Dark Screams (Volumes 2 & 3), edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar #review #giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, Dark Screams, Vol. 2 Dark Screams, Vol. 2

  • On Sale: March 03, 2015
  • Pages: 138
  • Published by : Hydra

Robert McCammon, Norman Prentiss, Shawntelle Madison, Graham Masterton, and Richard Christian Matheson scale new heights of horror, suspense, and grimmest fantasy in Dark Screams: Volume Two, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the renowned Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE DEEP END by Robert McCammon
Everyone thinks the drowning death of Neil Calder in the local swimming pool was a tragic accident. Only his father knows better. Now, on the last night of summer, Neil returns in search of revenge.

INTERVAL by Norman Prentiss
Flight 1137 from St. Louis by way of Nashville has gone missing. As anxious friends and family gather around the gate, a ticket clerk finds herself eyewitness to a moment of inhuman evil.

IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK by Shawntelle Madison
Eleanor has come from New York City to prep an old Victorian house in Maine for America’s Mysterious Hotspots. Although she’s always thrown herself into her work, this job will take her places she’s never dreamed of going.

THE NIGHT HIDER by Graham Masterton
C. S. Lewis wrote about a portal that led to a world of magic and enchantment. But the wardrobe in Dawn’s room holds only death—until she solves its grisly mystery.

WHATEVER by Richard Christian Matheson
A 1970s rock ’n’ roll band that never was—in a world that is clearly our own . . . but perhaps isn’t, not anymore . . . or, at least, not yet—takes one hell of a trip.

Buy, read and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 2

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


About the book Dark Screams, Vol. 3 Dark Screams, Vol. 3

  • On Sale: May 12, 2015
  • Pages: 108
  • Published by : Hydra

Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.

GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.

NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.

I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.

THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.

Buy, read, and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 3

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


My Thoughts

I love horror. I love short stories. I understand (as much as anyone without formal training can) the psychology of the human brain that gives us pleasure and a bit of a thrill when we’re scared. In these two ebook anthologogies, Dark Screams, volumes 2 & 3, I was given a couple hundred (and change) rich pages of all the things I love.

There wasn’t a single story in either volume that I found unreadable, though the subject matter in a couple of them (most specifically “I Love You, Charlie Pearson”) did make me uncomfortable. But horror shouldn’t be just empty scares. It needs to hit you in the sweet spot where the Amygdala and the Cerebrum whisper to each other, where intellect and emotion intertwine, and all of these stories do that, and they do it well.

Not that I’m surprised. I mean, look at that list of authors. Even if the only name you recognize is Peter Straub, consider that he would never allow himself to be in the company of authors of unequal caliber – or at least, he’d never allow his work to be so. And I’m not just highlighting his name because his contribution, “The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero,” is my favorite from Volume 3 – written from (mostly) a young boy’s point of view, it’s both chilling and poignant.

My other favorite from volume 3 is “Nancy,” because I identified with the character of the ‘new girl’ trying to navigate her way through the popular and not-so-popular crowds in a town that also has its fare share of actual (as opposed to metaphoric) ghosts.

Volume 2 felt, to me, a bit more polished – the stories of a more equal quality, although I confess, I had to read the novella at the end – Richard Christian Matheson’s “Whatever,” twice in order to really ‘get’ it. Then I was blown away. Still, I want to give “The Interval” (Norman Prentiss) which gives new meaning to the limbo we all feel when we’re caught between hope and reality, and “The Night Hider” (Graham Masterton) which posits a dark and interesting origin story for C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, special attention. Both those stories really played with convention, reality, and what we think we know.

Also on my personal “hit list” is “The Deep End,” by Robert McCammon, which does for swimming pools what Jaws did to the ocean when it was first released (just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Y…) and made me seriously glad that the constant rain has kept me OUT of my own swimming pool so far this year.

If you love horror, if you appreciate the pace and brevity of a short story, if you were the kid whose favorite part of summer camp was telling ghost stories after dark – you will love these two anthologies.

Just make sure you turn on the lights as you enter rooms for a few days afterward.

Goes well with buttered popcorn and either slightly sweetened cinnamon iced tea or crisp apple cider.


 Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Dark Screams: TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 27th: A Fantastical Librarian – Volume 2

Wednesday, April 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Volumes 2 and 3

Monday, May 4th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 5th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 2

Wednesday, May 6th: Wag the Fox – Volume 2

Thursday, May 7th: Bewitched Bookworms – Volumes 2 and 3

Friday, May 8th: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 2

Monday, May 11th: Bibliophilia, Please – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 12th: In Bed with Books – Volume 3

Thursday, May 14th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 3

Friday, May 15th: Wag the Fox – Volume 3

Tuesday, May 19th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 3

Thursday, May 21st: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 3

Thursday, May 28th: Bibliotica – Volume 2 & 3

Friday, May 29th: Sweet Southern Home – Volume 3

Monday, June 1st: Kahakai Kitchen – Volumes 2 and 3

 

Summer Secrets, by Jane Green (@JaneGreen) #review @NetGalley

About the book, Summer Secrets Summer Secrets

  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (June 23, 2015)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • When a shocking family secret is revealed, twenty-something journalist Cat Coombs finds herself falling into a dark spiral. Wild, glamorous nights out in London and raging hangovers the next day become her norm, leading to a terrible mistake one night while visiting family in America, on the island of Nantucket. It’s a mistake for which she can’t forgive herself. When she returns home, she confronts the unavoidable reality of her life and knows it’s time to grow up. But she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to earn the forgiveness of the people she hurt.

    As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with a new-found sobriety and determined to finally make amends. Traveling back to her past, to the family she left behind on Nantucket all those years ago, she may be able to earn their forgiveness, but in doing so she may risk losing the very people she loves the most.

    Told with Jane Green’s keen eye for detailing the emotional landscape of the heart, Summer Secrets is at once a compelling drama and a beautifully rendered portrait of relationships, betrayals, and forgiveness; about accepting the things we cannot change, finding the courage to change the things we can, and being strong enough to weather the storms.

    Buy, read, and discuss Summer Secrets

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


    About the author, Jane Green Jane Green

    Jane Green is a bestselling author of popular novels. She has been featured in People, Newsweek, USA Today, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

    Connect with Jane

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


    My Thoughts

    For the longest time, Jane Green has been known for writing witty, engaging novels about women in their thirties undergoing major life changes. Sure, she deviates from that formula once in a while, but I’ve been reading her stuff since I was in my thirties, and she’s a go-to author when you want a beach read that’s deep enough to keep you interested, but not so heavy that your head starts to hurt.

    Summer Secrets, which I read as an ARC from NetGalley, is no different, though it is a little bit darker than some of Green’s previous novels, mostly because the main character is an alcoholic.

    What I especially liked is that even the minor characters felt like real people. Cat is a flawed (deeply flawed) protagonist, and there were times when I wanted to shake her and order her to make better choices, but having known enough addicts, I know it would not have helped, but even the people she works with, seen in brief exchanges in the office, or going for drinks after work, have their moments. Her teenaged daughter, as well, was suitable moody and mercurial, the way actual teens tend to be.

    I also liked that Green was pretty accurate with the addictive personality, and didn’t offer a magical ‘fix’ to Cat’s problem. She had to work – and work hard – to get from the place she started at the beginning of the novel, to the place where she ended.

    The dual settings of London and Nantucket, I thought, worked well in juxtaposition, and the shifting time periods, while a little bit confusing at the start of the book, really helped show Cat’s growth, albeit in a non-linear fashion.

    I don’t know if Ms. Green plans to continue making her plots as meaty as this one was – yes, it was still a romance, deep down, but still… – but if she does, I applaud it. I’ve always enjoyed her work, but I thought Summer Secrets offered the best blend of summer escapism and smart, contemporary fiction.

    Goes well withBoardwalk fries and lemonade, eaten while sitting on the beach.

Moonlight on Butternut Creek, by Mary McNear #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Moonlight on Butternut Lake Moonlight on Butternut Lake

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 12, 2015)

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Up at Butternut Lake comes the third novel in the Butternut Lake series—a dazzling story of two wounded souls seizing a second chance at life and love.

On the run from her abusive husband, Mila Jones flees Minneapolis for the safety and serenity of Butternut Lake. Ready to forge a new life, Mila’s position as home health aide to Reid Ford is more than a job. It’s a chance at a fresh start. Though her sullen patient seems determined to make her quit, she refuses to give up on him.

Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid retreats to his brother’s cabin on Butternut Lake and lashes out at anyone who tries to help. Reid wishes Mila would just go away. . .until he notices the strength, and the secrets, behind her sad, brown eyes.

Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond as Mila lowers her guard and begins to trust again, and Reid learns how to let this woman who has managed to crack through his protective shell into his life. While the seemingly endless days of summer unfold, Reid and Mila take the first steps to healing as they discover love can be more than just a dream.

Buy, read, and discuss Moonlight on Butternut Lake

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Mary McNear Mary McNear

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear is a writer living in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon. She writes her novels in a local donut shop where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made donuts. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

Connect with Mary

Facebook


My Thoughts:

Visiting Butternut Lake via Mary McNear’s always-engaging novels has become something of an annual habit, as I’ve now reviewed all three in the series. I always really enjoy the way she writes small-town life, and the way the local diner, Pearl’s, and the lake itself, are characters in and of themselves.

But it’s the human characters, drawn so well that you totally feel like you could run into them at a diner, or on the lake shore, that really drive McNear’s stories. In this one, we see Allie and Walter and their two children again, but they’re supporting characters. The story really centers around Walter’s brother Reid, recent survivor of a terrible car wreck, and Mila, on the run from a bad relationship (though the details aren’t revealed til the end of the novel) and looking for a fresh start.

That the two of them eventually connect with each other isn’t at all surprising – it’s inevitable – but McNear has created characters so real, and a setting so vivid, that it doesn’t matter how predictable the ultimate ending is, because when you’re traveling the twisting, turning road to Butternut Lake, it really IS about the journey.

And what a journey! This novel has the perfect blend of romance, suspense, small town living, and earthy supporting characters. You can hear the Minnesota accents in the dialogue of the locals, but they never, ever stray outside of credibility and into caricature.

Congratulations, Mary McNear, on bringing us all to Butternut Lake once more, and how fitting that my visit landed on Memorial Day weekend.

Goes well with: strawberry-rhubarb pie and homemade vanilla ice cream.


Mary McNear’s Blog Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 12th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, May 13th: Fuelled by Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, May 15th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, May 18th: Always With a Book

Tuesday, May 19th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews

Monday, May 25th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, May 20th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 20th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, June 3rd: Reading Reality

TBD: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

A Match for Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens #Excerpt Tour #Giveaway @TLCBookTours

A Match for Marcus Cynster Excerpt Tour

I’m so excited to be part of the TLC Book Tours EXCERPT TOUR for the release of the latest book in Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series, A Match for Marcus Cynster!

About the book, A Match for Marcus Cynster A Match for Marcus Cynster

  • Series: Cynster (#23)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (May 26, 2015)

Duty compels her to turn her back on marriage. Fate drives him to protect her come what may. Then love takes a hand in this battle of yearning hearts, stubborn wills, and a match too powerful to deny. #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to rugged Scotland with a dramatic tale of passionate desire and unwavering devotion.

Restless and impatient, Marcus Cynster waits for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies in the lands surrounding his family home, but what will his future be and with whom will he share it?

Of one fact he feels certain: his fated bride will not be Niniver Carrick. His elusive neighbor attracts him mightily, yet he feels compelled to protect her—even from himself. Fickle Fate, he’s sure, would never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his. The best he can do for them both is to avoid her.

Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. The epitome of fragile femininity, her delicate and ethereal exterior cloaks a stubborn will and an unflinching devotion to the people in her care. She accepts that she cannot risk marrying and losing her grip on the clan’s reins to an inevitably controlling husband. Unfortunately, many local men see her as their opportunity.

Soon, she’s forced to seek help to get rid of her unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus Cynster is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for assistance with her peculiar problem.

Although at first he resists, Marcus discovers that, contrary to his expectations, his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, to claim her hand. Yet in order to convince her to be his bride, they must plunge headlong into a journey full of challenges, unforeseen dangers, passion, and yearning, until Niniver grasps the essential truth—that she is indeed a match for Marcus Cynster.

~ Excerpt ~

They buried Nigel and Nolan three days later. The atmosphere was more that of a witnessing than an honoring. The ambiance was strikingly different from that which had prevailed at their father’s funeral—but then Manachan had been revered by the clan and respected throughout the community, while Nigel and Nolan had been tolerated purely on the basis of being Manachan’s sons. As for acquaintances within the wider community, theirs proved to be limited to young hellions of similar ilk to themselves—irresponsible males intent on enjoying a hedonistic life with nary a thought for anyone or anything else.

Several of the latter unexpectedly turned up, driving curricles and phaetons, and greeting each other raucously.

The clan ignored them.

Initially, Niniver had been surprised by how many of the clan had chosen to attend. Then she’d realized that, for them as for her, the somber service marked the end of two years of uncertainty and unrest—two years of confusion, of not knowing what was going on, and of lost faith in the clan’s leadership.

Nigel was buried next to their father and mother in the Carrick family plot.

Nolan was buried in a far corner of the graveyard—rejected and disowned by all.

It was she who cast the first sod on Nolan’s coffin. Stony-faced, the clan elders followed her lead.

And then it was done.

No one felt any need to linger; everyone was glad to turn their backs and walk away.

As the gathering dispersed and the clan returned to the carts and drays that had brought them there, several of Nigel and Nolan’s friends surrounded her and attempted to press their patently insincere condolences on her.

She avoided society—in part because of just such men—but she’d long ago perfected one social art, that of keeping her feelings concealed and maintaining a mask of unruffled calm. Yet to be invited to join several would-be dandies on a picnic and, when she politely declined, to have her words ignored…

Luckily, Thomas intervened, and with several cutting words and a black scowl, he sent the horde packing. Together with Ferguson, Thomas escorted her away; she allowed them to lead her to her carriage, help her in, and shut the door.

Sean set the horses trotting, and the carriage pulled into the road, and finally, it was over.

She rested her head against the squabs and closed her eyes, holding in the tears that, suddenly, threatened to overflow.AMFMC Quote

Her family was gone—all of them. Thomas was her nearest blood relative, and he had his own place, his own role as consort to the future Lady of the Vale.

She…was alone. Completely alone. She had no place, no role—no life.

She was the one left behind.

But she knew the clan wouldn’t throw her out; she would have a place, a role, within it, even if she didn’t yet know what that would be.

She told herself to remain positive, or at least to keep her thoughts focused on what she yet had to do that day, on what lay immediately ahead.

The clan meeting to elect a new laird.

She sighed, opened her eyes, and glanced out of the window. “One way or another, I will find a way.”

Buy, read, and discuss A Match for Marcus Cynster

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


About Stephanie Laurens Stephanie Laurens

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature ‘Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen” style.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


Giveaway AMFMC Prize Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Stephanie Laurens’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, May 12th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, May 13th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: In the Hammock

Friday, May 15th: Broken Teepee

Monday, May 18th: Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 19th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, May 20th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 21st: Bell, Book & Candle

Friday, May 22nd: Urban Girl Reader

Monday, May 25th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Tuesday, May 26th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, May 27th: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, May 27th: Read Love Blog

Thursday, May 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 29th: Written Love Reviews

The Predictions, by Bianca Zander (@biancazander) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book The Predictions The Predictions

Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 5, 2015)

Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture—a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals . . . at least in theory. But Gaialands’s strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti claims the commune’s energy needs to be healed and harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions. Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfill his dream of starting a punk rock band in London, she follows him. In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants?

The Predictions is a mesmerizing, magical novel of fate, love, mistakes, and finding your place in the world.

Buy, read, and discuss The Predictions

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Bianca Zander Bianca Zander

Bianca Zander is British-born but has lived in New Zealand for the past two decades. Her first novel, The Girl Below, was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and she is the recipient of the Creative New Zealand Louis Johnson New Writers’ Bursary and the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, recognizing her as one of New Zealand’s eminent writers. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the Auckland University of Technology.

Connect with Bianca

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I was a bit trepidatious as I began reading Bianca Zander’s The Predictions, concerned that the entire novel would be pervaded by that “smells like Ren-Faire” feeling of too much patchouli and not enough common sense, as can so often happen when depicting life on a commune, but I needn’t have worried, because the main character, Poppy, leaped off the page, grabbed me by the hand, and took me with her on a journey that, ultimately wasn’t about the facts of growing up in an ‘alternative’ lifestyle, but the universal truth of finding our own definitions of ‘home’ and ‘family.’

For Poppy,  both of those things are tied up in people – her younger brother Fred, who has a clubfoot, her mother Elisabeth who, like all adult members of the Gaialands commune, is referred to by her first name, and keeps her motherhood status ambiguous (though we all know Poppy is her daughter.) And then there’s Lukas, fellow commune kid turned rock musician, who is the catalyst for much of the change in Poppy’s life, as well as the anchor that keeps her entirely herself.

Mix in an earthy American hippie fortune teller (Shakti), a decent amount of globetrotting (New Zealand isn’t really a rock mecca) and a lot of growing up (we meet Poppy as an adolescent on the brink of adulthood) and you have The Predictions, an engaging, fast-paced story of love, loss, music, culture, home, family, and how we must all find our own versions of each.

Bonus points for author Zander’s use of language. All of the characters sound appropriate to the period (mid-70’s through 1989) and age-appropriate as well. Double bonus points for having Lukas utter one of my all-time favorite snarky phrases: “Perish the thought.”

I predict that you will find The Predictions interesting and engaging.

No patchouli required.

Goes well with: falafel made from organically grown chick peas, jicama sticks, and beet slaw.


Bianca’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 5th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, May 6th: Stephany Writes

Thursday, May 7th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, May 14th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Monday, May 18th: In Bed with Books

Monday, May 18th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, May 19th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Wednesday, May 20th: Book Loving Hippo

Thursday, May 21st: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Monday, May 25th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

TBD: Ageless Pages Reviews

 

 

 

 

Five Night Stand, by Richard J. Alley (@richardalley) #review #giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, Five Night Stand Five Night Stand

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 12, 2015)

Legendary jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant finds himself alone at the end of his career, playing his last five shows, hoping the music will draw his estranged family back… Frank Severs, a middle-aged, out-of-work journalist, is at a crossroads as his longtime dreams and marriage grind to a standstill… And piano prodigy Agnes Cassady is desperately grasping for fulfillment before a debilitating disease wrenches control from her trembling fingers… When Frank and Agnes come to New York to witness Oliver’s final five-night stand, the timeless force of Oliver’s music pulls the trio together. Over the course of five nights, the three reflect on their triumphs and their sorrows: families forsaken, ideals left along the wayside, secrets kept. Their shared search for meaning and direction in a fractured world creates an unexpected kinship that just might help them make sense of the past, find peace in the present, and muster the courage to face the future.

Buy, read, and discuss Five Night Stand

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


About the author, Richard J. Alley Richard J. Alley

Richard J. Alley is an award-winning reporter, columnist, and editor from Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Connect with Richard

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember – I even think in music most of the time. My first instrument is cello, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate jazz, and, in fact, one of my early teachers was starting to teach me slap cello (yes, it’s a thing) before we moved away.

It should be no surprise, then, that I responded to Five Night Stand very favorably.

The plot, while simple, was captivating – three people brought together by music – all for different reason. The individual stories, especially those of Oliver and Agnes were poignant, bordering on sad in some places, but all three characters seemed to sing, their perfectly captured voices projecting far beyond the margins of the printed page. By the end of the novel, I felt like I knew these people.

The structure of the novel also worked: five nights, a finite space of time, but so much character development, so many nuances, filled those five nights. I felt like, more than writing a story, Richard Alley was conducting a symphony. A jazz symphony, with surprises of syncopation and deviations of meter that worked together to enhance the whole. Even the dissonant moments only added to the whole competition.

The language, though, is what hooked me. At first, like some of the other reviewers on this tour, it felt poetic to me, and then I realized, no, it’s not poetry, it’s a riff. It’s this wonderful booze-y, blues-y use of language that combines the sharp notes of New York with the softer ones of the South, where jazz and blues were really born.

Usually, when I finish reading a novel that I acquired solely for the purpose of reviewing, I delete the file from my over-packed Kindle to save space. Five Night Stand, however, has been moved to my ‘favorites’ collection, where, much like a much loved album, I can revisit it at my leisure and see what new things I find upon rereading it.

Goes well with: bbq ribs for an early dinner, followed by a glass of Scotch during the show.


Giveaway Five Night Stand

If you live in the U.S.A. or Canada and want to experience Five Night Stand for yourself, leave a comment here on the blog telling me about your favorite musicians. Make sure you provide a valid email address (only I will see it) because winners will be contacted by email. Alternatively, find my twitter post about this review, and re-tweet it, tagging me: @Melysse.


Richard J. Alley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: The Avid Reader

Tuesday, May 12th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, May 12th: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, May 13th: Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, May 14th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Monday, May 18th: BookNAround

Monday, May 18th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Tuesday, May 19th: Mom’s Small Victories

Thursday, May 21st: Colloquium

Friday, May 22nd: Tina Says…

Tuesday, May 26th: My Book Retreat

Wednesday, May 27th: Unshelfish

Thursday, May 28th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Monday, June 1st: Priscilla and her Books

Tuesday, June 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, June 3rd: Fictionophile

Friday, June 5th: The Well-Read Redhead

 

The Case of the Invisible Dog, by Diane Stingley #review #Giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, The Case of the Invisible Dog: A Shirley Homes Mystery The Case of the Invisible Dog

  • Published by : Alibi (May 19, 2015)
  • Pages: 385

In the start of a charmingly imaginative cozy series sure to delight fans of Carolyn Hart and Diane Mott Davidson, Diane Stingley introduces a blundering detective who believes herself to be the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

After failing to launch her career as a Hollywood actress, Tammy Norman returns home to North Carolina, desperate for a regular paycheck and a new lease on life. So she accepts a position assisting Shirley Homes, an exceptionally odd personage who styles herself after her celebrated “ancestor”–right down to the ridiculous hat. Tammy isn’t sure how long she can go on indulging the delusional Shirley (who honestly believes Sherlock Holmes was a real person!), but with the prospect of unemployment looming, she decides to give it a shot.

Tammy’s impression of her eccentric boss does not improve when their first case involves midnight romps through strangers’ yards in pursuit of a phantom dog—that only their client can hear. But when the case takes a sudden and sinister turn, Tammy has to admit that Shirley Homes might actually be on to something. . . .

Buy, read, and discuss The Case of the Invisible Dog

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


About the author, Diane Stingley

Diane Stingley is the author of Dress You Up in My Love and I’m With Cupid. She was also a columnist for The Charlotte Observer and received e-mails from around the country in response to her columns. She currently resides in North Carolina and is hard at work on the next Shirley Homes mystery.


My Thoughts

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan almost as long as I’ve been able to read, and unlike some purists, I’m happy to discover new takes on the character. I’ve read – for review as well as just for pleasure – the works of Laurie R. King and Stephanie Osborn, for example, and loved them to bits, even though each woman writes a radically different version of Holmes. I also love the BBC series Sherlock, but, I confess, I’ve never been able to get into Elementary.

The practical upshot of all this is that when I was invited to review The Case of the Invisible Dog, I was really excited to do so. Diane Stingley also has a fresh perspective on Holmes – her detective, Shirley Homes (no-l), likes waffles with extra butter syrup on the side, and is a little more of a psychopath than even Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes at his most…idiosyncratic. She also uses the name of her famous ‘ancestor’ (because in this universe he’s a real person – or at least Shirley believes he is), to help build her business.

Her Watson, who is our point of view character, is Tammy, failed actress, successful purveyor of bon mots. She’s maybe not as book-smart as previous Watsons we have known, but she’s street smart and snarky – two things I always enjoy in a character. It’s her voice that narrates this story, and everything we see is filtered through her eyes and perceptions.

Author Diane Stingley has done a great job of creating a slightly kooky, absolutely cozy version of the Great Detective, or rather, the Great Detective’s Descendant, and I found this novel to be engaging and interesting, especially once things got a little bit twistier and darker near the end.

If you’re looking for a female detective who is basically Sherlock Holmes in drag and a contemporary setting, this novel is NOT for you, but if you want something fun, fresh, a little bit fluffy (but in a good way), give The Case of the Invisible Dog a shot. Worst case: you’ll crave a trip to your local diner, at the end.

Goes well with Waffles with extra butter and syrup (warm, organic, maple), a side of crispy bacon, and coffee with cream.


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Diane Stingley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, May 11th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 12th: Bibliotica – That’s ME

Wednesday, May 13th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, May 14th: Mama Vicky Says

Monday, May 18th: Priscilla and Her Books

Monday, May 18th: Bell, Book & Candle

Tuesday, May 19th: Book Babe

Wednesday, May 20th: Reading Reality

Monday, May 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 26th: Open Book Society

Wednesday, May 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 28th: For the Love of Fictional Worlds

Monday, June 1st: A Book Geek

Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility

Monday, June 8th: Staircase Wit

Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired

To Ride a White Horse by Pamela Ford (@pamfordauthor) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, To Ride a White Horse To Ride a White Horse

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Aine Press (January 3, 2015)

“A sweeping historical love story that hits all the marks.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Ireland 1846. The potato crop has failed for the second year in a row and Ireland is in famine. When Kathleen Deacey’s fiancé doesn’t return from a summer working in the Newfoundland fisheries, she faces a devastating choice—leave Ireland to find work or risk dying there. Despising the English for refusing to help Ireland, she crosses the Atlantic, determined to save her family and find her fiancé.

But her journey doesn’t go as planned and she ends up in America, forced to accept the help of an English whaling captain, Jack Montgomery, to survive. As Jack helps her search for her fiancé and fight to save her family and country, she must confront her own prejudices and make another devastating choice—remain loyal to her country or follow her heart.

A love story inspired by actual events, To Ride a White Horse is a historical saga of hope, loyalty, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of love.

To Ride a White Horse

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Pamela Ford Pamela Ford

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of fast-paced plot.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, waitress, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best and the Laurel Wreath, and is a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children.

Connect with Pamela

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I read a lot of historical novels but I’m always kind of iffy on historicals (I think my brain is wired for the future rather than the past.) To Ride a White Horse originally caught my attention, not because of the romance or the historical background of Ireland’s potato famine and the huge influx of Irish immigrants into North America, but because one of the characters (Jack) was the captain of a ship – and I will read almost anything that involves sea captains and adventure on or near the ocean.

When the story opened with our introduction to Kathleen, pining for her fiance, I was hooked on her story, as well, because she wasn’t a girl to sit and simper and moan, but a strong young woman who made an action plan and carried it out. Going on a ship across the ocean is a daunting task even today, when we can do so in hours (by air) or days (by sea) rather than the weeks or months it took back then. Going on a ship to a new country where you cannot be certain of your reception or your survival? That takes a special kind of courage, one that all immigrants have, as well as a firm faith in the promise of a better life.

Jack, the whaling captain who really isn’t in love with his job (whaling was a dangerous, dangerous profession then, even before Greenpeace would come and shoot at you), and Kathleen, the young woman looking for her love and her future, have stories that meet, separate, and meet again, but watching the relationship shift and turn between them is like watching your two best friends, whom you know are meant to be together, continue to make low-percentage choices and false starts until they finally get it right.

Author Pamela Ford writes the romance, the history, and the politics of the period (English vs. Irish, Native vs. Immigrant, Whaling vs. Shipping, etc.) with nuance and an excellent ear for dialogue. Kathleen never sounds like a caricature, but her Irish lilt is ever-present. English Jack never sounds too stilted, but you can read in his words the crisper accent he would have.

Romances can often be more fluff than flavor but To Ride a White Horse balances all the elements: adventure, romance, history, politics and gives us a meaty story that keeps the reader’s attention from the first page to the last.

Goes well with A hearty Irish stew, brown bread, and a glass of stout.


Pamela’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Tuesday, May 12th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 13th: Gspotsylvania: Musings from a Spotsylvania Dog and Bird Mom

Thursday, May 14th: Novel Escapes

Friday, May 15th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Tuesday, May 19th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, May 25th: Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, May 27th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 28th: Doing Dewey

Friday, May 29th: Bell, Book and Candle

Monday, June 1st: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, June 2nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, June 3rd: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 3rd: Rockin’ Book Reviews

Thursday, June 4th: Little Lovely Books

Monday, June 8th: Books Like Breathing

TBD: A Night’s Dream of Books