Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England. 

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Paperback Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Pegasus Books
Paperback; 256 Pages
Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

As you can read from the synopsis 20-year-old Kate Clifford doesn't have an easy life, her late husband left her a mess and she is determined to make it on her own in a male-dominated society. What she doesn't expect is to find a dead body in her rooming house. There are more surprises for Kate in The service of the Dead as she tries to unravel who this person is and why he was killed.

Even though it took me a little bit to get invested in the story I found myself rooting for Kate and donning my inspector hat along with her. The year is 1399 and there is political tension throughout the realm of York. This isn't a long book, 236 pages, a nice cozy mystery perfect for the beach. I enjoyed reading this one, getting to know Kate and it wasn't hard to feel for her plight as it seems each direction she goes she gets slammed with a another challenge.

The Service of the Dead is the first book in the Kate Clifford Mystery Series. There is mystery here, action and a wide cast of characters with enough historical detail to get a great feel of the era. Though I found this book a little slow at times I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next in the series called The Twisted Vengeance.

Thank you to Amy at HFVBT for the opportunity to be part of this tour.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer.

Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

 Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT). 

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

For more information, please visit Candace Robb's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we are giving away a copy of The Service of the Dead and A Twisted Vengeance to one lucky winner!

To enter please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Kate Clifford Series Blog Tour

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

 Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City's most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda--Camden's biological great-granddaughter--will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages--for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City--and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich--and often tragic--as The Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden--and the woman who killed him--on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives --and lies--of the beating hearts within.

Hardcover, 368 pages 
Expected publication: August 1st 2017 
by Dutton Books
**** 1/2

It's not that often that I polish off a book in 24 hours but when I do, it's obviously a sign of how enticing it is. The synopsis gives a detailed portrait of what to expect here and it was my curiosity of how Sara could have killed this man who knew her so well. As the story evolved I kept looking for clues and wondering how and why this would take place.

Lately it seems with dual narrative books I find myself engrossed with both the past and present story lines, but with The Address I found myself drawn to the past more, I think I got to know the characters better and found the plot more intriguing, reading about the lifestyle and historical aspects of the time is something that interests me. The 1985 time was interesting enough, with Bailey and her cousin Melinda but the author spent more time on the past. I appreciated the timing of this part of the book with it's lack of electronic devices -no cell phones, no Internet, no computer jargon, that was a nice refreshing change.

The Address comes in at 368 pages, I thought the first two thirds were great, there was depth of character, the story line moved at the right pace and I had a hard time putting it down. However, the last third could have done with a few more pages, I felt the ending a bit rushed and there could have been more time spent drawing out the conclusion. Now don't get me wrong here I found the ending was fitting and it wasn't till close to the end where it actually dawned on me what might be taking place, so I commend the author for dropping clues that didn't always register with me.

The historical aspect always fascinates me, with the actual building and renovation of the Dakota, time spent in an insane asylum and the landscape of New York City in that era. The timing of some actual historical events were moved to fit the story and I am fine with that, if the author didn't mention that in the author's notes I wouldn't have known any different. But I appreciate the mention showing the author's respect for the history here.

Definitely a book and author I highly recommend.

Thanks to Penguin Group for an advanced copy of this little gem.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spotlight: An Epiphany in Lilacs by Iris Dorbian

Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Mazo Publishers
eBook & Papberback; 180 Pages
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/World War II

An Epiphany In Lilacs is a young adult novel set in a DP camp outside Hamburg, Germany following the end of World War II.

The author, Iris Dorbian, captures in this story a unique glimpse into the period after the Holocaust when survivors had to deal with their new realities for living, based on her father's personal experience. After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease.

Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.

"Rich with powerful and piercing historical references, An Epiphany in Lilacs: In the Aftermath of the Camps by Iris Dorbian captures thereality of Jews who survived the Holocaust, the inner scars and the struggles with uncertainty, incessant nightmares, and fitting into the day-to-day lifestyle of ordinary people. It is a heart-wrenching story,told in excellent prose and in the author's unique style. I have been a huge fan of Holocaust literature, starting with Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and have always felt appalled by man's cruelty to fellow man. In this new book, the author explores the terrible effects of a fragment of history on the life of a little boy. This is a story to read and share, a powerful story about freedom and the perils of war.Well-crafted with compelling characters and interesting themes." - Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

"This was a lovely and inspiring read about survival after the war. The fact that this is based on the author's personal accounts made this absolutely mesmerizing. This was such a tragic and heartbreaking time in our history, so to be able to read a story like this was like none other. Iris really captures this time period quite well through her father. The connection Daniel finds with the older German (another survivor of the war) and his story about rebuilding his life in the country while searching for his family makes it impossible to put book down." -Rainy Day Reviews/Bookjunkie Mom Blog

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble (Paperback) | IndieBound (Paperback)

Iris Dorbian is a business and arts journalist whose articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, Buyouts, Investopedia, DMNews, Jerusalem Report, the Forward, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News.

From 1999 to 2007, Iris was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions. She is the author of "Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater," which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal,, Skirt! and Gothesque Magazine. A New Jersey native, Iris has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

For more information, please visit Iris Dorbian's website.
You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we are giving away a signed copy of An Epiphany in Lilacs to one lucky winner! To enter please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– 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.

  An Epiphany in Lilacs

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Heartwood Hotel, Book 1 A True Home by Kallie George, Stephanie Graegin (Illustrations)

When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they'll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn souffl and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.

This delightfully enticing start of a new chapter book series tells a tale of friendship, courage, and community, with exquisite black-and-white illustrations throughout.

Paperback, 176 pages 
Published July 3rd 2017 
by Disney-Hyperion

Heartwood Hotel, with the secret entrance hidden in a tree, a place of refuge for lost creatures of the wilderness, those that are easy prey for larger beasts of the woods. What an absolutely delightful little story, it reminded me of The Wind in the Willows and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nim.

With the storm raging Mona accidentally stumbles upon this little place of refuge and gets more than she bargained. With a wonderful cast of characters from the animal kingdom this is a story of friendship, courage and compassion. There is danger and adventure here but toned down for the targeted age.

With lovely penciled drawings scattered throughout I suggest either a print copy or reading in a tablet (sorry but a kindle won't do it justice).

Thanks to Disney Book Group for an ARC

Praise for the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series

 "[This] gentle tale of magic and self-reliance will entertain confident new independent readers. Clover's sweet story is a good next step for lovers of the Magic Tree House." -Kirkus Reviews 

"Readers will be envious of the world of magic that Clover becomes ensconced in and eager to read future installments." -Publishers Weekly

 "[A] charming story, delicately written, with a winning heroine. . . [and] a conclusion that will satisfy young readers." -Booklist Online

 "Graduates of sparkly chapter-book series will be right at home and looking for the next installment posthaste." -Kirkus Reviews

 "[T]he gentle but intrepid Clover continues to charm." -Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (less)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review: Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Someone knows where she is…

The old Victorian pier was a thing of beauty until it was allowed to decay. It was where the youth of Oldcliffe-on-Sea would go to hang out. It’s also where twenty-one-year-old Sophie Collier disappeared eighteen years ago.

Francesca Howe, known as Frankie, was Sophie’s best friend, and even now she is haunted by the mystery of what happened to her. When Frankie gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel, informing her that human remains have been found washed up nearby, she immediately wonders if it could be Sophie, and returns to her old hometown to try and find closure. Now an editor at a local newspaper, Daniel believes that Sophie was terrified of someone and that her death was the result of foul play rather than “death by misadventure,” as the police claim.

Daniel arranges a holiday rental for Frankie that overlooks the pier where Sophie disappeared. In the middle of winter and out of season, Frankie feels isolated and unnerved, especially when she is out on the pier late one night and catches a glimpse of a woman who looks like Sophie. Is the pier really haunted, as they joked all those years ago? Could she really be seeing her friend’s ghost? And what actually happened to her best friend all those years ago?

Harrowing, electrifying, and thoroughly compelling, Local Girl Missing showcases once again bestselling author Claire Douglas’ extraordinary storytelling talent. 

Paperback, 352 pages 
Published July 4th 2017 
by Harper Paperbacks 

I love a good psychological thriller, one that has me deciphering clues, reading between the lines and where I have the inability to trust anybody.

It's been 18 years since Frankie has been back to her home town, the year her best friend disappeared. Now that it looks like she can finally have some sort of closure she returns when human remains are discovered.

  ...but since being back here I morphing into that girl again. I don't want to go back to being insecure Frankie. I'm Fran now, confident, assured, successful. A grown-up. This place isn't good for me. Too many memories, too many ghosts. 
There is a dual narrative here, one with Frankie talking to Sophie.  It's a unique narrative and one that made me get inside her head garnering that emotional connection, between going over old memories and feelings about being back in a place she left long ago.  The other narrative is Sophie telling her story and what leads up to her deadly fall off the pier.  Usually I enjoy one narrative over another in these types of books, but here I enjoyed each equally.

I was drawn into the story pretty well from the beginning.  There isn't just the mystery of the past but also things taking place to scare Frankie off, hence my distrust of many.  I read the last half in one sitting, there were things that I didn't see coming which I felt played out nicely. On one hand I really liked the ending, it fit the story nicely but a there were few little things I would have loved to have seen a different outcome, but not enough to really spoil the book for me.

All in all an entertaining book and an author I am glad to have discovered. Claire Douglas's debut was The Sisters (which has been added to my TBR pile)

 My sincere thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of this book in exchange for honest review.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Giveaway: The Babe Ruth Deception by David O. Stewart

Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Kensington Books
Hardcover & eBook; 304 Pages
Series: A Fraser and Cook Mystery (Book 3)
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mysteries/Baseball

As the Roaring Twenties get under way, corruption seems everywhere–from the bootleggers flouting Prohibition to the cherished heroes of the American Pastime now tarnished by scandal. Swept up in the maelstrom are Dr. Jamie Fraser and Speed Cook…

Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, is having a record-breaking season in his first year as a New York Yankee. In 1920, he will hit more home runs than any other team in the American League. Larger than life on the ball field and off, Ruth is about to discover what the Chicago White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series are learning–baseball heroes are not invulnerable to scandal. With suspicion in the air, Ruth’s 1918 World Series win for the Boston Red Sox is now being questioned. Under scrutiny by the new baseball commissioner and enmeshed with gambling kingpin Arnold Rothstein, Ruth turns for help to Speed Cook–a former professional ballplayer himself before the game was segregated and now a promoter of Negro baseball–who’s familiar with the dirty underside of the sport.

Cook in turn enlists the help of Dr. Jamie Fraser, whose wife Eliza is coproducing a silent film starring the Yankee outfielder. Restraint does not come easily to the reckless Ruth, but the Frasers try to keep him in line while Cook digs around.

As all this plays out, Cook’s son Joshua and Fraser’s daughter Violet are brought together by a shocking tragedy. But an interracial relationship in 1920 feels as dangerous as a public scandal–even more so because Joshua is heavily involved in bootlegging. Trying to protect Ruth and their own children, Fraser and Cook find themselves playing a dangerous game.

Once again masterfully blending fact and fiction, David O. Stewart delivers a nail-biting historical mystery that captures an era unlike any America has seen before or since in all its moral complexity and dizzying excitement.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Praise for The Babe Ruth Deception

"Having mastered the craft of writing novels that feature Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, David O. Stewart has now chosen someone who is perfect for the genre. Babe Ruth was as mythic as a person gets, and the author has surrounded The Babe with a Prohibition cast of bootleggers, gangsters and thugs, giving us a fine yarn that mixes and matches the grand glories of The National Pastime with the nefarious foibles of human nature." --Frank Deford, Sportswriter and Bestselling Novelist

 “This is so much more than a baseball book. There’s a lot of the Babe, but it’s a history book, a mystery book, a complex book that beautifully details an era in America. I loved it!” --Tim Kurkjian, ESPN Baseball Contributor and Author

 “[The Babe Ruth Deception] cleverly mixes real-life people and historical events. The problems of the unlikely sleuths will particularly appeal to baseball fans.” --Kirkus Reviews

 “A rollicking real-life figure leads to a rollicking fictional romp. The allure of the Babe may bring you into this book; David O. Stewart’s lively tale will keep you there.” --Kostya Kennedy

 “Well-written novels that blend fact and fiction always get my attention, and if it’s Babe Ruth and characters from his era, I’m in. David O. Stewart reminds us of why the ‘20s roared, and how much fun the Babe was. A delight!” --Marty Appel, author of Pinstripe Empire

“David O. Stewart, the master of fictional historic deceptions, has hit one out of the park with The Babe Ruth Deception. Not only is it most cleverly plotted but gives us a feel for the corrupt and colorful Era of Prohibition when Babe Ruth was at his most beloved despite – or because of – his off-the-field flaws and excesses.” --Paul Dickson author of Leo Durocher – Baseball’s Prodigal Son


David O. Stewart, formerly a lawyer, writes fiction and history. His first historical work told the story of the writing of the Constitution ("The Summer of 1787"). It was a Washington Post Bestseller and won the Washington Writing Prize for Best Book of 2007. His second book ("Impeached"), grew from a judicial impeachment trial he defended before the United States Senate in 1989. "American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America" explored Burr's astounding Western expedition of 1805-07 and his treason trial before Chief Justice John Marshall. "Madison's Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America" debuted in February 2015. He has received the 2013 History Award of the Society of the Cincinnati and the 2016 William Prescott Award for History Writing from the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

Stewart's fiction career began with the release of "The Lincoln Deception," an historical novel exploring the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy. "The Wilson Deception," the sequel, is set at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. "The Babe Ruth Deception" occurs during the Babe's first two years with the Yankees while he remade baseball and America began the modern era with Prohibition, bootlegging, and terrrorism. Stewart lives with his wife in Maryland.

Visit his website at


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of The Babe Ruth Deception! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 27th.
-You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada 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.

  The Babe Ruth Deception

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Audio Review: The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

 Kindle Edition, 382 pages 
Published June 6th 2017 
by Lake Union Publishing
I was drawn to this book because of the intriguing cover and recommendation from other blogs that I follow (the Baking Bookworm to be exact). I opted for the audio version with my fingers crossed that this would be told in first person, thankfully it was (it's one of my favorite views in audio, I felt like Meg was telling me her story here).

The Weight of Lies is an intriguing story with Meg Ashley trying to break free of her mother's hold by writing a tell all story of her life with a famous author/mother. What really happened forty years ago that inspired her to write this best-selling book that is still just as popular today? As Meg digs deeper it doesn't take long for it to become apparent that someone would like to stop her. As I tried to unravel the mystery myself the author made it difficult with twist and turns as well as characters I wasn't confident which I could trust.

The chapters alternated between excerpts from Kitten (the famous novel) and the other from Meg's point of view. This was handled smoothly in the audio version with distinct chapter headings making it easier to follow the story.

The location was interesting here, Bonny Island, the reader is treated to nice visuals displaying not just its suspicious/creepy side but also it wasn't hard to visualize the beauty with beaches, wild horses and nature.

The author pulled me right in with this book filled with family secrets, murder and mayhem plus a touch of romance.  This is my first time reading anything by Emily Carpenter, definitely an author I will read more of.

This audio was from my personal library (via Audible) and comes in at 11 hours and 57 minutes, the reader is Kate Orsini - she did a great job reading this one.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review: One For Sorrow: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief.

Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie's friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her.

Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: July 18th 2017
 by Clarion Books

Who doesn't love a good ghost story! Though I have never read anything by this author I have read reviews with positive remarks about her previous works. For a middle grade audience I knew it couldn't be too too spooky but still enough to grab the attention of that age group.

I have to admit at the 30% mark I was ready to give up, to me this was just Mean Girls on steroids. I got the just of the picture the author was painting but it just seemed to go on and on. When we were first introduced to Annie she comes across as a sweet shy girl then she becomes so nasty, I get how that fit into the story but it felt to fast and uncharacteristic. I would have loved to known more about Elsie's home life and why she was a tattletale, liar and thief.

As for the ghosty scary spooky side of the story I didn't feel that at all and again there was a stretch in the middle/last third that was the same thing over and over again. There was no real surprise or suspense on who the ghost was, I only continued to read because I was curious about the ending.

It was a good ending and I loved how the author played on her mother's own history here. It's a time period lacking in MA HF and I commend the author for tackling it.

However I did find this book somewhat disturbing and not really one that I would recommend to my nine-year-old granddaughter.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC ebook copy.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: Taking My Life Back: My Story of Faith, Determination, and Surviving the Boston Marathon Bombing by Rebekah Gregory, Anthony Flacco

 On April 15, 2013, Rebekah Gregory and her five-year-old son waited at the finish line of the Boston Marathon to support a friend who was running. When the blasts of terrorists' homemade bombs packed with nails and screws went off three feet away, Rebekah's legs took the brunt of the blast, protecting her son from certain death. Eighteen surgeries and sixty-five procedures later, her left leg was amputated.

Despite the extraordinary trauma she underwent and the nightmares she continues to have, Rebekah sees it as just another part of her personal journey, a journey that has led her through abuse, mistakes, and pain and into the arms of Jesus. This stirring memoir tells the story of her recovery, including her triumphant return to Boston two years later to run part of the race, and explores the peace we experience when we learn to trust God with every part of our lives—the good, the bad, and even the terrifying.

Hardcover, 272 pages 
Published April 4th 2017 
by Fleming H. Revell Company
*** 1/2

Rebekah Gregory chose not to be a victim but a survivor. She shares her story of not just the Boston bombing but her growing up years and what shaped her to be the person she is today.

"...if you expect to read about a perfect Christian life with a pretty little bow on it, you have picked up the wrong memoir.  What you will read about it someone who tries to live the Christian life, who tries to walk with God, and who had not always succeeded in getting things right."

I found this book to be a quick read while still engaging and inspiring. Rebecca has gone through a lot in her life before the bombing and she is very candid with her struggles and errors in judgement. She doesn't sugar coat her story making it easy to relate to.

Her faith is central here and she let's the reader in on her thoughts and motivations. She is honest as she shares her emotional roller coaster ride recovery, and not just the physical aspect.

Taking My Life Back is an inspirational story. While there were times I found the book a little disjointed, with it bouncing around a number of times, it was a moving testimony and one that will stay with me.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.

  “Both funny and heartbreaking, this epic journey of two courageous women is an unforgettable tale of little-known wartime glory and sacrifice. Quinn knocks it out of the park with this spectacular book!”—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America's First Daughter

 Paperback: 528 pages 
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
 (June 6, 2017) 

You know what I wanted to do when I finished this book? Turn back to page 1 and start all over again. Then I think I will grab her Rome series and reread those. There were so many things that I loved about this book and it comes with a major gosh alert, consider yourself warned.

If it was possible to give more than a five stars I definitely would, not only did it make my 'best of 2017' but make my list of all time favorites.

The Alice Network is a dual time period story, where one usually involves a current day thread and a past it was a nice change for the focus to be on the past, the two world wars. I have read everything Kate Quinn has written this is her first venture out of Rome and a totally different era. It takes a talented author who can make that jump and hit a grand slam. She has totally done that here. 

I loved the uniqueness of the subject matter, the little know parts of history brought to life in a realistic and believable matter, it had me chomping at the bit to google so much. I was good and waited till I finished not just the book but the author's notes as well. Anyone who knows me knows I love when a book finishes off with these, especially in a historical piece. It's where the author gets to talk about what's real, what's made up giving the reader an inside look at the motivation and what drew the author the write this book - loved it! 

The Alice Network was a compelling story with characters that were real, in a setting full of intrigue, suspense and heartbreak, witty at times to break the tension (as only Kate Quinn can do). Quinn's pose is flawless, she gives depth to her characters and setting making me feel like I am right there, I can feel the emotion pulse through this story giving credence to the author's ability to weave together a great story.

It is always a pleasure reading a Kate Quinn book, thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this tour. Be sure to check out the video below where some of us bloggers are given the opportunity to ask her questions.


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Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice.

A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.

She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia.

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