Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Review of Alex Kava’s Damaged: A Maggie O’Dell novel

DoubleDay is generously sponsoring a giveaway of Damaged: A Maggie O’Dell Novel. I hadn’t read any of Alex Kava‘s books before, but Lee Child’s recommendation put Damaged on the top of my TBR list!

Lee Child had this to say about Damaged:

“Read this gripping, can’t-put-it-down thriller. O’Dell could be Reacher’s long-lost twin.”

The book comes out on July 13, 2010 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders. Or sign up for the giveaway below!

Damaged: A Maggie O'Dell Novel

Summary & Review:
Damaged is the 8th novel in the series of Maggie O’Dell is an FBI profiler. Maggie has proven herself and become the “go to person” for the complex serial killer cases. In Damaged, O’Dell is mentally and psychologically exhausted from her latest case, but she’s tough and unwilling to give an unsympathetic boss leverage over her. Maggie has learned to keep her demons to herself. When a cooler filled with body parts is found floating in Florida, her boss sends her down to assist. Maggie ends up in middle of a hurricane trying to help local officials identify a container of body parts, determine whether the parts come from murder victims – and if so, stop the killer.

Maggie’s dropped in an unfamiliar city with a minimal support system. Part of the book’s strength comes from Kava’s description of just how Maggie overcomes these difficulties and learns to make alliances. Things don’t come easily for Maggie and she appreciates every consideration and kindness that she receives. Not surprisingly, other folks that are similarly situated warm up to Maggie.

One such character is Liz Bailey. Although she’s a secondary character in the novel, Liz stands out. She’s a rescue diver which means that she’s lowered from a moving chopper into dangerous waters and volatile situations. While her courage, technical expertise, and her fast thinking have saved lives, Liz has been assigned to a new team and must prove herself to them. Like Maggie, Liz faces an unsympathetic and chauvinistic supervisor — and Liz’s handling of him and his pettiness bring a certain something to the story.

This is my first Alex Kava novel and I particularly liked her strong women characters. One thing that struck me was how Kava delved into the dynamics between Maggie O’Dell and her direct supervisor FBI Assistant Director Raymond Kunze and (2) the pettiness and power tripping demonstrated by Liz Bailey’s direct supervisor towards the competent rescue diver. Both women respond the only possible way — they take it on the chin and win my sympathy. I love that both Maggie and Liz prove themselves through their competence and work ethic. It was those small moments that made the book stand out to me.

Despite my focus on the work politics that the two lead women face, Damaged is a detective thriller first and foremost. Kava carefully crafts the story so that the action and clues build on each other to give us a fast-paced and complex thriller. If you’re looking for a detective or crime thriller with strong characters and an interesting plot line, Damaged will surely satisfy.

ISBN-10: 0385531990 – Hardcover $24.99

Publisher: Doubleday (July 13, 2010), 272 pages.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Alex Kava’s two stand-alone novels and seven novels featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell have been published in more than 20 countries, appearing on the bestseller lists in Britain, Australia, Poland, Germany, and Italy. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and of International Thriller Writers. Alex divides her time between Omaha, Nebraska, and Pensacola, Florida. Learn more at


I’ve been trying to find ways of improving my blog. To enter, please mention something that you would like to see on my blog (a positive change) or a suggestion that you have to make my blog better. Or tell me what you like about the blog and would not like to have change. Thanks!

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 residents only. No P.O. boxes. The contest ends at noon on July 30, 2010.


Organizing a book tour for Jon Land’s Strong Justice: A Caitlin Strong Novel

I’d previously reviewed Strong Justice: A Caitlin Strong Novel by Jon Land.   (Read my Strong Justice review here.) 

 Strong Justice: A Caitlin Strong Novel The book came out on June 22 and I’d like to help spread the word about the book and am organizing a book blog tour for it.  If you have a book blog and enjoy thrillers or detective novels, especially those with unflappable women, I’d love to have you join!  

The book is the second in the series with Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong.  Set in present day Texas, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is a fifth generation Texas Ranger and one of the few women in the field.  Largely raised by her retired Texas Ranger grandfather, Earl Strong, Caitlin combines top notch fighting skill with a strong moral code.  Her training, background and job have made her the sort of woman that dives into danger when no one else will.  Slim and pretty, she’s often underestimated, which she uses to her advantage.   This time, young women have been missing and abandoned bodies have been found with evidence of torture.   There are few clues, but Caitlin won’t rest until she finds the missing girls and stops the killing.   Doesn’t it sound interesting?

If you’d like to participate, please send me an email at gaby317nyc at  with “STRONG TOUR” in the subject.   I’m particularly looking for  US bloggers with active blogs, who have posted at least 30 reviews, and are able to read and review Strong Justice within a 4 week window.  The sooner that you can participate, the better since the book is already out. 

June Hatchette Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! I’ve notified the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing addresses. Thank you again to Anna and Hatchette Book Group for generously sponsoring these giveaways!

Babushka's Beauty Secrets: Old World Tips for a Glamorous New You Ravished by a Highlander The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion

by Raya Ruder and Susan Campos
littleone -confirmed
cenya2- confirmed
HilLesha – confirmed
jellybelly82158- confirmed
tiredwkids- confirmed
hawaiismn – confirmed
castings- confirmed
womackcm – confirmed
hillary26 – confirmed
unknownkreature – confirmed

Hatchette Audio Book Winners

Congratulations!! I’ve contacted the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing information. Thank you all for participating and to Hatchette Audio for generously sponsoring this giveaway.

The 9th Judgment (The Women's Murder Club) God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898
Deliver Us from Evil Men and Dogs: A Novel
anthy_st – confirmed
monacart32 – confirmed
bloggyig- confirmed

denny – confirmed
amt – confirmed
librarygrinch- confirmed
womackcm- confirmed
David Baldacci’s Deliver Us From Evil
skkorman- confirmed
mom1248 – confirmed
Katie Crouch’s Men and Dogs
forwhlz- confirmed
mitzihinkey – confirmed
monacart32 – confirmed

Book Contest Winners – Part 1

I’d like to apologize for the delay in announcing the results of these giveaways. I’ve notified the winners and they have until Monday evening to send me their mailing addresses.

A Change in Altitude: A Novel A Touch of Scandal Stay a Little Longer Forbidden Passion

Anita Shreve’s A Change in Altitude
lizzi0915 – confirmed
adrianecoros- confirmed
leenbeen2001 – confirmed

Jennifer Haymore’s A Touch of Scandal
candc320 – confirmed
pams00 – confirmed
dcf_beth – confirmed
nancyecdavis – confirmed
Dorothy Garlock’s Stay A Little Longer
bgcchs – confirmed
mittens0831 – confirmed
Rita Herron’s Forbidden Passion
usignolc- confirmed
mlawson17 – confirmed
booklover0226- confirmed
tore923 – confirmed
countrybear52 – confirmed

Free Bobs at Bumble & Bumble University – Model Call on June 28

Bumble & Bumble’s Hair Model Project is quite famous for the free haircuts.    The cuts are completely free (no tipping) and are as good or better than the rather expensive ones that I’d gotten in NYC over the years.     The students are professionals — they’ve years under their belt and they’re studying specialized techniques to perfect their craft.  The teachers are excellent — friendly, responsive, and they always seem to know how to make the haircut really work for you.   I’ve had their razor bobs, coloring and the short layers and I’ve always been quite happy with the results.

The hitch:  
To qualify for the cut, you have to undergo a model call. They’ll check out your hair and see if you’re a fit for the program.  There are a range of cuts: short layers, razor bob, long layers, etc.  They do coloring as well for certain types of cuts.

Also, the process takes longer than the usual haircut because it’s a teaching class.   If you have time, it’s worth doing not just for the free haircut but because it’s interesting to see how the styles and techniques are taught/learned.  Once you’re in the system, you can sign up for free haircuts every 4 months or so.

The next Bumble & Bumble Model Call for Razor Bobs will be on June 28 from 5:30 – 6:15 pm. 

Bb.U Model Project
415 West 13th Street, 6th Floor (between 9th Ave & Washington St)
New York NY 10014
t. 866.7.BUMBLE/866.728.6253

The closest subways are: 
L at 8th Ave.
A/C/E at 14th Street

If approved during the Model Call, you can book a Razor Bob appointment for either:
  • Wednesday, July 7 at 12pm and 2:30pm
  • Friday, July 16 at 12pm and 2:30pm
If those dates don’t work, additional dates are available.

How to sign up:
RSVP to  Don’t forget to mention that you’re signing up for the Model Call on June 28.  Give them your name, a phone number and your email.  It’d be great if you could mention that you’d heard about this on Starting Fresh blog.

Resolved: To engage in at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity every other day

When I began Starting Fresh, I was determined to exercise more, eat healthy, act healthy and get more done.   While I’ve loved reading and reviewing books,  I haven’t taken any real steps to become more active or slimmer. 

It’s been easy for me to put off exercising, and then to put off other things (networking, etc) until I slim down and reach other self-improvement goals.

Both my husband and my mother have been encouraging me to “seize the day.”  The phrase in Filipino (Tagalog) is “Sayang ang araw” or “Sulitin ang araw” which roughly translated means “Don’t waste the day,”  “Make the most of the day.”  I usually smile and nod, but haven’t improved all that much.

I know I used to get so much more done when I was working 12 to 15 hours a day at the law firm.  Those days, just a fifteen minute break or an hour in the sun was such a luxury.  

So here goes, I had planned to commit to 30 minutes of vigorous activity every day of the week.  I’ve since I bargained myself down to every other day.   I won’t bore everyone by posting about my diet and exercise plan, but I hope you guys don’t mind that I mention what I’ve done (just one line!) the day that I do it.  This will force me to keep honest and keep at it.    And now, I’ll head over to my local YMCA.  A blogger I met during BEA mentioned that she reads her Kindle on the elliptical — I’ll give that a try!

Would anyone else like to give this a try? We help keep each other on track!  Shoot me an email at gaby317nyc at