Archive for July, 2011

July 21st, 2011

A Small Fortune by Audrey Braun

by Gwen

A Small Fortune

A bit over a year ago, I came upon a great interview of Audrey Braun on Rose City Reader. Usually, I sort of pass interviews by; they are often boring and full of the same non-exciting or canned answers that make me yawn. This particular interview was great fun to read and really did its job – to allow the reader to get to know the author a bit better so that they will go buy the book. At the end, not only did I feel like I had had a drink with fun girlfriends, but I also really wanted to read Audrey Braun’s A Small Fortune.

Shortly after that, Audrey Braun herself contacted me and asked if I would like to read her book. Uhmm, are you kidding? Of course I would love to!

Here is the blurb-

Celia Donnelly sets off for tropical Mexico, longing to repair her nerves, rekindle her marriage, and restore peace with her increasingly difficult teenage son. But just as the radiant coastline begins to thaw the cold within her family, a stranger sparks a long-dead passion inside her, and his connections lead to an unspeakable betrayal. From sea breezes to jungle steam to the crisp air of Zurich, Celia will be forced to uncover what everyone is suddenly after, including her own life. Caught inside a mysterious past, she must throw herself into harm’s way in order to protect her son. But matters are complicated after the stirred passion becomes a fever that cannot be contained. Is this stranger worthy of her love and trust? Or is he just another piece in the sinister plot to steal the very thing that Celia has no idea is hers to take?

What I didn’t expect from Braun, a debut author, was a story so tightly woven and engrossing. There is not one superfluous word in the whole book and that takes talent. These days, so many debut authors feel the need to write flowery chunksters that are so full of things that really don’t add anything to a story that I want to scream.

Not the case with A Small Fortune. At about page 30, it sucks you in and you can’t let go. There are so many twists in the adventure and emotional storylines that there is something here for everyone. Celia seems like a character that has sort of checked out on life and at first, it is a bit hard to relate to her. Slowly, you begin to see how easy it was for her to do that. She was grieving, had a son, and trusted her husband whole-heartedly. She had to grow up and take her power back quickly in the book and you have to respect someone that can do that.

Her wake-up call came when she found herself blindfolded and strapped to a chair in Puerto Vallarta. What would your wake-up call be?

I loved the story. Calling it a “beach read” doesn’t do it justice. There is suspense, a bit of romance and a lot of soul searching that I could identify with. The other amazing thing was how tightly wrapped up the whole package is; the isn’t an extraneous word or a unnecessary diatribe on something that doesn’t push the story forward in the whole 256 pages.

Shortly after reading it last year, Audrey Braun (AKA Deborah Reed) contacted me and asked if I could hold my review back.. The book had been picked up and was to be published by AmazonEncore in 2011. I wasn’t surprised yet, was really eager to sing the book’s praises. I passed it onto my family and they all loved it. Still, I had to wait……and wait…..and wait….until it came out Tuesday to bring it here.

This is the ONLY modern book, I have ever reread. That says a lot because I am firmly planted in the “there are too many books in the world to ever reread one” camp. That means I liked it.. A lot.

To see how the book came about, read her post on the Kindle Blog. I bet you will see what I saw when I first read her interview in 2010; I like her laidback and fun style. The book will not disappoint.

A Small Fortune by Aubrey Braun

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonEncore (July 19, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1935597655
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935597650
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    July 18th, 2011

    The Traitor’s Emblem by Juan Gomez-Jurado

    by Gwen

    A Spanish Captain rescues four people afloat on a raft at sea in 1940. They don’t speak Spanish and the Captain doesn’t speak German, but he quietly gets them to safety and in return, the leader gives him a strange gold emblem. For the rest of his life, Manuel Gonzalez Pereira tries to find what the medal means and where it came from. All he ever was able to find that it was a Masonic symbol, but every Mason he ever contacted told him that it was probably fake.

    Pereira eventually dies, leaving the emblem to his son, Juan Carlos. Years later, he crosses paths with a man that has a story to go along with that emblem. It is a tale of families, of betrayal, of father that a son never knew, and a quest that takes place in turbulent 1930’s Munich.

    Earlier this month, I read Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, so delving into the fictional Munich during the same time period gave me such a comfortable feeling. The late 30’s however, were not a comfortable time to live in Germany and The Traitor’s Emblem felt so authentic, almost gave me the creeps as I was reading it.

    I enjoyed this more than his last work, The Moses Expedition. I’ll be honest though, I can’t really put my finger on why. At their most basic, they are both personal quests with political/religious overtones, but The Traitor’s Emblem just seemed more unputdownable.

    The Traitor’s Expedition by Juan Gomez-Jurado

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439198780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439198780