Bum Rap, by Paul Levine (@Jake_Lassiter) #review #giveaway @tlcbooktours

About the book, Bum Rap Bum Rap

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2015)

NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with shifty clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It’s enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back—until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.

Jake knows that if he doesn’t get to the witness first, his client’s case is lost. Luckily, he’s got some good advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody.” And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

Buy, read, and discuss Bum Rap

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


About the author, Paul Levine Paul Levine

PAUL LEVINE worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. His books have been translated into 23 languages; Levine has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Shamus Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize.

Connect with Paul

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I haven’t read anything from Paul Levine in a while, though I reviewed Lassiter several years ago, but even so, I had no problem jumping back into his world – or worlds, really – this novel has Lassister joining forces with Levine’s other literary creation, the love & law partners Solomon and Lord, in order to prove that Solomon is innocent (not merely not-guilty) of a murder involving him being found in extremely incriminating circumstances.

As with all of Levine’s other work, there are a lot of details  – businesses, local celebrities, landmarks, etc. – that are only really relevant to people who live in South Florida, but also present is his signature gritty style. Yes, his books are a bit violent, but when you’re dealing with “last chance Lassiter” and the Russian mafia, that violence is appropriate for the story and the characters.

One thing I especially liked about Bum Rap is Levine’s choice to alternate POVs: a third person point of view when chapters focus on Solomon and Lord, alternating with first person when the chapter was Lassiter-centric. I thought this convention worked really well, spotlighting all three characters in the way readers of both series are most used to.

If you like fast-paced, gritty, mystery/thrillers this novel is for you.

Goes well with rum & coke, and a juicy steak.


Giveaway Bum Rap

One winner in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Bum Rap. Contest runs through 11:59 PM U.S. Central time on July 7th, and notified by email on July 8th.

To enter:

Option 1) Leave a comment on this post and share the best piece of advice you’ve ever received.

Option 2) Find my post about this book on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet it.

Paul Levine’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 29th: Books a la Mode

Wednesday, July 1st: Bell, Book & Candle

Thursday, July 2nd: Bibliotica

Friday, July 3rd: FictionZeal

Monday, July 6th: The World As I See It

Wednesday, July 8th: Griperang’s Bookmarks

Thursday, July 9th: Life is Story

Friday, July 10th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, July 13th: Book Dilettante

Monday, July 13th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, July 16th: Rhodes Review

Friday, July 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, July 20th: Lilac Reviews

Tuesday, July 21st: Back Porchervations

Thursday, July 23rd: Vic’s Media Room

That Chesapeake Summer, by Mariah Stewart #review #ChesapeakeDiaries @NetGalley

About the book, That Chesapeake Summer That Chesapeake Summer

  • Series: The Chesapeake Diaries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (June 23, 2015)

From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes the latest book in her celebrated Chesapeake Diaries, a small-town romance series in the tradition of Barbara Freethy, Susan Mallery, and Robyn Carr.

Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth—which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point, just outside St. Dennis.

The death of Daniel Sinclair’s father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife’s death left him a single parent of two children, so there’s little room for anything else in his life. His lovely new guest is intriguing, though, and he’s curious about the secret she’s clearly hiding. But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all: that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime—if you keep your heart open.

Buy, read, and discuss That Chesapeake Summer

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


About the author, Mariah Stewart Mariah Stewart

MARIAH STEWART is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.

Connect with Mariah

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss

My last visit to Mariah Stewart’s fictional bayside town of St. Dennis, MD was in February, 2014, when I reviewed At the River’s Edge which, I think, was book seven or eight in the series. I enjoyed that book (and its predecessors) so much that I couldn’t refuse to be part of a blog tour for the latest installation.

As someone who has always loved staying in boutique inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and who has also fantasized about running one, I really loved that so much of this novel, That Chesapeake Summer centered around an inn.

I really loved how delicately the loss (off-screen) of Jamie’s mother was handled, and how close the rest of her family was. I would have loved to make her a pot of tea and a tray of scones and assure her that writer’s block is only ever temporary and that everything would eventually work out.  I also really liked the character of Daniel, and his interaction with his children was very real, and never strayed into saccharine, the way so many scenes with children can.

I’ve spent enough time in the virtual village of St. Dennis that by now I recognize familiar faces and old haunts, and Stewart, as ever, manages to balance old characters and new with poise and grace. The women always feel like distinct people, the men never feel like cookie-cutter romance novel heroes, but have dimension, and the town, of course, is the one we wish we could all live in, if only for a summer.

If I could check into the Inn at Sinclair’s Point for a week or two, I’d leave tomorrow.

Goes well with Eggs Benedict served on Maryland Crab Cakes instead of English Muffins, and freshly brewed coffee.


Mariah Stewart’s Blog Tour Summer Hat

►6/22:                 Harlequin Junkies

►6/23:                 USA Today’s Happy Ever After

►6/24:                 Reviews from the Heart

►6/25:                 Booked on a Feeling

►6/26:                 From L.A. to LA

►6/27:                 From the TBR Pile

►6/28:                 Abigail Books Addiction

►6/29:                 Romancing the Book

►6/30:                 Bibliotica

►7/1:                   Four Chicks Flipping Pages

►7/2:                   The Lovely Books

►7/3:                   Sara’s Organized Chaos

►7/6:                   Reviews by Crystal

►7/8:                   Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

►7/9:                   Bookfan

►7/10:                 Emily-Jane’s Book Corner

►7/13:                 Literary Gossip

►7/19:                 Ramblings from this Chick

►7/26:                 Svetlana’s Reads

 

 

EXCERPT TOUR: Untamed, by Diana Palmer #excerpt @tlcbooktours

About the book, Untamed Untamed

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (June 30, 2015)

Stanton Rourke lives life on the edge. The steely mercenary is dangerous in every way…especially to Clarisse Carrington’s heart. She and Rourke were playmates as children, but she’s not the innocent girl he once knew. When tragedy robbed Clarisse of her entire family, her life was changed forever. Besides, she’s a grown woman now, and there are secrets that hold her back from succumbing to her pursuer. As she struggles to keep her distance, sparks as hot as a Texas summer fly between them. But danger is following Clarisse, leaving her no choice but to rely on Rourke, even as the old wounds lying dormant between them flare up again…

Buy, read, and discuss Untamed

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


About the author, Diana Palmer Diana Palmer

An icon in western romance, Diana Palmer has been writing with Harlequin since 1980 and has published over 180 titles, with over 61 million books sold! When not writing, Susan’s hobbies are gardening, knitting, crocheting, astronomy, archaeology and animals. She also has dogs, cats, birds and lizards.


Enjoy an excerpt from Untamed Untamed

Rourke turned around. “Why?” he asked in a hunted tone. “Why did you do it?”

K.C. was momentarily taken aback. “Why did I do what, exactly?”

“Why did you sleep with Tat’s mother?” he raged.

K.C.’s eyes flashed like brown lightning. K.C. knocked him clean over the sofa and was coming around it to add another punch to the one he’d already given him when Rourke got to his feet and backed away. The man was downright damned scary in a temper. Rourke had rarely seen him mad. There was no trace of the financial giant in the man stalking him now. This was the face of the mercenary he’d been, the cold-eyed man who’d wrested a fortune from small wars and risk.

“Okay!” Rourke said, holding up a hand. “Talk. Don’t hit!”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” K.C. demanded icily. “Tat’s mother was a little saint! Maria Carrington never put a foot wrong in her whole life. She loved her husband. Even drunk as a sailor, she’d never have let me touch her!”

Rourke’s eyes were so wide with shock and pain that K.C. stopped in his tracks.

“Let’s have it,” he said. “What’s going on?”

Rourke could barely manage words. “She told me.”

“She who? Told you what?”

Rourke had to sit down. He picked up the glass of whiskey and downed half of it. This was a nightmare. He was never going to wake up.

“Rourke?”

Rourke took another sip. “Tat was seventeen. I’d gone to Manaus on a job.” Rourke’s deep voice was husky with feel­ing. “It was Christmas. I stopped by to see them, against my better judgment. Tat was wearing a green silk dress, a slinky thing that showed off that perfect body. She was so beauti­ful that I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her parents left the room.” His eyes closed. “I picked her up and carried her to the sofa. She didn’t protest. She just looked at me with those eyes, full of… I don’t even know what. I touched her and she moaned and lifted up to me.” He drew in a shaky breath. “We were so involved that I only just heard her mother coming in time to spare us some real embarrassment. But her mother knew what was going on.”

“That would have upset her,” K.C. said. “She was deeply religious. Having you play around with her teenage daugh­ter wasn’t going to endear you to her, especially with the reputation you had in those days for discarding women right and left.”

“I know.” Rourke looked down at the floor. “That one taste of Tat was like finding myself in paradise. I wanted her. Not for just a night. I couldn’t think straight, but my mind was run­ning toward a future, not relief.”

He hesitated. “But her mother didn’t realize that. I can’t re­ally blame her. She knew I was a rake. She probably thought I’d seduce Tat and leave her in tears.”

“That could have happened,” K.C. said.

“Not a chance.” Rourke’s one eye pinned him. “A girl like that, beautiful and kind…” He turned away. He drew in a long breath. “Her mother took me to one side, later. She was crying. She said that she’d seen you one night at your house, upset and sick at heart because a woman you loved was becoming a nun. She said she had a drink with you, and another drink, and then, something happened. She said Tat was the result.”

“She actually told you that Tat was your half sister? Damn the woman!”

Rourke felt the same way, but he was too drained to say it. He stared at his drink. “She told me that. So I turned against Tat, taunted her, pushed her away. I made her into something little better than a prostitute by being cruel to her. And now I learn, eight years too late, that it was all for a lie. That I was protecting her from something that wasn’t even real.”


EXCERPT TOUR stops  for Untamed by Diana Palmer TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 22nd: Book Mama Blog

Tuesday, June 23rd: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 24th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, June 25th: Urban Girl Reader

Friday, June 26th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Monday, June 29th: Read Love Blog

Tuesday, June 30th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, July 1st: The Sassy Bookster

Thursday, July 2nd: Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, July 3rd: Books and Spoons

Monday, July 6th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, July 7th: Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, July 8th: One Curvy Blogger

Thursday, July 9th: Romance Novels for the Beach

Friday, July 10th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, July 13th: A Night’s Dream of Books

The Wrong Man by Kate White (@katemwhite) #review @tlcbooktours

About the book The Wrong Man The Wrong Man

 Paperback: 336 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; First Edition edition (June 16, 2015)

She wanted to be more daring, but one small risk is about to cost her everything­—maybe even her life.

Bold and adventurous in her work as owner of one of Manhattan’s boutique interior design firms, Kit Finn couldn’t be tamer in her personal life. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Kit resolves to do something risky for once. When she literally bumps into a charming stranger at her hotel, she decides to make good on her promise and act on her attraction.

But back in New York, when Kit arrives at his luxury apartment ready to pick up where they left off in the Keys, she doesn’t recognize the man standing on the other side of the door.

Was this a cruel joke or part of something truly sinister? Kit soon realizes that she’s been thrown into a treacherous plot, which is both deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Now the only way to protect herself, her business, and the people she loves is to find out the true identity of the man who has turned her life upside down.

Adrenaline-charged and filled with harrowing twists at every turn, The Wrong Man will keep readers riveted until the final page.

Buy, read, and discuss The Wrong Man

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kate White Kate White

Kate White, the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, is the New York Times bestselling author of the stand-alone novelsHush, The Sixes, and Eyes on You, as well as the Bailey Weggins mystery series. She is editor of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. She is also the author of popular career books for women, including I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve.

Connect with Kate

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

What a great read! From the first moment Kit woke up on the last full day of her island vacation wishing for something a little bit dangerous to happen, I was hooked on this story. Kit was a completely sympathetic character – she could be any contemporary woman stuck between relationships, and with a busy, but fulfilling career.  She seemed like someone I’d have coffee with, or hire to redo my house, or both, and the women she worked with were equally interesting and vivid people.

Then there were the men in the story – from the fellow guest at her hotel, to the techies and corporate types at the Ithaka Corporation – all of them interesting, mysterious, and a little bit (in some cases a lot) dangerous.

I thought this novel’s plot was well crafted, and the pacing was nearly perfect. I could easily see this book as a feature film, and I don’t think it would suffer from translation from one medium to another.

If you want a gripping, fast, fun, mystery/thriller, The Wrong Man is the right choice.

Goes well with coconut shrimp, a green salad, and a chilled lager.


Kate’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 16th: Raven Haired Girl

Wednesday, June 17th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, June 18th: FictionZeal

Friday, June 19th: Books That Hook

Monday, June 22nd: Book Him Danno!

Tuesday, June 23rd: Many Hats

Wednesday, June 24th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Thursday, June 25th: Kissin Blue Karen

Friday, June 26th: Booked on a Feeling

Monday, June 29th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, June 30th: Book Hooked Blog

Wednesday, July 1st: Always With a Book

Friday, July 3rd: Why Girls Are Weird

RELEASED TODAY: Roman Mask, by Thomas M.D. Brooke (@thomasmdbrooke) #blitz @hfvbt

About the book, Roman Mask Roman Mask

Publisher CreateSpace (June 29, 2015)
Formats: Kindle, Paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action

What is it we normally expect of the leading character in our books? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Possibly with a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn’t have any of those. Cynicism – yes. Cowardice – possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends – absolutely!

It is Rome AD 9 and Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome’s imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career. None of Rome’s fashionable parties are complete without him.

But he hides a secret.

After his nerve is broken in Germany, even the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat. But this doesn’t dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of womanising, wine and wild parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However, his scandalous life is interrupted by a summons from the emperor’s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial. The events will resound through history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg …

I have researched the calamitous history of the doomed legions that marched into the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, using a wide range of historical sources including the classical works of Tacitus and the more recent archaeological findings of the early 1990s in Kalkriese. I have put my complicated hero, who clearly suffers from the post-traumatic stress of his last encounter with the German tribes, at the centre of the events that rocked Rome to its foundations. How can a man, so flawed in so many respects, possibly impact on these terrible events? By his humanity, by coming to terms with his flaws, and learning to stop hating himself for them. It is a tale of betrayal and hardship, but also personal redemption.

Buy a copy of Roman Mask

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE


About the author Thomas M.D. Brooke Thomas M.D. Brooke

Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers’ tantrums.

Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke’s second novel, although this will be the first available for sale.

As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

Connect with Thomas

Author’s Website | Roman Mask website | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest

Roman Mask Blog Tour

Love in the Elephant Tent, by Kathleen Cremonesi (@KatCremonesi) #review #QandA @ecwpress

About the book Love in the Elephant Tent Love in the Elephant Tent

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (May 12, 2015)

f you live life without a net, what happens when you fall?

Kathleen Cremonesi knew early on she wanted to be different. Determined to avoid following in her mother’s footsteps to an ill-fated marriage, Kathleen left Oregon in her early 20s to travel across Europe. On a whim, this former administrative assistant with wanderlust took a job as a dancer in an Italian circus and, working her way up, became an ostrich-riding, shark-taming showgirl.

Kathleen bonds with the exotic animals that could strike and kill at any moment, but instead bring her a peace she has never known. And when she stumbles into the arms of Stefano, the sexy elephant keeper, she finds a man who understands her wild spirit.

With thrilling prose and vivid descriptions, Kathleen takes the reader around the Mediterranean, where she discovers unexpected friends and learns how to cook, forgive, and love — across language barriers.

Buy, read, and discuss Love in the Elephant Tent

Amazon | ECW Press | Goodreads


My Thoughts Melysse_Bandanna

I love memoirs and autobiographies, but I always feel a bit weird about reviewing them, as if I’m passing judgement on the person’s life, rather than just their book. In this case, however, I was enthralled by the author, Kathleen Cremonesi, herself and by the manner in which she tells her story. Truly, I wish I could sit down and share a cup of coffee or a beer and some vegan pizza with her.

If you didn’t know this was a memoir, you would probably think Love in the Elephant Tent was a novel with a first-person POV. At times it reads like one: a young woman from an unconventional (but loving) family leaves home and spends several years exploring the world – college, being a groupie for the Grateful Dead, backpacking (and fruit picking) around Europe, and finally landing at a circus, where she’s hired as a kitchen helper and swing for the dancing girls, and ends up falling for the elephant trainer (and his elephants). I mean – no one’s actual life could be that eventful and interesting…could it?

But Kathleen’s life was that eventful and interesting, and she tells her story candidly, building a slow crescendo to the peak of her involvement with the circus and Stefano, and then letting us down slowly through the next phase of her life, only to repeat the process.

As a performer myself, and one who cut her teeth in improv, I have a special fondness for circus stories, because a lot of the same skills that apply to improv also apply to things like clowning, or, really, to any kind of live performance. That Kathleen’s story also involves a lot of cooking dovetails nicely, because what is cooking, really, but kitchen improv and kitchen chemistry, combined?

If you love the circus, you will love this memoir. If you hate this circus, you will still love this memoir. If you have ever wanted to blow off your real life and go join the circus (please, don’t…it’s NOT as fun as it sounds) you will learn a lot from this memoir and then you will curl up in your bed, surrounded by clean sheets and stable electricity, and be glad that, for you, the circus is just a fantasy.

Kathleen Cremonesi should consider writing fiction. Or another memoir. Or something.  Her writing voice is as interesting and rich as the experiences she shares in this book. She may have found love in the elephant tent; I found a fascinating woman in the pages of a book.

Goes well with pasta, cooked al dente with homemade ragu.


Q&A with the author, Kathleen Cremonesi Kathleen Cremonesi

Kathleen, for people who haven’t yet read LOVE IN THE ELEPHANT TENT, give us your “elevator speech.” (If you were introducing yourself to other passengers in an elevator car, what would you say?)

Imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding crashing into Eat, Pray, Love on the set of Water for Elephants. Love in the Elephant Tent is a coming-of-age adventure and an intimate portrayal of young love, where Kathleen and Stefano learn to navigate their cultural differences, shed youthful concepts of romance, and form a life-long bond.

A lot of people fantasize about running away to join the circus, but you actually did it, if not entirely purposefully. What advice would you offer to others who have that fantasy?  

That’s a great question, Melissa. Most important: either be fully aware of what you’re getting into or be ready and willing to dive into anything. Circus life is not for anyone who is queasy, lazy, or unable to adapt to whatever life throws their way.  The other element I would mention is to know how you feel about using exotics and other animals in that sort of atmosphere. If you don’t believe that any animal should live in those conditions, then you’re bound to have your heart broken daily if you find yourself in an animal-centric circus.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

The best thing about the circus for me was that nothing about it was typical. The worst thing about the circus is that everything was typical! As I explain in Love in the Elephant Tent, living in the circus was like twirling around on a carousel – spinning, spinning, spinning through ever-changing scenery, yet everything within my immediate reach never seemed to change a bit.

Every morning, I’d make breakfast for the exotic animals, perhaps run to the grocery store or do some other shopping, return to the circus for lunch, prepare the afternoon meal for the exotic troupe, and get ready for the show – which usually started at 4:00 pm unless it was a Sunday or holiday schedule. Once the show started, that was everyone’s focus until it ended – which was around 11 pm. Sometimes we’d head out for a bite to eat or drinks, but usually it was straight to sleep so we could get up bright and early and do it all over again. And again. And again.

Because we were always on the move, we often set up in half a dozen or more towns every month. One day, I might perform those duties in the shadow of a Roman ruin; another day I might be surrounded by dilapidated apartments or a snowcapped alpine mountain range. But the circus has a way of complicating things. No matter where we were, the element of surprise hovered over our every move. Animals escaped. Weather didn’t cooperate. People were injured. Toss in some oversized personalities, and you have… well, a circus!

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Johnathan Lee Iverson, one of the Ringling Bros. ringmasters. He gave a list of the way circus life is different from the “real” world:

“…-Don’t mean to brag, but, sometimes I feel like I live in an alternate universe…
-In your world women are still struggling to make head way in the work place, in mine they run the show from top to bottom….
-In your world diversity is still an issue, in mine every hue can be seen and over 10 different nations convene daily
-In your world parents are overworked and clueless about their kids, ours are at arm’s length 24/7 even when they’re in school…”

I’d love to know if you agree or disagree with those points, and if so why/why not?

Wow. He definitely lived in an alternate universe from the one I experienced. We lived in different circuses in different countries, but that may not be what’s behind our varied experiences. My guess is that it had to do with our position within the circuses we lived in.

In the two European circuses I experienced, when women were out front, it was only in image, and only in form-fitting or skin-baring costumes. The men ran the business, top to bottom, front to back.

I can agree with Mr. Iverson that many diverse nations convened daily on the circus lot, but they were not on equal footing. It is my experience that one’s position in the circus was based on first: who you were (family, nationality, gender); second: what you contributed to the circus (management, artist, back-up performer, grunt); and third: how well you provided that service.

In Italy’s Circo Moira Orfei, where I spent over 2 years, there were workers from many countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Mexico, Yugoslavia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, India…

Upper management was all family. Then came general management: all Italian, but not necessarily family.

Artists were almost always European, though Moira’s circus had a liaison with the Russian Circus Federation at the time, so we also had a selection of Russian performers. I recall only one performer outside of Europe and Russia, and he was a Mexican trapeze artist.

Back-up performers (dancers) were usually wives or daughters of other performers and higher-up workers (Italian employees, crew captains, etc.). That’s how I was allowed into the performance ring: my then-boyfriend, Stefano, was Italian and a crew captain, so I was invited to be a part of the show. Other women were not. There were many Polish women who worked there, and their jobs were limited to such positions as seamstress or laundry duties. I recall a beautiful Moroccan girl who worked there at the same time I did – she washed pots in the kitchen.

As far as those workers in charge of their crews (animal crews, big-top crews, or the mechanical crews), 99% were European – mostly Italian with a few Germans thrown in.  The other 1% consisted of one Egyptian and one Indian worker who had both been there many years and had proven their loyalty and their worth, so each of them were treated a little better than your average grunt.

And the grunts – well, few of them lasted long enough to make much of a life out of the circus. Many were illegal workers, and life was tough for them. Really tough. Pay was next to nothing. Stefano, who was a better-paid Italian crew-captain, earned around $20/day plus room and board for working an average of 16 hours and being on call 24 hours a day.

My apologies if I’ve gone on too long here, but the inequality I saw in the circus between men and women, family and outsiders, Europeans and Third-World workers, is still fresh in my mind, even after 25 years.

One thing I can agree with Mr. Iverson on is how families lived closely with each other. As far as the parents being overworked or not, well, that depends on what the parent did for a living and what the circus Gods decided to dish out on that particular day. But whatever it was, their kids were right there beside them, whether it was feasting on seaside delicacies when the circus set up beside the Mediterranean, slogging through knee-deep mud trenches when torrential rains flooded the lot, or keeping the elephant tent from collapsing on the animals in a wind storm.

The use of animals in circuses is not without controversy. The Big Apple Circus, for example, uses only those animals that have always been ‘working’ animals (horses and dogs). Ringling Bros. recently announced that they’re phasing out their elephant acts. As someone who has worked with these animals, how do you feel about their use in the entertainment industry?

I feel even more strongly about how poorly animals were treated, but I’ve just gone on at length about how I felt about the Third-World workers were treated, so let me just say that the animals’ lives were worse. I believe that no exotic animals, or caged domestic animals, should be part of a traveling show. Even if an animal isn’t whipped into submission (and beatings certainly happen in such situations), I believe that it is a serious form of abuse to keep them in such confines. For instance, wild elephants have been known to roam up to 50 miles a day, yet the 13 elephants in the two circuses I worked in were usually kept chained to wooden decks for over 23 hours a day. Who in their right mind can say that such treatment is ethical?

When writing a memoir there’s always a balancing act between being true to the story and being respectful of the real people involved. Did you find yourself struggling at all with that when you wrote LOVE IN THE ELEPHANT TENT?

Absolutely. As tough as it was to write intimate details about myself, it was perhaps even more so to write them about others. But I believe that I have a right to share my story – which I couldn’t do without sharing at least a portion of others’ lives as well. To my knowledge, the only secrets I exposed were my own.

In a perfect world, everyone in the book would have had the opportunity to read what I wrote and respond – correct potential inaccuracies, offer a counter opinion – and some were given that opportunity. Unfortunately, my Italian is no longer good enough to translate the nuances of my English prose, so it was difficult for me to offer the same opportunity to those who do not read English well.  Some of them know about the book, some do not. I don’t expect all of them to welcome its existence, or to agree with my version of events. But no matter what I thought about them or their actions during the period of my life this book covers, I tried to be fair and accurately represent everyone and the events that took place.

Is there anything you really wanted to include in the book, but had to cut because of length or story flow? If so, can you share?

Love in the Elephant Tent
Of course! I condensed two and a half years into fewer than 400 pages, so there are many, many events that were left out – some of which were written and then cut from the book at some point, and some that never made it onto paper. Most significant, I suppose, are the two months I spent between my arrival in Europe in early October and when I joined the first circus in December.  Without those experiences, I never would have joined the circus and had the opportunity to fall in love with Stefano.

What one thing do you hope readers will take away from their experience with LOVE IN THE ELEPHANT TENT?

How vital it is for them to get out in the world and discover who they are, what’s important to them, and how they’re going to achieve it day-to-day. To live an authentic life, whether it’s in their hometown or across the world. To Be Here Now, take life one day at a time. To find that moment when the past falls away and the present is all there is, all that matters.

But most of all, to open their heart to love – whether friendly, familial, or romantic love – and keep it open, even when the going gets tough.

What’s next for you?

I suppose that depends on how Love in the Elephant Tent makes its way into the world. I certainly love to write and there are always those stories from my first months in Europe – not to mention my adventures while following the Grateful Dead around the U.S. Perhaps there will be more interest in what took place between when Stefano and I arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and today… or some of the interesting family members from past generations. I think I’m more inclined to write non-fiction, and I’ve already written stories from all of the above periods, so it really depends on what might spark readers’ – and my own – interest.

I also love to travel and write about food, so I could be perfectly happy spending some time researching my next project, one that has nothing to do with my past, sampling life’s flavors in some exotic locale.

But that’s not to say there’s only writing in my future. I feel so strongly about keeping elephants and other exotics out of the circus that I’d gladly spend some time promoting such a cause if the opportunity arises.

Connect with Kathleen

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Kathleen Cremonesi’s Blog Tour Stops BlogTour-ElephantTent

June 15, 2015: Review and Giveaway, Always Packed for Adventure (http://www.alwayspackedforadventure.com/).

June 17, 2015: Review and Excerpt, Book Bug (http://bookbug2012.wordpress.com).

June 18, 2015: Review and Q+A, The Book Binder’s Daughter (http://thebookbindersdaughter.com).

June 19, 2015: Review, Excerpt and Giveaway, Caffeine and Books (https://caffeineandbooks42.wordpress.com/).

June 22, 2015: Review and Excerpt, Fictional Real World (http://www.fictionalrealworld.blogspot.ca/).

June 24, 2015: Review and Photos, We Peas Read (https://wepeasread.wordpress.com/review-policy/).

June 26, 2015: Review and Q+A, Bibliotica (http://bibliotica.com).

Paris Time Capsule, by Ella Carey #review @NetGalley @AmazonPub

About the book, Paris Time Capsule Paris Time Capsule

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 26, 2015)

New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

Buy, read, and discuss Paris Time Capsule

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


About the author, Ella Carey Ella Carey

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music and English. Carey’s work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction. She lives with her two children and two Italian greyhounds in Australia.

Connect with Ella

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

When I’m looking for a novel to read, the three things that always capture my attention are the beach, coffee, and the city of Paris. I saw Paris Time Capsule when I was browsing NetGalley titles, and downloaded it, and I’m really glad I did, because it’s a delightful story – part historical mystery, part contemporary romance, and made more magical by being set in the City of Light.

Author Ella Carey crafted this piece with a delicate hand – the characters never seem over-the-top, the descriptions of places and things are just vivid enough to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks, and the plot has just enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied without being frustrated.

Cat very quickly grew into someone I’d have wanted to meet for coffee: engaging, fresh, and very real. Loic, the man who might be the real inheritor of the Paris apartment the story is build around, is the kind of guy any woman would fall in love with, the perfect blend of sex appeal and mystique, and his mother was a delightful breath of fresh air. The supporting characters – Cat’s fiance in America, her wedding planner, and all the people Cat and Loic talk to during their investigation all felt like people you would run into, as well.

Of course, the apartment itself becomes as much a character as any of the humans, and I felt like I was there, blowing away the dust, peeking at the old papers, cataloguing each artifact of a life long gone.

Paris Time Capsule is the perfect novel for a rainy afternoon, or an early summer morning, or just any time when you want to go antiquing but don’t want to leave your chair.

Goes well with a pot of coffee and a chocolate croissant.

 

Hotel Moscow by Talia Carner (@AuthorTalia) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Hotel Moscow Hotel Moscow

• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015)

  • From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that tells the riveting story of an American woman—the daughter of Holocaust survivors—who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, and finds herself embroiled in a perilous mafia conspiracy that could irrevocably destroy her life.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where “capitalism” is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed—and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

A moving, poignant, and rich novel, Hotel Moscow is an eye-opening portrait of post-communist Russia and a profound exploration of faith, family, and heritage.

Buy, read, and discuss Hotel Moscow

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Talia Carner Talia Carner

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women’s economic forums. This is her fourth novel.

Connect with Talia

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

At first, I had a difficult time getting into this book – the sense of place was fine, but I was confusing the three American women, Amanda, Jenny, and Brooke. Within a chapter or two, I had them sorted, and as it was Brooke’s story I paid closest attention to her.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read – an action packed spy thriller with a cast of mostly women, and the author should be commended just for that. It’s also a stark reminder at what life in Russia was, just as we were starting to peep through what had once been the Iron Curtain. Those of us who were born in the seventies and grew up in the eighties lived with terms like “cold war” and “glasnost” being tossed about like different colored balloons on the wind, and reading a novel set just at the dawn of the new Russian capitalism was almost a time capsule for me.

Politics and history aside, Carner tells a good story. As I said, her sense of place is vivid, and for the most part her characters stand out. Svetlana, with her Soviet speaking voice and matching hair, really stood out for me, as did Brooke, the lead character who seemed to be caught between the desire to help and the need to stay alive, at times. I’ll confess that there were times I wanted to punch their driver/guide Aleksandr, just for being a lazy, annoying idiot. It takes a lot for me to want to cause harm to a character, so kudos for that, Ms. Carner.

If you like old-school thrillers, where the danger is equal parts cerebral and physical, you’ll like Hotel Moscow. It’s an intriguing story with some great character moments, and I was never bored with it.

Goes well with a bowl of borscht and a shot of vodka.


Talia’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility

Thursday, June 4th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, June 5th: Charmingly Modern

Monday, June 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 9th: A Utah Mom’s Life

Wednesday, June 10th: As I turn the pages

Monday, June 15th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, June 22nd: Bibliotica

Tuesday, June 23rd: Mel’s Shelves

Wednesday, June 24th: A Book Geek

Thursday, June 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Thursday, June 25th: Doing Dewey

Friday, June 26th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, June 29th: Book Dilettante

TBD: Luxury Reading

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

The Rhyme of the Magpie, by Marty Wingate #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book, The Rhyme of the Magpie: A Birds of a Feather Mystery The Rhyme of the Magpie

Published by: Alibi  (June 02, 2015)
Pages: 224

For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

Buy, read and discuss The Rhyme of the Magpie

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


 About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.


My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Marty Wingate’s since I cracked open the first of her Potting Shed mysteries, so when I was offered the chance to review this book, the first in a new series, I jumped at it. I have t admit, it took me a while to warm up to the new characters and premise.

Once I did warm up to Julia and her life, I was hooked. I love the use of the magpies as a recurring theme, and the way birds, signs, and portents are all woven together. I thought each character, even those we don’t spend a lot of time with were distinct and dimensional.

Wingate has a special knack for vivid descriptions of place – you can smell the rain when the air is damp, and you can feel your feet squelching through soggy soil, or crunching over gravel. She also has an excellent ear for dialogue, to the point where I could hear the characters’ accents in my head – and no, they’re not all generic-sounding ‘received’ pronunciation. That she manages to do this without writing much in dialect always impresses me.

Marty Wingate might just be the new Queen of the Cozy, but her cozy mysteries are deceptive in that they balance quaint village live with strong female characters who achieve self-significance while still maintaining femininity.

Long may she reign.

Goes well with proper fish and  chips, and a hand-crafted lager.


Giveaway

This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 e-gift card and a copy of the book!  Enter to win.

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/235babe7211/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”235babe7211″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_dg411b68″>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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Marty Wingate’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, June 2nd: Mystery Playground

Wednesday, June 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, June 3rd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, June 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, June 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, June 5th: Back Porchervations

Wednesday, June 10th: Reading Reality

Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired

Friday, June 12th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, June 16th: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, June 17th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Thursday, June 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 23rd: FictionZeal

Wednesday, June 24th: 2 Kids and Tired

Royal Wedding, by Meg Cabot (@MegCabot) #review @TLCBookTours

About  the book Royal Wedding Royal Wedding

Print Length: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding—but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royaloui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch.  Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Buy, read, and discuss Royal Wedding

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Meg Cabot Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to her adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction series, The Princess Diaries. More than 25 million copies of her novels for children and adults have sold worldwide. Meg lives in Key West, Florida, with her husband.

Connect with Meg

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts TLC Tour Host

It’s been a really long time since I indulged in a visit with Princess Mia. It’s been long enough, in fact, that I’d forgotten how much the Princess Diaries movies diverge from the novels. Even so, this last weekend was one that required a fun, fresh read, and sitting down with Royal Wedding was just the thing. My review was based on a digital ARC, and the formatting was kind of funky in places, but that in no way distracted from my enjoyment of the story.

In this novel, Princess Mia is twenty-five, and is faced with two major upheavals in her life: succeeding her father on the throne, and getting married. Of course, nothing in her life is ever simple, so there are disasters great and small that come up, all of which serve to increase the level of hilarity from a ten (where the novel begins) to about a 95 at the height of the action. Within the funny moments, though, are moments of candid honesty and poignant emotion, and it’s those sharp turns – from humor to pathos and back – that Meg Cabot writes so well.

I’ve often said that some of the most interesting and provocative contemporary fiction comes from titles labeled “Young Adult” or “New Adult,” and Royal Wedding is no exception. It uses a structure that mixes journal entries, email, phone calls, and text messages (as well as tweets and facebook status offerings) to appeal to a generation of readers who grew up in the Age of the Soundbite, but is still meaty enough for old-school fans, like me.

I also like that the novel is sometimes self-referential, often meta, and exists in a world where the pop culture we all know and love actually exists. Specifically, Mia comments that an unusually high percentage of her friends are high school classmates, and that an unusually high percentage of them stayed with/married their high school partners. Later, she references a specific episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that she’s watching  (on Netflix, of course.)

We’ve already seen Mia come of age in these novels. In Royal Wedding she comes into her own power, accepting her abilities and her flaws, and truly embracing her future. I can’t tell if this is the last volume in the Princess Diaries saga, or if there are still more stories coming, but either way, Meg Cabot has delivered a satisfying story with some great moments and a good balance of old characters and new ones.

Goes well with a couple of Butterfingers and a shot of (stolen) 100-year-old brandy.


Meg’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: Seaside Book Nook

Friday, June 5th: booknerd

Wednesday, June 10th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Thursday, June 11th: Mel’s Shelves

Monday, June 15th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, June 16th: Book Loving Hippo

Wednesday, June 17th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, June 18th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, June 22nd: Walking With Nora

Tuesday, June 23rd: View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, June 24th: Spices Latte Reads

Thursday, June 25th: Ms.Bookish.com

Monday, June 29th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, June 30th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, July 1st: Book Him Danno!

Thursday, July 2nd: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot

Monday, July 6th: A Reader of Fictions

Tuesday, July 7th: A Dream Within a Dream

Wednesday, July 8th: In Bed with Books

Thursday, July 9th: Literary Lindsey

Monday, July 13th: Wall-to-Wall Books

TBD: Novel Escapes

TBD: Bibliophilia, Please

TBD: Read-Love-Blog