Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Orphans, Assassins & the Existential Eggplant Book Blast

Orphans, Assassins, and the Existential Eggplant
ABookGeek is happy to participate in the Book Blast for Orphans, Assassins & the Existential Eggplant by J.T. Gillett.

Publication Date: February 19, 2015 
Publisher: Homunculus Press 
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback 
ISBN-13: 978-0692391662 
Pages: 279
Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant explores the quirky side of historical fiction. The novel takes you on wild ride through the early 13th century with a female alchemist, orphan teenager and a 600-year-old, shrunken eggplant that can speak to whomever wears it. In search of the fabled Lost Stone of Eden, they cross Europe and the Mediterranean with the Children's Crusade, hijack a caravan in the Sahara desert, live with hashish-fueled Assassins in the mountains of Persia and rediscover paradise on the island of Bahrain.


Excerpt

Aaron and the girls slept for a few hours during the hottest part of the day, then rode through the evening and the entire night, taking only a few breaks to rest the camels. They didn?t catch up to any slow-moving caravans, come upon an oasis or see fires in the night. Everything around them seemed the same, day after day. Same mirrored sky. Same scorching sun. Same sound of camel farting and plodding. Same sad, ivory scent of emptiness.

 "Are we dead?" asked Donatelle as they shared the last of the water. They were sitting atop a tall dune and could see nothing but more dunes in every direction.

 "Do you feel dead"? Aaron had to ask, knowing that in the middle of this terminal landscape, it was a good question.

"I can't tell because I don't know what it's like to be dead, but it might be like this. Just nothing," Donatelle shrugged.

"Death is much different-and much luckier," guessed the eggplant.

 Aaron hoped the eggplant was right, but he chose a different answer for Donatelle. "Whenever I'm not sure, I listen for my heartbeat. The pounding inside me says I'm alive in this world and even though we're in a dead place, we'll survive. We'll find something soon, or something will find us."

Something took the form of a humming dark cloud on the horizon. They watched as it grew darker, stretched across the dunes and started to roar like steady, rolling thunder.

Praise for Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant

"Good stories rise and fall like empires in the endless pursuit of happiness, like armies of lovers marching to paradise - good stories change the world." So begins Part One of Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant. This book is such a good read. I read it on the plane to Hawaii, and it soared with me through the sky. My wife kept asking what was so funny as I giggled and laughed in my seat. This story changed me, in that flying is such a drag these days, and this book kept coming up with surprises, weaving together stories of gods, goddesses, orphans and assassins, the pursuit of the unattainable, and existential conundrums.

I have had the opportunity to read some of Mr Gillett's poetry (especially "This is My Last Poem" - I hope this is not his last novel), and in this novel, he brings his poetic ability to sublimely transport the reader to new views of the mundane, new opportunities for transformation, and new ways of understanding my own self. What more could I ask for in a book.

Steal this book if you need to, but get it and read it with joy." - Paul Rerucha, Amazon Reviewer

"I don't read a ton of books for pleasure but I did read this one on the recommendation of a friend. It kept me captivated and I ended up finishing it in 2.5 days. This is the kind of book that makes me want to read more often." - B. H., Amazon Reviewer

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Available at Amazon

Kindle 
eBook
Paperback

About the Author

J.T Gillett holds degrees in philosophy and journalism from the University of Oregon and studied at Naropa Institute?s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of Literary Journals, including City Lights Journal, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. For more information please visit the Orphans and Assassins website and blog.

Orphans, Assassins and the Existential Eggplant Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 22
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 23
100 Pages a Day
Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, June 24
Unshelfish
To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, June 25
Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 26
Book Nerd
What Is That Book About

Saturday, June 28
Diana's Book Reviews

Sunday, June 29
The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, June 30
A Book Geek
CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, July 1
Room With Books

Thursday, July 2
Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 3
Thoughts From an Evil Overlord


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Odin's Child Blog Tour and Review

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Odin's Child by Bruce MacBain
Publication Date: May 26, 2015 Blank Slate Press Formats: eBook, Trade Paperback 
Pages: 400 
Genre: Historical Fiction

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 Driven from the flaming ruin of his Iceland farmhouse, young Odd Tangle-Hair, the only survivor of a feud in which his family is slaughtered, steals a ship, rounds up a rag-tag crew and embarks on the Viking life. He swears one day to return, rich and powerful enough to take vengeance on his enemies. But how far off that day seems!

 His father, Black Thorvald, had once been a chieftain in Iceland. But in the year 1000, when the country adopted Christianity, Thorvald denounced the new faith and shut himself up in his hall, shunning the world and shunned by it. Odd fears that the worm of cowardice that unmanned his father has infected him too. He has inherited from Thorvald a shock of black hair, a gift for poetry, and an allegiance to Odin, god of battles and magic. But Odd is heir to darker traits as well - a hint of madness and a temper which will sometimes cost him dearly.

 Fate carries him and his men to a shamanistic healer in Lapland, to bloody religious strife in Norway, to the lair of a witch in Finland, and finally to the borders of Russia. Here Odd will leave his comrades behind to join the retinue of a Norwegian princeling who is fleeing to the court of Yaroslav, Grand Prince of Rus. New dangers wait for him in that faraway country.

 Eager, curious, quick-witted-and sometimes wrong-headed-Odd Tangle-Hair recounts his story with candor, insight, and always an ironic sense of humor.



My Take:

I hardly know where to begin expressing my appreciation of Odin's Child by Bruce MacBain. The story-telling is quite masterful - I was caught up in Odd's tale from the start -- and it is quite a tale! The attention to historical detail is admirable and I really appreciated that Odd actually acted like a sixteen year old - impulsive with wild leaps in emotions and the inability to think about the long-term ramifications of his actions. He eventually does mature and grows into his role as leader of men, but the path is arduous.

I also liked the attention spent on the conflicts caused by the conversion of many of his countrymen to Christianity --- this is a catalyst for much conflict and the confusion about what entails a deity is expressed well in the novel.  I loved the many adventures that Odd and his rag-tag group fell into --- despite the violence and deprivation --- this tale is wild and adventurous and reminded me of many of the classic tales. Unlike some of the classics, there is no vagueness regarding the extreme violence of such a life.

Odin's Child is definitely worth a read --- and  I am looking forward to the next book in Odd's adventures -- and there are hints that they will be every bit as thrilling and death defying as this one. I hate to give too many details about the book because I want readers to gasp in fear/horror and hold their breath in anticipation of what will happen next just like I did. I hold out hope that Odd will gain in wisdom and will live up to his potential in subsequent books. I would recommend Odin's Child to anyone who enjoys wild adventures, historical fiction, particularly fiction dealing with the Vikings.

Odin's Child Available at

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble 
Books-a-Million 
IndieBound

Praise for Odin's Child

"Meticulous research and poetic writing make Odin's Child a multilayered masterpiece...It brings medieval Scandinavia vividly alive. Written with passion, peopled with superbly realized characters, I was gripped from the very first page of this historical novel." -Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife and The Swan-Daughter

"[Macbain's] writing is vivid and compelling, and his understanding of Norse and Icelandic culture and history is woven deftly throughout the tale. The cast of characters is well-fleshed out and Odd makes for a wonderful protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I eagerly await its sequel. Highly recommended." -Historical Novels Review, Editor's Choice


Excerpt from Chapter 1: The Stallion Fight At Thingholt

On that day in May, as we rode to the stallion fight at Thingholt, my fate showed itself to me. A raven flew low across the sky into the rising sun and the moment I saw it I knew that Odin had spoken to me and that he would give me courage for the thing I had secretly made up my mind to do. Only now, half a century later, do I see what a long text was folded into that swift vision.

The spring of my sixteenth year had come early to the South Quarter of Iceland, with hot-cold days and thunderclouds sweeping up over the mountains. The stallions, smelling the air, trembled and kicked against their stalls. At this season if you stake out a mare where the stallions can smell her, they will fight like berserkers to get at her, and a great one will die before he breaks and runs.

Black Grani was such a one. This was his fourth spring and the time had come to bring him to the South Quarter Thing and fight him. Thorvald, my father, grumbled and held back, but I gave him no peace, until, at last, he flung up an arm, which meant 'yes'.

Although my brother Gunnar and I had set out early from the farm, the day was far gone before we came in sight of Thingholt plain and heard the distant shouts of men and the whinnying of horses. We left Grani and our mounts at the horse lines and walked across the sparse heath into the holiday crowd. And as we pushed our way through, there were some who knew us. A few old men came up and in low voices asked to be remembered to our father. But one red-faced woman, seeing us, cried, "Jesu!" and dragged her little daughter from our path.

About the Author

03_Bruce Macbain_AuthorFrom boyhood, Bruce Macbain spent his days in reading history and historical fiction. The Greeks and Romans have held a special fascination for him and this led to earning a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. Along the way, he also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo. Later, he taught courses in Greek and Roman civilization at Vanderbilt University and Boston University, and published a few dense scholarly monographs, read by very few. Recently, he has turned to writing fiction, a much more congenial pursuit. He has previously published two historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, Roman Games and its sequel, The Bull Slayer. Now, he has turned his attention to his other favorite folk, the Vikings. Odin's Child is the first novel of a trilogy, Odd Tangle-Hair's Saga, which follows our hero-a wanderer, poet and warrior-from his tiny Iceland farm to the Great Palace in Constantinople. It will be published by Blank Slate Press in May, 2015.

 Bruce spends his spare time in the kitchen, cooking spicy food.

For more information please visit Bruce Macbain's website. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Odin's Child Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 29
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Tuesday, June 30
Interview at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, July 1
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, July 3
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, July 6
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 8
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 9
Review at Bookramblings

Friday, July 10
Review at Just One More Chapter


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Roman Mask Release Day Blitz

Large copy of Cover
ABookGeek is happy to participate in the Release Day Blitz for Roman Mask by Thomas Brooke.

Publication Date: June 29, 2015  - CreateSpace Formats: Kindle & Paperback 
Pages: 388 
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action 

What is it we normally expect of the leading character in our books? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Possibly with a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn't have any of those. Cynicism ? yes. Cowardice ? possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends ? absolutely!

 It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome's imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career. None of Rome's fashionable parties are complete without him.

But he hides a secret.

 After his nerve is broken in Germany, even the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat. But this doesn't dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of womanising, wine and wild parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However, his scandalous life is interrupted by a summons from the emperor?s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial. The events will resound through history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg . . .

I have researched the calamitous history of the doomed legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, using a wide range of historical sources including the classical works of Tacitus and the more recent archaeological findings of the early 1990s in Kalkriese. I have put my complicated hero, who clearly suffers from the post-traumatic stress of his last encounter with the German tribes, at the centre of the events that rocked Rome to its foundations. How can a man, so flawed in so many respects, possibly impact on these terrible events? By his humanity, by coming to terms with his flaws, and learning to stop hating himself for them. It is a tale of betrayal and hardship, but also personal redemption.

Roman Mask Available At

Amazon US
Amazon UK 
Amazon DE

TomAbout the Author

Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers'  tantrums. Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke's second novel, although'this will be the first available for sale. As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

 For more information on Thomas M D Brooke, visit www.thomasmdbrooke.com and www.romanmask.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hotel Moscow Blog Tour and Review

Hotel MoscowHotel Moscow by Talia Carner
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015)
Paperback: 464 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description:

From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that tells the riveting story of an American woman—the daughter of Holocaust survivors—who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, and finds herself embroiled in a perilous mafia conspiracy that could irrevocably destroy her life.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where “capitalism” is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed—and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

A moving, poignant, and rich novel, Hotel Moscow is an eye-opening portrait of post-communist Russia and a profound exploration of faith, family, and heritage.


My Take:
Since I grew up during the Cold War and have always been fascinated with the Soviet Union and Russian history, Hotel Moscow seemed like a perfect read for me. I was immediately pulled into Brooke's quest to help the women of Russia learn business skills that could help them in their new economy. Unfortunately, Brooke and most of the women who went on the mission were a bit naive and very unprepared for the situation that awaited them in the former Soviet Union.

I really appreciated that Brooke decides to go to Russia for several reasons - there is certainly a desire to help the women of Russia, but there is also a big incentive to put herself in a better position to keep her job and to get a jump on the new emerging market in Russia. The conflicting emotions and motivations made the story real and made Brooke a much more interesting character than some of the other Americans with her.

There is so much about Hotel Moscow that I loved, but I hate to give too much away. I loved the details of the hotel itself - what a nightmare that place was! So different from what most Americans expect from a hotel when they travel. I was consistently upset by the prevalence of the mafia everywhere the group went, but appreciated that the author didn't try to sugarcoat the situation.

The bleak situation for the Russian people - and the women in particular -  is another upsetting, but very educational aspect to the book. I found myself quite distressed while reading certain sections of the book, but found myself pulled along in Brooke's mission to help these women fight for what was right. Two of the Russian women who really stand out in the novel are Olga and Svetlana. Each has difficulties to deal with on a daily basis, but each is willing to do whatever is necessary to survive.

Honestly, there were many characters that stick in my head - some for good reasons and some for bad reasons. I think that is one of the hallmarks of a good book -- I feel strongly about the characters - whether I hate them or admire them.  There is much in Hotel Moscow that would appeal to many different readers. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in modern Russian history, economy, or politics. I also think it should appeal to general fiction readers as well.




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Talia CarnerAbout Talia Carner

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women's economic forums. This is her fourth novel. Visit Talia at her website, taliacarner.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.






Talia’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, June 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, June 4th: Raven Haired Girl
Friday, June 5th: Charmingly Modern
Monday, June 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, June 9th: A Utah Mom’s Life
Wednesday, June 10th: As I turn the pages
Monday, June 15th: Lavish Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, June 22nd: Bibliotica
Tuesday, June 23rd: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 24th: A Book Geek
Thursday, June 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, June 25th: Doing Dewey
Friday, June 26th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, June 29th: Book Dilettante




Friday, June 19, 2015

The Oracle by D.J. Niko Cover Reveal and Giveaway

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ABook is happy to participate in the cover reveal for The Oracle by D.J. Niko.

Publication Date: November 10, 2015 Medallion Press 
Paperback; 456p 
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273 
Series: The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three 
Genre: Historical/Archeological Adventure

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In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world. When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world. Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire. But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?


Pre-Order The Oracle at

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository 
IndieBound

About the Author

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO
 Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO
Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.

 Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE.

 In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

 Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.

 Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at djnikobooks.com and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

The Oracle Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, June 15
100 Pages a Day
Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, June 16
Genre Queen
The Reading Queen

Wednesday, June 17
Book Nerd
Diana's Book Reviews

Thursday, June 18
The Lit Bitch
To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, June 19
A Book Geek

Monday, June 22
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, June 23
Raven Haired Girl
CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, June 24
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, June 25
The Never-Ending Book

Friday, June 26
Passages to the Past

Giveaway

To enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of The Oracle by D.J. Niko please complete the giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs!
⇒ Giveaway is open to residents in the US, UK, and Canada.
⇒Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 26th.
⇒You must be 18 or older to enter.
⇒Only one entry per household.
⇒All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. ⇒Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 27th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
⇒Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions. The Oracle Cover Reveal + Giveaway


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Friday, June 12, 2015

Daughter by Jane Shemilt - Review


The Daughter by Jane Shemilt
Publication date: March 3, 2015 by William Morrow
Source: Publisher for an honest review
Description:

How well do you really know those you love?

Jenny loves her three teenage children and her husband, Ted, a celebrated neurosurgeon. She loves the way that, as a family, they always know each other's problems and don't keep secrets from each other. 

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn't come home after her school play and a nationwide search for her begins, secrets previously kept from Jenny are revealed. 

Naomi has vanished, leaving her family broken and her mother desperately searching for answers. But the traces Naomi's left behind reveal a very different girl to the one Jenny thought she'd raised. And the more she looks the more she learns that everyone she trusted has been keeping secrets.

How well does she really know her sons, her husband? How well did she know Naomi? If Jenny is going to find her, she'll have to first uncover the truth about the daughter she thought told her everything.

My Take:

The premise of The Daughter is one that always gets me and I just couldn't pass it up.  Jenny is a working mother who is trying to have it all -- the job as a doctor while being a wife and mother to three great teenagers. She has convinced herself that she has things mostly under control and is aware of everything of importance in her kids' lives. We all know where this is headed, right? Her fifteen year old daughter, Naomi, is very busy with a play and is tired and rarely around anymore, but things will get back to normal soon. This is the set up for Naomi's sudden disappearance.  Every mother's worst nightmare.

I have to say that I was caught up in the story (nightmare) right away. Maybe it is because I have two teenage daughters and  I could too easily imagine how I would feel in Jenny's position.  The search for Naomi brings out all kinds of information about Naomi, her brothers and father that previously were either unknown, ignored or just overlooked by Jenny. There is a lot of time given to examining choices, mistakes made and the consequences to these. 

The timeline goes back and forth between the days after Naomi's disappearance and a year later. I actually like the split timeline thing in books, so this didn't bother me. I don't want to give away too much, so I won't discuss the later timeline. I will say that I was a little surprised by the ending, but I wasn't disappointed or upset by it. I actually preferred it to some of the other possibilities. And with so much about this book, it made me  stop and think. I think that the biggest thing I took away from this book was a reminder to pay attention to your family - even the mundane, boring stuff, because that is what makes up life. Don't try to convince yourself  that you know people --- it would be better to have a conversation with them.  It serves as a reminder to listen and actually hear what is being said. We are all just doing the best we can and we should understand that about ourselves and others.






















Thursday, June 11, 2015

Let Me Die in His Footsteps Blog Tour and Review

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Publication date: June 2, 2015 by Dutton
Genre: Mystery; Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher/NetGalley via TLC Book Tours for an honest review





Description:

In the spellbinding and suspenseful Let Me Die in His Footsteps, Edgar Award–winner Lori Roy wrests from a Southern town the secrets of two families touched by an evil that has passed between generations. 

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys. That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age. Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers. But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives. Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served—or did she? 

As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago.





My Take:

Let Me Die in His Footsteps has such an interesting premise, that I was happy to participate in the book tour. While I am still unclear on how the title relates to the story itself, the premise most definitely delivered an enjoyable reading experience.

There are so many family secrets and possible plot spoilers, that I don't  want to give too many details away. But the novel is so well written that I was instantly caught up in both of the story timelines. I thought that the two timelines worked really well in this novel and the author does a good job of teasing the details and secrets out over the length of the novel. There were more than a few places where I was taken by surprise by the direction the novel went and by the actions of certain characters. 

I liked how the author used the idea of  feuding families and plays with it a bit. There are all the expected cliches and then she takes is in a different direction.  Like so many things in the book, nothing is quite what it seems and all the themes and tropes we are familiar with are used but then shifted just a bit so that everything seems fresh and intriguing.

I found myself unable and definitely unwilling to put this book down until I had finished reading the last page. I loved the Southern gothic-y atmosphere and the beautiful descriptions of the lavender fields and small town life. As with many small towns, there is an ample dose of scandal and most of the rumors are wrong and the truth is usually something else entirely - but equally or even more compelling than the rumors. This is definitely one of those books that needs to be approached without any preconceived ideas of what is ahead. 

I enjoyed reading Let Me Die in His Footsteps immensely and can quite heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, Southern fiction, mystery, scandalous small town tales and fiction in general.  This was one of those books that made me sad to finish reading. I will be looking for Lori Roy's other books to read in the near future.






About the author

Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she graduated from Kansas State University.  Her debut novel, BENT ROAD, published in 2011, was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, named a 2011 New York Times Notable Crime Book and named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas. BENT ROAD has been optioned for film. Her second novel, UNTIL SHE COMES HOME, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was nominated for an Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel.  Her upcoming novel, LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS, will be published June 2nd. Lori also serves as treasure for the Sisters in Crime organization and is a liaison to the Author Coalition. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. 





Lori Roy’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, May 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, May 20th: Kissin’ Blue Karen
Thursday, May 21st: FictionZeal
Tuesday, May 26th: Feminist Reflections
Wednesday, May 27th: Sweet Southern Home
Monday, June 1st: Joyfully Retired
Wednesday, June 3rd: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, June 3rd: The Bibliophile Chronicles
Thursday, June 4th: Reading Reality
Monday, June 8th: Bibliotica
Monday, June 8th: Books a La Mode
Tuesday, June 9th: Bibliophiliac
Wednesday, June 10th: A Reader’s Oasis
Thursday, June 11th: A Book Geek 
Friday, June 12th: The Novel Life



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

In a Dark Wood Blog Tour and Review

In A Dark Wood

In a Dark Wood by Joseph Luzzi
Hardcover: 224 pages 
Publisher: Harper (May 26, 2015) 
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review

Description:

 In the aftermath of a heartbreaking tragedy, a scholar and writer uses Dante's Divine Comedy to shepherd him through the dark wood of grief and mourning'a rich and emotionally resonant memoir of suffering, hope, love, and the power of literature to inspire and heal the most devastating loss. 

Where do we turn when we lose everything? Joseph Luzzi found the answer in the opening of The Divine Comedy: "In the middle of our life?s journey, I found myself in a dark wood."

When Luzzi's pregnant wife was in a car accident - and died forty-five minutes after giving birth to their daughter, Isabel - he finds himself a widower and first-time father at the same moment. While he grieves and cares for his infant daughter, . miraculously delivered by caesarean before his wife passed, he turns to Dante's Divine Comedy for solace. 

In a Dark Wood tells the story of how Dante helps the author rebuild his life. He follows the structure of The Divine Comedy, recounting the Inferno of his grief, the Purgatory of healing and raising Isabel on his own, and then Paradise of the rediscovery of love. 

A Dante scholar, Luzzi has devoted his life to teaching and writing about the poet. But until he turned to the epic poem to learn how to resurrect his life, he didn't realize how much the poet has given back to him. A meditation on the influence of great art and its power to give us strength in our darkest moments, In a Dark Wood opens the door into the mysteries of Dante's epic poem. Beautifully written and flawlessly balanced, Luzzi's book is a hybrid of heart-rending memoir and critical insight into one of the greatest pieces of literature in all of history. In a Dark Wood draws us into man's descent into hell and back: it is Dante's journey, Joseph Luzzi's, and our very own.


My Take:

The title of the book alone was enough to intrigue me and and naturally I was anxious for the chance to participate in the blog tour. The title: In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love  -- enough said. This pretty amazing title promised (and delivered) an example of the exact thing I have been describing to my kids for years -- an example of how literature can help us work though some of life's most difficult and tragic moments.

Joseph Luzzi is a professor of Italian and a Dante scholar and his passion for his subject is evident throughout the book. I really love it when a scholar/writer is able to convey their own passion about an author or piece of literature in such a way that it makes me want to read/study that work as well. It has been years since I actually attempted to read Dante, but I think it will be added to my reading list again.

In a Dark Wood is a deeply sad and in places gut-wrenching examination of grief and sorrow and the process of coping and healing. The almost unfathomable tragedy of his pregnant wife's death, and the birth of his daughter at almost the exact same time was heart breaking to read about. Any reader will understand the overwhelming emotions of grief, anger, confusion, insecurity and probably twenty other emotions that would follow such a tragedy. The beauty of the book, for me, was how well the process of coping and healing was described in relation to The Divine Comedy. I was actually pretty surprised at how well the process of grief correlates with the epic poem - although, I probably shouldn't have been surprised. I appreciated the depth of knowledge and insight that Luzzi reveals as he works through the Dark Wood. 

This memoir is pretty heavy - both in emotion and depth of information - but well worth the time and effort. But there is also humor and so much family love and family history and stories told and retold. I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be recommending it to my friends - especially those who are serious readers. 






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About Joseph Luzzi

Joseph LuzziJoseph Luzzi holds a doctorate from Yale and teaches at Bard. He is the author of My Two Italies, a New York Times Book Review?Editors' Choice, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and the Times Literary Supplement. Find out more about Joseph at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.




Joseph’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, May 27th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 28th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, June 3rd: Tina Says …
Friday, June 5th: Imaginary Reads
Monday, June 8th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, June 9th: A Book Geek
Wednesday, June 10th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Sunday, June 13th: Create With Joy
Monday, June 15th: Buried in Print
Tuesday, June 16th: From L.A. to LA
Wednesday, June 17th: Jancee Reads
Thursday, June 18th: A Dream Within a Dream
Friday, June 19th: Belle’s Beautiful Books
Monday, June 22nd: Emerald City Book Review




Monday, June 1, 2015

The Case of the Invisible Dog Blog Tour and Review

The Case of the Invisible Dog by Diane Stingley
Publication date: May 19, 2015 by Alibi
Genre: Mystery
Source: digital galley from Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description:

In the start of a charmingly imaginative cozy series sure to delight fans of Carolyn Hart and Diane Mott Davidson, Diane Stingley introduces a blundering detective who believes herself to be the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.
 
After failing to launch her career as a Hollywood actress, Tammy Norman returns home to North Carolina, desperate for a regular paycheck and a new lease on life. So she accepts a position assisting Shirley Homes, an exceptionally odd personage who styles herself after her celebrated “ancestor”–right down to the ridiculous hat. Tammy isn’t sure how long she can go on indulging the delusional Shirley (who honestly believes Sherlock Holmes was a real person!), but with the prospect of unemployment looming, she decides to give it a shot.
 
Tammy’s impression of her eccentric boss does not improve when their first case involves midnight romps through strangers’ yards in pursuit of a phantom dog—that only their client can hear. But when the case takes a sudden and sinister turn, Tammy has to admit that Shirley Homes might actually be on to something. . . .



My Take:

Even though The Case of the Invisible Dog is A Shirley Homes Mystery, Tammy Norman is the real star of the book. Tammy has recently returned to her hometown after trying to make it as an actress in Hollywood. She is still down about her lack of success as an actress and her failed relationships. Tammy needs a good job, but her qualifications are a little lacking so she eventually answers a strange advert for employment and winds up working for Shirley Homes. The money and benefits are good, so who could blame her for working for the quirky and more than a little odd Shirley Homes?

The premise of the novel is fun and entertaining and I liked Tammy as the point of view character quite a lot. I found her struggle trying to decide if the money was worth the problems that come along with working for Shirley to be fun and entertaining. And there are a lot of problems that go with working for Shirley -- let's just say that most people, including the local police do not actually believe her story that she is the great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. They are all still caught up in the pesky fact that he is a fictional character. 

I enjoyed following Tammy on her adventure and witnessing her personal growth and seeing her use her acting skills to keep things moving along and trying to minimize the chaos that seems to follow in Shirley's wake.There is plenty for mystery fans to chuckle over and still enjoy the mystery solving process.

This was a fun book to read. There is the mystery of the invisible dog, but there are several side mysteries that must be unraveled in order to solve the main one. There is also the much bigger  mystery of Shirley and her heritage. This one is still unsolved, but I am sure that Tammy will be able to get to the bottom of it and I look forward to following her as her story progresses. The Case of the Invisible Dog is a light, fun read that should entertain many mystery fans.  



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About Diane Stingley

Diane Stingley is the author of Dress You Up in My Love and I’m With Cupid. She was also a columnist for The Charlotte Observer and received e-mails from around the country in response to her columns. She currently resides in North Carolina and is hard at work on the next Shirley Homes mystery.

Diane Stingley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, May 11th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, May 11th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, May 12th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, May 13th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 14th: Mama Vicky Says
Monday, May 18th: Priscilla and Her Books
Monday, May 18th: Bell, Book & Candle
Tuesday, May 19th: Book Babe
Wednesday, May 20th: Reading Reality
Monday, May 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, May 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, May 28th: For the Love of Fictional Worlds
Monday, June 1st: A Book Geek
Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, June 8th: Staircase Wit
Wednesday, June 10th: Joyfully Retired

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