The Christmas Bridge, by Elyse Douglas (@douglaselyse) #review #rafflecopter #giveaway #TLCBooktours

About the book, The Christmas Bridge The Christmas Bridge

Print Length: 183 pages

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

A First Love. A Second Chance.

A young widow travels to New York on business a few days before Christmas. She has reluctantly made a date with a lover she hasn’t seen in 20 years, and she is nervous and apprehensive. Twenty years before, she made a difficult decision that has both troubled and haunted her ever since. She knows she’s about to come face-to-face with her past and she’s hoping for some redemption and resolution. She also wonders if she can somehow pick up where she left off 20 years ago and start again.

An exciting chance encounter changes everything. Now, not only will she face the past with hope to rekindle an old romance, but there is the possibility that this chance meeting will bring her love and happiness she never thought possible.

Once again, she will have to choose. She will have to make the right decision. She will have to believe that Christmas miracles can still happen.

Buy, read, and discuss The Christmas Bridge

Amazon | Goodreads

About the author, Elyse Douglas

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington.

Elyse Douglas>Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University.  She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a  speech-language pathologist.  She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed five novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town and The Christmas Diary.

Douglas Elyse Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages.  He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. His two detective books include Death is Lookin’ for Elvis and Death is a TapDancer. His great great grandfather lived to be 132 years old, and was the oldest man in the world when he died in 1928.

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.

Connect with Elyse Douglas

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

Christmas is a time for a bit of heightened reality. More romance, more fluff. I like that about this time of year. It makes the grey days softer, and the chilly weather a little less biting. The Christmas Bridge, the latest in a collection of Christmas-themed novels from the writing team known as Elyse Douglas is the perfect embodiment of all this.

Olivia and Brett meet in New York on Central Park’s Bow Bridge. It’s cold in the way only New York can ever be cold – slushy and grey and a weird mix of hard and soft – but they connect, and go for a hot chocolate, and from that moment you know they’re destined to be together. This is not a spoiler. It’s a Christmas novel, and a romance at that. You know the lead characters are going to end up in love by the end.

You still want to follow their journey.
Even though that journey involves Olivia constantly worrying that she’s in the wrong relationship, because she was supposed to meet an old lover on that bridge.

At least I did, because I found this romance to be a great representative of the season. Brett is a professional baseball player – wealthy, playful, but also a truly good guy. Olive struck me as being a bit naive at times, but maybe that was her way of staying human, because it worked for her. Together they share meals and trips to museums – the kinds of dates we all wish we could go on when we’re stuck in the suburbs, and somehow never do go one, even when we’re living more urban lives.

I thought they were well drawn, dimensional and flawed, but still existing in that heightened-reality Christmas romance bubble.

Similarly, the supporting characters were memorable and real without being overpowering. I liked the banter, particularly between Brett and Big Mike.

Overall, this novel is a lovely contemporary Christmas romance, and it does a great job of giving you a few hours of escapism and joy before you have to return to whatever prosaic reality you typically inhabit.

Goes well with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, obviously.

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This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of the book! Click the link below to enter.
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Elyse Douglas’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 16th: Majorly Delicious

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Nerd

Thursday, November 19th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Monday, November 23rd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 25th: Read Love Blog

Friday, November 27th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, November 30th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Wednesday, December 2nd: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, December 3rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Monday, December 7th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, December 10th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, December 14th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, December 14th: A Night’s Dream of Books 

Tuesday, December 15th: FictionZeal

Wednesday, December 16th: The Romance Dish

Friday, December 18th: A Splendid Messy Life


The Crescent Spy, by Michael Wallace #TLCBookTours #review

About the book, The Crescent Spy The Crescent Spy

Paperback: 325 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 10, 2015)

Writing under a man’s name, Josephine Breaux is the finest reporter at Washington’s Morning Clarion. Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusations of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor.

To Josephine’s surprise, she’s whisked away to the White House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her past in order to secure her nation’s future?

Buy, read, and discuss The Crescent Spy

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

About the author, Michael Wallace Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace was born in California and raised in a small religious community in Utah, eventually heading east to live in Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition to working as a literary agent and innkeeper, he has been a software engineer for a Department of Defense contractor programming simulators for nuclear submarines. He is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Wall Street Journal bestselling Righteous series, set in a polygamist enclave in the desert.

My Thoughts MissMeliss

From the opening chapter where we meet Josephine Breaux pragmatically stripping off her hoop skirts and riding away in only her bloomers, to the very last page, Michael Wallace’s historical adventure, The Crescent Spy, is fascinating, thrilling, and a lot of fun. It’s also, at times, quite brutally honest in its depiction of Civil War-era America, and the treatment of wounded soldiers and women.

Josephine is a fierce, smart, motivated woman, who reminded me (in good ways) of another literary Josephine, though Wallace is , of course, nothing like Alcott. He is a contemporary author who writes historical fiction. She was writing stories that were contemporary to her. But this wasn’t meant to be a comparison of two fictional Josephines. Wallace writes his female protagonist very well. I felt like I was seeing Washington and New Orleans through her eyes.

I really appreciated the level of detail Wallace put into this novel. The dialogue was accessible but still ‘felt’ period. The descriptions were vivid, down to the sound of wooden wheels on the street, and all of the characters were incredibly dimensional.

I was so into this novel, that I completely forgot I was reading it for a review, and not just to enjoy.

Goes well with cafe au lait and beignets.

Michael Wallace’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 9th: Life is Story

Monday, November 9th: Literary Lindsey

Tuesday, November 10th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, November 11th: Time 2 Read

Thursday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, November 12th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, November 16th: 100 Pages a Day

Monday, November 16th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Babe

Wednesday, November 18th: Reading Reality

Thursday, November 19th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 20th: Just One More Chapter

Monday, November 23rd: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, November 24th: Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, December 2nd: Mom in Love with Fiction


Life and Other Neath-Death Experiences, by Camille Pagan (@cnoepagan) #review #TLCbooktours #giveaway

About the book, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences Life and Other Near-Death Experiences


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2015)

Many a novel has examined a woman’s life as she battles cancer—but perhaps no writer has approached the subject with the disarming charm and sharp wit that Camille Pagán employs in her second book, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel (Lake Union; November 1, 2015). Pagán, an award-winning journalist, pits her optimistic heroine against not just a life-threatening disease, but also a host of startling revelations that cause her to question everything she thought she knew about life and love.

When Libby Miller learns that she has a rare form of cancer, she naturally assumes it is the worst news she could possibly get that day—or ever. So when she arrives home and her husband blurts out a startling confession that makes their long and (she thought) happy marriage a sham, Libby is pushed to her breaking point. On an uncharacteristic impulse, she quits her job and heads to a small island in Puerto Rico. Just when Libby thinks nothing else could go wrong, a near-fatal plane crash triggers a new adventure, and she begins to fall in love with Shiloh, a pilot who has his own philosophy on life—and how Libby can best cope with her disease. But that’s only the beginning.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is a poignant, uplifting novel that examines just what it is that makes life worth living.

Buy, read, and discuss Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

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

About the author, Camille Pagán Camille Pagan

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes,Glamour, Men’s HealthParadeO: The Oprah MagazineReal, andWomen’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Connect with Camille

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

You wouldn’t think a book that opens with the main character learning she has cancer would be hilarious, and yet Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is one of the most satisfying, funniest, freshest novels I’ve read in a long while.

While I disagreed with Libby’s initial reaction to the news of her cancer, I certainly understood it. As she progressed in her relationship with herself, with her cancer, and with the people she meets when she decides that the status quo isn’t working for her (prompted by her husband’s announcement on the same day she gets her diagnosis) I found myself liking her more and more. She’s smart, and acerbic, and can pass for being strong and confident, but she’s also flawed, and all-too-human.

Her brother Paul, seen mainly via text messages and such, and Shiloh, whom she meets and spends a significant amount of time with in the latter half of the book, form a sort of Greek Chorus (along with her husband) both commenting on her life, and reflecting her choices (and refusal to make choices back at her), and I really liked that construct, whether or not the author intended it to read that way.

Author Pagan (forgive me for not including the accent marks) has an ear for natural-seeming dialogue, and an eye for detail. I loved the way all the different characters had distinct voices and facial expressions, but I also took note of things like the barista who had piercings and dreadlocks.

While the subject would seem grim, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is not a novel about cancer. It’s a novel about love and life and getting rid of anything that doesn’t improve your life.

Goes well with an ice cold margarita and a plate of ceviche, served surfside.

Giveaway Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of Life and other Near-Death Experiences.

To enter:  Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about a time that you wanted to escape your life.

You can also find my tweet about this review (I’m @melysse on Twitter) and retweet it (make sure I’m tagged).

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CST on Monday, November 23rd.

Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.

Camille Pagán’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, November 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Wednesday, November 4th: BookNAround

Thursday, November 5th: Book Lover

Thursday, November 5th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, November 9th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, November 10th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, November 11th: FictionZeal

Thursday, November 12th: Just Commonly – review

Thursday, November 12th: Just Commonly – guest post

Monday, November 16th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, November 17th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, November 17th: Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, November 17th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 18th: Life is Story

Thursday, November 19th: Luxury Reading

Monday, November 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, November 25th: 5 Minutes for Books


Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares, by Tom DeLonge (@tomdelonge) & Suzanne Young (@suzanne_young) #giveaway #review

About the book, Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares

  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 194327200X
  • Publisher: To The Stars…; 1 edition (October 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2015

From the imagination of Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves and NY Times bestselling author Suzanne Young. Jonas Anderson and his older brother Alan are Lucid Dreamers. But after a car accident lands Alan in a coma, Jonas sets out into the Dream World in an attempt to find his brother and wake him up. What he discovers instead is an entire shared consciousness where fear comes to life as a snarling beast called a Night Terror, and a creature named REM is bent on destruction and misery, devouring the souls of the strongest dreamers. With the help of a Dream Walker—a guardian of the dreamscape, Jonas must face his fears, save his brother, and become who he was always meant to be: Poet Anderson.

Buy, read, and discuss Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares

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

About the authors, Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young

Tom DeLonge Tom DeLongeis the award-winning American musician, producer and director, best known as the lead vocalist and songwriter for the platinum-selling bands Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves. Under his media production company To The Stars…, Tom has created transmedia entertainment properties that span music, film, comics and books. Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares will also coincide with an original soundtrack recorded by the band that you can listen to while you read.

Suzanne Young Suzanne Youngis the New York Times bestselling author of The Program series of novels for young adult readers. Young lives in Arizona where she also teaches high school English. Her novels include , The Program, The Treatment, The Remedy, The Epidemic, and Hotel Ruby

Connect with Tom & Suzanne

Tom’s Twitter | To the Stars Media Twitter | To the Stars Media Website | Suzanne’s Twitter | Suzanne’s Website

My Thoughts: MissMeliss

When the publicists for this novel invited me to be part of the blog tour, I asked if I could have Friday the 13th as my review date, and I was delighted that they agreed. But really, what better day is there to post a review of a book that involves dreams and nightmares.

As someone whose dreams are vivid, and whose favorite horror film is the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, it was a foregone conclusion that Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares would appeal to me. It has everything I love: a well-paced plot, richly drawn characters, an original setting, a provocative setting: a Dreamscape populated by dreamers and their creations, nightmare creatures born of unresolved emotional conflict and unhealed emotional trauma.

Protagonist Jonas (aka Poet in the Dreamscape) is a 16-year-old lucid dreamer with a brother in a coma, dead parents, and no one to take care of him. The part of me that is way too old to be reading YA wanted to gather him into a warm hug and make him some soup. The part of me that used to be a teenaged-girl wanted to figure out what made him tick. He leaped off the page and into my imagination, and was so dimensional, and so sympathetic (even during the moments when I kind of wanted to shake him into sensibility) that I was happy to follow his journey.

The few real-world people we meet were mostly (but not entirely) peripheral to the beings in the Dreamscape, but they served an important purpose. They grounded the story in the here and now-ish, so that young Jonas/Poet had an external anchor other than his brother.

The people (and scary monsters) inside the Dreamscape were more vivid, but their edges were blurry, as is typical for dream constructs, still, it is through them that Poet/Jonas learns his inner identity, hones his abilities, and navigates the twisting, winding world formed by the lucid dreams of many, many dreamers.

While I enjoyed Poet’s quest – because this is absolutely a quest novel, even if that’s not explicitly stated – I was equally fascinated by the world building done with regard to the Dreamscape. The notion that the nightmare creatures we create can grow strong enough to break into the waking world is chilling, but it also makes sense. How many of us are troubled from unresolved issues that haunt our dreams? How strange is it, really, that those hauntings would grow in power?

I have to admit that I never had access to the soundtrack that goes with this novel, but while I’m certain that would enhance the experience for some, I don’t feel it is truly necessary. I very quickly found myself immersed in the story, only coming up for air when I was desperately hungry, or had to wrangle dogs (I have five).

Authors DeLonge and Young should be commended for creating something completely engaging, original, and rich. I know the average teenager would dig this novel, but I’m equally certain that my own peers will find it compelling and worthy as well.

Goes well with a hearty chili and freshly made skillet corn bread, and a steaming mug of hot spiced cider.

Giveaway Poet Anderson Giveaway

Two (2) winners receive a personalized special edition signed copy of POET ANDERSON…OF NIGHTMARES and an Of Nightmares t-shirt (INT)
Ends 12/23

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas, by Ellen Stimson (@ellenstimson) #review #giveaway #TLCbooktours

About the book, An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home An Old-Fashioned Christmas

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2015)

With its snowy streets, pine forests, sleigh rides and woodsmoke curling from the chimneys, Vermont was practically invented for the Christmas postcard. And no one celebrates the season better than Ellen Stimson, author of the best-selling Mud Season, and now the author and home cook behind this cozy new collection of holiday magic.

From warm drinks for the first snowfall to treats for furry friends, from indulgent snacks for carolers to a traditional menu for Christmas day, An Old-Fashioned Christmas will keep you and your loved ones eating, drinking, laughing and baking all through the holiday season.

Anyone who loved Mud Season will remember Stimson’s hilarious and heartwarming stories of life in her small Vermont town—and An Old-Fashioned Christmas brings her trademark touch to holiday memories new and old. Readers will be inspired to begin their own family traditions like the Stimsons’ annual Christmas Adventure, the collection of nostalgic tree ornaments, and of course, the legendary Christmas party attended by friends and family from all over. This is a book you will return to year after year.

A guide to celebrating Christmas in proper Vermont style—from sleigh rides to country stores—rounds out this deeply personal and completely delicious collection. The 98 homey recipes in this book will soon become annual favorites for your family too, including:

Maple Pecan Cookies

Root Beer Pulled Pork

Maple, Fennel, Sausage and Cheddar Meatballs

Chestnut Mousse

“I’ve been a little uneasy about Christmas for a long time and now I shall stop. ‘A festival of debauchery’. I like that idea. A big party. Cut out the stuff you don’t enjoy. And a whole raft of stimulating recipes. And a good snowstorm. Wonderful——Garrison Keillor

Buy, read, and discuss An Old-Fashioned Christmas

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

About the author, Ellen Stimson Ellen Stimson

Ellen Stimson is a bread-and-butter homecook…possibly more butter than bread. Her table is usually overflowing with friends, family, and folks who have come just to listen to her stories. Some of those tales made it into her bestselling memoir, Mud Season. She cooks and writes from a farmhouse in Vermont.

Connect with Ellen

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts: MissMeliss

The vast majority of the books I review for TLC Book Tours (and other publicity companies) come to me as digital copies, by my request. I was a quick convert to the joys of Kindle-reading, and love having an entire library in my hands all the time. When I was offered the opportunity to review this book, An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Sweet Traditions from Hearth and Home, however, something in my gut told me to request the hardcover version, and I’m glad I did, because even though I live in North-Central Texas where we had winter on a Thursday last year, we do have a cool and rainy season that would be made so much warmer and cozier with a lot of these recipes. (Coffee Encrusted Skirt Steak is already on the must-try list, as is Curried Cauliflower.)

I was in Mexico when the book finally arrived at my door, and that saddens me only because I didn’t have time to play in the kitchen before writing this review. Like Ellen, the author (I hope it’s okay that I call her Ellen – we’ve never interacted in any way, but I feel a kind of kinship with her) I’m a homecook who doesn’t measure. I call my cooking style Kitchen Improv. For this reason, I was nodding and smiling while reading her notes about the recipes being guides rather than strict rules. Cooking should have room for personal taste and flair, and I love that she acknowledges that.

I also really responded to her stories about her personal traditions – this book is as much memoir as cookbook – and her comment that her ornaments would be among the first things saved from a fire really hit home for me. My own ornaments have been collected, one at a time, throughout my entire life. I’m 45, and have been married almost 21 years, and to this day, my mother says that one of her saddest experiences was the year she packed MY ornaments separate from her own.

My personal response aside, however, this wonderful book is a treasure of recipes and ideas. The book itself manages to evoke Vermont with a sturdy cover with red and white as predominant colors. The pages inside are the glossy paper one expects of high-quality cookbooks, and the photos of both the ornaments and the food are exquisite. The recipes range from main dishes (Winter Suppers) to pastries, from side dishes to savory breads, and while some of them are quite rich hearty, if you use fresh, real ingredients they’re really not unhealthy. (Well, the loaded mashed potatoes are not an everyday food, but…)

The tone of the book is also quite accessible. Ellen Stimson writes in a voice that makes you feel like you’re swapping recipes and stories with your best friend or (depending on your age) a favorite aunt.  I haven’t read her memoir, Mud Season, but you can bet I just added it to my Amazon wishlist (along with one of those French rolling pins that are a solid cylinder rather than a dowel with handles).

If you love winter, the holiday season, family traditions, or just cozy cooking, you will love this book.

Goes well with: homemade sugar-glazed doughnuts (p 254) and freshly brewed coffee.

Giveaway An Old-Fashioned Christmas

One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of An Old-Fashioned Chistmas: Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home.

To enter:  Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about your favorite ornament or favorite holiday tradition. (It doesn’t have to be Christmas – if you have a Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Yule, or secular winter tradition, tell me about that).

You can also find my tweet about this review (I’m @melysse on Twitter) and retweet it (make sure I’m tagged).

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CST on Tuesday, November 17th.

Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.

Ellen Stimson’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 9th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 10th: (Never) Homemaker

Wednesday, November 11th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 12th: Under My Apple Tree

Friday, November 13th: I’d Rather Be at the Beach

Monday, November 16th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Wednesday, November 18th: Majorly Delicious

Wednesday, November 18th: Open Book Society

Thursday, November 19th: The Things We Read

Monday, November 23rd: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Tuesday, November 24th: Time 2 Read

Wednesday, November 25th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, November 27th: Joyfully Retired

Monday, November 30th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 2nd: girlichef

Friday, December 4th: A Chick Who Reads

TBD: Reviews from the Heart

TBD: Full Bellies, Happy Kids

The Raven Room, by Ana Medeiros #TheRavenRoom #TLCBookTours #Review

About the book,The Raven Room The Raven Room

• Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Diversion Publishing (November 3, 2015)

A searing erotic thriller perfect for those tantalized by A.R. Torre’s Deanna Madden series…

Anything you can imagine. Everything you crave. For the members of The Raven Room, it’s every fantasy fulfilled. But for some, that desire is a matter of life and death.

Drawn by needs he cannot control, Julian ventures to The Raven Room, a secret and exclusive sex club in the underbelly of Chicago. It goes beyond sex. It goes beyond kink. The Raven Room is the only place where Julian finds release from the dangerous urges that threaten to destroy the successful life he’s worked so hard to build.

When the police link the Raven Room to the death of a young woman, it threatens to expose a number of powerful people—people who would kill to stay anonymous…

Meredith’s body can’t get enough of Julian. He has opened her sexual horizons to tempting new possibilities. But out of bed she’s an aspiring journalist, and The Raven Room is the story she’s been looking for. By writing an exposé on the club and its elite clientele, she plans to launch her career.

As Meredith embarks on a sexual journey into the forbidden world that Julian inhabits, questions emerge, and dark appetites threaten to swallow her whole.  How much can she trust the man who has laid bare her erotic nature and how much will she sacrifice in order to protect him?

Buy, read and discuss The Raven Room

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the author, Ana Medeiros Ana Medeiros

Born in the Azores islands, Portugal, Ana Medeiros has a background in Photography, Sociology and Psychology. For the last seven years she has worked in the magazine industry. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with her boyfriend and two cats. The Raven Room, book one of a trilogy, is Ana’s first novel and is published by Diversion Books.

Connect with Ana

Website | Facebook

My Thoughts MissMeliss

Good erotica – and, let’s be clear – The Raven Room is absolutely erotica – can be hard to find. Too often the material is misogynistic and revolting. Alternatively, the sex in many attempts at erotica is either too clinical or comically bad (incidentally, this is also why I avoid porn. I’m not a prude; I just can’t abide bad writing/acting.).

Ana Medeiros’s novel, however, is neither of those things, and the women we meet – the actual characters, as opposed to the woman already dead at the start of the story – are strong women who are empowered in general, and completely own their sexuality as well.

Meredith, the character we spend the most time with, is an aspiring journalist who is using her relationship with Julian in an attempt to discover the truth behind the storied, exclusive sex club, the eponymous Raven Room, and the author has balanced her vertical and horizontal lives well. On the job, we see that she’s smart, savvy, and just reckless enough to do whatever it takes to get what she wants.

In bed, she’s daring, open, and completely comfortable with her own needs and wants.

Julian is painted as the possible killer – but it quickly becomes clear that he’s as fragile and broken as any damsel in distress, in his own way.  He’s in command in the bedroom, but only because the women in his life Meredith, and later Alana, allow him to be.

As for Alana – we learn as her story unfolds that she is not the person she presents as her public self.

Author Medeiros has done an excellent job of depicting hardcore sex without losing the sensuality of the act. Her characters make no apologies for their needs and desires, and take complete responsibility for their sexual choices. It’s refreshing, actually, to see erotic behavior without a side of guilt. Yes, each character carries his or her own secrets, but those only add to the escalating sense of danger and the depth of each individual.

While the erotic aspects of this novel are prevalent, there is still a mystery – a suspense story – woven through the book, and it is here where my impression of this novel falters. The plot is fine. The story is fine. But this book is being marketed as part one of a trilogy, and instead of giving us a solution to the central mystery, the book ends abruptly on a cliff-hanger, leaving the reader to decide if they’re curious enough to buy the next two novels in the series, just to find out whodunnit.

If you’re reading this book for the sex, this may not matter. After all, the sex scenes are all incredibly well crafted. (At no time did I find myself questioning the physics behind any act.)

However, if you focus on plot, you may be disappointed at the lack of completion.

Goes well with pancakes and coffee, eaten in the wee hours at an all-night diner.

Ana’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 9th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, November 10th: Why Girls Are Weird

Thursday, November 12th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, November 16th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, November 16th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, November 18th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Thursday, November 19th: The Reading Cove Book Club

Friday, November 20th: Art Books Coffee

Monday, November 23rd: Worth Getting in Bed For

Tuesday, November 24th: M. Denise Costello

Wednesday, November 25th: Books and Bindings

Monday, November 30th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, November 30th: Seraphim Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 1st: It’s a Mad Mad World

TBD: Queen of All She Reads

TBD: boundbywords


Half in Love with Death, by Emily Ross (@emilyross816) #review

About the book, Half in Love with Death Half in Love with Death


  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Merit Press (November 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2015

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her. Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the street culture of runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

Buy, read, and discuss Half in Love with Death

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

About the author, Emily Ross Emily Ross

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @emilyross816.

HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH was inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson.’

Connect with Emily

Website | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

I’ve always believed that the stories in the YA / NA classification are some of the most provocative new stories being published, as well as being a great source of strong female characters. Emily Ross’s latest novel, Half in Love with Death only supported that belief.

In this novel, Ross has blended a typical teen’s coming of age story – first love, first kisses, being in the shadow of her prettier, more popular older sister – with a darker story – one that involves that older sister disappearing, ostensibly to chase her dreams in California…but it that really true? Because woven into the novel is a mystery. Tony, the sister’s boyfriend may not be what he seems, and other young people seem to know more than they should.

In her protagonist, Caroline, Ross has given us a very real girl. She’s fifteen, bright, observant, and a little bit innocent. Her sister Jess, who disappears very early in the novel, is more experienced, possibly more street-wise, definitely less book-smart. We don’t see a lot of Jess, but she struck me as being a fair representative of most upper-middle-class kids of the 60s (or any decade) – straining against parental control, even when that control might be providing the structure she very much needs.

Caroline, from whose perspective we witness everything that happens, was also incredibly dimensional. She covers for her sister out of misguided loyalty and sibling fear (“I’ll kill you if you tell!”), then starts hanging out with her sister’s ex, Tony, who was always nice to the tag-along sister. She’s smart, but she’s also naive, and it was sort of refreshing reading about a fifteen-year-old girl who is still a GIRL, and makes decisions that come out of her girlhood, rather than a too-wise-for-her-years womanhood.

Tony was both deliciously suave and delightfully creepy – I could see how teenaged girls would fall for him, ignoring that little warning that screams “not a good choice.” And Billy from across the street was both a great friend, and a well-written character. We never really get resolution: Do Billy and Caroline end up dating, or remain neighbors and friends – and that’s okay, because they work really well either way, and maybe to define that would be to diminish both characters.

My favorite part of this novel wasn’t a scene or a line of dialogue, though. It was that the protagonist, Caroline, essentially saves herself, something we don’t see enough of in any genre of writing.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages (13 and up, anyway).

Goes well with: Grilled chicken and corn on the cob.




Tiger Heart, by Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey #review #TLCBookTours

About the book, Tiger Heart Tiger Heart

Paperback: 232 pages

Publisher: HCI (October 6, 2015)

Katrell Christie never intended to visit India. In fact, her ideal vacation was a tropical beach where she could relax with a margarita in her hand. But when this former art student turned roller-derby rebel met three teenage girls at a crowded Buddhist orphanage in Darjeeling, she knew she had to help. What started as a trip made on a whim would prove to be a life-altering experience that would change the fate of these lost girls.

In her new book, Tiger Heart: My Unexpected Adventures to Make a Difference in Darjeeling and What I Learned About Fate, Fortitude, and Finding Family Half a World Away (October 2015), Katrell tells her remarkable story – from her quirky Atlanta tea shop to her fight for her young scholars halfway around the globe. Two scholars in the program are set to graduate from college and move on to pursue advanced degrees.

Most of the girls Katrell met in India faced grim futures as laborers or domestic servants. Some might have been relegated to lives of sexual exploitation. For them, she founded The Learning Tea, which has offered scholarships to 15 young women in Darjeeling, providing them with tuition, housing, clothing and medical care.

Katrell has us sipping tea with her at roadside tea huts, tasting hot samosas, dodging feral monkeys, and roaming the chaotic streets of Mumbai. The smells of small villages waft from the pages as we accompany her on her riveting and sometimes hilarious adventures across the globe in her mission to empower the young women who have become a part of her family. Join us in experiencing then sharing the inspiring story of one woman and her mission to make a difference through the power of educating girls.

Buy, read, and discuss Tiger Heart

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About the authors, Katrell Christie and Shannon McCaffrey KattrellChristie

Katrell Christie is the founder and owner of The Learning Tea, a project which provides schooling and a safe haven for impoverished young women in India. Through her efforts with The Learning Tea, Ms. Christie has changed the lives of many women living in Darjeeling, India. Visit for more information.

Shannon McCaffrey is an award-winning reporter focusing on investigative stories for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is an avid reader, a mother, and a runner.

My Thoughts MissMeliss

I have a ‘thing’ for memoirs – people’s personal stories. They always intrigue me. It’s a few levels above watching people on a bus or in a cafe and wondering what their stories really are.

In the case of Tiger Heart, I found Katrell Christie’s story to be very compelling. So often, we read about people who are going out into the world and doing good things, and their focus is on boys. This woman saw a need: educating girls, and she turned it into a personal mission. As a woman, as a feminist, as a citizen of the world, I really like that.

I also liked reading her memoir. It’s funny, candid, and completely honest. It could have sounded like an academic treatise; instead, it reads as if your best girlfriend is telling you about her latest exciting adventure.  This should in no way imply that the book is intellectually light. It is NOT. Christie and McCaffrey are honest about the predicament of girls in Darjeeling, and about their defeats – having to close a center, going home feeling as if failure had occurred.

Except there was no failure. Lives were changed, girls’ futures were improved, and I suspect Katrell Christie’s life is far richer for the experience than it ever would have been, otherwise.

Read this book if you want an uplifting message, one of hope and hard work.

Goes well with chicken tiki masala and cucumber water.

TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Tiger Heart: TLC Book Tours

Monday, September 28th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, September 30th: Run Wright

Thursday, October 1st: Lit and Life

Monday, October 5th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 6th: The Things We Read

Monday, October 12th: Dreaming Big Blog

Wednesday, October 14th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, October 15th: A Bookish Affair

Friday, October 16th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, October 21st: The Reading Cove Book Club

Wednesday, October 21st:

Monday, October 26th: A Book A Week

Monday, October 26th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, October 30th: Bibliotica


Mendocino Fire, by Elizabeth Tallent #review #TLCBookTours #MendocinoFire

About the book,  Mendocino Fire Mendocino Fire

• Hardcover: 272 pages
• Publisher: Harper (October 20, 2015)

The long-awaited return of a writer of rare emotional wisdom

The son of an aging fisherman becomes ensnared in a violent incident that forces him to confront his broken relationship with his father. A woman travels halfway across the country to look for her ex-husband, only to find her attention drawn in a surprising direction. A millworker gives safe harbor to his son’s pregnant girlfriend, until an ambiguous gesture upsets their uneasy equilibrium. These and other stories—of yearning, loss, and tentative new connections—come together in Mendocino Fire, the first new collection in two decades from the widely admired Elizabeth Tallent.

Buy, read, and discuss Mendocino Fire

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, Elizabeth Tallent Elizabeth Tallent

Elizabeth Tallent is the author of the story collections Honey, In Constant Flight, and Time with Children, and the novel Museum Pieces. Since 1994 she has taught in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University. She lives on the Mendocino coast of California.

My Thoughts MissMeliss

Even though Elizabeth Tallent is, by no means, a new voice in American fiction, her work was new to me, and I really enjoyed getting to know her through Mendocino Fire. I find that short stories are an excellent way to find out if you’re responding to a specific author, or jut a specific story. As well, I think they give authors a way to stretch – try on different voices. In this collection of ten stories, Tallent does both: she shows off her versatility, but she also gave me the ability to determine if I wanted to read more of her work (yes, I do.)

Critics have referred to Tallent’s short stories, particularly those in this collection, as “elegant” and “perfectly made,” and I have to agree. Though most, if not all, of her characters – a young man trying to start a life while also accepting that he isn’t the son his father wanted, a young girl exploring her sexuality and forging a future while also facing the fact that futures cost money, a woman still processing her divorce – the list goes on – are demonstrably imperfect, the author has told their stories with grace and not a little bit of dark wit.

I was particularly drawn to Tallent’s use of language throughout the collection. The way she describes David Merson, the protagonist of “Tabriz,” (one of my favorites of the bunch) as “heartsore in the way of old activists,” really struck a chord with me, perhaps because I know so many aging hippies, but that’s just one example of the way she mixes description and social commentary into a satisfying blend.

Of the collection, “Tabriz” and the titular “Mendocino Fire” were the two I most responded to, partly because of the language, and partly because the characters resembled people I’ve encountered throughout my life, which made them seem the most “real” to me.

I had several false starts reading the very first story in the collection, ‘The Wrong Son,” but not everyone will respond to every word any writer offers. Even though I didn’t truly connect with it, though, there were a couple of moments  – Nate’s internal reflection about wondering if he and his young family will ever get out of the trailer he’s renting from his father, and into a real house.  I remember when Fuzzy and I were first married, and facing the reality of what you can actually afford when you’re young and just beginning your adult life.

Overall, this collection is truly compelling, with stunning use of language, vivid descriptions, real, flawed characters, and a theme of broken people becoming whole that I found incredibly interesting and engaging.

Goes well with bean and cheese burritos and Indio beer.

Elizabeth’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 20th: Books on the Table

Friday, October 23rd: Bibliotica

Monday, October 26th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, October 27th: Back Porchervations

Wednesday, October 28th: Olduvai Reads

Thursday, October 29th: she treads softly

Friday, October 30th: M. Denise Costello

Tuesday, November 3rd: Read. Write. Repeat.

Wednesday, November 4th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Thursday, November 5th: Imaginary Reads

Friday, November 6th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, November 9th: Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, November 10th: Dreams, Etc.

Wednesday, November 11th: You Can Read Me Anything

Thursday, November 12th: The Well-Read Redhead

Friday, November 13th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews


Water on the Moon, by Jean P. Moore (@jean_pmoore) #review #TLCBookTours

About the book,  Water on the Moon Water on the Moon

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: She Writes Press (June 3, 2014)

Acclaimed Debut Novel, Winner of the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award for Contemporary Fiction

When her husband comes out as gay and an airplane crash inexplicably destroys her home, the mother of teenage twin daughters must rethink everything she knows.

In her debut novel Water on the Moon, Jean P. Moore introduces readers to Lidia Raven, whose life begins taking seemingly endless wrong turns. Lidia and her girls miraculously survive the plane crash that destroys their home and are taken in by Lidia’s friend Polly, a neighbor with a robust collection of first-edition books who lives alone on a sprawling estate.

Struggling to cope with each of these life-changing events, Lidia discovers a connection between herself and Tina Calderara, the pilot who crashed into her home. In the months that follow, Lidia plunges into a mystery that upends every aspect of her life.

Rife with age-old dilemmas, this contemporary novel explores the relationships between mothers and daughters and the trials and triumphs of women’s friendships. As Lidia learns to reconcile her pain with her need to be true to herself and to accept that need in others, she discovers that while life has the power to unhinge her, it also has the power to open her to new ways of being in the world.

Buy, read, and discuss Water on the Moon

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

About the author, Jean P. Moore Jean P. Moore

Jean P. Moore began her professional life as an English teacher, later becoming a telecommunications executive.  She and her husband, Steve, and Sly, their black Lab, divide their time between Greenwich, Connecticut and the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where Jean teaches yoga in the summers.

Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals such as upstreetSN ReviewAdannaDistillery, Skirt, Long Island Woman, the Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Water on the Moon was published in June of 2014 and won the 2015 Independent Publishers Book Award for Contemporary Fiction.

Connect with Jean

Website | Blog | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

While I don’t pay attention to whether or not a book has won awards when I’m in the process of reading it, it was easy to see why Water on the Moon has done so. This novel opened with a bang (literally: a small plane crashes on top of a suburban house), and while the pace isn’t exactly breakneck, the story never plods, but unwinds like miles on a road trip where the scenery is ever-changing and yet, still similar enough to be part of the same region.

Protagonist Lidia and her two daughters, the Ravens, or the Raven girls, are, in many ways just like every other suburban single mother and her children, at least until the afore-mentioned plane crash. She’s divorced, her husband left her for another man three years before, and like their mother, the girls are still angry with their father, and have little contact with them. When their house is destroyed we meet their neighbor Polly, who is really a surrogate mother to Lidia, though estranged from her own daughter. (I would love to have a neighbor like Polly. When I’m older (in my 70s) I want to be Polly, though, I don’t have children to be estranged from.)

I really liked that all of the main characters – Lidia, the girls, Polly, even Harry the FBI agent, and Owen (Lidia’s ex, met mostly via phone calls) were all fully realized, and each one had her (or his) own story arc. So many times children in novels are just accessories, but I’d happily read a novel from either of the girls’ point of view – they’re all that compelling.

As Lidia learns that there was a connection between herself and the pilot of the crashed plane, a woman named Tina, the plot becomes deeper and more intricate. Suddenly, instead of a suburban housewife with a personal disaster, we’re delving into family history, literary history (I love that Byron is part of the plot. Byron is a favorite of mine.), aviation history, and so much more. Lidia’s world, and, indeed her family, both literally and in terms of how she defines family, both expand.

As I said, all of the characters were fully realized, dimensional people. Any of them could live in your neighborhood. What I also loved was the author’s use of language – nothing ever felt too stilted or too slang-y – and her use of detail.  The juxtaposition between Polly’s ancient black CORDED phone and her completely up-to-date computer, for example, was rich and vivid. I felt like I could see, smell, and touch everything.

I also particularly liked the way the title was referenced (and relevant to) the novel as a whole, but I won’t spoil that happy surprise, because it’s a key moment in the story.

Suffice to say, this is no ordinary novel, it’s a breathtaking glimpse at a life that’s just a little bit less ordinary than our own, in a reality that’s ever-so-slightly heightened.

Goes well with hot coffee and apple tarts served on a rambling porch on a crisp fall afternoon. All partakers are wrapped in cozy flannel throws, of course.

Giveaway Water on the Moon

One lucky winner in the U.S. or Canada will be selected to receive a copy of Water on the Moon

To enter: Find my tweet about this review on Twitter, and retweet it (I’m @Melysse), or leave a comment on this post and tell me what figure from history you’re related to. (Not related to any great historical figures? Tell me who you WISH you were related to.)

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Sunday, October 25st.

Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.

Jean P. Moore’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, October 19th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 20th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Wednesday, October 21st: Mallory Heart Reviews

Thursday, October 22nd: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, October 26th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 27th: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Wednesday, October 28th: Bookmark Lit

Thursday, October 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews – author guest post

Monday, November 2nd: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, November 3rd: Just One More Chapter – author guest post

Wednesday, November 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, November 6th: Necromancy Never Pays

Monday, November 9th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, November 10th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Thursday, November 12th: Kahakai Kitchen