The Countess’ Captive, by Andrea Cefalo (@andreacefalo) #review #contest #giveaway @hfvbt

Please join Author Andrea Cefalo as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour, from March 23-April 16. Take The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz quiz and enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card!

About the book, The Countess’ Captive The Countess' Captive

  • Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press (February 14, 2015)
  • Pages: 232
  • Formats: eBook, Paperback
  • Series: Book Two, Fairytale Keeper Series
  • Genre: Young Adult/Historical/Fairytale Retelling

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During March of 1248, Adelaide Schumacher-affectionately called Snow White-has lost so much: her mother, her possessions, and now her home.

Adelaide hates abandoning her home city, her family’s legacy, and her first love?Ivo. More than anything, she hates her father growing closer to her mother’s cousin?Galadriel. Adelaide plots to end their tryst before her fate is sealed, and she never sets foot in Cologne again.

But good and pious can only get Galadriel so far. Never again will she be destitute. Never again will she be known by the cruel moniker?Cinderella. Never again will someone take what is rightfully hers. No matter what it takes.

The Countess’ Captive is the much anticipated follow-up to The Fairytale Keeper and is book two in The Fairytale Keeper series. The novel combines Grimm’s fairytale characters with real historical settings and events to create a tale that leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins.

Buy, read, and discuss The Countess’ Captive

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads


Take the The Countess’ Captive Playbuzz Quiz


About the author, Andrea Cefalo

Andrea Cefalo is an award-winning author and blogger on Medieval Europe. The next three novels in The Fairytale Keeper series will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and their two border collies.

Connect with Andrea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.


My Thoughts

This is the second book in Andrea Cefalo’s reality-based fairytale series, and it is just as engaging as the first, which I reviewed HERE.

In this book the characters are a little bit older -Adelaide is very much a young woman now, and not so much a girl – but only a little bit, as it picks up not long after the close of book one. While I really liked that the relationship between Adelaide’s father and Galadriel was more developed, and also liked that Adelaide was starting to come into her own both as her mother’s protege, telling stories in her own right, and as her father’s apprentice, I missed the character of Ivo a lot. Not that Adelaide – or any woman – needs to be dependent on a man, but he seemed like such a supportive, nurturing influence, and she doesn’t get enough of that.

One of the fundamental tenets of this book as that Adelaide is our Snow White analog, and the other famous fairytales are woven into the fabric of both the life she lives and the stories she tells, so casting Galadriel (who isn’t so much wicked as conniving, I think) as the stepmother in Cinderella is both the natural reaction of a young girl, and the perfect way to explain their relationship.

What struck me, as I was reading this novel, though, was that while our Snow White doesn’t have a literal glass box surrounding her, she is confined by her place in society, both as the low-born daughter of a man who married up, and as a woman.

Goes well with cottage pie and a dark beer. I chose Negra Modelo.


The Countess’ Captive Blog Tour Schedule The Captive Countess at HFVBT

Monday, March 23
Review at Library Educated
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, March 26
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, March 27
Review at Bibliotica
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Saturday, March 28
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers

Monday, March 30
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, March 31
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, April 1
Review at Shelf Full of Books

Thursday, April 2
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, April 3
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, April 6
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Tuesday, April 7
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, April 10
Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, April 13
Review at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, April 14
Review at A Leisure Moment

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, April 16
Spotlight at Books and Benches

Friday, April 17
Review at A Book Drunkard


Giveaway

To enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the giveaway form below.

Clutch Purse Giveaway

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* Only one entry per household.
* All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
* Winner will be chosen via GLEAM on April 18th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Countess’ Captive

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner (@cwgortner) #review @tlcbooktours

About the book, Mademoiselle Chanel Mademoiselle Chanel

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 17, 2015)

She revolutionized fashion and built an international empire . . . all on her own terms.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. The nuns of the order nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that would propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Burning with ambition, the petite brunette transforms herself into Coco, by day a hard-working seamstress and by night a singer in a nightclub, where her incandescence draws in a wealthy gentleman who becomes the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, Coco’s sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As her reputation spreads, her couture business explodes, taking her into rarefied circles of society and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her always.

An enthralling novel about an entirely self-made woman, Mademoiselle Chanel tells the true story of Coco Chanel’s extraordinary ambition, passion, and artistic vision.

Read an excerpt of Mademoiselle Chanel.

Buy, read, and discuss Mademoiselle Chanel

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, C. W. Gortner C.W. Gortner

A former fashion executive, C. W. Gortner is a lifelong admirer of Coco Chanel. His passion for writing led him to give up fashion, and his many historical novels have been bestsellers, published in more than twenty countries. He lives in San Francisco.

Connect with C.W.

Website | Facebook | Twitter.


My Thoughts

I don’t think there’s a person in the world who hasn’t at least heard the name “Coco Chanel,” but I’m guessing most people don’t know much about her life. My mother went to fashion design school (FIT) on a Regent’s scholarship, so even though I don’t sew, I know all the icons of fashion, and understand the importance of Chanel to fashion in general and women’s fashion, specifically, and so it was with my mother in mind that I asked to review this novel.

I ended up not merely reading it, but devouring it. It’s a fantastic look at the life of one of the best-known names in contemporary history, and while it is technically fiction, I’m certain that the author C.W. Gortner has done a huge amount of research, because it all feels very real.

From a childhood in abject poverty to an adolescence in a convent, from singing in cafes to becoming someone’s mistress as a means of escaping her small-town life, Coco is a poster-girl for the concept of choice. Some of her choices are high percentage choices, some not so much, but her strong personality and desire not to be indebted people combine to make her, as depicted, a fierce, strong woman, and definitely a proto-feminist (whether or not she ever accepted the label.)

C.W. Gortner has given us Coco’s story in first person, and until I put together my review, I didn’t realize he was a man. I mean this as a compliment. Ususally when male authors write from a female POV there’s something a little ‘off’ about it. In this case, there was not. He writes a female viewpoint as deftly as Arthur Golden did in Memoirs of a Geisha, which was another novel about a strong woman making her own choices.

While I enjoyed all of the detail in this novel, I particularly loved Coco’s discovery of Jersey knits. (My mother would be able to rattle off fifty-three things you can do with Jersey, I’m sure.) That moment was really one of the ‘lightbulb’ moments in Gortner’s novel, whether he meant it to be or not, and I thought it was perfect.

Whenever you fictionalize the life of a real person you have to balance truth with facts (no, they’re not always the same). I can’t speak to whether or not Gortner got every fact correct, but I know that Mademoiselle Chanel has given us the truth of Coco Chanel’s life, and I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Goes well with Cappuccino, chocolate croissants, and, for those who smoke, a Gauloise cigarette.


C. W.’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, March 17th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, March 18th: Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, March 19th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 20th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 23rd: West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, March 24th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, March 25th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Thursday, March 26th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Monday, March 30th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, March 31st: Unshelfish

Wednesday, April 1st: Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, April 2nd: Mom’s Small Victories

Friday, April 3rd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert #review @netgalley

About the book, A Wilder Rose A Wilder Rose

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 17, 2015)

The Little House books, which chronicled the pioneer adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, are among the most beloved books in the American literary canon. Lesser known is the secret, concealed for decades, of how they came to be. Now, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert reimagines the fascinating story of Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, an intrepid world traveler and writer who returned to her parents’ Ozark farm, Rocky Ridge, in 1928. There she began a collaboration with her mother on the pioneer stories that would captivate generations of readers around the world.

Despite the books’ success, Rose’s involvement would remain a secret long after both women died. A vivid account of a great literary deception, A Wilder Rose is a spellbinding tale of a complicated mother-daughter relationship set against the brutal backdrop of the Great Depression.

Buy, read, and discuss A Wilder Rose

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Susan Wittig Albert Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert grew up in Illinois, earned her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, and served as an English professor and university administrator at the University of Texas, Tulane University, and Texas State University. A New York Times bestselling author, she has written over fifty mysteries in four different series, as well as other adult fiction, nonfiction, and books for young adults. She lives with her husband, Bill, on thirty-one acres in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, reads, and pursues her other passions: gardening, raising chickens, and doing needlework. She is the founder of the Story Circle Network, an international organization dedicated to helping women tell their stories.

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of the Little House books since I learned how to read, and then I married a man who was raised half an hour from DeSmet, South Dakota. I have walked the banks of Plum Creek (what’s left of it), experienced a winter nearly as cold as the one depicted in The Long Winter, and toured the Little Town on the Prairie more than once. As I grew older, I dove into Laura the person, as opposed to Laura the character, and I’ve read a good number of the books about her.

I’m hardly a scholarly expert on all things Laura, but I’m probably better informed than the average reader, so I came to Susan Wittig Albert’s novel – and it’s important to remember that it is a novel – knowing that the books were much more a collaboration than most readers probably knew. I also came to her novel with a great amount of curiosity about Rose Wilder Lane, herself. I mean, I knew she was a journalist, was instrumental in the founding of the libertarian political movement, and had never had any children that survived past infancy, but the details of her life were largely unknown to me.

In A Wilder Rose Albert gives us a glimpse at one part of Rose’s life – the part surrounding the creation and publication of her mother’s stories, told partly in Rose’s voice, and partly in the voice of a young journalist interviewing Rose. I’m not sure the split perspective was necessary, but it did make an interesting counterpoint. The dialogue and characterization felt appropriate for the period for the most part, but I found her depiction of Laura to be a bit more prim and simpery than the Laura I know from other, scholarly books about her, and I feel like she lost a bit of opportunity to delve into Rose’s personality a bit more deeply. I’ve personally always wondered if Rose was a lesbian – I know this is a common speculation – but Albert didn’t touch on that at all, and I sort of wish she had.

Obviously, when you’re writing a novel about a real person, you have to balance what is right for the story with what is right for history, and ultimately Albert did that, giving us a Rose who is very much her own person, while still being absolutely her mother’s daughter. As the daughter of a woman who has a forceful personality, I know what it’s like to feel somewhat overshadowed. As a creative person in my own right, I know how difficult any kind of collaboration can be.

I’ve seen many reviews take issue with Albert’s depiction of Rose as the driving force behind the Little House… books, basically stating that she was more ghostwriter than editor. I’ve seen material to support her view, and to support a less hands-on approach, and really, I don’t think it matters. This is, after all, a novel, not a scholarly treatise. It offers a possible working relationship that is plausible and interesting, and way more than just ‘behind the scenes of the Laura books.’

Most people who read this novel are probably fans of either LIW’s books or the old NBC series. If that’s the case, their enjoyment of this novel is dependent not on their vision of Rose, but on whether they see Laura-the-writer as a literary icon, or an aging human being with a vast store of memories. My own opinion is that this novel is a really enjoyable read, and really, that’s what’s important.

Goes well with buttered popcorn and crisp apple cider.

Dog Crazy, by Meg Donohue (@megdonohue) #review #fiction # @tlcbooktours

About the book Dog Crazy Dog Crazy

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 10, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

Buy, read, and discuss Dog Crazy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Meg Donohue Meg Donohue

Meg Donohue is the author of How to Eat a Cupcake. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two young daughters, and their dog.

Connect with Meg:

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter.


My Thoughts

From the moment I saw the cover art – lab puppies – it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to read this book. What was less a ‘given’ was that I would love it as much as I did, but…I did. So there’s that.

I was hooked from the opening chapter when a woman is described as having ‘hidden in her bedrooom for two days’ after her loyal dog died. “That could be me,” I thought, and indeed, that was me several years ago, first when I had to watch my chihuahua succumb to a heart murmur, and a few years later, when we had to put our staffie/jrt mix down. As a child-free couple, our dogs are our children, so this book resonated with me on many levels.

I could even understand lead character Maggie’s fear of leaving her house, as I tend to have hermitish cycles in my own life. Oh, I’m not agoraphobic, like Maggie is, but I certainly understand the deep-seated psychological need to be safe and secure.

Author Meg Donohue has spun a fantastic tale, a fast read that is never boring and never feels too light, but zips along just the same. Her characters, despite the almost absurd situation: a therapist who is clearly in need of therapy herself, helping people cope with the loss of their furry friends, and still mourning her own, feel like real people (though, honestly, the San Francisco setting only helps this), and their stories are compelling.

Do not fear that because it deals with dead pets, Dog Crazy is a sad book. It’s not. Yes, there are bits that are poignant, but there are also parts that are hilarious, and what’s even better is that the hilarity comes organically, from the things life hands us every day, and never feels contrived.

In short, Dog Crazy is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a rainy day, with a pot of coffee or tea nearby, and, ideally, a dog (or cat) to cuddle while you read it.

Goes well with a grande flat white and a butter croissant.


Meg’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below, or click HERE.
Tuesday, March 10th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, March 11th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, March 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 13th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 16th: Always With a Book

Tuesday, March 17th: BookNAround

Wednesday, March 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, March 19th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 24th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, March 26th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, March 30th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, March 31st: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, April 1st: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, April 10th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

We Have a #Winner (The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley)

Those of you who commented or retweeted had your names put into a hat (yes, an actual hat) and yesterday we put them through our super-scientific randomizer in order to choose one.

(Specifically, my dog, Max, who has a Thing for Eating Paper chose the name, by picking out one of the slips of paper. We let him eat it afterward.)

Jackie! Check your email. You’ve won a copy of The Dead Key, by D.M. Pulley. I’ll need your mailing address.

And don’t forget, you have until 11:59 PM CENTRAL DAYLIGHT TIME on Sunday to COMMENT or TWEET to win a copy of Life from Scratch, by Sasha Martin (U.S. addresses only.)

Thank you, and happy reading.

Life from Scratch, by Sasha Martin (@globaltable) #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book, Life from Scratch Life from Scratch

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (March 3, 2015)

It was a culinary journey like no other: Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook—and eat—a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother to a string of foster homes to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Martin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal—and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within.

buy, read, and discuss Life from Scratch

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Sasha Martin Sasha Martin

SASHA MARTIN is an award-winning writer and blogger who spent almost four years cooking her way around the world. Her work has been featured on NPR (Travel with Rick Steves), Whole LivingBon AppetitThe SmithsonianThe Huffington Post, CNNgo, and Food52. Her website, Global Table Adventure, is a go-to hub for foodies around the world.

Connect with Sasha

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

When this book showed up on my doorstep in the middle of an ice storm, I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of an ARC, which is typical for someone participating in a book tour, I’d received the actual hardcover edition. I confess, I was so excited about it that I hugged it to my chest, and I’ve been reading and re-reading it ever since.

It’s a really wonderful book.

Memoirs are tricky things, riding the line between pure fact and ‘creative’ non-fiction. Even the most interesting person can come off as dry and boring if they don’t have a good writer’s voice. Sasha Martin, who honed her voice with a popular blog (which, I confess, I’d never visited until I read Life from Scratch, despite it being right up my alley), never seems dry or boring, though at times the situations she was in, whether by her own design or precipitated by others, made me want to reach into the book and throttle people.

When you have that visceral a reaction to words on a page, you KNOW it’s a good story.

And Sasha’s story, while sometimes dark, and a bit overloaded with disappointments, is a truly interesting, fairly candid account of her life, her coming of age, her relationship with family, food, and cooking.

As the daughter of a single mother, many elements of Sasha’s story were familiar to me, though I’m very lucky that, if my mother and I were ever in any situations half as dire as hers, I was never aware of it. Still, the comfort of cooking, the pops and sizzles, burbles and whistles of kitchen noises, the enticing aromas of different spices, and the gradual understanding of how those spices work with each other…those are nearly universal, and she describes them so well, that at times I wanted to reach out and steal her slice of raisin cinnamon toast “pizza.”

As Sasha’s memoir (and forgive me for referring to her by first name, but reading her book really makes you feel like you’ve met her) approaches her contemporary life, the mellowing, the settling, of her personality and the way it conflicts with the ingrained wanderlust of her childhood felt all too familiar. I know what it’s like to constantly be uprooted, to always be the new kid, to never quite belong, and though our circumstances are radically different, I think it’s this familiarity that made this book resonate with me so deeply.

That said, even if you’ve never been the child of a single parent, and never found that a favorite food from childhood (and one said single mother invented out of necessity) has lost its appeal to your adult palate – even if you’ve lived in one place your entire life, I think Martin’s book will still appeal to you. Why? Because food and cooking are universal elements of community. Because her recipes are nearly intoxicating on the page, and the itch to try them is almost palpable.

Because this is a well-written, well-crafted love story to youth and family and to the concept of the kitchen as the heart of a home, and to not read it would be to miss out on a very rare treat.

Goes well with homemade pizza made on raisin bread, and a glass of horchata.


Giveaway

One lucky reader (US only) will win a copy of Life from Scratch for their very own. How? Tweet the link to this review (tag @Melysse on Twitter), or comment on this post. Winner will be selected by random drawing on the night of Sunday, March 22, and announced on Monday, March 23.


Sasha’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, March 3rd: Books on the Table

Thursday, March 5th: The Well-Read Redhead

Friday, March 6th: girlichef

Monday, March 9th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 10th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, March 11th: Bibliotica (That’s ME!)

Thursday, March 12th: Pickles and Cheese

Monday, March 16th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, March 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, March 18th: Booksie’s Blog

Thursday, March 19th: Wholistic Woman

Friday, March 20th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Miramont’s Ghost, by Elizabeth Hall – #Review #Bibliotica

About the book, Miramont’s Ghost Miramont's Ghost

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (February 1, 2015)

Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Buy, read, and discuss Miramont’s Ghost

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Elizabeth Hall Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado, working as a teacher, writer, and radio show host. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes and plays with fiber.


My Thoughts:

I always enjoy a creepy story, especially if I can relate to it in some way. Having spent a significant portion of my childhood in the mountains of Colorado, I know first-hand the sorts of mansions, castles, and spooky houses that are tucked into the Rockies, and I’ve even toured some of them, so the latter half of this novel, in which Adrienne is in such a place – the castle in the title – and is feeling trapped really resonated with me. Author Hall did a good job of contrasting the scope of historical Colorado with the confines of a single stone building.

That’s not to say there aren’t some great moments in the first half of the novel, because there are. We meet Adrienne as a young child, and see how her clairvoyance affects not only her, but those around her. Compounding the more typical problems of a child prone to blurting out anything she thinks or feels or ‘sees,’ there is also the mystery surrounding the specific circumstances of her grandmother’s death. Adrienne’s clairvoyance, it seems, was inherited from her.

Of course, Adrienne isn’t the only character, there’s her cousin, who is a priest when we meet him, and who builds the titular castle, there’s her Aunt Marie, a strong-willed woman not afraid to pull strings behind the scenes, and the girl’s mother, Genevieve, who probably means well but is rather weak.

Most especially, there is also Adrienne’s grandfather, the Comte, who gives every appearance of being a kindred spirit of the best kind.

Moving between joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, relative safety and constant jeopardy, Miramont’s Ghost is much akin to a modern gothic. It’s spooky enough to leave a hint of a tingle on your skin if you’re reading it all alone after dark, but it also offers enough explanations to keep the story grounded when it’s required.

Goes well with: Hot tea and butter cookies.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour organized by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Tuesday, February 3rd: Bookchickdi

Friday, February 6th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, February 9th: Life is Story

Tuesday, February 10th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, February 12th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Friday, February 13th: Book Nerd

Monday, February 16th: 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, February 18th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, February 23rd: Reading Reality

Tuesday, February 24th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, February 26th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 2nd: WV Stitcher

Tuesday, March 3rd: Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, March 5th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, March 6th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, March 9th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, March 11th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

TBD: Mary’s Cup of Tea 

 

 

The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book The Dead Key The Dead Key

Paperback: 477 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 1, 2015)

Grand Prize Winner, 2014 — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.

Buy, read, and discuss The Dead Key

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Goodreads


About D. M. Pulley D.M. Pulley

D. M. Pulley’s first novel, The Dead Key, was inspired by her work as a structural engineer in Cleveland, Ohio. During a survey of an abandoned building, she discovered a basement vault full of unclaimed safe deposit boxes. The mystery behind the vault haunted her for years, until she put down her calculator and started writing. The Dead Key was the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award grand prize winner. Pulley continues to work as a private consultant and forensic engineer, investigating building failures and designing renovations. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and two children, and she is currently at work on her second novel.


My Thoughts

I love a good mystery. I love a mystery even more when women are at the center of it, when it’s got an interesting construction, when the story seems innovative. This book, The Dead Key, has all that and more.

The prologue had me intrigued but it was with the first pair of scenes – one in 1978, the other twenty years later – that I really got hooked. Parallel plots in different decades – what a great way to spice up what is, essentially a fairly basic story.

Beatrice (1978) was more compelling to me than Iris (1998), perhaps because Iris was a bit too self-entitled and obvious for my tastes. Too often, I wanted to shake her because she kept guilelessly giving away what she was doing. Really, if she had just announced to people, “Hi, I found an old safety deposit box key and I’m poking into what happened when the bank closed,” she would not have been much more obvious.

Also I thought her flirtation with Nick the designer was a bit random. Yes, women in their early twenties like to date, but their relationship did nothing for the story.

Beatrice, on the other hand, was a mystery unto herself. We don’t know her real background until well into the story, and she, at least, knew how to be somewhat discrete.

Minor flaws aside, this is a truly enjoyable novel. I loved the 1998 characters finding that the cafeteria (untouched for 20 years) still had working coffee machines (no, they didn’t drink any), and the setting – an abandoned bank – was just creepy enough to offset the fact that some of the twists were fairly predictable.

Pulley’s writing voice is truly engaging, her use of description and dialogue well balanced. If you want a great novel for a cozy late-winter afternoon, The Dead Key would be a perfect choice.

Goes well with Hot pastrami on rye bread and a bottle of any flavor Snapple.

Giveaway The Dead Key

One person (US/Canada only) will win a copy of The Dead Key. How? Comment on this post or share this post on Twitter (and tag @Melysse) to be entered. Winner will be chosen on Monday, March 16th.


D. M. Pulley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, March 2nd: Life is Story

Wednesday, March 4th: Bell, Book & Candle

Thursday, March 5th: Bibliotica

Monday, March 9th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, March 10th: Rhodes Review

Monday, March 16th: Fictionophile

Wednesday, March 18th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, March 19th: Open Book Society

Monday, March 23rd: It’s a Mad Mad World

Wednesday, March 25th: 2 Kids and Tired Books

Monday, March 30th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, April 1st: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Monday, April 6th: My Bookshelf

Monday, April 6th: Omnimystery News – author guest post

Monday, April 13th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Thursday, April 16th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, April 17th: Brooke Blogs

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman (@patsyharman) #review @tlcbooktours

About the book, The Reluctant Midwife The Reluctant Midwife

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 3, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit.

The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.

Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.

But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series.

Buy, read, and discuss The Reluctant Midwife
Amazon  | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About Patricia Harman Patricia Harman

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives near Morgantown, West Virginia; has three sons; and is the author of two acclaimed memoirs.

Connect with Patricia

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I won’t deny that my love of the BBC series Call the Midwife is what sparked my interest in The Reluctant Midwife, but the reality is that, except for the fact that midwifery is central to both stories, there really aren’t many similarities. The TV show, while based on memoirs, is quintessentially English, and set in the 50s and (now) 60s. This novel is a decidedly American story, and takes place during the Great Depression.

You might think that such a period would lead to a depressing story, but you’d be wrong. While Patricia Harman’s characters do experience hardship and loss, the entire novel is imbued with so much hope and humor that at times it was difficult to mute the Annie soundtrack running through my brain while I was reading it. Which is not to imply that it’s at all childish, because it’s not.

What this book is, is a very honest, human story about two couples who share the predisposition to be healers. The first is Becky and Isaac, although they’re not really a couple in the romantic sense. The majority of the novel is written in first person, from Becky’s perspective, so we come to know her best. There were times when all I wanted to do was tell her to stop being such a prude, and get her hands dirty, but that only means I was invested in her story.

Isaac, on the other hand, is the now-mute doctor Becky once worked with, and now cares for, and while his presence is a bit murky at times, ultimately he becomes at least as real as his female counterpart, his quiet contrasting beautifully with her strength and forthrightness.

The other couple, midwife Patience and her husband the local vet. This novel is actually a sequel to Harman’s previous one, The Midwife of Hope River, in which told Patience’s story. I haven’t read the first book, but I didn’t feel like I was missing key information, and I like that. I’m sure my enjoyment would only have been greater if had.

While a story set in the 30’s could easily be depressing and bleak, this book was neither. Instead, it showed us people who persevere in the face of hardship, and find solace in love and laughter. I liked that the author gave us a sense of place (Appalachia) without locking us into the landscape of a specific existing town, letting us fill in the blanks ourselves, and I really liked the way she gave us hints of the politics of the day, and of events outside the immediate environs of this tale. An oblique reference to the midwestern prairie, for example, reminds us that the Dust Bowl was a concurrent event.

Populated by flawed, feeling, incredibly real people, this novel was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read. The resolution of Becky’s relationship with Isaac was a bit predictable, but in no way reduced the integrity of the rest of the story.

I’m eager to go back and read the first book in this series, and I’m equally excited to explore Harman’s other work, which I hope includes another entry into this series.

Goes well with Pork and beans, homemade cornbread, and fresh lemonade.


Patricia’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.
Tuesday, March 3rd: West Metro Mommy

Wednesday, March 4th: Bibliotica

Thursday, March 5th: Broken Teepee

Friday, March 6th: Kritter Ramblings

Monday, March 9th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, March 10th: A Novel Review

Thursday, March 12th: Life Between Reads

Monday, March 16th: Unshelfish

Tuesday, March 17th: A Patchwork of Books

Wednesday, March 18th: Buried Under Books

Thursday, March 19th: FictionZeal

Friday, March 20th: A Chick Who Reads

Cauchemar, by Alexandra Grigorescu (@a_grigorescu) – #review @ecwpress #Bibliotica

About the book Cauchemar Cauchemar

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: ECW Press (March 17, 2015)

Gripping, fast-paced, gorgeously written, and with unforgettable characters, Cauchemar tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah, who finds herself living alone on the edge of a Louisianan swamp after her adopted mother and protector dies. Hannah falls in love with Callum, an easy-going boat captain and part-time musician, but after her mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumoured to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life, she must confront what she’s been hiding from — the deadly spirits that haunt the swamp, the dark secrets of her past, and the nascent gift she possesses. Like the nightmares that plague Hannah,

Cauchemar lingers and haunts.

Buy, read, and discuss Cauchemar

ECW Press | Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Alexandra Grigorescu Alexandra Grigorescu

Alexandra Grigorescu has a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Toronto, where she attended writing workshops led by George Elliott Clark and Jeff Parker and wrote her thesis under the guidance of Camilla Gibb. She works as a freelance writer and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Connect with Alexandra

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

When my husband asked me what it was that kept me in the bathtub reading until I’d turned into a prune, I told him it was a novel called Cauchemar, and that it was a sort of spooky, supernatural coming-of-age story that was both beautiful and haunting.

The story itself, Hannah’s story, is compelling: a young woman loses the maternal figure (not her biological mother) whom she’s lived with for most of her life, and is forced to face her family history, her mother’s reputation, and her actual mother while she tries to find herself.

Hannah’s love interest, Callum, reminded me of every working musician I ever dated before I got married. He’s not a superstar, he’s the kind of guy who plays gigs and has a couple groupies and is happy to share a beer after the show – but then he meets Hannah.

It could have been a perfunctory love story with a young woman, and an older (but not OLD), more experienced man, but author Alexandra Grigorescu mixes in a bayou setting, a dash of supernatural intrigue, and enough music and cookery to fill anyone’s plate. Even better, she does it well: you can hear the rippling of the river, the buzzing of the mosquitoes. You can smell the herbs in Hannah’s cooking, feel the way Callum’s music thrums through the floorboards, and, if you’re really receptive, you might even convince yourself you’ve seen something spooky out of the corner of your eye.

What I love about Grigorescu’s prose is that it’s lush and hearty, with enough vivid description to really give you a sense of place, but without any affectation. Likewise, her dialogue seems appropriate for a small town in the American south, with each character having a distinct voice that never detracts from the work as a whole.

For me, personally, an added benefit was that this story hit me in the sweet spot of my amygdala, the one that makes the spooky stuff seem spookier and the romantic parts seem even more romantic. I finished the novel sitting up in bed in the middle of the night, because I HAD to finish the story before I could sleep.

This is Alexandra Grigorescu’s debut novel, and I’m a little worried that she won’t be able to top it when she produces her second book, because it hits all the right notes (musical and foodie), and leaves you satisfied but willing to have more.

Goes well with Fresh-caught fish, gumbo, and sweet tea.


Alexandra Grigorescu’s Blog Tour Stops Cauchemar

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by the publisher, ECW Press. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE. For a guest post from the author, Alexandra Grigorescu, click HERE.

MARCH 1: Review and giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
MARCH 2: Review and guest post at Bibliotica (That’s ME!)
MARCH 3: Review and excerpt at Bella’s Bookshelves
MARCH 4: Guest post at Write All the Words! for their International Women’s Week feature
MARCH 5: Interview and excerpt at Editorial Eyes
MARCH 7: Review at Lavender Lines
MARCH 9: Review at Svetlana’s Reads
MARCH 10: Review and interview at The Book Stylist
MARCH 11: Review, guest post, and giveaway at Booking it with Hayley G
MARCH 12: Guest Post at Dear Teen Me
MARCH 13: Review and giveaway at The Book Bratz
MARCH 14: Interview and excerpt at Feisty Little Woman