A Remarkable Kindness, by Diana Bletter (@dianabletter) #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, A Remarkable Kindness A Remarkable Kindness

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Through a largely hidden ceremony . . . four friends discover the true meaning of life

It’s 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land thousands of miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after a divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams.

The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience.

Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.

Buy, read, and discuss A Remarkable Kindness

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Diana Bletter Diana Bletter

Diana Bletter is a writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, with photographs by Lori Grinker, was shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. In 1991, she moved from New York to a seaside village in northern Israel where she lives with her husband and children, and volunteers in a burial circle.

Connect with Diana

Website |  Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I’ve had this novel on my kindle for months, and I read it when I first downloaded it (but stupidly didn’t write the draft for the review), so my thoughts are a bit musty, but my first impression, meeting Aviva outside the burial house, and seeing her seek shelter during a bombing was that this was no sweet piece of literary fiction, but a gem of a story that offered a great blend of contemporary Israeli/Palestinian politics, gritty reality, and excellent character work, and I was not wrong. In fact when I next met Laura, transplanted from Boston to Peleg with her new husband (well, new-ish, they’ve been married about a year) I was hooked.

But it’s not enough to have two women at the heart of this story, for author Bletter introduces us to Laura’s friend Emily, and college student Rachel, each of whom also comes to Israel for her own reason.

Eventually of course Aviva and Laura, Emily and Rachel, all become friends and true compatriots, and their burgeoning friendship is an integral part of this story, but the politics and the harsh reality of daily life in a small Israeli village are equally important, and Diana Bletter does an excellent job of giving us a look at these four women and their lives as well as the bigger picture of life in Peleg and how it relates to the region – and the world – as a home.

Literature with Jewish themes has been a recurring thing for me this year, quite by accident, and I’ve really enjoyed the various glimpses into a culture that is at once similar to and very different from the middle-class American life I lead.

Some of the most beautiful and haunting sections of A Remarkable Kindness were the scenes directly relating to burial circles, and I found myself quite drawn to the simple spirituality displayed.

Goes well with fresh baked challah with golden raisins, and strong coffee.


Diana’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 11th: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, August 12th: Becca Rowan

Thursday, August 13th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, August 14th: Into the Hall of Books

Monday, August 17th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, August 19th: Mel’s Shelves

Thursday, August 20th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Monday, August 24th: Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, August 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, August 26th: JulzReads

Thursday, August 27th: Bibliotica

TBD: Novel Escapes

 

Godiva’s Ancient History, a Guest Post from Eliza Redgold (@elizaredgold) #giveaway @hfvbt

Naked Blog Tour

Godiva’s Ancient History: Pagan goddess or Christian saint?

This blog post comes to us from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press in July.

After dinner, the gleeman took up his usual place in front of the fire. For the first time since the festival of Easter we had supped on hare stew. Many of my people, Aine included, still celebrated the Christian feast as well as honoring Eostre, our goddess of Spring. Since hares were sacred to Eostre they would not eat them until after her feast day.

Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva

Eliza Redgold at Amazon.com

How old is the legend of Lady Godiva? The tale of her famous naked ride is over a thousand years old. So the story goes, Godiva of Coventry begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. He demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town.

Lady Godiva (or Countess Godgyfu, in the Anglo-Saxon version of her name) was a real person who lived in 11th century Anglo-Saxon England. Yet her myth goes even further back in time.

There are many ancient stories linked to Godiva. Her tale is connected to Greek and Celtic myths and sacred, semi-clad female processions. The Teutonic goddess Hertha made a procession through the woods after her ritual bath, while in Greek legend there is the secret woodland bathing of the goddess of the hunt, Diana. Godiva’s ride may well have descended from one of these rites.

In another version, Godiva’s ride is not a procession, but a love-chase. In this story, Leofric sets his wife a riddle to test her. She must come to him neither being clothed or unclothed, without a foot touching the ground. Cleverly, Godiva rides rather than walks and covers her naked body with a golden net of her hair. In some tellings of this love chase, Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of Spirng, Eostre. She also strongly resembles another spring goddess who took a woodland May-Day procession to summon the new season. Her name? The goddess Goda.

Like many pagan myths, such stories were absorbed into Christianity. In the Middle Ages Goda’s tale became connected with the real and genuinely philanthropic Countess Godgyfu and the old pagan love-chase became a Christian procession celebrating her piety. Godiva’s story has also been Biblically linked to that of Mary Magdalene, twisted with her long hair and the idea of a ride made in repentance of sin. Even more powerfully are threads of Godiva’s ride interwoven with the tale of third century martyr, St Agnes. The beautiful Agnes was forced to walk naked through the town as a punishment for refusing to give up her faith. Agnes’s hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her, and such a bright angelic light surrounded her that no man could see her.

Godiva’s story has come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact, folk-lore and legend. Some call her a goddess, some call her a saint. All we know for certain is that her extraordinary story continues to catch us in the net of her long, golden hair.


About the book, Naked: a Novel of Lady Godiva Naked, a Novel of Lady Godiva

Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 320

Genre: Historical Fiction

We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

Buy, read, and discuss Naked: a Novel of Lady Godiva

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | ITUNES | INDIEBOUND | KOBO | GOODREADS


About the author, Eliza Redgold Eliza Redgold

ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

Connect with Eliza

Website | Facebook | Twitter


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, August 10
Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, August 11
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 12
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court
Spotlight at A Book Geek

Thursday, August 13
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Saturday, August 15
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Monday, August 17
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, August 18
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, August 19
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, August 20
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, August 21
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, August 24
Review at I’m Shelf-ish
Review at Please Pass the Books
Guest Post at Bibliotica

Tuesday, August 25
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at History Undressed
Guest Post at Curling Up By the Fire

Wednesday, August 26
Review at Bookish
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Thursday, August 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Guest Post at Romantic Historical Reviews
Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Friday, August 28
Review at A Book Drunkard
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Let Them Read Books


 

GIVEAWAY

To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Three winners will be chosen.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva Blog Tour

Blue, by Kayce Stevens Hughlett (@kaycehughlett) #review @netgalley

About the book, Blue Blue

  • File Size: 1490 KB
  • Print Length: 235 pages
  • Publisher: BQB Publishing (September 10, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2015

One insecure perfectionist. One guilt-ridden artist. One child-woman who talks to peacocks. A trio of complex heroines on separate journeys toward a single intertwined truth.Imagine living exclusively for others and waking up one day with a chance to start over. The terrifying new beginning reeks of abandonment and betrayal. The choice for Seattle resident Monica lingers between now and then. . .them and her. Izabel’s idyllic existence on Orcas Island is turned upside down during the birth of a friend’s child. Suddenly, pain rips through her own body, and life as she knows it shifts, hinting at a forgotten past and propelling her toward an uncertain future. On another island, young Daisy awakens surrounded by infinite shades of blue. Is she dreaming or has she stepped through the portal into a fantastical land where animals spout philosophy and a gruesome monster plots her destruction? Blue – a subtle psychological mind-bender where each heroine is her own worst enemy. Eccentric. Loveable. Unforgettable.

Buy, read, and discuss Blue

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


About the author, Kayce Stevens Hughlett Kayce Stevens Hughlett

Kayce Stevens Hughlett is a soulful and spirited woman. In her roles as psychotherapist, life coach, author, spiritual director, and speaker, she invites us to playfully and fearlessly cross the thresholds toward authentic living. A strong proponent of compassionate care in the world, Kayce’s live and online work focuses on the principle that we must live it to give it. Her early career began with a multi-national accounting firm to be later refined as the path of an artist. She delights in walking alongside others as they explore and unearth their own pathways toward passionate living.

Kayce is a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach and holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. She is the co-author of “Arts Centered Supervision” published in Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Expressive Arts to Spiritual Direction, as well as contributor to other collections and online publications. Kayce is a trained SoulCollage® facilitator, a dedicated supporter of the Soltura Foundation, and co-founder of the Soul Care Institute–a professional development program facilitating the formation, nourishment, and deep inner work of soul care practitioners. Raised in the heartland of Oklahoma, she now resides in Seattle, Washington with her family and muse, Aslan the Cat.

Connect with Kayce

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My friend Debra mentioned to me that one of her other friends had recently published a novel. “You read a lot,” she said, “you might like it.” I immediately went looking for that novel – Blue – on NetGalley, and was approved for an advance e-copy, which I devoured in one afternoon. Then I ‘met’ the author through our mutual participation in one of Debra’s projects, and asked her if she’d prefer a specific date for the review. She chose August 20th.

Weeks after reading Blue, there are several things that linger with me, the strongest being the use of the color, blue, as the through-connection in this novel which is really the story of three different women, Monica, Izabel, and Daisy.  I’m hesitant to elaborate because I don’t want to spoil anything, but Hughlett showed how good she is with crafting plot and writing nuances with that element.

All three women had distinct personalities, and I really liked the way each interacted with the world on her own (apparent) terms, but also had some kind of secret lurking. I wouldn’t consider this novel an out-and-out mystery, but it definitely had mysterious elements.

I find that it’s easier for me to treat Monica and Izabel’s sections as one unit for purposes of review -these women were both obviously hurting, and obviously seeking things they weren’t ready to admit they needed. I found that their lives were rich and interesting and yet felt incomplete. Each lived in surroundings that completely suited her. With Izabel, I was reminded of the line from the movie The Wedding Date about how every woman has the relationship she wants.

Daisy’s story, on the other hand, was completely surreal with talking animals and a personal island paradise. My vision of her story is blend of Chagall’s art and Lewis Carroll’s stories, except that she was a lot more introspective and interesting than Alice. (Of course, Alice was a child, so…there’s that.)

Overall, I found Hughlett’s writing voice to be engaging and interesting. The opening of the novel confused me a little, but also hooked me, and made me want to figure everything out.  Her characters – even the animals – felt very real. The three central women were especially dimensional.

In anyone else’s hands, the same story would have descended into cheap comedy or depressing sadness. From Kayce Stevens Hughlett’s deft hands comes, instead, a novel that manages to be poignant, compelling, puzzling, engaging, and incredibly readable.

Goes well with lemonade, blueberry pound cake, and fresh fruit, served al fresco in a lush garden.

 

 

 

Baker’s Blues, by Judith Ryan Hendricks #review #TLC Book Tours

About Baker’s Blues Baker's Blues

Publisher: Chien Bleu Press

In Wyn Morrison’s world a 5 AM phone call usually means problems at her bakery—equipment trouble or a first shift employee calling in sick—annoying but mundane, fixable. But the news she receives on a warm July morning is anything but mundane. Or fixable.

Mac, her ex-husband, is dead.

Ineligible for widowhood, Wyn is nonetheless shaken to her core as she discovers that the fact of divorce offers no immunity from grief. Friends and family are bewildered by her spiral into sadness, Mac’s daughter Skye blames her for his death.

For the last several years Wyn has been more businesswoman than baker, leaving the actual bread making to others. Now, as she takes up her place in the bread rotation once more, she will sift through her memories, coming to terms with Mac and his demons, with Skye’s anger, and with Alex, who was once more than a friend. Soon she will re-learn the lessons of bread that she first discovered at the Queen Street Bakery in Seattle…bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals, and the future waits.

Buy, read, and discuss Baker’s Blues

Amazon | Goodreads


<h2>About Judith Ryan Hendricks <a href=”http://www.bibliotica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/1504a-Judi_6402e1-207×300.jpg”><img class=”alignright size-full wp-image-4674″ src=”http://www.bibliotica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/1504a-Judi_6402e1-207×300.jpg” alt=”Judith Ryan Hendricks” width=”207″ height=”300″ /></a></h2>
Judith Ryan Hendricks was born in San Jose, California, when Silicon Valley was the Santa Clara Valley, better known for orchards than for computer chips.

Armed with a degree in journalism, she worked as a journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress and baker before turning to fiction writing. Her experiences at the McGraw Street Bakery in Seattle led to her first novel, <strong><em>Bread Alone</em></strong> and the sequel, <strong><em>The Baker’s Apprentice.</em></strong>

A life-long infatuation with the Southwest provided inspiration for <strong><em>Isabel’s Daughter </em></strong>and her fourth book, <strong><em>The Laws of Harmony</em></strong>. Hendricks’ fiction has been translated into 12 languages and distributed in more than 16 countries worldwide.

Her nonfiction has appeared in <em>The San Francisco Chronicle</em> and <em>Tiny Lights, A Journal of Personal Essay, Grand Gourmet </em>in Italy and <em>The London Sunday Express</em>. Her short fiction has appeared in <em>Woman’s Weekly</em> in Britain and <em>AMERICAN GIRLS ON THE TOWN, an anthology</em>, in the U.S. and U.K.

She lives in New Mexico with husband Geoff and dog Blue.

Connect with Judi at her website, judihendricks.com


My Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie: when it comes to Judith Ryan Hendricks, I’m an unabashed fangirl. So much of what she writes speaks to me, and it’s because of her that I started experimenting with baking bread again just after reading her first novel Bread Alone.

Baker’s Blues is the second sequel to that first novel, and our protagonist, Wynter (Wyn) has matured in this book. She seems much more grounded and centered, even as she’s dealing with major life events, for this book opens with the off-camera death of Mac (the lover, then husband, then ex-husband she met in the first book) and the family drama that comes with it, much of which is embodied in his adult daughter Skye.

As Wyn has matured, so has Hendricks’s writing. Always full of imagery, always replete with splendid, dimensional characterization, in Baker’s Blues we see that the author, like her character, is ‘simplified’  – honed down to the most essential words and phrases.

The result is a reading experience that’s just luscious. The dialogue sounds completely true-to-life, and I was really impressed by the way Hendricks conveys so much with body language. The prickly don’t-touch-me of Skye and Wyn’s inner battle to reach out or stay safely within herself are both particularly notable. 

Where Hendricks’s writing soars is when food – especially bread – enter the story. If her first novel bordered on ‘food porn,’ this one is more a sumptuous feast: elegant, perfectly balanced, and incredibly satisfying.

But then, those words could be used to describe Baker’s Blues as a whole, as well.

Goes well with bread, cheese, olives and/or raisins, and a glass of wine….what else?


Judith Ryan Hendrick’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 3rd: Farmgirl Fare – Review & A Conversation with the Author

Monday, August 3rd: Thoughts on This and That

Tuesday, August 4th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, August 4th: Jorie Loves a Story – guest post

Wednesday, August 5th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, August 6th: Griperang’s Bookmarks

Friday, August 7th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, August 10th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Wednesday, August 12th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, August 12th: Time 2 Read

Friday, August 14th: Walking with Nora

Monday, August 17th: Guiltless Reading

Tuesday, August 18th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, August 19th: Bibliotica – review and guest post

Thursday, August 20th: 5 Minutes for Books

Monday, August 24th: girlichef

Tuesday, August 25th: BookNAround

Wednesday, August 26th: Bell Book and Candle

Thursday, August 27th: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Guest Post: Cooking Up Stories by Judith Ryan Hendricks, Author of Baker’s Blues

COOKING UP STORIES Baker's Blues

My career as a novelist began in a bakery, which seems to me totally appropriate, because the longer I practice both writing and baking, the more similarities I see between them. Bread is a process—slow, arduous, messy, unpredictable. You can say all the same things about a book. Bread is composed of distinct ingredients—flour, water, yeast, salt—that merge and become dough—a completely different entity, a living entity which then undergoes the transformation of fire. A book is made of setting, characters and conflict and it follows the same kind of transformation process.

I think of Bread as a calling and a baker as a person who can’t not make bread. Likewise a writer is someone who can’t not write. This is something you don’t discover until you’re ready. Whether it happens early or late in life is immaterial. I was 55 years old when my first novel was published. Until then I was just a woman with a very short attention span.

Working in the bakery influenced not only my writing, but my whole life. There’s a kind of bonding that takes place when you cook with someone that’s hard to duplicate in any other kind of job. Sharing recipes and the act of cooking creates the very same kind of bond that sharing a story creates. It’s mostly about commonality, acceptance—the ways in which we’re all alike, rather than the ways in which we differ, the sharing of food is an act of intimacy, and so is the sharing of our stories.

Even though I was there just under a year, it was one of those interludes—we all have them. They exert a kind of gravitational pull on you. You keep revisiting them and reliving them in your mind. They assume a significance in your life all out of proportion to their actual duration. I’ve never forgotten the place or the women I worked with or the great stuff we made. Other than writing, it was the only job I’ve ever had where I felt absolutely free and totally myself.

*

If you read a lot of books you learn to recognize certain writers’ favorite emotional landscapes. Amy Tan’s is the mother/daughter relationship. Ann Patchett says the basic plot of all her novels has been a group of strangers thrown together by circumstance arranging themselves into a functioning society. My own is apparently the main character loses her way and finds herself. I say apparently, because I never set out to use this story, but it always seems to happen anyway.

Obviously these basic plots are only sketches of a fully developed story, and every writer’s tool box contains subplots, subtext, metaphors, symbols, and many other devices to use in producing a novel. For me, probably the one I lean on most heavily is food. (I’m one of those people who keeps cookbooks by the bed to read at night as well as novels.)

When I was writing Bread Alone, I remember asking one of my writing teachers if he thought anyone would be interested in a story about a woman who bakes bread. His answer was, “Don’t worry about what people want to read. Just write what you have to write.”

As it turned out, a lot of people were and are interested in reading stories with food woven into them. Sometimes the tendency is to view foodie fiction as a fairly recent development, but in fact, there are lots of wonderful descriptions of food in Charles Dickens. And what about Proust and his madeleines? In To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, the famous dinner party scene has Mrs. Ramsay, the one character who is able to successfully connect with other people, serving her family and friends a beautiful meal that embodies all the nurturance and good will that Mrs. Ramsay displays throughout the novel.

Food serves multiple functions in my stories. First of all, it’s a touchstone for my characters, which is how I feel about it in my own life. In nearly every memory stuck in my head and heart there’s food lurking in the background. What I ate is inextricably linked with who was with me, where we were, and how I felt. I guess that’s why I can never remember where I put my sunglasses or whether I locked the back door, but I have perfect recall about the carrot cake I shared with my mom in a little café in LaConner, WA thirty years ago.

Second, food is a metaphor for love, for sharing, in many cases for work, and even for life itself. Since I love to cook and eat, alone as well as with friends and family, it’s inconceivable to me that I might write a story that doesn’t include food in some way.

Food and eating can telegraph information about a character without coming out and saying it. What and how you eat says a lot about who you are. For instance: My father will eat one bite of each thing, going around his plate repeatedly in the same order. Everything has to come out even. If he has mashed potatoes left, but no peas, he’ll take just enough peas to finish off that last bit of potatoes and the last piece of meat.

*

In Bread Alone, I wanted to reveal Wyn’s character using the way she thinks about food, especially bread. This is the first book of the trilogy and it includes flashbacks to a much younger Wyn and the discoveries she makes about bread and also about herself.

“It wasn’t until I went to France that I tasted bread that wasn’t full of additives and air. It was like a religious conversion for me. In fact it’s kind of like sex—one of those things that everyone thinks they know all about and they tell you how great it is, but which is actually pretty uninspiring until you have it one time the way Nature intended it to be.”

Food can have other subtexts, too. It’s not always warm and fuzzy. Think Snow White and the poisoned apple. It can be used to seduce or bribe or deceive. In The Baker’s Apprentice, there’s a scene in a café where the food—wonderful as it may be—is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Our dinners are beautiful. Mac has medaillons of New Zealand lamb with a Dijon crust, and sumptuously artery clogging scalloped potatoes. I go with seafood, since we’re on an island, even if it’s not local. But it’s so fresh it might as well be—a fat tuna steak, grilled with garlic and herbs just to medium rare. The salad of spring vegetables is local—tiny perfect squashes, new potatoes the size of your thumb, sugar snap peas and haricots verts—everything fresh and sweet, tossed in a warm hazelnut vinaigrette. Even the bread for each dinner is different. He has buttery whole wheat dinner rolls and I have a chewy peasant bread, rubbed with garlic and bearing the marks of the grill.

Instead of dessert, we opt for a cheese plate to go with the rest of the expensive-but-worth-every-penny wine. With it comes a little bowl of partially frozen red grapes.

When the check comes, he barely looks at it, just pulls out his virginal MasterCard and tucks it inside the folder. I reach for my wallet.

“Wyn,” he says, “don’t do this, okay?” His eyes are a warning all by themselves.

I say, “I was just getting my lipstick.”

In Baker’s Blues, it’s about the fire, about reducing breadmaking—and paring down life—to its most essential elements.

“By the following week, baking every morning, I bring forth some ciabatta that Alex is willing to use in the café. It’s not my finest effort, but people go nuts over it, ripping off chewy hunks and dipping them in the golden green olive oil and sea salt he’s started putting on all the tables.

On the menu he calls it pain d’autrefois or bread made the old way. I prefer the literal translation, bread of another time. It evokes the smell of the fire and the mark of the oven and the rustic taste of real bread—just flour, water, yeast and salt—baked in the most primitive, elemental way.”

*

So now you’ve had a small taste of some of the stories I’ve cooked up. One thing is certain: each one is a different process. Sometimes words pour out as if there were a direct pipeline from my heart to the keyboard. Sometimes it’s more like a day job. The truth is…the book that you finish is not the book that you started. The writer—just like her characters—is not the same person at the end that she was at the beginning. That’s what’s so amazing and engrossing and frustrating and exhilarating about cooking up stories. And that’s why, so long as I can see the computer screen and prop myself upright in my chair, I’ll probably never stop.

###

About Judith Ryan Hendricks Judith Ryan Hendricks

Judith Ryan Hendricks was born in San Jose, California, when Silicon Valley was the Santa Clara Valley, better known for orchards than for computer chips.

Armed with a degree in journalism, she worked as a journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress and baker before turning to fiction writing. Her experiences at the McGraw Street Bakery in Seattle led to her first novel, Bread Alone and the sequel, The Baker’s Apprentice.

A life-long infatuation with the Southwest provided inspiration for Isabel’s Daughter and her fourth book, The Laws of Harmony. Hendricks’ fiction has been translated into 12 languages and distributed in more than 16 countries worldwide.

Her nonfiction has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle and Tiny Lights, A Journal of Personal Essay, Grand Gourmet in Italy and The London Sunday Express. Her short fiction has appeared in Woman’s Weekly in Britain and AMERICAN GIRLS ON THE TOWN, an anthology, in the U.S. and U.K.

She lives in New Mexico with husband Geoff and dog Blue.

Connect with Judi at her website, judihendricks.com.

Andersonville, by Edward M. Erdelac #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, Andersonville Andersonville

Hydra | Aug 18, 2015 | 272 Pages

Readers of Stephen King and Joe Hill will devour this bold, terrifying new novel from Edward M. Erdelac. A mysterious man posing as a Union soldier risks everything to enter the Civil War’s deadliest prison—only to find a horror beyond human reckoning.

Georgia, 1864. Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville, has earned a reputation as an open sewer of sadistic cruelty and terror where death may come at any minute. But as the Union prisoners of war pray for escape, cursing the fate that spared them a quicker end, one man makes his way into the camp purposefully.

Barclay Lourdes has a mission—and a secret. But right now his objective is merely to survive the hellish camp. The slightest misstep summons the full fury of the autocratic commander, Captain Wirz, and the brutal Sergeant Turner. Meanwhile, a band of shiftless thieves and criminals known as the “Raiders” preys upon their fellow prisoners. Barclay soon finds that Andersonville is even less welcoming to a black man—especially when that man is not who he claims to be. Little does he imagine that he’s about to encounter supernatural terrors beyond his wildest dreams . . . or nightmares.

Buy, read, and discuss Andersonville

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


About the author, Edward M. Erdelac Edward M. Erdelac

Edward M. Erdelac is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the author of six novels (including the acclaimed weird western series Merkabah Rider) and several short stories. He is an independent filmmaker, award-winning screenwriter, and sometime Star Wars contributor. Born in Indiana, educated in Chicago, he resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and a bona fide slew of children and cats.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Sometimes gritty reality can be more horrific than anything supernatural, and that’s true for Edward M. Erdelac’s Civil War novel Andersonville, the prison at Camp Sumter. It’s place where prisoners fight over food and personal dignity, where darkness and misery are the only constants, and where death is often a release.

It’s also a place that Barclay Lourdes, a black Union soldier (who, it’s worth pointing out, was never a slave) is trying to get INTO so he can see the truth of what’s going on.

Erdelac tells the dual stories of Lourdes and Captain Wirz (camp commander) with as much historical accuracy as a contemporary writer can. Certainly in our world where we strive for inclusion, the use of period language was both jarring and integral to the plot (well, certain words – mostly variations of the n-word – which, no, I’m not afraid to write, but refrain for the sake of sensitive readers).

The fact that there’s a supernatural element at play is just another layer, and Erdelac makes it strangely plausible. In this place where lives are worthless, how much scarier could things possibly get?

The truth, of course, is that the supernatural elements of this story add more depth than they do horror. The real horror comes from what humans do to each other, whether or not they’re excused for their behavior because, “we’re at war.”

Erdelac’s writing hooks you from the first page, and the pace of this novel keeps you hooked. It’s part slow southern drawl and part quick, clipped, northern speech, and all of it – all of it- is incredibly lyrical and haunting.

Read this if you want a gritty, reality based horror story, if you are fascinated by the Civil War, or if you just want to dive into a story that is both provocative and perfectly chilling.

Goes well with pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, and lemonade.


Edward M. Erdelac’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, August 17th: Stephanie’s Book Reviews….100 Pages a Day

Monday, August 17th: Bell, Book & Candle

Tuesday, August 18th: Fourth Street Review

Tuesday, August 18th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 19th: The Reader’s Hollow

Wednesday, August 19th: Tynga’s Reviews

Thursday, August 20th: A Book Geek

Monday, August 24th: Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, August 25th: Kissin’ Blue Karen

Wednesday, August 26th: Kari J. Wolfe

Thursday, August 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, August 28th: Vic’s Media Room

Monday, August 31st: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, September 1st: SJ2B House of Books

Wednesday, September 2nd: Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, September 3rd: Kimberly’s Bookshelf

Friday, September 4th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Monday, September 7th: From the TBR Pile

 

The Hypnotist, by Gordon Snider #review #TLCBookTours

About  the book, The Hypnotist The Hypnotist

• Paperback: 324 pages
• Publisher: Helm Publishing (August 3, 2009)

In 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.

Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them. This is confirmed when Marta discovers Byron having an intimate conversation with Lillie Collins, the daughter of one of the city’s most elite families. Marta is flushed with jealousy. However, Lillie defies social customs, and her rebellious nature fits naturally with Marta’s. Despite her envy, the two women become close friends. Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man’s hypnotic embrace? Then the earth trembles, and Marta’s world will never be the same.

Buy, read, and discuss, The Hypnotist

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Helm Publishing | Goodreads


About the author, Gordon Snider Gordon Snider

Gordon Snider has written three non-fiction books, including his latest, I’m Travelling as Fast as I Can, which takes a humorous journey to far-away-places around the world. When he moved to California’s Central Coast in 1999, he began writing fiction. The Origamist is his fifth novel and a sequel to his third, The Hypnotist, a very popular historical thriller that is set in San Francisco in 1906. The other novels include: Sigourney’s Quest, an adventure story about a woman’s harrowing journey across Tibet; The Separatist, a mystery/suspense novel set in modern San Francisco; and Venice Lost, an adventure/fantasy about a man who becomes lost in time in Venice, Italy.

Gordon has lived in California nearly his entire life. Home has ranged from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with stops in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Currently, he and his wife, Fe, enjoy walking the beaches and observing the migrating whales from their home in Pismo Beach. It is, he says, the perfect setting for creative writing.

Find out more about Gordon and his books on his website.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Having spent a lot of time in a more contemporary version of San Francisco’s Chinatown as a college student and bay area resident (though I don’t live there any longer), and one of the things I really appreciated about The Hypnotist was the way author Gordon Snider completely captured the fog and bustle, the overlapping conversations, and the architecture – the whole sense of the region really.

The other thing that really stood out for me was his protagonist Marta. Other reviewers (the nice thing about being at the end of a tour is that you get to see what other people thought) have pointed out that she is ahead of her time -a feminist, a woman with a strong sense of self and a strong sense of agency – and in other hands she would have felt like a contemporary character pulled out of time, but Snider has crafted his setting so well, that he keeps her progressive but still true to the period.

I also enjoyed the character of her friend Lillie (and have wondered if she was at all influenced by figures like Lillie Langtry and Molly Brown, because there were parts of her that reminded me a bit of both, especially the former), who was a breath of fresh air whenever we saw her.

The men – Byron, the Hypnotist – were less appealing to me. I found that I enjoyed the plot and the setting far more than most of  the male characters. They weren’t badly written, or unsympathetic, really, I just didn’t connect with them.

On the other hand, I’d read a whole series about the adventures of Marta and Lillie solving mysteries (human trafficking or not) in period San Francisco.

Still, this was an enjoyable read, and provoked a lot of thought as I was reading it, and not a few dinner-table conversations about the setting, the plot, etc.

Gordon Snider, in The Hypnotist, has given us a novel that is much more complex and compelling than its description implies.

Goes well with steaming mugs of Lapsang Souchong and those crumbly almond cookies that sound better than they taste.


Gordon’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 20th: The Reading Cove Book Club

Tuesday, July 21st: A Wondrous Bookshelf

Thursday, July 23rd: Dwell in Possibility

Tuesday, July 28th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, July 30th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, August 3rd: The Bibliophile Chronicles

Tuesday, August 4th: A Fantastical Librarian

Wednesday, August 5th: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, August 6th: Books That Hook

Thursday, August 13th: Book Nerd

Thursday, August 13th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Friday, August 14th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 17th: A Reader’s Oasis

Friday, August 21st: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: Lauren Hearts Books

Killing Secrets, by Dianne Emley (@DianneEmley) #review #TLCBookTours

About Killing Secrets: A Nan Vining MysteryKilling Secrets

  • File Size: 1450 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (July 21, 2015)
  • Publication Date: July 21, 2015

For fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tana French, and Lisa Gardner comes a razor-sharp novel of suspense featuring Detective Nan Vining—a single mother whose worlds collide when her teenage daughter stumbles upon a grisly double homicide.

When she gets the call, Nan Vining responds as a mother first and a detective second. Her daughter, Emily, has made a gruesome discovery in a secluded section of a Pasadena park: a pretty, popular young teacher from Emily’s high school and a bright yet troubled transfer student—both dead and bloody in a copse of trees. But the crime scene isn’t the only thing that seems off to Detective Vining. There’s also the cocky classmate who was with Emily in the park—the boyfriend she never knew about. What else doesn’t she know about her daughter?

As she attempts to channel both her maternal and investigative instincts into one single point of focus, Vining’s superiors at the Pasadena Police Department are moving at lightning speed. Before the evidence has even been processed, the case is closed as a clear-cut murder/suicide: a disturbed teenager murders his teacher, then takes his own life. Vining doesn’t buy it. Now she’s chasing dangerous, powerful people with secrets they would kill for—and taking them down means risking her own flesh and blood.

Buy, read, and discuss Killing Secrets

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


About the author, Dianne Emley Dianne Emley

Dianne Emley is the bestselling author of The Night Visitor and the Nan Vining series: The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, and Love Kills. A Los Angeles native, she lives in the Central California wine country with her husband, Charlie.

Connect with Dianne

Website | Facebook | Twitter


 My Thoughts MissMeliss

Killing Secrets was my first introduction to both author Dianne Emley and character Nan Vining, although this is hardly the first book in the Nan Vining series. While I’m certain reading of Vining’s previous adventures would have enriched my experience, I had no problem jumping into her world, or following all the elements of the story: solving a murder/suicide, dealing with the internal politics at play in the police department, or parenting a teenager. (This latter element, by the way, made me glad that I only ever have to deal with adolescent dogs.)

I felt that Nan’s internal conflict – her paid job as a police detective vs. her role as a single parent – really permeated the story, because motherhood never stops being part of your psyche, and I liked that author Dianne Emley reflected that struggle so realistically.

I also enjoyed the plot of the novel. I tend toward more cozy mysteries than not, and this book struck me as riding the edge of contemporary cozy. Certainly, it had dark moments, and a fast-paced action-filled plot, but it also had the lighter, more human moments that really “sell” stories for me, and I thought everything was really well balanced.

Nan, herself, is an easy character to like: flawed, fierce, dimensional, real. I’m pretty sure I’ve met her – or versions of her – during my lifetime.

These books are Kindle only, but at roughly $3/pop they take the ‘guilty’ our of ‘guilty pleasure,’ and leave just ‘pleasure’ behind. And Killing Secrets was absolutely a pleasure to read: well crafted with believable situations and characters, and a version of reality that closely matches our own.

Goes well with Chinese take-out and jasmine tea.


Dianne Emley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 20th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Wednesday, July 22nd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, July 23rd: A Book Geek

Thursday, July 23rd: Open Book Society

Monday, July 27th: Book Babe

Tuesday, July 28th: Kay’s Reading Life

Wednesday, July 29th: FictionZeal

Monday, August 3rd: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, August 4th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, August 6th: The Novel Life

Monday, August 10th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, August 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, August 13th: Bibliotica

TBD: Bell, Book & Candle

 

The Ones We Trust, by Kimberly Belle (@kimberlysbelle) #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, The Ones We Trust The Ones We Trust

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (July 28, 2015)

When former DC journalist Abigail Wolff attempts to rehabilitate her career, she finds herself at the heart of a US army cover-up involving the death of a soldier in Afghanistan—with unspeakable emotional consequences for one family. As the story of what happened comes to light, Abigail will do anything to write it.

The more evidence she stumbles upon in the case, the fewer people it seems she can trust, including her own father, a retired army general. And she certainly never expected to fall in love with the slain soldier’s brother, Gabe, a bitter man struggling to hold his family together. The investigation eventually leads her to an impossible choice, one of unrelenting sacrifice to protect those she loves.

Beyond the buried truths and betrayals, questions of family loyalty and redemption, Abigail’s search is, most of all, a desperate grasp at carrying on and coping—and seeking hope in the impossible.

Buy, read, and discuss The Ones We Trust

Amazon | Indie Bound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Belle Kimberly Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She’s the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Connect with Kimberly

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I know it’s a completely unfounded bias, but I’m always a bit wary when I crack open a book from Mira, because I know they’re a Harlequin imprint. Most of the time, my wariness is completely unwarranted, and with The Ones we Trust that was absolutely true. This novel is intelligent, interesting, and completely engaging.

I really liked main character Abby. Specifically, I liked her as much for her spunk and resolve as I did for her mad research skills and for the fact that even with all her good points, she was still a flawed, faltering human being. Similarly, the male lead, Gabe, was a compelling, dimensional character, not just a cookie-cutter romance hero.

The plot was well-paced and I liked that elements like PTSD, while integral to the story, were never treated exploitatively. There’s a fine balance with things like that, and in less able hands, the story could have gone in unfortunate directions.

That said, Belle’s writing voice is fresh and compelling.

If you want to read a novel that blends political intrigue and believable romance, you can trust The Ones We Trust.


Kimberly Belle’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

TLC Book Tours
Tuesday, July 28th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Wednesday, July 29th: Life is Story

Thursday, July 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Tuesday, August 4th: Mom’s Small Victories

Thursday, August 6th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Friday, August 7th: Romancing the Book – review & interview

Monday, August 10th: Books and Spoons

Monday, August 10th: Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, August 11th: Just One More Chapter – author guest post

Tuesday, August 11th: Jorie Loves a Story – author guest post

Wednesday, August 12th: Bibliotica

Friday, August 14th: From the TBR Pile – review and author Q&A

Monday, August 17th: Feminist Reflections

Wednesday, August 19th: Read Love Blog – author guest post

Thursday, August 20th: The World As I See It

TBD: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom