The Last Mrs. Parrish Review & Giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel


New From: $12.87 USD In Stock
Release date October 17, 2017.

At 400 pages, this was a longer read for a thriller, but I raced through it.  When I started this book, I didn’t read any synopsis because I wanted to see where the story took me.  And to be honest, even halfway through I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but it was an addicting page-turner and still took me by surprise.

The tag line for this book and written across the cover is “Some women get everything.  Some women get everything they deserve.”  And with two reliable narrators of this story, you don’t know who specifically this is referring to.  Is it Amber, a young woman with a hidden past whose main goal in life is stealing the husband of her new friend, Daphne?  Or is it Daphne, so used to wealth and privilege as a Connecticut socialite?

The second half of the book had elements reminiscent of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, filled with tension.  There were also parts which reminded me of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  So if you enjoyed either of those books, I recommend picking this one up.

I think the story will be more enjoyable if you go in without reading much about it first, which is why I didn’t regurgitate much of the plot here.  The night I finished, I still had a third of the book left but refused to sleep until I finished, eager to find out how it ended.  I can’t wait to see what this writing duo comes up with next.

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

About the author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Hanna Who Fell From the Sky

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel


New From: $8.14 USD In Stock
Release date September 26, 2017.

From the back cover:

A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she’s known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and 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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Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers


New From: $10.76 USD In Stock

This book grips you with its first sentence and never lets go: “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

As the book continues, we are on Elspeth’s journey with her, as she comes to terms with her mother’s death and all the family secrets that are ready to bubble to the surface.  She most eagerly is trying to figure out her mother’s connection to the Seekers, a cult-like religion that is reminiscent of Scientology.

This novel does not let you off easy.  We are dealing with rape, murder, betrayal, and family dysfunction in such a way you will be extremely thankful for your own mother.  In fact, it’s easy to think this could be a memoir in the way the timeline is handled and how real these characters act.

Sorell writes beautifully, but it’s not a case where you will get bogged down in the language.  It’s a fast read, and you’ll want to race through to reach its conclusion.

Sign me up for any future books from Sorell.  I know the prose will be fluid and the story convincing, if it is anything like her debut.  My thanks to Goldberg McDuffie and Prospect Park Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

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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Eden Review & Giveaway

Eden: A Novel


New From: $10.87 USD In Stock

I was delighted to get a chance to read Eden, a story many of my blogger friends were raving about.  I didn’t know much before reading, but if you are a fan of the family saga, keep reading.

Eden tells the story of Becca Fitzpatrick, matriarch of her extended family and living in Eden, the beach house her father, Bunny Meister, built at the beginning of the century.  Her daughter lives with her currently, along with her granddaughter Sarah who shows up to announce her pregnancy.  When Becca finds out her deceased husband has misspent all of their savings, she’s despondent that it might be her last summer at Eden, so she works to get the family together one last time.

The book alternates between the present, leading up to the family weekend, and the past, long before Becca is even born.  It is a story of four generations.  And while there are lots of family members, it is easy to follow their stories and connections.  If you do have trouble, the author included an easy-to-follow family tree in the beginning for reference.  I loved traveling back in the past and learning about how Eden came to be along with all the historical events like the Stock Market crash and the 1938 New England hurricane.

There is something about a family saga that is so endearing.  You quickly become attached to characters since you follow them throughout their lives.  The Meister family experienced many hardships and they all made choices I did not agree with.  But I was eager to see how they played out.  And I love that the Eden house became its own character in the novel, one that also endured many ups and downs.  I look forward to what Jeanne writes next.

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

About the author: Jeanne Blasberg is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. After graduating from Smith College, she surprised everyone who knew her by embarking on a career in finance, making stops on Wall Street, Macy’s and Harvard Business School, where she wrote case studies and business articles. A firm believer that you are never too old to change course, Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, one of the country’s pre-eminent creative writing centers, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction. Eden is her debut novel. Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, she can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay. For book group questions and to learn more, please visit www.jeanneblasberg.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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The Boat Runner Review & Giveaway

The Boat Runner: A Novel


New From: $7.00 USD In Stock
Release date September 5, 2017.

Full disclosure: Devin is a friend of mine.  When I found out he was going to have his debut published, I was beyond excited for him.  He promised me an early copy, and I was thrilled to receive it.  I even got choked up reading the acknowledgements because most were such close friends.  But then I had a thought: What if I hated it?  How would I tell him?  So I left it to sit on my nightstand, where day in and day out I looked at it, afraid to pick it up.

But then my mom asked if she could read it.  And my husband.  So of course I had to read it before they did, so I finally started, and boy, am I glad I did.

I guarantee this is a WWII story you haven’t read before.  It introduces Jacob Koopman, a teenager living in a small Dutch town with his older brother, Edwin, and his parents.  His father owns a lightbulb factory and in an attempt to secure more business, he decides (without his wife’s permission) to send the boys to a German youth camp just as Hitler and the Nazis are coming into power.  Jacob’s story is followed through the war as he grapples with which side is doing the right thing and how far he will go to protect his loved ones.

It is obvious to see the amount of research that went into this book.  I quickly formed an emotional connection with Jacob and could sympathize with his plight.  It’s hard enough to be a teenager.  But just try to deal with that as war is breaking out.  I believe he tried to see the good in everyone, even those who we would now call “enemies” in our history books.

If you enjoy books like All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, Once We Were Brothers, and City of Thieves, be sure to give this one a read.

If you ever get the chance to meet Devin, at an event or book signing, please go.  Aside from the fact that he’s the nicest person ever, you’ll be fascinated by his family history and his past that all shaped this story.

Thanks to Devin, I have 2 signed copies to give away to lucky readers.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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A Stranger in the House Review & Giveaway

A Stranger in the House


New From: $10.00 USD In Stock

For all the parts of The Couple Next Door that I loved, there were some similarities:

1. The action begins right as the book takes off.  No slow buildup getting to know characters or backgrounds.  You open this book and the story begins.  With a bang.  Literally.

2. Short chapters.  It’s so nice when life gets busy and I have minimal time to read for pleasure that I can get more reading in because chapters don’t drag.  They are quick and succinct.

3. Always a surprise.  Even when you reach the conclusion and discover the truth, there’s still another surprise lurking.

So fans of her debut will enjoy this book as well.  It’s the story of Karen Krupp, a bookkeeper, who races out of her home one night without her purse and her phone and while dinner is still cooking.  When her husband, Tom, arrives home, he has no idea what happened to her or where she went.

I give credit to the author for this unique storyline, which seems to be getting harder and harder to provide in the mystery/thriller genre.  I have not read a book like this before.  She continuously drops surprises throughout but does so with subtlety.

About the author:

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two award-winning literary novels, and her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, was a New York Times and an international bestseller. A Stranger in the House is her second thriller.

I have a treat for you all!  The kind folks at Penguin have sent me an advanced copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Dress in the Window

The Dress in the Window: A Novel


New From: $5.15 USD In Stock

From the Back Cover:
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful colors—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister, Peggy, both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer: Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, Peggy now a widowed mother, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their gray pasts the sisters strive for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients, with the help of Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together they are able to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as Peggy and Jeanne soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

Here’s an excerpt:

Jeanne

Nancy Cosgrove had seen the gown made up in taffeta in Vogue, and taffeta was what she had to have. Jeanne made a muslin first, at Nancy’s insistence, even though muslin could never stand in for the stiff, slippery hand of the real thing. The muslin’s skirt hung around Nancy’s lumpy hips like wet rags and Jeanne thought she’d finally come to her senses—but Nancy just went home to get her crinoline. It made only a slight improvement: the muslin spread out over the stiff underskirt like leaves floating on a pond. But Nancy took herself across the river to the city, where she found a bolt of emerald green moiré taffeta in a shop at the corner of Fourth and Fulton.
​When she brought it back, the bolt of fabric sitting in the passenger seat of her garish two-tone Packard Clipper like a visiting dignitary, it occurred to Jeanne that Nancy might still be trying to one-up her, even after everything that had happened. Never mind that Jeanne slept in the unfinished attic of the narrow row house that she shared with her sister and her niece and Thelma Holliman. She suspected that there was a part of Nancy that was stuck back at Mother of Mercy High School, where Jeanne had sailed like a swan through adolescence, winning top marks and courted by a steady stream of St. Xavier boys. By contrast, poor Nancy had been as awkward as a stump, beloved by no teacher, no suitors, and none of the other girls.
​Jeanne tried not to hold this belated vengefulness against Nancy: they badly needed her money. Still, Nancy had no head for sums, and there was not enough fabric on the bolt for the New Look dress she had hired Jeanne to sew for her. Unlike the wide bolt of unbleached muslin that Jeanne kept on a length of baling wire on Thelma’s back porch, the taffeta that Nancy brought back was only forty-eight inches wide—a scant forty-eight inches at that, the selvages taking up the better part of an inch on either side. Jeanne could barely cut a skirt panel from it—even with Nancy’s oddly short, bowed calves—and only by forgoing the deep hem she’d planned in favor of an understitched facing.
​Jeanne had been up the night before until nearly three in the morning, hand-tacking that facing with a single strand of superfine Zimmerman and a straw needle. When she finally went to bed, she had an unsettling dream. It had been months since she’d dreamed of Charles, but suddenly there he was, wearing a hat that had hung on a nail in the carriage house of his parents’ estate in Connecticut, a western style of hat that his father had brought back from a trip to Montana.
​But in the dream Charles frowned at her from beneath its broad brim, while he pressed his hands to his stomach, trying to stanch the blood pouring from the hole in his side, while all around him in the trenches of Cisterna, his fellow Rangers were felled by the German panzers. Only six of them came home, out of more than seven hundred—but
Jeanne didn’t care about any of them. She would have traded them all to have Charles back.
​War had made a monster of her, and there was nothing she could do about it—except to sew. A stitch, another, another. In this way the minutes and hours passed.

Peggy

It was well past time to turn out the light and get some sleep, but Peggy didn’t set the square black Conté crayon down. She took a dainty sip of the bitter, cold coffee left over from the morning—yesterday morning, to be accurate, since it was nearly one-thirty—and made a bold, broad stroke down a fresh piece of newsprint. The piece of wood she’d rigged as an easel—taken from a cabinet face from a building being torn down around the corner—shifted on the bolster on which Peggy had propped it. Too bad they didn’t know any carpenters who might make her a real easel, Peggy thought grimly. Too bad they didn’t know any useful men at all.
​On her little mattress not three feet away, Tommie shifted and rolled, her rosette lips pursed. She was a restless sleeper, as she had been a restless baby—she’d
come into the world uneasy, as though she knew already that she’d be denied a father, denied the perfect charmed life that Peggy had promised her many months earlier, when she’d first made her presence known on a prodigious wave of nausea, harbinger of the difficult pregnancy to come.
​No, nothing about Tommie was easy, and sharing a room with her—and yes, Peggy knew she was lucky to have a room at all, with her sister making up a bed each night in the freezing attic—was a daily torment.
​Another curving black stroke of the crayon, to meet the first. In those two lines were the suggestion of the back, the shoulders, the curve of the hip. Peggy glanced at the latest issue of Vogue, open to a spread titled “The New Blouse-and-Skirt Formula,” featuring full-circle skirts nipped in tight over balloon-sleeved blouses. The first wave of outrage over Dior’s new look seemed to have abated, silenced, perhaps, by the unstoppable tide of women hungry for a bit of glamour. Peggy could sympathize. The wartime fashions, made severe and scant by textile regulations dictated by the War Production Board—had looked all right on angular, thin women like her sister. But on curvy Peggy, they looked downright ridiculous.
​She sketched soft, feathery strokes to suggest a full skirt like the one in the Vogue layout. Underneath the skirt, there would be structured layers of tulle to give it shape, but her drawing would only show the fanciful outline, like a bell, with satin pumps peeping from the bottom. Peggy could wear such a skirt—if she had anywhere to go. She had retained her small waist even after Tommie’s birth, and her bosom remained high and generous. She was still making do with her corset from two years ago, but if she could afford one of the new French-waisted ones, with the tabs that could be cinched tightly . . .

About the author:

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sofia Grant has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under the name Sophie Littlefield. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. Her latest novel, THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW (William Morrow, July 2017) explores the lives of three women who break into the fashion industry after the end of WWII. Visit www.sofiagrant.com for more information.

The kind folks at William Morrow have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Class Mom Review & Giveaway

Class Mom: A Novel


New From: $13.00 USD In Stock

For everyone who loved the scenes in Big Little Lies dealing with the classroom politics, have I got the book for you.  Imagine an entire book of classroom politics.

Class Mom is full of snark and witty dialogue, mostly from our protagonist, Jen Dixon.  As an older mom with two college-aged daughters, her son, Max, with Baby Daddy #3 and Husband #1 ( as she calls him ) is starting in kindergarten.  Her best friend and PTA president, Nina, recruits her to be the class mom.   But not everyone can handle her humor.  And so begins a school year full of disagreements, misunderstandings, and fun.

I’ll be honest.  When I read Jen’s first email, I didn’t think I’d like her at all.  But it turns out that was just her sense of humor and it takes some getting used to.  As each chapter begins with actual emails, you should have no trouble reading this book quickly.  I finished in 24 hours!  It is a light and fun read, a perfect distraction from work stress and what I hope no parents really deal with from other parents at school.

Major props to the author for her stance on goody bags!  I could not agree with her more.  In fact, I found her more relatable now as I also have a son entering kindergarten.  I think book clubs (especially those who still have small children) will get a kick out of this book and find many laugh out loud moments.

Also, what a perfect cover for this book.  It reminds me of Glee, if that gives you any insight into what you’ll be reading.  The art department did a tremendous job capturing the book perfectly, all while making it whimsical.

My thanks to Henry Holt for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Laurie Gelman was born in Ottawa Canada and realized her life long ambition to be an author at the ripe old age of 52.
Before that she spent 25 years as a broadcaster, wife and mother. Class Mom is her first book.
She lives in NYC with her husband and 2 daughters.

 

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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The Unexpected Daughter Review & Giveaway

The Unexpected Daughter


New From: $14.53 USD In Stock

The Unexpected Daughter tells the story of a dysfunctional family, although not for comedic purposes.  This family is at the center of a culture clash, one that threatens every character and drives their feelings.

Roshan is a golden boy in the eyes of his mother, Esha.  She raised him as a single mother and moved to the United States from India.  He is expected to have an arranged marriage and become a doctor, even though his true passion is in art.  He’s used to these expectations because he knows this is how it works in his Indian culture.  But as he develops feelings for his best friend, Jenny, an American girl, his mother tries to convince him that she won’t understand their culture.

The story is told from Roshan, Esha, and Jenny’s point of view in alternating chapters.  Each character has many flaws, which show how realistically they’re written.  Nobody is perfect and they all have skeletons in the closet which bubble up to the surface throughout the story.

Aside from differences in how they were raised, this is also a story of addiction and how it can break families.  I’m lucky that where I am in life I haven’t had to face this crisis, but I know several people who have.  I learned a lot about early warning signs and best practices for facing it head-on.

The author writes about the good and bad in families.  And I think we can all agree that every family is made up of both good and bad.  Nothing is picture perfect, especially when that’s all that’s shown on the outside.  So it’s an easy story to connect to, as most readers all have blemishes in their family background.

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

About the author:

Sheryl Parbhoo is an author, blogger, educator, and mother of five. A native southerner, her interest in the intricacies of human culture led to a BA in Anthropology from the University of Memphis. Her longing for the spice of life culminated when she married her high school sweetheart, a South African Indian immigrant, and became a stay-at-home mom to their five children for over 20 years.

Sheryl is known worldwide for her blog, Southern Life Indian Wife, where for years she shared stories from her spicy masala/southern cornbread way of life raising her large multicultural family and navigating the quirks of Southern and Indian in-law relationships. These, along with the responses received from readers, are the real-life inspirations for her novel, The Unexpected Daughter.

On sherylparbhoo.com, Sheryl shares her love of writing and personal experiences as a writer. She has been a featured contributor for Masalamommas.com, Twins Magazine, among others. She and her family’s blended cultural traditions have been highlighted on PBSNewshour.com, as well as on various online sites.

For more on Sheryl, including social media and contact information, visit her website.

Thanks to the author, I have 2 signed copies to give away.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Lilli de Jong Review & Giveaway

Lilli de Jong: A Novel


New From: $11.89 USD In Stock

I know I spotlighted this book a couple months back, but when I was offered the chance to review it after hearing everyone rave about it, I jumped at the chance.  The writing is exquisite.

***The story:

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”***

As a mother, I couldn’t help but relate to Lilli’s plight.  It’s amazing to me how women and their “bastards” were treated back then.  As if they were nothing without a husband.  But at the same time, I applaud Lilli.  She didn’t shrink back and let these things just happen to her.  She did everything in her power to make sure her baby didn’t suffer.  Most women would have given up.  Lilli was a fighter.  We could benefit a lot from her attitude and behavior today.

Yes, historical fiction fans will love this book.  It was incredibly researched.  And any topic in the book you have questions about is addressed in the Author’s Note.  But I urge you to pick up this novel to both get a taste of how far we’ve come with women’s rights but also how much more of a battle we still have to fight.  This novel brings that all to light.

Even though it was at times heartbreaking, I was confident in the author’s storytelling ability and amazed it was a debut.  I know her future writing endeavors will be well worth the read.  My thanks to HF Virtual Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 10
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 11
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, July 12
Review at Luxury Reading

Thursday, July 13
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Friday, July 14
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, July 17
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Tuesday, July 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, July 19
Review at Creating Herstory
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, July 21
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, July 24
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, July 25
Review at SJ2B House of Books

Wednesday, July 26
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, July 27
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, July 28
Review at Just One More Chapter

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away TWO Notebooks featuring quotes from Lilli de Jong! Notebooks are spiral-bound (4×6 inches) with 50 blank pages. To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– 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.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Lilli de Jong