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

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 & ...