Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers Review & Giveaway

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers


New From: $10.48 USD In Stock
Release date February 13, 2018.

Not since Moloka’i have I been transported to Hawaii through a book.  The setting and descriptions were vivid and breathtaking.  Never having been there myself, I imagined I was on the beach as I was reading.  I loved the authentic language and settings and was definitely surprised by the amount of rain!

Sara Ackerman’s debut has something in it for everyone: a mystery, WWII history, romance, and unforgettable characters.  Violet is a schoolteacher who is reeling at the disappearance of her husband, the school principal.  Her daughter, Ella, hasn’t been the same since he’s been gone.  When Violet’s roommate, Jean, finds out her brother Zach is training for a secret mission along with other Marines, the women learn that friendship will get them through this trying time together.

Even though this tale takes place during the 1940s, many of its themes still ring true today.  Given the current events we’ve been faced with, I still need to hear “love is love,” and I was thrilled to come across it in the book.  Bits of this story, especially Violet’s infatuation, reminded me of Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris.  If you want an endearing story with a sprinkle of sugar, be sure to pick this book up.

I have to say one of my favorite characters was Roscoe.  I’d really love to learn the true story behind his appearance that the author mentions in her note at the end.  I promise you he is one surprise you’ve never come across before in fiction.

My thanks to the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.

 

Thanks to the author, I have one SIGNED copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Girl Unknown Review & Giveaway

Girl Unknown: A Novel


New From: $12.99 USD In Stock
Release date February 6, 2018.

We’ve all read a book or seen a movie about someone appearing in someone’s life intent on destroying it.  What I loved about the premise of this book is that this person is a long-lost child, one our protagonist, David, never knew about before she shows up.

David is a college professor trying to move up the ranks all while dealing with his aging mother, wife Caroline’s return to work, and two kids.  Things are finally falling back in place with him until Zoe shows up.  Being the father that he is, he welcomes Zoe into their lives and home, hoping she fits right in.  But what are her motivations?  Who is hiding what?

The beginning of this book had a great pace, and the fact that the story alternated characters telling it between David and Caroline made it move quickly.  The ending sizzled.  I just felt the middle got a little bogged down.  And even when it finished, I was left with several unanswered questions.

I was surprised to discover that even when I thought I knew how things ended, the authors threw me another twist.  This is a dark tale, perfect for those who want to know more about the characters of a thriller.  With each chapter, we unravel more and more about what makes them tick and how easy it is to make them crumble.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unkown.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Best Friends Forever Review & Giveaway

Best Friends Forever


New From: $13.54 USD In Stock
Release date January 23, 2018.

How well do you really know your best friend?  One to whom you’ve spilled all your secrets?  Most women would answer with 100%.  But could something evil be lurking beneath that facade?  That’s what we are trying to find out with Margot Hunt’s first thriller.

Alice is a suburban mom of two trying to make ends meet for her family.  Kat is a wealthy socialite from a well-to-do family and a gallery owner.  When these two ladies meet after bonding over a delayed flight, an instant friendship is formed.  But when Kat’s husband winds up dead, it’s up to them to figure out what happened.

The book flips back and forth between the beginning of their friendship told chronologically and present day.  I could not turn the pages fast enough, all while trying to decipher what really happened and who could be trusted.  It’s an easy-to-read book with a fast plot that will keep you guessing.  Extra surprises at the end made this a winner for me.

Both Kat and Alice’s characters are so well drawn out that I often felt like a fly on the wall reading their conversations and listening to their banter.

If you are looking to enter the world of psychological thrillers without reading anything too gritty or just prefer women’s fiction with suspense added to the mix, this book would be the perfect choice.  It would be perfect for a beach day or long flight.  I hope the author continues to write more because she’s just secured a lifelong fan.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and giveaway chances!

About the author: Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller. Connect with Margot:
Website | Facebook | Twitter.

 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Only Child Review & Giveaway

Only Child: A novel


New From: $15.00 USD In Stock
Release date February 6, 2018.

If you combine the young narrator in Room with the thought-provoking message in Wonder, you have this captivating debut.

Debut author Navin allows the reader to be a fly on the wall with the Taylor family while they grieve their family’s loss from a school shooting.  Heartbreaking, yes, but allowing 6-year-old Zach to narrate the story brought innocence and a unique perspective to what could have been a very depressing tale.  I often forget how a child’s brain, no matter the age, processes what adults process extremely differently.  Navin perfectly captures this age in Zach as he tries to understand what is going on with his family.  I was impressed she didn’t play down his vocabulary because he was young.  I found him to be very believable.

Aside from losing his brother, he needs to understand the feelings among the other adults, ones he has trusted his whole life.  You will find yourself rooting for one parent over another and possibly even change viewpoints over the course of the book.

This was a solid first book from Navin.  Given its subject matter, I still felt hope and optimism by the end of the story.  I look forward to whatever drama she dreams up next.

About the author: RHIANNON NAVIN grew up in Bremen, Germany, in a family of book-crazy women. Her career in advertising brought her to New York City, where she worked for several large agencies before becoming a full-time mother and writer. She now lives outside of New York City with her husband, three children, and two cats. This is her first novel.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.  They also sent another ARC for a lucky reader!  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Here We Lie Review & Giveaway

Here We Lie


New From: $8.74 USD In Stock
Release date January 30, 2018.

With each book Paula writes, she keeps getting better.  I really enjoyed the hook in last year’s The Drowning Girls.  But with Here We Lie, I couldn’t stop reading this timely novel.

As the book starts off, we have one woman attending the press conference of another.  So as not to give the story away, Paula then moves back in time to the childhood home of Megan, a high school student in Kansas trying to deal with the soon-to-be loss of her father.  Then we meet Lauren, the youngest from a well-to-do family in Connecticut.  All the reader knows is something happened 14 years ago that changed everything.

Most of this book takes place while the girls are away at college.  Since their college years coincided with mine, I really related to the circumstances and experiences.  Bits of the story reminded me of Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare.

I love an author who can make me feel for the characters on page 1 and Paula did that here.  I was emotionally invested in the story and its outcome that I was plowing through 100 pages at a time.  If you’re intrigued by stories with female friendships, especially those with an underlying mystery, be sure to pick this one up.

My thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Paula Treick DeBoard lives with her husband Will and their four-legged brood in Modesto, CA. She received a BA in English from Dordt College, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and a practical education from countless students in her English classes over the years. She is the author of The Mourning Hours, The Fragile World and The Drowning Girls.

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Wake Up Review & Giveaway

The Wake Up


New From: $8.89 USD In Stock

I have been lucky enough to be asked to review the last three of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novels.  While I enjoyed Say Goodbye For Now (my review) and Allie and Bea (my review), this was definitely my favorite.  The setting had a Nicholas Sparks-type feel and I was pulling for the characters.

We meet Aiden Delacorte, a 40-year-old cattle rancher who begins to feel extra empathy for the animals on his ranch.  While his staff and neighbors are quick to dismiss his change of heart, his new girlfriend, Gwen, and her two children, Elizabeth and Milo, wonder what may be the cause.  With the help of a therapist, Aiden digs into his past.  Not only does it help him sort out his feelings, but it helps him relate to Gwen’s son, Milo, who appears with trouble of his own.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but picture Parenthood’s Max Burkholder in the role of Milo.  I know he is too old for the character, but he was the only fully formed Hollywood actor in my head.  Given that I’m bingeing the series for the first time, I see a lot of similarities.  It’s possible Milo does have a form of autism, but it wasn’t mentioned in the book.

I loved following the developing relationship between Aiden and the kids.  It was really interesting to read how Aiden’s childhood allowed him to forge bonds in a way that wasn’t expected.  There’s a lesson (or two) in here about compassion and patience.  This heartwarmer is perfect for fans of Amy Hatvany and Nicole Baart.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-three published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts, as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. An avid equestrian, photographer, and traveler, she lives in California.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Oliver Loving Review & Giveaway

Oliver Loving: A Novel


New From: $11.95 USD In Stock
Release date January 16, 2018.

I tend to avoid a lot of literary fiction because I am a reader who prefers a fast-paced story with a plot that moves and characters that leap off the page.  This is not that story.  However, it is beautifully done and patiently unravels the truth behind a small town tragedy.

It is wordy.  I will be the first to admit that.  But underneath lies this compelling tale of a family, one trying to piece together the broken fragments of their past so they can become whole.

Oliver Loving was a high school student when he became a victim of a school shooting.  He has been in a coma for the past 10 years, while his family has struggled to come to terms with their survival, as one of their own is incapacitated.  Father Jed is an alcoholic.  Mother Eve is a shoplifter and no longer parents her other son, Charlie, a struggling writer trying to survive in Brooklyn.  The story takes turns being  told from everyone’s point of view, including Oliver, which I felt was a unique approach.

For those interested in neurological science, there are scenes from this book that are utterly fascinating, as everyone is trying to communicate with Oliver.  Each character is fleshed out so well that I felt like I knew the Lovings personally and was spending time with them.  The setting has a Friday Night Lights feel, small town Texas where everyone knows everyone.

Usually when you read about a tragic event, you read a story about that event.  I really loved how this book was the aftermath of that and how everyone was coping (or not).  It takes a talented writer to keep a reader interested when a story is so much about its characters.  Block proved he is that talent.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting, won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction. The Storm at the Door is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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At Wave’s End Review & Giveaway

Seeing how the weather has been nothing but frigid in Chicago these past couple weeks, it was a nice escape to head to the beach town of Wave’s End on the Jersey shore in Patricia Donovan’s newest novel.  While a hurricane displaces homes and people, New York City-based chef Faith and her mother, Connie, step in to do what they can to provide food and shelter at their inn, The Mermaid’s Purse.

Relationships between many are broken apart, forged tighter, and even discovered in this women’s fiction novel.  I loved following the different storylines of all the characters that ended up at The Mermaid’s Purse.  Since they all come from different backgrounds and phases of life, you will easily relate to one or more.

And for those looking for hidden secrets, I can promise you a surprise here and there.  One of the best parts of this novel was the food and cooking descriptions as Faith prepared meals at the inn.  Don’t read while hungry because you’ll be constantly licking your lips and wishing the book came with a taste.

While the hurricane left a path of destruction in the town, this sweet story of a town banding together is sure to warm your heart and put a smile on your face.  A great read to start 2018 off right.

My thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband, with whom she has fond memories of raising their young family abroad in France.  Learn more at www.patriciaperrydonovan.com

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader. U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Perfect Imperfections Review & Giveaway

Perfect Imperfections


New From: $11.82 USD In Stock

If you’re looking for a sweet story wrapped up in white paper with a red bow and sprig of lavender (read it and you’ll see what I mean) to get you through the holiday season, you’ll want to pick up this debut.

It’s the story of Sarah Lewis, who after a crisis, flies back to her hometown in South Africa to room with her best bud, Katy.  We don’t know what caused Sarah to leave everything in London and move, but Katy and her brother, Edward, are there to comfort her with open arms.

As we discover much later on what triggered Sarah’s move, I ached for a happy ending for her given what she had so recently suffered.  Even so, this delightful story reads quickly and is light enough with just a touch of romance and adventure to be the perfect read to wind down the year.

I loved how the setting for this novel was South Africa.  It is such a unique spot and one I rarely read about so it was wonderful reading the descriptions and just built up my wanderlust to try to visit it one day.

My one grievance with this book was sometimes I’d be reading a chapter and all of a sudden the point of view changed to a different character in the middle of a page and then back again.  It threw me for a loop given that it came on without warning.  The whole story is narrated by Sarah but then we’d get one paragraph of another character’s feelings as explained by that character.  I wish we were given that in a new chapter or with a new heading so it didn’t disturb my thought process.  I also found the ending to be a bit rushed given Sarah’s feelings throughout the book but appreciated that we want her to have her happy ending.

My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:  I write novels that have a mixture of Love, Mystery, Adventure and overcoming adversity. My influencers include writers such as Karen Swan, Sidney Sheldon & Enid Blyton.

I love hearing from readers and I always respond. I can be contacted in the following ways:

Twitter   Instagram   Facebook

I live in South Africa, with my Husband, Son and two Cocker Spaniels .

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Best Books of 2017

It has been such an amazing year for books that I decided to do a little something different this year.  Instead of my short list, I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

LITERATURE & FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY & THRILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NONFICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you read them and your favorites of 2017.  Leave me a comment.  Here’s to a healthy 2018 filled with loads of good reading!