Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lighthouse Island Blog Tour

Lighthouse Island by Paulette Jiles
Publication date: July 29, 2014 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
A beautiful and captivating dystopian tale resonant with love and hope from the acclaimed poet and New York Times bestselling author of The Color of LightningStormy Weather, and Enemy Women
See the rain forests . . . northern beauty, misted nights. Come to Lighthouse Island . . .
In the coming centuries, Earth’s population has exploded and covered the planet with endless cities. It is an unwelcoming world for Nadia Stepan, abandoned at age four and left with only a drawing of the Big Dipper and her mother’s parting words: “Look to the North Star, and we will always be there.” Nadia grows up dreaming of the vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest where she believes her long-lost parents must be.
In the meantime, this bright and witty orphan finds refuge in neglected books, and the voice of Big Radio that emanates from an abandoned satellite, patiently reading the great classical books of the world.

When an opportunity for escape appears, Nadia strikes out in search of a dream. She faces every contingency with inventiveness and meets a man who changes the course of her life. Together, they head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies far beyond the megalopolis: Lighthouse Island.

My Take:
Lighthouse Island is one of those books that just seemed like something I would like. It is dystopian, it is literary, it is adult. So, yes, I liked it.

The reader is introduced to Raisa as just a girl whose parents left her on the street. She becomes one of many orphans who are growing up in a strange, dry, anonymous part of what was once the U.S.  She likes to be alone, but everyone wants her to to be with the group; she can't watch television because it hurts her eyes, but that is the main source of entertainment for everyone. She doesn't fit into their mold. Her name is changed to Nadia for some strange, unexplained reason having to do with her medical care. 

Things feel weird and vague. Sometimes it seems like Nadia is walking through a vague, foggy dream - or nightmare - might be more accurate. There is no sense of time or place or even person-hood. The world building is done gradually since the reader experiences everything through the eyes of either Nadia or James, a wealthy man who was paralyzed in a fall and ends up helping Nadia. The world Nadia and James inhabit it a strange and uncertain one where people pretend not to see anything that might make them a target, and for the most part, just seem to accept that this is how things are. There is little reflection on things or questioning the system. The few who do end up in prison or on the newest show that broadcasts live executions. 

One of my favorite things about Nadia is how she is able to instinctively capitalize on the inefficient bureaucracy of her world. People are at the mercy of whatever agency or department is currently rounding people up or hunting people down, or searching for evidence of some vague crime or intent. It is all very disconcerting and menacing. There are lots of rules that make little sense and many limitations on freedoms. Nadia, of course, sees the fact that no one knows what any one else is doing or who they are working for, so she takes on a persona and makes up titles and occupations as needed to talk her way out of situations. She is usually pretty successful.

I kept wondering while I was reading the book about who was actually in charge of the country. Was there anyone actually in charge? It seemed like the so-called leaders that were shown on the screen were just figureheads, someone from central casting even. Or was everything run by competing departments? I think the book brings a lot of current issues to the reader's attention by taking these issues to extremes and showing the victims and results.

I will admit that Light Island may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. Even the lack of quotation marks didn't bother me. In fact, I thought it worked well with the story. It seemed to reflect the uncertainty in which the people lived.

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Paulette JilesAbout Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a poet and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the bestselling novels Enemy Women and Stormy Weather. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Paulette’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, August 5th: BookNAround
Thursday, August 7th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, August 13th: The Steadfast Reader
Monday, August 18th: Love at First Book
Wednesday, August 20th: A Book Geek
Friday, August 22nd: Read. Write. Repeat
Monday, August 25th: she treads softly
Wednesday, August 27th: Fuelled by Fiction
Thursday, August 28th: Giraffe Days

TBD: Book Snob

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Moonflower Book Spotlight

Title: Moonflower: A Memoir of Healing
Author: Tara Edin
Publisher: Tara Edin
Pages: 156
Genre: Memoir
Format: Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
Blooming was her Birthright. Darkness the Unexpected Catalyst.
Tara is an incest, rape and sexual abuse survivor, who suffered from PTSD for many years but was misdiagnosed with mental illnesses instead. This took her down a near-fatal path ultimately ending in an accident, which nearly claimed her life at age 29. Most only know the abridged version of the story, yet the real story holds many truths and miracles that must be shared. With a second lease on life, Tara faces the sexual abuse and betrayal from her younger years with support from a compassionate zen therapist. Tara begins to recreate her life with a new spirituality that feeds her soul and encompasses her painful past, giving life to the love that has always been her birthright. With lucid prose and powerful poetry, Tara details her soul’s transformation from darkness to light, offering her readers the gifts of honesty, empathy, and empowerment.
Moonflower is Part Memoir, Part Self-Help & Part Spiritual Odyssey.
Rape, incest and sexual assault are unspoken controversial topics that still fester behind closed doors in the 21st century as survivors are still being told to “Get over it,” or worse, “It didn’t even happen.” It takes years to heal from such life-altering, traumatic experiences, and many survivors are doing this work alone. There is a great need for testimonies from those who have emerged from their ordeals stronger.
This revealing story uncovers the aftermath of abuse that often leads to unstable relationships, repeated abuse, and mental or physical dis-ease. Although Moonflower covers difficult topics such as emotional and sexual abuse, the author sifts through these experiences to offer her readers the gifts and lessons that can be drawn from such setbacks.
There is no cookie-cutter journey to healing, but there is great power in sharing our stories. Moonflower exhibits the power of the self and spirit in the healing process. It stretches beyond what may be considered a “normal” path and braves a non-traditional spiritual road to wellness, inspiring others to broaden their perspectives of the healing experience. Readers will be inspired by Tara’s fiery spirit and deep reflective soul, cheering her on as she finds her way back to herself.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Agben School Spotlight

Title: The Agben School
Author: Jo Sparkes
Publisher: Oscar Press
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben, and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.

And now Marra stood at its gate.

Friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lay in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd.

The gateway before her was her only hope.

For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far.

Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.

Everything depended on her.

Book Excerpt:

Mik was all of ten years old, and had responsibility.
That’s what his mother had told him this morning, when it was time to open the shop. His grandfather was ill, and needed care from time to time.
“Just keep it closed for the morning,” Father had suggested.
“Not with four ships in port,” Mother had snapped back.
So it was his job to mind the shop.
He’d done everything before, of course. Poured out the herbs, wrapped them in paper. Kept them close to himself until the customer paid in coin. “A poor little Mid Isle shop taking credit would go broke in a month,” his mother smilingly explained to any who asked.
Yes, he’d seen it all and he knew what to do.
Until the pretty girl walked in. Maybe 16 years old, he guessed. Maybe more. Her clothes weren’t as nice as many before her, but nicer than some. She had that desert air about her, down to the sandal shoes, but her hair was long in the Missean fashion, not the short cut of the Flats.
She didn’t seem Agben. But she didn’t seem not Agben, either.
It was a dark red hair, braided down her back. When she turned in the sunlight from the door the red flashed at him. Little wisps escaped and curled around her face, making her seem too soft.
Women of Agben were never soft.
Mik realized that responsibility did indeed have weight, just as his father said. He was feeling that weight on his shoulders this very second.
The girl looked over the shelves carefully, and he didn’t interrupt her.
And then she turned to him, and smiled. The smile alone was almost enough to prove she wasn’t Agben. Almost.
“Illsmith,” she said. “Do you have any?”
Mik nodded. “In the back, Miss. How much do you want?”
“Just a handful, please.” Her eyes were blue, he saw, but not the faded blue of his mother and baby sister. Hers were a deep blue, like the sea’s depths as evening fell.
He hurried to fetch her Illsmith.
“And Musk Oil?” she called after him.
Ahh hah! The pretty girl must be of Agben, Mik realized. Illsmith was a desert plant, and Musk Oil from the Great Continent. Those two went together, he knew, to rub on sore muscles and strained shoulders. He knew because one of the Agben women had told his mother so when his father had hurt himself pulling in the big swoopfish.
Mik grabbed a tiny glass bottle of oil – all of ten copper, he told himself – and then the crock of Illsmith. Returning to the girl, he set both on the counter, and produced a paper for the Illsmith. “Twelve copper,” he told her as plucked out a good handful of the herb and wrapped it proper.
Some people frowned when the price was mentioned, but this girl merely pulled coins from a pocket and counted it out.
Mik stooped low, to open the box his mother had told him he shouldn’t know about, and snatch the pretty bauble inside.
He carefully wrapped it in a soft cloth, the kind used for fragile glass on long trips. And then presented it to the girl.
“What is this?” she asked, starting to lift a wrapped corner.
Mik stopped her as old man Tanner strode into the shop. “Take it,” the boy whispered.
“Mik, my boy,” Tanner grinned, looking around for his mother. The old man always wanted advice on a new ache. “Your mother not here this morning?”
The girl hesitated, still staring at him. He snatched up the coin she’d placed on the counter, and tugged the step ladder over to just beneath the Stomach Cure jar.
“That’s right,” Tanner told him. “Just a swig, my boy. Just a swig.”
Mik felt the pretty girl’s eyes on him. Surely she knew no one else was supposed to see that thing. Surely she knew to stick it in her pocket and pretend it didn’t exist.
The girl gave him a last frown, but said no more. By the time he’d wrangled the tonic down from the shelf, she’d gone.

About the Author
A well-known Century City Producer once said that Jo Sparkes “…writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”  Her  body of work includes scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, commercial work for corporate clients. She won the 2012 Kay Snow award for her screenplay, Frank Retrieval.

She’s written numerous articles for internet sites. As a member of the Pro Football Writer’s Association, she was a contributing writer for the Arizona Sports Fans Network, where she was known for her humorous articles, player interviews and game coverage. Jo was unofficially the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he arrived in Arizona to play for the Cardinals.  

She served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and wrote “Feedback  How to Give It  How to Get It” for writers, actors, and other artists.
Her latest book is the fantasy, The Agben School.
For More Information

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Favors and Lies Blog Tour and Review

Favors and Lies by Mark Gilleo
Publication date: July 1, 2014 by The Story Plant
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Dan Lord is a forty-year-old private detective with a law degree working the blurred line between right and wrong in the Nation’s Capital. As a self-employed solutions broker and legal consultant, he works for a very select clientele. He doesn’t advertise and only takes cases on referral. But when two people close to him are murdered, Dan's work becomes very personal.
With the assistance of a newly hired female intern, extracting clues from a ladder of acquaintances, Dan bounds through both the underbelly and elite of society, each step bringing more questions and yet ultimately taking him closer to the answer he seeks. A bail bondsman, a recluse hacker, a court clerk, a university student, an old-school barber, a high-class madam, an intelligence officer, a medical doctor, and a police detective are among the list of people Dan must cajole for help. His quest will lead him to discover things he never wanted to know, and put him in the position to reveal things that important people would prefer remain unrevealed.

Tense, ingenious, and filled with the unforgettable characters that have become a Mark Gilleo trademark, Favors and Lies is the most thrilling novel yet from one of the great new voices in suspense fiction.

My Take:
Favors and Lies sounded like it might be an interesting read, so I agreed to review it. I had no idea that it would be so much fun and such an intense page turner. I was hooked from the first few pages. I was intrigued by this guy and had to find out what was going on. I loved the way the first couple of chapters of the book don't really explain things - the reader is just along for the ride while Dan goes about his business. At first it isn't really clear what that business is - he meets with a guy in a bar after a bunch of elusive moves to make sure he isn't followed or recognized. Intriguing. It seems that Dan is the good guy in the situation, but it is all very mysterious. The second chapter, however, is where I was truly hooked. This is where the head-long rush to find out what is going on hit me.

Dan Lord is a great protagonist - smart, tough, wily, stubborn and loyal. When two members of his family are found dead on the same night, he is determined to find answers. When he becomes a suspect in their murders, he is even more determined. And he is pretty angry at the way things are going. Obviously, there is something big going on and Dan is going to find out what it is.

I don't want to discuss particulars because I don't want to give away the good stuff. Suffice to say, I was impressed with the story and was completely entertained. Things are seldom what they seem and Dan has managed to get on a lot of people's wrong sides - which makes for some fun reading. Impressively, I was actually surprised at the big reveal. I really did not see it coming. 

Favors and Lies was such a blast from start to finish. I didn't know what to expect from Mark Gilleo's writing, but I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. If you like action-packed thriller/mysteries with a super cool protagonist, then you will probably enjoy Favors and Lies

About the Author:

Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His two most recent novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wisdom creative writing competition.

Follow the tour here:
July 01, 2014 - Dive Under the Cover

July 01, 2014 - Teena in Toronto

July 15, 2014 - The Bunny`s Review

July 31, 2014 - A Blue Million Books

August 05, 2014 - A Book Geek

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Forever Man blog tour and review

The Forever Man by Pierre Oulellette
Publication date: July 8, 2014 by Alibi e-original (Random House)
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review

From the author of The Deus Machine and The Third Pandemic comes a fast-paced thriller about the power of harnessing life itself—and the deadly secrets it conceals.
Portland, Oregon, was once a beacon of promise and prosperity. Now it’s the epicenter of a world gone wrong, its streets overrun by victims and hustlers, drifters and gangsters. Lowly contract cop Lane Anslow struggles to keep afloat—and to watch out for his brilliant but bipolar brother, Johnny, a medical researcher. Lane soon discovers that Johnny is part of an experiment veiled in extraordinary secrecy. But he has no idea who’s behind it, how astronomical the stakes are, or how many lives might be destroyed to make it a reality.

Now Johnny’s gone missing. To find him, Lane follows a twisting trail into a billionaire’s hilltop urban fortress, a politician’s inner circle, a prison set in an aircraft graveyard, and a highly guarded community where people appear to be half their biological age. Hunted by dueling enemies, Lane meets a beautiful and enigmatic woman at the center of a vast web of political and criminal intrigue. And behind it all is a sinister, desperate race to claim the biggest scientific prize of all: eternal life.

My Take:
If you have read much of my blog, you know that I love a good dystopian novel. I also love science fiction, but I don't review a lot of it. The Forever Man is sort of touted as sci fi techno thriller -- which it is, but I also think it easily falls into dystopia as well. The setting for the novel is a near-future version of Portland, Oregon where the economy has continued to benefit the super wealthy at the expense of the rest of the population. Every indication points to the fact that Portland is just a small fraction of the same type of situation for the rest of the country. Things have gone severely wrong for most of the population. Survival has become an issue. 

Law enforcement has been given over to contract cops who only patrol parts of the city - the safer parts. Lane Anslow is one of those cops and he works in the seedier areas trying to bring peace and justice -- which seems like a losing battle at this point. The neighborhoods are run by gangsters and the politicians have questionable ties to some of these gangs. Unfortunately for Lane, he is over forty and is deemed too old to continue as a contract cop. He also has a younger brother, Johnny, who is a brilliant scientist with bipolar disorder. Needless to say, Lane has a lot of stress and little cash or income to support himself or take care of his brother when he hits a downturn.

When Johnny disappears under suspicious circumstances, Lane uses all of his hard earned skills and connections to create a new identity and try to find his brother. This search is where things get crazy - well, even crazier than they were before. 

The Forever Man is about Lane's search for his brother and it is a long and incredibly dangerous and surprising one. Along the way, Lane and the reader encounter corrupt politicians, super wealthy people obsessed with looking decades younger than their actual age, the sharp contrast between the super wealthy and the rest of the population, the secretive and extremely wealthy man that seems to be at the center of many of the strange occurrences, a very unusual prison and ultimately, the search for the ability to live forever. 

I enjoyed The Forever Man very much. Lane is a great leading man and I loved all the action. I was also caught up in some of the other important aspects of the novel -- the examination of some of our shallower human qualities like the strange desire we have to look younger and to live on and on and the constant striving for power. I also thought this near future vision of our world was just a little too close for comfort. It was definitely a great read.

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About Pierre Ouellette

Pierre Ouellette entered the creative realm at age thirteen as a lead guitarist for numerous bands in the Pacific Northwest, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, and later played with such jazz luminaries as saxophonist Jim Pepper and bassist David Friesen. He has had two novels published in seven languages and both optioned for film. He has also authored two biotech thrillers published in paperback under the name Pierre Davis, and directed and produced The Losers Club, a documentary about struggling musicians. Ouellette lives in Portland, Oregon, where he now devotes himself exclusively to writing fiction and playing jazz guitar now and then in a little bar just down the street.

Pierre Ouellette’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, July 8th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 9th: Crime Book Club
Thursday, July 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 14th: She Treads Softly
Wednesday, July 16th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, July 21st: Reading Reality
Wednesday, July 23rd: Back Porchervations
Thursday, July 24th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, July 28th: The Year in Books
Tuesday, July 29th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, July 30th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 4th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, August 5th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, August 6th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot

Thursday, August 7th: My Shelf Confessions

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sleeping with the Crawfish Review

Sleeping with the Crawfish by D.J. Donaldson
Publication date: January 2013 by Astor +Blue
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food.  Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery solving duo.
Strange lesions found in the brain of a dead man have forensic pathologist Broussard stumped.  Even more baffling are the corpse’s fingerprints.  They belong to Ronald Cicero, a lifer at Angola State Prison… an inmate the warden insists is still there.  Broussard sends psychologist Kit Franklyn to find out who is locked up in Cicero’s cell.  But an astonishing discovery at the jail and an attempt on her life almost has Kit sleeping with the crawfish in a bayou swamp. And Broussard, making a brilliant deduction about another murder, may soon be digging his own grave.

You can purchase the book here:
•   Amazon

•   B&N

•  Astor+Blue

My Take:

As was the case with the previous Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn book I read, Louisiana Fever, I was quickly caught up in a mystery that kept getting more complicated and dangerous with each page. 

Sleeping with the Crawfish follows the events of Louisiana Fever, and Kit is still trying to recover from the trauma and lost confidence that resulted from her kidnapping in Louisiana Fever.  Kit feels that she isn't up to the rigors of working with Broussard and that she isn't intellectually up to the challenge. Broussard and everyone else knows this isn't the case, but they have all been unable and/or unwilling to push the issue with her up this point.

In an attempt to show Kit that she can handle the job, Broussard asks her for what he thinks will be a very small, simple favor. But naturally, Kit walks into a much more difficult and dangerous situation than either of them knew. Honestly, I felt quite sorry for Kit -- she seems to get the short end of the stick every time. Although, I felt things evened out a bit since Broussard did end up in the field and encountered a bit of trouble himself in this one.

Kit goes to the prison to verify exactly who is in the prison cell - seems simple enough. As soon as she arrives she get some unexpected news regarding the prisoner. And then a strange series of events begins to unfold - too many coincidences to be sure. Things are not what they seem in this little town where the prison warden and the funeral director are family. 

This was definitely a fun, fast-paced read. I enjoyed the story and the returning characters, Broussard and Kit naturally, but also the always funny and lovable Grandma O.  If you enjoy a good mystery, some Southern charm and food, and good old-fashioned corruption, you will probably enjoy Sleeping with the Crawfish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lies Told in Silence Book Blast

02_Lies Told in Silence Cover

Publication Date: June 29, 2014 Tod Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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In 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility. With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front. As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier. The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.

Praise for Lies Told in Silence

‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ - SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King’s Ransom 'An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ - DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent ‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ - AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past ‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ - MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal ‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ - RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author

03_M.K. TodM.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise. In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog - - which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children. Connect with M.K. Tod on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Lies Told in Silence Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, July 28
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Book Babe
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at Mel's Shelves
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Book Blast at Passages to the Past
Thursday, July 31
Book Blast at Royalty Free Fiction
Friday, August 1
Book Blast at Back Porchervations
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Saturday, August 2
Book Blast at Mythical Books
Monday, August 4
Review & Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, August 5
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, August 7
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Book Blast at Kinx's Book Nook
Friday, August 8
Book Blast at The Maiden's Court
Monday, August 11
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Book Blast at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Book Blast at The Bookworm
Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Writing Desk
Thursday, August 14
Book Blast at Words and Peace
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, August 15
Review at Lost in Books
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Sunday, August 17
Book Blast at Brooke Blogs
Monday, August 18
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Review at Historical Fiction Notebook


To win a copy of M.K. Tod's Lies Told In Silence please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally!
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 19th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The House We Grew Up In

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Publication date: August 12, 2014 by Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Description from Goodreads:
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

My Take:
This is one of those books that just made me think: WOW! As soon as I started reading The House We Grew Up In, I was hooked. The book goes back and forth in time and also has some of Lorelei's emails interspersed throughout. The reader is introduced to the lovely Bird family, Lorelei and Colin and their children, Megan, Beth, Rory and Rhys. Lorelei is this free, flowing hippy flower-child who lives in the moment. Her husband, Colin, is more pragmatic and tries his best to make her happy.

While the book begins in present day, the story of the Bird family is told between the emails and remembered events from the past - often the Easters they celebrated together. Their lives seem almost idyllic as their story begins, but there is a certain tension there. Just what this is and the causes are slowly revealed throughout the novel. There is one shattering event that does seem to cause everyone to spin out of control and has long lasting consequences for the family.

I found this book to be a real page-turner. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The writing is just beautiful and the story deals with family and all the messiness that can entail, mental illness, growing up, dealing with death and other changes in life. But most of all, it deals compassionately with the issue of hoarding. Each member of the family is allowed their view on the issue and how it impacts them. The issue is also examined from the perspective of the hoarder which I really found to be compelling. I will be suggesting this book to my friends and I am planning to suggest it to my book club for the coming year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Strange Creatures

What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault
Publication date: July 22, 2014 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description from Goodreads:

Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young academic’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.

The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a dog later, Theresa still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.

Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative, and loyal, he’s also aimless in work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten.

When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea that it is the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet world. Soon, Kim’s body will be found in the woods, and Jeff will become the prime suspect.

Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a cold-blooded murderer. But to clear him she must find out more about Kim. Investigating the dead woman’s past, Theresa uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal—and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own.

My Take:

There is so much that I loved about What Strange Creatures -- the title, the cover is just lovely and I loved that Theresa is so invested in Margery Kempe, but maybe most of all, I loved the quirkiness of Theresa and her brother, Jeff.

I really enjoyed Miss Me When I'm Gone by Arsenault and I looked forward to another fast-paced, fun, and unexpected ending to another mystery. I was not disappointed.  I think What Strange Creatures was even more enjoyable. 

Theresa seems to be a life-long student of the writing of Margery Kempe, a woman of the middle ages who wrote (actually dictated) the story of her life, visions and pilgrimages in what some consider to be the first autobiography. Theresa didn't intend to spend most of her adult life working on her dissertation, but that is just how things have worked out so far. She has a job as a copywriter for a local candle company, but she still tells herself that she is going to finish her dissertation. Eventually.

Can I just say, I love this set up. I was hooked from the start. Maybe I'm just a geek, but how can anyone NOT love the set up to this book? 

Theresa is determined to help her brother Jeff stay out of prison for a murder she is sure he didn't commit. Her investigation leads her to some unusual people and situations. I admired her dedication to her brother. Their relationship is close and so much fun to read about. 

This was one of those books that I read in pretty much one sitting. I can quite happily recommend this one to everyone. Although, you will have to get your own copy, because I am not sharing -- I may need to read it again.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Endangered Blog Tour and Review

Endangered by Jean Love Cush
Publication date: July 1, 2014 by Amistad
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
To save her son from a legal system bent on sending African American men to jail, a young mother agrees to an unprecedented, controversial defense offered up from a team of crack lawyers, in this debut novel that speaks to race, class, and justice in America.
Janae Williams, a never-missed-a-day-of-work single mother, has devoted her whole life to properly raising her son. From the time Malik could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him to “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say” if stopped by the police. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik be in jail if he had run?

Blocked at every turn from seeing her son, Janae is also unable to afford adequate legal representation. In steps the well-meaning Roger Whitford, a lawyer who wants to use Malik’s case to upend the entire criminal justice system. Janae simply wants her son free, but Roger, with the help of an ambitious private attorney, is determined to expose the system’s hostility toward black boys.

Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics. As Janae battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of the future of her community.

My Take:
This book, Endangered, peaked my interest because of it's timely and important topic.  I opened the book -- just to get a peek, since I was reading two other books at the time. I hadn't meant to be drawn in -- I just wanted to take a look at how it started. Well, the best laid plans and all that. . . I was hooked after the first page. The other books had to wait.

This is a compelling novel about a difficult and important problem. The novel tells the story of Malik, a young black boy who is arrested and charged with a murder that he didn't commit. His mother, Janae, is a young, single mom who has worked long and hard to provide for Malik and herself - and is just barely managing to do so. So, of course, she is unable to afford a lawyer and must use a public defender. This doesn't bode well for Malik. His story is so common, no one even seems to notice. . . until Roger Whitford steps in and makes an unexpected offer which could change Malik's and Janae's lives.

Endangered brings the very real problems of our legal system to light and examines many of the symptoms and causes of our social problems, particularly as they pertain to young black males. 

I really enjoyed this book even though the subject matter is upsetting and unfair. I found myself completely immersed in the story. I found Janae to be a very sympathetic and dynamic character. Even though the love interest in the book may seem to distract from the main premise, I was happy to see Janae expand her horizons and start looking at her own well-being and happiness as well as her son's. I can happily recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I gave it to my daughter to read next. 

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Jean Love CushAbout Jean Love Cush

A native of Philadelphia, Jean Love Cush worked for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office directly out of law school before spending three years as a family law attorney helping low-income women escape domestic-abuse situations. After moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, she hosted a weekly radio show called A View from Summit, where she covered such topics as public safety, urban violence, and inner-city education. Cush now lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.

Find out more about Jean at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Jean’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 1st: Turn the Page
Wednesday, July 2nd: Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, July 3rd: A Book Geek
Monday, July 7th: Joyfully Retired
Tuesday, July 8th: Literally Jen
Wednesday, July 9th: FictionZeal
Thursday, July 10th: Books on the Table
Monday, July 14th: Between the Covers
Tuesday, July 15th: A Tale of This Newlywed
Wednesday, July 16th: The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, July 17th: Veronica M.D.
Monday, July 21st: Priscilla and Her Books
Tuesday, July 22nd: Giraffe Days
Wednesday, July 23rd: The many thoughts of a reader
Thursday, July 24th: Queen of All She Reads

TBD: Back Porchervations