Review: The American Girl, by Kate Horsley

About the book,  The American Girl The American Girl

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 2, 2016)

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding.

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.

Buy, read, and discuss this book

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kate Horsley Kate Horsley

Kate Horsley’s first novel, The Monster’s Wife, was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Best British Crime Stories. She co-edits Crimeculture, a site dedicated to crime fiction and film offering articles, reviews, and interviews with writers.

Connect with Kate

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | Google+


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good thriller and The American Girl offers up thrill after thrill from the moment Quinn Perkins  stumbles out of a French forest and gets hit by a car, through every plot twist and mysterious turn as American journalist Molly Swift goes head-to-head with local authorities to determine the real story behind the foreign exchange student’s surprising appearance, and, indeed the rest of her time in St. Roch.

I liked the convention of alternating chapters between amnesiac Quinn’s flashbacks, her present-day video blog (an activity her therapist assigned) and Molly’s observations, especially since the former is confined to a hospital bed in a coma for the first quarter of the novel, and remains in the hospital (but awake) for much of the rest of the story.

I have to admit, I did find myself a bit distracted by Quinn’s name. Is she meant to be an homage to the character from the television show Scandal, who also has an amnesiac Quinn Perkins at the enter of the story, or did the author merely draw the name from mid-air? I wish I’d thought to relay a question through the blog tour host and publicist to find out.

I also have to confess that while I enjoyed the mystery/thriller aspect of this book a lot, I found that some of the individual story elements were a bit predictable. Molly’s flirtation with the local law enforcement is one; whether or not we should trust Quin is another.

Still, even with some minor flaws, the overall tenor of this novel is exactly what it should be for a story this dark and this intimate. The characters at the center of it – Molly and Quinn – are painted with deft strokes, the supporting cast with slightly less definition, but enough to be believable. Similarly the tone  – moody and murky – kept me involved in the mystery rather than working it out long before I was finished.

If you want a novel that sustains a nice creepy mood, tells a gripping story, and is otherwise well-crafted, you should read The American Girl.

Goes well with a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, August 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Thursday, August 4th: Literary Feline

Monday, August 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, August 9th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, August 10th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, August 11th: Bibliotica

Thursday, August 11th: FictionZeal

Monday, August 15th: Buried Under Books

Monday, August 15th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 17th: Comfy Reading

Thursday, August 18th: StephTheBookworm

TBD: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

TBD: Book Hooked Blog

 

Review: Home Field, by Hannah Gersen

About the book, Home Field Home Field by Hannah Gersen

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 26, 2016)

The heart of Friday Night Lights meets the emotional resonance and nostalgia of My So-Called Life in this moving debut novel about tradition, family, love, and football.

As the high school football coach in his small, rural Maryland town, Dean is a hero who reorganized the athletic program and brought the state championship to the community. When he married Nicole, the beloved town sweetheart, he seemed to have it all—until his troubled wife committed suicide. Now, everything Dean thought he knew is thrown off kilter as Nicole’s death forces him to re-evaluate all of his relationships, including those with his team and his three children.

Dean’s eleven-year old son, Robbie, is withdrawing at home and running away from school. Bry, who is only eight, is struggling to understand his mother’s untimely death and his place in the family. Eighteen-year-old Stephanie, a freshman at Swarthmore, is torn between her new identity as a rebellious and sophisticated college student, her responsibility towards her brothers, and reeling from missing her mother. As Dean struggles to continue to lead his team to victory in light of his overwhelming personal loss, he must fix his fractured family—and himself. When a new family emergency arises, Dean discovers that he’ll never view the world in the same way again.

Transporting readers to the heart of small town America, Home Field is an unforgettable, poignant story about the pull of the past and the power of forgiveness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Hannah Gersen Hannah Gersen

Hannah Gersen was born in Maine and grew up in western Maryland. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Granta, and The Southern Review, among others. Home Field is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Connect with Hannah

Website


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

As we head into summer’s home stretch, I find myself anxious for the cooler (well slightly cooler – I live in Texas, after all) temperatures of autumn. Even now in the first half of August, even though the temperature is regularly over 100, there’s a thinner quality to the summer light.

Home Field does not take place entirely within the summer, but in part one of this deftly crafted family drama, grieving father and high school football coach Dean reflects that he needs August so that he and the boys he coaches can recharge before the craziness of the school year sets in.

In many ways, I feel like we all need this novel, in much the same way. For all it deals with deep issues  – the death-by-suicide of Dean’s wife, Stephanie, Robbie, and Bry’s mother,  Nicole, the various ways different people process such an event, and the eventual healing that starts even though it meets a bit of resistance – this is a gentle story. It perfectly combines the immediate pain and loss of this family with the setting of small-town America.

I’ll confess that eighteen-year-old Stephanie is the character I most understood, despite the fact that I’m more a contemporary of her father – but I know too well the way we distance ourselves from our mothers, even when we’re still alive, and, like her, I went through a period when my hair was dyed black. (My hair is currently streaked with pink, but for very different reasons.) I thought the combination of her outer rebellion and her inner commitment to academic excellence was incredibly well-written.

But Dean, the father, the coach, felt very real to me as well. I felt for him at every moment of this novel, and wanted so much for him to find his rhythm and make the connection with his children that was missing a little bit in all of their grief.

Overall, I felt that Home Field was an absorbing, satisfying read, and I look forward to more from Hannah Gersen.

Goes well with smoked ham, roasted red potatoes, and crisp apple cider (hard or not, as appropriate).


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, July 26th: BookNAround

Thursday, July 28th: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, July 29th: Broken Teepee

Monday, August 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, August 2nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, August 3rd: bookchickdi

Thursday, August 4th: A Bookish Affair

Monday, August 8th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, August 9th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 10th: Sweet Southern Home

TBD: A Tattered Copy

Review: Secrets of Nanreath Hall, by Alix Rickloff

About the book, Secrets of Nanreath Hall Secrets of Nanreath Hall

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 2, 2016)

This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.

Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.

As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth… and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Alix Rickloff Alix Rickloff

Alix Rickloff is a critically acclaimed author of historical and paranormal romance. Her previous novels include the Bligh Family series (Kensington, 2009), the Heirs of Kilronan trilogy (Pocket, 2011), and, as Alexa Egan, the Imnada Brotherhood series (Pocket, 2014). She lives in Chestertown, Maryland, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Alix:

Website  FacebookPinterestTwitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

In Secrets of Nanreath Hall, author Alix Rickloff gives us an interesting well-written historical novel that takes place in two time periods without the use of time travel.

Instead, we meet Lady Katherine (Kitty) first as she’s announcing to her close friends that she’s been diagnosed with cancer, and doesn’t have much time left, and later in alternating chapters that flash back to show us her personal history. Her story is set against the backdrop of World War I, and we follow her constant straining against the society family she was born into and her love for an artist who paints her the way he sees her, but dies far too soon.

We also meet Anna, Kitty’s daughter, who is serving as a  Red Cross nurse. Her story is also set during wartime, World War II, and her chapters have a snap and sparkle to them that the Kitty sections do not, which fits the energy of the time.

Of the two women, it’s difficult to say which is stronger. Anna is certainly more self-sufficient, but Kitty is more unconventional, and yet, Rickloff makes them undeniably mother and daughter, even though Anna loses her mother when she is only six.

Both women have stories that involve coming of age, losing family, and finding their right place in the world. Kitty’s is more languid, especially as we know her ultimate end – dying essentially alone – from the beginning. Almost, it feels like lassitude slowly creeps into her story.  Conversely, Anna’s story increases in tempo as it goes on. Her early scenes paint her as very much a lost lamb, having just lost her guardians in an air raid.

There are other characters in this story of course. Kitty’s lover (and Anna’s father) the painter Simon Halliday is one. Anna’s cousin Hugh and friend Tilly are others. These characters are well drawn, each with their own flaws but they serve to highlight the women at the heart of the novel.

A final character is the family manse, Nanreath Hall, a house that has been conscripted for use as a convalescent home – the house where Anna is assigned. If the actual secrets held by the Hall were somewhat predictable, it wasn’t a detractor. The novel is so well written that even the predictable is a delight to read.

While this book will most appeal to Anglophiles and people who love historical novels, I think it would suit a broad variety of readers.

Goes well with warm pastry and hot tea, or maybe a splash of brandy.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 2nd: BookNAround

Thursday, August 4th: Bibliotica

Friday, August 5th: Let Them Read Books

Monday, August 8th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, August 9th: A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, August 10th: Broken Teepee

Monday, August 15th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, August 16th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, August 17th: Savvy Verse & Wit

Thursday, August 18th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Review: Vanishing Time, by Katharine Britton – with Giveaway

About the book, Vanishing Time Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton

 

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Goodreads


About the author, Katharine Britton Katharine Britton

Katharine has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. Her screenplay “Goodbye Don’t Mean Gone,” on which “Vanishing Time” was based, was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. When not writing, Katharine can often be found in her Vermont garden, waging a non-toxic war against slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles, and beetles. Katharine’s defense consists mainly of hand-wringing after the fact. Also by Katharine Britton: “Her Sister’s Shadow” and “Little Island.”

Connect with Katharine

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

A couple of years ago, I reviewed Katharine Britton’s novel Little Islandwhich I really loved, so when her name appeared in my email, inviting me to read and review her latest work, Vanishing Time, there was no way I was going to decline.  I fell just as much in love – perhaps more so – with this novel, and I’m pleased and honored that she asked me to review it.

If you read the blurb, you may get the impression that this novel is going to be a dark and plodding story about a mother searching for her presumed-dead son. Well, there is a lot of searching for the boy, but in no way is this story dark. Sure, there are some heavy moments, but Britton excels as writing the everyday touches of humor and grace that touch even the worst of our days. The result is less Cama’s search for her son – though that’s crucial to the novel – but Cama’s journey to her authentic self, which happens in spurts and sprinkles, from the first page to the last.

Crafting such a story at all takes a delicate hand, but Britton’s work is that delicate. In this richly satisfying read, she’s given us a glimpse at the Low Country lifestyle that I’ve always been drawn to in literature, even using Gullah phrases as chapter headers (a delightful treat, and wonderful detail).

She’s also populated the story with a cast of characters who practically leap off the page and invite you for pie. Sam, the lawyer-turned-touchstone who provides Cama with a solid presence during her search. Phoebe, who owns the cottages on Pawleys Island, and even best-friend Ellie in California, are all written with as much dimension as Cama herself, and as Tate, the little boy Cama is so desperate to find.

What could easily have become a maudlin story about a mother’s plodding search for her missing child becomes, in Katharine Britton’s deft hands, a compelling story that uses the search for self and the search for truth as dual themes connected by the reminiscence of love gone sour, a bit of action/adventure, and just a hint of new love if you turn your head and squint a little.

I love this book, and Britton’s writing voice (which has matured a bit, and flows more easily than it did in Little Island) is clear, strong, and completely captivating.

Goes well with, shrimp po’boys and sweet tea.


Giveaway Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton

One lucky reader (US/Canada)  will win a print copy  of this book, autographed by the author.

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

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling me where your roots are. Is there a place that feels more like home to you than any other? Is it the place where you were born?

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Friday, August 12th.

 

Giveaway Updates & What’s Next

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

Here are the winners of the last three giveaways.

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

After Alice, by Gregory Maguire, goes to Selena.

Finding Fontainebleau, by Thad Carhart goes to Anne.


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

About the book, Vanishing Time Vanishing Time by Katharine Britton

 

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

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

 

 

 

Review: Under an Adirondack Sky, by Karen Rock

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

Can he juggle everything…including her?

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

Read the first three chapters on Wattpad!

Purchase Links

HarlequinBarnes & Noble| Amazon| Kobo


Karen Rock Karen Rock

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

Connect with Karen

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

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

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

That much, you can glean from the back cover.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to purchase any book in the series

Review: The Memory Painter, by Gwendolyn Womack

About the book, The Memory Painter The Memory Painter

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

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Goodreads


Watch the trailer for this book


About the author, Gwendolyn Womack Gwendolyn Womack

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

Connect with Gwendolyn

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

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

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

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

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

 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 4th: Lilac Reviews

Tuesday, July 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, July 6th: Dreaming Big

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

Friday, July 8th: Art @ Home

Monday, July 11th: A Bookish Affair

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

Thursday, July 14th: Broken Teepee

Monday, July 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, July 19th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, July 20th: Ms.Bookish.com

Thursday, July 21st: Bibliotica

Review: Finding Fontainebleau, by Thad Carhart – with Giveaway

About the book, Finding Fontainebleau Finding Fontainebleau

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

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About Thad Carhart Thad Carhart

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

Connect with Thad

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

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

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

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

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

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

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


Giveaway Finding Fontainebleau

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

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

Friday, July 8th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, July 11th: Books on the Table

Tuesday, July 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, July 13th: Girls in White Dresses

Thursday, July 14th: Building Bookshelves

Friday, July 15th: Bibliotica

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

Tuesday, July 19th: The French Village Diaries

Wednesday, July 20th: Quirky Bookworm

Thursday, July 21st: Wordsmithonia

Friday, July 22nd: BookNAround

Monday, July 25th: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, July 26th: An Accidental Blog

Wednesday, July 27th: Lit and Life

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

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

Review: After Alice, by Gregory Maguire – with Giveaway

About the book, After Alice After Alice

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

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Gregory Maguire Gregory Maguire

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

Connect with Gregory:

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Giveaway After Alice

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

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

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

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


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, July 5th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, July 6th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

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

Friday, July 8th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, July 11th: Freda’s Voice

Tuesday, July 12th: Ms.Bookish.com

Wednesday, July 13th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Thursday, July 14th: Bibliotica

Monday, July 18th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, July 19th: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, July 20th: Adorkable Me

TBD: Book Hooked Blog

Review: In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch

About the book,  In Twenty Years In Twenty Years

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About Allison Winn Scotch Allison Winn Scotch

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

Connect with Allison

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 27th: The Reading Date

Tuesday, June 28th: Just Commonly

Wednesday, June 29th: Diary of an Eccentric

Thursday, June 30th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Friday, July 1st: View from the Birdhouse

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

Tuesday, July 5th: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, July 5th: Why Girls Are Weird

Wednesday, July 6th: Book Mama Blog

Wednesday, July 6th: The Baking Bookworm

Thursday, July 7th: Lavish Bookshelf

Friday, July 8th: Not in Jersey

Monday, July 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, July 12th: Bibliotica

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

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

Friday, July 15th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Monday, July 18th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, July 19th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, July 20th: Dreams, Etc.

Monday, July 25th: Bookmark Lit

Tuesday, July 26th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, July 28th: Palmer’s Page Turners

TBD: Brooklyn Berry Designs