Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blue Print Cleanse for the New Year

I've decided to do my first cleanse in the hope that this will get me on the right track for 2012.

I'd reviewed a book about the entrepreneurs that created Blue Print Cleanse and have heard glowing reviews about their product/the feeling of accomplishment after the cleanse, I've decided to go with their beginner cleanse.  It's pretty pricey at $65/day especially since they recommend doing a 3-day cleanse to get the full experience.

New Yorkers can order with free delivery and you can qualify for a buddy discount if you have a group of 3 (10%) living at the same address or a corporate discount for a group of 8 (15% discount) or if you decide to do it at work, you can negotiate for larger discounts.  Or if you're a bride-to-be, they have a special package and discount for you.

I thought about sending an email to our condo listserve to see if anyone else wants to do this, but it struck me as too much information.  Perhaps if I decide to do this another time.  So, I've opted to pick up my juices at Union Market in Park Slope.  You can now purchase individual bottles in NY (Whole Foods, several yoga & gyms, specialty grocery stores), Boston (Exhale Boston & Exhale Battery Wharf), Connecticut (Bikram Yoga Norwalk & Elements Yoga in Darien), California, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey,  Texas, Florida, and Indiana.   Check this list for the exact locations.  I did a quick price check (because that's how I am) and Whole Foods and Union Market sell the juices at these prices: green/red/gold - $9.99; cashew milk $11.99; and spicy lemonade $6.99.

R might do this cleanse with me - although he's signed up for a race tonight (midnight).  I'll keep you posted.

Has anyone else tried these cleanses?  What did you think?  Any advice?

Happy New Year, everyone!! Hoping that we all have a healthy and prosperous year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Warror Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
ISBN-10: 0786839171 0 Paperback
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; First Edition edition (February 27, 2007), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley.

The blurb:
Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity.  Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-school students.  Then one day Jack skips his medicine.  Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before.  And it feels great—until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself:  He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us.  At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game—a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death.  The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre magical heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind—he’s one of the last of the warriors—at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

The only problem with The Warrior Heir was that it ended too soon.  As I put it down,  I just had to read the next two books in the series.  Am so thankful for my kindle and that it takes less than a minute to order and download the next book.

What is it about The Warrior Heir that I found so engrossing?  Cinda Williams Chima's world building, the complexity of her characters, the unusual and difficult predicaments that she throws them in, and the way that these heroes maintain their sense of honor and integrity despite life threatening odds and the strangest situations.

The Warrior Heir gives you a hero whose world has fallen apart in front of him.  He fights back his own way as he tries to make sense of these changes.  (SPOILER ALERT!) As he struggles, learns, and invariably succeeds, he becomes someone to care about, cheer for and a character that we want to read about.

About the Author (courtesy of her website):
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima grew up with talking animals and kick-butt Barbies. She began writing poetry and stories in third grade, and novels in junior high school. Her Heir Chronicles young adult contemporary fantasy series includes The Warrior Heir (2006), The Wizard Heir (2007), and The Dragon Heir (2008), all from Hyperion, with two more books forthcoming.   Chima’s best-selling YA high fantasy Seven Realms series launched with The Demon King (2009), followed by The Exiled Queen (September, 2010) and The Gray Wolf Throne (August, 2011.) The Crimson Crown is scheduled for fall, 2012.

Chima’s books have received starred reviews in Kirkus and VOYA, among others. They have been named Booksense and Indie Next picks, an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, to the Kirkus Best YA list, and the VOYA Editors’ Choice, Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and Perfect Tens lists. Her books also appear on numerous state awards lists. Both series are New York Times bestsellers.
Chima was a recipient of the 2008 Lit Award for Fiction from the Cleveland Lit and was named a Cleveland Magazine Interesting Person 2009. She lives in Ohio with her family, and is always working on her next novel.  Read more about Cinda Williams Chima, her novels, her writing and advice to writers on her website at

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

 I haven't been writing as much lately with the holidays and increasing personal and professional obligations.  I have been reading just as much though.  As I catch up on my reviews, I'm happy to spread the word about The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen.

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

In the fictional village near London called Bedsley Priors, young Lilly is struggling to keep her family and their business together.  Her mother disappeared without a word, her disabled brother needs looking after, and helping out at her father's apothecary shop.  Lilly's spare time is usually spent with her neighbor Mary and looking out for the ship that her mother may have sailed on.

Lilly isn't  sad or helpless - she's gifted with an amazing memory and an even temperament.  A quick learner, hard worker and a generous heart all make her a lovable character. 

When her mother's relatives reach out to her family and offer to sponsor a London season and a chance to travel, Lilly must decide whether to go into the world or to stay at Bedsley Priors and help her father and brother through some tough times.

In London, Lilly blossoms.  When Lilly receives an offer from one a wealthy suitor, we wonder whether she will she take this chance to a whole new life.  When her father falls ill, Lilly returns home for a short visit and finds the apothecary in shambles.  As Lilly tries to help revive the apothecary business, she reconnects with old friends and finds that her father's old apprentice has grown up. 

Julie Klassen's The Apothecary's Daughter is such a wonderful read - lovable characters,  unexpected twists, and the charming town of Bedsley Priors.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you're sure to love The Apothecary's Daughter.

ISBN-10: 0764204807 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (January 1, 2009), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by NetGalley and the publisher.

About the Author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She is a fiction editor and novelist. Her book, The Silent Governess, won a 2010 Christy Award and was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit for more information.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

The blurb:
Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can't say no when someone asks for help--even when she knows better.  When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet.  Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

Is the boy a victim of child trafficking?  Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him?  When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy's are in jeoopardy, too.  In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

While Scandinavian mysteries have been popular for some time now,  The Boy in the Suitcase stands out because of the female lead, Nina Borg.  A "do-gooder" who can't say no even when she knows better captures her exactly.  She's cares quickly and a little too much but fortunately she also has investigative skills to support her good Samaritan actions.

The other characters fall closer to the type.  Kaaerbol and Friis deliver clear, crisp language and a well crafted story.  Through descriptions and actions we understand the emotions, activity, and danger that seems to chase after several seemingly unrelated characters.

The boy's mother realizes his disappearance but is baffled by the absence of any kidnapper's note. As she tries to figure out who might have taken her son,  we read about how Nina's errand turns into a nightmare of sorts.  Nina agrees to pick up a suitcase for an acquaintance and is horrified to find a naked and live three-year-old. 

Nina must juggle her professional and familial obligations while trying to help this young boy.  The boy doesn't communicate and doesn't seem to understand Danish.  Instead of bringing the child to the police, she finds herself feeding him, clothing him, bathing him and trying to track down who may have left the boy inside a suitcase.   She finds an unlikely ally and determines that the boy's family might still be alive.  As Nina tries to learn more about the boy and to keep him safe, a ruthless mercenary is angry and is on the hunt for the boy and his ransom. 

Carefully crafted, suspenseful, and with all sorts of unexpected twists, The Boy in the Suitcase is a gripping and memorable read.   If you enjoy detective novels with complex characters set in unusual locations, you'll enjoy The Boy in the Suitcase.  It has the unusual advantage of advocating for the rights of women and children - without ever seeming heavyhanded or at all preachy.  Just through  the subtle selection of the crimes in the novel, Kaaberbol and Friis make us more aware of the particular vulnerabilities of poor children and women.

ISBN-10: 156947981X  Hardcover $24
Publisher: Soho Crime (November 8, 2011), 313 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Authors:
Lene Kaaberbol has sold more than 2 million books worldwide as a fantasy writer.  Her collaborator, Agnete Friis, is a children's writer.  Their bestselling Nina Borg series has been translated into nine languages.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Year Everything Changed by Georgia Bockoven

The Year Everything Changed by Georgia Bockoven 
The blurb:
As Jessie Patrick Reed's attorney, I'm writing to you on behalf of your father, Jessie Patrick Reed.  I regret to inform you that Mr. Reed is dying.  He has expressed a desire to see you. . . .
Elizabeth, even though sustained by a loving family, has suffered the most from her father's seeming abandonment and for years has protected herself with a deep-seated anger that she hides from everyone.

Ginger, in love with a married man, will be forced to reevaluate every relationship she's ever had and will reach stunning conclusions that will change her life forever.

Rachel learns of her father's existence the same day she finds out that her husband of ten years has had an affair.  She will receive the understanding and support she needs to survive from an unlikely and surprising source.

Christine is a young filmmaker, barely out of college, who now must decide if her few precious memories of a man she believed to be long dead are enough to give him a second chance.
Four sisters who never knew the others existed will find strength, love, and answers in the most unexpected places in. . . The Year Everything Changed.

I very much enjoyed The Year Everything Changed. It's a story about sisters who didn't know their father or that they even had sisters.  The four sisters have very little in common.  Their mothers, upbringing, and opportunities were vastly different.  Each is sympathetic in their own way. Although I was particularly fond of Ginger - the beautiful girl who didn't know that she'd been adopted.  The anger, resentment, hopefulness and friendship that develops among the sisters makes the story an absorbing and heartwarming read.

It would have been easy to make the story predictable or overly sweet but Georgia Bockoven bypasses all of these pitfalls and delivers a book to savor and to share.

ISBN-10: 0062069322 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (August 23, 2011), 432 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

About the Author:
Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author whose books have sold more than three million copies worldwide.  She resides in Northern California with her husband, John.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giveaway winners!



Please send me your mailing addresses by Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011.  I'll forward your details to the publisher directly.



Please send me your mailing addresses by Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011.  I'll forward your details to the publisher directly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson

All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson

ISBN-10: 0062081608 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (December 27, 2011), 320 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.

The blurb:
In 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires for every young Chinese woman.  For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents.  In the enclosed world of the Sang household - a place of public ceremony and private cruelty - she learns that fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir.

Ruthless and embittered by a life that has been forced on her, Feng plots a terrible revenge.  But as the years pass, she must come to a reckoning with the sacrifices and the terrible choices she has made to assure her place in family and society, before the entire country is engulfed in the fast-flowing tide of revolution.

I've long been interested in 1930s China so I thought that I'd enjoy All the Flowers in Shanghai The story focuses on Xiao Feng, a beautiful young girl born into a middle class family with a socially ambitious older sister and mother.  Xiao Feng grows up with little interest in wealth, power, or status while her older sister is groomed for a glamorous life and an advantageous marriage.  But when the older sister is unable to fulfill the marriage contract that would tie their family to the wealthy and respected Sang family, Xiao Feng is maneuvered into taking her sister's place.

Xiao Feng is intimidated by her husband's family and is unprepared for the role of First Wife to the First Son.  As the more powerful members of the Sang family humiliate and bully, Xiao Feng loses the naivete and innocence.  Xiao Feng sees that her power lies in the sons heirs that she might bring to the Sang clan.  Xiao Feng starts assert herself. Unfortunately, while the younger Xiao Feng was sweet and likable, the new Xiao Feng takes on the same cruelty and spitefulness of her tormentors.  Xiao Feng undertakes an act of revenge so cruel that it's hard to comprehend and it destroys much of the sympathy that I had for her.

As the book goes on, we learn more about Xiao Feng's life as a wealthy society matron, the friends that she makes, and the life that she carves out.  The first half of the book was reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha but instead of developing as a character, Xiao Feng becomes less interesting and less sympathetic as the story develops.  I found that I wasn't invested in Xiao Feng - even Duncan Jepson's skilled writing couldn't get me to care about Xiao Feng.  Also, I would have enjoyed the story more if Duncan Jepson devoted more attention to the what was going on in Shanghai during Japanese occupation and the Cultural Revolution. We know that the Sang family suffered, but this is told in passing and doesn't move things forward much.

Overall,  All the Flowers in Shanghai is very well written but the second part of the story doesn't meet the promise of the book's beginning.  Towards the middle of the book, I stopped caring about the main character and began to sympathize with her husband.  While I was disappointed in the latter portions of All the Flowers in Shanghai, Duncan Jepson is a talented writer and I plan to read his next novel.

About the Author:
Duncan Jepson is the award-winning director and producer of five feature films and documentaries that have been shown on the Discovery Channel Asia and National Geographic Channel.  He has also edited two Asia-based magazines, the acclaimed West East Magazine and the Asia Literary Review.  A lawyer, he lives in Hong Kong.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

David Baldacci's Zero Day

Zero Day by David Baldacci

The blurb:
John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Division.  His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison.  Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.

Now Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia and country from any military outpost.  Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered.  The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation.  As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he's seen in this small town, and no one in it, is what it seems.  Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.

Zero Day is the first in David Baldacci's newest series with introducing John Puller, an Army investigator with larger than life strength and skills.   John Puller, reminds me a bit of one of my favorite detective heroes,  Lee Child's Jack Reacher.  There are obvious similarities between the two. Both are large, exceptionally strong and powerful men -- likely in the top 1 percentile in physical strength.  Both are well trained investigators with a strong sense of justice. They have faith in their country even as the people and institutions that they trust and rely on let them down.  They are both highly decorated soldiers -- just the type that the Army needs and wants to promote.

Neither John Puller nor Jack Reacher are interested in becoming generals or career officers.  They are disillusioned by the Army and they respond in different ways.   While Reacher leaves the U.S. Army to travel the world without a suitcase, John Puller has strong ties.  Remember that Reacher refuses to be tied down by a home, family, mortgage or even a suitcase and a change of clothes.    Instead he buys something new and disposable each time.  In contrast, John Puller  -- he has been shaped by his father and his brother.  The two most important men in his life were highly respected and decorated Army men.  And while Puller's brother is now in prison for treason and his father the two star general is suffering from dementia, Puller spends time with both of them every week.

Puller conducts both the investigative work and the CSI work when he handles an Army investigation.  As Puller performs these investigations for the Army, he works within the system and is deeply sensitive to its hierarchy and bureaucracy.   Puller faces greater restraints than Reacher  as he follows the government's strict rules, but Puller respects these constraints and shows his ability to read a situation and the people around him. Puller has a strong moral center - and it comes out in the best possible way.  Puller is the sort of detective hero that you can't help but root for. 

In Zero Day, David Baldacci introduces a new hero and an investigator that will surely capture the hearts of readers everywhere.  John Puller is on my top ten list of investigators - can't wait until the next Jack Puller adventure.

ISBN-10: 0446573019 Hardcover $27.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 31, 2011), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
David Baldacci
is one of the world's favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print.  David Baldacci is also the cofounder along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America.  Still a resident of his native Virginia, he can be found at and his foundation at  and to look into its program to spread books across America at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great Scots and HIghland Heat Blog Tour

Welcome to the Great Scots & Highland Heat Blog Tour! If you enjoy love stories of feisty independent maidens and powerful Scottish warriors, read on.  Forever Romance is sponsoring a giveaway of these two romances.

Highland Hero by Amanda Scott
The blurb:
Lady Marsi Cargill refueses to marry a man who wants her land rather than her love.  To escaper her lineage and accompanies her young cousin -- the future King of Scots - on a secret journey across the Highlands.  Their guide is a mysterious knight known only as Hawk.  Heat flares between the beautiful maid and the brooding warrior, but when Marsi's true identity is revealed, Hawk's desire gives way to fury.

Summoned by the King to guard his son, Sir Ivor "Hawk" Mackintosh now has two royals to protect.  This daring, willful woman has invaded Hawk's every thought, and laid siege to his heart.  Soon the solitary soldier is yearning for a life with Marsi at his side and in his bed. But as their passion grows, so too does the danger surrounding them.  Powerful enemies watch their every move, and to survive, Hawk and Marsi must fight for Scotland's future - as well as their own new-found love.

Highland Hero gives us a likable hero in Hawk.  One of the bravest and most skilled warriors of his generation.  Hawk is deeply loyal to his King and agrees to hide the young prince to protect him from the the King's younger brother, the Duke of Albany.   As Hawk risks everything to protect the young prince, his attraction to the mysterious Marsi adds just enough humor to the story.

Highland Hero delivers politics, intrigue, and romance.  With Hawk and his circle of Scottish warriors Amanda Scott begins a new series of exciting romance.

ISBN-10: 0446574309 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (October 1, 2011), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

The Sinner by Margaret Mallory
The blurb:
Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies.  But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenges yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

Alex MacDonald is knownn for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife.  But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice:  wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty -- and defiant ways.

Familiar with heartbreak and betrayal, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex's past sins force their unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife.  Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives?

While Highland Hero  mixes high politics and the struggle for the Scottish crown, The Sinner focuses on the two romantic leads.

Alex is forced to ally himself with a powerful family to protect his clan.  Glynis's family is pressuring her to do the same.  But Glynis is young and high spirited and determined to marry for love.  So, she plays tricks to discourage her suitors, tries her best to avoid Alex.

Alex is attracted to Glynis's spirit, humor and beauty. It is clear from the start that Alex and Glynis are destined for each other. The obstacles, uncertainty and misunderstandings only add to the fun of their love story.  Margaret Mallory gives us another fun escape in The Sinner.

ISBN-10: 0446583103 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (November 1, 2011), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Forever Romance and the Hatchette Book Group is generously sponsoring a giveaway of both books.  To enter the giveaway, just share why you'd like to win these books.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.
3.  One winner per household.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on Dec. 15, 2011. 

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish (Windham Sisters, #1)
Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes

The blurb:
All she wants is peace and anonymity. . . Lady Sophie Windham has maneuvered a few days to herself at the ducal mansion in London before she must join her family for Christmas in Kent.  Suddenly trapped by a London snowstorm, she finds herself with an abandoned baby and only the assistance of a kind, handsome, stranger standing between her and complete disaster.

But Sophie's holiday is about to heat up. With his estate in ruins, Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive bout this Christmas. His growing attraction for Sophie Wiindham is the only thing that warms his spirits.  But when Sophie's brothers whisk her away, Vim's most painful holiday memories are reawakened.

It seems Sophie's been keeping secrets, and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make her deepest wishes come true. . . .

A duke's daughter with a heart of gold, Sophie's grown up protected by privilege, wealth and her loving family.  She's also a bit of soft touch. When their maid runs off leaving her baby with Lady Sophie at a stagecoach station, Sophie is at a loss.  It's fortunate for her that the young Vim Charpentier knows quite a lot about babies and helps her.  Sophie somehow invites him to her family London home and as he helps with the baby Kit, Sophie offers him shelter from the storm.  Without having made arrangements for a place to stay in London, Vim agrees against his better judgment. He finds himself drawn to the mysterious Sophie who appears to be a trusted servant, possibly a housekeeper.  As he teachers her how to care for the baby,  they fall in love.

Add to the mix a mutual desire for anonymity,  a case of mistaken identities, lack of caution and judgment.  Things take a turn when Sophie's three brothers appear and Vim learns her true identity.  Though Vim has a title of his own, he never expected to woo a duke's daughter.

Full of missed chances and misunderstandings, these star-crossed lovers make for a fun read.

ISBN-10: 1402261543 - $7.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (October 1, 2011), 416 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes's debut novel, The Heir, was named one of Publishers Weekly's Top Five Romances for 2010, and the sequel, The Soldier, was named one of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Romances for Spring 2011.  Both are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.  As the final book in The Duke's Obsession trilogy, The Virtuoso, hits the shelves, Grace will be hard at work in the remaining stories of the 5 Windham sisters, of which Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish is the first.

Grace is a practicing attorney specializing in child welfare law.  She lives and works in rural Maryland.  She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached through her website at or through email at graceburroughs at or her fan page on Facebook.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

John Flanagan's The Outcasts (Book 1 of the Brotherband Chronicles)

The Outcasts: Book 1 of the Brotherhood Chronicles by John Flanagan
Ages 10 and up.
ISBN-10: 0399256199  Hardcover $18.99
Publisher: Philomel (November 1, 2011), 432 pages.

The blurb:
Hal never knew his father.  A Skandian warrior, he died in battle when Hal was a young boy, but his reputation lives on long after death.

Hal, unlike his esteemed father, is an outcast.  In a country that values physical strength over intellect, Hal's ingenuity, and the fact that his mother was an Araluen slave, only serves to set him apart from boys his own age.

The one thing he has in common with his peers? Brotherband training.  Forced to compete in tests of endurance and strength and to learn the skills he needs to become a Skandian warrior, Hal discovers that he's not the only outcast in this land of seafaring marauders.  And that his battle for acceptance has just begun.

I'd loved John Flanagan's Ranger Apprentice series and had high hopes for the first book in his new series, The Outcasts.  This time, Flanagan tells the story of Skanians, a race and culture similar to the Vikings, through the point of view of Hal. Hal's father, Mikkel, was a renowned warrior who had traveled with Erak and was killed in battle while Hal was a very young child.  Mikkel's best friend Thorn promises to look after Mikkel's son and wife.  Hal grew up with his Araluen mother, always a bit of a stranger in his home.  Until he somehow saves the life of Stig, another outsider of sorts.

Stig and Hal become fast friends.  Stig is hotheaded, loyal, and  natural athlete.  Hal is innovative, meticulous, and a careful planner. Together, they make a strong team.  They make friends with other boys. By the time that the boys are of age for the Brotherband training, they're excited and eager to prove themselves.

For Skanians, Brotherband training is a rite of passage and a chance to make a name for themselves.  The year that Hal and Stig participate, there is an unusual number of boys.  Instead of two teams, Erak agrees to create three teams.  The last team is made up of the boys that we're selected by the other leaders - much like those last chosen during gym class but with much higher stakes.  Stig is Hal's loyal lieutenant and Hal agrees to lead the group.  It becomes clear through his carefully thought out decisions that Hal has both the mind and personality to lead by example.  Though their group, the Herons, face groups with greater strength and skill, the competition teaches the boys the power of teamwork and loyalty.

In The Outcasts, John Flanagan gives us another set of heroes to root for and adventures to enjoy.  I loved The Outcasts and am looking forward to the next in the series.  It's a book I'd recommend for young readers and something I think even reluctant reader of a nephew would enjoy.

Ages 10 and up.
ISBN-10: 0399256199  Hardcover $18.99
Publisher: Philomel (November 1, 2011), 432 pages.
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library.

About the Author:
John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer, and after a successful career in advertising and television, he began writing a series of short stories for his son, Michael, to encourage him to read.  These stories would eventually become The Ruins of Gorlan, Book 1 of the Ranger's Apprentice, the international phenomenon that has sold millions of copies and mad readers of kids the world over.
Mr Flanagan lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife.  In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.  You can visit John Flanagan at and at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turning up the Heat Blog Tour: Cara Elliott's Too Wicked to Wed & Lilli Feisty's Deliciously Sinful

I use all sorts of excuses to stay in to read.  When it's scorching hot or freezing cold, I like to curl up with a book.   Forever Romance's Turning Up the Heat Blog Tour comes just as we're heading towards the holidays and cold weather. 

Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliot
ISBN-10: 0446584576 - Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (November 1, 2011), 384 pages.

The blub:
Outspoken and independent, Lady Alexa Henric is happiest in the quiet of the country, where she is free to run her family's estate as she chooses.  But shen her brother's recklessness forces her to London, a chance encounter with the ton's most wicked rake -- and his searing kiss - awaken a longing for adventure.

A man of many secrets, Connor Linsley, the Earl of Killingsworth uses his rakehall reputation to avoid innocent young ladies and their marriage minded mothers. Yet even his most shocking behavior can't dissuade Lady Alexa.  From the moment her lips press against  his, their fates are irrevocably sealed.  Together they enter a shadowy world of intrigue, deception, and desire. Consumed by passion beyodn their wildest imaginings, Connor and Alexa must risk all they hold dear for a chance at love.

Too Wicked to Wed (Lords of Midnight) introduces us Alexa Hendrics, a smart, business savvy heiress.  Alexa isn't looking for a husband, but she's drawn to the incorrigible Connor Lindsley (a.k.a. the Irish Wolfhound).  It's clear to everyone around them that this can only bring heartbreak and scandal.  Certainly, no one expects Lindsley to fall in love with the beautiful, naive heiress.

Alexa's  in love with dangerous rake.  But she doesn't resort to the usual feminine wiles.  Instead, she approaches him and his problems with a straightforward, carefully thought out approach.  And wins Connor's respect and love.  The couple faces problems both large and small.  Light, fun, and a romantic escape, Cara Elliott delivers once again!

Deliciously Sinful by Lilli Feisty
ISBN-10: 0446571555 - Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever; Original edition (November 22, 2011), 352 pages.

The blurb:
Restaurant owner Phoebe Mayle thought she had it all under control.  Sure, her new chef has a bad-boy reputation -- and a chiseled body to match -- but she's positive she can whip him into shape.

But from the moment Nick Avalon roars into town in his Hummer, he makes her whole world sizzle.  Not only has Nick taken over her kitchen, he's taken over her mind and her body.  His insatiable appetite for pleasure leaves her breathless with carnal cravings only he can satisfy.  Can their hunger for each other be a recipe for a love that lasts?

Deliciously Sinful is a fun contemporary romance.  We have Phoebe Mayle, a high strung entrepreneur who is trying to manage her family business.  She is surprised by how much her new chef rubs her the wrong way..  It turns out underneath all the antagonism is a deep attraction between the two. The uncertainty, the arguing, their slow capitulation makes for fun reading.  If you're looking for a light, fun, and hot romance, I recommend Deliciously Sinful.

Forever Romance and the Hatchette Book Group is generously sponsoring a giveaway of both books to 3 lucky winners.  To enter the giveaway, please share your favorite romantic couple in fiction and tell us why you like them so much.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.
3.  One winner per household.

The contest is limited to US and Canada only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on Dec. 15, 2011.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman (NOLO)

The Copyright Handbook by Stephen Fishman, JD

The blurb:
What copyright law protects. . . . and doesn't.  No writers like to see their hard work or creativity copied by others -- or to be accused of copying. Fortunately, The Copyright Handbook provides everything you need to protect yourself!  Find information and forms to help you:
  • register your work
  • maximize copyright protection
  • transfer ownership of copyright
  • avoid infringement
  • deal with infringers
  • understand the "fair use" rule
  • get permission to use copyrighted work
  • profit from your copyright
The 11th edition is updated to provide the latest copyright regulations and rules for filing a copyright online.  There are over 30 easy-to-use legal forms on CD-ROM.

The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know by Stephen Fishman (11th Ed.) published by NOLO is particularly geared towards writers, as the title suggests. I found the book helpful both as an attorney who does not have much experience in the area of intellectual property law and as a writer who wants to know how to best protect ownership of the works that I create.

I have over half a dozen NOLO books and have found them to be reliable, informative and practical. I'd consider them my go-to books when I want to understand a specific area of law. The explanations are clear and geared towards the layman but without being simplistic. The NOLO guides serve as a way to prep before going to a professional. This Copyright Handbook gives you an overview and practical advice in a clear and comprehensive way.

Among the topics that the Copyright Handbook addresses are:
  • what intellectual property is subject to copyright protection, what different rights exist (reproduction right, distribution right, right to create adaptations, and performance and display rights), and who holds the specific rights
  • where to place the copyright notice and what text to use
  • how to register published books, magazine articles, newspapers, online media and unpublished material
  • how to treat works that are created in the course of employment (works made for hire), by people working together (jointly authored works), derivative works, collective works, and works created by one person
  • what works would be regarded as part of public domain, what cannot be subject to copyright protection, etc.
  • the ways to register, the advantages of preregistration of unpublished works, and the forms for registration at the Copyright Office
  • how to correct errors or change copyright notice and/or registration
  • how to transfer ownership of copyright
  • how to protect your rights against infringement, how to prevent a charge of infringement and the effect of a charge of infringement
  • an overview of federal income tax for self-employed writers but this chapter is not sufficient to prepare taxes yourself
  • when you need to obtain copyright permission and how best to approach a publisher
Among the forms included in the CD and the book are standard form of: (1) Work-Made-for-Hire Agreement, (2) Collaboration Agreement, (3) Copyright Assignment, (4) Notice of Claimed Infringement, (5) Counter-Notification, and (6) Text Permission Letter Agreement.

If you are a writer by profession or as a hobby, or if you work in publishing or want to learn more about publishing, I highly recommend The Copyright Handbook.

ISBN-10: 1413316174 - Paperback $49.99
Publisher: NOLO; 11 edition (September 7, 2011), 440 pages.
Review copy provided through the Amazon Vine Program and by the publisher.

About the Author:
Stephen Fishman is a San Fransisco-based attorney who has been writing about the law for over 25 years, with many popular titles including The Public Domain (Nolo).

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
ISBN-10: 0345521080  - Hardcover $26.00
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 23, 2011), 352 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

In The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman the Horse That Inspired a Nation, Letts give us the well researched and moving story of Harry De Leyer and Snowman, the horse that he saved, and a glimpse into US history during the 40s and 50s.

If World War II hadn't happened, Harry De Leyer certainly would have had an easier life.  He had come from a wealthy brewing family but with Nazi occupation, Harry's father joined the local Resistance. As a young boy, Harry drove a wagon bringing contraband to other families past German soldiers.  The end of World War II left the De Leyer family with much of their wealth destroyed with the buildings burned down and much of their assets confiscated. After the War, Harry and his wife came to America hoping to build a new life with only $160.  It was through acts of kindness that Harry connected with an American family and found his first job on a tobacco farm in North Carolina.

Letts meticulously covered what it was like for the De Leyers.  Even as a tobacco farmer at a time of mechanization when horses were less available and less used, Harry still found a way to connect to a horse.  As Harry gradually made it to the Knox School, we see how Harry took risks and made his own luck.  Lett also shows how Harry was the sort of teacher that we all remember - he always saw the best in the girls.  He encouraged courage and success, lead by example and kindness.

The story of Harry and Snowman is a real life Black Beauty sort of story. It's the sort of story that leaves an animal lover like me in tears.  Harry is late to the local horse auction and the only horses left are those allocated to the slaughterhouse.  The butcher's rep is willing to show Harry the horses.  Snowman looks like a very thin plow horse with scars but with a good temperament.  Somehow, Snowman and Harry connect.  Harry is low on funds and is only able to offer a $20 profit to the butcher's rep.

The De Leyers open their hearts to Snowman and his gentle temperament was perfect as a teaching horse.  The story moves along well as we learn about the Knox School, Harry De Leyer and his unlikely champion.   Harry discovers Snowman's jumping talent when the horse keeps coming back home.  Each story about Snowman makes clear that this horse has uncommon "bottom" -- the heart to succeed.  At a time when the workingclass American has little to look forward to, Snowman and Harry De Leyer win the country's imagination.  The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation is an engrossing and moving read.  It's a wonderful story and I'm so glad that Elizabeth Letts shared Harry and Snowman's story.  We can do with stories and heroes with bottom.

About the Author:
Elizabeth Letts is the award-winning author of two novels, Quality of Care, and Family Planning, and one children's book, The Butter Man.  Quality of Care was a Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Books-A-Million Book Club selection.  An equestrian from childhood, Letts represented California as a junior equestrian, and was runner-up in the California Horse and Rider of the Year competition.  She currently lives with her husband and four children in Baltimore, Maryland.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blog Tour & Giveaway of Always a Temptress by Eileen Dreyer

Welcome to the blog tour of Eileen Dreyer's Always a Temptress. It's the third novel in the series with Drake's Rakes, courageous soldiers and women that fought off Napoleon and French spies to keep England safe.

The blurb:
Sir Harry Lidge has done his duty.  After losing too many good men in battle he's ready to live a life free of care.  But first he has one last mission: kidnap the most outrageous woman in London--the same woman who betrayed him nearly a decade earlier--and find out what she's concealing before her secrets take down the crown.

Surrounded by ardent admirers and a few loyal friends, Lady Kate Seaton glides through the ton armed with nothing but couture gowns and bon mots.  No one suspects that beneath her lighthearted facade lies a sorrow so scandalous she'll do anything to keep it hidden.  But only when she trusts Harry with the truth can she begin to heal.  And only when Harry trusts her with his heart can he protect both his country and the woman he loves.

I've thoroughly enjoyed Eileen Dreyer's earlier novels with the Drake's Rakes (Barely a Lady and Never a Gentleman).   In Always a Temptress, Dreyer tells us the story behind the beautiful, double Duchess Kate Seaton.  Kate's the daughter of a duke and the widow of a duke. She's beautiful, high spirited, independent, outspoken, always on the edge of danger.

Harry'd met her when she was fifteen.  She'd been his closest friend and he'd fallen for her deeply. His life had been turned upside down when he learned of her betrayal -- he escaped to the army and the ten years of fighting had taught him a great deal, made him careful.  Seeing Kate now she stood out "her attire was just shy of being too bright, too bold, too revealing"  and it was generally agreed that her behavior bordered on scandalous.  More lovers than anyone could count and a painting of her naked body hung in one of London's private clubs.  A woman who thinks only of herself and while Harry hadn't expected her to betray her country, he can believe it of her.

Harry's assigned the distasteful task of kidnapping and interrogating Kate and in the process discovers that she's not as tough as she seemed. He uncovers proof in Kate's favor and before he begins to wonder how much of what he's believed about her is true, he finds himself rescuing her.  The rescue binds Kate and Harry together.  Although much has happened in their ten years apart, they both discover the person that they'd left behind.

Always a Temptress is a fun escape. Double duchess Kate is a standout character -- brilliant, beautiful and brave.  Sir Harry Lidge is admirable, loyal and tenacious.  Dreyer gives us two likable characters who deserve to be together and enough of the intrigues, plot twists and bad luck that we savor the ups and downs of their romance.  If you enjoy historical romance, I highly recommend Always a Temptress.

ISBN-10: 0446542059 - Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Forever (October 1, 2011), 432 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Eileen Dreyer lives in her native St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Rick and their two children. Eileen's historical romance Barely a Lady was listed as a Best Book of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and a Best Romance of the Year by Library Journal and Booklist, which called Dreyer "a rising new historical star." Her contemporary romances published under the name of Kathleen Korbel, have earned her six Romantic Times writing awards and five RITA Awards, which secured her a Pioneer Award from the RT Booklover's Club and a place in the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Hall of Fame.

Forever Romance and the Hatchette Book Group is generously sponsoring a giveaway of 3 copies of Always a Temptress.  To enter the giveaway, please share your favorite romantic couple in fiction and tell us why you like them so much.

1. Please include your email address, so that I can contact you if you win. No email address, no entry.
2. You must be a follower to join the contest.
3.  One winner per household.

The contest is limited to US only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on Nov. 1, 2011.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Burial at Sea (a Charles Lenox Mystery) by Charles Finch

 A Burial at Sea by Charles FinchA Burial at Sea

The blurb:
Charles Lenox, Member of Parliament, sets sail on a clandestine mission for the government.  When an officer is savagely murdered, however, Lenox is drawn toward his old profession, determined to capture another killer.
1873 is a perilous time in the relationship between France and England.  When a string of English spies is found dead on French soil, the threat of all-out war prompts government officials to ask Charles Lenox to visit the newly-dug Suez Canal on a secret mission.

Once he is on board the Lucy, however, Lenox finds himself using not his new skills of diplomacy but his old ones: the ship’s second lieutenant is found dead on the voyage’s first night, his body cruelly abused. The ship’s captain begs the temporarily retired detective to join in the hunt for a criminal.  Lenox finds the trail, but in the claustrophobic atmosphere on board, where nobody can come or go and everyone is a suspect, he has to race against the next crime—and also hope he won’t be the victim.
At once a compulsive murder mystery, a spy story, and an intimate and joyful journey with the Victorian navy, this book shows that no matter how far Lenox strays from his old life, it will always come back to find him.

I am new to the Charles Lenox mysteries and very much enjoyed A Burial at Sea.  Other reviewers recommend reading the books in order, but I found it easy to like and follow the story of Charles Lenox, the forty-two year old former investigator now member of the House of Commons.  Lenox is three years into his political career and misses his old vocation.  But he's married to his childhood friend and a soon-to-be-father and a rising star in Parliment.

It is 1873 and British-French relations are at a delicate point again.  Lenox is asked to sail to Egypt  to undertake a secret diplomatic mission on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. His cover story is that he has been tasked to enter into a relationship with the Egyptian government that will allow the English access to the Suez Canal and to facilitate trade in between Europe and Asia.

This is Lenox's first sea voyage and he's on Lucy, one of the best regarded ships in Her Majesty's Navy.  Early into the voyage, an officer is found murdered.  There are few clues and the Captain calls on Lenox's aid to find the killer and to restore peace on the ship.  Lenox's investigative skills are a little rusty, but he soon picks up his old habits.  In a ship of over two hundred strangers, in an environment and culture new to him, Lenox must find the killer before he strikes again, before unrest leads to a mutiny.

For those who enjoy historical detective novels, Charles Lenox and A Burial at Sea deliver a captivating mystery full of historical and nautical details, complicated relationships and unexpected twists.  A fun read!

ISBN-10: 0312625081 -Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011), 320 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.

About the Author:
Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including The Fleet Street Murders, The September Society and A Stranger in Mayfair. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. He lives in Oxford, England.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

The blurb:
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at fourteen and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.

Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into Empress of Russia by sheer determination. Possessing a brilliant mind and an insatiable curiosity as a young woman, she devoured the works of Enlightenment philosophers and, when she reached the throne, attempted to use their principles to guide her rule of the vast and backward Russian empire. She knew or corresponded with the preeminent historical figures of her time: Voltaire, Diderot, Frederick the Great, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette, and, surprisingly, the American naval hero, John Paul Jones.

Reaching the throne fired by Enlightenment philosophy and determined to become the embodiment of the “benevolent despot” idealized by Montesquieu, she found herself always contending with the deeply ingrained realities of Russian life, including serfdom. She persevered, and for thirty-four years the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution that swept across Europe. Her reputation depended entirely on the perspective of the speaker. She was praised by Voltaire as the equal of the greatest of classical philosophers; she was condemned by her enemies, mostly foreign, as “the Messalina of the north.”

Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly described. These included her ambitious, perpetually scheming mother; her weak, bullying husband, Peter (who left her lying untouched beside him for nine years after their marriage); her unhappy son and heir, Paul; her beloved grandchildren; and her “favorites”—the parade of young men from whom she sought companionship and the recapture of youth as well as sex. Here, too, is the giant figure of Gregory Potemkin, her most significant lover and possible husband, with whom she shared a passionate correspondence of love and separation, followed by seventeen years of unparalleled mutual achievement.

The story is superbly told. All the special qualities that Robert K. Massie brought to Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great are present here: historical accuracy, depth of understanding, felicity of style, mastery of detail, ability to shatter myth, and a rare genius for finding and expressing the human drama in extraordinary lives.

History offers few stories richer in drama than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, this eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.

Pulitzer Prize winning Robert Massie adds Catherine the Great to his earlier biographies of Russian leaders (Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and the Romanovs).  This meticulously researched narrative biography is tells us the story of Sophia Augusta Federicka, daughter of minor German nobility, her fortuitous marriage to the grandson of Peter the Great, and her climb to become Catherine II, Queen of the Russias.

Sophia's mother, Johanna, was from one of the great Ducal families in Germany, the Holstein-Gottorp family while her father was one tier below her socially, considerably older, and dull.  Johanna  was socially ambitious and bitterly disappointed in her marriage.  Johanna saw a son as the way to improve her social standing, she had little time or affection for her rather plain looking daughter.  Sophia learned to be self-sufficient and to "draw around herself a cloak of meekness, deference, and temporary submission" which served her well throughout her life.  Through luck and Johanna's family's connections to the Empress Elizabeth, Sophia was presented as a possible bride for the grandson of Peter the Great also named Peter.  Her prospective husband was the nephew of Empress Elizabeth and son of Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein.  Peter's mother died soon after he was born and he was largely raised by governesses and tutors.  He was seen as heir to his father's dukedom of Holstein and in line to the throne of Sweden. His claim to the Russian throne was less certain and he grew up with great respect for Prussia and its military.  It was unfortunate that he was raised to have little affinity for Russia, its religions or customs.  He was orphaned at the relatively young age of eleven, he was left under the care of a controlling and abusive tutor.  Peter's childhood left him "fearful, deceitful, antagonistic, boastful, cowardly, duplicitous and cruel" - traits that would taint his adult relationships, his reign, and his marriage to young Sophia (Catherine).

Politics and fate raise Peter's prospects from Duke of the small principality of Holstein to  the future Tsar of all the Russias as Empress Elizabeth's heir.   Empress Elizabeth invites Sophia and her mother to Russia to meet and marry her nephew and heir Peter.  Sophia is determined to succeed in this venture and she understands that she must adapt to her new land.  Sophia converts to the Orthodox religion, diligently learns the Russian language, customs and learns to love and appreciate her new home country.  Elizabeth gives her the new Russian name of Catherine. 

Marriage between Peter and Catherine would have been difficult because of their differences in intelligence, interests, lack of physical chemistry and their unequal status.  The intrigues of the Russian court,  Peter's cruelty towards Catherine, their differing allegiances meant that the marriages was painful for both parties. 

Massie shows us how Catherine won the respect of those who got to know her from Empress Elizabeth and Russian nobility to foreign diplomats and the Russian military.   Massie meticulously covers what she went through from her move to Russia at fourteen to the years under Empress Elizabeth to her husband's short reign and her successful coup to her long and fruitful reign as Catherine the Second, Empress of all the Russias.  From her diaries and correspondence, we get a sense of Catherine as a young woman, a lover, and as an enlightened monarch attempting to bring change and reform to the largest and wealthiest nation of her time.  

Catherine the Second forced Russians to evaluate the system of surfdom and attempted to reform the legal system. Catherine "brought European moral, political, and judicial philosophy, literature, art, architecture, sculpture, medicine and education to Russia.  She assembled the greatest art gallery in Europe, hospitals, schools and orphanages." She was one of the first to be inoculated for smallpox, and through encouraging her people to do so, prevented the spread of an epidemic. 
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman is a meticulously researched and fascinating account of one of the most important and influential women in history. 

ISBN-10: 0679456724 - Hardcover $35.00
Publisher: Random House (November 8, 2011), 656 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher.

About the Author:
Robert K. Massie was born in Lexington, Kentucky, studied American History at Yale University and European History at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes scholar.  He was president of the Authors Guild from 1987 to 1991.  His previous books include Nicholas and Alexandra, Peter the Great: His Life and World (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for biography), The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, and Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea.