Friday, February 27, 2015

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

A novel about three generations of midwives (a woman, her mother, and her grandmother) and the secrets they keep that push them apart and ultimately bind them together

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all.

 Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by St. Martin's Press 
borrowed from library
*** - I liked it

This is Sally Hepworth's debut, I love debuts it's no secret.

Each chapter alternated between Neva, Grace and Floss as each of these ladies share their story.  I liked the premise of this book, it intrigued me, add in the unknown, the secrets and it had the makings of an entertaining book.  A relatively fast read with only 320 pages I was able to finish in a matter of days.  Though  I liked the story I was aching for more, I would have loved for more depth to Neva, Grace and Floss's character.   The story of Floss was the one that interested me the most and I would have loved to read more about her journey to America.

The way the author portrayed Midwifery especially with the conflict between doctors was spot on and I liked the realism there.  The passion these ladies had for their jobs was evident and the authors knowledge showed too.

At times a little rushed and predictable but all in all a solid debut and definitely an author I will read again.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Camelot Kids by Ben Zackheim

What happens when Merlin tries to save the world with 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table?

In The Camelot Kids, Ben Zackheim, author of the bestselling Shirley Link series, tells the exhilarating story of Merlin’s quest to save the modern world by recruiting 150 teenage descendants of The Knights of the Round Table. Getting 150 teenagers to do anything can be tough. Even if you know how to handle them. Merlin has no idea how to handle them.

Luckily, Merlin finds Simon Sharp — a natural leader, but not a big fan of the Camelot myth. In fact, his parents, both obsessed with King Arthur, died in a plane crash on their way to an archaeological dig. So when Merlin tells him that he’s a descendant of Lancelot, King Arthur’s strongest warrior, Simon is skeptical and not receptive in the least. And that’s just the beginning of a story that will leave readers thrilled, wanting more and entirely convinced of the brilliance of Simon Sharp.

In the same way that magic is the code that holds Harry Potter’s world together, chivalry is the code, the foundation and the social dynamic of The Camelot Kids. Chivalry is, in a sense, real-life magic, and it is the real-life code Simon and the other teenagers learn to live by.

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Guess what my grandson is getting for his birthday?  Yup perfect for this 10 year old and much enjoyed by grandma also.  The cover of this book is great, it's colorful and eyecatching.  The vivid descriptions along with the illustrations throughout enhances this story nicely.

There are 4 parts to this story, you can buy them individually or all in one book.  I am only going to comment on the first book which introduces us to the plot and Simon.  I loved Simon, he was real and it wasn't hard to feel his plight and sympathy for him.  Orphaned at a young age, bounced around foster homes and finally ending up with a rather odd uncle. This is where the story gets interesting and starts to really unfold.  Simon is you average mischievous boy trying to fit in without drawing attention to himself, but alas that doesn't happen. This is where Merlin shows up and leaves one looking forward to part 2.

The Camelot Kids is a fast paced book full of adventure, mystery and suspense, sure to grab the attention of middle grade aged kids (adults too). 

Purchase Links

Ben Zackheim

Zackheim’s storytelling chops span TV (Nickelodeon), Games (Sony), Books (Shirley Link) and screenplays (Chester Yang, an Austin Heart of Film Festival semi-finalist script). and Edward Hemingway have both highly recommended Shirley Link as a great book for Middle Graders.
Find out more about Ben at his website, and connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.




 Monday, February 16th: Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, February 18th: Walking in Faith
Monday, February 23rd: Jancee Reads
Tuesday, February 24th: Belle’s Beautiful Books
Tuesday, February 24th: A Stable Beginning
Wednesday, February 25th: Books Reviews by Lanise Brown
Thursday, February 26th: Just One More Chapter
Friday, February 27th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, March 3rd: Mom in Love With Fiction
Wednesday, March 4th: Melissa Northway
Thursday, March 5th: Staircase Wit
Wednesday, March 11th: Once Upon a YA book
Thursday, March 12th: Ms. Bookish
Wednesday, March 18th: Nighttime Reading Center

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose (Book Tour)

Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.

Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Atria Books
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Mystery
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MJ Rose is a relatively new author to me, I loved her books Seduction and The Collector of Dying Breaths which were part of her Reincarnationist Series.  The Witch of Painted Sorrow is the first in a planned trilogy.
There are so many things that I love about her books, the first being her covers.  This one is gorgeous and reflects the story so well.

The synopsis does a great job of outlining the story and I really wasn't paying too much attention to it before I started reading this book, just knowing who the author was made me want to read this.  MJ Rose has a way of drawing the reader right in and not letting go.  Sandrine is a very likable character, running from a marriage and trouble back in New York one can't help empathizing with her.  She arrives insecure and unsure of herself bu slowly as the story unfolds one is already bonded to her as the supernatural part starts to take place. 

I found the storyline very interesting, the characters evolved in a smooth and rather spell binding manner, that it was hard to put this book down, I was drawn to it.  The descriptive writing had me visualizing Paris in the late 1890's with the art, night life and general life style. 

Though  there is a lot going on in this book (as there usually is with Rose's books) from the art, suspense, danger, mystery, spirits, romance and more to keep one on their toes and wanting to read 'just one more chapter'.  It isn't overwhelming at all, a great start to a new series which ended with a cliffhanger that has me waiting for the next book.



Praise for the novels of M.J. Rose

The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Rose’s new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris—a perfect match for the author’s lush descriptions, intricate plot and mesmerizing storytelling. A cliffhanger ending will leave readers hungry for the next volume. Sensual, evocative, mysterious and haunting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A haunting tale of possession.” (Publishers Weekly)


The Collector of Dying Breaths

“Breathtaking…combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.” (Associated Press)

“A page-turning, alluring concoction of fiction infused with fantastical yet actual history. Readers will be charmed by her well-drawn and memorable characters, and they will be mesmerized by her enchanting narrative, which takes them on a mystical and magical journey.” (Library Journal (starred))

“A terrific piece of entertainment.” (CT Post)

“Wondrously original… elegantly written. Rose manages to utterly suspend our disbelief in a book that leaves us, appropriately enough, breathless.” (Providence Journal)

“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” (Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants)



“Atmospherically romantic and perfectly toned. Classy and elegant literary seduction of the highest measure. As wondrously crafted as it is original.” (Providence Journal)

“Readers will be enchanted by M.J. Rose’s supernaturally charged novel Seduction, inspired by Victor Hugo’s self-imposed exile on the British island of Jersey in the 1850s.” (USA Today)

“Has just about everything a thriller fan could wish for.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.” (Library Journal (starred review))


The Book of Lost Fragrances

“A compelling page turner…Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted.” (Associated Press)
“M.J. Rose is a bold, unflinching writer and her resolute honesty puts her in a class by herself.” (Laura Lippman)

“The Book of Lost Fragrances resonates with spirit, blending myth with reality, tragedy with triumph, pain with joy. You’ll find yourself questioning everything you believe–and wanting more.” (Steve Berry)
“Provocative…a sweeping sense of romance [and] history.” (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)


Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble

M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.

Monday, February 16
Review at Unshelfish
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Tuesday, February 17
Spotlight at Let them Read Books
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, February 18
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, February 20
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Monday, February 23
Review & Guest Post at Bookish
Review at The Novel Life
Tuesday, February 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, February 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, February 26
Interview at Mythical Books
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Friday, February 27
Review at Broken Teepee
Guest Post at The Novel Life
Monday, March 2
Review at A Dream Within a Dream
Interview at Reading Lark
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse
Tuesday, March 3
Review at Book Babe
Wednesday, March 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, March 5
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Friday, March 6
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Monday, March 9
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, March 10
Review at Based on a True Story
Thursday, March 12
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Reviews
Friday, March 13
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Monday, March 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Tuesday, March 17
Review at This, That, and the Other Thing
Wednesday, March 18
Review at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, March 19
Review & Guest Post at Mari Reads
Friday, March 20
Spotlight & Guest Post at Between the Cracks
Monday, March 23
Review at Book Drunkard
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Tuesday, March 24
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, March 25
Review & Guest Post at Bookshelf Fantasies
Friday, March 27
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, March 31
Review at Dab of Darkness
Wednesday, April 1
Review at Genre Queen
Interview at Dab of Darkness
Monday, April 6
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Tuesday, April 7
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, April 8
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, April 13
Review at Lita’s Book Blog
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, April 14
Review at The True Book Addict
Wednesday, April 15
Review at A Novel Review
Monday, April 20
Review at Read, Love, Blog
Thursday, April 30
Review at One Book At a Time

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Am Lincoln by Jerome Charyn (Book Tour)

Narrated in Lincoln’s own voice, the tragicomic I Am Abraham promises to be the masterwork of Jerome Charyn’s remarkable career.

Since publishing his first novel in 1964, Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in I Am Abraham, Charyn returns with an unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated boldly in the first person, I Am Abraham effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, in the process creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.

Tracing the historic arc of Lincoln’s life from his picaresque days as a gangly young lawyer in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his improbable marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews closely to the familiar Lincoln saga. Charyn seamlessly braids historical figures such as Mrs. Keckley—the former slave, who became the First Lady’s dressmaker and confidante—and the swaggering and almost treasonous General McClellan with a parade of fictional extras: wise-cracking knaves, conniving hangers-on, speculators, scheming Senators, and even patriotic whores.

We encounter the renegade Rebel soldiers who flanked the District in tattered uniforms and cardboard shoes, living in a no-man’s-land between North and South; as well as the Northern deserters, young men all, with sunken, hollowed faces, sitting in the punishing sun, waiting for their rendezvous with the firing squad; and the black recruits, whom Lincoln’s own generals wanted to discard, but who play a pivotal role in winning the Civil War. At the center of this grand pageant is always Lincoln himself, clad in a green shawl, pacing the White House halls in the darkest hours of America’s bloodiest war.

Using biblically cadenced prose, cornpone nineteenth-century humor, and Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Charyn concocts a profoundly moral but troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his Ophelia-like wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with penetrating psychological insight and the utmost compassion. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in a haunting portrait we have rarely seen in historical fiction.

PB Publication Date: February 9, 2015
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Paperback; 480p
Genre: Historical Fiction
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audiobook provided by publisher/author as part of this tour

 This was an audio read for me, coming in at 14 hours, 33 minutes. The reader was Arthur Morey and he did a great job, he actually sounded like I imagined President Lincoln would.  Audio books told in first person are one of my favorites, it's like the person is right there telling their story, which this book was.

I really don't know a lot about the life of Abe Lincoln, other then the ending.  With I Am Lincoln it showed a real glimpse of Lincoln, getting into his head with his fears and inner turmoil.  The synopsis above explains what takes place in this book, definitely a sign that the author has a passion for this time period and knows how to express it in an entertaining manner. 

His relationship with his wife, Mary and his children were an interesting part of this story.  As well as Mary's bond with her sons and even Mrs. Keckley.  Mary was not without her own struggles and the author conveyed that situation in a real and believable manner.

I enjoyed this audio book, it brought to life a real chapter in US history and humanized Abraham Lincoln as a man that struggled with the state of his country, his people while dealing with his family at the same time.  And with any good book I would have liked it to continue to see the ramifications of his assassination.

Praise for I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War

“Thoughtful, observant and droll.” — Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review

“Not only the best novel about President Lincoln since Gore Vidal’s Lincoln in 1984, but it is also twice as good to read.” — Gabor Boritt, author of The Lincoln Enigma and recipient of the National Humanities Medal

“Jerome Charyn [is] a fearless writer… Brave and brazen… The book is daringly imagined, written with exuberance, and with a remarkable command of historical detail. It gives us a human Lincoln besieged by vividly drawn enemies and allies… Placing Lincoln within the web ordinary and sometimes petty human relations is no small achievement.” — Andrew Delbanco, New York Review of Books

“Audacious as ever, Jerome Charyn now casts his novelist’s gimlet eye on sad-souled Abraham Lincoln, a man of many parts, who controls events and people—wife, sons, a splintering nation—even though they often are, as they must be, beyond his compassion or power. Brooding, dreamlike, resonant, and studded with strutting characters, I Am Abraham is as wide and deep and morally sure as its wonderful subjects.” — Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compassion: 1848-1877

“If all historians—or any historian—could write with the magnetic charm and authoritative verve of Jerome Charyn, American readers would be fighting over the privilege of learning about their past. They can learn much from this book—an audacious, first-person novel that makes Lincoln the most irresistible figure of a compelling story singed with equal doses of comedy, tragedy, and moral grandeur. Here is something beyond history and approaching art.” — Harold Holzer, chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation

“Jerome Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature.” — Michael Chabon

“Jerome Charyn is merely one of our finest writers with a polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing. Whatever milieu he chooses to inhabit, his characters sizzle with life, and his sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable.” — Jonathan Lethem

“Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.” — Tom Bissell

“One of our most intriguing fiction writers takes on the story of Honest Abe, narrating the tale in Lincoln’s voice and offering a revealing portrait of a man as flawed as he was great.” — Abbe Wright, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Jerome Charyn, like Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s superb 2012 movie, manages a feat of ventriloquism to be admired… Most of all, Lincoln comes across as human and not some remote giant… With that, Jerome Charyn has given Lincoln a most appropriate present for what would have been his 205th birthday this month: rebirth not as a marble memorial but as a three-dimensional human who overcame much to save his nation.” — Erik Spanberg, Christian Science Monitor

“Daring… Memorable… Charyn’s richly textured portrait captures the pragmatism, cunning, despair, and moral strength of a man who could have empathy for his bitterest foes, and who ‘had never outgrown the forest and a dirt floor.’” — The New Yorker


Buy the Paperback

Barnes & Noble

Jerome Charyn is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.” New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,”and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.” Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009. In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, “The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong.” Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

For more information please visit Jerome Charyn’s website. You can also find him on Twitter and Goodreads.

I Am Abraham Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 9
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, February 10
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, February 11
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, February 12
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, February 13
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, February 16
Review & Excerpt at A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus
Tuesday, February 17
Interview & Giveaway at A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, February 18
Review at Back Porchervations
Thursday, February 19
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, February 20
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Saturday, February 21
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Reviews
Monday, February 23
Interview & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews
Tuesday, February 24
Audio Book Review & Interview at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, February 25
Review at Bookish
Thursday, February 26
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, March 2
Review at Forever Ashley
Tuesday, March 3
Interview at Books and Benches
Wednesday, March 4
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, March 5
Review & Reader’s Guide at She is Too Fond of Books
Friday, March 6
Review at Impressions in Ink

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Monster That Ate My Socks by A.J. Cosmo

A young boy, who is about to be grounded for going through so many socks, discovers that a monster has been eating them.

Max is a young boy who is constantly getting in trouble for his socks disappearing. He doesn’t know where they go, but he does know that if he doesn’t do something quickly his mom will ground him for summer. Max soon discovers that a little green monster is sneaking into his room at night and eating his sweaty socks. His mother, of course, doesn't believe him, so Max calls on his best friend to come for a sleepover to catch the monster.
They devise a trap and capture the monster only to learn that the creature can speak. It hasn’t meant to cause any harm, it's just trying to feed its family. The monster shows them his home and his three little children and begs the boys not to turn them over to the adults. Adults, he says, want to destroy monsters.

The boys are left in a pickle. Allow the monsters to be and get grounded, or turn the monsters in knowing what will happen to them? Neither idea seems good, so they come up with a new plan!

Paperback, Special Edition, 32 pages
Published November 16th 2014 by Thought Bubble Publishing
received paperback as part of this tour

' silly stories, important lessons'

The Monster That Ate My Socks is a fun read.  With the bright colors on the cover it is sure to grab any child's eye without being overly scary.  

Poor Max is in a dilemma, his socks are missing and he is on a quest to figure out why.  With the help of his friend Ryan they set off on an adventure to solve this mystery.  It's not a simple mystery and the boys need to think of alternative ways to help the pesky little theives.  The book is fast paced with large lettering for the beginner reader to tackle along with colorful illustrations to keep ones attention.

Ending with a reading plan to promote further discussion tapping into the child's imagination.  It is a fun read not only to read to your child but also for them to practice their reading skills.

A.J. Cosmo's stories are crafted to help parents teach their children simple everyday lessons in an easy to understand manner. By artfully marrying beautiful illustrations and language, children are challenged to explore his magical worlds. Written for the transitional reader, A.J.'s stories allow your child to develop and master a new level of reading.
Connect with A.J.:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

 Where to buy the book:Amazon

Feb 9 -  One Frugal Girl - review / giveaway
Feb 9 -  Rockin' Book Reviews - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 10 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Feb 10 - Bookroom Reviews - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 10 - Hello, my name is Alice - review / author interview
Feb 11 - Book Dilettante - review 
Feb 11 - Back Porchervations - review
Feb 12 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 12 - Book Loving Hippo - review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 13 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Feb 16 - Life as Leels - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 16 - Genuine Jenn - review / giveaway
Feb 17 - Reading Authors - review / giveaway
Feb 17 - Bound 4 Escape - review
Feb 18 - Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks - review
Feb 18 - Deal Sharing Aunt - review
Feb 19 - Walking with Nora - review / giveaway
Feb 19 - Girl With Camera - review / giveaway
Feb 20 - View From the Birdhouse - review / giveaway
Feb 20 - Being Tilly's Mummy - review / giveaway
Feb 23 - Just One More Chapter - review
Feb 23 - Kincavel Korner - review
Feb 24 - Pinky's Favorite Reads - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 25 - fuonlyknew - review / giveaway
Feb 26 - Did YOU Hear About the Morgans? - review 
Feb 27 - DeDa Studios - review / author interview / giveaway
March 2 - Christy's Cozy Corners - review / giveaway
March 3 - Life with Katie - review / giveaway
March 4 - 3 Partners in Shopping - review / giveaway
March 6 - I'd Rather Be At the Beach - review / giveaway

Monday, February 16, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, one million children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by NAL 
arc - edelweiss
Susan Meissner has become a favorite of mine. Starting with Shape of Mercy, then Lady in Waiting and A Sound Among Trees she has shown herself to be a talented author.  Her research is spot on and with the many elements in this book I really appreciate the amount of work that went into writing it. 

Taking place during World War II Emmy and Julie are two sisters evacuated to the country from London.  It didn't take long till I was totally absorbed in this book.  Focusing mainly on Emmy the author created someone who had a goal, who wanted to make something of her life and was determined. Thinking that the war could not interfer with her plans she sets off a change reaction of events over a selfish decision.

I really enjoyed this story, it was a raw look at London and what happened during the war and the lingering effects on it's citizens.  It was emotional as I really connected with Emmy and could understand her drive and desire to control her future. There are many layers in this book and to expound on them all would contain too many spoilers.
"Emmy was vaguely aware that life was full of moments when a person knew she was at a crossroads, and that the road on the left led in a direction completely opposite from the road on the right.  
Once you stated down one road, there was no going back to that common place where the two roads began.  So you must weigh the consequences.  You must consider the outcome.  You must take your time choosing.
She was not aware that there were also moments in your life when there are two roads before you but you see only the one because that is all you want to see.
You don't weigh the consequences, then.  You don't consider the outcome.  You don't take your time choosing.
Emmy would look back on that moonlit night and wonder and wonder and wonder..."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blood Between Queens by Barbara Kyle

Following her perilous fall from a throne she’d scarcely owned to begin with, Mary, Queen of Scots, has fled to England, hoping her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, will grant her asylum. But now Mary has her sights on the English crown, and Elizabeth enlists her most trusted subjects to protect it.

Justine Thornleigh is delighting in the thrill of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to her family’s estate when the festivities are cut short by Mary’s arrival. To Justine’s surprise, the Thornleighs appoint her to serve as a spy in Mary’s court. But bearing the guise of a lady-in-waiting is not Justine’s only secret. The weight of her task is doubled by fears of revealing to her fiancé that she is in truth the daughter of his family’s greatest rival. Duty-bound, Justine must sacrifice love as she navigates a deadly labyrinth of betrayal that could lead to the end of Elizabeth’s fledgling reign…

Compelling and inventive, Blood Between Queens artfully blends history’s most intriguing figures with unforgettable characters, bringing to dazzling life the fascinating Tudor era.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Kensington 
arc - netgalley
I was somewhat late boarding the Thornleigh wagon, but as they say better late then never.  Reading this series has made Barbara Kyle a favorite of mine. 

Though the Thornleigh's are fictional characters the events taking place are drawn from history.  Queen Elizabeth is on the throne and is dealing with her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.

The is the 5th book in the series, it does work as a stand along, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning with The Queens Lady.  The first 4 books I listened to the audio version, which was read by the author herself.  For Blood Between Queens I decided to read the book, it was funny because I still could hear the authors voice in my head.

It didn't take me long to read this one, I was drawn into the story right away.  I liked Justine  (who is the adopted daughter of Richard and Honor Thornleigh)  right from the start.  Because of her past there was the makings of a great story which this was.  Sent to befriend Mary on orders from Queen Elizabeth Justine encounters ghosts from her past that causes her to struggle with who she really is.  There is depth to her character as she makes decisions that affected those around her.  The events which took place in previous books are explained here making sure the reader got the whole picture of the history between the Grenvilles and the Thornleighs as well as the repercussions which take place here.

Filled with mystery, romance, loyalty, forgiveness and suspense this latest installment I think might just be my favorite.  This story flowed smoothly right to the highly emotional ending.  Each book in this series is roughly 400 pages long, so there is time to get to know the characters and the history of Tudor England.  If you haven't started this series don't be shy, especially if you are a fan of this time period, you won't be disappointed.

Coming up next is The Queen's Exile before the May release of The Traitor's Daughter



Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France... but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can... completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by St. Martin's Press
arc - netgalley

I am relatively new to Kristin Hannah, Home Front was my one and only book of hers that I've read, which I loved.

I finished The Nightingale a couple days ago and needed a day or two to gather my thoughts and calm my beating heart.  It's not that often that a book affects me like The Nightingale has and I don't even know if I can do this review justice.  Oh I've read plenty about France during WW II, but The Nightingale is different.

Isabelle and Viann are sisters, different as night and day.  I connected right away with  both of them and it wasn't hard to, the author's writing style just drew me right in.  Written with much detail and emotion I couldn't stop reading.  I got to know both of them so well and as the war progressed their true nature took over.  What lengths will you go to protect those you love?  Or fight for something you believe in? This is a book about survival, loyalty, family, forgiveness and love (plus more).

Beautifully written The Nightingale shows vivid details of what the French had to endure, it didn't matter your religion or nationality or even your age you were at the mercy of the Germans.   Heartbreaking, this book will stay with you long after you are finished.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Audio Review: Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

Two unlikely friends, an old woman and a boy with special needs, take an aging champion to Westminster Dog Show, and heal their troubled families.

Seventy year-old Bess Rutledge has fantasized about winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life, but now she has decided she is too old to follow her dream. She meets Benny, an angry fourteen year-old with mild autism and ADHD, who has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. He becomes convinced that winning Westminster with McCreery, Bess’ aging champion standard poodle, will finally make his mother proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy.

Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 29th 2014 by Beltor 
Audible - 9 hours 7 mins

Audio books are a favorite of mine, this one wasn't long just over 9 hours.  My attention was grabbed right away.  Though I usually shy away from stories that deal with animals (mostly because of cruelty and sad endings) this one was different.  It was realistic and believable with struggles facing most people today.  It showed dedication and going after what you want.  I loved the ending because it wasn't perfect, but Almost Perfect :)

I promised myself when I started doing reviews that I wouldn't do a scene by scene analysis of the book.  I don't like reading them in reviews because they just give too much of the story away.  The synopsis is posted above and sometimes even that says too much, but not in this case.  There is more to the story here, it's also about friendship, family and discovering yourself.
  Benny is an easy character to like, he is well portrayed here, because of his family and social issues it wasn't hard to root for him and feel empathy in his struggles.

Bess isn't without issues herself, as the story slowly unfolds we are given a glimpse into her soul as well. Put these two together along with a litter of puppies and Almost Perfect is created.

Almost Perfect is a heartwarming story that I found gripping and emotional (but not too emotional).  The reader of the audio version did a great job bringing this story to life.

This year the Westminster Kennel Club has their annual show on Feb 16 & 17th, click on the link for more information.

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

When not at The New School, Diane and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty and a rescue cat named Elvira, convene at the keyboard to share great thoughts and plan the dinner menu.

Connect with her:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Where to buy the book:


Almost Perfect Trailer V1-2 from Kaizen Marketing on Vimeo.

Jan 26 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 26 - Cherry Mischievous - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 26 - Did YOU Hear About the Morgan's? - review
Jan 27 - Christy's Cozy Corners -  guest post / giveaway
Jan 27 - Cassandra M's Place - review / giveaway
Jan 28 - Bound 4 Escape - audiobook review
Jan 28 - Shannon's Book Bag - review
Jan 29 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 29 - The Things We Read - review
Jan 30 - Peeking Between the Pages - audiobook review / giveaway
Jan 30 - Green and Glassie - audiobook review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 2 - Laura's Online Interests - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 2 - Based on a True Story - review / giveaway
Feb 3 - Brooke Blogs - audiobook review / giveaway
Feb 3 - Perfect Chaos - review / giveaway
Feb 3 - A Blue Million Books - author interview / giveaway
Feb 4 - Ann's Reading Corner - review / author interview
Feb 4 - Life With Katie - review / giveaway
Feb 5 - I'd Rather Be At The Beach - audiobook review / giveaway
Feb 5 - Deal Sharing Aunt - review
Feb 6 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Feb 9 -   Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
Feb 9 -   A Peek at My Bookshelf - review
Feb 10 - justonemorechapter - audiobook review
Feb 10 - Life as Leels - review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 11 - Rockin' Book Reviews -  review / book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 11 - Pinky's Favorite Reads - audiobook review / author interview
Feb 12 - View from the Birdhouse - audiobook review / giveaway
Feb 12 - Pure Jonel - audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 13 - Jessica Cassidy -  review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 13 - Library of Clean Reads - audiobook review / giveaway