Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from A Bookish Affair!

May your day be filled with family, friends, good food, and even better books!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Women in Bed: Nine Stories by Jessica Keener

Title: Women in Bed: Nine Stories
Author: Jessica Keener
Format: Paperback
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publish Date: October 1, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like short stories.
What's the Story?:

From "Jessica Keener returns with this collection of nine stories that thematically address variations of love, love of self, family, and sexual relationships from loneliness and isolation, desperation and rejection,  to need and passion, forgiveness and, finally, to love found.

"Secrets” follows a young woman that gets involved with a female friend who pushes her boundaries around sex, love, and intimacy.

In "Papier Mache,” a college student who loses brother to suicide is grieving and gets entangled with a professor who is a critic and over-intellectualizes everything. The student challenges the professor and vice versa in a strange power dance with emotional fallout.

"Boarders” tells the story of a young college student who drops out to be with her narcissistic lover. She lives in grim boarding house with desolate, lonely men until she realizes that she must flee to find something better, healthier, more nurturing and loving.

"Woman with Birds in her Chest” involves a woman who leaves her social worker job and realizes she has never truly nurtured herself. Her ensuing breakdown puts her loving marriage to the test.

"Recovery” tells of a young woman in a hospital room who witnesses death, escapes her own, and comes to terms with life’s uncertainties and the unexpected power of sibling love.

In "Shoreline,” a woman leaves her husband, goes to a cottage on the beach, and has a flirtation with a client. She soon discovers that she must end her marriage before she can move on to find a new love.

In "Bird of Grief,” a grad student recovering from a broken relationship projects her anger and grief onto a new man, eventually coming to terms with letting go.

"Forgiveness” is a spare, stark story of two sisters, family violence, and the quest for forgiveness.

In "Heart,” a woman meets her lover in a Paris hotel room and goes through a cycle of anxiety, worry, and the expectation that things will not work out, only to be surprised by the goodness that emerges.

My Two Cents:

"Women in Bed" is a new collection of short stories by Jessica Keener, author of "Night Swim." Short stories are not my usual fare and they are still fairly new territory to me but because I really enjoyed Keener's writing in "Night Swim," I thought that I would enjoy this book because of that and I was right!

Again, the star of this book is Keener's writing. She really had a tall order in creating really memorable characters in such a small amount of space. I love what she was able to do with some of the characters; some of them feel like people that you have known or could know in the future.

There were definitely some stories that I really liked more than some of the others. "Forgiveness," which a story about families and a sister relationship specifically. Keener wrote this story in a very stark manner and it is hard to describe but it almost made the story feel more powerful. I also really liked the story, "Boarders."

Most of these stories are not happy stories but they definitely make you think about some of the more difficult issues that we have to face or may have seen others have to face. Overall, this was a good collection of stories!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review and Author Interview: Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid by Jessica Alexander

Title: Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid
Author: Jessica Alexander
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publish Date: October 15, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading a Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You're a memoir fan.
  • You don't mind tough subjects.
  • You are an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From "Jessica Alexander arrived in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide as an idealist intern, excited to be a part of the international humanitarian aid community. But the world that she encountered in the field was dramatically different than anything she could have imagined. In this honest and irreverent memoir, she introduces readers to the reality of the life of an aid worker. We watch as she helps to resettle refugees in Rwanda, manages a 24,000-person camp in Darfur, and helps a former child soldier in Sierra Leone get rid of a tattoo that was carved into his skin by a rebel group. But we also see the alcoholic parties and fleeting romances, the burnouts and cyncism, the plans and priorities that constantly shift and change. Tracing her personal journey from idealistic and naïve newcomer to hardened cynic to hopeful but critical realist, Alexander transports readers to some of the most troubled locations and shows us not only the impossible challenges, but also the moments of hope and recovery."

My Two Cents:

"Chasing Chaos" is the memoir of Jessica Alexander, a woman who has traveled to some of the most difficult places on earth in order to try to make them better through humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid and international development are two things that I find absolutely fascinating. At one time in my life, I even thought I might want to go into international development as a career but life had different plans (that is a story for another day). I was really interested in reading something from the perspective of someone who had seen so much in that world. This book was absolutely engaging and fascinating.

I think a lot of times humanitarian aid can be glamorized a little bit. I fully believe that it is important to give to those who need it but it is not that simple when it comes to countries that really do not have the infrastructure to take in that aid. I appreciated that Ms. Alexander really showed both sides of the coin. You get to see the really good parts of being involved in the aid world (helping people) as well as the really bad and frustrating things (the fact that eventually you get burnt out even if you are doing something really good because of the conditions that you are trying to work in). This is a realistic portrait of what it means to be an aid worker in places like Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda among other places.

In a lot of ways, this book really opened my eyes quite a bit and perhaps by now, you all know how much I love learning something new and different from a book. Alexander does a really good job of engaging the reader and making her feel the things that she was feeling throughout the book.

I fully recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered about this world and what it's like to be on the front lines of an aid movement. This book may also appeal to some of my fellow armchair travelers. Alexander gives a really good picture of what all of the different places that she worked and it is truly fascinating.


Author Interview:

I am incredibly pleased to have Jessica Alexander here to A Bookish Affair today.

  1. How did you decide to get into humanitarian work? What do you think draws so many people to this line of work?
I’ve been told that I’m someone who doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet – so I guess you could say that I enjoy moving around and for that reason this career suited me well. I enjoy diversity and so while the perpetual jolts of this life oftentimes threw my personal life into chaos, and ultimately led me to reconsider the direction that my career was taking and the impact it was having on my relationships and stability, when I was younger, it was an ideal path.
2. What made you decide to write "Chasing Chaos?"
When I tell people about the book, sometimes they ask, “Aren’t you too young to write a memoir?” And it’s true—I’m not at the final stages of my career (or life for that matter!)—and so it may seem curious that I wrote this book now. But when I returned from field postings I found that my friends who were not in this field had some real misconceptions about the work that I did and the people who inhabited this life. I’d get questions ranging from “Does everyone you work with have dreadlocks?” to “How can you afford to volunteer all these years?” Their statements were even more surprising—things like “I’m surprised you made it out of Sierra Leone alive, because, well, have you seen Blood Diamond?” to “You’re such an amazing person. The world needs more people like you.”
It was hard for me to explain to them why they were misinformed, and to distill the experiences I had, the work I did, and the people with whom I worked into pithy anecdotes at parties and social gatherings. So I began to write about these things. In this book, I wanted to demystify some of the ideas that people had about humanitarian aid. Given also how involved Americans were in fundraising for humanitarian disaster responses—especially in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake—I wanted to provide insight into where people’s money went when they donated and how best they could help.
3. What is the most interesting thing you've experienced as humanitarian worker?
How industrious, resourceful and resilient the local communities are. They are always the first responders in any emergency and we often overlook their capacities and ability to respond themselves. Certainly international aid can fill important gaps, but we often forget that they are the first responders and assume people are waiting for a handout when they’re busily getting back to daily life. I’ve learned so much from seeing how they cope.
4. How do you think we can make our humanitarian programs more effective?
The humanitarian landscape is changing: local government actors are more active, capable and vocal in crisis management, affected people are increasingly accessing technologies to voice their needs and provide real-time feedback. They can say what’s working and what isn’t, what kind of assistance has been useful and what hasn’t. Other actors such as the military and private sector are more involved in what was once the exclusive territory of humanitarian organizations . Finally, new models of assistance (such as mobile money and vouchers which put money and choice into the hands of those who have been affected and know what they need) are altering aid delivery. By 2030 many countries will reach middle income status and they may demand that they are in the lead in a humanitarian response. Given these changes, the humanitarian sector needs to reassess its role and where it can add the most value to a humanitarian operation.
5. What advice do you have for those that are interested in pursuing humanitarian work?
Humanitarian aid is a highly professionalized field and just having a good heart and motivation doesn’t qualify you for jobs. There is an unfortunate Catch 22 to getting a job – they all require some field experience, but to get that field experience you need a job! When I started out I took the limited skills I had from working in marketing for a year and applied to PR jobs with humanitarian organizations. I landed an entry level job there which helped me get my foot in the door. After a few years coupled with two masters degrees I was able to shift to more program work.
If you can’t get a job with an international organization, perhaps consider first working for a domestic organization as many of the skills required and challenges you’ll face are the same – managing programs, overseeing grants, logistics issues – and it can help you determine if you like this line of work. And learn a language that is used in these contexts – French and Arabic are particularly good.
6. What do you wish more people knew about humanitarian aid?
I often see my students romanticizing the work that aid professionals do. I wanted to provide a realistic perspective about the day to day reality: that a lot of this work takes place in an office and not out in the field, the loneliness and frustrations that come with living in some of the most troubled places in the world, the way that this line of work can erode your sense of home and belonging. I certainly had no clue when I started out what I was in for and probably would have gotten a lot out of a book like this. Aid work is a serious emotional and physical commitment too. You’ll be a different person when you come out of it; you will see things differently.  
This career has many paths – a life in the field, a life in HQ, a life shuffling between both worlds, a life moving from one disaster to another every few months. Choose the one that best suits your lifestyle, your personal goals, and your interests, and you will be happiest and therefore most effective.
7. Now a fun question, what three books would you take with you to a deserted island?
Anything by Philip Roth, Martin Amis or Mary Karr.  

Review: A Terrible Love by Marata Eros

Title: A Terrible Love
Author: Marata Eros
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: April 26, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You don't mind darker stories.
What's the Story?:

From "Jess Mackey is living a meticulously fabricated lie of necessity. She's left the secret tragedy of her past behind along with who she was and is forging ahead with a clean slate. But Jess soon discovers that passion can't be left behind—neither her own, nor that of the one man who sees who she really is…and whose unexpected presence may breach the peaceful life Jess has painstakingly created for herself.

Devin Castile didn’t expect to meet a young woman who may be the missing puzzle piece to his existence…and who is also the victim of a heinous crime. Devin convinces himself that he can remain emotionally distant even while indulging his physical desire for her. But when Jess’s lies begin to crumble in the face of their undeniable attraction and the truth is revealed, one of them might pay with their life."

My Two Cents:

In "A Terrible Love," Jewell MacLeod is running from her dangerous past. She becomes Jess Mackey and wants to throw herself into her new life as a ballerina in school. She wants to hide but she's not sure how long she will be able to hold out. This is a fairly dark story, much darker than I expected in some places. Overall, I thought this was an interesting mix of different elements that kept me entertained.

This book was really a mixed bag for me. I really liked the basic storyline of Jewell trying to create a new life for herself away from her super scary family. There seemed to be a lot of side stories though that took away from the main story (Jess/Jewell's love interests and guys fighting over her). I really wanted to know more about why she hid and how she was able to hide for so long.

And a warning for my gentler readers, there were some parts of this book that were extremely dark. There are certain things with Jewell's family that really sort of scared me. Also, some of Jewell's relationships in the book were quite dark.

I did like the writing of the book though! 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna

Title: Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing
Author: Steven Luna
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publish Date: August 31, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a YA fiction fan.
  • You don't mind tough subjects.
What's the Story?:

From "It's just me and him. Him and me. A man I can't comprehend, designated by the universe as my father but someone I prefer to call Tom, and a kid he can't relate to but calls son anyway because he's determined to try. I really wish he'd just call me Tyler. He probably wishes I'd call him Dad. But I'm not comfortable with that at this point. Our differences and our lack of mutual understanding are the only things we seem to agree on. And even those get heated sometimes. Seriously, it's a miracle that we haven't hurt each other yet. I'm not sure how much longer we can hold out. 

Seventeen year-old guitar prodigy Tyler Mills has become lost in the aftermath of his mother's death. Disconnected more and more from his father, he takes refuge from it all in two things: his music and his girlfriend. But everything changes with the chance discovery of his mother's journal-and the long-held family secret within that could alter his life forever."

My Two Cents:

"Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing" is the story of Tyler who is absolutely reeling from his mother's death. He is pulling away from his father and seems uninterested in studying classical guitar, a hobby where he has a lot of talent. This is a story of coping with grief and uncovering family secrets that can both enlighten and hurt all at the same time. I really enjoyed this story!

I really don't want to give away anything about the big twist in this book as I think you should really read it yourself but let me tell you, the twist is a huge bombshell. I really enjoyed reading how Tyler copes with everything that's going on in his life. He finds out about a part of his family that he never knew existed before.

He is able to find a lot out about his mother after her death. This leads him to go on an adventure where he will be able to know more about his origins, his mother, and himself.

Luna does a great job of making Tyler really feel like a real person. He had emotions and flaws. He really feels like a 3-dimensional person, which really brought me into the story further.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.


Review: Mandragora by H.D. Greaves

Title: Mandragora
Author: H.D. Greaves
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Bougainvilla
Publish Date: September 2, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You want some comedy in your reading diet.
What's the Story?:

From "Add a conniving servant and his amoral master; a murderous priest and his equally homicidal sidekick; an odious mother-in-law; a beautiful but barren wife wed to an ancient attorney; and a potion brewed from the root of the Mandragora, a plant alleged to help women conceive, and you have a prescription for pandemonium, especially when Mandragora (known in less reputable circles as “God’s Little Joke”), possesses a fatal flaw: after a woman drinks the potion, her body becomes a temple of poison. The first man to have sex with her will be dead in seven days. What's a man to do?

Filled with bawdy and irreverent wit, outrageous situations, characters it would be unwise to invite for dinner, and lots of good old-fashioned belly laughs, this highly literate and sophisticated satire is a joy to read from start to satisfying—and most surprising!—finale.

Based on The Mandrake, notorious Niccolò Machiavelli’s Italian Renaissance comedy, Mandragora is the only novel ever created—even after five centuries—from his famous (some say infamous) play."

My Two Cents:

As the synopsis says, this book is based on Machiavelli's comedy, The Mandrake. I had no clue that Machiavelli wrote a comedy! I only knew that he wrote The Prince, a decidedly less happy story. Reading Mandragora made me think that I definitely need to go back and read Machiavelli's The Mandrake to see what it was like. It's still so eye-opening to me that he wrote comedy! Mandragora is a very funny book with some interesting characters.

The book starts out a bit slowly but then it gathers steam rather quickly and turns into a nice story with a lot of humor in it. Some of the book is a bit outlandish but this is, of course, a satire so it definitely works here in this story! The book reminds me a lot of a Mel Brooks movie. Some of the humor is a little naughty and therefore, it might not be for everyone. That sense of humor is right down my alley though so I ate this book up!

There were a lot of funny characters in the book that I really liked. I love a book that can make me laugh and there were definitely some moments that had me giggling quite a bit. The characters get themselves into really crazy situations

The real star of this book is the writing. I think it can be really difficult to write things in such a way that the humor shines through but the author succeeds in this endeavor!

Overall, if you're looking for a story to make you laugh, this is it!!!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book to Movie: The Book Thief

Last weekend, my husband and I went to go see The Book Thief. What I can tell you off the bat is this movie is definitely a great pick!

The movie is based off of a wonderful book by Markus Zusak, which I actually read prior to starting A Bookish Affair. I absolutely loved the book and even gave it 5 stars, which if I don't give out to anything  except the books that absolutely blow me away.

Now like a lot of book lovers, I always think books are much better than movies. In a book, there is so much more room for your imagination to run wild and create these really extravagant ideas that could never be the same on the silver screen. That being said, this movie was a fantastic adaptation. The casting was wonderful. Every character was so perfect. Even though the subject matter of the movie is pretty difficult (it is a World War II movie set in Germany), the movie was really beautifully done!

 Both my husband (who has not read the book) and I loved it! This movie made me cry and it made me laugh. I thought that the movie was really well done and totally suggest seeing it!

Has anyone else seen this movie yet? What did you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Title: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: November 16, 2010
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You enjoy true hero stories.
What's the Story?:

From "On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."

My Two Cents:

"Unbroken" is the story of Louie Zamperini, who is at various times in his life an Olympic runner, a warrior, and a prisoner of war in Japan during World War II. It's amazing that one man could have been through so many different things and still be alive to tell about it. It's a story of bravery and resilience. It's an absolutely amazing story that showcases one of the most fascinating lives that I've read about in a very long time. This book reads like a movie! If you're looking for a book that will have you reading with your mouth open in disbelief, this book is for you.

It is so hard to believe that one person really could have gone through so much. "Unbroken" starts when Louie was young. He was a troublemaker with a natural talent for running and trained so hard that he was able to make it to the Olympics. Then World War II happens and he is swept up into the war. I loved following Louie's adventure so much. This is one of those books where you just get totally drawn into the story.

Hillenbrand does a fantastic job of bringing Louie's story to life. Drawing on letters and journals, there is a lot of good detail about Louie and many of the other people who appear in this book. Hillenbrand pulls it all together and turns the book into something really special. I definitely would love to read more by Hillenbrand in the future.

I listened to this book on audiobook, which was a fantastic choice if I do say so myself. I love listening to audiobooks that are totally engaging. I really wanted to keep listening to more and more just because the whole story is so amazing. The narrator was really good!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology by Julie Rugg

Title: Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology
Author: Julie Rugg
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Publish Date: October 1, 2010
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love quotes. 
  • You are a book lover.
What's the Story?:

From "For bibliophiles, life is full of tricky problems: wondering whether a small trunk full of reading material can be taken on board as hand luggage; how to smuggle yet another guilty stash of tomes past the nearest and dearest. But as Julie Rugg shows in this anthology, bibliophiles are by no means new. For centuries bookish types have been delving in bibliophilia.Buried in Books is a compilation of more than 350 literary extracts, quotations, and bon mots arranged in 14 chapters that cover every aspect of bookish behavior: reading, buying, borrowing, recommending, hunting, even defacing. The selections range from short, pithy quotations to more extensive extracts, and they are taken from diaries, memoirs, novels, plays, and letters by authors from Samuel Pepys to Iain Sinclair, Laurence Sterne to Lucy Mangan. If you are an obsessive reader, stroke this book lovingly, listen as you riffle through the pages, and be proud: you are in good company"

My Two Cents:

"Buried in Books" is a book that every bookish person should have in their libraries. Seriously, if you or someone you love is a book lover, get ye to the bookstore and get this book. This book is filled with tons and tons of quotes about all different aspects of books and bookish life. 

The book opens up with the author's musings on reading and what it means to be a true bibliophile and after reading those musings, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit in Ms. Rugg. She has one section in particular where she's talking about hiding her new books amongst the current piles and piles of books that she has in her house and I read that and said to myself, "Hey, self, you do that too!"

Some of the quotes I had heard, some I haven't. Regardless of whether or not I had heard of them, it is nice to have all of those lovely quotes and excerpts in one place. This book also lent quite a bit to my already massive TBR list. I found myself jotting down a lot of the books named in this book to read later on. 

This book is a love letter of sorts to book lovers everywhere. I know this is a book that I will be referring back to a lot in the future!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TLC Book Tours Review and Giveaway: Buying In by Laura Hemphill

Title: Buying In
Author: Laura Hemphill
Format: ARC
Publisher: New Harvest
Publish Date: November 5, 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're looking for a realistic slice-of-life kind of story.
What's the Story?:

From "It’s October 2007, and twenty-two-year-old Sophie Landgraf is a small-town girl who hopes her new job as a Wall Street analyst will be her ticket to the American elite. She knew that giving her life over to the bank would be hard on her boyfriend, family, and friends, but she hadn’t realized it would send her into a spiral of self-doubt. After four months in this fast-paced, male-dominated world, Sophie is floundering-and things are about to get worse.
Boom times can’t last forever. With the crash looming and layoffs inevitable, Sophie’s attractive but ruthless boss Ethan Pearce pulls her into a multibillion-dollar merger that could make or break their careers. The problem? Ethan, devoted family-man Vasu Kumar, and straight-talking Ohio executive Jake Hutchinson each have very different reasons for advancing the merger, and Sophie doesn’t know who to trust. When the deal goes awry, she must decide how far she’ll go to get what she wants.
Set inside the fortresses of high finance, Manhattan’s after-hours clubs, and factories in the Midwest and India, this is the high-powered, heartfelt story of a young woman finding her footing on Wall Street as it crumbles underneath her. Written by an industry veteran, BUYING IN tackles what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, and how to survive in big business without sacrificing who you are."

My Two Cents:

"Buying In" is the hyper-realistic story of life on Wall Street during the financial crisis of 2007/ 2008. The story follows several people as they try to deal with the ebb and flow of the banking business during a very tumultuous time in financial history. The author reveals the stories of the characters in detail that makes us the readers really be able to feel what the characters are feeling when faced with the chance that the careers they have built may not be there at the end of the day.

The financial crisis of the 2007/ 2008 is still very fresh in many people's memories (in fact, in many ways, we are still dealing with the fallout from this crisis). I really liked the characters in the book. They aren't exactly likable but they are so real. They are fighting to keep their jobs, sometimes against each other. This book uses the characters as a vehicle to showcase the workaholic, forget your loved ones, do anything to climb to the top mentality of this time period.

In many places, this book almost seems like non-fiction. You feel for the people that are working so hard to do well and keep their jobs that they forget the other aspects of their lives. This book has a bit of a cautionary tale in it as well and the end is hopeful.

This book is great for when you are you looking for a story with really realistic characters and great detail.


I am pleased to be able to hold a giveaway for this book (US/CAN only). Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! 
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review and Guest Post: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Title: Searching for Someday
Author: Jennifer Probst
Format: ARC
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: November 26, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're a romance fan.
What's the Story?:

From "Kate has given up on love—at least for herself. She is both blessed and cursed with the ability to sense a romantic connection between two people—a gift that her family passed down for generations. When Kate launches her own matchmaking company, Kinnection, with her two best friends in a cozy New York town, she has to put aside her own romantic disasters to make her business a success.

But when a furious man stalks into her office and accuses her business of being a scam, Kate is given the ultimate challenge to prove herself. Slade puts himself in her hands and asks Kate to find him love. Enraged at his arrogance but stubbornly eager to prove herself, Kate agrees, dedicating herself to the journey of finding him love...only to find herself falling for him along the way."

My Two Cents:

Romance with a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure? Sign me up! "Searching for Someday" is the story of Kate, a woman with the magical ability to find the perfect match for just about anyone except for herself. It seems crazy to her that the owner of a matchmaking business would not be able to find love for herself. And then she meets Slade.

This was a fun and cute book with a steamy love story! Slade comes to Kate's matchmaking service because of his sister. When the book starts out, he is prickly as anything and doesn't really want to get close to Kate; however, fate has something a little bit different in mind. I loved Kate throughout the book and while Slade wasn't my favorite in the beginning of the book, he definitely had grown on me a lot by the end of the book. Slade and Kate fall for each other hard and neither of them wants to admit how hard that they've fallen. Their love affair is hot, hot, hot.

I also have to mention that I loved the addition of Robert, the dog. I'm a huge fan of animals. Kate's treatment of Robert, who is disabled, really warmed my heart as an animal lover. This factor definitely won me over.

I'm excited that on Goodreads it says that this book is the first in a new series from Jennifer Probst. I know that I will be looking forward to the next book in the series.

Guest Post:

The Power of Doggy Love in Romance

Let’s talk about Robert.

Who? you ask.

Robert is the paraplegic pit bull in my new book Searching for Someday. My heroine, Kate, rescues him from the side of a road. He’s had a hard life, got thrown out of a moving car, hit twice, and lost his back legs. But Kate sees something in his eyes – a spark that grabs her and pulls, and she knows his life is precious, and she wants him to have another shot.

The vet saves him. Kate adopts him. And one of the greatest love stories begins...

I love writing about animals – especially dogs. These furry creatures bring something special to life, and always to my characters.  When I was writing the book, Robert kept popping up until he became a secondary hero. He also manages to soften and change my human hero, Slade, so readers forgave him when he began acting up and making the wrong decisions in love.

Dogs bring out another layer. They soothe, soften, make us our better selves. They remind us to take a breath, slow down, and be happy with simple pleasures. A walk. A good meal. A delicious nap. Affection. A smile.

There’s another theme that beats from this story which I learned from my own local pet shelter, Pets Alive.

Disabled doesn’t mean disposable.

We all deserve a shot—both humans and canines. Through Robert, both Kate and Slade are reminded of this over and over.

And so was I.

This true story is relayed in this following link if you’d like to check it out. Robert has come a long way, and is now quite happy, with a wonderful home and his very own Facebook page called Rockin Robert!

Do you love reading stories with animals? What are your favorites? Come share!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Havisham by Ronald Frame

Title: Havisham
Author: Ronald Frame
Format: ARC
Publisher: Picador
Publish Date: November 5, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're a Charles Dickens fan.
What's the Story?:

From "Before she became the immortal and haunting Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, she was Catherine, a young woman with all of her dreams ahead of her. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall—HAVISHAM—a reminder of all she owes to the family name and the family business.

Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family's new money. But for all her growing sophistication, Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything—her heart, her future, the very Havisham name—is vulnerable.

In Havisham, Ronald Frame unfurls the psychological trauma that made young Catherine into Miss Havisham and cursed her to a life alone, roaming the halls of the mansion in the tatters of the dress she wore for the wedding she was never to have."

My Two Cents:

As you may have guessed by the very title of this book, this book is the story of arguably one of Charles Dickens' most memorable characters. Who didn't wonder about the story behind old Miss Havisham and her tattered wedding clothes. Even if you haven't read "Great Expectations" you still may be familiar with the character of Miss Havisham in her massive decaying house surrounded by things that showcase what was meant to be or at least what Miss Havisham thought was meant to be. This book seeks to explain that character and why she appears the way she appears in "Great Expectations." Mr. Frame does a great job of bringing this character to life.

The story starts out a little slowly when Miss Havisham is young. There was a lot of detail in the first section that sort of bogged down the narrative a little bit but the story eventually picks up as Miss Havisham gets a little bit older. She isn't a wholly sympathetic character but we get enough detail about her life that the reader is at least able to begin to see where she is coming from. We get insight into what Miss Havisham was like as a young woman. She is definitely an interesting character and I loved reading about her.

One factor of this book that I really liked is that the book is told from the perspective of Miss Havisham herself. By having her tell her own story, you really get to know her. You know exactly what she is thinking and why she does what she does throughout the story. I really liked seeing things from her angle.

Overall, I thought Frame did a great job with his treatment of such a familiar character. 


Review: Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland by Beau Riffenburgh

Title: Pinkerton's Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland
Author: Beau Riffenburgh
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publish Date: November 14, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You like reading about fascinating historical figures.
What's the Story?:

From "The operatives of the Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency were renowned for their skills of subterfuge, infiltration, and investigation, none more so than James McParland. So thrilling were McParland’s cases that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle included the cunning detective in a story along with Sherlock Holmes.

Riffenburgh digs deep into the recently released Pinkerton archives to present the first biography of McParland and the agency’s cloak-and-dagger methods. Both action packed and meticulously researched, Pinkerton’s Great Detective brings readers along on McParland’s most challenging cases: from young McParland’s infiltration of the murderous Molly Maguires gang in the case that launched his career to his hunt for the notorious Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch to his controversial investigation of the Western Federation of Mines in the assassination of Idaho’s former governor.

Filled with outlaws and criminals, detectives and lawmen, Pinkerton’s Great Detective shines a light upon the celebrated secretive agency and its premier sleuth."

My Two Cents:

"Pinkerton's Great Detective" is the story of James McParland, a detective who had a storied career in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This book is the non-fiction tale of his life with a heavy focus on some of the big cases he worked on (the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania, some of the outlaw gangs in the Wild West). I love this time period and it was really interesting to read about some of the things that were going on in McParland's time.

As I said, the book focuses mostly on the cases themselves. It doesn't really focus on a lot of the work that McParland did in order to bring the cases to trial. For cases like the Molly Maguires case, he actually had to work as an undercover operative, which I think would have been really, really interesting considering what was going on as well as just the time period itself. I really wish there had been more detail on that.

The system of law in places like Pennsylvania and Colorado seemed really different than they are now so it was really interesting to read how much things had changed between McParland's time period and present day. I always love when I can learn a little something from a book and in this book, the part where Riffenburgh explained some of the intricacies of the law systems that affected McParland's big cases were really fascinating to me.

The book dragged a little bit at the end with tying everything up but overall, this book covered a really fascinating personality.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Hoppin the Boxes Giveaway!!!

 photo HopBoxFina_zps6d0ffea8.jpg
Welcome to my stop for Hoppin the Boxes Today I'll be featuring Melissa F. Miller
But -
There are Over 60 stops - with plenty of excerpts, information and a giveaway!
These Eight Authors are presenting their Boxed Sets with Excerpts, Character Bios, and Prizes
Barbara Silkstone with the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set
Cheryl Bradshaw with the Sloan Monroe Boxed Set
Christy Hayes and the Golden Rule Bundle
Donna Fasano and the Single Daddy Club Boxed Set
Faith Mortimer and the Diana Rivers Mystery Set
M.P. McDonald and the Mark Taylor Omnibus
Melissa F. Miller and the Sasha McCandles Series
Sibel Hodge and the Sibel Hodge Box Set
This tour will run from 11 – 18 November
Reader drawing is international
Grand Prize Winner : $60 Giftcard to Amazon or Barnes and all eight boxed sets
First Prize Winner: $40 Giftcard and all eight box set
Second Prize winner - 4 (winner’s choice) boxed sets (see the giveaway tool at the bottom of the post!)
  And now.. I present Miller Box Set photo MillerBOX_zps557cd5bc.jpg
The Sasha McCandless Series: Volume 1 ~ Purchase Now: Amazon
Now available in one volume, the three fast-paced, suspense-packed, bestselling legal thrillers that introduce attorney Sasha McCandless. Each of the books in this set is an Amazon Top 100 Book!
Irreparable Harm (Book 1) After eight long years, Sasha McCandless is about to make partner at a prestigious law firm. When a plane operated by her client slams into the side of a mountain, killing everyone aboard, Sasha gears up to defend the inevitable civil lawsuits. She soon realizes the crash was no accident: a developer has created an application that can control a commercial plane's onboard computer from a smartphone. Sasha joins forces with a federal air marshal, and they race to prevent another airline disaster. But when people close to the matter start to die, Sasha must rely on both her legal skills and her Krav Maga training to stop the madman before he kills her.Inadvertent Disclosure (Book 2) Six months after an airplane crash altered the course of Sasha's professional and personal life, she's focused on building her solo law practice and tending her budding relationship with federal air marshal Leo Connelly. When she drives from Pittsburgh to rural Clear Brook County to argue a discovery motion, she finds a town bitterly divided over the issue of hydrofracking the Marcellus Shale. Outsiders from the oil and gas industry and environmental activists threaten to rip apart the community's fabric. Then the town's only judge is murdered, and Sasha can't just walk away. As she works to find the killer, she must race to save the town before it fractures beyond repair.
Irretrievably Broken (Book 3) The venerable law firm of Prescott & Talbott is reeling from the murder of partner Ellen Mortenson -- purportedly at the hands of her estranged husband -- when a photograph of the dead woman arrives, her face Xed out and "ONE DOWN" scrawled across the bottom. Within days, a second partner is murdered, her husband also accused. Sasha doesn't practice criminal defense, so she's suspicious when her former firm asks her to represent Ellen's husband. Owing Prescott a favor, she takes the case and soon finds herself representing not one, but both, of the so-called Lady Lawyer Killers. The long hours jeopardize her relationship with Leo Connelly when he needs her most. That's the least of Sasha's troubles, though, because what she doesn't know is that the real killer is waging a vendetta for a past case gone wrong. And there's one more lawyer on his list.
About Sasha McCandless
Sasha versus Melissa
Sasha and Melissa were both born in Pittsburgh, PA.
Sasha and Melissa are both litigators.
Sasha and Melissa both drink entirely too much coffee.
Sasha is single, childless, under five feet tall, under one hundred pounds, and could kill you with her bare hands.
Melissa is married, a mother of three, over five feet tall, over one hundred pounds, and isn't telling.
Sasha has no pets.
Melissa has a dog, two cats, and three goldfish.
Sasha drives a Passat.
Melissa drives a Volvo.
Sasha thinks Pamela's has the best breakfast in Pittsburgh.
Melissa thinks Pamela's does indeed serve a very good breakfast but suggests Sasha try DeLuca's in the Strip
About Melissa F. Miller
I'm Melissa F. Miller, author of the Sasha McCandless legal thriller series and a practicing attorney. When I'm not in court or on the playground with my three delightful children, I'm hard at work on my next novel. Please visit me at my Website and sign up for my e-mail newsletter to find out when new books are published.
Find the entire Sasha McCandless Series here.
Follow Melissa: Website § Blog § Facebook § Twitter
Excerpt from Irreparable Harm (Book 1) Purchase Now: Amazon § Audible
The lobby was faded with time. Its gray-veined white marble, ornate gold-framed paintings, and vases of fresh flowers were leftovers from a more glamorous past. Sasha boarded the ancient elevator and pressed the button for the eight floor. The only sound was its groaning. She stepped out into a narrow hallway. Her approach to Warner’s door was silent, thanks to the thick, wine-colored carpet. She could feel her heart thumping as she approached the apartment. She raised her fist to rap on the door. As soon as she touched it, it swung inward slightly. Not locked. She pushed it halfway open and tilted her head to see around it. The entryway was dark. Streetlights shining through the French doors that led to the balcony cast some light, but all she saw was the outlines of furniture. “Tim? Mr. Warner? It’s Sasha McCandless. Hello?” No response. She hadn’t come all this way to stand in the hallway. She walked in and reached down to turn on a small lamp sitting on an antique, or at least old, telephone stand. As she straightened to standing, she turned and found herself staring at the barrel of a gun. She estimated it was eight inches from her face. Maybe closer. “Don’t move,” said its owner in a soft voice. He looked to be about six feet tall, solidly built, but not bulky. He had a lean, fit runner’s frame. Part Asian, maybe? Definitely big for an Asian guy. He wore neat, close-cropped dark hair, a clean shave, and a decent suit. He assessed her with a calm and serious look. Her brain clicked off and her training kicked in. She stood completely still, her hands at her side, and waited for the man to tell her to put her hands up. “Put your hands up.” As instructed, Sasha raised her hands up and also moved them forward, pushing the gun to the side and away from her face. Redirect. At the same time, she wrapped her left hand around the barrel and pointed it down toward the man’s hip. Control. She drove the blade of her sharp, bony right elbow into his sternum and used that momentum to hammer his nose with her right fist. As his head bobbled back from the blow, she brought her right hand down to the base of the gun’s grip. With both hands now tight around the gun, she twisted them sharply, rotating the gun 180 degrees. Attack. His bone made a sickening crack as his trigger finger broke, and she turned her hands back, and pulled the gun from him. Take. She held the gun with both hands. With a deliberate motion she pointed it at the center of his chest and hoped he couldn’t tell she’d never handled a gun before. The entire sequence had taken less than a second. He stared at her, blood pouring from his nose, his right hand dangling awkwardly by his side. Then he started to laugh. “You could have just returned my call, Ms. McCandless.” She didn’t speak. He started to extend his hand, as though to offer her a handshake with his mangled, swollen finger. “Don’t.” She raised the gun and aimed it at his head. He stopped mid-gesture. “I’m Agent Leo Connelly, Department of Homeland, with the Federal Air Marshal Service. I wish I could say it’s nice to meet you.” She kept the gun trained on him. “ID. Slowly.” He reached into his jacket pocket with his good hand and retrieved a worn, brown leather wallet. One handed, he fumbled with it until it flipped open to display his credentials. She leaned in to look at his identification, keeping one eye on him and the gun raised. “May I have my gun back now?” “Not yet. Why didn’t you identify yourself when I came in?” “No time, Ms. McCandless. You were too quick for me.” “I said my name. Why did you draw your gun?” “I may know who you are, Ms. McCandless. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a threat.” “You can call me Sasha. What are you doing here?” “I could ask you the same thing. Do we really need to have this conversation at gunpoint?” Sasha lowered the gun to her side. “No signs of Warner?” “No. The place is empty.” Connelly was speaking through a continuous stream of blood from his nose. “Sit down. I’ll get you a towel.” She headed for the kitchen, following the glow from the stovetop light. “And some ice.” Connelly yelled, “I think you broke my finger.” Sasha returned with two striped dishtowels. One for his nose, the other wrapped around a cold pack she found in the freezer. “I’m sure I broke your finger,” she told him. “That was the goal, at least.” He shook his head, spraying blood on his shirt. “Either Warner is a total slob or someone trashed this place pretty thoroughly,” Sasha said, finally looking around. The couch had been overturned, its cushions sliced open with foam spilling out of them. The desk chair was upside down. Its leather seat had also been slashed. Warner’s unopened mail and piles of magazines cascaded across the floor. The drawers had been pulled out from the desk, their contents scattered. Two cheap art prints were leaning against a wall, their glass cracked. “Someone was looking for something,” Connelly agreed. “Any idea what?” “How should I know?” She wasn’t about to tell a federal air marshal they were looking for files Warner had removed from Patriotech at her request. “What are you doing here?” She answered truthfully, if incompletely. “Warner left me a voicemail message tonight. Not long after you did, actually. It was interrupted when his doorbell rang. And I heard some kind of altercation, it sounded bad.” “So you just hopped on a plane and flew down here to see if he was okay?” She shrugged. “That’s the kind of girl I am.” “Huh.” Connelly examined the bloodied dish towel, then leaned forward and pinched his nose. “I think you might have broken my nose, too.”‘ Sasha wasn’t sure how to respond, so she didn’t. She walked through the dining room into a short hallway that led to Warner’s bedroom. She flipped the light switch and stuck her head in. The bedroom had been torn to pieces, too. Dresser drawers emptied. Boxes, bags, and entire shelves pulled from the closet. Another framed print—this one of waves breaking against a lighthouse—was propped against one wall, its glass splintered. The king bed had no pillows or linens, just a bare mattress. She turned out the light and returned to the living room. Connelly was perched on the edge of an armchair that had been cut open. Stuffing and springs stuck out all around him. “Did you notice his bed has been stripped?” “Yes.” “That’s not good,” Connelly told her. Sasha had already surmised as much. She didn’t want to talk about it. Instead, she asked him, “Did you find a cell phone? Or hear one ringing?” “No.” He stood up. “Gun, please.” He held out his left hand, palm up. Sasha placed the gun in it, glad to be rid of it. “He engaged the safety and slipped it into his jacket pocket. “Let’s go.” “Where?” “The alley.” He inclined his head toward the French doors. Warner’s balcony overlooked a long alley. It was dark except for a single light, which was positioned over a dumpster. “Wipe your prints off the freezer and the lamp,” Connelly said. She rubbed the surfaces with the sleeve of her jacket. He balled up both dish towels. “Put these in your backpack. We were never here.” She took the towels and stuffed them in the bag, and they walked out of Apartment 840, leaving the door ajar.
Excerpt from Inadvertent Disclosure (Book 2) Purchase Now: Amazon § Audible
Sasha left her misanthropic client’s home feeling good about her case. She thought she’d made it clear to Jed that he’d have to tone down the swearing and the anger some at his upcoming hearing if he wanted to testify. Truth be told, though, she thought a little righteous indignation would be fitting the circumstances. She’d just have to keep him on a tight leash. April in Pennsylvania was rarely balmy, but the afternoon sun was warm enough that she cracked the windows and let the air in as she drove back toward Springport. She even hummed along to the radio, which seemed to be limited to country music at the moment. Country singers told the best stories, she thought, as she listened to the Dixie Chicks sing about a traveling soldier. As she hummed, a name popped into her head: Heather Price. The commissioner Jed had mentioned. She’d encountered that name before. But where? She searched her memory but before she could make a connection, her cell phone rang. She glanced down at the display. It was Connelly. She turned down the volume on the radio and activated the hands-free setup through the car. She hated the delay that the Bluetooth caused but not as much as she would have hated running over someone because she was on her phone. “Hey.” “Hi, beautiful. How’d your meeting go with your new boyfriend?” She laughed. “As well as could be expected, I think. I just left. Should be back home by seven or so.” “Excellent. Do you want fish tacos or my Thai chicken and noodles for dinner?” “The chicken and noodles with the peanut sauce?” “That’s the one.” It was too hard to pick, what with the belly full of pie. “Chef’s choice,” she told him. He groaned, as she knew he would. Connelly didn’t like it when she punted on the decision making. “Listen,” she cut him off. “Does the name Heather Price mean anything to you?” There was a pause while he considered it. “No. Should it?” “I don’t know.” A beeping sound filled the car through the speakers. “Shoot,” Sasha said, “I have another call. I’ll call you back.” “Okay. I love you.” “Bye! She depressed the button to switch over to the other call and hoped he’d think she hadn’t heard the profession of love. Recently, Connelly had started randomly telling her he loved her. She wasn’t sure what to do about it. For now, it was another decision to punt on. Because she had swapped calls, her phone didn’t display the caller. “Sasha McCandless.” “Ms. McCandless, this is Gavin Russell.” “What can I do for you, Deputy Russell?” She wondered if he had located Jay. He cleared his throat. “Are you still out at Jed’s?” “No, I just left.” “Could you stop by the courthouse on your way through town? It’s important.” “Is this about Jay and Danny Trees?” “No, ma’am, it’s not.” She worked to keep the irritation out of her voice. “Well, I’m fresh out of gobs, deputy, so—” “Judge Paulson’s been shot.” “Shot? Is he okay?” “No, ma’am. He’s dead.”
Excerpt from Irretrievably Broken (Book 3) Purchase Now: Amazon § Audible
Sasha looked around the table, not quite believing she was sitting in the Carnegie Conference Room with Prescott & Talbott’s five most powerful partners. And Will. Marco DeAngeles, Fred Jennings, Kevin Marcus, John Porter, and Cinco. Their combined net worth had to have eight digits. Maybe nine. And each of them was usually more than ready to seize control of any conversation. They were assertive. Confident. Decisive. Except they were none of those things right now. Right now, they were all looking at Will with varying degrees of hope and desperation in their eyes. Will straightened his tie and swallowed, then he said, “Sasha, thank you for coming in on such short notice. As you know, the firm would like you to represent Mr. Lang, and we’re willing to discuss the contours of that representation with you.” Jennings nodded along as Will spoke. Don’t let them intimidate you. Be cool. She thought of what Noah used to tell her: fake it if you have to. Sasha arched a brow. “As it happens, Mr. Lang would also like me to represent him. And I spoke to him about an hour ago to tell him I would do so, subject to the firm’s agreement not to interfere with our attorney-client relationship. Those are the contours.” She sat back and watched the heavy hitters defer to Will. “As a criminal defense attorney myself,” Will began, “I understand your concerns. You rightly don’t want the firm to second-guess your advice or whisper in Mr. Lang’s ear. But you have to understand, too. Two Prescott & Talbott partners have been murdered in the past year. We need to control the fallout from that fact. As a result, the firm has an interest in the outcome of Mr. Lang’s case. We will want to be kept apprised of the case and consulted on strategy.” He flicked his eyes to Cinco, looking for confirmation that he’d delivered the right message. Cinco gave a little nod. Sasha stared straight ahead at the painting on the wall. As befit Cinco’s private conference room, it was a nude. There was no question that his secretary had not posed for this one. According to the brass placard hanging beneath it, it was the work of Philip Pearlstein, a native Pittsburgher and noted painter who specialized in nude models posing with unusual objects—in this case, a yoga ball. She ran through a series of calculations in her head. When she’d spoken to Greg, he’d admitted that Ellen had filed for divorce because of his gambling. He’d also admitted he’d lost his job because he’d taken to stopping in at the casino on his way to work, which inevitably led to him not going to work. So, with no income and Ellen’s estate tied up in the divorce, Greg had told her that, despite his ritzy address, cash flow was a problem. But Sasha simply wasn’t willing to be at Prescott & Talbott’s beck and call. Greg would have to figure out another way to pay her. She wondered if he had any space on his credit cards. Presumably, Naya could arrange for her to accept credit cards. To date, all her clients had paid by wire transfer or check—yet another strike against dabbling in criminal law. She pushed her chair back from the table and stood. “Your proposal’s not feasible. If Mr. Lang wants me to represent him, we’ll work something out between the two of us. But I won’t have you breathing down my neck and second-guessing me.” Sasha reached in her purse for the retainer check, prepared to throw it on the gleaming table as part of her dramatic exit. It had been a mistake to even consider taking the case. What she really needed was a clean break from her former firm. Kevin Marcus leaned forward and said, “Wait. Please reconsider your position. I personally assure you that we won’t interfere wth your work. We will, however, stand ready to give you any support you request in your representation of Greg Lang. I’m sure we can work through this.” His voice was strained, but he stopped just short of begging. She remained standing but asked, “Why is this so important to the firm? And don’t feed me some line about friendship with Greg Lang. I bet half of you couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.” Kevin looked at Cinco. Cinco looked at Fred. Fred spread his paw-like hands wide and leaned back in his chair. “Seems to us Ellen was killed and her fella was framed to make the firm look bad.” “You think someone killed one of your female partners and framed her estranged husband so you’d get bad press?” “That’s right.” Had Fred slipped into dementia without anyone noticing? His conjecture was insane. She looked around the table. Everyone else was nodding, like it was a reasonable theory. “Assuming that were true, how exactly does it make Prescott look bad?” Sasha asked. Kevin fixed her with a look. “Come now, Sasha. You know we got very low marks on the Mothers in the Law’s last survey.” He tilted his head, as if he was wondering whether she had been one of the anonymous female lawyers who had responded to the survey by describing Prescott & Talbott as a place where relationships go to die. She held his gaze and said, “I was single, not to mention childless, during my time here, Kevin, remember? I didn’t pay any more attention to those surveys than I did to the mandatory retirement age issue. It wasn’t relevant to my life.” Marco bobbed his head and said, “And that’s why you were so damn good, Mac. No family, no kids. No whining about maternity leave and breast pumps and on-site daycare. None of that bullshit.” Cinco jumped in and said, “Although work-life balance issues weren’t high on your priority list, Sasha, they are important to the new associates and law students.” He paused and looked hard at Marco, then he said, “And I mean the women and the men. They all want to know that they’ll have time to raise their families.” Sasha shook her head. “Ellen didn’t have kids.” “Well, that’s true,” Kevin conceded. “But, you know, that survey also made a big point about the divorce rate for our lawyers. It’s hovering at around eighty percent for the partners.” Sasha thought of Noah, who had died convinced that his wife was going to leave him. As it turned out, he’d been right. Feeling neglected because he was always working, Laura Peterson had been having an affair. She looked around the table, meeting each of their eyes for several seconds, then she asked, “Do you have any actual support for your belief that Greg is being framed for Ellen’s murder in an effort to sully the firm’s reputation?” John cleared his throat, but Cinco spoke first, saying, “Of course not. If we had proof, we’d have taken it to the district attorney the instant Greg was charged.” He sat back and waved both hands, gesturing to the men sitting around the table. “We may not have proof, Sasha, but we have, collectively, over a hundred years of solid legal judgment in this room. And, in our judgment, this is an act against the firm. Ellen and her husband, are——horrific as this may sound—collateral damage. Someone has committed this heinous crime in an effort to, as you say, sully our stellar reputation.” Sasha tried to ignore her rising nausea. Leave it to Prescott & Talbott to consider itself the true victim. When Cinco finished his self-serving speech, she said, “Not to be cute, but who do you think would murder one of your partners so your firm ranking plummets? WC&C?” Fred chuckled and covered it with a cough. Whitmore, Clay, & Charles—or WC&C—was probably indistinguishable from Prescott & Talbott to the average Pittsburgher. And for good reason. They were both well-established, well-regarded law firms that had served the city since the 1800s. Both employed hundreds of attorneys, most of whom hailed from the very best law schools. Both had filled seats on the federal bench and in boardrooms of publicly traded companies with their former partners. Both charged rates that topped out around a thousand dollars an hour. But if one were to suggest to an attorney employed by either firm that the two were interchangeable, one had better be prepared to duck. The bad blood between the firms was legendary. And long-lived. The three attorneys who formed WC&C broke off from Prescott & Talbott in 1892, in the aftermath of the bloody Homestead Strike. The strike, one of the most violent labor-management disputes in the history of the United States, had resulted in a shootout between striking steelworkers and Pinkerton agents, who had been hired to provide security for the steel mill. The Pinkertons had approached the mill from the river after dark. When they attempted to land their barges, the striking workers were waiting for them. In the end, several men were killed on each side of the gun battle; the Pinkertons surrendered and were beaten by a throng that was estimated to contain more than five thousand striking mill workers and sympathizers; the militia was called in; and the battle moved to the courtroom. More than a dozen of the strike leaders were charged with conspiracy, rioting, and murder. Similar charges were filed against the executives of the steel mill. Eventually, the charges were dropped against both the workers and management. Prescott & Talbott, of course, represented the Carnegie Steel Company; its owner, Andrew Carnegie; and Henry Clay Frick, who was running the company. Josiah Whitmore, a partner at Prescott & Talbott, was contacted by the Pinkerton Agency, who wanted to sue the steel company in civil court for putting its men in harm’s way. Prescott & Talbott couldn’t take the case because it would be a conflict of interest, but Whitmore saw it as his chance to strike out on his own. Joined by Matthew Clay and Clyde Charles, two newly minted lawyers, he left the firm and opened WC&C. In the early days, the three specialized in suing Prescott & Talbott clients, which resulted in protracted, bitter courtroom battles, where Prescott & Talbott tried to have their opponents disqualified. Despite the public enmity between the two firms, the arrangement had worked to their mutual advantage for more than a hundred years: both firms ran up their clients’ bills fighting over every little thing, no matter how minor, and the attorneys at both firms could pound their chests about their take-no-prisoners battles. Marco turned to Sasha and said, with no trace of humor, “I wouldn’t put it past those bastards.” She was still formulating a response when Cinco frowned at Marco and said, “Of course it isn’t WC&C. But, I have no doubt that someone has murdered one of our respected colleagues—one of your former colleagues, I might add—in a deliberate attempt to smear the firm.” Cinco spoke with such self-assurance and conviction that she almost forgot his belief had no basis in fact. Will cleared his throat and added, “Sasha, even if you aren’t convinced that we’re right, it’s clear you aren’t convinced that we’re wrong. That means there’s a chance Mr. Lang was wrongly accused. Imagine being charged with a murder you didn’t commit.” She did as he asked. She put aside her own reaction to the man and to the firm’s idiotic theory and put herself in Greg’s shoes. She pictured herself finding Connelly’s lifeless body and then being charged with his murder. Facing that fear in the middle of a sea of grief and despair. She nodded. Sasha walked out of the Carnegie with the retainer check and two new things: an agreement that she would defend Greg Lang and keep Volmer—and Volmer only—in the loop and the unshakeable feeling that she was being manipulated.
Please be sure to check the other tour stops where you will see ....  photo HodgeBooks_zps21ee1fd8.jpg Sibel Hodge and the Sibel Hodge Box Set  photo SilkstoneBOOKS_zps57371d1f.jpg Barbara Silkstone with the Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider Boxed Set Bradshaw books banner photo BradshawBooks_zps02409aed.jpg Cheryl Bradshaw with the Sloan Monroe Boxed Set Hayes books Banner photo HayesBooks_zps02cb4b16.jpg Christy Hayes and the Golden Rule Bundle  photo FasanoBooks_zpsd61048bf.jpg Donna Fasano and the Single Daddy Club Boxed Set Mortimer book banner photo MortimerBooks_zps0b2b635c.jpg Faith Mortimer and the Diana Rivers Mystery Set McDonald books banner photo McDonaldBooks_zpsdf12772c.jpg M.P. McDonald and the Mark Taylor Omnibus
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