Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

A suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare...

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears....

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published March 20th 2018
by Berkley

 Dual time period books are a favorite of mine and with an action filled prologue the author grabbed my attention and did not let go till the very end.

From 1950 we meet four teen girls left at Idlewild Hall for various reason, sent there because they are troubled and/or uncontrollable. Idlewild Hall is said to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Hand...
Mary Hand, Mary Hand,
Dead and buried under land...
Faster, faster.
Don’t let her catch you.
She’ll say she wants to be your friend..:
Do not let her in again!
In 2014 Fiona is still struggling from the tragic death of her sister, her body was discovered on the deserted field of Idlewild but something just doesn't feel right and she can't let it go.

The Broken Girls is flawless, between a unique plot with characters I couldn’t help feeling heaps of compassion for, where others rubbed me the wrong way. They are flawed, troubled and believable. While I tried to predict the next move the author keep me on my toes as the many layers started to unwind.

I loved the writers style, there was depth of character and she stayed true to both time periods. The historical aspects weren't what I expected and totally worked perfectly here, it was a bonus I didn't see coming.  The ending wasn't rushed and tied everything up nicely.

Another thing that I really loved is the synopsis, there is enough information to get the just of the story but there are no spoilers or any 'this happens, that happens', it’s a pet peeve of mine when the synopsis gives too much of the story away and removes those elements of surprise.

If it was possible to give The Broken Girls more than 5 stars I would, as soon as I saw the cover it landed on my TBR, my gut feeling told me this would be a gem and I wasn't disappointed at all.

My sincere thanks to Berkley for an advanced copy (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Spotlight: The Summer Sail by Wendy Francis

 Paperback, 320 pages 
Expected publication: May 1st 2018
 by Touchstone

A trio of college friends who reunite aboard a cruise ship experience an unforgettable vacation in this compelling novel from the author of The Summer of Good Intentions, which was hailed as “everything a summer read should be” by Elin Hilderbrand.

 Three college roommates are celebrating a twentieth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise to Bermuda. As the ship pulls away from the pier, everyone is looking forward to lounging by the pool, sipping sunset cocktails, and reminiscing. Abby, the mother hen of the group, will be celebrating her wedding anniversary in style, even as she and her husband keep a secret from the group. Ambitious career woman Caroline happily anticipates several stress-free days away from her magazine job with her boyfriend, Javier, who may or may not be finally inspired to propose. And single mom Lee (annoyingly gorgeous and irresistibly popular in college) hopes she’ll win back the affections of her formerly sweet daughter Lacey, who after her first year in college, has inexplicably become a little bit of a monster.

 As the balmy pink shores of Bermuda come into view, tensions simmer, and old jealousies flare, sending the temperature from soothing to scorching in this engrossing tale of three best friends on a vacation they won’t soon forget—but not for the reasons they expect.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. French-Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story...or the whole truth.

Kindle, 414 pages 
Published April 24th 2018 
by Simon & Schuster Canada

This is my 4th Susanna Kearsley book, she is a Canadian author and one of my favorites.  Her experience as a Museum curator and love of history is evident in her writing.  Her books have unique storylines with some romance and a touch of the supernatural mixed in.  I have yet to be disappointed in anything she has penned.

That being said I found Bellewether to be more of a quieter book, there isn't a lot of action, it's pacing was slow but still a story that kept my attention while peaking my interest into historic facts on both sides of the border.  Honestly I had never heard of the Seven Years War, billeted war prisoners or residential schools (that last one left me rather shocked). It's one of the reasons historical books are my go to, being educated at the same time as being entertained.

Bellewether is told from 3 different POV's, present day Charley and from 1759 we hear from Lydia and Jean Philippe.  It's always a treat hearing from the male characters, I feel it adds much to the story.  The romance part played out nicely with no 'insta love' and mushy 'best looking guy I've ever seen' comments, it was realistic and believable.

Bellewether is a story of war, grief, love, secrets, mystery, reconciliation and so much more.  Susanna Kearsley brings to light an era loosely based on her own family history, the author's notes are well worth reading with many book recommendation of further interest.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advance earc in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: Madam of My Heart by Gini Grossenbacher

Publication Date: February 6, 2017
eBook & Paperback; 476 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998380605
Series: American Madams, #1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian

Baltimore, 1849. During a scandalous crisis, the young Irish Brianna Baird flees her home at Fells Point. With little cash and only a seamstress's trade, she braves the hypnotic streets of New Orleans. The tantalizing Madam DeSalle lures her to her brothel, then sells her to the dashing but questionable gambler, Edward Spina, who falls in love with her. In a tawdry alliance with these two profiteers, Brianna embarks on a journey through the French Quarter's debauched and glittering Voodoo world. Facing the horrors of slavery, she triumphs by gaining freedom papers for her maid Emma's enslaved husband and son. Brianna and Edward escape with them to San Francisco. There she becomes one of the most sought after madams in the gold rush parlor house trade. But will her fame and pluck be enough to save Edward from the Vigilante noose? This is the first book in the American Madams series.

"A debut historical novel that chronicles the struggles, loves, and joys of an exceptional madam in 19th-century America. Grossenbacher's book, the first in a planned series, dramatizes the early life and busy career of a woman named Brianna Baird. Grossenbacher's prose is both graceful and inventive. She absorbingly limns the various cities Brianna inhabits, from New Orleans and its 'web of Creole cottages, chaotic marketplaces, and secretive balconies, simmering outside her window, ' to the rowdy atmosphere of frontier-era San Francisco. The occasional marvelous metaphor will surprise readers, as when 'the truth hit Brianna like a badly aimed bowling pin.' This isn't just a novel for lovers of history's more prurient corners; it's for everyone who likes well-deployed language and intense stories. A seamier side of American history, engagingly told through one woman's unexpected adventures." -Kirkus Reviews, A Recommended Review

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.

For more information, please visit Gini's website.

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


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two copies of Madam of My Heart! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Madam of My Heart

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Audio Review: Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1) by Deanna Raybourn


These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests. Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

 Audible Audio, Unabridged
13 hours, 2 minutes
Published January 5th 2007
by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn's Victoria Speedwell series, I love Victoria, the intricate mysteries and the writing.  My fear with starting this series was how similar these 2 characters would be and if all the hype about Lady Julia Grey put my expectation level on an elevated path.

I went with the audio version for this one, Ellen Archer is the reader and did a great job.  Not all books work in audio format but this one did.

I've heard about the opening line of Silent in the Grave and  also think it sets the tone and gets this book off to a roaring start.
"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
This isn't a cozy mystery, coming in between 440-509 pages (depending on what version you read) leaves plenty of room to get to know Julia, Brisbane and of course Edward.  There are many layers here that kept me dawning my sleuth hat as I endeavored to solve the crime before Julia did.  Though I found it dragged somewhat in the middle it kept me captivated, curious as to the direction it was heading.  As the mystery twisted and turned, with the right amount of wit it came to a satisfying ending.  Definitely a series I will continue to read.

As you can see I am a big fan, clicking on the covers will take you to my review.  I just love the covers for the Victoria Speedwell Series!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt

“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.”

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

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

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published April 1st 2018
 by Park Row

We Own the Sky starts with a note from the author, why he wrote this book.
"At its core, the story is about the love between father and son.  It's about how even when our lives are torn apart, there is always hope.  It's about what we cling to when we have nothing left." 
This is one book that will stay with me for a long time.  It's a parents worst nightmare and for this reader it hits close to home, I think that is why some books resonate more with some.  When you can (and have felt) the same wide range of emotions the characters and circumstances become real. 

Told from the POV of Rob this is his journey from love and loss to despair and healing. Though it might have been nice to hear from his wife, it was his journey.  It is well written and nice to get a male perspective for a change.  The synopsis above outlines nicely the book and I struggle with saying too much.  The author used his our experience with hospitals and illness to write an authentic story.  It's a sad reminder that life is precious and can change so quickly.

Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.

Purchase Links 

Luke Allnutt grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: Come from Away by Genevieve Graham

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

 In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

 Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

 Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.

Kindle, 352 pages 
Expected publication: April 24th 2018 
by Simon & Schuster

I have read many books on both World Wars but never with Canada as the location, in fact finding any Canadian historical fiction is scarce.  Genevieve Graham lives on the East coast of Canada and her passion and knowledge of the history of that location shines through in her books.  This is my third book and again I knew it would be a treat to read.

Even though this story began in Tides of Honour,  it is a standalone - but I still recommend reading her other works.  Where Tides took place during World War One, Come from Away takes places during the Second World War.

I was educated reading this one, knowing nothing of the German U-boats off the east coast of Canada and the impact it had on the residents. This story revolves around the POV's of both Rudi and Grace, allowing me to get inside their heads and feel the struggles they were going through, not just the internal but with those involving others.  The war put everyone on edge and friendships would naturally be put to the test. The author clearly showed the effects this war had on those that survived, both those with seen and unseen wounds.

Come from Away is a story of hope, second chances, and healing.  It is vividly written clearly showing the effects this war had on Canadians on Canadian soil, it was a refreshing change of location and one I enjoyed.  There are some lovely Author's Notes/Q & A at the end that just finished this book off nicely.

Thank you to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of Come from Away.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spotlight: The Elizas by Sara Shepard

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Expected publication: April 17th 2018 
by Atria Books

New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

 When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

 Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

 The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

 Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Review: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell.

 Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

 And then she was gone.

 Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

 Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
 Expected publication: April 24th 2018
 by Atria Books

Well that was one humdinger of a story!  I read this in just over a day, once hitting the half way mark I knew someone else had to cook supper last night. 

I was draw right in here, it's every parents worst nightmare - that of losing a child. When there is no closure just existing as time speeds by wondering, hoping for a miracle.  With this story alternating in points of view gave me different  perspectives, getting to know the characters better.  The characters are flawed and believable, the story was engrossing and kept me flipping the screen.  The chapters weren't overly long, hence just one more chapter and before I knew I was too absorbed to slow down.

Then She Was Gone is more than a story of Ellie's disappearance, it's about mental health, insecurity and forgiveness. Written with feeling I couldn't help but feel Laurel's pain and heartache. The author's writing style is one I enjoyed, as the plot flowed and the voices changed it was done smoothly not disrupting the energy of the story.

Lisa Jewell is not a new author to me, I enjoyed I Found You and look forward to searching out more of her books.

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of Then She Was Gone, which releases on the 17th of April.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Review/Giveaway: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

​ From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

 A general’s daughter…

 Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

 A founding father’s wife...

 But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

 The last surviving light of the Revolution…

 When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

 ebook, 672 pages
Published April 3rd 2018
by William Morrow Paperbacks

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest for a More Perfect Union


Historical fiction is my favorite genre to read, especially when encountering a time period and with characters I am unfamiliar with, the hype of Hamilton on Broadway is pretty much how I am familiar with the name. Given how much I enjoyed America‘s First Daughter it was a given that I would continue reading anything by these two talented ladies. 

I follow both Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie on various social media sites and know of research trips and their dedication to Eliza Hamilton, excitement abounded when asked if I’d be part of this tour. 

My Dear Hamilton is an epic sized book coming in at almost 700 pages and the perfect size to get totally lost in. The book opens with an elderly Eliza as she begins to tell her story. It’s an amazing journey and told with courage and grace. What a life she led and for this Canadian I loved learning of the founding fathers, so many characters I was surprised to meet (but given the time period, I shouldn’t have been), Washington, Arnold, Monroe, Madison and more. Between the political strife and their marriage My Dear Hamilton is a story of love, betrayal, scandal, treason, war and so much more. It is beautifully written and clearly portrays the time and a woman who endures so much. There is very little history of Eliza documented and the authors have done a wonderful job creating her life based on Alexander’s letters and such. 

There are some serious author notes here, I mean pages and pages of them and I loved it. It’s the perfect finishing touch.    


Amazon | B&N | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Autographed Paperback

Add to Your Goodreads


  About Stephanie Dray: Stephanie Dray is a New York Times bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into multiple languages, illuminating women of the past so as to inspire the women of today. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.      

Stephanie Dray Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | Dray & Kamoie Website

About Laura Kamoie: Laura Kamoieis a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, and the author of two nonfiction books on early American history. Until recently, she held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, also a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels.

Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie’s MY DEAR HAMILTON – Blog Tour Schedule:
April 2nd
Books A-Brewin' – Excerpt
My Girlfriends Couch – Excerpt
April 3rd
My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt
Smexy& Fabulous – Excerpt
April 4th
Always a happy ever after –Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Excerpt
Quirky Lady Bookworm Reviews – Review & Excerpt
SJAT's Books and More – Review & Interview
April 5th
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt
Literature Goals – Excerpt
April 6th
Books After Fifty – Excerpt
History Undressed – Review & Excerpt
Under the Covers Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
True Book Addict – Excerpt
Zili in the Sky – Excerpt
April 7th
3 Degrees of Fiction Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Evermore Books – Excerpt
KDRBCK – Review & Excerpt
April 8th
BookCrushin – Interview
Liz's Reading Life – Excerpt
Vagabonda Reads – Review & Excerpt
April 9th
Book Bug Blog – Review & Excerpt
Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Read-Love-Blog – Excerpt
April 10th
Miss Riki – Review & Excerpt
My Fictional Escape – Review & Excerpt
Oh, for the Hook of a Book – Review & Interview
April 11th
Sofia Loves Books – Review & Excerpt
April 12th
Denny S. Bryce – Review & Excerpt
Good Drunkard – Review & Excerpt
Ruth Downie – Interview
Margie's Must Reads – Excerpt
April 13th
A Bookaholic Swede – Review
Creating Herstory – Review & Interview
Historical Fiction Reviews – Review & Excerpt
April 14th
Book Nook Nuts – Excerpt
Deluged with Books Cafe – Review & Excerpt
Leigh Anderson – Review
Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt
Teatime and Books – Excerpt
Two Girls with Books – Review & Excerpt

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Audio Review: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

A virtuoso performance by the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova brings her signature “gut-wrenching and memorable” (Library Journal, starred review on Inside the O’Briens) prose to this stunning novel about finding harmony amidst the most tragic of situations.

 Richard, an accomplished concert pianist, has already suffered many losses in his life: the acrimonious divorce from his ex-wife, Karina; the estrangement of his daughter, Grace; and now, a devastating diagnosis: ALS, a degenerative neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

 The relentlessly progressive paralysis of ALS begins in the cruelest way possible—in his hands. As Richard becomes more and more locked inside his body and can no longer play piano or live on his own, Karina steps in as his reluctant caregiver. Paralyzed in a different way, Karina is trapped within a prison of excuses and blame, stuck in an unfulfilling life as an after-school piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, the two struggle to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

 Poignant, powerful, and with the staggering insight of Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You, Lisa Genova does for ALS “what Still Alice did for Alzheimer’s” (Huffington Post) and delivers a masterful exploration of what it means to find yourself within the most shattering of circumstances.

 Published March 20th 2018
by Simon Schuster Audio
Scribd - 8 hours 2 minutes
Dennis Boutsikaris (narrator), Dagmara Domińczyk (narrator)

Lisa Genova is known for her emotional, medical stories that pull at the heartstrings. I still think about Still Alice and I read that when it first came out.

 While her last book didn’t really float my boat I knew this one would, for a number of reasons. I’ve been in the role of caregiver in the past so I could empathize here and was prepared for it to hit close to home.  As well as knowing two lovely women that were stricken with ALS, it’s a terrible disease and this book really brings to light its horrific progression.

Told from the POV of both Richard and Karina was what made this a totally authentic and emotional read.  The author didn't hold back as she described the progression of ALS, it is blatantly obvious the amount of research that went into Every Note Played and while at times the symptoms were told matter of factly it wasn't in a clinical unfeeling manner but with compassion and respect.  Even at the end in the author's notes Genova talks about those she knew and lost to ALS, her research and even how to help, making this book all the more gripping.

The audio version was great and I highly recommend it, it was addictive and another Lisa Genova that will stay with me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review: Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

 As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

 Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

 When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

Paperback, 352 pages
 Published April 3rd 2018
by Thomas Nelson

Hurricane Season is the journey of Betsy and Jenna, two sisters with different lifestyles but similar in many ways.

Some may find the pacing of this book slow and there is not a lot of action but sometimes you just need a quiet book with a good story highlighting internal struggles that are all too common these days.  Yes I will admit to skimming over a few repetitive parts but all in all I enjoyed reading this book. With each chapter alternating between the characters (also Ty's voice is thrown in a few times) it was easy to get to know these women with their struggles, confusion and feelings - of the past, present and future.

Hurricane Season is a story of self discovery, forgiveness and the bond between two sisters. The ending might have felt a little bit rushed but it’s a story I would love to visit again in five or 10 years to see what happens.

Thank you to the publisher via net galley for an advance copy and TLC tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour.
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Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham.

In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II. When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

 Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

 Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

 When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Kindle, 400 pages
Published March 27th 2018
by Gallery Books

This book had me at 'for fans of The Nightingale and The Lilac Girls', everything after that was a blur - I loved both of those books.  With that kind of endorsement my expectation level was elevated. 

The synopsis above doesn’t hold back much telling what this book is about, I'll confess to not being a huge fan of long synopsis's like that, there is too much of a risk of spoilers and the unveiling of storylines I would rather discover for myself. 

The Room on Rue Amelie felt like more of a love story with the war as the backdrop. Well I enjoyed this book I felt that it was lacking the depth it needed to complete on the scale with The Nightingale. With so many glowing reviews I wondered what I was missing, but rather struggled to connect with the characters and found some situations hard to swallow.  It was still an interesting read and I could tell that the author did a lot of research here.  World War 2 in Paris is always heartbreaking to read about and I love to hear about those who did all they could to be part of the resistance.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy of this ebook.