Review: Searching for John Hughes, by Jason Diamond

Searching for John HughesAbout the book,  Searching for John Hughes

• Paperback: 304 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 29, 2016)

For all fans of John Hughes and his hit films such as National Lampoon’s VacationSixteen Candles, and Home Alone, comes Jason Diamond’s hilarious memoir of growing up obsessed with the iconic filmmaker’s movies—a preoccupation that eventually convinces Diamond he should write Hughes’ biography and travel to New York City on a quest that is as funny as it is hopeless.

For as long as Jason Diamond can remember, he’s been infatuated with John Hughes’ movies. From the outrageous, raunchy antics in National Lampoon’s Vacation to the teenage angst in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to the insanely clever and unforgettable Home Alone, Jason could not get enough of Hughes’ films. And so the seed was planted in his mind that it should fall to him to write a biography of his favorite filmmaker. It didn’t matter to Jason that he had no qualifications, training, background, platform, or direction. Thus went the years-long, delusional, earnest, and assiduous quest to reach his goal. But no book came out of these years, and no book will. What he did get was a story that fills the pages of this unconventional, hilarious memoir.

In Searching for John Hughes, Jason tells how a Jewish kid from a broken home in a Chicago suburb—sometimes homeless, always restless—found comfort and connection in the likewise broken lives in the suburban Chicago of John Hughes’ oeuvre. He moved to New York to become a writer. He started to write a book he had no business writing. In the meantime, he brewed coffee and guarded cupcake cafes. All the while, he watched John Hughes movies religiously.

Though his original biography of Hughes has long since been abandoned, Jason has discovered he is a writer through and through. And the adversity of going for broke has now been transformed into wisdom. Or, at least, a really, really good story.

In other words, this is a memoir of growing up. One part big dream, one part big failure, one part John Hughes movies, one part Chicago, and one part New York. It’s a story of what comes after the “Go for it!” part of the command to young creatives to pursue their dreams—no matter how absurd they might seem at first.

Buy, read, and discuss this book

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Jason Diamond Jason Diamond

Jason Diamond is the sports editor at RollingStone.com and founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn. His work has been published by The New York TimesBuzzFeedVultureThe New RepublicThe Paris ReviewPitchforkEsquireVice and many other outlets. He was born in Skokie, Illinois, but currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, his two cats and his dog named Max.

Connect with Jason

Website | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Like the author of this memoir, Jason Diamond, I grew up on John Hughes movies. Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy were my virtual best friends when I was a teenager, and while I never lived in Chicago or New York, I completely understand the feeling that comes from seeing the place you live depicted in a movie (thank you Kevin Smith for making people aware that Highlands, NJ is a place).

I always feel a bit weird about reviewing memoirs, because I feel like I’m judging the person, and not their story. In this case, I really enjoyed the story – the journey that Jason took from cupcake bouncer to witty and read writer.

I also enjoyed Jason’s writing style. I was completely unfamiliar with his work before I read Searching for John Hughes, but his ‘voice’ is so engaging, with a good balance of wry wit, self-deprecation, and frank observation, that I’m eager to go find his stuff at Rolling Stone and read every word.

Ultimately, this is a memoir that will speak to anyone who is considering a major creative endeavor, who hates their current job and wants to find something fulfilling, or who grew up on movies like Pretty in Pink and wants to recapture the feeling of seeing those films for the first time.

It’s a compelling read, a fast read, and one I’m really glad I got to experience.

Goes well with a cupcake (but please, chocolate, not double vanilla) and a perfect cappuccino.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, November 30th: BookNAround

Thursday, December 1st: Book Chatter

Monday, December 5th: Helen’s Book Blog

Tuesday, December 6th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, December 7th: Cait’s Cozy Corner

Thursday, December 8th: Book by Book

Thursday, December 8th: Bibliotica

Monday, December 12th: Tina Says…

Tuesday, December 13th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, December 14th: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, December 15th: she treads softly

Review: Hound of the Sea, by Garret McNamara (with Karen Karbo)

About the book, Hound of the Sea Hound of the Sea

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (November 15, 2016)

In this thrilling and candid memoir, world record-holding and controversial Big Wave surfer Garrett McNamara chronicles his emotional quest to ride the most formidable waves on earth.

Garrett McNamara—affectionately known as GMac—set the world record for the sport, surfing a seventy-eight-foot wave in Nazaré, Portugal in 2011, a record he smashed two years later at the same break. Propelled by the challenge and promise of bigger, more difficult waves, this adrenaline-fueled loner and polarizing figure travels the globe to ride the most dangerous swells the oceans have to offer, from calving glaciers to hurricane swells.

But what motivates McNamara to go to such extremes—to risk everything for one thrilling ride? Is riding giant waves the ultimate exercise in control or surrender?

Personal and emotional, readers will know GMac as never before, seeing for the first time the personal alongside the professional in an exciting, intimate look at what drives this inventive, iconoclastic man. Surfing awesome giants isn’t just thrill seeking, he explains—it’s about vanquishing fears and defeating obstacles past and present. Surfers and non-surfers alike will embrace McNamara’s story—as they have William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days—and its intimate look at the enigmatic pursuit of riding waves, big and small.

Hound of the Sea is a record of perseverance, passion, and healing. Thoughtful, suspenseful, and spiritually profound, McNamara reveals the beautiful soul of surfing through the eyes of one of its most daring and devoted disciples.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Garrett McNamara Garrett McNamara

Garrett McNamara holds the Guinness record for surfing the world’s largest wave, in addition to garnering numerous first-place wins in professional competitions around the world. He is the first foreigner ever to be awarded the prestigious Vasco de Gama Medal of Honor from the Portuguese Navy. McNamara splits his time between Hawaii, Portugal, and the rest of the world, where he explores with his family.

Connect with Garrett

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’m not a surfer, but as someone who was almost born on the beach, I’ve always been fascinated by the sport, and I became even more so a few years ago after reading Susan Casey’s book The Wave, and seeing the movie Chasing Mavericks. I have fond memories of watching the surfers in Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, California. Therefore, when I had the chance to read Hound of the Sea, I jumped at the chance.

I spent a couple of lovely, chilly afternoons immersed – even submerged – in GMac’s story. Not only were the details about surfing fascinating, but his self-analysis of the part of his psyche that drives him to continue raising the difficulty level of his chosen sport.

At times, I felt like I was right there on the board with him, and I would not have been surprised if I had looked up from a chapter to find my hair wet or crusted with salt. At other times I felt his frustration at being out of the water because of injury, or some other circumstance.

As is often the case when I’m reviewing a memoir or (auto)biography, I find myself having to separate my critique of the actual text from my opinion of the person. In this case, I found the book to be well-written and interesting, and I believe even people with zero knowledge of surfing would find it a compelling and informative read.

As well, McNamara as a person is the kind of guy I’d love to sit down and share a pot of tea with, because the whole mindset of pushing to be the best at something intrigues me.

Goes well with grilled sea bass wrapped in seaweed and coconut-infused rice.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, November 16th: Rambling Reviews

Monday, November 21st: Bibliotica

Tuesday, November 22nd: Tina Says…

Monday, November 28th: Rebecca Radish

Thursday, December 1st: Love Life Surf

Friday, December 9th: Surfer Dad

TBD: Back Porchervations

TBD: Sapphire Ng

TBD: Luxury Reading

 

 

 

Review: Beauty and Attention, by Liz Rosenberg – with Giveaway

About the book, Beauty and Attention Beauty and Attention

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (October 25, 2016)

The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit.

For misfit Libby Archer, social expectations for young women in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s don’t work. Her father has died, leaving her without parents, and her well-meaning friends are pressuring her to do what any sensible single girl must do: marry a passionate, persistent hometown suitor with a promising future. Yet Libby boldly defies conventional wisdom and plans to delay marriage—to anyone—by departing for her uncle’s Belfast estate. In Ireland, Libby seeks not only the comfort of family but also greater opportunities than seem possible during the stifling McCarthy era at home.

Across the Atlantic, Libby finds common ground with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus, then puts her trust in a sophisticated older woman who seems to be everything she hopes to become. Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets, as well as sudden wealth and unexpected love, Libby’s journey toward independence takes turns she never could have predicted—and calls on courage and strength she never knew she had.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Liz Rosenberg Liz Rosenberg

The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravityand The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I really needed this novel this week. It’s so well written, and so hopeful, but even though the subjects are often serious, it’s not heavy. I love the way books sometimes come into our lives at the perfect time, and that was the case, for me, with Beauty and Attention.

Like the previous novel I reviewed, Madame Presidentess, this is a piece of historical fiction. Unlike that other novel, this one takes place in a period – the 1950s – much closer to our own. I found it particularly interesting to read a story set in the McCarthy era and juxtapose it with the current political climate (and the fears many of us have about the immediate future).

But this is not a political story. Rather it’s an exploration of self-discovery.

I really enjoyed traveling with Libby on her literal journey from the USA to Ireland, and her metaphysical one as she completed her coming-of-age process and figured out her own needs, wants, and goals. I would really enjoy having a coffee with her, and chatting for an hour or two, I think.

I also liked the character of Lazarus a lot more than I thought I would based on his initial description in the early part of this novel. Like Libby, he was interesting, dimensional, and not at all stereotypical.

Overall, this story is well crafted, with some great turns of dialogue that really popped off the page, and I found it to be both refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who wants a satisfying read that is compelling but also entertaining.

Goes well with tea and cookies – I vote for those “Danish” butter cookies that come in tins and are in all the stores during the holidays.


Giveaway Beauty and Attention

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Beauty and Attention. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 27th.


Liz Rosenberg’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 25th: Reading is my Superpower

Wednesday, October 26th: Reading Reality

Thursday, October 27th: Building Bookshelves

Tuesday, November 1st: Just Commonly

Wednesday, November 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, November 3rd: Books Without Any Pictures

Friday, November 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, November 7th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Tuesday, November 8th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, November 9th: A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 10th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, November 11th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, November 15th: Back Porchevations

Wednesday, November 16th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 18th: I Brought A Book

Monday, November 21st: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, November 22nd: The Magic All Around Us

Review: Madame Presidentess, by Nicole Evelina

About the book, Madame Presidentess Madame Presidentess

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Lawson Gartner Publishing (July 24, 2016)

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | iTunes | Smashwords |Kobo |Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Nicole Evelina Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Been Searching for You, her contemporary romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Connect with Nicole:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Reading this book during the countdown to the US Presidential election was difficult for me. Yes, it fit the theme, and I enjoy reading about early feminists. I found, though, that that the reality of what was going on politically was coloring my perception of the novel, and my personal politics made this book a struggle for me.

This does not mean that it isn’t good.

Author Nicole Evelina clearly researched her subject well. The characters felt real and dimensional, and she managed to make a period setting feel accessible to a contemporary readership. At no point did this story feel untruthful. The language, the struggles of Victoria and her family, all had nuance and depth.

At times, however, especially in the early parts of the novel, Victoria’s story seemed unrelentingly dark, so much so that I wished for something – anything –  to break the darkness and tension, and let me breathe.

As well, my struggles were with the accurate, and at times harsh, portrayal of the way women, and especially women who were not well-off, lived in the decades before the 19th amendment to the Constitution and their battle to be seen and heard, and to make an impact on the world in which they lived.

If you’re looking for a feel-good novel about girl power and early feminism, this is not for you.

If you want a deeply moving, fictionalization of the lift of a real person, you will be provoked, intrigued, and satisfied by this novel.


Nicole Evelina’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, October 24th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, October 25th: A. Holland Reads

Wednesday, October 26th: The Baking Bookworm

Friday, October 28th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, October 31st: Building Bookshelves

Wednesday, November 2nd: Broken Teepee

Thursday, November 3rd: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 4th: Write Read Life

Monday, November 7th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, November 8th: Hoser’s Blook

Monday, November 14th: Books ‘n Tea

Monday, November 14th: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, November 15th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 17th: Wordsmithonia

Review: In the Blue Hour, by Elizabeth Hall – with Giveaway

About the book, In the Blue Hour In the Blue Hour

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2016)

Elise Brooks dreams of a car accident on an icy road. Weeks later, her beloved husband, Michael, is killed in just such a crash. Now, overcome with grief and uncertainty, Elise believes his spirit may be following her in the form of a raven, trying to tell her something from beyond the grave.

Desperate to understand the signs, Elise embraces both the Native American wisdom she grew up with and the world of psychics and seers. So when a tarot-card reader suggests she take a journey to the mysterious address found in Michael’s old jacket, she embarks on a cross-country trek to follow the clues.

Accompanied by Tom Dugan, an engineer and scientist who does not believe in psychics, mediums, or the hoodoo “conjure woman” they encounter on the road, Elise navigates the rituals and omens of the spirit world in an attempt to unravel the mystery of her husband’s message.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Elizabeth Hall Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall, author of Miramont’s Ghost, has worked as a teacher, communications consultant, and radio host. She spent many years in the mountains of Colorado and now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts of knitting, beading, and weaving.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I read Elizabeth Hall’s previous novel, Miramont’s Ghost, about a year and a half ago, and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to see what she’d do with a more contemporary story. With In the Blue Hour, I feel like she’s really come into her own, solidifying herself as a writer who does amazing things with supernatural thrillers.

One of the things I loved about Hall’s previous book, and which she continues to excel at in this novel, is in vivid descriptions of place. I know Taos, NM, mainly from the writings of Natalie Goldberg and one too-brief overnight there twelve years ago, when my husband and I were driving from California to Texas, but after reading this book, I feel like I’ve spent a month in Taos and its surrounding areas.

Hall’s characters are all very vivid. While I enjoyed reading about protagonist Elise’s relationship with her deceased husband Michael (told in flashbacks), it was Elise’s friendship with Monica that I found to be exceptionally strong. This is a life-long friendship in which both women met as girls, grew up together, and stayed friends into adulthood. I really loved the changing dynamic of the two, as well as the way each woman remained completely herself.

I found the actual story of In the Blue Hour to be quite lovely. A bit on the cozy side of thrillers, with a strong spiritual element, I found the author worked Native American traditions into her story very plausibly. It never seemed like there was any tokenism or appropriation, but rather a deep reverence for and appreciation of all the traditions depicted  – even the tarot reader.

In many ways, In the Blue Hour takes its cues from true gothic romance, resetting that trope in a contemporary setting, but however you classify it, it’s an interesting, compelling story with a rich tapestry of people and places.

Goes well with cheese and onion enchiladas and a margarita.


Giveaway In the Blue Hour

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Love Literary Style. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on Thursday, November 17th.


Elizabeth Hall’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 1st: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Wednesday, November 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, November 3rd: Books A La Mode (Guest Post/Giveaway)

Friday, November 4th: Bibliotica

Monday, November 7th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, November 8th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 9th: Write Read Life

Thursday, November 10th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 11th: Brooke Blogs

Monday, November 14th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, November 15th: Wall to Wall Books

Wednesday, November 16th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, November 17th: Broken Teepee

Monday, November 21st: Chick Lit Central

Tuesday, November 22nd: Mama Vicky Says

Wednesday, November 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Love Literary Style, by Karin Gillespie – With Giveaway

About the book, Love Literary StyleLove Literary Style

They say opposites attract, and what could be more opposite than a stuffy literary writer falling in love with a self-published romance writer?

Meet novelist Aaron Mite. He lives in a flea-infested rented alcove, and his girlfriend Emma, a combative bookstore owner, has just dumped him. He meets Laurie Lee at a writers’ colony and mistakenly believes her to be a renowned writer of important fiction. When he discovers she’s a self-published romance author, he’s already fallen in love with her.

Aaron thinks genre fiction is an affront to the fiction-writing craft. He likes to quotes the essayist, Arthur Krystal who claims literary fiction “melts the frozen sea inside of us.” Ironically Aaron doesn’t seem to realize that, despite his lofty literary aspirations, he’s emotionally frozen, due, in part, to a childhood tragedy. The vivacious Laurie, lover of flamingo-patterned attire and all things hot pink, is the one person who might be capable of melting him.

Their relationship is initially made in literary heaven but when Aaron loses his contract with a prestigious press, and Laurie’s novel is optioned by a major film studio, the differences in their literary sensibilities and temperaments drive them apart.

In a clumsy attempt to win Laurie back, Aaron employs the tropes of romance novels. Too late. She’s already taken up with Ross, a prolific author of Nicholas Sparks-like love stories. Initially Laurie is more comfortable with the slick and superficial Ross, but circumstances force her to go deeper with her writing and confront a painful past. Maybe Aaron and Laurie have more in common than they imagined.

In the tradition of the Rosie Project, Love Literary Style is a sparkling romantic comedy which pokes fun at the divide between so-called low and high brow fiction.

Buy, read, and discuss Love Literary Style

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Read an Excerpt


About the author, Karin Gillespie Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie is the author of the national bestselling Bottom Dollar Girls series, 2016 Georgia Author of the Year, Co-author for Jill Connor Browne’s novel Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big Ass Novel. Her latest novel Love Literary Style was inspired by a New York Times article called “Masters in Chick Lit” that went viral and was shared by literary luminaries like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Rice. She’s written for the Washington Post and Writer Magazine and is book columnist and humor columnist for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine respectively. She received a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2016.

Connect with Karin

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’m old enough to have grown up with reruns of a silly 1970’s anthology show called “Love, American Style,” and for some reason, the theme song from that show keeps running through my head every time I see the title of Karin Gillespie’s funny, sweet, clever novel, Love Literary Style.

I always enjoy it when authors take a well-known trope and subvert it, and that’s what Gillespie has done in this book. She’s taken all the conventional trappings of a conventional romance – Girl and Boy are unhappy alone and have similar, but not duplicate, aspirations. Girl and Boy meet in a controlled environment, fall madly in love, and can’t make it work, then angst about it until they put themselves back on the ‘correct’ path – and turns them into something that skirts the edge between contemporary romance, general fiction, and literary fiction.

Her lead characters, Laurie and Aaron are both quirky, engaging people, who feel like slightly heightened versions of the types of people we all know: the bubbly, boisterous, young woman who doesn’t just wear pink, but lives it, and the charmingly dweeby academic who, deep down, wants to break out of his shell.

But far from being stereotypes, they are truly dimensional characters. Laurie wants to write romances and Aaron wants to publish his literary novel, but both of them are very much akin, in that they each want a committed partner who will support their artistic endeavors and their emotional needs, and I found both their journeys to be interesting and somewhat uplifting.

As an aspiring writer myself (aren’t we all?) I loved the behind-the-scenes glimpses at the publishing world, both mainstream/commercial and indie/self, as well as the “class wars” between mass market and literary fiction. (Personally I read a little of everything.)

Overall, Love Literary Style is a refreshing romp of a literary romance – light enough to be enjoyed by almost anyone, but deep enough to give those who want a meaty read their satisfaction, as well.

Goes well with pink cocktails followed by grilled pork chops.


Giveaway Love Literary Style

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Love Literary Style. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, November 8th.


Karin Gillespie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 2nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 2nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Thursday, November 3rd: Mom in Love with Fiction

Friday, November 4th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 7th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 8th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 8th: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, November 9th: Wall to Wall Books

Thursday, November 10th: Reading is my Superpower

Friday, November 11th: Not in Jersey

Sunday, November 13th: Writer Unboxed – author guest post

Monday, November 14th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, November 15th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 16th: Buried Under Romance

Thursday, November 17th: Thoughts on This ‘N That

Monday, November 21st: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, November 22nd: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Monday, November 28th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Introducing: Such Mad Fun: Ambition and Glamour in Hollywood’s Golden Age, by Robin Cutler

 

Glamour, Ambition and Hollywood’s Golden Age: Author and historian Robin Cutler shines in biography of writer Jane Hall Robin Cutler

NEW YORK CITY – Emmy-nominated Robin R. Cutler is known for her ability to bring compelling historical stories to life both on screen and on the page. Following her book about her grandfather, Arizona humorist Dick Wick Hall (The Laughing Desert, 2012), Cutler explores the world of her mother, Jane Hall, a literary prodigy published as a 10-year-old by the L.A. Times. In the masterfully written and researched Such Mad Fun (Sept. 8, 2016), Cutler brings the glamour of yesteryear to life as a newly-orphaned Jane journeys from a mining town in Arizona to Manhattan’s Café Society, and then to work among the bright lights and big stars of Hollywood.

A Kirkus starred review noted: “This portrait of a more literary mass-market America offers much food for reflection on modern culture,” and described Cutler’s book as “a valuable, absorbing contribution to the history of women, golden-age Hollywood and America’s magazine culture of the 1930s and ‘40s.”


About the book, Such Mad Fun: Ambition and Glamour in Hollywood’s Golden Age Such Mad Fun

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: View Tree Press (May 23, 2016)
  • Language: English

“I was a candle on the president’s birthday cake!” On Jan. 30, 1934, Jane Hall was exuberant as she whirled around the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 52nd birthday. For 19-year-old Jane, this ball wasn’t just fun; it was research. At Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Jane wrote the story and the script for the “best social comedy of 1939,” These Glamour Girls, and established a lively camaraderie with F. Scott Fitzgerald, who worked in the office next door to hers. But Jane’s ambition conflicted with the expectations of her family, her friends, and the era in which she lived. Gathered from her mother’s diaries and scores of letters, this coming-of-age story takes us on an unforgettable journey through the 1930s as Jane tries to determine who she’s meant to be.

Buy, read, and discuss Such Mad Fun.

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


About the author, Robin Cutler Robin Cutler

Cutler holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and has been a public historian for more than three decades. She co-produced the Emmy-nominated dramatic series, ROANOAK, for PBS’ American Playhouse. A lover of animals, trees, salted caramel, baseball, PBS and classic films, these days Cutler can be found in New York, in Florida or with her daughters in California.

Connect with Robin.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Cover Reveal: The Fortune Teller, by Gwendolyn Womack

About the book, The Fortune Teller The Fortune Teller

  • Release Date: June 6, 2017
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Format: eBook & Paperback; 320 Pages
  • Genre: Fiction/Romantic Suspense

FROM THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE MEMORY PAINTER COMES A SWEEPING AND SUSPENSEFUL TALE OF ROMANCE, FATE, AND FORTUNE.

Semele Cohen appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, specializing in deciphering ancient texts. And when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the cards? As the mystery of her connection to the manuscript deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Brossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Brossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Pre-order The Fortune Teller

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About the Author, Gwendolyn WomackGwendolyn Womack, Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.

Praise for Gwendolyn Womack and The Memory Painter

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic.” ―M. J. Rose, author of the Reincarnationist Series and The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Gwendolyn Womack is a storytelling virtuosa, whose sexy, action-packed mind-boggler of a book is destined to become a classic.” ―Anne Fortier, author of Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood

Connect with Gwendolyn

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The Fortune TellerCover Reveal Hosts

100 Pages a Day
A Bookaholic Swede
A Literary Vacation
Ageless Pages Reviews
Bibliotica
Book Nerd
Books, Dreams, Life
Buried Under Books
History From a Woman’s Perspective
Jorie Loves a Story
Let Them Read Books
Passages to the Past
Queen of All She Reads
Susan Heim on Writing
The Lit Bitch
The Maiden’s Court
The Never-Ending Book
The Reading Queen
Time 2 Read
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What Is That Book About

The Fortune Teller

Review: Fill the Sky, by Katherine A. Sherbrooke

About the book, Fill the Sky Fill the Sky

Biotech entrepreneur Tess Whitford has built her life around the certainty of logic and thrives on solving problems. But when one of her dearest friends exhausts the reaches of medicine while fighting cancer and grabs onto the hope that traditional healers in Ecuador might save her, Tess has to let go of everything she knows—and every instinct she has. Unable to deny Ellie a request that might be her last, Tess flies to Ecuador to help.

Together with Joline, another close college friend whose spiritual work inspired the trip, they travel to the small mountain village of Otavalo. Immersed in nature and introduced to strange ancient ceremonies, the three friends are pushed to recognize that good health is not only physical. Tess grapples with her inability to trust; Ellie struggles with a painful secret; and Joline worries about the contract she made with an aggressive businessman whose ambitions could destroy the delicate fabric of the local community. When an ayahuasca ceremony goes awry and an unlikely betrayal suddenly threatens to unravel their decades-long friendship, these three very different women awaken to a shared realization: they each have a deep need for healing.

FILL THE SKY captures the challenges of mid-life, the hope we seek when we explore alternative paths, and the profound nature of women’s friendships. It’s a beautifully told and moving story about lifelong friends, the power of the spirit, and the age-old quest to not simply fight death but to shape an authentic life.

Buy, read, and discuss Fill the Sky

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Katherine A. Sherbrooke Photo Credit: Melissa Forman

KATHERINE A. SHERBROOKE received her B.A. from Dartmouth College and M.B.A. from Stanford University. An entrepreneur and writer, she is the author of Finding Home, a family memoir about her parents’ tumultuous and inspiring love affair. This is her first novel. She lives outside Boston with her husband, two sons, and black lab.

For more information, click to read this interview with Katherine.

Connect with Katherine

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My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’m seeing a trend in the novels I’m reading this fall, of books that could be described as “coming of middle age” novels. These are stories with protagonists in their late 30s to early 50s, who are jarred from some kind of complacency for one reason or another and go on a journey – either literal or metaphysical – and return altered, usually for the better.

As a woman in her 40s, I really love this trend in contemporary literature. It’s as if the publishing world suddenly realized that we read, and we read a lot.

Or maybe there are a lot of publishing execs who are in my age group.

In any case, Katherine A. Sherbrooke’s debut novel Fill the Sky is a perfect example of a “coming of middle age” novel, both because the central characters are all in the age range I decided, and because it is a crisis that spurs them to action.

Tess, Joline, and Ellie are all very different women, and yet, I believe each of us who live outside the pages of novels contain aspects of all three. I know I have some of Tess’s drive, some of Joline’s penchant for exploring new and different belief systems, and Ellie’s knack for harboring secrets. I think it’s the universality that makes it so easy to identify with all three of these characters.

Author Sherbrooke handles the three separate-but-intertwined storylines deftly. We meet Tess first, and then learn about Joline and Ellie through Tess, before actually meeting them, but this convention works very well, especially since Tess’s is the dominant POV. I really enjoyed getting to know each of these women and seeing the way their differences both complimented and annoyed each other.

I found all of Sherbrooke’s characters to be incredibly realistic and dimensional, and I loved the way she opened her novel with no exposition, letting us encounter each character in his or her own environment and then expanding upon that.

The time in Ecuador almost made me want to fly there right now, but the knowledge that this is just a novel helped me find reason and balance again.

While it’s the women who are the rightful center of this novel, I want to make a note of Parker, who is Tess’s ex when we initially meet him, but quickly drops the ‘ex’ fairly early on. This man is a super-special cinnamon roll who could only exist in fiction – almost – and I would happily read more about just him and Tess.

But that’s another story altogether.

In Fill the Sky Katherine A. Sherbrooke has given us a story about growth, change, and accepting who we are that resonated especially with me, but that I feel would appeal to adult readers of all age groups. It’s a wonderfully rich story that touches on a grim theme – cancer – without making it the only theme. Instead, it’s just one more element to deepen the tale and add layers of meaning.

Goes well with beans, rice, tortillas, plantains, and excellent coffee.


Other stops on Katherine Sherbrooke’s Blog Tour:

10/20: Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus: Spotlight & giveaway

10/21: Under My Apple Tree: Spotlight & giveaway

10/25: A Literary Vacation: Spotlight & giveaway

10/27: Bibliotica, review

10/28: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers: review

10/31: Broken Teepee: review

11/1: Life of a Female Bibliophile: review

11/3: Celtic Lady’s Reviews: review & giveaway

Review: Deliver Her, by Patricia Perry Donovan – with GIVEAWAY

About the book, Deliver Her Deliver Her

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 2016)

Author Patricia Perry Donovan weaves her tale flawlessly, testing the boundaries of family and friendship.

On the night of Alex Carmody’s sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.

Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.

When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.

Buy, read, and discuss Deliver Her.

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About the author, Patricia Perry Donovan Patricia Perry Donovan

Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband.

Connect with Patricia

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My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

In the endless onslaught of political ads, political opinions on facebook, and political arguments seemingly everywhere, I spent this last weekend engaging in some serious self-care. How? I took a bubble bath. I binge-watched the supernatural show Haven on Netflix, and a read three novels. One of them was Deliver Her, and it was fantastic.

Told in alternating points of view from Alex, a sixteen-year-old girl who was in a car accident the night of her sweet-sixteen, and which resulted in the loss of her best friend, Meg, Alex’s mother, currently separated (in situ, as the economy doesn’t allow them to afford separate residences) from Jacob, her husband, and Carl, a recovered addict/alcoholic who runs a business transporting troubled teenagers to their rehab programs, this is a book that straddles the line between contemporary family drama and serious literary fiction (not that the two can’t be the same).

I felt that author Patricia Perry Donovan captured Alex’s voice really well. She seemed like the teenager I once was, and like the sullen or troubled teenagers I’ve known: hot and cold emotions, moods, etc., angry one moment, trying so hard to be an adult, but at the same time, not wanting to truly leave childhood behind.

Meg was the character I most identified with, even though I’ve never had children, and am fortunate to have a solid marriage (we fight, of course, because we’re both human beings with opinions, but we’ve never gotten to the point of considering an ending). Still watching her marriage crumble was both moving and fascinating. I found myself empathizing with her, but also feeling great sympathy for Jacob.

Carl, on the other hand, I’d have loved to have a whole novel about. Complex, funny, smart, caring – that he turned his addiction and recovery into a way to help others, I found to be very moving.

Like many people, I was initially under the impression that this novel would be a boarding school story, focusing on Alex. Instead it was a deeply moving, incredibly rich read about the literal journey  –  Delivering Alex to The Birches – and the spiritual one of the entire Carmody family as well as Carl.

If you like family dramas like This is Us, you will love this novel. When it comes to a great story, Deliver Her really delivers.

Goes well with coffee and chocolate cherry protein bars.


Giveaway Deliver Her

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Deliver Her. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time on Sunday, October 30th.


Patricia Perry Donovan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Monday, October 3rd: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Wednesday, October 5th: Just Commonly

Monday, October 10th: Building Bookshelves

Monday, October 10th: Books ‘N Tea

Wednesday, October 12th: Books a la Mode

Friday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, October 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, October 19th: Wall-to-Wall Books

Thursday, October 20th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, October 26th: Back Porchervations

Sunday, November 6th: Writer Unboxed – guest post