most this year were Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens, Mark Z Danielewski’s The Fifty Year Sword (which may be ineligible given its vagrant publication record) and Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, all three interlinked novels published within this year. Were they submitted? We will never know. Donna Tartt’s (to my mind, rather bloated) The Goldfinch? Having already won prizes, it might be stymied by success. I predict that the Americans will make only three of the 12 or 13 longlist spots. If I’m wrong, I hope I’m wrong because the judges found something remarkable. I’d love to see some outliers in there: Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, or even a graphic novel (I’d have chosen Mike Carey’s Tommy Taylor And The Boat That Sank Twice).

The best thing about the Man Booker from the outside is the capacity to surprise. I cross my fingers it does so on Wednesday.



  • Thomas Berger, the witty and feverishly prolific author of Little Big Man, died July 13 in Nyack, N.Y., following an illness, his publisher said Monday. He was 89. Although Berger was most famous for Little Big Man, which became a movie starring Dustin Hoffman, he wrote dozens of other books in genres varying from sci-fi to crime to Westerns. “Berger’s books are accessible and funny and immerse you in the permanent strangeness of his language and attitude, perhaps best encapsulated by Berger’s own self-definition as a ‘voyeur of copulating words,’ ” Jonathan Lethem wrote in a 2012 essay. “He offers a book for every predilection: if you like westerns, there’s his classic, ‘Little Big Man’; so, too, has he written fables of suburban life (‘Neighbors’), crime stories (‘Meeting Evil’), fantasies, small-town ‘back-fence’ stories of Middle American life, and philosophical allegories (‘Killing Time’).” In a 1980 interview, Berger told The New York Times, “I should like the reader to be aware that a book of mine is written in the English language, which I love with all my heart and write to the best of my ability and with the most honorable of intentions — which is to say, I am peddling no quackery, masking no intent to tyrannize, and asking nobody’s pity. (I suspect that I am trying to save my own soul, but that’s nobody else’s business.)”
  • Publishers Lunch reports that the dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group may be deterring customers: A survey by the Codex Group found that about 39 percent of 5,300-plus respondents were aware of the conflict and, of those, 19 percent said they were buying fewer books from Amazon. Also, 4.4 percent said they have increased their spending at Amazon. “This is the first time we’ve measured consumer dissatisfaction with Amazon resulting in significant declines in purchase intent,” Codex’s Peter Hildick-Smith said.
  • Dwight Garner of The New York Times reviews a new Harper Lee biography: “The Mockingbird Next Doorconjured mostly sad images in my mind. Ms. Lee has a regular booth at McDonald’s, where she goes for coffee. She eats takeout salads from Burger King on movie night. When she fishes, she uses wieners for bait. She feeds the town ducks daily, with seed corn from a plastic Cool Whip Free container, calling ‘Woo-hoo-HOO! Woo-hoo-HOO!’ Somehow learning all this is worse than it would be to learn that she steals money from a local orphanage.” (We book critics, on the other hand, compose our reviews in sharply cut tailcoats and drink tea steeped in the ashes of former poet laureates.)
  • Buzzfeed asked a bunch of writers and journalists of color for their best pieces of career advice. Cord Jefferson said, “Get into the habit of talking to people and asking them questions about their life, and don’t do the thing where you zone out of conversations until it’s your turn to speak — actually listening to people and the world around you is like 35 percent of being a good writer. Don’t surround yourself only with other writers/journalists/media people; self-imposed insularity is the fastest way to smother your creativity. And don’t stress out about ingratiating yourself with The Media Scene. A lot of the parties suck.”

Interview with author Georgia Bell


I do a lot of book tours and book reviews. I was lucky enough to get to read and review Unbound by Georgia Bell. It was like nothing I have ever read before. The characters would not leave my thoughts so I decided to write the author to ask for an interview. When she wrote me back “Yes” I was thrilled! Here is a little bit more about Georgia Bell: Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). Georgia is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order). Here is my interview with Georgia Bell…


1. You said in you biography that you grew up with a love for books. Is that what made you want to be a writer?

Absolutely. I’ve always loved reading because it takes me out of my life completely and allows me to escape into someone else’s. At first, I was surprised that writing was like that for me, too. While I was writing Unbound I felt like I was living in the world that Rachel and Eaden live in. It was so much fun that I started the sequel not long after I finished writing Unbound. I just wanted to hang out with them some more and find out what happened next.

2. What inspires you to write?

I’m a romantic and nothing inspires me more than love. Not just romantic love, although I’m a big fan of romance, but I’m fascinated by relationships and the bonds that form between human beings. Writing allows me to work out how I feel about all the different ways that people can love (and hate) each other.

3. Tell me in a tweet about “Unbound”.

What if the person you’ve trusted with your life turns out to be the biggest threat to your existence?

4. Tell me how the idea formed in your head about Unbound because it is really out there in a good way  and I never read anything like it before.

I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy and have always been drawn to paranormal and magical worlds in fiction. Unbound contains elements of all the classic stories I loved when I was child. When I started Unbound I was trying to figure out what would happen if someone who had all but given up on life fell in love with someone who had barely lived and the immortal storyline felt like a good way to contrast hope and despair.

5. Rachel is a strong female lead character. Tell me about her and would you write future books with strong female characters?

I’m so glad you think Rachel is a strong character as that’s how I’ve always thought of her, too.  I’ve been worried that her anxiety at the beginning of the story might mask her strength and tenacity. And yes, it’s important for me to write about women who are willing to take control of their own lives. I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters in fiction and I love the idea that Rachel might be a member of that club.

6. I do not want to give away spoilers, can you tell me about Eaden without doing that?  (I am not sure here if revealing he is an immortal, which is not too far in but far enough in that it may be a spoiler I may want to ask another question if we are revealing that.)

I think it’s okay to reveal the fact that Eaden is an immortal without giving away too much about the rest of the story. Eaden is your classic tortured, taciturn hero. I fell in love with Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings as a young girl and ever since have been drawn to noble men who have had to put duty before their own desires. Eaden has lived a long and difficult life as an immortal that has left him scarred in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. There’s a lot more to him than I got a chance to explore in Unbound. Stay tuned!

7. I loved the ending although it is a series I think it could stand alone. Did you intend this to be a series when you started?

Unbound started as a stand alone and if I’d been able to stop writing, I would have left it there. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about these characters and what might happen next and so, I kept going without any real intention of making a sequel. After I published Unbound, I decided I might as well continue the story, both as a writing exercise and because readers have told me they want to know what happens next. My next writing project after “Unknown” (the next book in the series) is a YA speculative fiction that will most definitely be a stand alone.

8. Why the name Unbound?

I liked the play on words that Unbound brought to mind when I was trying out different names. Without giving away too much of the plot, I liked the idea of things that have long been together, coming apart, as well as people who have been wound tightly, coming undone.

9. Your happiest moment as a writer so far has been what?

Oh jeeez. Only one? There are so many. Seeing my cover for the first time felt incredible. I had the pleasure of working with a very talented graphic designer named Andy Patrick. When I found out he was Scottish, it felt like serendipity as so much of Unbound is tied to Scotland. After we talked about some of my ideas he sent me three beautiful covers. It was an embarrassment of riches, really, as they were all great. But I’m besotted with the one I’ve chosen. It really has become such a big part of Unbound and the way I envisioned the story.

10. Your favorite place to write for example at an old desk, on your patio, etc?

It may sound a bit nuts, but I love writing in public. A few years ago, I had a really long commute to work by train and I started writing every day. I no longer commute to work so now have to head out to coffee shops or restaurants if I really want to get a lot done. Everyone in my local Starbucks knows me by name. I can write at home, but I get too distracted by my everyday life that I get much less done than I would when I’m out in the world. I also do my best thinking about plot lines while I drive.

11. Do you carry a notebook with you to keep ideas about your books or can you remember them on your own?

Yes! I still write my first drafts by hand using pen and paper and I almost never go anywhere without one of my writing books. I often think of ideas when I’m driving and have been known to pull over to the side of the road to write something down before I forget.

12. Must have food/beverage while writing.

Two things. Coffee and wine. But not together. I drink a lot of coffee during the day and have been known to work most productively at home at night when I’m sipping some wine. Or scotch.

13. What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing Unknown, the second book in the All Good Things Trilogy. I hope to have a fall publishing date.

14. Is there anything you want to add?

Thank you so much for asking me questions about Unbound. I’m really so grateful to have readers who want to know more about the characters I’ve come to love so much.


Wow! That was some interview. I wish I could put all my comments in. The interview made me laugh, and think a lot, and I had my questions answered that I had been waiting for. I want to thank Georgia for being here on my blog and I want her to know she is welcome anytime. It was a pleasure to work with her.


If you would like to purchase Unbound then here are some links for you:

Amazon:  Click here

Barnes & Noble: Click here

Smashwords: Click here

Kobo: Click here





Goodreads Author Page

1Author Pic (1)  (1)

Make sure you read this incredible book!


BOOK BLITZ! 53 Letters For My Lover




Adult Women’s Fiction/Romance
On sale for . 99 cents at Amazon
This is not your typical love story. It’s not so black and
white. Lines are crossed. Walls are smashed. Good becomes bad. Bad becomes very, very good.

Hijazi—the perfect daughter, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. For
thirty-three years she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying
dreams, and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is
about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the
one thing her heart has always been denied: love.

Heathgate—untamed, exhilarating, dangerous—a man who does exactly as he pleases. Life bends to his will. Until he comes across the one thing he would give it all up for, but can never have.
Born on the same day in opposite corners of the world, their lives collide. And nothing is ever the same again. Now Shayda is flying free and Troy has found the one thing that centers his soul, but even as they beat the odds, a cancer diagnosis puts Shayda in a painful dilemma. On the one hand is the man who makes her feel gloriously alive and on the other, her children, and a husband ravaged by the past.
Spanning three decades, 53 Letters for My Lover is a fiercely sensual, emotional ride to the heart of an epic, forbidden love that defies it all—an intimate exploration of love, loyalty, passion, betrayal, and the human yearning for hope, happiness and redemption.
AUTHOR WARNING: This book is a blend of women’s fiction and romance. It involves infidelity and an attempted rape. If you are not comfortable with these subjects, this may not be the best book for you.


Book Trailer:





(A 53 Letters Short Story) 

Heathgate has it all – brains, brawn and the kind of smile that just begs a
ribbon. Everything but the woman he loves. But now he’s back and determined to possess her. There’s just one catch – she’s married to another man.
This short teaser story (9,500 words, 38 pages) is a re-telling of
select scenes from ‘ 53 Letters For My Lover’. It is narrated from the male point of view – raw and uncut.

***This is a companion to the full length novel.Although you can read it on its own, the recommended order is after the full
length novel, as an extra glimpse into the hero’s perspective.****

About the Author
Leylah Attar writes stories about love—shaken, stirred and served with a twist. When she’s not writing, she can be found pursuing her other passions: photography,food, family and travel. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate.
 photo AToMRPRomotionslogo_zps7a14e565.png

BOOK BLITZ!! – Jack the Boogey Is My Real Name

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for “Jack the Boogey is My Real Name” by Davon Washington & Chase Washington, a delightful bedtime picture book for children who are afraid of the dark.

Jack the Boogey is my Name by Davon Washington

About the Book

Title: Jack the Boogey is my Real Name: The Truth about “The Boogeyman” | Authors: Davon Washington & Chase Washington | Illustrator: Ana-Gabriela Stroe | Publication Date: January 1, 2014 | Publisher: Bedford House Books | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8

Summary: Have a child that’s afraid of the dark? Are you a little curious about what happens when the lights go out? This delightful children’s picture book will not only enhance the night time reading experience but bedtime in itself will never be the same. Jack The Boogey encourages kids to push through their fears, persevere and always do the right thing. One of the world’s most feared creatures may have just become the most loved.


Sneak Peek

Jack the Boogey - Inside Page - Davon Washington



Amazon | Book Website | Goodreads

Receive a FREE “Monster Repellent” Sticker with the purchase of “Jack the Boogey is my Real Name”. Just click the image below for more information.

Monster Repellent Sticker Davon Washington

The Buzz

“I highly recommend this adorable tale to children who don’t want to go to sleep at night because they are afraid the Boogeyman will get them! They just might discover that this isn’t true. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Amy G., Amazon

“My little one and I thoroughly enjoyed the story (he made me read it twice as soon as I took it out of the package and I had to distract him with Monsters University to get away to write a review), but the real treat to me was stashed in the cover blurb hidden away in the back of the book. It’s written by Davon Washington and his son, Chase. Davon wanted to help young Chase understand how much work and effort went into providing the nice things he had, so he let Chase make this a project in which they could collaborate and Chase could get an idea of the value of hard work. To me, that’s the best part of the story! ” ~ 5 Star Review, Breeni B., Amazon

“I loved this book! The illustrations were such a big pull for me. It almost felt like watching a tv show in the sense that you are brought into the world of Jack the Boogey instead of trying to imagine the scariest non-monster possible. I do think that this is a great read for Young Readers because of the conflict and resolution. I enjoyed that Jack showed vulnerability (being upset over the children’s misunderstanding that he was actually a helpful GOOD monster) and that it was OK to show emotion. This is a great lesson for all young readers. Sometimes when they see life lessons happening via forms of entertainment (books, movies, tv, et al) vs. just hearing about it from their parents, it sinks in a bit more.” ~ 5 Star Review, LaToya, Amazon


About the Authors: Davon & Chase Washington

Davon WashingtonDavon Washington is an entertainment executive who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Davon has made a career out of helping people bring their artistic dreams to fruition. The same people who more often than not do very little to enhance the tender minds of the culture that supports them. Creative thinking isn’t a skill that you learn as an adult. It starts with that same imagination that we let run wild after we’ve mastered harder tasks like walking, talking and using the bathroom ourselves. It’s Davon’s mission to build a nation of creative thinkers one book at a time.

Davon and his six-year old son, Chase collaborated to bring Jack the Boogey is My Real Name to life. This is their first book.


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* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: August 12, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Davon Washington and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Just A Reminder!

Yesterday I did an interview with Mike Guardia and, if you read the article and read to the end, you will see we have a giveaway going on. It is for a hardcover copy of his book Hal Moore – A Soldier Once and Always. This will run for a week so especially all of you history buffs make sure you go over to the following link to get your entries in for the giveaway. a Rafflecopter giveaway