Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Audio Review: Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat

More than a half-century ago the naturalist Farley Mowat was sent to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. Mowat's account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone—studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves (who were of no threat to caribou or man)—is today celebrated as a classic of nature writing, at once a tale of remarkable adventures and indelible record of myths and magic of wolves.

 Paperback, 176 pages
Audiobook, 4 hours 51 minutes
 Published by Dell (first published 1963)

A recent road trip had hubby and I listening to what he considers a classic.  I'm not really sure if this is classified as fiction, non-fiction, whether its kid lit or what?  Written to give the impression the author went through this experience himself lends itself to non-fiction.  The beginning part came across as kid lit, it was funny, adventurous and entertaining.  However, the end part got serious and for kids could be upsetting.

All in all, I found the audio quite nice to listen to and wish that more of Farley Mowat books were available in that format.

Audiobook via Scribd and part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Review: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

 Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

 She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 30th 2019
by Bethany House Publishers

Whose Waves Are These is an intricately woven story that was pictorial with a quaint setting and an interesting cast of characters.

Spanning many decades this book was written in dual time periods that had me captivated with both of them equally, and I’ll admit that isn’t always the case as I usually prefer one over the other.

This is the author’s debut and I was blown away when I found that out. She has a style that had me mesmerized with her attention to detail, everything fit into place and was there for a reason. The story of the rocks was unique and as everything began to click together it just made me love this book all the more. The characters were real and the plot emotional as the war leaves its mark on this little place called Ansel-by-The-Sea.

Whose Waves These Are is not just a story of secrets, heartache, and guilt, but also of forgiveness, hope, and healing. It's an emotional story that had me waiting a day or so before I could begin another book.

I anxiously await more books by Amanda Dykes and highly recommend this one.

Not only is this book part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge but also my best of 2019 list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

 Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

 The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

 Paperback, 308 pages
Published May 7th 2019
by Sourcebooks Landmark
**** 1/2

My first novel by Kim Michelle Richardson was a revealing discovery in a part of history that is new to me. With a name like Troublesome Creek I honestly thought it was made up but low and behold it is a real place in the state of Kentucky. The year is 1936 and for most of this book, it honestly felt like the 1800s. The atmosphere was primitive and really showed a struggle for survival.

Between the Pack Horse Library Project (thanks to Roosevelt) and people that are actually blue, I was drawn right into this story with its unknown pieces of history. Cussy was a gutsy gal with her determination and drive to deliver books on time and connect with those she came in contact with on her trusty mule, Junia. Yes even Junia was a wonderfully player in this book. She isn’t much welcomed in town because the color blue is still not white, she is still colored and acceptance is impossible.

There are many layers to this slow-paced story and yes sometimes a slow-paced book is a great read. My first time reading Richardson and I loved her style. Her character development was spot on as was the setting. I mean I was nervous as Cussy rode mile after mile alone in the bush which is where Junia the mule shines through.

Her job as a librarian kept her going, her love of books was infectious. To read how the joys of a new book brought such happiness to people in the bleakest of situations confirmed Cussy of the importance of her job. But it was more than a job for Cussy, it was her life and I felt she would have done it whether paid or not, it was the people that kept her going.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is an emotional story, to know Cussy and see how she was treated was hard to read about. There were other aspects of this book that brought the era to life.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Review: On a Summer Tide (Three Sisters Island #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Sometimes love hurts--and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

 Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. "Moving on" is Cam's mantra. But there's a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

 Cam's full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island--a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam's surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals--and one in particular. Sam Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

 With On a Summer Tide, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher begins a brand-new contemporary romance series that is sure to delight her fans and draw new ones.

 Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 30th, 2019
by Fleming H. Revell Company

This is the perfect beach read! An island off the coast of Maine plays central to the start of this series.

I can say now that Suzanne Woods Fisher is not a new author to me, I’ve read a number of her books and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. I didn’t realize this was the start of a new series and by the end of this book, I knew I wanted more. The island of Niswi Nummissis is Algonquian for Three Sisters and an impulse purchase for Paul convinces his daughter that he is losing it. Of course they come to the rescue and so begins the story.

I love the author's writing style, she placed me in the setting, gave me a wonderful tour of the island, I was introduced to wild and wacky characters along the way and now wish to stay a week or so at Camp Kicking Moose.

I have a feeling that each book will pertain to a different daughter and this time around it’s the oldest, Camden. With snippets to the past, the author showed how she grew to be the woman and mother she is. That being said the island works its magic on all three sisters, it would make a perfect book club read and enlist lots of discussion.

Some might find it a little predictable but there were a couple twists and turns I didn’t anticipate and the journey was nice.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

With the atmospheric storytelling of Kate Morton and Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.

 A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

 Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves.

Kindle, 304 pages
Published July 9th, 2019 
 by St. Martin's Press

I finished this book a couple days ago and still struggling with my feelings. I was somewhat apprehensive since the blurb compares Kelly’s writing style to that of Ian McEwan and I’m not a fan of his. But I found the blurb intriguing effort, it’s the lesser-known bits of history I love reading around and Bethlehem Steel fits the bill. Also when Kate Morton's name is included I take notice - being a HUGE fan of hers.

I started this book a couple times before finally finishing it. I’ll confess that I struggled, especially when I got halfway through. I was bored, being unable to connect with the characters and really finding the point to the story was getting to me. Shortly after that though things changed dramatically and a nice little story came through.

Given the title, I anticipated more involvement of the steel industry and that didn’t happen. 

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Audio Review: The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

 The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

 Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

 It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

 The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

 Hardcover, 368 pages
Audiobook, 9 hours, 31 minutes
Published May 21st, 2019
 by Graydon House

I started reading this book and then decided that it would be perfect in audio format, I’m glad I went that route because I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did if I’d read it.

With Jane Harris basically talking directly to me it didn’t take long to know she is one to steer clear of - she’s kinda scary, well...not kinda, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side. The author did a great job with her characterization, it wasn’t hard to see why she didn’t have very many friends and I wasn’t sure if it was because she was grieving the death of her daughter or if this was just the way she was all the time. She was neurotic, paranoid and suspicious of everything it was no wonder she had a rocky relationship with her family.

I started this book at 9 AM and thankfully I had some driving, dog walking and cleaning to do finishing it off in the evening, I just had to know what was going on.

Labeled psychological thriller it was not as action-packed as I thought it might be but as the story developed I was sucked right it, with some surprises along the way and a few parts somewhat predictable I really enjoyed the ride.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for a digital copy though I went the audio route via Scribd.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamorous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.

 Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

 James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

Kindle, 384 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd, 2019
by William Morrow Paperbacks

Three years ago I was in Cannes as they were preparing for the Film Festival as well as Monaco where I paid my respects at Grace Kelly’s graveside. So it only stands to reason that I jumped when the opportunity presented itself to read this one. Also, I really enjoyed the authors' previous collaboration Last Christmas in Paris.

Beginning in 1955 with Cannes, the French Riveria is alive as stars of Hollywood make their appearance while photographers hover and hide behind walls vying for the best pics. With a chance meeting, Grace and Sophie are introduced and a friendship is formed.

Meet Me in Monaco is the perfect beach read, it was quick, a little predictable but entertaining.  I learned a little about what Kelly went through but this book was focused more on Sophie - her life, relationship with both Kelly and photographer James. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, I just felt with the flow of the story it could have ended a little different, but then that’s just my opinion. 

If you haven't had a chance to read Last Christmas in Paris, check it out, click on the cover below for my review.

My thanks to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advanced copy.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Audio Review: The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman #1) by Paullina Simons

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.

 Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

Hardcover, 637 pages
Audiobook, Audible 30+ hours
Published September 8th, 2009
by William Morrow
***  1/2

Here is a book that has been getting rave reviews citing as an epic historical love story. It’s the love story part that had me hesitate to pick up and of course all the hype. In the end I grabbed the audiobook which comes in just over 30 hours. John Lee is the reader and he did a stellar job, though I wonder sometimes if his emotional presentation might have been over the top a few times (refers to comments below).

It’s 1941 when 17-year-old Tatiana’s story begins in Leningrad. The war is in full swing and this book gave a great glimpse of what was like for its citizens. What transpires is horrible and the author describes it authentically and with feeling. The characterization was spot on, those I loved, those I didn’t and I could feel the desperation. The plot played out nicely and I loved the uniqueness of the storyline.

Then I hit somewhere around the 50/60% mark and wham! Everything changed, now I’m not a prude, I get sex in books - when it’s warranted but jiminy cricket, a 100 or so pages of it was just way-way too much. I got the message the first time and really didn’t need to be hit over the head again and again. It changed my feeling for one of the characters, in a bad way - I could say more but that would send me into spoiler mode. I know I am going way against the flow with this one, so many 5 star reviews, but that disrupted the flow and I struggled to be invested like I was previously.

I really enjoyed the historical aspect a lot, it’s rare that I read much from the Russian side of the war so this was a treat. The last 10% picked up again, leaving a sequel necessary. In time I might read it but not right away.

This book was part of my 2019 reading of my shelf challenge.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

The new domestic suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, Shari Lapena 

 Maybe you don't know your neighbors as well as you thought you did. . .

 "I'm so sorry. My son has been getting into people's houses. He's broken into yours."

 In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses--and into the owners' computers as well. Learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

 Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? As whispers start to circulate, suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they're telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their little secrets?

In this neighborhood, it's not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide. . .

 You never really know what people are capable of.

Paperback, 304 pages
 Expected publication: July 30th 2019
 by Pamela Dorman Books

My second book by Shari Lapena releases at the end of the month.

How far will a parent go to protect their child? As a parent, I know how far I’d go but watching someone else is an entirely different story.

Someone We Know is a book of secrets, oh its secrets!! It’s about relationships, insecurities and so much more. I wore my sleuth hat and was thoroughly invested. I will admit that sometimes these thriller 'gotta read' type books don’t always work for me and I'll also confess to being a picky reader especially when it to plausibility, anything too far fetched or unrealistic just ruins it for me.  I am happy to report that this one worked for me.

Someone We Know has many layers, many characters and at times had a Desperate Housewives feel. It’s a book that kept me guessing right till the end, there were many twists and turns and surprisingly not hard to keep straight. I read this in a matter of days and yes I did have to enlist my son to BBQ one night.

Heading back now to see what else Shari Lapena has written that I've missed.

My ARC was won from Doubleday on Twitter 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Review: Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Barbados 1652. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, the vanquished are uprooted and scattered to the ends of the earth. 

 When marauding English soldiers descend on Mairead O’Coneill’s family farm, she is sold into slavery. After surviving a harrowing voyage, the young Irish woman is auctioned off to a Barbados sugar plantation where she is thrust into a hostile world of deprivation and heartbreak. 
Though stripped of her freedom, Mairead refuses to surrender her dignity. 

 Scottish prisoner of war Iain Johnstone has descended into hell. Under a blazing sun thousands of miles from home, he endures forced indentured labour in the unforgiving cane fields. 

As Iain plots his escape to save his men, his loyalties are tested by his yearning for Mairead and his desire to protect her. With their future stolen, Mairead and Iain discover passion and freedom in each other’s arms. Until one fateful night, a dramatic chain of events turns them into fugitives. Together they fight to survive; together they are determined to escape.

Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: June 7, 2019
W.M. Jackson Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

The first word in the synopsis grabbed me right away, Barbados, one of my favorite vacation spots.  The '1652' just clinched it!  I love to read from places I've been, just getting a better feel for the place and its history.

The Civil War has taken its toll, not just the destruction of the land but its treatment of the enemy was cringe-worthy at times.  Severed Knot is a book of courage when things are at their absolute worst it's the perseverance of the characters that kept me going. While suspenseful it is also a book that tugs at the heartstrings seeing the cruelty of some and compassion of others.

It's quite evident that Cryssa Bazos has done a lot of research for this book.  She has taken a piece of history, forced slavery of Irish and Scottish, and created an atmospheric story which placed me in the middle watching it play out. I know how hot it can get in Barbados and with this book I could feel the heat, the smell, visualize the fields of sugar cane and understand how the market worked.

Historical fiction is my favorite and go-to genre and this book did not disappoint, I learned a lot of history from both England and Barbados while being entertained at the same time.

Definitely an author I will read more of.  

Available on Amazon

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

 Cryssa’s debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press. The second book in the series, Severed Knot, will be released in June 2019.

 For more information visit Cryssa’s website.

You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review: The Chef's Secret by Crystal King

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died. 

 When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

 As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes. With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Atria Books
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction


The Chef's Secret is a yummy (pun intended) mystery filled with food, forbidden love and murder that revolves around a set of journals and secret letters. How appetizing does that sound?

Bartolomeo Scappi is a chef right out of the history books. He lived from 1500-1577 and served many Popes and was even the author of a best selling cookbook, which he dedicated to his nephew Giovanni. The author used that as the base for this book and I loved the direction it went.

Giovanni plays center stage as he tries to discover a past that he wasn’t meant to see. There are many layers here that kept the suspenseful pace going. I learned a lot about the times and it was refreshing to read in Rome without being overpowered by the Borgias or Medici families.

I love reading about lesser known characters in history and this fit the bill very nicely. Rome is one of my favorite places to visit and it was brought to life not just the edible part but visually as well as getting a feel for the lifestyle amongst the different social classes.  

This is my first time reading Crystal King, her knowledge and passion of the era are evident.  Definitely will be reading more of her books.

My thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Blog Tour for the invite to be part of this tour and a complimentary ebook (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

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

Crystal King is the author of THE CHEF'S SECRET and FEAST OF SORROW. A culinary enthusiast and social media professional, her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US. A Pushcart-nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


During the Blog Tour, one winner will receive a set of Feast of Sorrow and The Chef's Secret! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on July 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.    The Chef's Secret


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review & Giveaway: The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani

From the bestselling author of Trail of Broken Wings comes an epic story of the unrelenting force of love, the power of healing, and the invincible desire to dream.

Nothing prepares Jaya, a New York journalist, for the heartbreak of her third miscarriage and the slow unraveling of her marriage in its wake. Desperate to assuage her deep anguish, she decides to go to India to uncover answers to her family’s past. Intoxicated by the sights, smells, and sounds she experiences, Jaya becomes an eager student of the culture. But it is Ravi—her grandmother’s former servant and trusted confidant—who reveals the resilience, struggles, secret love, and tragic fall of Jaya’s pioneering grandmother during the British occupation.

Through her courageous grandmother’s arrestingly romantic and heart-wrenching story, Jaya discovers the legacy bequeathed to her and a strength that, until now, she never knew was possible.

Category: Adult Fiction, 399 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher: Lake Union
Release date: September 2018
Tour dates: June 3 to July 12, 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are some non-explicit sex scenes)

I was attracted to this book not just because of the cover but the location as well.  India is a place that I rarely venture and with my self proclaimed goal to read outside of my usual neighborhoods I jumped at the chance to be part of this blog tour.  I was not disappointed.

The Storyteller's Secret is a dual time period story.  Beginning in the summer of 2000 Jaya is a mess, her life is not going in the direction is hoped and I could feel her despair as she suffers yet another miscarriage.  I have never experienced that so I can only imagine the disappointment and heartache, I felt for Jaya. Add in the mystery of family estrangement where very little is ever said of the reasoning had me intrigued.

Then we have Amisha beginning in the 1930's India, occupied by the British.  Her story was equally captivating where women's role is to serve her husband - who she will meet for the first time at their wedding.  Amisha was a woman ahead of her time but living in a place where they are only valued to service her husband and bear children.

I loved the setting and got a true picture of the country, both the good and the bad. Definitely the author's research showed in her writing, it was atmospheric along with some interesting characters.  They rounded out the story nicely, especially Ravi, he was a favorite of mine.

My thanks to IRead Book Tours for the invite to be part of this blog tour - in exchange for an honest review.

To read more reviews, please visit Sejal Badani's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Watch the Book Trailer:

Meet the Author:

A former attorney, Sejal Badani left the law to pursue writing full time.

She is a USA Today, Washington Post & Amazon Charts bestselling author, Goodreads Fiction Award Finalist and ABC/DISNEY Writing Fellowship Finalist.

Connect with the author: 

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Monday, July 1, 2019

Audio Review: Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe by Robert Matzen

Get to know the real George Bailey.

 MISSION: JIMMY STEWART AND THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE [GoodKnight Books, October 24, 2016] provides the first in-depth look at the military career of Hollywood actor James M. Stewart, beginning with his family “mission” passed on from his grandfather (a Civil War hero) and father (who served in World War I) that military service in time of war was mandatory for the Stewarts. Jim tailored his life to this eventual outcome, learning to be a pilot so he could serve as an aviator in the war.

 MISSION describes Stewart’s childhood, college years at Princeton, Broadway career, and meteoric rise to Academy Award-winning actor in Hollywood. People today can’t imagine that Stewart was a ladies’ man, but he had a reputation as one of the most active bachelors in Hollywood, with a list of lovers that includes the A-list of female movie stars.

 In 1941, before America entered World War II, Jim was drafted into the Army and gleefully left Hollywood behind to fulfill that family mission. What happened to him in the service has never been covered in detail because he refused to talk about his experiences afterward. MISSION begins and ends with production of the first film Stewart made after returning from the war: It's a Wonderful Life, which in December 2016 will celebrate its 70th anniversary.

 MISSION also includes the stories of three other supporting characters, a radio man who flew with Stewart, a German civilian girl, and the German general in charge of fighter aircraft. They provide perspective on what Stewart was attempting to do and why.

 Audible Audio, Unabridged (11 hours and 45 minutes)
Peter Berkrot (Narrator)
Published April 10th,2017
 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

I have always liked Jimmy Stewart, he acted in an era with some of the greats and eluded class and dignity. I knew nothing about his personal life and grabbed the audiobook as soon as I heard about this book. I shared the experience with my husband during a couple of road trips.

While the majority of this book revolved around the war and his experience there it was interesting to hear of his life before and after the war. It’s been stated that Stewart was a private man, not wanting to share the things that took place during the war and his climb up the ranks. He flew over 30 missions, witnessed untold tragedy and lost so many friends and comrades it’s no wonder it affected him the way it did. I don’t think I will be able to watch the bar scene in Its a Wonderful Life and not be reminded of all he went through.

Parts of the war years were written with the author sharing Stewart’s emotional struggles and fears, I am left to wonder where the author got that info from. It was common knowledge Stewart never divulged those years. Those parts of the book read more as HF verse non-fiction.

But all in all an eye opener to a Hollywood legend who gave his all during a dark time in history.