Monday, February 28, 2011

Review and Giveaway: WWW:Wake ~ by Robert J. Sawyer


We have 5 copies for giveaway and it’s international!

The first in the trilogy with the second in the series published in 2010, and the third being released in April of this year -2011.

WWW:Wake ~ by Robert J. Sawyer (reviewed by John/JD)  US|UK|Canada.

John’s Review:

An intriguing and clever science fiction novel with a tremendous young female lead character.

About:   Caitlin Decter is a feisty teenage girl who is a genius at math and a wizard on the internet, despite being totally blind since birth. With no sight she has learnt to compensate - both mentally and technically - and she uses a variety of tools to thoroughly utilize the internet. In many ways it is her window on the world, and in the world of the internet her chosen name is Calculass.

Out of the blue she gets an offer from a Japanese Doctor. Caitlin has an extremely rare form of blindness and the Doctor’s research team has developed some technology which he believes could restore some of her sight. This involves inserting an implant behind her eye, with a small control module that is linked to the internet so that data can be sent to and received from the Doctor’s server in Japan.

But the results are unexpected, and it seems that Caitlin’s brain has long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her visualize and navigate the internet – explaining some of her remarkable skills on the web. Once the implant is activated, Caitlin actually starts to see the World Wide Web mapped out in extraordinary detail. But she also starts to sense something out there that has a form of intelligence, and the more of the real word that she sees, the smarter it becomes. And now it wants to communicate with Calculass.  

John’s Thoughts:  Sawyer has a fabulous imagination and this is an excellent story with an extremely clever plot. He’s clearly got a strong grasp of technology and uses that to good effect, but he also has the skill of writing very accessible novels – some science fiction novels start to feel a bit like too much like science text books, but with Sawyer the techy bits don’t get in the way and don’t spoil the flow of the story. 

He has also created some interesting characters with strong personalities and a lot of depth. In particular Caitlin is a wonderful character that will appeal to many readers – irrespective of age or sex. Something else that I really liked about the book is that you get to experience the world from the perspective of a young blind person, and it’s enlightening, scary and thought provoking.

Overall I’d rate this book 4 stars. I would have gone even higher, but when I picked up the book I didn’t realize that it was the first of a trilogy, and it’s one of those annoying instances where you get to the end of a book but lots of loose ends remain. Which drives me nuts. I’m sure that if I get around to reading the other two in the series, then all will become clear and I’ll enjoy them, but in the meanwhile I feel like I’ve been left dangling.

Hardcover: 368 pages; Ace Hardcover; 1 edition (April 7, 2009)  US|UK|Canada.

cousw2lghcWWW:Watch ~ by Robert J. Sawyer  (book 2)

Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.

WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend. (via Amazon).

Hardcover: 368 pages Ace Hardcover; 1 edition (April 6, 2010)  US|UK|Canada.


WWW:Wonder ~ Robert J. Sawyer  (book 3)

Webmind-the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web-has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Caitlin Decter-the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind-wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn't act, everything-Webmind included-may come crashing down. (via Amazon).

Hardcover: 352 pages; Ace Hardcover (April 5, 2011) US|UK|Canada. (for pre-purchase)


Robert J. Sawyer is one of only eight writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the the following awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (2003 for Hominids), the Nebula (1996 for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2006 for Mindscan).

For more info link to and  Photo Credit: Christina Molendyk



Rollback ~ Robert J. Sawyer

With another amazing story line and premise John has also read, reviewed, and loved Rollback ~ by Robert J. Sawyer. The post also has an interview with Sawyer via YouTube.

Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages; Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (February 5, 2008) US|UK|Canada.

Contest Info:

The contest for these five books is International!  To enter please fill out the form below:

You do not need to be a reader/follower to enter. You must leave your email in the form below.

For optional extra points  ~ you can do any, all or none of the below for 1 entry point each:

  1. Be a subscriber of Layers of Thought – Google or Facebook. (I need to be able to see you! For Facebook to get our blog updates in your feed - add me as a friend otherwise it does not count).
  2. Friend on Twitter.

Contest ends Sunday March 27th, 2011 at 12 pm US Pacific time. Winner will be posted and notified on Monday April 4th, 2011.  

(Please note - You may have to link to the blog to access the giveaway form if you are viewing this post in email).




We use to determine our winners. If you have a question or a concern (a typo or bad link or a problem with this form) please email me via my profile – Shellie.

Thanks for entering and good luck! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

We Have Winners! ~ four of them

Four Lucky Winners!


Life is so much better when you win a book ~ even if its in the snow!

Gods of Riverworld


The winner of the complete Riverworld series from Tor is:

Marie K

Congrats Marie! 

  • Riverworld ~ To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat  (#1 and #2) US|UK|Canada.
  • The Dark Design (#3) US|UK|Canada.
  • The Magic Labyrinth (#4) US|UK|Canada.
  • Gods of Riverworld (#5) US|UK|Canada.

For more information on the series please see our giveaway post for Gods of Riverworld.


The winner for the translated literary fiction ~ Enough About Love from Other Press is:

Hien V.

Congrats Hien!

Enough About Love ~ by Hervé Le Tellier US|UK|CanadaFor more about the book from our giveaway post for Enough About Love.



Our winner for the paranormal romance ebook copy of The Ghost Hunter is:

Lora W.

and   Alice from Sweet Sugary Shenanigans 

Congrats Lora and Alice!


The Ghost Hunger US|UK| – and Smashwords. For more information and an excerpt see the giveaway post for The Ghost Hunter.

A Huge Applause for our lucky winners ~ Congrats!

I will be contacting each of you by email. Please comment on this post and respond back to my email within 72 hours, so that I can forward your info onto the author and publishers and you can receive your book ASAP. Thank you!

Coming Up is the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop. Which happens March 17th through the 20th.

The Thieves of Darknesswww.wake

Giveaways Included Are:


Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop – March 17th to 20th and there are currently 200 blogs participating for this hop. 

Click on the badge to visit the host’s site.

Stay Tuned for our Next Set of Giveaways! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Giveaway: The Thieves of Darkness ~ by Richard Doetsch

The Thieves of Darkness

The Thieves of Darkness ~ by Richard Doetsch. 

Today is its pocket book release day. A  thriller by the author of The 13th Hour, Half Past Dawn, and several other heart pounding best sellers.  Its about a reformed master thief  who travels to Istanbul to keep an ancient artifact from falling into the wrong hands. Along the way he discovers that his new girlfriend has a few secrets of her own and is forced to put both their lives in danger for a greater good. Old secrets and loyalties come into play as they race through the secret underground tunnels of Istanbul, and eventually travel deep into the Himalayas to a mysterious land that might be the legendary Shangri-La itself.

Sound interesting?  We particularly liked the legend, Himalayas, and Shangri-La part. Intriguing stuff!  Just in case you cannot wait to win – here are links for purchase: US|UK|Canada.

(Please note the US link takes you to the hardcover version and will bring you to the  paperback format with a short fiddle – not sure what was up with Amazon yesterday).

Contest Info:

We have one copy available for mailing within the US only. To enter please fill out the form below: (You may have to link to the blog if you are viewing this post via email).  You do not need to be a reader/follower to enter.

You must leave your email in the form below.

For optional extra points  ~ you can do any, all or none of the below for 1 entry point each:

  1. Be a subscriber of Layers of Thought – Google or Facebook. (I need to be able to see you! For Facebook to get our blog updates in your feed - add me as a friend otherwise it does not count).
  2. Friend on Twitter.

Contest ends Sunday March 27th, 2011 at 12 pm US Pacific time. Winner will be posted and notified on Monday April 4th, 2011. 



We use to determine our winners. If you have a question or a concern (a typo or bad link or a problem with this form) please email me via my profile – Shellie.

Thanks for entering and good luck! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Life ~ by Keith Richards



Life ~ by Keith Richards (reviewed by John/JD)

A fascinating, entertaining and surprisingly detailed biography of Keith Richards – the heart of the Rolling Stones.

Iconic is much over-used word in the world of popular music, but Keith Richards is one of the truly iconic figures of the past fifty years. Along with Mick Jagger, the other half of the “Glimmer Twins”, Richards was very much the public face of the Rolling Stones. As well as co-writing virtually all of the Stones’ music, he was the elegantly wasted scoundrel whose image adorned countless bedroom walls and magazines, and who was the role model for a myriad of would-be rock ‘n’ roll stars.

It wasn’t just down to his looks – his lifestyle and his consumption of astonishing amounts of drugs became a thing of folklore. For ten years he topped a list of “people most likely to die”, and it was not unusual for him to be awake for a week at a time, playing music, making records or just enjoying life. He attracted a crowd or like-minded people but it seems that few could keep up with him. As he said of John Lennon:

“I don't think John ever left my house, except horizontally.”

Apart from the fact that he is still here to tell his life story, perhaps the most astonishing thing is his ability to recall all of the details. At well over 500 pages this is a big book and it is crammed full of stories, anecdotes and detailed accounts of people and events. While he’s now approaching 70 his star is still shining bright, and you get a strong sense of his boyish and mischievous character. His deep love of music oozes from every page and for music lovers this book is a veritable treasure trove.

For me there were two highlights of the book. Firstly, the story of the group getting together and their collective obsession for old blues and rhythm and blues music; originally this was not a group seeking fame and fortune, but rather a group that were totally preoccupied with learning to replicate the rare and arcane music that they loved. And secondly, the strange and complex relationship between Richards and Jagger - they started out as the closest of bosom buddies, perfectly in tune with each other and almost joined at the hip; but then they drifted far apart over the decades and ended up as partners but not really friends. Considering they still work together, Richards is incredibly frank in sharing many of his poor opinions about Jagger (who he has nicknamed “Brenda”). As he says, “Sometimes I think: 'I miss my friend. I wonder: 'where did he go?” And at the same time you just know that over the years Richards’ behavior must have driven Jagger to total distraction. While he is a fascinating character, he has led a lifestyle that is abhorrent to many.

This was a great read. If you are a Rolling Stones fan, reading it is a must. If you are a music lover of any ilk, or you are interested or curious about the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, this is very highly recommended. I blew through 500+ pages in no time at all. I’d rate the book 4 stars.

Hardcover: 608 pages: Weidenfeld and Nicholson (2010) US|UK|Canada.

It took awhile being number 33 on the waiting list but this book was borrowed from our local library. We love ours. Please support yours!

As always John will be addressing any comments, so don’t forget to click the follow up box to get his response.

Thanks for reading!

Incoming Books ~ (a mash up blend of genres)!


black and white stack

Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes. ~ Hugh Prather

I am making some simplifications – or at least attempting them for sanity and clarities' sake. Our book Previews will now be called the very original and thought provoking - Incoming Books. *kidding*  I have been putting off this needed change for far too long.

Incoming Books post will have book covers, purchasing links, a short descriptive snippet, and publisher stats for those we have in line for review. I hope this is a better format for everyone, and easier for me.

Here they are, a mix up of genres for your general bookish enjoyment and perusal. I just love lists of books with covers - so much fun!

the american girlThe American Girl ~ by Monika Fagerholm (translated by Katarina E.Tucker)

In 1969, a young girl makes a trip from Coney Island to the swampy coastland on the rural outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. There her death will immediately become part of local mythology, furnishing boys and girls with fodder for endless romantic imaginings.

Paperback: 528 pages; Other Press; (February 16, 2010) US|UK|Canada.

the glitter scene

The Glitter Scene ~ by Monika Fagerhom (translated by Katarina E.Tucker) 

Set in Finland, Johanna hears the local lore about the American girl and the tragedy that took place more than thirty years ago, and begins to question how her parents fit into the story. A mystery that explores the roles of truth and myth, reality and fiction, and the repercussions of family secrets.  (This story is a stand alone sequel to the above, both are translated from Swedish).

Paperback: 500 pages; Other Press (August 9, 2011) US|UK|Canada. – (pre-purchase)

mr chartwell

Mr. Chartwell ~ by Rebecca Hunt (magical realism)

In this original, funny, and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores the key character - Mr. Chartwell. He is Winston Churchill’s ‘black dog’, with motives far darker and deeper than they at first seem.

Hardcover: 256 pages;  The Dial Press (February 8, 2011)  US|UK|Canada.  UK and Canada covers are different (and so much nicer).

  the book of tomorrow

The Book of Tomorrow ~ by Cecelia Ahern (magical realism)

Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, the gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood.  In her new home Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin. When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara finds a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.

Hardcover: 320 pages: Harper (January 25, 2011) US|UK|Canada.


Wither ~ Lauren Destafano  (young adult sci fi)

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

Young Adult (ages 14 and older) Hardcover: 368 pages:  Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; (March 22, 2011) US|UK|Canada. –  pre-purchase


Moondogs ~ by Alexander Yates (fantasy)

An effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors, who all want a piece of him.

Hardcover: 352 pages: Doubleday (March 15, 2011) US|UK|Canada.  – pre-purchase 

the promises she keeps


The Promises She Keeps ~  by Erin Nealy (magical realism)

Promise, a talented young vocalist with a terminal illness, is counting on fame to keep her memory alive after she dies. Porta is an aging witch and art collector in search of the goddess who will grant her immortality. 

Paperback: 352 pages; Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 8, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

tartar large

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine  ~ Alina Bronsky  (translator Tim Mohr)  (dark humor- general fiction)

This is the story of three generations of women - the highly opinionated Rosa, the slightly stupid Sulfia, and Aminat, a child supposedly conceived by Sulfia in a dream.  This is a quirky novel with an unreliable narrator told in the author’s distinctive and translated from German prose.

Paperback: 304 pages; Europa Editions (April 26, 2011)  US|UK|Canada.  - pre-purchase.  For praise from Publisher’s Weekly.

Radio Shangri-la

Radio Shangri-La ~ by Lisa Napoli  (non-fiction memoir)

A burned out journalist from Los Angeles, Napoli had a friend of a friend with connections to the Himalayan country of Bhutan who launched a new youth radio station. She accepts and tells her experience in part travelogue and memoir where the reader gets insight into this tiny country, its culture and why it is considered the happiest kingdom on earth.

Hardcover: 304 pages; Crown (February 8, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

radioactive lady2

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady ~  by Elizabeth Stuckey-French  (dark humor- general fiction)

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.

Hardcover: 352 pages; Doubleday (February 8, 2011) US|UK|Canada.

the runestaff

Hawkmoon: The Runestaff  ~ by Michael Moorcock (fantasy)

The latest re-release in the Moorcock Hawkmoon series. For more information on the other books recently re-released by Tor in this series link to our preview for the series.

Paperback: 208 pages; Tor Books; First Edition edition (December 7, 2010) US|UK|Canada.

Our first group of Incoming Books for the year, and they are colorful – perfect for a late winter pick me up. Most have a touch of the speculative. 

Which would you read first? Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Shadow Bound ~ by Erin Kellison



Shadow Bound ~ by Erin Kellison (reviewed by Shellie)

A dark adult fairy story/urban fantasy that was fun, intelligent, has an element of paranormal romance, and a very creative premise. All based on a legend that includes a visit from an interesting version of death himself.

A Bit About:  Talia O’Brien is an odd ball with an unusual history. Lets say she's a blend of two types of beings. She knows she’s different and even looks a tad odd - yet in a pretty sort of way. She’s smart, with a PhD, and also has an unusual gift. It is one that she is not quite comfortable with and not aware of its strengths. Interestingly she manages to hide it from herself and others until things start to get really complicated - and they do!

Thoughts:   Not my usual choice of read having a tendency to veer away from genre books like this, I requested it on a whim from Shelf Awareness for fun and interest’s sake (I am exploring speculative fiction).  Gleefully, it did not start off with blatant sex or violence – a bad thing in my brain. It became better as I read more. I found the writing to be intelligent and readable, and the story possessed a dark and fairy based theme. I am starting to be very interested in fairies and devour dark themes.

The author has created a well-explained world with no loose elements within her complex yet easy-to-read sentence structure. It was quite a page turner which makes it a perfect escapist read. I also adored the size of this little book with its dense pages. It was easy to handle and carry and I liked that aspect for our latest plane ride. Less to handle in those cramped seats.

My only little complaint was one bit which I will never forget. It’s really sad when you laugh at a sex scene…especially when its supposed to be passionate and consummating. I laughed myself silly while re-reading it to John. I imagine that’s what this type of genre fiction is all about and what makes it fun for most readers. Beyond that I still enjoyed the rest of the story.

The best part of the book was that the ending was unexpected and intriguing, setting the reader up for the next in this planned series but with enough closure so as not to annoy. (The book felt like it was a stand alone). I was sufficiently impressed enough that will be looking to get my hands on the second book which is already released. I really enjoyed this genre paranormal romance and give it 3.5 stars. A fun darkly fluffy escapist read.

Shadow Bound ~ by Erin Kellison  US|UK|Canada.

If your interested in finding publisher’s information on Shadow Bound, please link to Layers of Thought’s preview for the book.


Shadow Fall  is the second in the series and was published at the end of 2010. US|UK|Canada.

There are two more books in tow. One in September 2011 – Shadowman;  and in June 2011 a novella set in the shadow world – Shadow Touch.

For more information on the author – Erin Kellison and her upcoming books for this series (which have great covers), link to her website

Dorchester Publishing has a number of titles which look really fun for genre readers (horror, romance, western, paranormal and more), and it is also offering an amazing sale on its books Now – 60% off. Check it out!

Thanks for reading and have a great Saturday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Help Celebrate! Indie & Small Press Month @ Savvy Verse & Wit (and some other stuff too!)


buttercups with white banner 3

Savvy Verse & Wit ~ is having a month long celebration for and around Independent and Small Presses during March!  (Banner links to announcement post for the event).

To Help Celebrate - stop by during this month long event. If you would like to help spread the word “snag a badge” (right click and save image as) from this post for your blog and link it to Savvy Verse & Wit.

buttercups with white badge b3

buttercups with white badge 3

I created these badges for this event. Between the two of us (Serena and I) I  think they ended up looking “fresh and springy”.  Perfect for a March celebration around small and indie publishers.

What's Coming Next? ~ We have some great news since I will be posting the winners of the recent book giveaways some time next week. Since it’s the first time using the new Google forms I am not sure how long the process will take – fiddly new stuff can drive me nuts. So please bear with me.

Even Better News:  We have a couple of new book giveaways coming up as well as one special offer – especially for the writer’s in our readership. They will be posted one per week till the next book hop – Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop. It happens March 17th through  the 20th. What a great way to spend St. Paddy’s day which should make it particularly lucky with all those 4 leaf clovers and all.

The Thieves of Darknesswww.wake

Upcoming Giveaways:

  • The Thieves of Darkness ~ by Richard Doetsch (1 pocket book copy for US only)
  • WWW: Wake ~ by Robert J. Sawyer (5 hardcover copies for international shipping)
  • A Professional Edit for your short story WIP/Synopsis!  Lou Aronica – award winning editor and author of Blue, has offered to edit our winner's short story or synopsis (up to twenty double-spaced pages).


Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop – March 17th to 20th

If you would like to add your book(s) or bookish related giveaway to this hop, link to the host’s site by clicking on the badge - sign ups end March 13th. There are currently 200 blogs participating for this hop.  How fun is that?

Please stay tuned and thanks for reading! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Delirium ~ by Lauren Oliver (a young adult dystopian novel about love)



delirium cover

Delirium ~ by Lauren Oliver (reviewed by Shellie)

A perfect read for Valentine’s Day - Delirium is set in a future US, where love is considered a disease and the cause for all social ills. Everyone by the age 18 is to be “cured” via an operation which is not entirely safe or effective.

Setting:  Lena is like most normal teen girls - slightly insecure, and she does not realize her abilities and attractiveness as a growing woman. As she is coming up to this important date where she will have her operation to free her from this “disease”, she starts to become less comfortable within the  world she has been raised and indoctrinated in. She begins to question what is beyond the electrified fenced boundaries surrounding her country and wonders if anything is beyond them in the area considered the wilds; and what about the people – invalids,  who are said to have once lived there?

Thoughts:  I enjoy dystopian novels – I would even say love them. I am guessing it is because of the science fiction element which they commonly possess, and perhaps the element of horror too. Happily there seems to be quite a few of the young adult variety being published at the moment. Another reason is that from my perspective as a woman and an adult reader with a degree in education – I have a strong belief around the importance of intellectual empowerment for girls and young women. This genre can be a way for girls to absorb something alongside their romance which may work toward in-depth thinking into science or politics. I like that.

Beyond the genre there are several things I liked about this novel. Lauren Oliver uses a technique where each chapter is preceded with a snippet of the “new world order” – these are the reworked laws, poetry, fables and mythology which have been changed and distorted by the creators of this dystopian society - a method used by the usurpers of overturned societies since the beginning of recorded time. I loved this aspect, giving the story contextual interest and attesting to the power of literature and stories as a way to establish and maintain belief systems. She also includes a number of insightful thoughts and grounding ideas about love and human nature - perfect for a young adult novel - which encourages me to positively promote her books.

I did have two problems which are taste oriented and version related (I read an ARC version of the book). The first “niggle” is that the main character goes into depth about her feelings and emotions, which most women/girls will enjoy. For me it was just too much at several points. Additionally, when I read that the main character was about to vomit for the 10th time I felt like throwing up myself. It led me to think about what are the other ways a writer can describe extreme distress? I imagine that these bits have been edited out or changed since an ARC version is not entirely edited.

On balance, it is apparent that Lauren Oliver is a talented author. The book has a great premise, I liked the crescendo and the ending was a good one - heartbreaking but with that necessary element of hope and strength. The best news is that there are two more in the series coming in the next few years - Pandemonium (2012) and Requiem (2013). Both are the planned sequels to what I hope to be a very popular series. I give this young adult novel 3.5 stars. I liked it a lot.

Delirium; HarperCollins 02/01/2011; Amazon purchasing link for US/UK/Canada.

To find out about this new and popular young adult author, Lauren Oliver ~ link to: Lauren Oliver on Facebook; Lauren Oliver on Twitter; Lauren Oliver's Official Blog; Lauren Oliver's Official Website.

This book was found on Net Galley in ARC (advanced review copy - it is not completely edited) for review. If you have an ereader and a place to post reviews it is a way to find new books. Do keep in mind that they are DRM equipped so they time out after 60 days, and they are not readable on all devices.

Let me leave you with this poem. A classic favorite by Shakespeare:

love sonnet

This book will be included in several challenges - Myth Challenge, Dystopian Challenge, as well as the Sci Fi challenge – The 42.

To celebrate further we have a Valentines from Other Press  and Herve Le Tellier (author of Enough About Love). It is a free download of his novella - The Intervention of a Good Man. Click here to download the PDF.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!  Here’s to love in all its wonderful forms. What fun love related things are you doing this day? Thanks for reading.

(Valentine’s images and poem via The Vintage Moth).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: The Afflicted Girls: A Novel of Salem ~ by Suzy Witten


Afflicted Girls

The Afflicted Girls: A Novel of Salem ~ by Suzy Witten (reviewed by Shellie)

When two young friends, both orphans, arrive in Salem MA in 1692, the litigious and imbalanced nature of a community sets in motion a horrific series of events. The author uses a unique perspective around why she thinks this may have occurred.

About:  This is set around actual events where the warped moral boundaries and a desire for revenge inflame the emotions of a local pastor and a selfish young woman. Situations are manipulated for personal gain, culminating in the hanging deaths of a number of its core community members - for witchcraft. Bloody scary!

It’s a historical novel about this infamous North American witch hunt, with a slightly different take on the original. The author’s slant is very plausible and extremely intriguing. While not giving this key piece away, let’s say that through some research and a bit of insightful luck or brilliance, Suzy Witten has added a theory around this 200 year old story which has created a page turning twist of a tale - a very good one at that.

Thoughts:   One of my favorite genres is horror, so I devoured this story. At the same time, because it is based on a true story it is all the more terrifying, especially since it is entirely possible that something of this nature could happen again. As well as its plausible and intriguing twist, it has complex and well developed characters -  many are easy to relate to and likable while others are naturally despicable. With its insight, it feels like a study in human nature with extreme examples of human failings. I was left on the “edge of my seat” (or the bed since I usually read at night). At one point I had to set the book aside with the downward spiraling events. 

Another element which I liked is that there is “lustiness” as a large thread throughout the story, giving it darkness and juiciness which in my opinion did not become unrealistic and standardized (one of my peeves). So if you’re looking for a “clean” read this is not a good book for you. Witten also uses language that is accessible yet with a slightly “old English style” so that you feel like it is set within the period which it occurred. These elements give depth to the story and make it perfect for a historical fiction novel.

This is an impressive independently published debut novel, even though the author has extensive writing experience - she is a Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Finalist, which you can definitely tell by reading this book. The Afflicted Girls is also the winner of The 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction (Independent Publisher Book Awards). I would say that this book deserves 4.5 stars. I will be waiting for Suzy Witten’s next book since I think she is a talented writer and am curious why this book has not been snapped up by a bigger publisher. Highly recommended!

For more on Suzy Witten link to her blog, website, and Goodreads, and for more information on the book and its author please see Layers of Thought’s preview for The Afflicted Girls.

Paperback: 456 pages; DREAMWAND (October 31, 2009) US|UK|Canada.

Can you believe this is my first review for 2011? I better get crackin here!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Review for the Guys! Beware of the Dog: Rugby’s Hard Man Reveals All ~ by Brian Moore


Beware of the Dog2

We have a book review just for the guys, with all this Valentine’s day romance overload we thought this could be refreshing.

Beware of the Dog ~ by Brian Moore (reviewed by John/JD)

A surprisingly frank and revealing autobiography by one of the hard men of English sport – an award-winning book that is a good read even for those with no interest in sport.

For the uninitiated (which will likely include 99% of the US population as the sport in question is rugby), Bran Moore was a leading light in English sport and played for the English national rugby team from 1987 to 1995, during which time the team enjoyed a major resurgence in its fortunes. He was renowned for being a dedicated, driven and totally uncompromising player, and his natural aggression stood him apart even in the tough game of rugby.

The book takes you through his childhood years, university, his emergence as a talented rugby player, his career as a lawyer (at the time rugby was still an amateur sport so most players had full-time jobs), his time playing for England, the difficulties of stepping back from rugby as he got older, and his career and life since – which has taken in being a sports commentator and writer, a wine columnist, a brief spell working with his wife as a manicurist, and a flirtation with politics.

Crucially, Moore tells how he was adopted when he was only a few months old, and how he was later sexually abused by a teacher who was also a friend of the family. He kept the abuse a secret for almost 40 years. While he didn’t realize it at the time, the adoption and abuse shaped his character, making him brutally self-critical and fiercely competitive. While these traits helped him become a leading sportsman, they robbed him of the ability to enjoy much of his success and had a ruinous effect on aspects of his social life. Having spent much time and effort trying to untangle the various threads of his life, only recently has he started to come to terms with what has shaped him; but as he says, this remains a work in progress.

For me this was a fascinating book, though of course it does help that I love rugby. It’s full of interesting information about people, events, and the inner workings of the sport at all levels. There are many insights into the sport and many funny anecdotes. Moore is from Yorkshire as well, so he scores extra points for that! Even if you don’t like rugby or are not into sport generally, there is still much to enjoy in this book. It is an interesting insight into what made him the man that he is, and more generally into the impact of traumatic childhood events.

Moore has a somewhat unconventional writing style, but he is highly intelligent, erudite and is not shy about saying exactly what he thinks, which makes for an enjoyable read. I have to admit to having a huge bias regarding this book, but even after tempering that bias a little I’d still rate it 4 stars.

Paperback: 352 pages; Simon & Schuster Ltd (December 9, 2010) US|UK|Canada

*A Special Reminder for Guys*  Valentine’s day is on Monday ~ Yes on Monday!  For a quick online way to give a gift to your significant other, here is my idea ~ Spa Finders will allow you to print a gift certificate which you can put in a card or, if you’re really desperate, into an envelope; or it also can be emailed. The best bit is that it’s international too!  Your partner then can use it at a spa for the service of her (or his) choice within your area (I had 150 plus to choose from my area code).  Women love this stuff!  I’m just thinking that if you’re like my hubby, you will have waited till the very last minute and will be scrambling for a gift and perhaps paying for it for years in emotional currency.

John received this book for Christmas. It came in the mail last week and was devoured in 3 days!  He, as always, will be addressing any comments for the book so please don’t forget to check the follow up box to get his reply.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary ~ February 8th, 2005



It’s our 6 year anniversary today!   We got married on the Northern coast of California just near the lovely town of Mendocino. It was a wonderful day… one of the best. This picture is with our singing vicar – he was incredible!


Sealed with a kiss and auspiciously beautiful weather that day ~ we felt the fates had blessed us since California weather is notoriously moody in February.



I do have to say that happiness is marrying your best friend, and is highly recommended.  Here’s to the next six years!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Follower Love Giveaway Hop ~ from February 8th till 13th


follower love

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. ~ Charles M. Schultz

Don’t you just love Valentine’s Day? ~ As we all know love comes in so many shapes and formats, not just romantic. So what’s even better is that here you can love to win books via this mega blog hop – with currently 215 blogs. Wow!

So what the heck is a blog hop?  It’s a way for a bundle of blogs to come together to share a common goal. This one is to share book giveaways.

We have two books and one series on offer for this giveaway hop. Please click on the cover to enter for each book/set. There you will find the designated page and an easy form to enter. The easiest way is to just enter your email address into the form on each book’s designated page. That’s it!

You do not need to be a reader/follower to enter our giveaways, but your chances double if you do, and more if you follow on Twitter, and Goodreads. (Badge above links to our awesome host’s site – I’m a Reader, Not a Writer).

For more giveaways, link to each site from the blogs listed at the bottom of this page.

Gods of Riverworld

We have the entire republication of this classic Sci Fi series – Riverworld - to giveaway. It is a four book series and it is International.




This book is available for those in Canada and the US. It is translated from French and is literary fiction.  US|UK|Canada





Two copies of this ebook are available. It is also International, since it will be emailed. It is a self published paranormal romance, by a published author. US|UK| – and Smashwords.



This blog hop is now closed!

Series Giveaway: Riverworld ~ by Philip José Farmer (and it’s International)!


Gods of Riverworld

International Giveaway and Re-release Announcement for:

Gods of Riverworld ~ by Philip José Farmer (US|UK|Canada

It’s the last of the Riverworld series, and today we have the entire series for giveaway. Better yet, it’s international. How fun is that!

This series is “classic” science fiction, set in a futuristic world along the banks of a river, hence the name Riverworld.

Blurb for this last book:  Thirty billion people from throughout Earth’s history have been resurrected along the great and winding waterways of Riverworld. Most began life anew—accepting without question the sustenance provided by their mysterious benefactors. But a rebellious handful, including Mark Twain, Richard Burton, and Peter Jairus Frigate, burned to confront the unseen masters who controlled their fate—and these few launched an invasion that will ultimately yield the mind-boggling truth.

Written almost 40 years ago, the first book in the series won both a Nebula and  Hugo Award – To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Having begun reading the first in the series I am finding it accessible, intriguing and insightful, as well as darkly funny. It is also imparting me with bits of history which I am notoriously bad at.

Pictured here are the other books in this paperback re-printed series:


  • Riverworld ~ To Your Scattered Bodies Go and The Fabulous Riverboat  (#1 and #2) ~ by Philip José Farmer US|UK|Canada.
  • The Dark Design (# 3) ~ Philip José Farmer US|UK|Canada.
  • The Magic Labyrinth (#4) ~ by Philip José Farmer US|UK|Canada.

For more information on each of these books please see the movie tie in and preview post for the first three editions of the Riverworld series.

Contest Info:

The contest for this four book set is International.  To enter please fill out the form below: (You may have to link to the blog if you are viewing this post via email).

You do not need to be a reader/follower to enter.

You must leave your email in the form below.

For optional extra points  ~ you can do any, all or none of the below for 1 entry point each:

  1. Be a subscriber of Layers of Thought – Google or Facebook. (I need to be able to see you! For Facebook to get our blog updates in your feed - add me as a friend otherwise it does not count).
  2. Friend on Twitter.
  3. Friend on Goodreads.

Contest ends Sunday February 27th, 2011 at 12 pm US Pacific time. Winner will be posted and notified on Wednesday March 2nd, 2011. 



Like our new forms? I am so happy, since now my life is that much easier for our giveaways. Find out how to do yours from this post… which I found via Bloggiesta!

We use to determine our winners. If you have a question or a concern (a typo or bad link or a problem with this form) please email me via my profile – Shellie.

Thanks for entering and good luck! 

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