Giveaway Updates & What’s Next

I’ve been really bad about announcing the winners of things. Going forward, I’ll be better.  Winners of everything through July have been notified. If you didn’t win, please know that I appreciate your comments, re-tweets and Facebook likes/shares.

Here are the winners of the last three giveaways.

The Hummingbird, by Stephen P. Kiernan goes to Marcia.

After Alice, by Gregory Maguire, goes to Selena.

Finding Fontainebleau, by Thad Carhart goes to Anne.


I’ll be launching a giveaway for Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton on Tuesday, August 2nd. This is a very special giveaway as the book will be signed by the author herself.

About the book, Vanishing Time Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton

 

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Brigham Books; 1 edition (June 8, 2016)
  • Language: English

Cama Truesdale’s ex-husband and young son leave Boston for a fishing trip in South Carolina’s Low Country. In the early morning hours, Cama is jolted awake by a phone call. There’s been a fire on board the boat. Her ex-husband is dead. Her son is missing and presumed dead. As she sets off for South Carolina, Cama’s belief that her son Tate is alive is unwavering. But her frantic search soon stirs up painful memories that send her reeling back to her childhood and the mysterious car crash that killed her black mother and white father. As the clock ticks down, exhausted, haunted by dreams, and stymied by the police and local community, she enters a world in which she must rely on instinct over fact, and where no one and nothing is what it seems—not even the boundary between the living and the dead.

 

 

 

Review: Under an Adirondack Sky, by Karen Rock

 About the book, Under an Adirondack Sky Under an Adirondack Sky

Can he juggle everything…including her?

After raising his siblings and running the family pub for more than a decade, Aiden Walsh has set his own dreams aside. Until the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen stumbles into his bar, and his arms. Too bad Rebecca Day is the school psychologist in charge of his brother’s future. Who’s he kidding? He doesn’t have room in his full life for romance anyway. But forced to join Rebecca and her group of troubled teens on an Adirondack retreat, he realizes keeping his family afloat isn’t enough for him…not by a long shot.

Read the first three chapters on Wattpad!

Purchase Links

HarlequinBarnes & Noble| Amazon| Kobo


Karen Rock Karen Rock

Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy–at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes red-hot novels for Harlequin Blaze and small-town romances for Harlequin Heartwarming. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who’s typically immersed in three different books at a time, all in different genres. She also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking, Christmas (no need to specify–she loves every bit of it), and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete.

Connect with Karen

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I don’t read a lot of romance novels. I read a decent amount of contemporary fiction, some of which has romance in it, but typically, I don’t read ‘traditional’ romance novels. However, when it’s high summer, the temperature is over a hundred, and the humidity is so intense it makes me wish I had gills, there’s nothing so relaxing as devouring a Harlequin novel, and the most recent such book to help me feel calm and cool was Karen Rock’s Under an Adirondack Sky.

The formula is fairly de rigueur: Rebecca Day is a school psychologist up for tenure. Aidan Walsh owns a bar and takes care of his younger brothers and sisters because his father is dead and his mother has early-onset Alzheimers. With Connor, Aidan’s teenaged brother and Rebecca’s patient, as the catalyst the pair become first adversaries, then allies, and finally fall in love.

That much, you can glean from the back cover.

But what the cover doesn’t tell you is that author Karen Rock has given us a story that is fresh, fun, and doesn’t feel at all formulaic when you’re reading it. Sure, there’s a little bit of contrivance in getting Rebecca, some of her colleagues, a few parents and the most challenging students out to an Adirondack farmhouse for a couple of weeks of tech-free living and personal encounters, but really, it’s no more contrived than when Agatha Christie throws a dinner party so Miss Marple can solve a crime.

Besides, the time at the farmhouse makes you want to step into the novel and hang out with everyone, fishing and grilling food on the porch and learning to knit, and being nurtured by the homeowners as well as the mental health professionals.

Rebecca is a lovely character, sunny and bright much of the time, but no Pollyanna, and her pleasant manner hides depth that we do get to peek at. Aidan is much more interesting than the typical “twinkling brown eyes” romantic hero, and is also surprisingly complex. Connor, around whom the story revolves, is well-drawn, as are the rest of his peers.

In fact the whole novel is a good look at the way young teens process emotional distress, and at the way communication is a key element of all relationships, not just the romantic ones.

Curl up with a glass of ice tea and a healthy amount of sunscreen, and spend and afternoon reading Under and Adirondack Sky; it will leave you smiling.

Goes well with fresh-caught fish, grilled on a back-yard BBQ, homegrown vegetables, and jacket potatoes.


Summer Lovin’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 4th: Romantic Reads and Such – Under an Adirondack Sky

Tuesday, July 5th: A Chick Who ReadsThe Girl He Used to Love

Wednesday, July 6th: Romancing the Readers – Sophie’s Path

Thursday, July 7th: Wall to Wall Books – Under an Adirondack Sky

Friday, July 8th: Just Commonly – When I Found You

Friday, July 8th: Books A La Mode – Karen Rock guest post

Monday, July 11th: From the TBR Pile – Sophie’s Path

Tuesday, July 12th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty – Under an Adirondack Sky

Wednesday, July 13th: Books and Spoons – When I Found You

Friday, July 15th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – The Girl He Used to Love

Monday, July 18th: Stranded in ChaosUnder an Adirondack Sky

Wednesday, July 20th: Books A La Mode – Amy Vastine Guest Post

Thursday, July 21st: Romancing the Book – When I Found You

Friday, July 22nd: Wall to Wall Books – Sophie’s Path

Monday, July 25th: From the TBR Pile – The Girl He Used to Love

Tuesday, July 26th: Bibliotica – Under an Adirondack Sky

Wednesday, July 27th: Books and Spoons – Sophie’s Path

Friday, July 29th: Books A La Mode – Kate James Guest Post

Saturday, July 30th: The Sassy BooksterWhen I Found You

Monday, August 1st: A Chick Who Reads – Sophie’s Path

Tuesday, August 2nd: Reading Is My Superpower – Under an Adirondack Sky

Wednesday, August 3rd: Reading Is My Superpower – When I Found You

Friday, August 5th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews – The Girl He Used to Love

Monday, August 8th: Why Girls are Weird – Under an Adirondack Sky

Tuesday, August 9th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty – When I Found You

Wednesday, August 10th: Reading Lark – Sophie’s Path

Thursday, August 11th: Romancing the Book – The Girl He Used to Love

Friday, August 12th: Books A La Mode – Catherine Lanigan Guest Post

Monday, August 15th: Romancing the Book – Sophie’s Path

Tuesday, August 16th: Read-Love-Blog – Amy Vastine Guest Post

Thursday, August 18th: Romancing the Book – Under an Adirondack Sky

Click to purchase any book in the series

Review: The Memory Painter, by Gwendolyn Womack

About the book, The Memory Painter The Memory Painter

• Paperback: 336 pages
• Publisher: Picador (July 5, 2016)

What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives?

What if the lives you remembered could lead you to your one true love?

What if you learned that, for thousands of years, a deadly enemy had conspired to keep the two of you apart?

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections?possibly even flashback from another life?and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.
Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for this book


About the author, Gwendolyn Womack Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack began writing plays in college and majored in Theatre at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She received an MFA in Directing Theatre and Film from California Institute of the Arts and currently lives in Los Angeles with her family. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

Connect with Gwendolyn

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I was part of a book blast for the hardcover version of this book a year ago, but didn’t get to read it until I signed up to be part of this blog tour. I’m sorry I had to wait for such a gripping story, but, wow! Am I glad I  finally read it! This is a great story that not only taps into the power of our dreams but is also a compelling mystery/thriller. Why is Bryan suddenly painting the same scene from Linz’s nightmare? Is it possible something else is going on? And why are people after them.

At times haunting – especially when Bryan is in the throes of a painting session – and at other times heart-poundingly exciting – with just enough romance to balance everything else. The dialogue is incredibly well written, and the characters seem like people you’d totally want to eavesdrop on in your local coffee shop.

If you want a story that defies categorization, keeps you in suspense to the end, and makes you question everything you think you know about dreams and creativity, and where both come from, Gwendolyn Womack’s The Memory Painter will give you the perfect blend of entertainment, insight, and provocation of ideas.

Goes well with baguette, brie, red wine, and a rainy day.

 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 4th: Lilac Reviews

Tuesday, July 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, July 6th: Dreaming Big

Thursday, July 7th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, July 8th: Art @ Home

Monday, July 11th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, July 13th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, July 14th: Broken Teepee

Monday, July 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, July 19th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, July 20th: Ms.Bookish.com

Thursday, July 21st: Bibliotica

Review: Finding Fontainebleau, by Thad Carhart – with Giveaway

About the book, Finding Fontainebleau Finding Fontainebleau

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (May 17, 2016)

Viking is proud to announce a new memoir from Thad Carhart, author of the beloved bestseller The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, now in its 21st printing, which the San Francisco Chronicle raved would “lure the rustiest plunker back to the piano bench and the most jaded traveler back to Paris.”

FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU (On-sale: May 17, 2016; $27.00; ISBN: 978-0-525-42880-0) recounts the adventures of Carhart and his family—his NATO officer father, his mother, four siblings, and their dog—in the provincial town of Fontainebleau, France, in the 1950s. Dominating life in the town is the beautiful Château of Fontainebleau. Begun in 1137, fifty years before the Louvre and more than five hundred before Versailles, the Château was a home for Marie-Antoinette, François I, and the two Napoleons, among others, all of whom added to its splendors without appreciably destroying the work of their predecessors.

With characteristic warmth and humor, Carhart takes readers along as he and his family experience the pleasures and particularities of French life: learning the codes and rules of a French classroom where wine bottles dispense ink, camping in Italy and Spain, tasting fresh baguettes. Readers see post-war life in France as never before, from the parks and museums of Paris (much less crowded in the 1950s, when you could walk through completely empty galleries in the Louvre) to the quieter joys of a town like Fontainebleau, where everyday citizens have lived on the edges of history since the 12th century and continue to care for their lieux de mémoire—places of memory.

Intertwined with stories of France’s post-war recovery are profiles of the monarchs who resided at Fontainebleau throughout the centuries and left their architectural stamp on the palace and its sizeable grounds. Carhart finds himself drawn back as an adult, eager to rediscover the town of his childhood. FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU imagines a bright future for this important site of French cultural heritage, as Carhart introduces us to the remarkable group of architects, restorers, and curators who care for and refashion the Château’s hundreds of rooms for a new generation of visitors. Guided by Patrick Ponsot, head of the Château’s restoration programs, the author takes us behind the scenes and shows us a side of the Château that tourists never see.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About Thad Carhart Thad Carhart

Twenty-six years ago THAD CARHART moved to Paris with his wife and two infant children. He lives there now, with frequent visits to New York and Northern California. His first book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, appeared in 2000, published by Random House. Across the Endless River, a historical novel, came out in 2009 with Doubleday.

Connect with Thad

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’ve always loved memoirs and over the last several years, I’ve become addicted to memoirs of people living in France. (In truth, this addiction probably started decades ago when I read Peter Mayle’s first book). For some reason, I kept thinking Finding Fontainebleau was a novel, until I finally sat down to read it, and then I was delighted to find out this engaging, sometimes funny, often poignant book was actually a memoir.

I haven’t read any of Thad Carhart’s earlier work, but I found myself completely drawn in by his words, and the way he worked the profiles of historical figures into his personal narrative. I also appreciated the way he balanced historical travelogue with his own experiences in post-war France.

If this review feels short, it’s because memoir doesn’t involve plot or characters, and I always feel as though I’m judging someone’s life, rather than merely a specific piece of work. The book itself is satisfyingly long, and the perfect read for a stormy summer day, where you can let yourself be drawn into the vivid imagery created by Carhart’s words.  (It’s also, minus the very first section, the perfect book for a plane trip.)

I felt like was in a bubble of past-France, as filtered through someone who is living in contemporary France, and I enjoyed the experience so much that when the bubble burst at the end of the book, I was a bit let down.

This is a fascinating, compelling memoir, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Goes well with Nutella and banana crepes, and a cappuccino.


Giveaway Finding Fontainebleau

One lucky reader (no geographic restrictions)  will win a print copy  of this book.

Three ways to enter (one entry per person for each choice, so if you do all three, you’re entered three times).

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling me what foreign country you’d love to spend six-twelve months exploring.

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Friday, July 22nd.

 

 


Thad Carhart’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, July 6th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Friday, July 8th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, July 11th: Books on the Table

Tuesday, July 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, July 13th: Girls in White Dresses

Thursday, July 14th: Building Bookshelves

Friday, July 15th: Bibliotica

Monday, July 18th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 19th: The French Village Diaries

Wednesday, July 20th: Quirky Bookworm

Thursday, July 21st: Wordsmithonia

Friday, July 22nd: BookNAround

Monday, July 25th: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, July 26th: An Accidental Blog

Wednesday, July 27th: Lit and Life

Thursday, July 28th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Friday, July 29th: Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile

Review: After Alice, by Gregory Maguire – with Giveaway

About the book, After Alice After Alice

• Paperback: 304 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 5, 2016)

From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic.

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit-hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Eurydice can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Gregory Maguire Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Connect with Gregory:

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’ve been a fan of Gregory Maguire’s work since Wicked first hit shelves eons ago. (I read it before it was popular, before there was a musical, before Amazon became my primary source of books, because I saw it on the “New Fiction” shelf at Barnes & Noble.) I remember thinking that I loved his way of not only twisting a common story – providing backstory, highlighting one of the supporting characters, writing prequels and sequels.

In reading After Alice, and having had a lot of experience with improv in the intervening years since my first introduction to Maguire’s work, I realized that he also uses the style of the original work as a jumping-off point. I won’t call him a mimic, because he isn’t mimicking Lewis Carroll here, so much as evoking it.  In a way, the title thus becomes a pun. Yes, it’s after Alice’s adventures, and the impact they caused both to the ‘real’ world and to Wonderland, but it’s also ‘after’ Alice in the sense of ‘in the style of.’ Gotta love a good literary pun.

One of my favorite books is The Annotated Alice, which has both the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the sequel Through the Looking Glass, and a ton of notes in teeny, tiny print. My copy wasn’t handy as I was reading this, and having it certainly isn’t necessary in order to appreciate Maguire’s novel, but I kind of wish I’d had it to read along-side, even so.

But back to After Alice. It’s the story of Alice’s childhood friend Ada, whom the help seems to find a bit disagreeable (the governess has a bit of inner monologue where she reflects that the child is so inactive that at some point she’ll require a wheel chair) who inadvertently follows her friend down the rabbit hole, and it shows how a different perspective, a different personality, completely changes the interactions with the characters we all know and love.

More than that, however, this is a look at the way society in the late 1800’s looked at people, and especially girls and women, who didn’t fit into cultural norms. More than once Alice is referred to as being ‘off with the fairies again,’ and there are also a lot of observations about how Miss Armstrong, the governess, might as well be invisible, as she exists between the real ‘help’ – cooks and maids – and the upper class employers who pay her to care for Ada.

As always, Maguire’s wit is reflected in his writing, and the end result is a smart, funny, engaging novel that, like most good stories, exists to entertain on one level, while also provoking thought on another. It’s better appreciated if, like me, you know the original story, but it’s certainly a great read even if you don’t.

Goes well with hot tea, and scones with clotted cream and jam (but only every other day.)


Giveaway After Alice

One lucky reader from the United States or Canada will win my copy (trade paperback) of this book.

Three ways to enter (one entry per person for each choice, so if you do all three, you’re entered three times).

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling me what fictional world you’d love to explore. Wonderland? Narnia? Somewhere else?

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Thursday, July 21st.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, July 5th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, July 6th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Wednesday, July 6th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, July 8th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, July 11th: Freda’s Voice

Tuesday, July 12th: Ms.Bookish.com

Wednesday, July 13th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Thursday, July 14th: Bibliotica

Monday, July 18th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, July 19th: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, July 20th: Adorkable Me

TBD: Book Hooked Blog

Review: In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch

About the book,  In Twenty Years In Twenty Years

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 1, 2016)

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About Allison Winn Scotch Allison Winn Scotch

Allison Winn Scotch is the bestselling author of five novels, including THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES, TIME OF MY LIFE, and THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND. Her sixth novel, IN TWENTY YEARS, will be released in June of 2016. In addition to fiction, she pens celebrity profiles for a variety of magazines, which justifies her pop culture obsession and occasionally lends to awesome Facebook status updates. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Connect with Allison

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I have a ‘thing’ for reunion stories, and I really enjoyed the complex characters, and interwoven relationships in this particular reunion story, In Twenty Years.

 Opening twenty years ago, at Penn, a group of friends are sharing a house and wondering what the future will bring. Twenty years later, the woman who  was always the cohesive force of the group – Bea – is dead, and on what would have been her fortieth birthday, the rest of the group returns to the same house.

Secrets and lies abound. Relationships past and present are deconstructed and reconfigured, and at the center of it all is Bea’s driving force. She may be dead, but her presence is felt as the once-friends, now essentially strangers begin the truth-telling that must occur before forgiveness and forward movement can occur.

It’s interesting seeing what each of these people were, and what they each become – how  life isn’t completely sweet for the college sweethearts Catherine and Owen, and how Lindy (a musician) and  Colin (plastic surgeon) both have to daily confront both youth-culture and their own youthful wishes, wants, and indiscretions, and how Annie portrays a life online that is really nothing like the truth.

These people, depending on your age, could be your parents, your cousins, your younger/older siblings, or your contemporaries, but each of them feels supremely real, perfect in their imperfections, and relevant both to the story as a whole, and the world beyond the pages of any novel. We may not know these characters, but I’m betting everyone of us knows someone like them, or is someone like them.

Allison Winn Scotch does a great job of making twenty-somethings sound young but not stupid, and making forty-somethings sound age appropriate as well. The voices of the characters mature but remain identifiable. I appreciated that nuance.

This is a novel that entertains, yes, but it also  makes you think – about who you were, and who you are, about regret and forgiveness, and, ultimately, about the choices each of us makes every time we must face a hard truth. Brilliant writing. Great characters. Read this book.

Goes well with  a watermelon, arugula and feta salad, with iced tea – or Mexican take-out and cheap local beer… depending on your age.


Allison Winn Scotch’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 27th: The Reading Date

Tuesday, June 28th: Just Commonly

Wednesday, June 29th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, June 30th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Friday, July 1st: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, July 4th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, July 5th: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, July 5th: Why Girls Are Weird

Wednesday, July 6th: Book Mama Blog

Wednesday, July 6th: The Baking Bookworm

Thursday, July 7th: Lavish Bookshelf

Friday, July 8th: Not in Jersey

Monday, July 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, July 12th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, July 13th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, July 14th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Friday, July 15th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Monday, July 18th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, July 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, July 20th: Dreams, Etc.

Monday, July 25th: Bookmark Lit

Tuesday, July 26th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, July 28th: Palmer’s Page Turners

TBD: Brooklyn Berry Designs

Review: The Hummingbird, by Stephen P. Kiernan – with Giveaway

About  the book, The Hummingbird The Hummingbird

• Paperback: 336 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 28, 2016)

Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse who never gives up—not with her patients, not in her life. But her skills and experience are fully tested by the condition her husband, Michael, is in when he returns from his third deployment to Iraq. Tormented by nightmares, anxiety, and rage, Michael has become cold and withdrawn. Still grateful that he is home at last, Deborah is determined to heal him and restore their loving, passionate marriage.

But Michael is not her only challenge. Deborah’s primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and fierce curmudgeon. An expert on the Pacific Theater of World War II, Barclay is suffering from terminal kidney cancer and haunted by ghosts from his past, including the academic scandal that ended his career.

Barclay’s last wish is for Deborah to read to him from his final and unfinished book—a little-known story from World War II that may hold the key to helping Michael conquer his demons. Together, nurse, patient, and soldier embark on an unforgettable emotional journey that transforms them all, offering astonishing insights into life and death, suffering, and finding peace.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Stephen P. Kiernan Stephen P. Kiernan

Stephen P. Kiernan is a graduate of Middlebury College, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. During his more than twenty years as a journalist, he has won numerous awards, including the Brechner Center’s Freedom of Information Award, the Scripps Howard Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment, and the George Polk Award. He is the author of The Curiosity, his first novel, and two nonfiction books. He lives in Vermont with his two sons.

Connect with Stephen

Website | Facebook


My ThoughtsMelissa A. Bartell

The Hummingbird is a stunning novel. It’s hopeful. It’s uplifting. It’s supremely real. And it is all those things while still, ultimately, spending a lot of time talking about hospice care and post-traumatic stress in candid terms, through the eyes of a home health nurse (Deborah) her prickly patient Professor Barclay, who wrote many books about Japan and America in World War II, and her husband Michael, recently returned from Iraq.  It’s a triangle (though not a love triangle) that becomes a sort of remote triumvirate, as Deborah breaks down Barclay’s walls and learns his story, and then, in turn, takes what she learns from her patient and applies it to her husband.

I really loved all three characters – Michael is tortured, but you can tell he doesn’t want to be, and that he still loves his wife. Barclay is irascible, but there is a lonely heart beneath his curmudgeonly ways. Deborah is not a saint, but a real woman, one who can be quite earthy when the situation calls for it. The supporting characters also – the night nurses who spell Deborah, for example, are all well drawn, too, but it’s the main three characters that really grab you, look you in the eyes and demand that you hear their stories.

One convention that author Stephen P. Kiernan used, and that I thought worked incredibly well, was interspersing “Barclay’s” last book between the chapters. Not only was that text a fascinating read on its own (and based on a real story) but it was also  a fantastic and compelling way to make the professor seem more dimensional, especially since he’s already greatly diminished when we meet him.

The Hummingbird is a meaty novel,  with rich prose and characters whose flaws only make them more fascinating and more interesting to travel with on their different, parallel journeys.

Goes well with a steak and white cheddar panini and French onion soup.


Giveaway The Hummingbird

One lucky reader from the United States or Canada will win my copy (trade paperback) of this book.

Three ways to enter (one entry per person for each choice, so if you do all three, you’re entered three times).

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling how you’d like to spend your last few months on Earth.

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Thursday, July 14th.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 28th: BookNAround

Thursday, June 30th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, June 30th: Kritters Ramblings

Friday, July 1st: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, July 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, July 6th: she treads softly

Thursday, July 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, July 8th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Monday, July 11th: Literary Feline

Tuesday, July 12th: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, July 13th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Thursday, July 14th: Into the Hall of Books

Monday, July 18th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Review: Keep You Close, by Lucie Whitehouse – with Giveaway

About  the book,  Keep You Close Keep You Close

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 3, 2016)

When the artist Marianne Glass falls to her death, everyone insists it was a tragic accident. Yet Rowan Winter, once her closest friend, suspects there is more to the story. Ever since she was young, Marianne had paralyzing vertigo. She would never have gone so close to the roof’s edge.

Marianne–and the whole Glass family–once meant everything to Rowan. For a teenage girl, motherless with a much-absent father, this lively, intellectual household represented a world of glamour and opportunity.

But since their estrangement, Rowan knows only what the papers reported about Marianne’s life: her swift ascent in the London art world, her much-scrutinized romance with her gallerist. If she wants to discover the truth about her death, Rowan needs to know more. Was Marianne in distress? In danger? And so she begins to seek clues–in Marianne’s latest work, her closest relationships, and her new friendship with an iconoclastic fellow artist.

But the deeper Rowan goes, the more sinister everything seems. And a secret in the past only she knows makes her worry about her own fate . . .

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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


About the author, Lucie Whitehouse Lucie Whitehouse

Lucie Whitehouse grew up in Warwickshire, England, studied classics at the University of Oxford, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter. She is author of The House at MidnightThe Bed I Made, and Before We Met.

Connect with Lucie

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good thriller. I love the mystery, and the sense of jeopardy that comes with the not knowing, and I love the way a well-written thriller hits you right i the sweet spot of the amygdalae, and makes your skin shiver.

From the very first page of Keep You Close, author Lucie Whitehouse has set  the absolutely perfect tone. It starts with a snowy night, a rooftop quarrel, and a deathly fall. It broadens into the friends and family, specifically Rowan, who were close to Marianne, the victim, and running through it are the dual threads of the artists’  personality – how being creative often skews you perceptions and the way you engage in relationships, and art – from the very first scene where Marianne comes in to find papers and sketches arrayed like fallen snowflakes around her house.

While it’s Marianne’s death that we are meant to be comprehending, this novel is very much Rowan’s story. In memories, it has elements of a chummy college years story, but those memories serve the twin purposes of grounding us in the heightened reality in which Keep You Close takes place, and in showing us how a rift between best friends can echo through the years.

As we discover Rowan and Marianne’s secrets, as the jeopardy to  Rowan increases, Whitehouse’s storytelling just gets better and better. This novel isn’t quite a roller coaster, but only because it’s more atmospheric than that. Rather, it’s a gracefully unwinding spiral, and a compelling read.

Goes well with fresh from the vendor fish n’ chips, steaming hot  & wrapped in newspaper, served with a craft ale or lager.


Giveaway Keep You Close

This one’s a quickie for the weekend. ONE reader from the US/Canada will get a copy of this book.

Three ways to enter (one entry per person for each choice, so if you do all three, you’re entered three times).

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling me about a phobia you have. (I’m terrified of spiders.)

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Monday, July 4th.

Winner will be contacted by me, but fulfillment will be from the publicist for this book, and may take up to six weeks.


Lucie Whitehouse’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 6th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, June 9th: Dreams, Etc.

Friday, June 10th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Monday, June 13th: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, June 14th: Write Read Life

Wednesday, June 15th: Just Commonly

Thursday, June 16th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, June 20th: Puddletown Reviews

Wednesday, June 22nd: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, June 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, June 27th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Monday, June 27th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday June 29th: Books and Spoons

Thursday, June 30th: Bibliotica

Review: Leaving Blythe River, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the book,  Leaving Blythe River Leaving Blythe River

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 24, 2016)

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with an unforgettable story of courage.

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.

With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of nature revealing human nature—the trickiest terrain. Navigating an unforgiving landscape, Ethan searches himself for the ability to forgive his father—if he finds him alive.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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


About the author, Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch ReviewMichigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly ReviewPloughsharesGlimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Ryan Hyde is also founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Connect with Catherine

Website | Blog |Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Catherine Ryan Hyde is an excellent writer. She sets vivid scenes and her characters are well-drawn. Her work, which I consider to be literary fiction, always delves into the human psyche in interesting ways.  So, maybe it’s my failing because while I appreciated the care and craft that went into this book, and enjoyed the supporting characters in the novel (especially crotchety old Jone) I found that I had a difficult time connecting to this novel in any meaningful way. This surprised me, because when I read and reviewed The Language of Hoofbeats a couple of years ago, I loved it.

The story in this novel is fairly typical – a city boy watches his parents’ marriage dissolve in front of his eyes, and after his parents finally split, he’s sent off to live with his father, in a rented A-frame on the fringes of a national part, while his mother is traveling.

Ethan, the boy in question, is our POV character, but I had a problem sympathizing with him. Maybe I just don’t ‘get’ teenage boys, or maybe I just didn’t like the character, but even though he went through some rough issues – getting mugged, for example – I felt like a lot of what happened was because he made low-percentage choices way too frequently. I wanted him to blow up at his father, and at least communicate, and he never really did, and I think, because I am the kind of person who blows up (but then I’m done, I don’t let things linger) I couldn’t related.

Then there are his parents… his mother never really felt like a fully-realized character to me, but then, she’s not really a main character, more like a means to an end. It’s clear that Ethan recognizes that his mother loves him. But there was just something off about him.

Ethan’s father, I wanted to shake until his brain rattled. With this character, author Hyde did her job too well – creating a character who was so self-entitled and oblivious that it provoked a strong reaction from me, but I couldn’t feel sorry for him, even after he disappeared.

I did, at some point, want to give poor Ethan a hug.

Bottom line: There are some great character moments in this novel, and the story is well written and well constructed, but I had a hard time connecting with it.

Goes well with chicken stew. 


Catherine Ryan Hyde’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 24th: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, May 26th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Friday, June 3rd: Write Read Life

Monday, June 6th: Just Commonly

Monday, June 13th: Puddletown Reviews

Tuesday, June 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, June 15th: The Magic All Around Us

Thursday, June 16th: Book Dilettante

Monday, June 20th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, June 21st: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, June 22nd: Hoser’s Blook

Friday, June 24th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, June 27th: Bibliotica

Thursday, June 30th: I’d Rather Be at the Beach

TBD: Sweet Southern Home

Review: The Woman in the Photo, by Mary Hogan

About the book, The Woman in the Photo The Woman in the Photo

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 14, 2016)

The lives of two young women—bound by heritage and history—are changed forever by one epic event . . .

1889: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working-class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (or cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.

Present day: On her eighteenth birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a biological relative—a nineteenth-century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from her hometown in California to Johnstown, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. But once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Mary Hogan Mary Hogan

Mary Hogan is the NAPPA Award-winning author of seven young-adult books. Two Sisters is her first novel for adults. She lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Lucy.

Connect with Mary.

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I began reading The Woman in the Photo thinking I would prefer the historical chapters more than the contemporary ones, and was surprised when I found that not to be true. Instead, I liked both time periods equally.

In the past, we meet Elizabeth Haberlin, aged twenty, on a seemingly interminable train ride to her family’s summer home. But the train eventually does roll into the stop, and Elizabeth (or Lizbeth, as her eight-year-old brother calls her) is reunited with her friend, Eugene Eggar, a townie – a mill worker.  In the present, we meet Lee (named Elizabeth at birth, but adopted as a baby), newly turned eighteen, and living with her mother in someone’s pool house because of familial financial woes. She’s just been provided with a clue about her birth mother – a faint clue – but a clue nevertheless.

I loved the way author Mary Hogan wove these two tales together, the chapters in the past driving relentlessly forward, the chapters in the present looking backward. Almost, it made me wish for a magic mirror so that Lizbeth and Lee could come face to face, but maybe, metaphysically, they did, because while this book is about influences of Destiny and DNA, it’s also about choices and family, and what constitutes the latter.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed this novel as a whole, and took it not only as a sort of family saga, but also as a portrait of the many ways in which young women make the decisions that set the paths of their lives.

And what a rich portrait it is, with believable, complex characters, vivid settings, and just enough real history to lend credence to the story without overwhelming it, or sounding more like a history book and less like a work of fiction.

Readers of historical fiction and contemporary fiction will find something to like in The Woman in the Photo.

Goes well with roasted, herbed chicken, a tossed salad, and iced tea. 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 14th: BookNAround

Wednesday, June 15th: Books Without Any Pictures

Friday, June 17th: A Bookish Affair

Monday, June 20th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, June 22nd: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, June 24th: Bibliotica

Monday, June 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 28th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, June 29th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, June 30th: Broken Teepee