Tuesday, June 30, 2020

TANGLED IN IVY BY ASHLEY FARLEY




Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Leisure Time Books (June 9, 2020)
Publication Date: June 9, 2020

SYNOPSIS:

Escape to the South Carolina Lowcountry for a tale of true love and southern family dysfunction.

Lillian Alexander has never understood her twin sister's animosity toward her. Their problems stem from childhood, from the traumatic day their mother died twenty-seven years ago. But Lillian remembers nothing about that day. Until their father dies and she encounters ghosts from her past who stir those long-suppressed memories. Why, if her mother's death was an accident, does Lillian harbor guilt, as though she were somehow to blame?


When the Stoney twins learn their family's fortune is gone, Lillian fights to save her ancestral home on Charleston's prestigious East Battery. Desperate to resolve her money problems and get answers to her questions about the past, she tears her father's study apart in search of clues. She discovers a thumb drive in a hollowed-out hardback copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The thumb drive, marked For Lillian in his handwriting, contains her father's memoir. Secluded in the family's cottage on Wadmalaw Island, she immerses herself in her father's account of his stormy relationship with her mother. What she learns sets her on a journey of self-discovery.

REVIEWS:

". . . the story is endlessly intriguing, with enough plot turns that readers who predict one or two may still be surprised . . . The ending befits this realistic portrayal of love, family, and all the complications those two often engender . . . An absorbing fusion of a searing family drama with an unusual love story." --Kirkus Reviews

My Thoughts:

I have always been a fan of Ashley Farley for her great writing, exceptional characters you will enjoy reading about that will stick with you, the lovely pacing, and just her brilliance in writing a great Southern Fiction overall.

When I had a chance to get an early review copy of this book Tangled in Ivy, I knew this was a must read for me. I tried not too read the synopsis as I wanted to slowly uncover the story of Ashley's words through the pages. And my goodness, did I love this book!

Set in Charleston, twin sisters Lillian and Lyla reeling from their father’s death just cannot get along. Lillian a struggling artist uncovers family secrets left behind by her father hidden tucked inside a Hemingway book. The story is full of twists that lead to a satisfying ending I really enjoyed.

This is Southern Fiction at its finest! Loved it!

Author Spotlight:


Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her bestselling Sweeney Sisters series has touched the lives of many.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she's lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 24 years, a piece of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she still calls home. Through the eyes of her characters, she captures the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kindhearted folk with lazy drawls that make the area so unique.

Ashley loves to hear from her readers.
Mingle with like-minded readers on her active Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/ashleywfarley.
Visit her website @ http://www.ashleyfarley.com
Sign up for her newsletter @ https://ashleyfarley.com/newsletter-signup/

** THANK YOU KATE ROCK BOOK TOURS FOR HAVING ME IN THIS AMAZING BOOK TOUR.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

BY DESIGN - Book 1 By J BOYKIN BAKER



Print Length: 428 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC

SYNOPSIS:

Anne is a young, Southern professional with just the right connections and a privileged point of view. Confident in her innate value, she has complete faith in her power to control her own future. After all, even with the challenges that come with working at a high-profile interior design firm located in the heart of Atlanta, she knows exactly where she’s headed. What she doesn’t expect is Dr. Brad Young, Jr.

Sparks immediately fly between the handsome young doctor and Anne when she’s assigned to troubleshoot for his surgical practice, but chemistry can only get you so far. As their relationship develops, so too does a burgeoning conflict and confusion over the uncommon roles their mothers play in their lives. Over the course of an emotional weekend and the exposure of a secret lurking in his past, Brad is forced to make a life-changing adjustment as Anne discovers the devastating betrayal of a trusted plan.

By Design is an emotional romance guaranteed to warm the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced the breathtaking intensity of new love.

THOUGHTS/REVIEW:


By Design is the first book in the trilogy by J Boykin Baker, a Contemporary Southern Christian Romance Fiction writer, and also a fabulous designer and the founder of Widow’s Mite Experience, a ministry that provides emergency water relief for people across the globe. 

This is first book in the By Design trilogy. It is a Christian Romance about two fun protagonists - Anne,  a young designer working in a high-profile firm in Atlanta, and a handsome physician, Dr. Brad Young, Jr. This is a wonderful meet cute and love getting my heart in flutters.  

I found the book to be a fun read with characters I enjoyed reading about, and found the writing to be charming and heartwarming. I felt that Baker wrote this Christian fiction with a lot of heart and weaved the Christian values within the story beautifully without being preachy, but instead delightfully hopeful about new loves and contemporary relationships. 

I enjoyed this one.


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:


J Boykin Baker grew up in the small town of Wilson, North Carolina. She knew from the age of seven, after seeing the old movie “Pillow Talk,” that the only career for her was interior design. After college, marriage, and babies, her dream of being an interior designer came true with the start of her own design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. As timing would have it, she just happened to be in the right place - at the right time - with the right look and ended up designing hospitals, corporate offices, and high-end residential projects across the nation.

During her years as President of Baker Interiors, Inc. she had the privilege of working with countless women. Due to a caring nature, she was led to mentor young women through familiar struggles of a reoccurring nature. Eventually, she carried her love for women and children even further when she founded a non-profit, Widow’s Mite Experience, Inc, to provide emergency water relief for families in the United States and around the world. With the help of hundreds of women volunteers, this ministry is now active in 32 countries.

Her writing career began with a series of children’s books illustrating the unusual travels of a doll named Mary Margaret. She has written two pilots about antics of Southern women and how to design with the mystique of Southern comfort, and has had various interiors and commentaries published in slick-cover magazines from coast to coast. Under duress, she has even written two professional manuals. She has now published the first novel of a trilogy that she hopes will have cross-over appeal to women of all ages who are experiencing, or remembering, the intensity of a new love.

With humor, tears, and professional insight, she enjoys sharing her wide-ranging experiences on national television, radio interviews, and speaking internationally. She was recently named one of North Carolina’s Women of Achievement by the GFWC-NC. In a nutshell, this author continues to thoroughly enjoy a full and adventurous life!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

6/23/20 UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL



Publisher: One More Chapter (June 12, 2020)
Publication Date: June 12, 2020
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers


Up Close and Personal

British actor Zac Edwards is the latest heartthrob to hit the red carpets. Hot, talented and rich, he sends women wild…all except one.

Close protection officer Kat Parker hasn’t got time to play celebrity games. She has one job: to protect Zac from the stalker that seems to be dogging his every move.

Zac might get her hot under her very starched collar, but Kat’s a professional – and sleeping with Zac is no way part of her remit… 



THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

I enjoyed this thriller and suspenseful romance centered on a famous British actor Zac Edwards and his bodyguard Kat Parker. There are a lot of quirky banter and cutesy attraction between the two lead characters. This was a nice afternoon read that I enjoyed. For a fun, quick, easy pick me up kind-of-a read this one fit the bill. I thought it was entertaining and I enjoyed the quirky characters too. I enjoyed the thrilling element of the story that added to make this a more enjoyable read.


Author Bio 



A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

I’ve two sons and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), so any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1

6/23/20 ALGONQUIN BLOG TOUR PRAIRIE FEVER BY MICHAEL PARKER



Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (May 21, 2019)
Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Winner of the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Prize
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
The Stewart sisters, pragmatic Lorena and chimerical Elise, are bound together not only by their isolation on the prairie of early 1900s Oklahoma, but also by their deep emotional reliance on each other. They’re all they’ve got . . . until Gus McQueen arrives in Lone Wolf.

An inexperienced first-time teacher, Gus is challenged by the sisters’ wit and ingenuity. Then one impulsive decision and a cataclysmic blizzard trap Elise and her horse on the prairie—and the balance of everything is forever changed.

With honesty, poetic intensity, and the deadpan humor of Paulette Jiles and Charles Portis, this novel tells the story of characters tested as much by life on the prairie as they are by their own churning hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In the tradition of Katherine Anne Porter, Parker's exceptional tale explores the power and strength of kinship on the harsh American frontier."
--Publishers Weekly

"Parker's chimerical slipstream of a novel asks, Is it better to hew to that which is, or to see the world as you wish? Readers will surely be pulled deep into the strange and wild river of Elise's fanciful peregrinations."
--Booklist, starred review

"A frontier tale of sibling rivalry. . . Parker's novel isn't as much about sisterhood as love, as the two struggle to reckon with their estrangement head-on; some of the novel's most powerful sections are Elise's letters to Lorena, addressed not directly to sis but to the horse she rode during the blizzard . . . the easygoing, sometimes-smirking nature of the prose (True Grit comes to mind) makes the novel a pleasant ride."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Michael Parker has captured a time, place, and sisterhood so perfectly it hurts to turn the last page. Prairie Fever is a riveting, atmospheric dream of a novel."
--Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

"What a terrific book this is, wonderful and strange . . . a whole family acting out what can and can't be forgotten, against the backdrops of prairie and range--characters so magnificently and sometimes comically stubborn I really couldn't put the book down. And what other novel has a character writing letters to a dead horse? I was completely taken by this book."
--Joan Silber, author of Improvement

"Let me just say that Prairie Fever--concerning the lives of the Stewart sisters of Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, in the early years of the twentieth century--is the most beautiful novel I have read in quite some time. Taking a cue from the irrepressibly inventive younger sister, Elise, I soon began reading it aloud to someone I love, and the novel more than rewards such a shared experience. The language is that graceful and original, the events and characters (horses included) that spellbinding and funny and moving; and always the melancholy beauty and mysterious power of the open prairie shine through. To borrow a phrase from Mr. McQueen--first encountered as a young teacher in a one-room schoolhouse--one comes away from the novel with a keener sense of 'how one ought to go about living one's life.'"
--Tom Drury, author of Pacific

"Prairie Fever is an exceptionally charming novel about the wonders and troubles of love, land, and language. Witty and poignant, the novel is as elegantly constructed as a poem, and it features the best dialogue this side--or any side--of the Natchez Trace. Yet another wonderful book from Michael Parker."
--Chris Bachelder, author of The Throwback Special

"That a love story of this strangeness and rightness can come out of the event of a girl nearly dead in a storm is a testament to the wonder that is Michael Parker's talent. Not least, he's invented a language, a formal way of speaking that is perfectly suited to his people and to this dreamy novel."
--Jane Hamilton, author of The Excellent Lombards

THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!

This great character-driven story was very hard to put down. I enjoyed every word of this book, and this beautiful and original historical fiction by Michael Parker really touched my heart deep into my core.

This will land in one of my favorite books of the year for the exquisite prose, unforgettable characters, and visually stunning Oklahoma prairie.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:


Michael Parker is the author of six novels and three collections of stories. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, the Oxford American, Runner's World, Men's Journal, and other publications. His work has been anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize. He is the Nicholas and Nancy Vacc Distinguished Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He lives in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

6/18/20 ORDINARY GIRLS by Jaquira Díaz PUB: ALGONQUIN BOOKS


Print Length: 334 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616209135
Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 29, 2019)
Publication Date: October 29, 2019






One of the Must-Read Books of 2019 According to O: The Oprah Magazine * Time * Bustle * Electric Literature * Publishers Weekly * The Millions * The Week * Good Housekeeping





“There is more life packed on each page of Ordinary Girls than some lives hold in a lifetime.” —Julia Alvarez
In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age.

While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

Reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.


THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz was a heartfelt, heartbreaking and yet hopeful memoir about Diaz’s life growing up in poverty, and living in the projects of Puerto Rico and Miami Beach.

Diaz told her story with unflinching bravery and honesty about her harrowing childhood, surviving the harsh streets, and with a mother suffering from mental illness. With the odds against her, she rose from all these and utilized her talents through her writing and pursuit of education to achieve the impossible.

Her story is about resilience, survival and the strength to overcome when the life handed to you is set up for failure. In this memoir Diaz’s triumph becomes our triumph as we get to examine this extraordinary life we are privy to.

Brava to this powerful and Insightful memoir I highly recommend!




AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:





Jaquira Díaz was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami. She is the author of Ordinary Girls: A Memoir, winner of a Whiting Award, a Florida Book Awards Gold Medal, and a Lambda Literary Awards finalist. Ordinary Girls was a Summer/Fall 2019 Indies Introduce Selection, a Fall 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Notable Selection, a November 2019 Indie Next Pick, and a Library Reads October pick. Díaz's work has been published in The Guardian, The Fader, Conde Nast Traveler, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Best American Essays 2016, among other publications. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Kenyon Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. A former Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and Consulting Editor at the Kenyon Review, she splits her time between Montréal and Miami Beach, with her partner, the writer Lars Horn.








Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein - ATRIA BOOKS

Print Length: 333 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1982121475
Publisher: Atria Books (June 23, 2020)
Publication Date: June 23, 2020


From the author of the Love at First Like and Playing with Matches, an electrifying rom-com set in the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics, full of Hannah Orenstein’s signature “charm, whimsy, and giddy romantic tension” (BuzzFeed).The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jasmine Guillory, Head Over Heels proves that no one “writes about modern relationships with more humor or insight than Hannah Orenstein” (Dana Schwartz, author of Choose Your Own Disaster).


“Hannah Orenstein’s Head Over Heels offers a perfect escape to an alternate 2020, one full of Olympic aspirations and encouraging pep talks.”
PopSugar

"A rom-com set in the competitive gymnastics world . . . . Twisty storylines about love and relationships follow."
MarieClaire.com
Head over Heels is a high-flying romantic comedy unafraid to examine the hardships of competitive gymnastics. Timely and realistic… Head Over Heels will delight anyone heartbroken over the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, fans of "Stick It" and "The Bronze," and loyal readers of Lianne Moriarty, Barbara Davis, and Sophie Kinsella.”
Booklist
"Strikes a powerful chord."
The Washington Post



THOUGHTS/REVIEW:


Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein was a novel I truly enjoyed. This book definitely was a lot different than her previous works, and I have seen such a difference in her writing - while this one took on more serious themes of emotional abuse and #metoo movement. This was a very important topic that I did see in the headlines about the gymnastics world, and the ongoing emotional and physical abuse from the people they most trusted and relied on. I felt that Orenstein wrote about this with such grace and compassion for the characters, and the amazing writing really hooked me in. This read more as a women's contemporary fiction rather than a romcom.

I loved the protagonist. Avery was a competitive gymnast and an Olympic hopeful who lost the chance from an injury.  She starts school at UCLA and meets her boyfriend, a famous football player with whom after four years had a very devastating breaks up with her. With nowhere to go, Avery returns to her hometown and back to her parents' home. While there, she was offered a chance to coach an Olympic hopeful and rekindles a second chance romance meeting Ryan again, who was also in the gymnastics circuit when Avery was competing. 

I think that when Orenstein was writing this, the issues of COVID and the cancellation of the summer Olympics in Tokyo was not even a consideration, so you may have to just accept that in this fictional world in this novel. It sure made me miss the Summer Olympics very much.

I have to mention in this novel and give kudos to how Orenstein in this novel captured the gymnastics world - the writing was very well researched and captured the details of the technical aspects of the elite gymnastics competition. For me personally, I enjoyed it immensely and I certainly appreciated the research that went to writing this book. 

I thought the romance was great. It focused on Avery and Ryan's relationship and their career as coaches to an up and coming Olympic gymnast. The characters were very relatable especially for those wanting second chances not just in love but in life as well. 

I enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it as a women's contemporary fiction read that tackled important themes and subject matter. A great read I really enjoyed that captivated me into the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics. 


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:






Hannah Orenstein is the author of Playing with Matches and Love at First Like, as well as the senior dating editor at Elite Daily. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Seventeen.com. She lives in New York.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

6/16/20 SPIES BY ELLIE MIDWOOD @HFVBT BOOK TOURS






Spies by Ellie Midwood



Publication Date: May 15, 2020


Paperback & eBook






Series: Metropolis, Book 2


Genre: Historical Fiction









Weimar Berlin, 1927

Having recovered from the hyperinflation, the decadent metropolis is prospering against all odds. Unbothered by the turbulent events of the previous years, Berlin plunges into an orgy of life, entirely oblivious to the dangerous signs of an upcoming catastrophe.

Much like the rest of Berlin’s artistic elite, Margot von Steinhoff is too preoccupied with her work on the set of the infamous Fritz Lang, to pay attention to the dark shadow of the nationalistic threat hanging over the city. When Ernst Weniger, her former lover and now an official NKVD officer, asks for her help in aiding the German communists, she refuses at first, choosing to stay apolitical, just like Lang. However, when the new Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels, arrives in the city and begins his relentless campaign of harassment and misinformation, Margot realizes that staying neutral is no longer an option. Playing on the wrong side can cost her not only her career but her freedom, yet Margot has never been more certain of her choice.

“I don’t read political newspapers, Margot. I only want to make my films… I don’t want to have anything to do with all those politics.”



“I don’t want to have anything to do with them either. But the sad fact is that sometimes politics wants to have everything to do with us, regardless of our desires. At some point, all of us will have to take sides. The good news, Fritz, is that I’ll always be on yours.”



Dark, gritty, yet full of hope, “Spies” is the novel of the doomed Weimar Republic and the last generation of free-thinking artists who lived and created their masterpieces in a city, on the verge of collapse.


Available on Amazon


THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

One of my favorite historical fiction authors has done it again! I really enjoyed reading the first book, Metropolis and enjoyed reading about that era and the doomed Weimar Republic. This book picks up where the first book left off, and Margot von Steinhoff is getting ready to sign on to a new film project, spies. Margot is much too deep on her work with Fritz Lang and just like the Berliners, is oblivious to what is happening in Germany. 

Once again Midwood's words delivers on the beautiful rich detail of this time, immersing the reader into this world, where the tension is building up as the National Socialism is gaining ground. I loved reading about 1920's Berlin where opulence, excess and parties abound as Berliners insist on living the dream not paying any mind to the Nazi and Communism gaining ground. 

I really enjoyed the wonderful characters, and to revisit Margot once again was sheer delight. I highly recommend this magnificent novel by Midwood to get lost in. I really enjoyed this one!



About the Author





Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, "The Girl from Berlin." Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.



In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.



For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.




Blog Tour Schedule


Saturday, June 6

Review at Reading is My Remedy



Monday, June 8

Review at A Chick Who Reads



Tuesday, June 9

Review at Passages to the Past



Wednesday, June 10

Excerpt at What Is That Book About



Friday, June 12

Interview at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals



Monday, June 15

Review at Books, Cooks, Looks



Tuesday, June 16

Review at Nurse Bookie

Excerpt at I'm All About Books



Friday, June 19

Review at YA, It's Lit

Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading



Monday, June 22

Review at Donna's Book Blog




Giveaway


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Spies by Ellie Midwood! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.



Giveaway Rules



– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be 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.



Spies








6/16/20 The Beauty of Broken Things By: Victoria Connelly







Print Length: 314 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1542008166
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (June 9, 2020)
Publication Date: June 9, 2020



The Beauty of Broken Things

United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.

Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.

When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?


THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

I LOVED this beautiful heartbreaking novel The Beauty of Broken Things, by Victoria Connelly. The beautiful setting in the Suffolk countryside brought the story to life for me as did the characters that were relatable and that I enjoyed reading about. The story is about the harrowing loss of someone we love and how we go on as survivors after a painful and tragic loss. The story is also about hope and moving on, about new friendships and moving towards healing after a painful past and tragic traumatic events. 

I found the writing beautifully expressed and I really enjoyed the pacing and the introduction of the characters as they go through moving forward and the hope for healing. As someone who has experienced loss, I was able to relate to the difficulties and how the painful events can either lead to a spiral downhill, or learn to navigate the new and hopeful tomorrow. This book did just that in a beautifully told story. 

I recommend this book for an emotionally engaging read you will not be able to put down once you start. 

I look forward to reading more from author Victoria Connelly.



Purchase Links




Author Bio –


Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.


Social Media Links –


Instagram: @victoriaconnellyauthor


Facebook: @victoriaconnellyauthor


Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy
https://www.twitter.com/victoriadarcy

6/16/20 SEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES BY ROXANA VALEA



Print Length: 154 pages
Publisher: RV Publications (June 2, 2020)
Publication Date: June 2, 2020



Seven and a Half Minutes. The Polo Diaries Book 3

Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third installment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events.

Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love?

THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

I have read both Books 1 and 3 of the polo diaries and glad to see some background on Roxy as sort of a prequel of where this all started as a young woman in London before her adventures in South America. Love fore horses has always been a part of Roxy's life - her love and passion before anything else. Life sometimes leads us to discovering passions and for Roxy it is Polo. She soon realizes that the demands of the sport which leaves very little room for anything else. 
I enjoyed reading this in an afternoon for a nice escape read and getting lost in the sport and London. It was so nice to read about Roxy again and this time, author Roxana Valea takes us to the very beginning where the polo diaries started. 

Thank you Rachel's Random Resources for having me in this fun book tour. 

Purchase Links




Author Bio



Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate Word is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player--traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband between England and Spain, and splits her time between writing, coaching and therapy work, but her first passion remains writing.





Monday, June 15, 2020

6/15/20 No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O'Callaghan - REVIEW AND EXCERPT





"O'Callaghan is back with a vengeance ..."-- Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Is there a sociopathic killer on the loose and murdering prostitutes in New York City? NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John Driscoll, believes there is. Someone who calls himself “Tilden” and claims to have been sexually abused as a child by his mother’s john. But what could have triggered Tilden’s rage that has him on a mission to eradicate all the women of the night in The Big Apple?

More importantly, will Driscoll put an end to the madness? He soon discovers Tilden’s not the run-of-the-mill sociopath. After all, would a common murderer have taken the time to embalm his victims, which the New York City chief medical examiner determined was the cause of their deaths?

Driscoll, a man haunted by the events of an unstable childhood himself, must put aside any sympathy he may have for Tilden and put a stop to his murderous rampage. Teamed up with Sergeant Margaret Aligante and Detective Cedric Thomlinson, who have their own issues, the commander sets out to stop the killings and bring Tilden to justice before he kills again.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS:

Review
"A fast-paced and compelling read. O'Callaghan depicts a serial killer like no other. Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, and Bible John, fused into one heinous beast. Not all serial killers are the same. Tilden, the evil antihero of this inflammable tale, is compelled by urges that wreak havoc on his human targets. Obsessed by a macabre plan, he implements his sordid designs on the bodies of his multiple victims. He baffles and disorients the forces of law and order- except for Lieutenant Driscoll, whose fervent imagination knows no bounds and whose understanding of evil makes him the prime investigator in this aberrant case. Read this novel, and be haunted!"
-- Anne K. Howard, 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD and 2018 LITERARY EXCELLENCE PENCRAFT AWARD winning author of HIS GARDEN: Conversations With A Serial Killer


"Worth the wait! O'Callaghan is back with a vengeance and this time he delivers a complex but nuanced thriller that grabs you by the throat and never let's go. And that, by the way, is a very good thing."
-- Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of WATER'S EDGE



"No One Will Hear Your Screams is a gritty crime thriller of the highest order. Thomas O'Callaghan has woven a superb neo-noir, carved from the fabric of the likes of Michael Connelly and James Elroy with just enough Don Winslow mixed in for good measure. Bracing when it needs to be, bold when it wants to be and blistering from beginning to end, No One Will Hear Your Screams is sure to leave you screaming for more."
-- Jon Land, USA Today Bestselling Author of the eleven book Caitlin Strong series



"Thomas O'Callaghan's No One Will Hear Your Screams, features NYPD homicide lieutenant John Driscoll, a man fighting his own demons, on the trail of a diabolical killer who's unleashed a murderous rampage on the city. Not for the faint of heart, No One Will Hear Your Screams, is coldly graphic in its depiction of the grisly acts of a depraved killer, yet compassionate in its portrayal of the human heart at war with itself in the pursuit of justice."
-- Con Lehane, author of six mystery novels, his latest being MURDER OFF THE PAGE

"A first class crime thriller: a fast moving story that never deviates from its goal: find the killer, stop the killing, save the lives of very vulnerable women."
-- Pat Mullan, Ireland's Chair of The International Thriller Writer's Association and author of A DEADLY GAMBLE


"Thomas O'Callaghan has created a dark, compelling novel filledwith thrills, kills, twists and turns that feel so real you'll be scared to readit alone. Police procedurals don't get much better than this. I highly recommendedit."
--Alex Shaw, #1 International Kindle Bestselling author ofthe Aidan Snow, SAS thriller series.



THOUGHTS/REVIEW:

I loved reading about NYPD’s top cop, Homicide Commander Lieutenant John Driscoll. Driscoll’s character is brilliant - he wears his heart on his sleeves, is dedicated for sure, with a tough history - a wife in a coma and his only daughter dead from a tragic car accident. This time Driscoll is faced with the worst - O’Callaghan delivered with an unthinkable sociopathic killer that had me squirming in fear for this character. The plot is razor sharp and the story pacing moved quickly with the short chapters that I really enjoyed.

ENJOY AN EXCERPT:

Excerpted from No One Will Hear Your Screams. Copyright © 2020 by Thomas O'Callaghan. All rights reserved. Published by WildBlue Press.

Pearsol opened the mortuary cooler and pulled out the stainless steel tray supporting the victim. “Lieutenant, meet Jane Doe,” he said sliding the woman’s bloated body under Driscoll’s gaze. “Harbor Patrol fished her out of the muck.  I’d say she was a feast for the gulls for a day. Maybe two.”

 

“What’s that smell?  Paint thinner?”

 

“Phenol.”  

 

“She was doused in phenol?”

 

“Injected.”

 

Driscoll’s eyes narrowed.

 

“The complete autopsy will fill in the blanks, but I’d bet my pension I already know what killed her.  The who, and the why, I’ll leave to you.”  Pearsol handed the preliminary lab report to Driscoll.  It identifies a mixture of substances inside her vascular system.  

 

“Phenol, formaldehyde and Chloride of Zinc?”  Driscoll looked perplexed. 

 

“The same Chloride of Zinc they put in dry cell batteries?” 

 

Pearsol nodded. “There’s three more.”

 

“Myrrh, aloe and cassia,” Driscoll read aloud.  “That’s a strange mix.”  He glanced at Pearsol, who nodded.  “Says here you drained 851 milliliters from her circulatory system.  What’s that?  About two pints?”

 

“Just under.”

 

“A body contains five to six quarts of blood.  So the rest of this mixture?”

“Still in her.”     

 

Using his finger, Driscoll pushed back a lock of the victim’s hair. “What could you have done to warrant this?” he whispered, eyes on the corpse.



“Right now the unofficial cause of death is phenol poisoning by arterial injection.  Familiar with the German word, ‘abgespritzt’, Lieutenant?”

 

“No.”

 

“Abgespritzt was a method of genocide favored by the Nazis in the early 1940s.  Hitler’s henchmen delivered instantaneous death by injecting 15 milliliters of phenol directly into the heart.”

 

“What kind of syringe injects six quarts?”  

 

“More than likely he used a centrifugal pump.  And he knew what he was doing.” Pearsol pointed to the side of the victim’s neck, where a semi- translucent latex adhesive covered a two inch stretch of rippled flesh between the carotid artery and the jugular vein.  “An extreme method of murder, Lieutenant.  He arterially embalmed her.”

 

Driscoll winced.               

 

“There’s more.”  The M.E. produced a transparent evidence bag containing a locket.  It was an inch in diameter and featured Saint Vitalis of Gaza; his name etched in a half circle below his likeness.  “I found it under her tongue.  Someone apparently placed it there before suturing the tongue to the floor of her mouth.”

 

“What’s that about?” Driscoll wondered aloud.

 

“Good question.  I’m not familiar with that saint.  You?”

 

“She‘s the patron saint of prostitutes.”

 

“Well, there’s a lead.  Oh, and there’s one other bit of information you’re sure to find intriguing.  The myrrh, aloe, and cassia injected with the embalming fluid were once embalming solutions on their own.  Sort of.”

 

“Sort of?”

 

“They were the purifying fragrances applied to the linens that wrapped the crucified Christ before he was laid in his tomb.”


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:


Thomas O'Callaghan's work has been translated for publication in Germany, Slovakia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, China, and Italy. As an internationally acclaimed author, Mr. O'Callaghan is a member of both the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers associations. A native of New York City and a graduate of Richmond College, Mr. O'Callaghan resides with his lovely wife, Eileen, a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean in beautiful Belle Harbor, New York. 

His debut novel, BONE THIEF, republished by WildBlue Press on April 28, 2020, introduces NYPD Homicide Commander Lieutenant John W. Driscoll.  

THE SCREAMING ROOM,  the second in the John Driscoll series will be republished by WildBlue Press on May 5, 2020.  

 

The third book in the series, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOUR SCREAMS, will be released by WildBlue Press on June 16, 2020.  

Friday, June 12, 2020




THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY


Title: The Jane Austen Society: A Novel
Author: Natalie Jenner
Genre: Historical Fiction, Austenesque Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (May 26, 2020)
Length (320) pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1250248732
eBook ASIN: B07WQPPXFW
Audiobook ASIN: B082VL7VRR
Tour Dates: May 25 – June 30, 2020

ACCOLADES:

·         An Amazon Best Book of May 2020 
·         One of Goodreads Big Books of Spring & Hot Books of Summer
·         One of Audible’s Top 50 Most Anticipated Spring Audiobooks
·         June 2020 Indie Next Pick
·         May 2020 Library Reads Pick
·         Starred Review - Library Journal
·         Starred Review - Booklist 


BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen's legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen's home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATED BY ACTOR RICHARD ARMITAGE:
The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).
Link to YouTube audiobook excerpt: https://youtu.be/OJ1ACJluRi8


PURCHASE LINKS:



ADVANCE PRAISE:
“Just like a story written by Austen herself, Jenner’s first novel is brimming with charming moments, endearing characters, and nuanced relationships…Readers won’t need previous knowledge of Austen and her novels to enjoy this tale’s slow revealing of secrets that build to a satisfying and dramatic ending.”Booklist (starred review)
“Few things draw disparate people together so quickly as discovering they love the same writers. Few writers cement such friendships as deeply as Austen does. I believe that the readers of Jenner’s book will fall in love with the readers inside Jenner’s book, all of us thinking and dreaming of Austen the whole while. What could be better? Nothing, that’s what! A wonderful book, a wonderful read.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

Thoughts/Review:
I loved this book!

I cannot believe that this novel is a debut. It was brilliant! I simply am addicted to this book and Natalie Jenner's phenomenal writing. 

Is it the name of the book where anything Jane Austen I must love and gravitate too? Is it the amazing book cover that just brings me back to simpler times? Is it the motley crew of characters that are so different they make up the perfect society? Well, it is everything! I love every bit of this from the historical background, and the characters' solidarity in rallying together as they endure their own difficulties and creating something absolutely remarkable.

I also did read this and listen to the @librofm narration by Richard Armitage which was absolutely phenomenal. It really did give so much more to the story hearing Armitage read to me. It added so much more to my reading experience. 

I am a huge fan of Austen's work and loved the quotes and the incorporation of Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Sense and Sensibility throughout the story. This was a great escape read, that was also charming and beautiful. It is a story about people with hurt, suffering from loss and are real people with real struggles. I loved that I was able to relate with the characters. 

The writing was beautifully researched and was rich in detail that I really enjoyed. I am a fan of Jenner's writing and look forward to her future novels. I cannot stop talking about this fantastic historical fiction novel. 

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST:
Spotify users can access a playlist for THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5Q1Vl17qyQQIvvPGeIPCkr?si=-iMhVz8uRk2v2mTdolrPdg. The playlist includes music from various film adaptions of Jane Austen’s books, as well as film scores by such incomparable artists as Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone, Rachel Portman, and Michael Nyman.



AUTHOR BIO:
Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.





BLOG TOUR BLURB:


Join the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England.


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

May 25           Jane Austen's World
May 25           Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog
May 26           Frolic Media
May 26           A Bookish Affair
May 26           Courtney Reads Romance
May 26           Margie's Must Reads
May 26           The Reading Frenzy
May 27           Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina
May 27           Gwendalyn's Books
May 27           Romantically Inclined Reviews
May 28           Getting Your Read On
May 28           Living Read Girl
May 28           The Lit Bitch
May 29           History Lizzie
May 29           Silver Petticoat Reviews
May 30           Cup of Tea with that Book, Please
May 30           Historical Fiction Reader
May 31           Jane Austen in Vermont
June 01          From Pemberley to Milton
June 01          My Jane Austen Book Club
June 01          AustenBlog
June 02          Lu's Reviews
June 02          The Green Mockingbird
June 03          The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
June 03          Relz Reviews
June 03          Impressions in Ink
June 04          The Caffeinated Bibliophile
June 04          Life of Literature
June 04          Laura's Reviews
June 05          Reading Ladies Book Club
June 05          Bookish Rantings
June 06          From the TBR Pile
June 07          Rachel Dodge
June 07          An Historian About Town
June 08          Bringing up Books
June 08          Austenesque Reviews
June 09          Captivated Reading
June 09          Savvy Verse and Witt
June 10          Lady with a Quill
June 10          Drunk Austen
June 11          Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
June 11          Inkwell Inspirations
June 12          Nurse Bookie
June 12          A Bookish Way of Life
June 13          Calico Critic
June 14          Jane Austen's World
June 15          Stuck in a Book
June 15          Storybook Reviews
June 15          Confessions of a Book Addict
June 16          Literary Quicksand
June 16          Becky on Books
June 17          The Reading Frenzy
June 17          Anita Loves Books
June 18          Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals
June 18          The Write Review
June 19          Diary of Eccentric
June 20          Cracking the Cover
June 21          Short Books & Scribes
June 22          Reading the Past
June 22          Babblings of a Bookworm
June 23          My Vices and Weaknesses
June 23          The Book Diva Reads
June 24          Books, Teacups & Reviews
June 24          Wishful Endings
June 25          Robin Loves Reading
June 25          Bookfoolery
June 26          Lit and Life
June 26          Vesper's Place
June 27          Foxes and Fairy Tales
June 28          Probably at the Library
June 28          Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books
June 29          The Anglophile Channel
June 29          So Little Time…
June 30          BookNAround