Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers


New From: $6.27 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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best Beach Reads of 2017

A lot of best of summer lists have books that release throughout the summer.  I want you to have access to these great reads NOW, so without further ado, here is my list for the best beach reads of 2017.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

This one has it all: heartbreak, romance, mystery, and even several beach scenes.  When you turn the last page and are disappointed it’s over: the sequel releases July 4!  You can preorder it here.  Both books are currently available on Kindle for less than $5!

 

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rosen

I blew through this book in less than 48 hours.  It’s a cute and quick read that features a unique cast of characters all with a relation to that little black dress.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner

I feel like weddings in books make the perfect summer read.  Everyone can remember having or attending a quintessential summer wedding.  This book has that times 3!  3 weddings of 3 sisters  or 3 sisters sharing 1 wedding?  Either way, this one keeps dropping secrets until the end.

 

The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

We can’t get through summer without a psychological thriller to keep you turning the pages eager to find out what happens.  This one reminded me of a horrible car crash where you just can’t turn away.  Not everything in this idyllic neighborhood is as it seems.  Some disturbing characters lead to deadly consequences.

 

The Assistants by Camille Perri

Super excited to find out a movie is in the works for this one!  Imagine Thelma & Louise as office assistants in today’s world and you have this romp of a novel.  Anyone who has ever dealt with office politics will appreciate the humor of this debut.

 

Forks, Knives, and Spoons by Leah DeCesare

Aside from a throwback to the ’80s, this book made me reminisce about my college days.  The lovable characters navigating relationships both in school and the real world made this a hard to put down debut.  You can read my full review here.

 

The Regulars by Georgia Clark

If you enjoy a little magical realism thrown into a story, I hope you will give this book a try.  It is a smart and modern age fairy tale for Generation X and Generation Y.  You can read my full review here.

 

I would love to hear what you thought of these books and what others are on your summer reading list!  This post contains affiliate links.

Allie and Bea Review & Giveaway

Allie and Bea : A Novel


New From: $9.38 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

The Widow’s House Review & Giveaway

The Widow’s House: A Novel


New From: $6.64 USD In Stock

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Clairvoyants Review & Giveaway

The Clairvoyants: A Novel


New From: $7.59 USD In Stock

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sisters One, Two, Three Review & Giveaway

Sisters One, Two, Three


New From: $8.88 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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can follow the tour here for more reviews and giveaways!

 

Best Books of 2016

I know 2016 was a great year for books when all but one of these selections published for the first time this year.  This list contains multiple genres, everything from memoir to YA and even a new one for me, sci-fi.  So grab a cup of coffee and get your holiday gift lists ready!

The Sound of GravelThe Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner: A fascinating memoir about growing up in a polygamist community in Mexico and it’s one of those cases where truth is stranger than fiction.  Beautifully written considering the author’s trials and tribulations and a perfect book for fans of The Glass Castle.

All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson: This beautiful and All the Winters Afterhaunting novel is not just words written on paper, but a multilayered story of a family and their grief over time.  At its heart is also a love story, not only between two people, but one between a person and his home.  The setting is chilling and the story is full of hope and promise.

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: I truly was holding my breath in spots as I turned the pages of this book.  It had a hold on me that didn’t let up until I finished the entire thing.  For a debut author, that’s quite an accomplishment.  This is the one thriller I’ve recommended to everyone this year.  I guarantee you won’t think of a “perfect marriage” the same way after finishing this book.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: When I think of outstanding YA, my brain automatically goes to John Green for The Fault in Our Stars or Rainbow Rowell for Eleanor & Park.  Make room on your The Serpent Kingbookshelves for Jeff Zentner.  He had me laughing in one paragraph to crying in the next.  I was so emotionally invested in these characters.  They were extremely well drawn out that I couldn’t help but form a tight connection.  I was sad to see them go as I turned the final page.

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult: As important as this novel is, so is the author’s note at the end.  Jodi portrays three completely different characters with such grace and credibility.  You know a ton of research went into creating them.  It’s a story of race relations and it couldn’t have come at such an important time in our history.  I applaud her for not shying away from writing this story, which needed to be written, when she knows people will react with hatred.  I know when I pick up one of her books I will never be disappointed.

Aftermath by Clara Kensie: Lots of books have been written about a tragedy, where something Aftermathhappens to a family as they all have to deal with it.  Aftermath takes place when a tragedy is resolved, and the repercussions of a kidnapped child and how the family handles it today.  I loved the short chapters which made it easy to keep reading.  The story itself was compelling and there were plenty of surprises along the way.

The One ManThe One Man by Andrew Gross: Mix historical fiction with a thriller and you have this hard-to-put-down novel.  Gross used to co-write with James Patterson but he clearly deserves the individual accolades for this one.  It is an extremely well-paced story about trying to infiltrate the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII and then having to break out.  So far, this is the defining book of his career.

Center Ring by Nicole Waggoner: Nicole jokes that she was so homesick when she moved away from her hometown that she invented 5 best friends to keep her company and that’s how this Center Ringstory was born.  I related to multiple characters in this book, especially when they were trying to balance it all, like the circus theme suggests.  It ends with a cliffhanger but happy to report Book 2 in the trilogy, The Act, releases in February!

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: A beautiful reflection of living life and living it to the fullest told by this neurosurgeon as he faces his imminent death from cancer.   Yes, the story is heartbreaking, but his words will move you.  This is a tiny book but it sure packs a powerful punch.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin: I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this debut was recommended and blurbed by both Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favoriteThe Forgetting Time authors.  This has one of the most unique storylines I’ve ever read and had me spellbound.  It even has a mystery embedded in the story.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Emmy & OliverEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway: A sweet and fun contemporary YA.   Oliver is kidnapped by his father and reappears years later in his hometown when all his elementary school friends are now teenagers.  Emmy’s personality is full of wit and snark and just jumps off the page.  A truly heartfelt read that answers the question, “Does absence make the heart grow fonder?”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: Sci-fi is not a genre I normally read but when I heard all the raveDark Matter reviews for this one, I knew I had to pick it up.  It is a complete mind warp that has your brain working in new ways.  As I was reading, I was envisioning it playing out as a movie right in front of me.  So even if this isn’t normally your cup of tea, if you like thrillers and fast-paced books, please give it a try.

 

Did you read any of these books and feel the same way?  What were your favorites of 2016?  I’d love to hear and welcome any comments.  Have a Happy New Year!

 

 

Conjuring Casanova Review

Conjuring Casanova


New From: $4.11 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.

Life After Coffee Review & Giveaway

Life After Coffee


New From: $8.99 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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour for more chances to win!

Fractured Review & Giveaway

Fractured


New From: $2.00 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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews, guest posts, and giveaways!