The Widow’s House Review & Giveaway

The Widow’s House: A Novel


New From: $8.79 USD In Stock
Release date March 7, 2017.

I have read one book of Carol Goodman’s over the years and that was her debut, The Lake of Dead Languages.  It was a suspenseful mystery dealing with girls at a private school.  This new release from her really shows she’s grown as a writer as she enters the genre of gothic mystery and ghost story.

Looking for a fresh start and a way to stay out of debt, writer Jess Martin and his wife, Clare, leave the bustling city and head to the country of the Hudson Valley.  When they can’t find a dream home in their price range, they are given the opportunity to become caretakers at Riven House.  As they move in, Clare begins to hear noises, see figures, and question how much the house and the ghosts of its past are haunting her.

As I was reading, I kept picturing the movie What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.  A working husband, wife left at home, when mysterious things begin to happen and she sees things and questions what’s going on.  If this was a movie you enjoyed, the book is sure to intrigue you.

What’s impressive is Goodman is writing this book about three writers, all with distinctive voices.  She pulled it off brilliantly and managed to keep mystery enthusiasts turning the pages.

Riven House almost acts as its own character in the novel.  Is it haunted?  That’s what everyone in town likes to think.  Will digging up some town history make life worse or better for Clare?  One thing is for sure: Don’t turn your back on it.  I was eager to get to the bottom of the mystery and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in the ending.

If you like a good ghost story or visiting haunted houses, add this book to your to-be read pile.

You can purchase directly through the HarperCollins website here.

About the author:

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Connect with Carol on Facebook.

 

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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Follow Me Down Review & Giveaway

Follow Me Down: A Novel


New From: $11.55 USD In Stock
Release date March 21, 2017.

When I saw one of my favorite thriller writers, Chevy Stevens, call this new psychological thriller “clever and remarkable,” I knew I’d be in for a fun ride.  And that cover!  This book was one I didn’t want to miss.  It lived up to the hype and made me a new fan of Sherri Smith.

Mia Haas gets a phone call from the police department in her hometown that her twin brother, Lucas, is missing and she needs to get there immediately.  When she arrives she finds out that in addition to his disappearance, he’s a suspect for murder.  Knowing in her gut that he is not capable of murder, she sets out to prove him innocent, find him, and uncover the truth.

Having grown up in this town where everybody knows everybody’s business, it makes it hard for her to investigate.  On top of that, the police seem to be holding a grudge against Lucas.

One thing I loved about this book was how each character was flawed in some way or multiple ways.  Including Mia.  Not one person was presented as perfect.  It was so true to reality that it kept me eagerly turning the pages.  As Mia gets closer to finding the truth, more and more secrets of small town life and the people living it come pouring out, which exceeded this thriller lover’s expectations.

This story was told in a linear fashion, too, and I know many readers don’t like going back and forth in time, so for those who don’t, be sure to pick this one up.  For a debut suspense novel, this has all the makings of a blockbuster.  I was genuinely surprised by the ending and think you will be too.  I’d love to see some of these characters return in a new book and eagerly look forward to what Sherri comes up with next.

Thanks to Tor/Forge for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to the publisher, I have 2 copies to give away to lucky readers.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Orphan’s Tale Review & Giveaway

The Orphan’s Tale: A Novel


New From: $8.79 USD In Stock
Release date February 21, 2017.

If The Nightingale and Water for Elephants had a baby…Welcome to the world, The Orphan’s Tale!  Exquisitely written and researched with unforgettable characters, this is the perfect read if you have any interest in WWII fiction or stories from the circus.  Combine those two and you have this story, one you won’t soon forget.

It tells the story of Noa, a young Dutch girl who in the first chapter does something heroic, rescues a baby from a train car heading to what we can only assume is a concentration camp.  She takes the baby and runs, and luckily she finds a quick home in a German circus.  But in order to stay, she is forced to learn the job of an aerialist (trapeze artist) and to perform.

Her trainer is Astrid, a Jew who also is hiding among the circus performers.  As the two women spend more time together, secrets from both pasts emerge, threatening their livelihood and their lives.

Even though this isn’t a thriller or mystery, its intriguing plot will have you flipping the pages to reach the conclusion.  And I promise you’ll walk away with an appreciation for the performers of the circus who lived during this time.  I gained a new understanding of the struggles of performing during this era of history.  As soon as I finished, I went and grabbed a copy of her book previous to this one, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach.

Please be sure to follow the tour for exclusive excerpts of the book and more reviews.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher, I have 1 copy of the book to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Clairvoyants Review & Giveaway

The Clairvoyants: A Novel


New From: $8.95 USD In Stock
Release date February 7, 2017.

In Karen Brown’s new novel, our protagonist, Martha is born with a unique gift.  She can see spirits of those who have died.  When the time has come for her to go away for college, in an attempt to begin a new and independent life, she moves to an apartment alone.  Until she comes across the spirit of a college girl who had gone missing years before: Mary Rae.

This story is billed as a ghost story, but I found it to be more of a coming of age experience for Martha, who is on her own for the first time, learning to unravel the mystery behind Mary Rae’s disappearance.  While doing so, she has to navigate her first love, her desire to study photography, and deal with the return of her sister.  In many ways, dysfunctional family shapes who Martha has become and how she deals with these situations.

Brown does an excellent job of having the reader question all the characters for their motives and choices.  We are left wondering how well we think we know someone.  They’re all mysterious but are one’s intentions more sinister than others?

If you’re looking for page-turning suspense, you won’t find it in this story.  Questions are answered but at a much slower moving pace.  If you’re looking for an engaging read with complex characters, be sure to pick this one up or enter to win a copy below!

About the author: Karen Brown is the author of a novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, and two short story collections–Little Sinners and Other Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, the John Gardner Book Award, and was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping.

 

Thanks to Henry Holt, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.

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The Dressmaker’s Dowry Review

The Dressmaker’s Dowry: A Novel


New From: $7.05 USD In Stock
Release date February 7, 2017.

Writing an engaging historical fiction novel with dual timelines is not easy.  I consider Sarah McCoy, Christina Baker Kline, and Ellen Marie Wiseman to be experts at it.  And now Meredith Jaeger can join their ranks.  Considering The Dressnaker’s Dowry is a debut novel, that is high praise.

This novel tells the story of dressmakers Hannelore Schaefer and Margaret O’Brien, both struggling to survive their fathers’ lifestyles and provide food for their siblings.  When Margaret fails to show up for work one morning, Hanna decides to take it upon herself to find out what happened with her new friend Lucas’ help.  As they set upon the Barbary Coast looking for answers, they come face to face with debauchery and evil.

In the present, MFA student Sarah Havensworth discovers a news article from 1876 about these two dressmakers and makes it her mission to find out their fate.  In doing so, secrets from her past bubble to the surface and she discovers not everyone in her life may be telling the truth.

As I read this, I couldn’t wait to get back to the historical section, which proves to me that the mystery was compelling.  The present kept it moving forward as the reader made discoveries along with the characters.

Any reader who enjoys a good mystery will want to pick up this novel.  And historical fiction fans will be thrilled at learning more about San Francisco during the 19th century, especially the antics found along the Barbary Coast.

I am eager to see what Meredith Jaeger writes next.  If this book is any indication, I know it will be a bestseller.

Thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Meredith is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. She was inspired to write The Dressmaker’s Dowry by her own engagement ring, which is an heirloom from 1903.

Like the character Hannelore Schaeffer, Meredith is also the daughter of a European immigrant, who moved to California in search of a better life.

Meredith finds the urban immigrant experience a rich part of the fabric of American history, and is drawn to the lives of working-class Victorians.

She loves to wander around the Jackson Square neighborhood of San Francisco on her lunch hour, looking at the buildings which used to be dance halls, saloons, and brothels.

No matter how many startups move to San Francisco, its storied past will never be erased.

She can be reached via her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

Say Goodbye for Now Review & Giveaway

Say Goodbye for Now


New From: $6.99 USD In Stock

I first heard of Catherine Ryan Hyde when the movie Pay it Forward was released, as I found out she was the author of the book the film was based on.  Since then I have marked all her books as “to read” but haven’t read one until now.  And after finishing this one, I don’t plan to wait so long until the next.

Say Goodbye For Now tells the story of Lucy Armstrong, a doctor who lives with the animals she rehabilitates and prefers to be left alone.  Right away we are also introduced to Pete, a 12-year-old boy who happens upon a wild animal and determines it’s up to him to keep him alive.  As Pete befriends a new boy in his rescue mission, the reader quickly learns that the 1959 time setting of this novel makes all the difference because Justin is African-American, and the townspeople in this Texas town do not treat newcomers so nicely, especially ones who look different from them.

A lot of this story reminded me so much of a favorite book of 2014, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  Both tell of interracial relationships that were not approved of by outsiders.  You can even see the resemblance in both book covers.

I loved the character of Pete and thought he was so well fleshed out.  Even coming from an abusive background, he was a promise-keeper and knew better than what he learned from home.  Seeing as most of the book takes place with Pete as a soon-to-be teenager, this book would make a great read for high school students to get a glimpse of the prevalent racism of the ’60s.  Even the Loving vs. Virginia case is touched upon.

Book clubs will also have a lot to discuss, especially in the character relationships and choices that affect adult and child alike.  There’s also a list of questions ready to go in the back of the book.

Thanks to BookSparks, I have one paperback copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Sisters One, Two, Three Review & Giveaway

Sisters One, Two, Three


New From: $6.99 USD In Stock

Dysfunctional family?  Check.  Long-buried family secrets?  Check.  Mix it together and you have the makings of Nancy Star’s newest: Sisters One, Two, Three.  I had known I wanted to read it ever since Orphan Train author Christina Baker Kline said she was “riveted from the front page.”

This book tells the story of the Tangle family: matriarch Glory, patriarch Solly, oldest sister Ginger, second oldest Mimi, brother Charlie, and the youngest sister Callie.  Each character’s personality is thoroughly fleshed out as they’re introduced, so you always feel you know each of their distinct motivations.

When Ginger’s teenage daughter discovers a secret Ginger has kept from her family, it forces Ginger to remember the first family vacation as kids, where events took a devastating turn, one that would shape the future with more hidden secrets.

The reader is kept in the dark as much as the characters, which makes for an even greater reveal.  As the storyline alternates between the 1970s when the Tangle children were still young and the present, you get bits and pieces as to why everyone acts the way they do in the present.

I did have trouble to relating to Ginger because I felt bad for her as a child and thought she was overbearing and naive as an adult.  However, it did teach me to be careful in how I parent my own children.  One wrong decision or how you talk to your children can make such an impact on their futures.

You can visit Nancy online at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one paperback copy to give away to a lucky winner!  U.S./Canada only, please.  Enter through the Raffecopter.
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Conjuring Casanova Review

Conjuring Casanova


New From: $8.24 USD In Stock

The synopsis: Lizzy has been wounded by the men in her life far too often, which is why she spends herfree time immersed in the memoir of the legendary lover, Giacomo Casanova. After a child in her care tragically dies, Lizzy escapes to Venice for a needed break to work through her life crisis. One morning, Casanova appears beside her on the hotel rooftop. The time gap and culture clash sets in motion an attraction that spans centuries. Witty and charming, Casanova is
Casanova—in a frenzy of love for women. Who better to teach modern, guarded Lizzy about
love and life than an eighteenth-century Libertine?

Page by page, Rea engagingly sets our modern mores into sharp focus, giving readers a
great romp through time. Lizzy’s friends are seduced—literally and figuratively—by the open,
and curious high mind of Casanova. He loves modern technology and imaginative experiences.
Seeing life through his eyes, Lizzy has new epiphanies, struggles and surprises, as she rethinks
her life and supposed liberty.

For lovers of love, humor and sharp banter, Conjuring Casanova is an entertaining and
touching read. Rea dishes up the perfect romance—spicing it up with a taste of history and a
time-slip, and delivers a delicious story about love and being human.

My thoughts: This book came at a perfect time, as I had just finished a heavy and emotional read.  It was a light book but still had me flipping pages.  The unique storyline was one I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know how Casanova appearing in 2016 would end up for Lizzy.

For fans of romance, be sure to add this to your reading list.  The humorous dialogue and situations add an extra dimension of fun to this book.

I loved the descriptions of Venice and Paris.  Being a couch traveler, Rea made it feel as if you were walking the streets with the characters.  And having known nothing about Casanova prior to this read beside his reputation as the world’s greatest lover, it was interesting to see what a smart and endearing man he was.

img_1456About the author:

Melissa Rea has a degree in psychology with a minor in French, is an amateur Casanovist. A dedicated researcher, she has read Histoire de Ma Vie many times in English and in its original Archaic French. She traveled to Paris to see the handwritten manuscript when it was displayed for the first time in over two hundred years, and has stayed in the hotel in Venice that was Giacomo Casanova’s home for nine years. Originally from Louisiana, Rea has a degree in dentistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She practices in St. Louis where she lives with her husband, and is at work on her third novel. When not drilling, reading or writing, she is in search of the next Madmen/50s era dress and a matching bon mot.  She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Thank you to Quatrain PR for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Small Great Things Review

Small Great Things: A Novel


New From: $12.39 USD In Stock

I was in high school when I learned that OJ Simpson had been acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.  I remember the Bronco chase, I remember the trial, and I remember exactly where I was when they announced the verdict.  But because I was in school, I didn’t get to watch the day-to-day trial coverage or know much more than the jury found him not guilty.  So recently my husband and I binge-watched the FX series “American Crime Story: The People VS. OJ Simpson.”  I was fascinated to see how much race played a role in the trial and the outcome.  I had no idea.

As I was reading Small Great Things, I was reminded of the OJ case.  Everything from jury selection and being stuck with the assigned judge all the way through adding an African-American lawyer to second chair the case for image purposes.  My point is this: OJ was acquitted 21 years ago.  Jodi’s book released this October, of 2016.  We haven’t made much progress in race relations.

Small Great Things tells the story of Ruth, an educated African-American labor & delivery nurse who is accused of murder after white supremacist parents forbid her from touching their baby and the infant dies after a routine medical procedure.  Looking for a scapegoat, the parents, Turk & Brit, immediately take action against the hospital and Ruth specifically.  The story is told through the points of view of Ruth, Turk, and Ruth’s white public defender, Kennedy.

I can imagine you, like me, will find sections tough to read because of how honest and real they are.  It’s amazing to me how Jodi portrays three completely different characters with such grace. The words are important.  I had to step away a time or two to remind myself that this was fiction because they were written with such credibility.  And I applaud her determination to write this book when she knew she would get different reactions.

Equally as important as this book is the author’s note at the end.  Please do not skip over that when you finish.

If you can imagine being shocked more at how race is handled in our justice system today, be sure to read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  An incredible nonfiction book that should be required reading for every American.

My sincere thanks to Penguin Random House for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

img_1449About the author:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Life After Coffee Review & Giveaway

Life After Coffee


New From: $8.25 USD In Stock

This book was pitched to me as a perfect laugh out loud book for stressed moms.  I immediately responded that I had to read it, since, clearly, they had me figured out to a T.  And if this is you, too, know while reading that there were a few times I forgot this was fiction.  Some of the dialogue reads like a memoir.

Life After Coffee is the story of Amy, a coffee buyer who travels for work months at a time out of the country.  When she is let go from her job, she finds herself at home with her family for the first time, well, ever.  And she doesn’t know how to be a mom after never having the chance to fully be present before.  As soon as she finds herself as the primary caretaker, her husband gets his turn to work and Amy is left with her children and clueless.

When their savings dips down to practically zero, she is forced to decide if she needs to go back to work to get their family back on their feet.  And when her ex walks back into the picture with a chance to save the day, Amy is left with a decision that can make or break her family.

Amy as a mother was very relatable to me.  I work from home and have two kids, and I get the stress and mess and dirty clothes and judgement.  And you know those moms who pass judgement before they make a sound.  Fans of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty will also be amused with this story.

My only gripe was a 3-year-old who sounded more like she was 10 when she spoke.  I don’t know many 3-year-olds that hold conversations like those in this book.  A bit of a stretch.

Perfect to read with your own cup of coffee, you’ll quickly relate to the stress of being home with your children and find yourself chuckling at Amy’s struggle to get through her days.

img_1440About the author:

Virginia Franken was born and raised in Medway, Kent, the place where Henry the 8th sent his wives on holiday in the hope that they’d be eaten alive by mosquitoes and save him the trouble of beheading them. Most her childhood was spent wearing a dance leotard and tights, and at age 11 she attended the (sort of) prestigious dance school The Arts Education School, Tring.

After graduating from The University of Roehampton, she worked on cruise liners as a professional dancer before somehow managing to blag a job in book publishing. Getting fed up of having to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries, she eventually moved from London to Los Angeles where life was affordable and every time she opened her mouth she got to act all surprised and flattered when someone said they liked her accent.

These days she lives in Monrovia, near to Pasadena, with two kids, a dog, one ever-lasting goldfish and her bearded lover, in a house that’s just a little bit too small to fit everyone in quite comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping.

LIFE AFTER COFFEE is her first novel. If enough people buy a copy, there’s a good chance she’ll write another…

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