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.


HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Dancing in the Rain by Lucy Appadoo

Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Book Title: Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series)
Author: Lucy Appadoo
Category: Adult Fiction, 274 pages
Genre: Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Publisher: Lucy Appadoo
Release date: March 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 5 to 23, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)

Buy the Book:

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends July 1

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: The Irish Milliner by Cynthia G. Neale

It is New York City and the Civil War is brewing.

Norah McCabe, an Irish immigrant who escaped the Famine as a child, is now a young widow with a daughter. She is a milliner, struggling to survive in tumultuous times. 

Norah meets Abraham Lincoln, befriends the extraordinary African-American woman Elizabeth Jennings, and assists the Underground Railroad. She falls headlong in love with Edward M. Knox, son of the famous hat-maker Charles Knox, but he is lace curtain Irish and she is shanty Irish. Edward joins the 69th regiment and leaves for battle. 

Can their love endure through class differences and war? 

This is a story of survival, intrigue, romance, as well as, exploring the conflict of Irish immigrants thrust into a war that threatened to destroy a nation. It is about an Irish-American woman who could be any immigrant today, any woman today, seeking to create beauty and make sense of her life.

Suddenly the Civil War seems very relevant and Cynthia Neale does a great job of focusing on the role of the Irish in the conflict. And it's great fun to be in touch with her wonderful character, Norah McCabe, again!” ~Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay and Of Irish Blood

This timely novel spans centuries to bring to our attention to a topic as old as yesterday, as expedient as tomorrow?emigration. Neale's work, written with love and insight, reminds us that our neighbor is all mankind.” ~Tim Pat Coogan, Irish broadcaster, journalist, writer and author of 1916 The Easter Rising, Michael Collins and The Famine Plot

Publication Date: June 2, 2017
Fireship Press
eBook; 276 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Romance
*** 1/2

I don't recall reading a book about an Irish immigrant living in New York City during the Civil War era, which I think is one of the reason this book appealed to me and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. 

Norah is a young Irish American mother, widowed and residing in the Five-Points area of New York City. While it took me a little bit to get immersed in the story I found the view of New York City before the Civil War interesting and a true picture of what life was like back then.

I enjoyed Norah's character, she was determined, devoted and caring. She wasn't afraid to stand her ground and worked hard trying to expand her hat business. 

You have to wonder if it would be easier just to put your head down, devote yourself to your loved ones and try to survive the times. I love hearing about the Underground Railroad with it's secret messaging systems, I found the involvement of the hats fascinating and would have loved a little more detail into their role. 

All in all I enjoyed this one, it's always great reading about strong women who go against the grain of society, who want to make a difference and a better life not just for themselves but others as well.

The author's note always finish off a book nicely and I enjoyed learning that Elizabeth Jennings as well as Edward and Charles Knox were actual real historical figures. I could feel the author's passion for the Irish and it shows here with her knowledge of the times.

I received a copy of this ebook as part of the tour in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Cynthia G. Neale is a native of the Finger Lakes region of New York and now resides in New Hampshire. She has long possessed a deep interest in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Great Hunger. This is Ms. Neale’s fourth novel. She also writes plays, short stories, and essays, and holds a B.A. in Writing and Literature from Vermont College.

 For more information, please visit Cynthia G. Neale's website.

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


To win an eBook of The Irish Milliner by Cynthia G. Neale, please enter the Gleam form below.

Two eBooks are up for grabs! 

 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 9th. 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.

  The Irish Milliner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Blast and Giveaway: The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack


Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred. 

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him? 

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Paperback Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Paperback; 368 Pages
ISBN: 9781250099778
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell's

Praise for The Fortune Teller

"Beginning as a clever mystery based on an ancient manuscript and evolving into a family epic spanning centuries, an international thriller, and a destined romance, The Fortune Teller has something for everyone. Offer it to fans of A.S. Byatt's Possession and Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series."―Booklist

 "Womack alternates back and forth between a whirlwind history that spans thousands of years and the suspense of Semele's search...Entertaining."—Kirkus Reviews

 "The Fortune Teller is a gripping, twisting tale that spans thousands of years, thousands of miles, and perhaps even crosses over to the 'other side.' A fascinating read that is that unlikely combination of unputdownable and thought-provoking."—B.A. Shapiro, bestselling author of The Art Forger and The Muralist

 "There aren't enough words to adequately describe how much I love The Fortune Teller. It is a gripping and masterfully woven combination of history, mystery, fate, adventure, and family ties: a true page-turner that enthralls from the first sentence with unique characters, fascinating settings, and intriguing artifacts. Womack brilliantly illuminates how there is more at play in the world than logic can explain."—Kelli Estes, USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

 "The Fortune Teller takes you on an international thrill ride across centuries—with fascinating research and memorable characters—proving once again that Gwendolyn Womack is a magician, keeping readers turning pages with wonder and awe."—M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author

 "What a mesmerizing journey. The suspense increases steadily throughout the novel, as Semele realizes her identity is caught up in the mysterious manuscript and that the truth of her own abilities is a secret people will kill for. Readers who enjoy the novels of Katherine Neville, Kate Mosse and Diana Gabaldon will savor this treat."—Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

About the Author

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video, and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.

 For more information please visit Gwendolyn Womack's website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.


During the Book Blast we will be giving away a Tarot Deck & Book Set!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

 Description: This deck/book set provides everything you need to understand tarot. The full-size deck is a vibrantly recolored version of the classic Rider-Waite deck, updated with subtle shading that gives depth to the familiar tarot scenes. The 272-page, user-friendly handbook with full-color illustrations is perfect for beginners as well as experienced readers who want to refresh their tarot skills.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The Fortune Teller Book Blast

Friday, June 2, 2017

Audio Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

 From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It's not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee--something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....

 Published April 11th 2017 
by Berkley Books 
15 hrs and 18 mins via Audible
Karen White is a relatively new author for me. I have read The Forgotten Room which she pinned with two other authors but it was her book The Sound of Glass that really made me pay attention to her work. That book was an audio read for me and I absolutely loved it, so it only stands to reason that I jumped at the chance to listen to the audio book for the night the lights went out when it became available from Audible.

This would be a perfect beach book in my opinion. Coming in at just over 400 pages there is enough time for the reader to get to know the characters and for the plot to really develop. While I could see where the story line was going I was waiting for that big event, that turning point, for lack of a better word the inciting incident that I knew was going to pop up at any moment. When it did it was something I totally did not expect and was rather speechless while I listened. I love it when an author does that, throws a curve ball with something believable but totally unexpected.

The author brings the south to life with unique saying and customs, the added feature of the blog postings left me wondering who the writer could be, the motives and how that fit with the story. Again there were some aspects that were predictable but the smooth writing, intricate detail and satisfactory ending made this a very enjoyable book to listen to.

Karen White is an author that I definitely recommend both in print and audiobook format.

This audio book was obtained from Audible and part of my personal library. 

Click on the covers below which will take you to my reviews of  The Forgotten Room and The Sound of Glass.