Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners Review & Giveaway

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners (Hardcover)


New From: $17.70 USD In Stock
Release date: October 16, 2018.

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‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice, apples fresh off the trees, and the chance to open our windows and let the cool air in.  While I love that about fall, I also get excited about books moving from the beach to the holidays.  Give me a fluffy blanket and a mug of something hot and I’m in heaven.

This debut novel had me in stitches and will be a fun read for you this fall.  It is drama mixed with humor, heart, and scenes straight out of a Ben Stiller movie.

While the title might have you thinking this is a straight-up Christmas read, have no fear if that’s not what you’re looking for.  It is not holiday centered.  The holidays make an appearance but the story focuses on The Baumgartners: matriarch Violet, newly retired patriarch Ed, and their daughter, Cerise, who has a secret she’s been keeping from her parents.  Add in friends, lovers, and a weather girl, and you have a recipe for hilarious hijinks.

If you enjoyed This is Where I Leave You or the show Brothers & Sisters starring Sally Field, definitely get yourself a copy of this book.  As I was reading, both of those kept popping into my head.  So it’s obvious how well this book will translate to screen if given the opportunity.  I will save the casting director some time and recommend Kelly Bishop for the role of Violet.  She reminded me so much of Emily Gilmore and would just be perfect for this part.

I also loved the articles and letters between chapters.  It had a Young Jane Young feel to it and was a fresh break from the main plot line.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.  And be sure to follow the tour for more chances to win!
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About the author: GRETCHEN ANTHONY is a Minnesota-based writer and humorist whose work has been featured on scarymommy.com, medium.com and thewritelife.com. She’s also spent decades as a ghostwriter and has written for some of the best personal brands in the United States, from CEOs to doctors and start-up superstars to BBQ pros. Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners is her first novel.

Connect with Gretchen

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

When Elephants Fly Review & Giveaway

This could easily be my favorite YA novel of the year.  While it deals with heavy subjects including mental illness, acceptance, and animal conservation and abuse, it also features a kick-ass protagonist who grows through the novel and becomes a woman who puts her life second, behind saving the one creature she’s grown to love.

It is cliche to say you will laugh and cry while reading this book but it’s absolutely true.  T. Lily Decker is a high school senior who is terrified of developing schizophrenia, just like her mother.  While interning at the local paper, she heads out on assignment to cover the story of a new baby elephant born at the zoo.  As Lily knows firsthand, being abandoned by your mother is not easy.  So when the calf, Swifty, is rejected by its mother, Lily learns she can’t quite give up the story or the animal.

I loved how through her journey, Lily learned that the world was bigger than just her and her fears.  Not only that, but she was able to inspire others to fight for her cause.   When the story ended, I had a hard time letting go of these characters.  I could have easily followed them for months longer.

Please don’t skip this just because it’s classified as YA.  It only is because some of the main characters are in high school.  If you enjoyed The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman or All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, you will also love this novel.  This book will have you laughing one minute, crying the next, and aching for a Swifty of your own.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Nancy Richardson Fischer is a graduate of Cornell University, a published author with children’s, teen and adult titles to her credit, including Star Wars titles for Lucas Film and numerous athlete autobiographies, such as Julie Krone, Bela Karolyi and Monica Seles. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Rush Review & Giveaway

Rush: A Novel (Hardcover)


New From: $16.26 USD In Stock
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Mix together The Help and Erin Brockovich and you are presented with Lisa Patton’s newest tale, taking place in 2016 at the University of Mississippi during sorority rush.

When I was in college, I personally chose not to pledge.  However, many friends did and reading this book gave some clear (and fun) insight into how the process works.  It was entertaining to see it from the point of view of the pledges, as well as sorority staff and pledges’ parents.

I love how this book is told through the viewpoints of Miss Pearl, longtime African-American housekeeper of the Alpha Delts house; Cali Watkins, a new freshman trying to find her way; and Wilda, Cali’s dorm neighbor and close friend’s mother.  Through their viewpoints, we meet the remaining staff of the sorority house as well as other pledges and their families.  You’ll find a character you love to hate, always a pleasure.

This book will translate so well to screen.  Miss Pearl just came alive off the page.  As I was reading, I felt as if I was watching the movie in my head.  We may as well just call Viola Davis right now, save the casting director a step.

If you want to relive your college days or are just looking for the next great Southern novel, I recommend you stop the search because you’ll find it in Rush.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after finishing.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Lisa Patton, best selling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie, and Southern as a Second Language, is a Memphis, Tennessee native who spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South. She has over 20 years experience working in the music and entertainment business, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. The proud mother of two sons, eight bonus children, and eleven grandchildren, Lisa lives in the rolling hills of Nashville with her husband and their four-legged furry daughter named Rosie.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one finished copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Romanov Empress Review & Giveaway

The Romanov Empress
by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Ballantine Books
Hardcover; 448 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to her husband’s reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas II as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

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My review:

When I was in high school, the animated movie Anastasia released.  This was the first I knew of the Romanov story, even though it was fictionalized.  I fell in love with the music and bought my own copy to watch again and again.

When presented with the opportunity to read about this dynasty from the beginning, I was intrigued.  It’s the story of Anastasia’s grandmother, Minnie, known to the Russians as Maria Feodorovna.  We are treated to her story beginning in her teenage years as her sister plans to wed Queen Victoria’s son.

This was a fascinating story about her rise to power and the family she bears along with the future of Russia.  As a mother, I felt for her during the births of her children and how that affected the line ahead of the revolution.  Given America’s current political climate, I can see similarities to how those in power will never be able to please everyone.  Poor Nicholas whose only character flaw was being the firstborn son, got stuck assuming a power role he had no desire to fill.

The descriptions of the jewels and balls and galas was sublime and just made the downfall even harder to read.  I can’t imagine the trial of marrying someone who lives in another country speaking a new language, yet coming to consider that a new home.  Maria makes the rest of us look bad, as she did it with ease.  She was a woman many would hope of emulating today.  Fans of Philippa Gregory novels will really want to pick this one up.

It broke my heart to learn the movie Anastasia is not true, but alas, I’m no longer in high school and appreciated the real story.  I can still recite many of the lyrics.

Thanks to Historival Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy.

Praise for The Romanov Empress

“Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal.” —Publishers Weekly

“A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamor of Tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Faberge egg, the outer decadence and beauty of Imperial Russia unfolding to reveal the mysteries and horrors within. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia’s most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale sumptuous as a Russian sable.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“A vivid, engaging tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Russia’s last Tsar, her loves and her heartbreaks, bringing the troubled final decades of the Russian Empire to life.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

About the Author

C. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Romanov Empress to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway: Romanov Empress

Her Pretty Face Review & Giveaway

Her Pretty Face (Hardcover)


New From: $14.49 USD In Stock
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What a treat this was!  Last year I read The Party and was pleasantly surprised at the directions it took.  I knew I was a Robyn Harding fan for life, even emailing her when I finished to tell her how much I enjoyed it.  She creates such realistic characters.  When I saw she was going to release Her Pretty Face, I fangirled a bit, asking if she’d let me review it.  She was so gracious to allow me to, and even offered a copy for a soon-to-be new fan in you!

I do think it’s best to go into this novel without reading any jacket copy or a synopsis of the story. I believe you will be more engaged with the story the less you know ahead of time.  I will share that it alternates between three narrators: two in the present and one in the past.  It’s the story of two mothers who share a connection and how the past can threaten their relationship.  My lips are sealed on the rest!

I gulped these pages down to get to the meat and discover how everything was going to unfold.  So if you’re looking for something quick, this is a perfect book to pick up.  Domestic suspense fans will enjoy the story and even fans of lighter women’s fiction will appreciate that it’s not heavy into violence, but rather provides the perfect escape read for your beach bag!

I’m ready for this to be a movie or television show and could see it playing so well for a Netflix binge or HBO limited series.  These characters would just come alive on screen!  I’m eagerly anticipating Robyn’s next release (is this groveling?)

About the author: Robyn Harding is the author of several books, including The Party and Her Pretty Face, and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two children.

Thanks to the author, I have one copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Boardwalk Summer Review & Giveaway

Boardwalk Summer: A Novel (Paperback)


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Having read and reviewed Meredith’s debut, The Dressmaker’s Dowry, I was eager to get my hands on her newest.  Might I say I enjoyed this one even more?  You guys, this is the perfect beach read.

Alternating between Santa Cruz in 2007 and 1940, we are first introduced to Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen with a troubling secret.  In 2007, Marisol Cruz, a single mother and waitress, is doing everything in her power to preserve the town’s history when she first notices a photograph of Violet.  Her research leads to some startling discoveries.

I was completely swept up in both stories and couldn’t wait to find out more background.  It was obvious that a lot of historical research was done and the author had me hooked from the first chapter.  I felt all the characters were fully formed and made the right choices given their backgrounds.

For me, and what kept me from a full 5 stars, was just the coincidence of how a few storylines played out.  Instead of it being a surprise, I just felt it was too convenient and unrealistic.  I don’t want to share more as to avoid spoilers.  That being said, I will be thrilled to continue reading Meredith’s work.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is such a light read and would be perfect for a beach bag or plane ride.  In fact, I started it on the plane and would have finished if not for my lack of sleep the 3 days prior.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

About the author: USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

 

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Real Michael Swann Review & Giveaway

The Real Michael Swann: A Novel (Hardcover)


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This new release about a man missing in a terrorist attack after an explosion in Penn Station is not quite a thriller but rather a fast-paced novel dealing with the aftermath.

Julia Swann speaks to her husband on his way home from an interview, only to have the call dropped.  Fearing the unknown, Julia does everything in her power to make contact again.  When the news reports a terrorist attack, she is gripped by fear and uncertainty as to if her husband, Michael, survived.

I will say that it took me about a quarter to one-third of the book before I was completely invested.  However, once I was, it seemed the pages were turning themselves.  The story alternated between Julia and Michael.  It was also a story of a marriage, and the readers were treated to their connection before kids as a way to come to grips with the current reality they are both facing.

I think my favorite part of this novel was the epilogue, where Reardon was able to insert political commentary, all the while remaining true to the fictionalized story and the thoughts of the characters.

Book clubs will also find this to be an engaging read with lots of hot topics to discuss.  It’s timely, especially given our political climate, and I imagine everyone would act differently if they were in Julia’s shoes.

My thanks to Dutton for the review copy.

About the author: Bryan Reardon is the author of the New York Times best selling novel, Finding Jake. For the past decade, he has also worked as a freelance writer specializing in medical communications, and as a ghost writer. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and Cruel Harvest. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for over a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.  U.S. only, please.
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Campaign Widows Review

Campaign Widows (Paperback)


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When I first heard this was a mash between Sex and the City and The West Wing, I was sold.  The wittiness of one matched with the binge-worthiness of the other?  I will tell you it favors the former.  More like if Sex and the City was set in Washington DC.

Campaign Widows switches narration between several campaign widows, those who are left in Washington DC while their significant others travel on the campaign trail during election season.

I will be honest.  I had a little trouble keeping track of all the main characters along with the supporting players, especially at the beginning.  There are a lot.  My suggestion is to give yourself a good chunk of pages when you get started so you can get through everyone a couple times and absorb it all.

My favorite character was Reagan, a speechwriter/mommy blogger trying to navigate the current election with her husband on the road while she chased after twins.  She was completely relatable and I loved her witty one-liners.  You could tell the author has a writing and pop culture background.

I did enjoy reading about all the highs and lows of the campaigns, especially given the current political climate in the U.S.  This story is pure escapist fun and would be perfect for a beach read or your summer vacation.  I could easily see this as a TV show or miniseries and it would be a lot more fun to watch than the news we are seeing these days.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: A former “campaign widow,” Aimee Agresti is the author of the Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. She’s also an entertainment journalist—who’s interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Angelina Jolie—and a former staff writer for Us Weekly, where she penned the coffee table book Inside Hollywood and continues to contribute to the magazine’s series of stand-alone collector’s issues on stars ranging from Taylor Swift to Princess Diana.

In addition to Us, her work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and Headline News.
She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

We Own the Sky Review

We Own the Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I knew when I turned the first page of this novel and read the author’s note, it would be a heart-wrenching read.  And it was.  However, the end left me with hope and an uplifting message.

From back cover: Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

What I loved so much about this book is that Allnutt does an exquisite job of writing a man’s perspective.  It’s so rare to see this from a male writer outside of a thriller.  Of course Rob had flaws like any human, and they were shown, but I believed in his love for his son and for his family.

And, yes, the tears flowed.  But they were cleansing tears.  Hard to read but worth it for the outcome.  Definitely warning those who won’t want to read a book about the loss of a child.  I’m thankful I have never experienced this myself, but the story seemed so genuine.  All of the situations and relationships did.

My thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Luke Allnutt is the author of Unspoken, a Kindle Single about the death of his father. His debut novel, We Own The Sky, will be published by Orion (U.K.) and Harlequin/HarperCollins (U.S.) in 2018. He grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke

Website | Twitter

Before I Let You Go Review & Giveaway

Before I Let You Go (Paperback)


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Oh, this book has my heart.  What a compelling, emotional journey I just returned from.

Lexie receives a call at 2:00 am that nobody is prepared to hear.  Her sister, Annie, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, is in trouble.  Lexie rushes to her aid and finds her living in a dirty trailer, addicted to drugs, and pregnant.  Having always rescued Annie in times of trouble, Lexie makes it s point to make sure Annie gets help again.  But with the law working against her, it isn’t as easy this time.

I loved how addiction, while a main focus, wasn’t the only issue brought up in this novel.  Rimmer also confronts abuse, religious sects, death, legal battles, learning to be an adult before you’re ready, and the struggles of balancing it all.  There are so many subjects to foster a great book discussion here, so if your book club is looking for new fiction, this would be a perfect choice.

If you’re a fan of heartbreaking, yet heartwarming fiction and enjoyed books such as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, this is one you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.  And I guarantee it will quickly become a favorite

Be prepared to shed some tears.  For me, the cry was a cleansing, and I felt better after having finished it.  Hug your sisters and your brothers and your mothers and your fathers and your children a little tighter today.  And then tell them they need to read this book.

I received an advanced copy from Little Bird Publicity and the publisher.

About the author:

I write contemporary women’s fiction. My novels, Me Without You, The Secret Daughter, When I Lost You and A Mother’s Confession have been published by Bookouture.

You can find some more information about me at www.kellyrimmer.com.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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