The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore (@libbycudmore) #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, The Big Rewind The Big Rewind

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 2, 2016)

Listening to someone else’s mix tapes is a huge breach of trust. But KitKat was dead . . . and curiosity got the better of me.

When a mix tape destined for her friend KitKat accidentally arrives in Jett Bennett’s mailbox, Jett doesn’t think twice about it—even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, the hipster residents of the Barter Street district of Brooklyn are in a constant competition to see who can be the most retro.

But when Jett finds KitKat dead on her own kitchen floor, she suspects the tape might be more than just a quirky collection of lovelorn ballads. And when KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is arrested for her murder, Jett and her best friend, Sid, set out on an epic urban quest through strip joints and record stores, vegan bakeries and basement nightclubs, to discover who the real killer is. However, the further Jett digs into KitKat’s past, the more she discovers about her own left-behind love life—and the mysterious man whose song she still clings to. . . .

Buy, read, and discuss The Big Rewind:

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About Libby Cudmore Libby Cudmore

Libby Cudmore worked at video stores, bookstores, and temp agencies before settling down in upstate New York to write. Her short stories have appeared in PANK, The Stoneslide Corrective, The Big Click, and Big Lucks. The Big Rewind is her first novel.

Connect with Libby:

Blog | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I read this book the second it arrived on my kindle a few weeks ago, because I was so intrigued by the concept. Between the time lag since I actually read it, the fact that in writing this sentence I’ve been interrupted by dogs three times, and the fact that it’s a mystery and I’m loathe to spoil the plot, this review may be a bit disjointed.

So, here’s what I loved: Jett is a great narrator POV. She has a snarky inner monologue that really appealed to me – that combination of observational skills and dry wit is one I especially appreciate, and her comments, largely unspoken, inject much needed humor  – even if it’s sometimes gallows humor – to what would otherwise be a grim story.

Sid – Jett’s best friend. I love the setup of that relationship, and the way he’s both protective of her but also challenges her. We all need someone like that in our lives.

KitKat – the deceased. How can you not love a woman you only meet in flashbacks and through other people’s experiences? She seems like the slightly eccentric person we all know, and secretly want to be, maybe, a little. I love that she was the epicenter of her found community and chosen family.

Author Libby Cudmore has a fresh voice that spans the Gen-X and Millenial generations. She’s got the knack for writing the voices of modern hipsters with their love of all things retro (care to buy an album on vinyl, anyone?) but she also lends perspective that isn’t limited to one generation, one culture, even one person. Her dialogue is always believable. Early in the novel, in the wake/apartment-cleaning party where everyone is picking through KitKat’s belongings, she spotlights several different people – Natalie, Mac, Hilary – and they all have distinct voices. I felt like I was sitting in a chair in the corner, hearing all the bits of dialogue. That’s how realistic her writing is.

The mystery plot and the mix-tape that’s mentioned one the first page are both nostalgic (somewhere I have a box of Maxtel tapes. I liked the 90-minute-long translucent ones with the pink and orange highlights) but also completely contemporary. Similarly she blends the use of modern technology (the community has a group on Facebook, on the subway people display their dead friend’s picture on iphones), with the gritty reality of face-to-face communications.

What results is a mystery that is grounded in human relationships and rounded out with music, art, fashion, and all of the other things that give our lives shape and form.

Don’t dismiss this novel as something cheeky and fun. It is that, but it’s also a gripping mystery laced with wry, and sometimes biting, social commentary.

Goes well with a latte made with organic milk (soy is 35 cents extra) and fair-trade, single origin espresso, and a vegan brownie.


Libby’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, February 2nd: Bibliotica

Tuesday, February 2nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, February 4th: The Reader’s Hollow

Tuesday, February 9th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, February 11th: fangirl confessions

Monday, February 15th: Novel Escapes

Tuesday, February 16th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, February 18th: 5 Minutes For Books

Friday, February 19th: A Chick Who Reads

The Lady’s Command, by Stephanie Laurens #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, The Lady’s Command The Lady's Command

  • Series: The Adventurers Quartet (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (December 29, 2015)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens brings you THE ADVENTURERS QUARTET, a riveting blend of Regency-era high seas adventure, intrigue and romance

His to cherish

Declan Frobisher chose Lady Edwina Delbraith as his wife. Scion of a bold, seafaring dynasty, he’s accustomed to getting his way—Edwina would be the woman who graced his arm, warmed his bed and remained safely at home when he returned to sea. But once the knot is tied, Declan discovers Edwina is unconventional and strong-willed, and his marriage promises to be as tempestuous as the high seas.

Hers to command

Edwina’s fairy-princess beauty hides a spine of steel. Born into the aristocracy—born to rule—and with Declan’s ring gracing her finger, she expects to forge a marriage by his side. Then bare weeks into their honeymoon, Declan is recruited to sail on a secret mission. Edwina—naturally—declares she must accompany him.

Theirs to conquer

Facing unforeseen perils and unexpected enemies while battling to expose a dastardly scheme, Declan and Edwina discover that their unusual marriage demands something they both possess—bold and adventurous hearts.

JOIN THE ADVENTURERS—four couples whose passionate voyages will transport you. Start the journey here and follow the adventures, the mysteries and the romances to the cataclysmic end!

Buy, read, and discuss The Lady’s Command.

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


About Stephanie Laurens Stephanie Laurens

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

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Buckle your swashes and loosen those corsets so you can breathe because this book, the first in a quartet, both honors the historical romance genre and turns it on its ear, and it does so with a fast-paced adventure balanced with a believable love story that may not make you swoon, but it will definitely make you long for the cool sea breeze (and salt spray) in your face as you and your beloved ride the wild waves.

Here’s what I loved about this book: Declan and Edwina could be cookie-cutter romance novel characters. He’s the son of a seafaring family – rugged, dashing, well-informed. She’s an aristocrat born and bred, with the expected beauty that goes within such characters. But author Stephanie Laurens defies the trope by making Edwina an action-seeker in her own right. She doesn’t want to sit at home or pace a widow’s walk, she wants to be on the ship, at the wheel, with her husband. Better yet, Declan goes along with it, so husband and wife form a team.

I enjoyed the interplay between the two characters, and the way they would play against either other and with others when situations required it, but I also loved the way they would always come together in the end.

The dialogue and settings felt true to the period without being at all stilted (as can often happen in historical novels) and the supporting characters had enough dimension to feel like real people, whether they were sailors, other members of society, or just average people.

I’m not usually a fan of historical romances, but I am a great fan of any kind of high seas adventure, so asking to review this was an impulsive choice, and one I’m glad I made, because I was engaged the entire time I was reading.

My only issue with this novel is that it’s book one of a quartet, which means I have to read three more books to have the whole story!

(I expect I’ll survive.)

Don’t be a scurvy dog; read this book. You’ll enjoy every word of it.

Goes well with fresh caught fish, pan seared with limes, and a crisp chablis – OR – fish’n’chips with proper vinegar and a good local lager.


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

Monday, January 4th: Romancing the Book

Tuesday, January 5th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, January 6th: The Sassy Bookster

Friday, January 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, January 11th: The Romance Dish

Tuesday, January 12th: BookNAround

Wednesday, January 13th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, January 15th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, January 18th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, January 19th: The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, January 20th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot

Thursday, January 21st: FictionZeal

Friday, January 22nd: View from the Birdhouse

Tuesday, January 26th: A Night’s Dream of Books

Tuesday, January 26th: Books a la Mode – excerpt and giveaway

Thursday, January 28th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Friday, January 29th: Stranded in Chaos

Monday, February 1st: Bibliotica

TBD: One Curvy Blogger

TBD: Worth Getting in Bed For

Night Hawk by Lindsay McKenna (@lindsaymckenna) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

About the book,  Night Hawk Night Hawk

  • Series: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (December 29, 2015)

ONCE UPON A RANCH IN WYOMING…

After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man’s widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief…until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she’s never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About the author, Lindsay McKenna Lindsay McKenna

A U.S. Navy veteran, she was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition. Her heart and focus is on honoring and showing our military men and women. Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories.

Connect with Lindsay

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Lindsay McKenna is a really engaging writer, and even though I don’t go out of my way to read romances, I pleaded to be allowed on this blog tour, because I respect her work so much. I love that she honors our military (active duty and veterans) by featuring military characters in her novels, and I love that she treats both the people and the institution with honesty and respect.

I am less a fan of westerns, so for me, Night Hawk was a little difficult because of the Wyoming ranch community setting. A childhood that took place, in part, in the Colorado Rockies, and a marriage that began in the Great Plains of South Dakota taught me that there is beauty in those rugged, wide open places, but I’m really glad I only ever have to visit them in books and movies. I’m a city girl with beachy proclivities, and I’m okay with that.

But enough about me. Kai, the heroine of this novel, is ex-military, retired after ten years of service, and looking for work as a wrangler or mechanic when we first meet her, and from page one, I wanted to befriend her. Gil, Kai’s one-time lover, and best friend of her deceased husband, is the perfect romance novel hero, but with the depth and nuance that only Ms. McKenna can bring. Actually, it’s her depiction of the heroes where I think McKenna particularly excels, because while romance novels are usually written by women, for women, with women as protagonists, if the men don’t come across as dimensional beings, the romance doesn’t work.

Their story is one of grief and loss, hope and love, separation and coming back together, and McKenna handles each mood with a deft hand, making the novel feel like a glimpse into an ever-so-slightly-heightened version of reality. There are no roller-coaster extreme ups and downs, no soap opera-esque histrionics, just solid storytelling and a good amount of yummy love scenes that feel steamy without being uncomfortably explicit.

I look forward to more from Ms. McKenna, in this series, and her others.

Goes well with a bowl of thick, spicy chili, and a cold beer.


Giveaway Wolf Haven

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of one of Lindsay McKenna’s other novels, Wolf Haven.

How? You have two options:

1) Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.

OR

2) Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about a person you reconnected with after a long separation.

You have until 11:59 PM US Central time on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Lindsay McKenna’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 4th: Majorly Delicious

Monday, January 4th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 6th: Reading Reality

Friday, January 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, January 11th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Tuesday, January 12th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, January 13th: Mignon Mykel Reviews

Friday, January 15th: Read Love Blog

Monday, January 18th: Romantic Reads and Such

Tuesday, January 19th: It’s A Reading Thing

Wednesday, January 20th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Thursday, January 21st: Life is Story

Friday, January 22nd: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, January 25th: What I’m Reading

Tuesday, January 26th: Bookaholics Not-so-Anonymous

Wednesday, January 27th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 28th: Books a la Mode

Friday, January 29th: Black ‘n Gold Girls Book Spot

TBR: From the TBR Pile

Girl Through Glass, by Sari Wilson (@sariwilson) #review #giveaway #tlcbooktours

About the book Girl Through Glass Girl Through Glass

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)

An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parents’ divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.

Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.

In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.

Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.

Buy, read, and discuss the book:

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Sari Wilson Sari Wilson

Sari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York and was on scholarship at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

Connect with Sari:

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

When I was five or six, my Auntie Annette brought me a pre-release copy of the book A Very Young Dancer, which was the story of the young girl who was playing Marie in that year’s production of The Nutcracker. Like most little girls who grew up in the seventies, I took the requisite ballet classes when I was little. While I switched to tap and jazz before I was ever on pointe, my body still remembers a lot of those early ballet classes, and it’s no coincidence that the railing in the upper hallway of my house is barre height.

I don’t dance anymore. I haven’t in years. But I’m still a fanatic for ballet, so when I was offered the chance to review Girl Through Glass, I didn’t merely leap at the chance; I did a grand jeté.

First, I really loved the way this novel was structured. By alternating contemporary sections with visions of the past we got to see the world of ballet from two angles.

From Mira’s point of view, we saw the harsh reality of dance training, especially when one is good enough to be elite. We meet her apparent benefactor, the older man many girls fantasize about, though Maurice is no typical object of adolescent fantasy: limping and a little peculiar. Even so, he helps Mira glimpse a world beyond that of her mother, who is constantly searching for her true self, and her father, who is establishing a new relationship.

I really liked the details included in Mira’s young life – not just descriptions of classes, and the way different teachers interact, but the different sources of ballet slippers, the behind-the-scenes behavior of dancers, etc.

In the contemporary story, there were times when I wanted to shake Kate, former dancer-turned-professor, and demand to know what she was thinking. This is a woman who seems to shoot herself in the foot by making low-percentage choices, to the point where they affect her career. When she receives a letter from a childhood acquaintance, it’s enough to send her into an emotional tailspin, and motivate her to leave her teaching position in Ohio and return to New York to confront the secrets of her past.

It should be noted that one of the other structural elements that makes this novel particularly haunting, is the change in person. The Kate sections are written in first person, while the Mira sections are in third person. This serves to further distance the past from the present, and I found it to be an incredibly effective choice by he author.

While this novel is likely to be more enjoyable to those readers who know the smell of leather and rosin, who have, at times, owned more leotards than t-shirts, and who danced around their living rooms pretending they were on stage, I believe it’s an appealing read to anyone who is fascinated by the way we change as we move between different stages of our lives.

Goes well with smoky Russian blend tea, strong cheese, and crusty bread.


Giveaway Girl Through Glass

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of Girl Through Glass.

How? You have two options:

1) Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.

OR

2) Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about one of your childhood passions. Were you a dancer? Did you love horses? Were you on a softball team?

You have until 11:59 PM US Central time on Monday, February 1st.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Sari’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, January 26th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, January 27th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, January 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Friday, January 29th: Broken Teepee

Monday, February 1st: Stephany Writes

Tuesday, February 2nd: Raven Haired Girl

Wednesday, February 3rd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, February 4th: Book Journey

Monday, February 9th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, February 11th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, February 12th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, February 16th: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, February 17th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, February 18th: A Bookish Way of LIfe

Monday, February 22nd: View from the Birdhouse

Tuesday, February 23rd: Books on the Table

Wednesday, February 24th: Dreams, Etc.

 

 

The Readers of Broken Wing Recommend, by Katarina Bivald #RafflecopterGiveaway #review

About the book, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 19, 2016)

The International Bestseller.
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Katarina Bivald Katarina Bivald

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She’s currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn’t decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they’re better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having noone to recommend it to.

Läsarna i Broken Wheel Rekommenderar/The Readers in Broken Wheel Recommend is her first novel.

Connect with Katarina

Website | Instagram


My Thoughts MissMeliss

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a sweet, hopeful story from Swedish author Kataina Bivald. I was hooked by the title, and fell more in love as I began to read of Sara’s arrival and subsequent adventures in rural Iowa.

As someone who has lived in a town without a bookstore, and who mourns the loss of independent bookstores even as she fills her Kindle with ebooks from Amazon, I completely empathized with Sara. I’ve flirted with opening a bookstore (well, a bookstore/cafe) for lesser reasons than honoring a friend, and only the hard fact of being done with working retail has prevented me from doing so (but I still dream).

I like Sara herself as well. At first she seemed a bit mousy, but once she found her footing, she was a force to be reckoned with, though her version of being forceful was always more of a summer downpour rather than a full-scale squall. The supporting characters were all well drawn, also. It is because of them that Broken Wheel felt like every small midwestern town I’ve ever been in, and a couple I’ve lived in, and while I wouldn’t want to live there forever, I was happy with my virtual visit.

Translating something from another language is always difficult, and yet, this novel didn’t feel like it had been written in anything but English. It’s a lovely novel guaranteed to appeal to those who browse bookstores and take home too many books, and to those who read the occasional bestseller.

Goes well with hot apple pie with a wedge of cheddar cheese, and coffee.


Rafflecopter Giveaway

(This giveaway is administered by the blog tour coordinator, not by MissMeliss.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RBW Blog Tour

The Past, by Tessa Hadley #review #ThePastbook #TLCBookTours

About the book, The Past The Past

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper (January 5, 2016)

“An exquisite writer, a writer’s writer, with a fine eye for detail and a way of crafting sentences that make you stop and inhale . . .  Hadley should be a bestseller rather than literary fiction’s best kept secret.”—The Times (London)

Three sisters and a brother, complete with children, a new wife, and an ex-boyfriend’s son, descend on their grandparents’ dilapidated old home in the Somerset countryside for a final summer holiday, where simmering tensions and secrets rise to the surface over three long, hot weeks.The house is full of memories of their childhood and their past—their mother took them there to live when she left their father—but now, they may have to sell it. And beneath the idyllic pastoral surface lie tensions.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in an abandoned cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister. As the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life—bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican—winds down to its inevitable end.

Over five novels and two collections of stories, Tessa Hadley has earned a reputation as a fiction writer of remarkable gifts. She brings all of her considerable skill to The Past, a work of breathtaking scope and beauty—her most ambitious and accomplished novel yet.

Buy, read, and discuss The Past

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Tessa Hadley Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley is the author of five highly praised novels: Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award; Everything Will Be All Right; The Master Bedroom; The London Train, which was a New York Times Notable Book; and Clever Girl. She is also the author of two short story collections,Sunstroke and Married Love, which were New York Times Notable Books as well. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker. She lives in London.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

It’s a good thing this book had me gripped from page one, because my iPhone neglected to remind me I had a review due until one o’clock this morning! I’m a fast reader, but reading with any real speed requires that I find the material truly engaging.

And this novel, The Past, is truly engaging.

It’s a perfect example of contemporary fiction: a bit of family drama, a bit of the interpersonal relationships among women, a bit of loss of innocence, and a bit of coming of age, all rolled into one sometimes tense, often poignant, family holiday at the cottage they’ve owned (collectively) for years.

We meet the players in ones and twos: Harriet, the pragmatic sister whose hair is going white, Alice and her quasi-stepson Kasim (age 20), Fran and her twin children Ivy and Arthur, and Roland, the brother, with his newest wife, Pilar, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Molly (age 16).  In a move that would feel like something out of an Agatha Christie story if this novel were an overt mystery (it’s not, though there are little bits of mystery), everyone is together at this house, there’s no signal for anyone’s mobile devices, and the configurations keep changing.

The twins are drawn to the Anglo-Indian Kasim, Harriet and Pilar bond, Alice buries herself in nostalgia, Fran grumbles a bit (her husband didn’t join the family on this holiday). Roland is the most opaque of the characters, sort of there as a presence, but without having the strong influence of the other characters, but that makes sense, I guess, because it’s the women – Harriet, Alice, Fran, and Pilar, and the girls, Molly and Ivy, who really move the plot while Kasim, Arthur, and, yes, Roland, observe, nudge, and stabilize. New configurations come from the original ones: Kasim and Molly discover each other, for example.

While the overarching theme of The Past had a lot to do with the way women approach aging, and the way we all must let go of things from our pasts, I felt, at times, that it was almost a graceful collection of character studies, interwoven with realistic dialogue and vivid descriptions of the house and its environs.

It was a great book to read quickly, but would probably be even better if savored.

One issue I had was with the presentation: dialogue, at least in the digital proof that I read, was set off by dashes rather than quotation marks. As someone who tends to use a lot of dashes within dialogue when I’m writing my own stuff, this choice combined with the lateness of the hour to muddle some of the attributions. I don’t know if the completed copies of the novel use this structure, so consider it a word of warning – it’s good, sometimes, to know what to expect.

Goes well with endless mugs of tea, and slices of navel oranges, with the occasional butter cookie.


Tessa’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, January 5th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, January 6th: BookNAround

Thursday, January 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, January 11th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, January 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, January 13th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 14th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, January 15th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, January 18th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 19th: Bibliophiliac

Wednesday, January 20th: Curling Up by the Fire

Thursday, January 21st: From the TBR Pile

Friday, January 22nd: A Book Geek

Monday, January 25th: Novel Escapes

Tuesday, January 26th: Dreams, Etc.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, by Stephanie Osborn (@writersteph) #review

About the Book, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy's Curse

Print Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Pro Se Press (November 2, 2015)
Publication Date: November 2, 2015
Series: Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis

Holmes and Watson. Two names linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

Noted Author Stephanie Osborn (Creator of the Displaced Detective series) presents the first book in her Sherlock Holmes, Gentleman Aegis series – Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, the debut volume of Pro Se Productions’ Holmes Apocrypha imprint.

Buy, read, and discuss Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Stephanie Osborn Stephanie Osborn

Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences:
astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several
more, including geology and anatomy.

In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

The Mystery continues.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I’ve been a fan of Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective series since I reviewed the first one in the series as part of a blog tour several years ago. Her writing is always engaging and well-researched, and even when she’s playing with familiar characters, she manages to put her own spin on them, while still remaining true to the original author’s vision. When I was offered a chance to read this book, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, you’d better believe I jumped at the chance.

I’m so glad I did.

In this book, which is the first in a new series from Osborn (Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis), she’s gone back to the beginning of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, and given them a classic adventure that’s much more’ best-buds in an action adventure’ than the sort of contemporary bromance we see in shows like the BBC’s Sherlock (not that I dislike Sherlock. I’m as big a fan as anyone.) It’s a story that takes them to Egypt on a fast-paced hunt for an ancient Pharoah, and includes explorations into mythology and history as well as conventional mystery.

I really liked seeing a Holmes who wasn’t quite so confident in his ability to make a go of his consulting detective business and a Watson who was still in recovery from his war injury. The glimpses at each man’s vulnerability were subtle, but effective, and only served to make them seem even more dimensional than they would have otherwise.

Just as every fan of Doctor Who has ‘their’ doctor, every Sherlock Holmes fan has their preferred Holmes. I grew up watching Jeremy Brett on PBS, so, for me, any Holmes that ‘sounds’ like him is one I’m guaranteed to love. Osborn’s Holmes meets this criteria, but if Brett’s Holmes isn’t your preference, never fear, the Sherlock in this novel isn’t an imitation. He is absolutely his own character.

One thing I really liked about the structure of Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse is that the author included footnotes to explain archaic word-forms as well as the lines written in foreign languages (Arabic, French, Portuguese, Spanish) and certain cultural points of interest. In the Kindle version, these notes show up as clickable superscript numbers, that link you to the collection of end notes at the ‘back’ of the book. As someone who is addicted to annotated copies of favorite novels (the annotated Dracula even has a recipe for Chicken Paprikash), I really appreciated this, but if you’re someone who finds such insertions annoying, never fear, the notes are not at all intrusive, and you can absolutely enjoy the story without stopping to read them, if you so choose.

Bottom line: if you love classic Sherlock Holmes adventures, you will love this book, but if your only experience with the Great Detective is only through the BBC show (or the American Elementary, which, I confess, I don’t watch) you will likely enjoy it, too.

Goes well with either candy cane tea and pfeffernusse cookies or that spinach artichoke dip baked in a skillet with a ring of frozen dinner rolls, and a glass of pinot noir. (Why yes, I did start reading this over the holidays.)

 

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, by Elizabeth LaBan (@ElizabethLaBan) #review #giveaway

About the book, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife The Restaurant Critic's Wife

Paperback: 313 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 5, 2016)

What could be better than being married to a restaurant critic? All those amazing meals at the best restaurants…pure nirvana, right? Well, Lila Soto, the heroine of Elizabeth LaBan’s charming new novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife (Lake Union Publishing; January 5, 2016), might tell you otherwise. Sure the food is heavenly, but the downsides are considerable—especially being married to a man who is obsessed with his job and paranoid to the point of absurdity about being “outed” from his anonymity. Add to the scenario the fact that Lila has given up her own career to follow her husband’s job to a new, unfamiliar city, and that she is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom—a gig she never aspired to, despite loving her kids—and you begin to see why Lila is doubting every life decision she’s ever made.

Though it Ais not an autobiography by any means, it can’t be overlooked that Elizabeth LaBan is herself married to Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan. “This book wouldn’t exist without my husband,” she says, “who brings excitement, adventure, love, and great food into our lives every day, and has always been open to my writing a novel about a woman who is married to a wacky restaurant critic. For the record, Craig is not obsessive or controlling like Sam—and Craig did not tell me to say that.” But, even if her main characters are fictitious, there is no denying that Elizabeth draws on aspects of her own life to lend a delicious verisimilitude to the novel.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is a charming portrait of the complexities of life that many women face when dealing with their marriages, their children, their friendships, and their careers. All the talk about exquisite food is merely the icing on a one-of-a-kind cake. 

Buy, read, and discuss The Restaurant Critic’s Wife

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


About the author, Elizabeth LaBan Elizabeth LaBan

Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.

Connect with Elizabeth

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

This novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, was the perfect novel to begin a new year of reviews. It was well written, engaging, drawn from aspects of the author’s life, but vastly different than her actual story, and most importantly, the characters were all incredibly real with quirks and flaws that made them feel just like those people at the next table over in the restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

From the first, I really empathized with Lila. I’ve got dogs, not kids, but I know all too well what it’s like to find yourself in a life you didn’t really choose, even if there are bits of it that you like, and I also know what it’s like to be in a new place without a support system. LaBan set up Lila’s isolation and need for community incredibly well, and I felt that it was especially poignant when juxtaposed with Sam’s obsession with secrecy and anonymity.

Lila’s mother annoyed me at first, but I think that’s only because some of her points were valid – points I’ve heard from my own mother over the years  – trust me: you are never too old to resent that your mother is almost always right.

Overall, this book was a great read. It was meaty without being too heavy, and nicely balanced drama and wit. I haven’t read any of Elizabeth LaBan’s other work, but after reading The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, I really want to.

Goes well with baked brie en croute and a glass of wine.


Giveaway The Restaurant Critic's Wife

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. How? You have two options:

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.
  2. Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about the best (or worst) restaurant meal you’ve ever had.

You have until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, January 13th.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Elizabeth LaBan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, January 4th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Tuesday, January 5th: Why Girls are Weird

Wednesday, January 6th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Thursday, January 7th: Bibliotica

Monday, January 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, January 12th: Chick Lit Central – author guest post

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

Thursday, January 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, January 15th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, January 18th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, January 19th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, January 20th: I’m Shelf-ish

Thursday, January 21st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, January 22nd: From the TBR Pile

Monday, January 25th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, January 26th: Read Love Blog

Wednesday, January 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, January 28th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, February 1st: Just Commonly

Wednesday, February 3rd: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Friday, February 5th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

 

Spotlight: Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, by Stephanie Osborn (@writersteph)

Happy Birthday Sherlock Holmes!

In honor of the Great Detective’s birthday, I’m spotlighting the newest book to come from the pen (well, keyboard) of Stephanie Osborn. It’s no secret that I love her Displaced Detective series, but now she’s gone back in time and given us a glimpse of Holmes and Watson at the beginning of their friendship, and the start of the detective’s later-to-be illustrious career. Learn about the book here.

Buy the kindle edition for a special price – $1.99 TODAY ONLY.

Visit this page on Friday, January 8th, for my review.


About the Book, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy's Curse

Print Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Pro Se Press (November 2, 2015)
Publication Date: November 2, 2015
Series: Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis

Holmes and Watson. Two names linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

Noted Author Stephanie Osborn (Creator of the Displaced Detective series) presents the first book in her Sherlock Holmes, Gentleman Aegis series – Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, the debut volume of Pro Se Productions’ Holmes Apocrypha imprint.

Buy, read, and discuss Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


 

About the author, Stephanie Osborn Stephanie Osborn

Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences:
astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several
more, including geology and anatomy.

In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

The Mystery continues.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Twitter