A Stranger in the House Review & Giveaway

A Stranger in the House


New From: $15.59 USD In Stock
Release date August 15, 2017.

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Class Mom Review & Giveaway

Class Mom: A Novel


New From: $11.61 USD In Stock
Release date August 1, 2017.

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lilli de Jong Review & Giveaway

Lilli de Jong: A Novel


New From: $7.93 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

Bridges Review & Giveaway

Bridges (Daphne White Novels) (Volume 2)


New From: $10.03 USD In Stock

Cheers to female friendship!  This book was a breath of fresh air.  What truly impressed me was that it features women in their 30s and 40s.  They have jobs.  They are mothers.  They are successful.  They are independent.  None of those “Just graduated from college, trying to find a man to make me happy” books.

When I was pitched this book, I realized it was the second in a series.  But fear not, my friends.  I haven’t read the first book and it’s absolutely not necessary.  These characters stand on their own.  They do refer to events that happened in Book 1, but you can read this book independently and not miss anything.

Taking place over a bachelorette weekend (or nonbachelorette, as Skylar would prefer), these women, Daphne, Skylar, and KC, experience all the ups and downs with New York City as the backdrop.  I just felt so connected to the talk of marriage and motherhood and money.  It reminded me of my girlfriends getting together.  And I loved that they referred to themselves as the Three Musketeers because that was a nickname I had in childhood with my two best friends. The witty banter was the icing on the cake here.

If you’re looking for a fun, short beach read, this is one you’ll want to add to your list.  If you enjoyed Center Ring by Nicole Waggoner, I’d expect you to love this one too.  I think everyone can find bits or pieces of themselves in either Daphne, Skylar, or KC.  Or even Krissa or Sloane.

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

About the author:

The story of how Maria became an author is a little crazy. She used to work in high-tech PR but hated it, so she quit and ended up playing semi-pro soccer in Argentina for a year. While she was down there she decided to write a novel, which was something she’d always dreamed of doing. Fast forward a few years, and she’s now the bestselling author of the Waverly Bryson series (Perfect on Paper, It’s a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two, which garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly), plus Katwalk, 2015 International Book Award winner Cassidy Lane, Wait for the Rain, and Bridges. And yes, she still plays a lot of soccer!

Learn more and sign up for her mailing list at www.mariamurnane.com

If you enjoy Maria’s books, please tweet @mariamurnane and “like” her on Facebook.

To contact her via email, send a note to maria@mariamurnane.com. She loves hearing from readers and personally responds to every message!

🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽

Thanks to the author, I have a signed copy of Bridges to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fourth Monkey Review & Giveaway

The Fourth Monkey (A 4MK Thriller)


New From: $11.75 USD In Stock
Release date June 27, 2017.

It has been a long time since I read a gritty serial killer novel.  The last series I recommended was the Smoky Barrett series starting with Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen.  I had heard The Fourth Monkey was good, so I was excited to read it.  And I was pleased to find that it was fantastic!

🙉 🙈 🙊

We are first presented with the 4MK killer by finding his signature white box tied with black string.  Inside is either his victim’s ear, eyeballs, or tongue.  He follows the “Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil” mantra.  You’ll have to read the book to find out why it’s called The Fourth Monkey.  And the Chicago detectives searching for him assume he’s a vigilante killer.

🙉 🙈 🙊

What I loved so much about this book and made it so readable was that interspersed throughout the search is the killer’s diary.  It starts with him as a young boy and takes us through a creepy period in his life to give us a glimpse as to why he does what he does.  I found the diary to be as page turning as the rest of the book!  I couldn’t wait to get back to the back story to read more.

🙉 🙈 🙊

If you are a fan of Dexter (the books or television series), You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes or James Patterson, this book is a must read.  With an open ending, I sure hope J.D. Barker adds another to this series.  I’d love to find out what trouble these characters find themselves in next.  My thanks to Maxine Groves and HMH for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

🙉 🙈 🙊

Today for one lucky winner I have a #4MK Killer Swag Bag which features a hardcover book and more fun prizes!  U.S. and UK residents only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

The Alice Network Review & Giveaway

The Alice Network: A Novel


New From: $7.43 USD In Stock

While I love reading historical fiction, often to discover a piece of history I knew nothing about, it’s rare to find those same books action packed.  The Alice Network is an exception.  The quick pace starts on page 13 and doesn’t let up until we reach the stunning conclusion.

This story is told in duplicate timelines, one in 1947 and the other in 1913.  Charlie is 19 in 1947 and also pregnant out of wedlock.  She is determined to find out what happened to her missing cousin.  After a tip leads her to Eve Gardiner’s door hoping she can help her, the two take off in search of answers.  The 1913 story is Eve’s as we learn of her role during WWI and how it ties into Charlie’s missing cousin.

Love James Bond movies?  Pick up this book.  Any interest in history, especially women’s empowerment?  Pick up this book.  Need a read to keep you on the edge of your seat?  Pick up this book.  Even book clubs will find much to discuss and you can find some questions to get you started in the back.

I loved The Alice Network for its glimpse into the life of female spies as well as its ability to keep the story moving, hard to do at almost 500 pages.  I would love to see this one turned into a movie.

Some bloggers on tour were able to do a special video chat with Kate.  You can view it here.

 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Kate Furek

About Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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

Allie and Bea Review & Giveaway

Allie and Bea : A Novel


New From: $9.19 USD In Stock

Allie and Bea, or what could also be titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People, is Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest release.  If you have not read her before, get yourself immediately to a bookstore or library to pick up some of her novels.  You might know her as the woman who wrote the book Pay it Forward, in which the movie starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt was based.

This new book tells the story of Bea, a woman who had been easily making do living in her trailer since the death of her husband.  She lives on very little and is used to her lifestyle until one telephone call ends it all.

Allie is a teenager from a wealthy household who always has the newest gadgets and doesn’t need to beg for anything.  When her life is turned upside down, she is thrust out into the “real world” without any preparation.

Neither of them were prepared for an adventure or companionship, but it turns out they needed each other more than they expected.  I noticed myself smiling in many spots as I was reading this book.  It was such a joy for these two to experience new surroundings with each other.  But I was so impressed how they each taught each other to have a different outlook.

This novel is over 350 pages but I was quickly flipping pages to find out what was going to happen next on their journey.  After several thrillers, this was such a warm-hearted story, filled with two characters that I learned from.  Hyde easily writes two completely different age groups perfectly.

I’m eager to see what she writes next.  In the meantime, if you need a fast-paced story that will put a smile on your face, be sure to pick this one up.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky winner.  Continental U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I Found You Review & Giveaway

I Found You: A Novel


New From: $9.68 USD In Stock

The last Lisa Jewell novel I read, The House We Grew Up In, I loved.  It captured family dynamics perfectly and made a dysfunctional family seem fun.  I was surprised to start her newest and find it to be suspense.  I didn’t realize she wrote those types of books, but, folks, she did it incredibly.

I Found You features three different stories, two of which happen concurrently.  We first meet Alice, a single mom of 3 who discovers a man on the beach.  Her charitable instincts take over and she invites him in for warmth and shelter. Next we meet Lily, a young newlywed new to this country whose husband doesn’t return home from work one evening.  Then we head back to 1993 and follow a family of 4 on summer holiday.  Are all these stories connected?  What ties them together?

As I was reading each chapter, I was so focused on the current story that when it ended in a cliffhanger, I was reluctant to move to the next character to continue their journey.  But then I’d start reading and find the same problem all over again!  This twisted read was very hard to put down.  Jewell is a master at building suspense, pulling you deeper into the mystery eager to find out what’s happening.

After reading I Found You and loving it, I hope Jewell continues to write more of this genre.  She has the knack of an original plot with sympathetic characters and a mystery that will keep the reader guessing.

A lot of this book reminded me of I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  If that was a favorite for you, I truly think you will enjoy this one.

Be warned: there are some dark elements to this story which may be a trigger warning for some.

You can follow the tour for more reviews,

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, 3 copies will be given away tour-wide.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Promise of Pierson Orchard Review, Giveaway, & Guest Post

The Promise of Pierson Orchard


New From: $11.00 USD In Stock

Imagine the story of Erin Brockovich set in the small town of Friday Night Lights’ Dillon, Texas, and you have this debut novel.

Brandes captures small town life perfectly with a rotating set of narrators to push the story along.   The book starts out with Jack Pierson, apple orchard owner, as he’s mourning the separation between him and his wife, LeeAnn.  Jack’s younger brother, Wade, and LeeAnn’s first love has been gone from town for 20 years and decides to return to get folks in town signing leases over to his new company so they can start earning money.

So imagine how well that goes over considering all the family issues between these two brothers.  On top of it all, LeeAnn is struggling with her desire for a child and coming to grips with the fact her mother is dying of cancer.

As an environmental scientist, Brandes could have easily bogged the readers down with technical terms and textbook-like writing, but the story flows for these characters as we yearn for happy endings for them all.  Their motivations and feelings are front and center.

The last quarter of the book had me racing to see how the chilling climax would play out.  No matter how much time has passed, will the bond between blood relatives hold amidst small town struggles or is what they say true, that money makes the world go ’round?  Be sure to pick up your copy to find out.

A special thanks to Kate Brandes, who is sharing with our readers what it’s like to write her debut novel!

**************************

When You’ve Never Written Fiction Before, How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

The Promise of Pierson Orchard is my first novel. This story is Erin Brockovich meets Promised Land, about a Pennsylvania family threatened by betrayal, financial desperation, old flames, fracking, and ultimately finding forgiveness.

I’ve spent my career working as an environmental scientist not as a writer, so my biggest hurdle to writing a long work of fiction was not to learn to write beautifully, but instead to learn how to tell a compelling story in the written form. In order to do that, I worked for seven years on countless drafts and shared my novel with anyone I thought would provide helpful feedback.

I kept a novel writing log over the years of drafting this first book from concept to publication.

Sometimes it takes many failures to develop something good.
Novel Log

2010 to 2011: Write what I think is first draft of novel, but is really just a concept.
2011 to Mid-2012: Write what I think is first draft of novel, but it’s really just me avoiding the story because I’m afraid. I set the whole thing aside and start from page one.
Mid-2012 to Early 2013: Write first draft.
Early 2013 to Fall 2014: Change premise because I finally realize what the heart of the story is about. Rewrite first draft entirely.
Fall 2014 to Spring 2016: Change main character of the story. Another major rewrite. And more rewrites. And more! Query many agents and publishers. Get rejected over and over and over.
Spring 2016 – But then….Get publisher! Get agent! More rewriting!
Spring 2017 – A published book

*********************************

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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