Monday, April 29, 2013

The Fifth Knight Blog Tour and Review

The Fifth Knight by E.M. Powell

Review copy provided by the author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours


To escape a lifetime of poverty, mercenary Sir Benedict Palmer agrees to one final, lucrative job: help King Henry II’s knights seize the traitor Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. But what begins as a clandestine arrest ends in cold-blooded murder. And when Fitzurse, the knights’ ringleader, kidnaps Theodosia, a beautiful young nun who witnessed the crime, Palmer can sit silently by no longer. For not only is Theodosia’s virtue at stake, so too is the secret she unknowingly carries—a secret he knows Fitzurse will torture out of her. Now Palmer and Theodosia are on the run, strangers from different worlds forced to rely only on each other as they race to uncover the hidden motive behind Becket’s grisly murder—and the shocking truth that could destroy a kingdom.

My Take:

The Fifth Knight by E.M. Powell takes the well-known story of the murder of Thomas Becket and uses it as a jumping off point for another tale, a somewhat different take on events. While it is completely fabricated, it works nicely with the known facts. I was actually quite impressed at how well Powell interweaves the fictions with the historical in this novel.

Palmer, a knight for hire, gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to help Fitzurse and three other knights with a mission he is told was given by the king himself.  After the brutal murder of Becket, Palmer finds out there is even more evil planned and he is to play a key part in it. Despite his desire for the huge payoff for this job, he finds himself unable to follow through. This fateful decision, while just and far more noble than what he was signed up for, will lead to danger and even more mysteries that must be solved.

Palmer is a likable and sympathetic hero; I found Theodosia to be likable enough, but I grew weary of her constant berating of Palmer despite the numerous times he rescued her. Also, her misplaced trust in some others really got on my nerves. Although, I have to say there is a really lovely twist that I did see coming, and enjoyed in a twisted kind of way - as in "See what happens when you trust wackos like this??" (I hate it when characters don't listen to my warnings. )There are so many close calls, improbable escapes and a villain that just will not die -- great fun.

The Fifth Knight has everything a reader could want from a novel taking place in 1170 - knights, priests, nuns, a king, intrigue, betrayal, secrets, scandal, villains that you just love to hate, chases, daring escapes - pretty much everything. This was a fun and exciting read and I can highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good adventure tale.

About the Author

E. M. Powell was born and raised in Ireland, a descendant of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. At University College, Cork, she discovered a love of Anglo-Saxon and medieval English during her study of literature and geography. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Manchester Irish Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers. A reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, she lives today in Manchester, England, with her husband and daughter.
For more information, please visit E.M. Powell’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, April 17
Review at Sir Read-a-Lot
Thursday, April 18
Review at Turning the Pages
Friday, April 19
Interview & Giveaway at Sir Read-a-Lot
Monday, April 22
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, April 23
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, April 24
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, April 25
Review at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Friday, April 26
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, April 29
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 30
Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, May 1
Review & Giveaway at Book Addict Katie
Thursday, May 2
Review & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Friday, May 3
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Monday, May 6
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Overflowing Bookshelves
Tuesday, May 7
Review at Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, May 8
Review at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, May 9
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, May 10
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fear in the Sunlight Blog Tour and Review

Fear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson
review copy provided by Harper via TLC Book Tours
Summer 1936. Mystery writer Josephine Tey joins her friends in the resort village of Portmeirion, Wales, to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, are there to sign a deal to film Josephine’s novel, A Shilling for Candles. But things get out of hand when one of Hollywood’s leading actresses is brutally slashed to death in a cemetery near the village. The following day, as fear and suspicion take over in a setting where nothing—and no one—is quite what it seems, Chief Inspector Archie Penrose becomes increasingly unsatisfied with the way the investigation is ultimately resolved. Several years later, another horrific murder, again linked to a Hitchcock movie, drives Penrose back to the scene of the original crime to uncover the shocking truth.

My Take:
Naturally, when I first heard about Fear in the Sunlight and the opportunity to read and review it, I was interested because of the time period and the fact that it includes Alfred Hitchcock. I had never hear of Josephine Tey or read any of her books. After reading Fear in the Sunlight, I just might have to read a few of them. I also hadn't read any of Nicola Upson's books, but I will be remedying that situation as soon as I can.

I found the perspective given of Hitchcock and his wife to be very interesting and I will probably have to do some reading and watch one of the movies about them. They seem like quite the power couple. 

There are several important characters to keep track of and at times I had to go back and make sure who was who.For some reason, I kept mixing up David and Daniel and had to write notes so I could keep them straight.  I think this was mostly because I was reading the book so quickly. 

Once things are set up, and the characters arrive at Portmeirion, things start to happen very quickly. I enjoyed how the author set the reader up for some surprises right off because of all the speculation about Hitchcock's elaborate jokes - this made me try to pay attention to who went where and why and I was always suspicious of what exactly they were doing and why they were doing it.

There are some horrific crimes committed at the resort, and that is ostensibly what the book is about, but the really fascinating stuff is back story and really turns things on their heads. I enjoyed the mad dash to find out exactly who everyone was, who had killed who and why. The stories are complicated and convoluted - just the way they should be. I loved trying to guess at the plot twists and a few I got right but others really threw me.

I appreciated the nod to classic mystery genre - everyone gathered together the morning after a murder, everyone is a suspect, everyone's alibi's are a bit shaky - so much fun. I also had a chuckle at how the author depicts Hitchcock's reactions to certain events - kind of a comeuppance for the great mystery movie director; but then he kind of has the final word, so it's all good.

I found Fear in the Sunlight to be an easily read, interest grabbing, fast-paced murder mystery.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel. 

About Nicola Upson

Nicola Upson is the author of the Josephine Tey mysteries: An Expert in MurderAngel with Two Faces, and Two for Sorrow. She has written for a variety of publications, including the New Statesman, where she was a crime fiction critic. She also regularly contributes to BBC radio and has worked in the theater for ten years. She divides her time between Cambridge and Cornwall.
Visit Nicola at her website,

Nicola’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 9th: The Well-Read Wife
Wednesday, April 10th: The Road to Here
Thursday, April 11th: Amused By Books
Friday, April 12th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, April 15th: Booktalk & More
Thursday, April 18th: Man of La Book
Monday, April 22nd: Nonsuch Book
Tuesday, April 23rd: guiltless reading
Wednesday, April 24th: A Book Geek
Thursday, April 25th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, April 30th: The House of the Seven Tails
Saturday, May 4th: Doing Dewey

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Chalice Blog Tour and Review

The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
review copy provided by Touchstone via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

In the next novel from Nancy Bilyeau after her acclaimed debut The Crown, novice Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era.
In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last.
Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies…

My Take:
Even though I have not yet read The Crown, I very much enjoyed reading its sequel, The Chalice. Even without reading the first book, I had no trouble following the continuing story of  Joanna Stafford and the many intrigues, betrayals and deceptions of Henry VIII's court. There are things that happened in the previous book that I was ignorant of, but the book does a good job of filling in the important gaps so I didn't feel completely lost. I think I was completely hooked by the time I finished reading the first chapter. I absolutely loved the mystical aspects to the novel including the prophecies of Elizabeth Barton. I was a bit surprised at how much prophecy propelled the plot of the book -- but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gives an interesting perspective to historical events.

One of the indicators for me of a really good historical novel is how many times I consult Google about a character in the book. I lost track of how many times I stopped to look up more information about various historical figures. I thought that Bilyeau did a great job of interweaving historical figures into the story and bringing them to life in an exciting way and giving an explanation for some of their actions.

I really liked the way the conflict of the Reformation was explained with such detail. Even though I have studied the historical aspects of the Reformation, The Chalice was able to bring the effects of it into a more personal realm with its examination of how the dissolution of the monasteries affected Joanna and the other former nuns and priests and monks. I found it interesting to read about the choices the former nuns made regarding how they would live after they were forced out of their monasteries and had to live on their own.

I thought Joanna Stafford seemed a little bit naive, pretty sheltered and far too trusting. I thought she made some bad decisions and kept thinking that being from such a prominent family, she should have known better -- there were far too many intrigues, betrayals and deceptions within her own family.  Someone should have told her what was what. Despite her naivete, she is an intelligent, strong-willed young woman who stands firm in her beliefs.

I can and will wholeheartedly recommend The Chalice to my friends. If you like historical fiction at all, the Tudors, Henry VIII,  and the Reformation I would definitely recommend The Chalice. I will be reading The Crown as soon as I can and then re-reading The Chalice. I would also be excited if there were another novel about Joanna Stafford. There are still a few things I want to know.

About the Author

Nancy BilyeauNancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Good Housekeeping. Her latest position is features editor of Du Jour magazine. A native of the Midwest, she graduated from the University of Michigan. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
Connect with Nancy Bilyeau:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, February 26
Review at She Reads Novels
Wednesday, February 27
Review at The Wormhole
Thursday, February 28
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Friday, March 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Monday, March 4
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, March 5
Review at The Broke and the Bookish
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Thursday, March 7
Review at Turning the Pages
Monday, March 11
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, March 12
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, March 13
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, March 14
Review at Let Them Read Books
Friday, March 15
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Monday, March 18
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, March 19
Review at Loyalty Binds Me
Review at Impressions in Ink
Wednesday, March 20
Review, Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, March 21
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Friday, March 22
Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Monday, March 25
Review at The Novel Life
Review at Devourer of Books
Tuesday, March 26
Review at Historical Tapestry & Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Wednesday, March 27
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, March 28
Review at Layered Pages
Friday, March 29
Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, April 1
Review at Words and Peace
Tuesday, April 2
Giveaway at Words and Peace
Wednesday, April 3
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book
Thursday, April 4
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, April 5
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Monday, April 8
Review at Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, April 9
Review at One Book at a Time
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, April 10
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Thursday, April 11
Interview at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Friday, April 12
Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at Drey’s Library
Monday, April 15
Review, Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Tuesday, April 16
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, April 17
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Giveaway at Library of Clean Reads
Thursday, April 18
Interview & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, April 22
Review at Book Drunkard
Tuesday, April 23
Review at A Book Geek
Wednesday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at Review from Here
Thursday, April 25
Review at Historical Novel Review & Great Historicals
Friday, April 26
Review at Enchanted by Josephine
Guest Post & Giveaway at On the Tudor Trail
Monday, April 29
Review & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book
Tuesday, April 30
Review at Tea at Trianon
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Wednesday, May 1
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Thursday, May 2
Review at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books
Friday, May 3
Interview & Giveaway at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Manuscript Found in Accra Blog Tour and Review

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho
review copy provided by Alfred A. Knopf via TLC Book Tours

 There is nothing wrong with anxietyAlthough we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible. Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear. . . .  Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.

July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:

“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”

The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.

My Take:
To begin my response to Manuscript Found in Accra, I'd like to state that I absolutely loved Coelho's The Alchemist - it is one of my favorite books. So, naturally, I was excited for the opportunity to read his latest book, Manuscript Found in Accra. First, this book was not at all what I was expecting. Second, sometimes, what you aren't expecting is exactly what you need. 

Manuscript Found in Accra is a unique little book. It's fairly short, easily read and understood. However, I can't help but feel that it isn't really meant to be read all at once. For me, this is a book that should be read in short reading sessions, a chapter at a time. Then, the reader should ponder what he or she has just read. This is exactly what I wanted to do, but due to my blog review scheduling, I wasn't able to - I had to read it straight through. 

One of the things about Manuscript that I loved was that it is made clear from the start that the people of Jerusalem lived peacefully together at the time of the manuscript. The Jews, Christians and Muslims all knew each other, were friends and were facing the enemy outside their city walls together. The Copt - a wise Greek man (who I can't help but picture as Paulo Coelho himself) gathers the people together and they ask him questions and he answers with the wisdom that represents the soul of Jerusalem. The wisdom seems to include not just Christian texts, but also Eastern ideas and presumably Jewish and Muslim ideas as well; and no distinction is made about where the ideas and philosophies come from. I loved this. I easily recognized lines and ideas from the Bible, but some of the concepts reminded me of Buddhist texts I've read as well. One of my favorite lines: 
"We do not agree about dates or about the best way to worship God, but in every other respect we live together in peace."

I felt that the philosophy represented in this book tried to draw from wisdom across the world and had little to do with the actual religion it might come from. Wisdom is wisdom. This book is classified as fiction, and has a back story to how it was found and the situation in which it was written, but it really is more of a philosophy book - or a brief summary of philosophical ideas. I really liked this book. I will keep it on my desk and read from it and then contemplate and be happy. I am pretty certain I will also be nudged into researching where some of the philosophies presented in the book originated. In my opinion, being prompted to further research is always a good thing. 

If you like short, easily grasped philosophical books, then you will love Manuscript Found in Accra. I think most people would enjoy reading it because the ideas are so accessible and the concept is pretty intriguing. I will be recommending this one.

One last quote:
"Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life."

About Paulo Coelho

One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of many international best sellers, including The AlchemistAleph,Eleven Minutes and The Pilgrimage. Translated into 74 languages, his books have sold more than 140 million copies in more than 170 countries. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and in 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
To connect with Paulo Coelho, visit his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Paulo Coelho’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 18th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 25th:  Book Club Classics
Tuesday, March 26th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, April 4th:  Well Read Wife
Friday, April 5th:  Dwell in Possibility
Monday, April 8th:  Fiction Addict
Thursday, April 11th:  Shall Write
Monday, April 15th:  A Philosopher’s Blog
Tuesday, April 16th:  Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, April 18th:  Broken Teepee
Monday, April 22nd:  A Book Geek
Wednesday, April 24th:  The Way Forward
Monday, April 29th:  Book Snob
Wednesday, May 1st:  Reading Between the Lines
Thursday, May 2nd:  West Metro Mommy
Monday, May 6th:  Aspire2
Thursday, May 9th:  Luxury Reading

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reconstructing Amelia Blog Tour and Review

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
review copy provided by Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours

When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets an urgent phone call summoning her to her daughter’s exclusive private school, she’s shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, something that would be completely out of character for her over-achieving, well-behaved daughter.

Kate rushes to Grace Hall, but what she finds when she finally arrives is beyond comprehension.

Her daughter Amelia is dead.

Despondent over having been caught cheating, Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that’s the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. In a state of shock and overcome by grief, Kate tries to come to grips with this life-shattering news. Then she gets an anonymous text:

Amelia didn’t jump.

The moment she sees that message, Kate knows in her heart it’s true. Clearly Amelia had secrets, and a life Kate knew nothing about. Wracked by guilt, Kate is determined to find out what those secrets were and who could have hated her daughter enough to kill. She searches through Amelia’s e-mails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter’s life.

Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut page-turner that brilliantly explores the secret world of teenagers, their clandestine first loves, hidden friendships, and the dangerous cruelty that can spill over into acts of terrible betrayal.

My Take:
Reconstructing Amelia is a heart-wrenching novel detailing the lives of Amelia and her mother Kate, a high-powered lawyer at a high profile law firm. The story is told using traditional chapters as well as social media entries and diary entries. The story goes back and forth in the timeline from the day of Amelia's death and Kate's subsequent return to work and the ensuing search for answers, back to the diary entries Kate wrote in her diary from before Amelia was born and to Amelia's Facebook, Twitter, texts, etc. leading up to her death.

I found the various and numerous methods of piecing the story together through social media to be interesting and effective in providing a vivid and nuanced portrait of Amelia's life leading up to its tragic ending. By using the different social media it helps to demonstrate how different her friendships and associations were and allows the reader to get a glimpse of the varied types of communication and the numerous pressures placed on Amelia and the other teenagers in the book. The communications between the students seem to be almost continuous, often going into the wee hours of the morning.

I started reading Reconstructing Amelia and had to stop for a bit because of the whole mean girl thing. I hate mean girls - I hated them when I was in school and I hate them now that I'm a mother. I was really dreading to read what happened to Amelia, but once I started reading again, I found that I couldn't put the book down. It didn't take long before I was feeling like I had a handle on what kind of person Amelia was and I found that I really liked her - as opposed to some of her fellow students. She is a pretty typical teenager - not perfect, not really unusual, just a good kid. I liked her. I felt for her. I thought she acted like many other teenage girls would in similar situations. I don't think she made all the right decisions, but I also have a few more years under my belt and some earned wisdom as well. I thought she seemed pretty real. I also liked her mother, Kate. She isn't a perfect mother - but then, who is, really? We all just do the best we can and Kate definitely tries her best to give Amelia what she needs and to be there for her. Kate's story is pretty compelling as well.

As I struggled with how much to include in my response to the book, I decided to leave many details out -- there are many pieces to the puzzle of what exactly happened to Amelia and why. These pieces are intriguing, scary, some are common, some are unusual; but the way all the pieces fell into place as I read was really part of the enjoyment. McCreight does a great job of feeding information to the reader and then bringing more uncertainty and doubt and then more information that causes things to shift again.

Despite the sad and terrible subject matter, the way the story is woven together just really worked for me. This is definitely a page-turner. I thought it would be more difficult to read due to the subject matter, but I was pulled into the story - or stories - because I was just as interested in Kate's story as I was in Amelia's.

If you enjoy mysteries, stories about private schools, mean girls and mean moms, as well as good kids and their hard-working, well-intentioned  parents, you might enjoy Reconstructing Amelia. It is definitely one that I will be recommending.

About Kimberly McCreight

Kimberly McCreight, named one of Entertainment Weekly‘s “13 to Watch in 2013,” attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After several years as a litigation associate at some of New York City’s biggest law firms, she left the practice of law to write full-time. Her work has appeared in such publications as Antietam ReviewOxford Magazine, and Babble. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and two daughters.
Find out more about Kimberly at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Kimberly’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 2nd: Bookish Habits
Thursday, April 4th: Twisting the Lens
Monday, April 8th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, April 9th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, April 10th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, April 15th: A Book Geek
Tuesday, April 16th: In the Next Room
Wednesday, April 17th: Peppermint Phd
Thursday, April 18th: nomadreader
Monday, April 22nd: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, April 24th: Speaking of Books
Thursday, April 25th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 30th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, May 1st: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, May 2nd: Short and Sweet Reviews

I received this book from the author or publisher for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Something About Sophie Blog Tour and Review

Something About Sophie by Mary Kay McComas
review copy provided by William Morrow via TLC Book Tours

Clearfield, Virginia, is a sleepy, idyllic hamlet where residents welcome its comfortable, familiar routines. But when a newcomer arrives in town, long-buried secrets threaten to surface and destroy their haven . . .

Answering a call that summons her to a stranger’s deathbed, a reluctant Sophie Shepard is too late to hear what he was so anxious to tell her. What was so important that a dying man would think of her in his final moments? With the help of Dr. Drew McCarren, Sophie begins to dig into her past, setting off a chain of events that chills the quiet town of Clearfield, Virginia, to its roots.

With part of her wanting nothing more than to put Clearfield behind her and run back home, Sophie knows she won’t rest until she discovers the truth. But growing closer to the residents also means uncovering their dark secrets—secrets about the woman who gave Sophie up for adoption, the mysterious part these strangers played, and the life she never knew she nearly had.

Something About Sophie is a memorable story about the power of love . . . and the things people will do, both right and wrong, to protect it.

My Take:
I loved the premise of Something About Sophie. It intrigued me - I mean who doesn't love to read about small towns and their deep, dark secrets? I grew up in a very small town and I could relate to many of the things described in the book. Everyone knows everyone else's business and it is hard to escape your past - good or bad. I found the author's depiction of small town life to be pretty accurate - the cliches are cliches for a reason.

I liked Sophie; she seems very well adjusted and just a nice person. Actually, I like a lot of the characters; Jesse was just great as the small town woman who knows everything about everyone and if she doesn't, she finds a way to get that information, no matter what; also she's a loyal friend and a great mom. I thought Billy was a great character too - the troublesome son and brother, but who has good intentions and you can't help but grudgingly like him. There is another character I really liked, but I don't want to give out information that might change attitudes or ideas before actually reading the book.

I really enjoyed the twist to this mystery - I hadn't really seen that one coming. It is sometimes nice to be surprised at how the story twists and turns. This one was a good one. There were actually a few developments that were a bit surprising - some pleasantly so, some not so much.

I found the book to be a good read overall. The first half is a bit slower in pacing while everything is put into place, but the second half is a real page turner. If you like mysteries, especially those set in small towns, you might enjoy reading Something About Sophie.

About Mary Kay McComas

Mary Kay McComas started her writing career twenty-five years ago. To date she’s written twenty-one short contemporary romances and five novellas; Something About Sophie is her third novel. She was born in Spokane, Washington, and now lives in a small town in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three dogs, a cat, and her four children nearby.
Find out more about Mary Kay at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Mary Kay’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 26th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, March 27th: Book of Secrets
Thursday, March 28th: Under My Apple Tree
Monday, April 1st: Mom in Love With Fiction
Tuesday, April 2nd: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, April 3rd: A Book Geek
Thursday, April 4th: she treads softly
Monday, April 8th: Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, April 9th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, April 10th: Speaking of Books
Thursday, April 11th: I’m Booking It

Monday, April 1, 2013

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
purchased from The Little Read Book
Description from Goodreads:
Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

My Take:

Gone Girl was one of those book that I couldn't put down until I finished reading it. It is also almost impossible to describe or talk about without giving away major spoilers.

So, how can I discuss the book and not give away too much? I didn't particularly like either of the main characters, yet I couldn't stop reading because I had to find out what happened. The book is narrated by two different characters and  this gives a big shift in the way the reader reacts to the story. I liked how the voice changes and I appreciated the big reaction I had as a reader about half way through the book. Nicely done.

There is so much to talk about once you have read this book; so, go out and read it and then find a friend who has read it too and talk, debate, argue about your reactions to it and about the characters. This is a fun one to discuss.

A Man of Honor Blog Tour and Review

  A Man of Honor, or Horatio's Confessions by J.A. Nelson Publication Date: December 9, 2019 Quill Point Press Paperback, eBook & ...