In Flames, by Richard Hilary Weber – #review #giveaway #Bibliotica

About the book, In Flames In Flames

  • On Sale: February 03, 2015
  • Pages: 188
  • Published by: Alibi

In Richard H. Weber’s passionate new thriller, a smoldering mystery ignites on a tropical island as lust, murder, and politics collide.

San Iñigo is a jewel of the Caribbean, a playground paradise for the foreign elite, a hell for unfortunate locals. For recent Princeton grad Dan Shedrick, San Iñigo promises the fulfillment of too many desires.

Dan hires on at a powerful American firm as a junior architect, but still finds time for tennis, booze, a reckless affair with the sexy wife of a resort owner—even a bit of reconnaissance for the U.S. cultural attaché. But soon he discovers that nothing on San Iñigo is without consequence. When a much-loved local radio personality is found on a beach with his head blown off, Dan’s lover becomes a suspect. And not long after his foray into espionage, he’s dragged away on a brutal journey into the heart of darkness.

Buffeted by aggression, depraved ritual, and personal betrayal, Dan discovers fierce truths about San Iñigo . . . and himself. In the island’s forbidding mountain jungle, his life goes up in flames—a deadly inferno that will forever change him, if he survives at all.

Buy, read, and discuss In Flames

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million


 About Richard Hilary Weber

Richard Hilary Weber, a native of Brooklyn and a Columbia University graduate, has taught at the universities of Stockholm and Copenhagen, and has been a scriptwriter for French and Swedish filmmakers. He lives in Provence, France.


My Thoughts

In Flames is labeled as a thriller, but while it was definitely a crime story, albeit on specific to certain parts of Latin America, I wouldn’t classify it as a thriller myself. Mostly this is because the story was fairly predictable. As soon as Dan arrives in San Iñigo and begins talking about the levels of crime, you know he’s going to end up getting involved.

As well, I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. Dan immediately falls into a pattern of boozing after work, and we never really see redeemable qualities in him. Erica, the wife of the Saint Ignatius Club owner, is treated more like an object than a person, and Ferg, the actual owner is only seen in small bits – we never really get to know him.

The locals aren’t treated any better. Vinny, who apparently has connections with everyone, seems more annoying than connected. The fortune teller could be interesting, but she isn’t really given the opportunity to be.

If it seems like I’m shredding this book, please understand: it’s not a bad read if you suspend disbelief at the door. There are, in fact, some things the author does really well. For example, the life of alcoholic semi-somnolence that many expats fall into is one I’ve witnessed in my visits to expat communities on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and he captures this brilliantly.

Similarly, the Club felt very real to me, with its perceived separation from the ‘locals’ and the ability to allow its patrons to act as though they’re in a remote part of Florida rather than a foreign country.

Erica’s clipboard and apparent focus on running her business seemed drawn from real life as well, in the best way possible.

Author Weber has a knack for description, but, to me, In Flames felt more like a choking campfire than a conflagration of suspense and intrigue, and I’m sorry about that, because Alibi’s offerings are usually incredibly well written, entertaining works of fiction.

I don’t want to say this book was BAD, more that…it’s a somewhat disappointing first effort from an author who has a voice but needs polish it a bit more.

Goes well with Carnitas and any rum-based tropical drink.


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Richard Hilary Weber’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour organized by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, February 2nd: Life is Story

Wednesday, February 4th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Thursday, February 5th: Dwell in Possibility

Monday, February 9th: Booked on a Feeling

Tuesday, February 10th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, February 12th: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, February 17th: Read and Shelved

Thursday, February 19th: Reading Reality

Monday, February 23rd: Book Nerd

Tuesday, February 24th: Rhodes Review

Thursday, February 26th: Bibliotica

Monday, March 2nd: It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, March 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom

TBD: Queen of All She Reads 

The Druid Knight Tales, by Ruth A. Casie (@RuthACasie) – #Cover #Reveal #giveaway #bibliotica @hfvbt

Join author Ruth A. Casie on her Cover Reveal for The Druid Knight Tales: A Short Story, from February 23-March 13, and enter to win an eBook of the first book in the Druid Knight Series, Knight of Runes. The Druid Knight Tales

Publication Date: February 23, 2015
Publisher: Timeless Scribes Publishing, LLC
eBook: 57 pages
ISBN: 0986246425

Series: The Druid Knight Series
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romance

She would give her last breath for him. He would give up everything to guard her well and love her more.

Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, was given a year to find his soul mate. On the final day, the sacred mistletoe has shriveled and died—proclaiming his failure. He must do what no other Grand Master has done before and journey to meet with the Ancestors formally relinquish his title.

Ellyn of Brodgar has the gift of healing. But each use of her magick, through a kiss, depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Time is running out as she searches for a way to continue saving lives—especially her own.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld together—a place filled with magick and wonder, it’s also fraught with danger, traps, and death. They have only until the third sunset to find the Ancestors, or be lost to the world forever. The domineering druid must work with the stubborn healer, not only for survival, but for the promise of the future—a future together.

Pre-Order the eBook

Amazon

Excerpt

Penetrating blue-gray eyes stared out from the cocoon of dark wool that enrobed the woman. The cheeks on her porcelain-white face appeared tinged with a splash of pink. Her natural berry-red lips were turned up in a welcoming smile. “Grand Master.” She dipped a well-executed curtsy.

Fendrel’s healer was much different than the old crone he had anticipated. This woman was regal and beautiful. The gleam in her eyes was calm and comforting. He had a strange sensation, which made no sense at all, that he had known her for a long time. At ease with her, he allowed himself to relax and returned her open smile with one of his own.

“This is Ellyn of Brodgar,” said Fendrel. “She has been our healer for the last year. Our situation was grave. It was her healing skills that kept us alive. I would like you to accept her into our clan.”

The knuckles on Ellyn’s hand turned white from grasping her staff firmly. Her head whipped around at Fendrel.

Max observed, fascinated the elder was oblivious to the daggers the woman’s eyes flung at him. So, Fendrel hadn’t told her of his plan and if Max wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thank you, Fendrel,” said Ellyn. “Your request is a great honor. I will be your healer for as long as I am with you.” She turned to Max, her face serene. Her iron grip on the staff relaxed.

Fendrel sputtered.

“You are welcome into Fendrel’s clan for as long as you see fit to stay with us,” said Max. He was certain he saved Fendrel from getting his head bashed with the staff the woman carried. “Brodgar is in the Orkneys. You are far from home.”

“I go where I am needed.” Her voice was soft—her tone evasive.

Max gave her a benign smile. She was tall and graceful. Loose tendrils of curls softened her face. Dark lashes swept down against her cheekbone. She gazed at him with bright, intelligent eyes. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He sensed her trying to press in on his mind and blocked her attempt so fast she winced in pain. He’d made his point. She would not try that again.

“If you will excuse me.” She turned to leave. “I would like to look in on Dimia and the baby to make certain they’re settled in for the night,” she said to the new father.

“Of course, Ellyn. I will see you back to camp.” Fendrel approached the two men. “Thank you, Grand Master. Doward. We will see you tomorrow.” He and Ellyn went back down the small rise.

“Interesting girl,” remarked Doward after they were gone. “You didn’t have to be rough on her. She was only curious.” Doward chuckled.
Max stared after her.

She wasn’t at all what she seemed.

Titles in The Druid Knight Series

Knight of Runes – Available Now!
Knight of Rapture – Coming March 30, 2015
Knight of Redemption – Coming Fall, 2015

Druid-Knight-Series-3-Book-Spread

About the Author Ruth A. Casie

Ruth A Casie is a seasoned professional with over twenty-five years of writing experience but not necessarily writing romances. No, she’s been writing communication and marketing documents for a large corporation. Over the past years, encouraged by her friends and family, she gave way to her inner muse, let her creative juices flow, and began writing a series of historical time travel romance novels.

When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, New Jersey, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. Together with her husband Paul, they enjoy ballroom dancing and, with New York City close by, going to the theater. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.

Ruth is a Trustee and on the Executive Board of Shelter Our Sister (SOS) in New Jersey. SOS is Bergen County’s only shelter for victims of domestic violence. She frequently speaks at various functions around Bergen County on behalf of the Shelter.

For more information visit Ruth A. Casie’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Ruth A. Casie’s newsletter.

Giveaway!

To enter to win an eBook of Knight of Runes please complete the giveaway form below.

– Giveaway starts on February 23rd at 12:01am and ends on March 13th at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner will be notified via email.

Knight of Runes

The Druid Knight Tales at HFVBT

The Art of Short Stories, by Rebecca Adams Wright (@rvleeadams) – #GuestPost #Bibliotica

The Art of Short Stories

a guest post from Rebecca Adams Wright

I love little things. Shiny things. Broken bits of larger things. I am a human magpie, tucking crumbling robin’s eggshells or eye-catching pebbles into my pockets when I find them on the street. I cannot walk past a dropped coin even if it turns out to old be an old button. I like old buttons.

 

My husband laughs when he sees me pick up these treasures, because, of course, I almost never find a use for them. But they are food for the imagination, my beautiful scraps. I hoard them in little boxes and cluster them in drawers. I stumble upon them later, having completely forgotten their context, not at all sure where they came from, but still admiring. I turn them over in my hand as if for the first time and marvel at the sheen on the feather, the perfect divot in the stone.

I am a collector of odds and ends. I appreciate when the edges are ragged or the provenance unknown.

 

This love of small and cryptic things is one of the qualities that make me a natural short story writer.

 

Necessarily more compact than novels and more prosaic than poetry, short stories both speak our language and plunge us into mystery. They will present some kind of familiar anchor (though that anchor can be as small as the recognizable tweed on a button), but they may well make no other explanations. Novels unfold before you—they offer you an entry hall, a place to hang your jacket, they take you on the grand tour of all the rooms in the hotel. Novels want to offer you a whiskey and soda. Novels, even aggressive and fast-paced ones, want to be with you for a while. They want to take time.

 

Short stories cannot and will not offer you this. Short stories do not expect you to stay the night and order room service in the morning. They are likely to introduce you to the world by handing you a bag of untraceable gemstones and they may never get around to explaining the origins of the one-eyed ravens. Short stories can be many things: elegant, expansive, brutal, humane, lyrical, piercing, inventive. But they are never long. That means they always leave at least one thread dangling on the loom, a little spot of mystery trailing behind them.

 

Producing a delightful sense of mystery is not the same thing, of course, as leaving important aspects of narrative untold. The best stories are as tight and complete as nautilus shells. They create a sense of fullness precisely because they contain all that they need, and nothing more. These stories are not mysterious because they are vague. Rather, the specificity of the text’s images, characters, and situations compels the reader to keep asking questions, to imagine more than is on the page. Short stories are often compared to snapshots, and we all know that some of the best photographs manage to imply whole worlds in a space no larger than four inches by six.

 

The other great appeal of short stories, at least to me, is the fact that they allow for such a diversity of themes and topics, investigations and explorations. From the writer’s perspective, working in short form means that (usually) a story can be finished and shared in a fraction of the time of a novel, and without as much editorial input. Individual stories, because they do not have to represent the trajectory of a career, can take more risks, push more boundaries, wander out of comfort zones. Serious authors can be silly, mainstream authors can go genre, authors of timeless novels can engage with current events.

 

From a reader’s perspective, short stories can offer new angles from which to view well-known authors. Even more importantly, they create opportunities to explore new voices, unfamiliar genres, or nontraditional narrative structures without the commitment of three-hundred-plus pages. Short stories allow both writers and readers to take risks that sometimes pay enormous dividends.

 

All this is not to imply that I myself won’t release a novel someday. Novels offer their own set of rewards, among them the great pleasure of long immersion. I am, in fact, at work on a novel right now. But I cannot imagine ever turning my back on the short story, just as I cannot imagine walking down the street without stopping when a glint in the road catches my eye.

 

Look, I just found something breathtaking. Hold out your hand—I’m offering it to you.


About the author, Rebecca Adams Wright Rebecca Adams Wright

Rebecca Adams Wright is a 2011 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a former University of Michigan Zell Writing Fellow. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and has won the Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize. Rebecca lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Rebecca

Website | Facebook | Twitter


About the book, The Thing About Great White SharksThe Thing About Great White Sharks

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Little A (February 10, 2015)

In this collection’s richly imagined title story, our brutal and resourceful protagonist is determined to protect her family from a murderous, shark-ridden world—at any cost. Elsewhere, an old woman uncovers a sinister plot while looking after a friend’s plants (“Orchids”), and a girl in the war-torn countryside befriends an unlikely creature (“Keeper of the Glass”). In “Barnstormers,” a futuristic flying circus tries to forestall bankruptcy with one last memorable show. At the heart of “Sheila” is the terrible choice a retired judge must make when faced with the destruction of his beloved robotic dog, and “Yuri, in a Blue Dress” follows one of the last survivors of an alien invasion as she seeks help.

Extending from World War II to the far future, these fifteen stories offer a gorgeously observed perspective on our desire for connection and what it means to have compassion—for ourselves, for one another, for our past…and for whatever lies beyond.

Buy, read, and discuss The Thing About Great White Sharks

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


Rebecca Adams Wright’s TLC Book Tours Tour Stops: TLC Book Tours

This guest post is part of a tour organized by TLC Book Tours. For my review of this book, click HERE. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Friday, February 13th: Book Snob – author guest post

Monday, February 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, February 16th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, February 18th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 19th: 5 Minutes for Books

Thursday, February 19th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, February 23rd: Conceptual Reception

Tuesday, February 24th: Bibliotica review and author guest post

Tuesday, February 24th: Savvy Verse and Wit - author guest post

Wednesday, February 25th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, February 26th: The Relentless Reader

Monday, March 2nd: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Tuesday, March 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, March 5th: Guiltless Reading

Monday, March 9th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, March 12th: The Book Binder’s Daughter – author guest post

TBD: Bound by Words

TBD: Life is Story

The Thing About Great White Sharks, by Rebecca Adams Wright (@rvleeadams) – #Review #Bibliotica

About the book, The Thing About Great White SharksThe Thing About Great White Sharks

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Little A (February 10, 2015)

In this collection’s richly imagined title story, our brutal and resourceful protagonist is determined to protect her family from a murderous, shark-ridden world—at any cost. Elsewhere, an old woman uncovers a sinister plot while looking after a friend’s plants (“Orchids”), and a girl in the war-torn countryside befriends an unlikely creature (“Keeper of the Glass”). In “Barnstormers,” a futuristic flying circus tries to forestall bankruptcy with one last memorable show. At the heart of “Sheila” is the terrible choice a retired judge must make when faced with the destruction of his beloved robotic dog, and “Yuri, in a Blue Dress” follows one of the last survivors of an alien invasion as she seeks help.

Extending from World War II to the far future, these fifteen stories offer a gorgeously observed perspective on our desire for connection and what it means to have compassion—for ourselves, for one another, for our past…and for whatever lies beyond.

Buy, read, and discuss The Thing About Great White Sharks

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


About the author, Rebecca Adams Wright Rebecca Adams Wright

Rebecca Adams Wright is a 2011 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a former University of Michigan Zell Writing Fellow. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and has won the Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize. Rebecca lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Rebecca

Website | FacebookTwitter


My Thoughts

Short stories are a great way to get to know an author if you’re unfamiliar with her work, or if you don’t have the time to really sink into a novel. (Personally, I like to keep collections of short stories in the bathroom. Oh, come on, you all know you read there, too.)
I’ve come to think of them as a textual sampler platter. You get all sorts of characters and voices, and you don’t have to choose one to stay with.

Rebecca Adams Wright’s collection of short stories, The Thing About Great White Sharks (and Other Stories), is a prize among short story collections, because it’s fresh and unique, and just a little twisted in places…all things I appreciate.

While the title of the book (and the eponymous short story within) are what drew me to this collection (because I do have a ‘thing’ about great white sharks), and while that story – a whole new way to look at post-Apocalyptic society that (thank you, Ms. Wright) does not involve any humans shambling around or moaning for brains – was compelling, and dark, and even a little dangerous, it wasn’t my favorite of the fifteen.

That honor went to “Orchids,” which starts out as a simple little tale of a woman watering her neighbors plants and turns into something that would make Hitchcock sit up in his grave and demand to film, were that possible.

I also want to give a shout-out to “Sheila” which was sweet and sentimental without being sappy, and reminded me of both the questions that will start to come up as AIs become more widespread and more advanced (Siri has some growing up to do) and of the contemporary, and very real, issue of Breed-Selective Legislation (the laws which ban people from owning “bully” breed dogs like American Staffordshire Terriers, and other ‘pit bull types’).

But those are just three of the collection, and there are twelve others that take us back in time to World War II, and forward to when aliens are a real presence, and span many years and moods in between.

I would say that I’d love to see Ms. Wright give us a whole novel, but I’ve enjoyed her short stories so much, that my greediest self wants to demand another volume.

Goes well with Tapas and sangria or sushi and plum wine – anything that involves small bites of diverse flavors.


Rebecca Adams Wright’s TLC Book Tours Tour Stops: TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a tour organized by TLC Book Tours. For a guest post from the author, click HERE. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Friday, February 13th: Book Snob – author guest post

Monday, February 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, February 16th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, February 18th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 19th: 5 Minutes for Books

Thursday, February 19th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, February 23rd: Conceptual Reception

Tuesday, February 24th: Bibliotica review and author guest post

Tuesday, February 24th: Savvy Verse and Wit - author guest post

Wednesday, February 25th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, February 26th: The Relentless Reader

Monday, March 2nd: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Tuesday, March 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, March 5th: Guiltless Reading

Monday, March 9th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, March 12th: The Book Binder’s Daughter – author guest post

TBD: Bound by Words

TBD: Life is Story

 

 

The Fairytale Keeper by Andrea Cefalo (@AndreaCefalo) – #Review #Bibliotica #contest #giveaway

The Fairytale Keeper

About the book The Fairytale Keeper The Fairytale Keeper

Re-Release Date: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press, 262 Pages
Formats: eBook; Paperback

Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name Adelaide hated, until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.

A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide’s father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.

Soren commits an unforgivable atrocity, pushing Adelaide toward vengeance. When Adelaide realizes that the corruption in Cologne reaches far beyond Soren, the cost of settling scores quickly escalates. Avenging the mother she lost may cost Adelaide everything she has left: her father, her friends, her first love, and maybe even her life.

Seamlessly weaving historical events and Grimm’s fairy tales into a tale of corruption and devotion, The Fairytale Keeper, leaves the reader wondering where fact ends and fiction begins. The novel paints Medieval Cologne accurately and vividly. The story develops a set of dynamic characters, casting the famous villains, heroes, and damsels of Grimm’s fairy tales into believable medieval lives. Though historically set, The Fairytale Keeper brims with timeless themes of love, loyalty, and the struggle for justice.

Buy, read, and discuss The Fairytale Keeper

Amazon (paperback) | Amazon (eBook) | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | Kobo | Goodreads


Take the The Fairytale Keeper Playbuzz Quiz


About the Author, Andrea Cefalo Andrea Cefalo

Besides being the award-winning author of The Fairytale Keeper series, Andrea Cefalo is a self-proclaimed medievalist, hopeless bookworm, and social media junkie. She graduated with honors from Winthrop University in 2007 where she studied Medieval art history and children’s literature. The next three books in The Fairytale Keeper series—The Countess’ Captive, The Baseborn Lady, and The Traitor’s Target—will debut in 2015 and 2016. She resides in Greenville, South Carolina—ever perched before her trusty laptop—with her husband and their two border collies.

Connect with Andrea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest.

Follow The Fairytale Keeper Pinterest Board.


My Thoughts

I’m a big fan of people who find new ways to share old stories. With The Fairytale Keeper, Andrea Cefalo has given us a reality-based version of the classic tale of Snow White that is every bit as magical as the versions we all grew up with (and I’m not talking about Disney), even though there’s no actual magic in it.

Set in medieval Cologne, Cefalo’s story is of a young girl on the brink of womanhood, growing up at a time when reading and writing were not the norm, and the Church had the power over the life and death, not just of individuals, but of entire communities. She turns archetypical characters -Snow, her father, her (future) stepmother into three-dimensional begins, with lives and wants and personalities and in doing so, she shows us that life is complicated, and that even the best of us sometimes make poor choices.

I loved that Adelaide (Snow White is a hated nickname bestowed upon her by her storytelling mother) is a feisty, empowered (for the time) young woman. She’s a problem solver, but one whom the real world hasn’t quite touched, and it’s her mixture of innocence and knowledge that really make the character live. I also liked that she has a friend – a young man named Ivo – who she’s on the brink of romance with (he brings her jars of fireflies), but that it’s handled in an appropriate way.

Adelaide’s father, too, is complex: mourning his wife, doting on his daughter while also teaching her his trade, and trying to find a future. Similarly, Galadriel, the woman who (it’s foreshadowed) is likely to become Adelaide’s stepmother at some point in the future (she’s living with them) is an all-too-human figure: caring, but lost, and somewhat broken.

Together, this cast of characters form a family, and the other characters in the story broaden it to a whole community that seems every bit as real as any historical village from a textbook, but with more color and life.

Fairytales are woven through the novel, of course – often representing stories told to Adelaide by her mother, who, in a flashback, tells the child her story isn’t written.

And that’s really the point of this whole novel: we can learn from the stories of others, but ultimately, each of us has to also write our own story.

The book is an easy read. It sucks you in, and is paced well, with accessible language that never feels too contemporary – a trick that can be hard to pull off.

I’ve got the sequel as well, waiting to be read for review next month, and I’m eagerly awaiting another visit with Adelaide, and watching to see how her story evolves.

If you love fairytales and folklore, if you love strong women, and complex characters, if you love believable plots and rich descriptions of place and things, you will – as I do – LOVE The Fairytale Keeper.

Goes well with Strong black tea with either milk or honey (never both) and toasted rustic bread with cheese melted on top.


The Fairytale Keeper Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 16
Spotlight at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, February 17
Review at Book Drunkard

Wednesday, February 18
Review at Bibliotica
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, February 19
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, February 20
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, February 21
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, February 23
Review at Bookish

Wednesday, February 25
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, February 26
Review at Carpe Librum

Friday, February 27
Review at The Bookish Outsider

Monday, March 2
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Tuesday, March 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 4
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Friday, March 6
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, March 9
Review at Shelf Full of Books

Wednesday, March 11
Review at Brooke Blogs
Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Thursday, March 12
Review at A Leisure Moment
Guest Post at Brooke Blogs

Friday, March 13
Review at Library Educated
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book


Giveaway

To enter to win a Fairytale Keeper Clutch Purse & $25 Amazon Gift Card please complete the giveaway form below.

Clutch Purse Giveaway

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on March 13th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* Only one entry per household.
* All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
* Winner will be chosen via GLEAM on March 14th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

The Fairytale Keeper

The Fairytale Keeper

The Swimmer, by Joakim Zander (@JoakimZander) – #Review #Bibliotica

About The Swimmer The Swimmer

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Harper (February 10, 2015)

A deep-cover CIA agent races across Europe to save the daughter he never knew in this electrifying debut thriller— an international sensation billed as “Homeland meets Stieg Larsson”—that heralds the arrival of a new master.

Early 1980s, Damascus. A nameless American spy abandons his newborn child to an uncertain fate. His inability to forgive himself for what he has done leads him on a lifelong quest to escape his past that will take him to Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq—anywhere where the danger and the stress allow him to forget.

Thirty years later, EU aide Klara Walldéen is learning to navigate the world of politics—the lines between friend and enemy, truth and lies. But Klara has just seen something she should not have: a laptop containing information so sensitive that people will kill to keep it hidden. Suddenly she is thrown into a terrifying chase through Europe, with no idea who is hunting her or why.

Their stories converge one stormy Christmas Eve in the Swedish archipelago, where blood is spilled, shocking discoveries are made, and the past inevitably catches up with the present.

Buy, read, and discuss The Swimmer

Amazon  | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Joakim Zander

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Joakim Zander has lived in Syria and Israel and graduated from high school in the United States. He earned a PhD in Law from Maastricht University in the Netherlands and has worked as a lawyer for the European Union in Brussels and Helsinki. The Swimmer is his first novel; rights have been sold in 28 territories. Zander currently lives in southern Sweden with his wife and two children.

Connect with Joakim

Twitter.


My Thoughts

I love a good political thriller, and I was really excited to be given a chance to read The Swimmer. I’m told it’s likely to be popular among fans of Stieg Larsson’s work, but with all the reading I do, I’ve managed to miss reading any of his work, so when I tell you this novel will suck you in gently with it’s opening involving a baby saved from a bombing, and keep you hooked until the very last page, know that I do so without a direct contemporary comparison, but that’s okay, because really, this thriller has more in common with old-school writers like Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum.

Zander’s writing voice is clear and unaffected, sometimes even stark, and yet his characters leap of the pages, and his descriptions of places are as three-dimensional as if you walked into them yourself. What’s more, this is a book originally written in the author’s native Swedish, and translated to English, but it never feels like a translation…that’s how well-crafted it is.

Then there’s the pacing. After setting up the characters, Klara, the young woman who was orphaned as a baby and raised by her grandparents, and the aging spy half a world away from Klara’s home in Brussels, where she works as as political aide, the story ramps up, ever increasing the suspense until it comes to a finish that’s almost explosive.

If you want the feeling of a really gripping old-school thriller, but with contemporary characters and an absolutely modern setting, dive into The Swimmer. You’ll hate it when the book ends and you’re forced to come up for air.

Goes well with A cappuccino and a butter croissant, eaten from behind a newspaper in an outdoor cafe.


Joakim’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below; for more information, click HERE.
Tuesday, February 10th: Bibiotica

Wednesday, February 11th: Man of La Book

Friday, February 13th: Dreams, Etc.

Monday, February 16th: My Bookish Ways

Tuesday, February 17th: Staircase Wit

Wednesday, February 18th: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, February 19th: Annabel & Alice

Friday, February 20th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, February 23rd: Stephany Writes

Tuesday, February 24th: A Dream Within a Dream

Wednesday, February 25th: Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks

Thursday, February 26th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Monday, March 2nd: The Discerning Reader

Tuesday, March 3rd: Novel Escapes

Thursday, March 5th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, March 6th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Wednesday, March 11th: Many Hats

Hunting Shadows, an #InspectorIanRutledge #Mystery by Charles Todd – #Review #Bibliotica

About the book Hunting Shadows Hunting Shadows

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (January 21, 2014)

In the latest mystery from New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd, Inspector Ian Rutledge is summoned to the quiet, isolated Fen country to solve a series of seemingly unconnected murders before the killer strikes again.

August 1920. A society wedding at Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire becomes a crime scene when a guest is shot just as the bride arrives. Two weeks later, after a fruitless search for clues, the local police are forced to call in Scotland Yard. But not before there is another shooting in a village close by. This second murder has a witness; the only problem is that her description of the killer is so horrific it’s unbelievable. Badgered by the police, she quickly recants her story.

Despite his experience, Inspector Ian Rutledge can find no connection between the two deaths. One victim was an Army officer, the other a solicitor standing for Parliament; their paths have never crossed. What links these two murders? Is it something from the past? Or is it only in the mind of a clever killer?

Then the case reminds Rutledge of a legendary assassin whispered about during the war. His own dark memories come back to haunt him as he hunts for the missing connection—and yet, when he finds it, it isn’t as simple as he’d expected. He must put his trust in the devil in order to find the elusive and shocking answer.

Buy, read, and discuss Hunting Shadows

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Charles Todd Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Bess Crawford mysteries, the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina, respectively.

Connect with Charles Todd

Website | Facebook.


My Thoughts

I love a good mystery, and this book was exactly what I needed on a cold, drizzly, Texas winter day. The opening, with a man planning a revenge-based murder, was chilling, and the next chapter with the actual murder taking place during a wedding had all the chaos and confusion you’d expect, plus the twist of the (possible) killer walking through the scene without anyone taking real note. (This is not a spoiler for the whodunnit part of the story.)

As the novel opened up, and we met Inspector Ian Rutledge, I felt like I was being plunged into one of those oh-so-atmospheric British novels I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. The action was well paced, taking time to appreciate the heavy mist or a well-earned meat pie without getting too bogged down by extraneous detail. The characters seemed appropriate for the period (the 20s) and the piece, and there were some lovely bits of all-too-human comedy to balance the darkness inherent in a murder mystery.

What took Hunting Shadows to a whole new level for me, though, is Rutledge’s ongoing battle with what, today, would be called PTSD. Burdened with guilt over the death of a war buddy, he still hears his friend’s voice from time to time. That layer of storytelling added a lot to Rutledge’s character, but it also made the whole book have a deeper resonance. We forget, sometimes, what war does to even the brightest, most stable people, and how those experiences shape our whole lives.

If you love a classic mystery-thriller with lush descriptions, believable characters, and a compelling story, you will, as I did, love Hunting Shadows.

Goes well with a pint of stout and a fresh-from-the-oven meat pie.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour organized by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.
Friday, January 2nd: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, January 6th: Dwell in Possibility

Wednesday, January 7th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, January 19th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, February 5th: Luxury Reading

Friday, February 6th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 9th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, February 11th: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, February 18th: The Discerning Reader

TBD: Fuelled by Fiction

House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (@sonjayoerg) – #Review #Bibliotica

About the book House Broken House Broken

Pages: 332
Publisher: NAL (January 6, 2015)

Veterinarian Geneva Novak understands the behavior of umpteen species—just not her mother, Helen.

Geneva fled her childhood home—and her mother’s vodka-fueled disasters—without a backward glance. Twenty-five years later, Helen totals her car and her leg, and none of her children will play nurse. Geneva’s husband, whose family lives in each other’s pockets, convinces her that letting Helen move in might repair the mother-daughter relationship.

Geneva’s not holding her breath.

But she recognizes an opportunity. With her mother dependent and hobbled, Geneva may finally get answers to questions that have plagued her for years: why her eldest sister exiled herself to Africa, why her mother won’t discuss Geneva’s long-dead father, and why—there has to be a reason—Helen treats alcohol like a general anesthetic.

Buy, read, and discuss House Broken

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


About the author, Sonja Yoerg Sonja Yoerg

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and studied learning in blue jays, kangaroo rats and spotted hyenas, among other species. Her non-fiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA) was published in 2001.

While her two daughters were young, Sonja taught in their schools in California. Now that they are in college, she writes full-time.

She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband. HOUSE BROKEN is her first novel.

Connect with Sonja

Website | Twitter


When Sonja Yoerg contacted me through this blog, asking if I’d read and review her book, I leaped at the chance. After all, I work in rescue, so I’m always up for reading about any character who works with animals. I’m really glad I accepted her offer, because House Broken is a wonderful book.

The main character, Geneva, is a veterinarian who clearly cares about her patients and their human companions, but, like many women who work in ‘caring’ professions, she has a hard time prioritizing her own self-care, and the needs of her family. While much of this novel is centered around Geneva’s relationship with her injured mother, I really liked that we got to see the whole picture of her life with its flaws and imperfections as well as its joys.

The mother-daughter dynamic was captured particularly well. Even those of us who, like me, have really strong relationships with our mothers, have still had to navigate tricky passages of our lives. I’m very fortunate that my own mother is hale and hearty, but having watched my mother deal with my grandmother’s recuperation from a hip replacement, decades ago, I know about the family secrets, bitter truths, and too-candid opinions that tend to surface during challenging times.

Helen, Geneva’s mother in the story, is a character made much more complicated by her love of vodka, because you never know if what she says is meant, or is enhanced by alcohol (or the lack of same). What is especially poignant is the realization that these women love each other, but they don’t really like each other very much.

One thing I really appreciated was that we saw Geneva not just as a daughter, but also as a mother. Her own relationship with her children is both counterpoint and learning opportunity, and seeing the ‘whole picture’ of her life made the whole novel that much more compelling.

With House Broken, Sonja Yoerg has given readers a meaty, interesting family drama, with the perfect balance of conventional relationships, and unconventional twists to them.

Buy this book for the cute dog on the cover, but read it for the amazing story inside.

Goes well with Strong coffee and an ‘everything’ bagel, toasted, with sun-dried tomato cream cheese.

Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen – Review

About the book Scent of ButterfliesScent of Butterflies

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 7, 2014)

Betrayal, forgiveness, identity and obsession churn against the tumultuous landscape of the Islamic revolution and seemingly perfect gardens of southern California in this compelling novel from bestselling author Dora Levy Mossanen.

Amidst a shattering betrayal and a country in turmoil, Soraya flees Iran to make a new life for herself in Los Angeles. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Southern California, as Soraya plots her revenge against the other woman, her best friend, Butterfly. What she discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had ever imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of events that leave the reader breathless.

A novel singed by the flavors of Tehran, imbued with the Iranian roots of Persepolis and the culture clash of Rooftops of Tehran, this is a striking, nuanced story of a woman caught between two worlds, from the bestselling author of HaremCourtesan, and The Last Romanov.

Buy, read, and discuss Scent of Butterflies

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


About the author, Dora Levy Mossanen Dora Levy Mossanen

Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel and moved to Iran when she was nine. At the onset of the Islamic revolution, she and her family moved to the United States. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Dora is the bestselling author of the acclaimed novels Harem, Courtesan, and The Last Romanov. Her fourth and most provocative book, Scent of Butterflies, was released January 7, 2014. She is a frequent contributor to numerous media outlets including the Huffington Post and the Jewish Journal. She has been featured on KCRW, The Politics of Culture, Voice of Russia, Radio Iran and numerous other radio and television programs. She is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ choice award and was accepted as contributor to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Dora Levy Mossanen’s novels have been translated into numerous languages world-wide.


My Thoughts:

While Soraya’s story was both interesting and compelling, I found myself distracted by two things: one: how on earth did she have the funds with which to make her escape from Tehran and set up a whole new lifestyle in California, and why wasn’t she more likeable?

The first question may have been answered in the text, and I simply missed it. The second, I think, is by design. Soraya was betrayed, yes, but she is the perfect embodiment of blind revenge, setting up everything she can in order to get even with the people who have wronged her. Of course, betrayals within marriages cause some of the deepest wounds, and betrayals among long-time friends are just as hurtful, so maybe it’s not surprising that the main character is a little too ‘hard,’ a little too inscrutable, a little too difficult to empathize with.

Aside from my utter inability to like the main character, I thought Mossanen’s novel was truly well-written, the language almost lyrical in places. Even somewhat creepy passages (when Soraya literally squeezes the life from a butterfly for her collection) had a sort of dark beauty about them. Similarly, the descriptions of place, the spare use of language, the recurring themes of butterflies, both in the body of Soraya’s friend Butterfly, and in her vast collection of dead insects, really blended well to give this book a sort of otherworldly feeling. The repeated references to the human Butterfly’s preference for Chanel No. 5 were familiar to me – I have a great aunt who has worn Taboo for so many years that when I smell it, it smells like rice pudding to me, because I associate it with her work in our family’s diner. How sad to have Soraya’s more negative sense memory of her childhood friend’s preferred scent.

Early in Soraya’s time in California she references advice the once received, about only moving somewhere with the same color sky. With her writing, Mossanen makes us see the beauty of the Tehran that was, even in the Los Angeles that is, and I enjoyed that aspect of the novel.

I’ll confess that I had a personal interest in this book: when I was very young (one or two) my mother was dating a young Iranian officer visiting the U.S. on an exchange. He was a member of the Shah’s army, and actually tried to convince my mother to marry him and move to Iran (fortunately for both of us, she refused). While I have no distinct memories of him, I find familiarity in the rhythms of spoken Farsi.

At times, reading Scent of Butterflies, I felt like I was hearing those rhythms, the particular cadences that only those language families have.

I do want to mention that the twist near the end of the novel DID surprise me, and I thought the whole book was well-crafted. I think I’m just not quite cynical enough to resonate with Soraya, even though her story was well told.

Goes well with Falafel and tahini sauce and mint tea.


Dora Levy Mossanen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.
Monday, February 2nd: My Book Self

Wednesday, February 4th: Bibliotica

Friday, February 6th: Back Porchervations

Wednesday, February 11th: Books a la Mode – guest post

Friday, February 13th: Reading and Eating

Monday, February 16th: Chick Lit Central

Monday, February 16th: A Bookish Affair – guest post

Tuesday, February 17th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Wednesday, February 18th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, February 23rd: Bibliophiliac

Friday, February 27th: Shelf Pleasure – guest post

Monday, March 2nd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Tuesday, March 3rd: Too Fond

Thursday, March 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Dreaming Spies, by Laurie R. King – Review

About the book, Dreaming Spies, by Laurie R. King Dreaming Spies

Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
Publisher: Bantam (17 February 2015)
Hardcover: 352 Pages

Laurie R. King’s New York Times bestselling novels of suspense featuring Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, are critically acclaimed and beloved by readers for the author’s adept interplay of history and adventure. Now the intrepid duo is finally trying to take a little time for themselves—only to be swept up in a baffling case that will lead them from the idyllic panoramas of Japan to the depths of Oxford’s most revered institution.

After a lengthy case that had the couple traipsing all over India, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are on their way to California to deal with some family business that Russell has been neglecting for far too long. Along the way, they plan to break up the long voyage with a sojourn in southern Japan. The cruising steamer Thomas Carlyle is leaving Bombay, bound for Kobe. Though they’re not the vacationing types, Russell is looking forward to a change of focus—not to mention a chance to travel to a location Holmes has not visited before. The idea of the pair being on equal footing is enticing to a woman who often must race to catch up with her older, highly skilled husband.

Aboard the ship, intrigue stirs almost immediately. Holmes recognizes the famous clubman the Earl of Darley, whom he suspects of being an occasional blackmailer: not an unlikely career choice for a man richer in social connections than in pounds sterling. And then there’s the lithe, surprisingly fluent young Japanese woman who befriends Russell and quotes haiku. She agrees to tutor the couple in Japanese language and customs, but Russell can’t shake the feeling that Haruki Sato is not who she claims to be.

Once in Japan, Russell’s suspicions are confirmed in a most surprising way. From the glorious city of Tokyo to the cavernous library at Oxford, Russell and Holmes race to solve a mystery involving international extortion, espionage, and the shocking secrets that, if revealed, could spark revolution—and topple an empire.

Buy a copy of Dreaming Spies

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of the Russell/Holmes series since they first started, so when I realized there was a chance I could review the latest book before it’s release date (thank you NetGalley), I begged for the chance. Okay, I didn’t beg, but I did make the request, and was granted permission. I’m glad I did, because this was a great read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story takes place in two parts. The first is on the way to, and then in, Japan, and involves the Russell/Holmes version of a road trip as they learn to appreciate Japanese culture, and even to blend in, slightly, though their journey culminates in espionage and an attempt to help protect the Emperor’s honor.

The second place takes place back home – Russell’s home – in Oxford, and is basically the ‘what happens after’ part of the original mission.

I liked the new characters, the explanations of the history of ninjas and the use of traditional (albeit translated) haiku as chapter headers. I also liked the touches that author King puts in that let us peek behind the curtains of Russell’s and Holmes’s relationship – Holmes doesn’t like to play the ‘older husband to a young girl’ role, and yet, he is older, and she is younger, and I think his aging is factoring into things more and more…

King, as always, blends mystery with social commentary and a close look at non-western cultures, and does so in a way that is incredibly satisfying, but not so much so that the reader isn’t immediately looking forward to the next novel in the series.

I didn’t want this book to end.
I can’t wait for the next one.

Goes well with miso soup, sashimi, tempura, and jasmine tea.