Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Salon: Havana Lost, Tell Me, Oscar Octopus

Photo from Dreamstime
Summer is fading fast as we come to another Sunday Salon to discuss the books we’ve read and discovered the past week.

Once again I have an odd combination of books to share with you. First up, I have my thoughts on a new thriller set to be released later this month. I had the great pleasure of reading this book ahead of time and can only say - pre-order now, you don’t want to miss this one. Second, I’m sharing my thoughts on a thriller featuring a newspaper reporter (a girl after my own heart) and the tangled web she encounters. Then, I’m concluding with a cute children’s book about Oscar the Octopus that’s entertaining and delightful.

HAVANA LOST by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Author Libby Fischer Hellmann takes you to a different place and time and brings you back to the present in her soon-to-be released thriller,Havana Lost HAVANA LOST. It’s a mesmerizing story of lost love, conflict and suspense.

The story begins on the eve of the Cuban Revolution as Francesca ‘Frankie’ Pacelli, a headstrong 18-year-old American, flees the luxury of her father’s casino and lifestyle to be with her lover, Luis Perez. Frankie’s father, Tony Pacelli, is a ruthless Mafia boss determined his daughter should return to the U.S.

Life with Luis, a rebel fighting with Fidel Castro, is different. But Frankie quickly adapts and enjoys life. She becomes pregnant and the couple plan their life together. Meanwhile, Frankie’s father uses any means necessary - blackmail, torture - to find his daughter. He has her kidnapped from her home while Luis is away on a mission. The life Frankie dreamed of is shattered as she’s sent back to the states.

Thirty-plus years later a member of the Pacelli family is lured back to Cuba. But what is discovered is far more significant than the untold riches others are seeking. The consequences of those actions have dangerous results that come to a head twenty-plus years later.

HAVANA LOST is a spellbinding saga that follows three generations of a troubled family looking for wealth and happiness, but finding pain and sorrow with only glimmers of what might have been. The family’s search goes from the war-torn streets of Havana to the mean streets of Chicago. The story explores how strife and revolutions affect those it touches, and how the need for power and wealth can destroy.

Hellmann has created realistic, well-developed characters with secondary characters that add flare and depth to the story. Her protagonist Frankie is a character you will first love, then come to dislike, but still will have empathy for.

With an eye for authentic historical detail, Hellmann’s vivid descriptions of Havana and the sights and sounds of the Revolution places the reader in the middle of the action. You can almost feel the mist from the ocean, hear the musicians in the streets, and feel the terror and joy of a new life promised by the Revolution.

HAVANA LOST draws you in and holds you enslaved to know more. You feel the characters joy and happiness, as well as their pain and sorrow. A roller coaster ride of emotions and fast-pace action, the story will leave you wanting more.

For Frankie, HAVANA LOST is when love goes awry leading to a life never wanted, but one embraced with complete control and denial. A gripping tale of love, betrayal and absolute power.

Libby Fischer Hellmann’s website is HAVANA LOST will be available on Aug. 16th.

Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann, The Red Herrings Press, @2013, ISBN: 978-1938733383, Paperback, 300 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - A digital download of this book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
TELL ME by Lisa Jackson

Author Lisa Jackson has created a story that tugs on your heartstrings and keeps you on the edge of your seat in TELL ME.

Tell Me CoverNarrator Julia Whelan captures the listener’s attention with her pleasant voice sprinkled with Southern charm. Her vocalization of the emotions and actions throughout the story intensifies the author’s words. 

After 20 years, the lead witness in a murder case is changing his testimony and the most hated woman in Savannah, GA, is about to go free. Blondell O’Henry was convicted of murdering her oldest daughter and wounding her other two children. It was the prosecution’s theory that Blondell, beautiful and sexy, wanted to get rid of her children to be with her lover. She allegedly staged the scene and blamed a mysterious intruder.

Now Blondell’s son is recanting his testimony and the case is falling apart. Before that happens, reporter Nikki Gillette is determined to find out the truth. The victim, Amity O’Henry, was her childhood friend. Nikki was suppose to be at the cabin the night Amity was killed. She had begged Nikki to meet her as she had a secret to tell that was a matter of life and death, but Nikki didn’t go.

The case is personal in other ways, as well. The murder happened at a cabin owned by Nikki’s family. Her favorite uncle was the attorney who helped save Blondell from execution amidst rumors that he was one of her many lovers. Now, Nikki’s fiancĂ©, Detective Pierce Reed, is in charge of making sure the case holds together or he finds the real killer.

The more Nikki digs, the more secrets she finds and it seems someone has her in their sights. The tragic night 20 years ago appears to have many connection to Nikki’s own fractured family. Can she put the pieces together in time to stop a killer and get married?

Jackson blends mystery, murder, suspense, and guilt with a good dose of humor and wedding woes for a well-balanced story. The characters are well-developed and realistic. Some have quirks and flaws that make them memorable and add a bit of color to the story.

TELL ME moves at a steady pace filled with action and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The story flows smoothly as the past and the present are mingled together. Jackson captures the adrenaline rush of her protagonist, as well as the obedient child we all feel when parents are involved.

There are prior adventures of Nikki and Pierce, but TELL ME can be read as a stand alone.

Author Lisa Jackson’s website is
Tell Me by Lisa Jackson, Performed by Julia Whelan, Brilliance Audio, @2013, ISBN: 978-1441877147, Unabridged, 11 Discs, Listening Time: 12 Hours 23 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

Ever wonder how octopus came to have eight arms? Author Yvonne Arroyo answers that intriguing questions in her delightful tale about coverOscar the Octopus.

Oscar originally had only two arms and was quite happy. Then he meet the lovely Sharky McGhee. They were soon married in a fairy tale wedding and before long they were blessed with eight offspring.

Oscar discovered he couldn’t care for all of his family with only two arms. He has to make adjustments in order to keep up with his demanding family life.

Arroyo weaves a charming tale explaining why and how octopus came to have eight arms. It’s a quick read that will delight young and old alike.

The interior of the story is highlighted by Carl Wanzung’s colorful and beautiful illustrations. The cover of HOW THE OCTOPUS GOT EIGHT ARMS will quickly draw youngsters’ attention with the enchanting illustrations by Carla Francesca Castagno.

This is a fun story to share with the entire family.

How The Octopus Got Eight Arms, Two Arms Are Never Enough by Yvonne Arroyo, Interior Illustration by Carl Wanzung, Cover Illustration by Carla Francesca Castagno, Outskirts Press, @2013, ISBN: 978-1432793692, Paperback, 45 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks for stopping by today. Hope everyone is having  a pleasant Sunday. What books have you read this past week? What books are you looking forward to reading? Anything here catch your eye?

1 comment:

  1. Mason - You've definitely got an interesting combination of books here! The thrillers both sound like great mixes of past and present stories, and Oscar the Octopus does look charming. Thanks for sharing.


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