The Clairvoyants Review & Giveaway

The Clairvoyants: A Novel


New From: $6.59 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: $6.37 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: $7.38 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: $7.30 USD In Stock
Release date January 1, 2017.

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: $9.61 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: $11.45 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: $7.38 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…

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  You can enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Fractured Review & Giveaway

Fractured


New From: $7.56 USD In Stock

Catherine McKenzie should stick to psychological thrillers.  Trust me, I’ve read some of her earlier novels and was wholeheartedly recommending Arranged to all my friends who loved chick lit.  But the speed at which Fractured reads was worth the wait for her writing in this genre.

I was able to devour chapters at a time so I could figure out how the mystery would play out.  Told from the point of view of Julie Apple, a writer, and her neighbor John Dunbar, the book alternates between past and present as to who is harassing Julie and her family when they move into a new neighborhood in Cincinnati after escaping a stalker from their time in the Pacific Northwest.

Who thought the story of a neighborhood could be so exciting?  I had a hard time putting this one down.  Julie and her family start receiving threats and with her husband at work while she writes at home, she is left without anyone to confide in.  That is until she meets John, a neighbor who was recently laid off and who she can run with.

All readers know from the outset is there is an accident in the present, and thr narrative past slowly builds up to its climactic ending.  A lot of this story reminded me of Paula Treick DeBoard’s last novel, The Drowning Girls, where moving to a new neighborhood could be a cause of so much disastree.  Fans of Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf will fly through these pages and be thrilled they have a similar writer in style to follow.

As of this post, Kindle Unlimited members can read this book for FREE and everyone else can read for only $4.99!

And coming next month readers can download the actual book at the center of this story, The Murder Game written by Julie Apple.

I can’t wait for Catherine’s next book, especially if she writes another psychological thriller.  She is meant to write this way.

img_1434About the author:

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN, HIDDEN and SMOKE, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller for five weeks. SMOKE was named a Best Book of October by Goodreads, one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by Amazon, and was a #1 Amazon bestseller.

Her first novel writing as Julie Apple (the protagonist of FRACTURED), THE MURDER GAME, will be published on November 1, 2016.

She is at work on her eighth novel.

And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Visit her online at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram.

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have 1 copy of Fractured to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Deliver Her Review & Giveaway

Deliver Her: A Novel


New From: $6.00 USD In Stock

Imagine being 16 and in high school with your whole life ahead of you.  You have a close group of friends, and your family throws you a blowout party for your Sweet 16.  Later that night you get into a car accident where your best friend is killed.  And now you have to go on without her.  This is the premise of Patricia Perry Donovan’s debut, Deliver Her.

After Alex loses her best friend, she starts to withdraw, starts skipping school, and spends her time with not the best crowd.  Her mom, Meg, knows how upset she is but doesn’t know how to reach her to help.  When she brings up the idea of a change of scenery in a boarding school, Alex scoffs at the idea.  Fiercely determined to help her daughter, she goes behind her back to enroll her and hires a private company to take her there.  And that’s where the trouble begins.

Deliver Her is narrated from multiple points of view, including Alex, Meg, and the driver of the transport company, Carl.  While the point is to get Alex from Point A to Point B, secrets from each character’s past bubble up threatening multiple lives during the course of the book.

I could completely relate to the character of Meg.  While my daughter is still young, I know how it is to question each and every parenting decision you make, still unsure if you did the right thing days after the fact.  She was portrayed completely realistically.

If you like books filled with secrets or domestic dramas, Donovan alternates between a fast-paced thriller and a good character study of a family crumbling under a tragedy.  I’m eager to see what she comes up with next.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

imageAbout 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. Connect with her on Facebook  and on Twitter. Learn more at her website.

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have a copy available for one lucky reader.  Please head to the Rafflecopter to enter.
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Wednesday, October 5th: Just Commonly
Friday, October 7th: Books ‘N Tea
Monday, October 10th: Building Bookshelves
Wednesday, October 12th: Books a la Mode
Friday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, October 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, October 19th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, October 20th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, October 26th: Back Porchervations
Sunday, November 6th: Writer Unboxed

Triple Love Score Review

Triple Love Score


New From: $10.97 USD In Stock

As a book lover, I also happen to be a grammar nerd and word fiend.  Seems to go hand in hand, right?  So the premise of this new novel, about a poetry professor who creates a brand wirh Scrabble tiles, seemed to be a winner.

Here’s the synopsis:

What happens when you stop playing games?

Miranda Shane lives a quiet life among books and letters as a professor in a small upstate town. When the playing-by-the-rules poet throws out convention and begins to use a Scrabble board instead of paper to write, she sets off a chain of events that rattles her carefully planned world.

Her awakening propels her to take risks and seize chances she previously let slip by, including a game-changing offer from the man she let slip away. But when the revelation of an affair with a graduate student threatens the new life Miranda created, she is forced to decide between love or poetry.

This was a for sure 4 star read.  I found Miranda to be a risk-taker once that Scrabble board came out.  She spoke her mind, not caring what (or who) ended up in her wake.  It’s almost as if the game woke that part of her personality up.  What I loved was that it was her love of words that did it, not a man, even though romance readers will find plenty to love in this story.

With a storyline that takes the reader on a wild adventure, including a trip across the ocean, Brandi has fully developed characters with several surprises along the way.  You’ll be cheering for Miranda to get the career and love life she’s always dreamed of.

imageAbout the author:

Brandi Megan Granett is an author, online English professor, and private writing mentor. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University, Wales, an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College, a Masters in Adult Education with an emphasis on Distance Education from Penn State University, and her BA from the University of Florida.

Granett is the author of My Intended (William Morrow, 2000). Her short fiction has appeared in Pebble Lake Review, Folio, Pleiades and other literary magazines, and is collected in the volume Cars and Other Things That Get Around. She also writes an author interview series for the Huffington Post.

When she is not writing or teaching or mothering, she is honing her archery skills. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her website.

Thank you to Brandi for the copy in exchange for an honest review.