Review: Best Friends Forever, by Margot Hunt

About the book, Best Friends Forever

Best Friends ForeverHardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: MIRA (January 23, 2018)

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Buy, read, and discuss Best Friends Forever:

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


About the author, Margot Hunt

Margot HuntMargot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

Connect with Margot:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellOpening with a scene of contemporary domestic life, we are introduced to Alice Campbell before we ever meet Kat, wife of the deceased, and that’s appropriate, because most of this novel is from Alice’s point of view.

I really liked Alice’s internal commentary, the way she kept biting back her initial responses (something she learned from a marriage counselor) but more than that, I liked that even though she didn’t always like the choices she’d made during her life, she owned them.

Overall, this novel was a really satisfying read. I liked that the two female protagonists, Alice and Kat, were both mature adults with families, not wide-eyed ingenues, or still-naive newlyweds. I liked that their friendship was formed organically – a chance meeting – rather than in a PTA.

As to the story, Margot Hunt’s style kept me interested from the first page to the end, and she truly surprised me with a couple of her plot twists. Her voice is contemporary and fresh, very readable, and her descriptions are cinematic. I could totally see Best Friends Forever as a Lifetime movie (though I’d rather see it as a Starz limited series.)

Interesting, truthful characters, not just Alice and Kat, but also Alice’s husband Todd, and the two investigating officers, really grounded this novel in reality, while the tightly-woven plot really sang.

Goes well with a vodka martini, really dirty.


Review Tour for Best Friends Forever

Monday, January 22nd: Girls in Books blog and Instagram

Monday, January 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Literary Llama on Instagram

Wednesday, January 24th: Katy’s Library blog and Instagram

Thursday, January 25th: Clues and Reviews

Friday, January 26th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, January 29th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Tuesday, January 30th: LiteraryJo Reviews blog and Instagram

Wednesday, January 31st: Bibliotica

Friday, February 2nd: Chick Lit Central

Monday, February 5th: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Tuesday, February 6th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, February 7th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, February 8th: A Holland Reads

Friday, February 9th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind and Instagram

Sunday, February 11th: Books and Bindings

Monday, February 12th: Novel Gossip blog and Instagram

Monday, February 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, February 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 15th: Bookchickdi

Friday, February 16th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Review: Aransas Morning, by Jeff Hampton – with Giveaway

 

About the book, Aransas Morning Aransas Morning

  • Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life
  • Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 304

When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.

Praise for Aransas Morning:

  • “Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”
  • “In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”
  • “I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”
  • “Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”
  • “Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”

Buy, read, and discuss Aransas Morning:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Etsy | Jeff Hampton Writer


About the Author, Jeff Hampton

Author pic Jeff HamptonDuring a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.

He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.

Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa JackWhen the Light Returned to Main StreetJonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Connect with Jeff:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve lived in Texas for almost fourteen years, but I’ve never been to the Gulf Coast, and my first thought when reading Aransas Morning was, “I have to correct that error.”

My second thought was that beach towns are essentially the same whether they’re in New Jersey, California, Mexico, or, apparently, Texas, and as a long-time visitor and some-time resident of such towns, I really loved how well the author, Jeff Hampton, captured the laid-back vibe so inherent to such places. There’s just something about living so close to sun, sand, and surf that changes your internal rhythms, and even I, a life-long night owl, find myself up at sunrise whenever I’m at the beach.

Aside from immediately putting the reader in that beachy state of mind, Hampton tells a compelling story. There’s nothing flashy in his writing – the language is pretty simple, and the characters are the kinds of ordinary people we interact with every day – and yet there’s something about Sam, Dave, Bo, Shelly, and Allie that makes you want to keep reading.

From the first chapter, I was rooting for every character. I particularly loved that grizzled fisherman Bo had that softer side, that twinkle in his eye. Gruff characters run the risk of being stereotypes, but Hampton gave this gruff character just enough depth that he became supremely real.

In fact, that’s true of all of the characters in this novel. Each is flawed; none are villains. They’re a collection of people who are each on their own journey, and any one of them is interesting enough to follow, but Hampton has woven them together into a tapestry of growth and change, new relationships, and old dreams, and created something truly special.

Isak Dineson once wrote, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” In Aransas Morning, Jeff Hampton has illustrated that with grace, elegance, and excellent coffee.

Goes well with: Fresh-caught fish, grilled on an open fire, served with a simple salad and cold beer.


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Aransas Morning Blog Tour Links

1/23/18 Promo A Page Before Bedtime
1/23/18 Promo Reading by Moonlight
1/24/18 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
1/24/18 Review Bibliotica
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 2 Forgotten Winds
1/26/18 Review Texan Girl Reads
1/27/18 Review Tangled in Text
1/28/18 Author Interview The Page Unbound
1/28/18 Playlist Syd Savvy
1/29/18 Review The Clueless Gent
1/30/18 Promo Texas Book Lover
1/30/18 Scrapbook Page The Librarian Talks
1/31/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
2/1/18 Review Missus Gonzo

 

 

Review: Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms, by Leigh Greenwood and Others – with Giveaway

Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms

About the book, Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

  • Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / HistoricalChristmas in a Cowboy's Arms
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
  • Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
  • Authors: Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, Amy Sandas
  • Number of Pages: 512

The Beating Heart of Christmas

In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.

Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

Buy, read, and discuss Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms:

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


Connect with the Authors

Rosanne BittnerRosanne Bittner

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Linda BrodayLinda Broday

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

Margaret BrownleyMargaret Brownley

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Anna SchmidtAnna Schmidt

Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

 

 

Amy SandasAmy Sandas

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Leigh Greenwood

Website | Goodreads


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’m not a regular reader of romance novels, so the novellas in this collection, Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms were all new material for me. I suppose being more familiar with the authors’ various series would have been helpful, but I didn’t feel like I was missing any major puzzle pieces by coming to these stories as a new reader.

All six of the works in this collection have two things in common: they’re Christmas romances, and they’re set in the West in the 1800’s. It’s a fun period to explore, and an excellent region to choose. As I learned from several visits to the Cowgirl Museum in Fort Worth (not as hokey as it sounds), women of the west were strong, smart, and incredibly resourceful.

This is true even within their relationships.

And this book explored a variety of relationships. In no particular order, we have a woman defying prejudice to marry a Latino man, man who regularly converses with his horse and dog while on the road to clear his besmirched name and ends up helping a widow in distress, a woman who’s been burned by love for a Texas Ranger but finds herself falling for another, and a doctor being kidnapped by outlaws only to find his ex holding him at gunpoint. And that’s only four of the six stories.

Because each tale was written by a different person, the tone of each is distinctly different. I was most drawn to the stories by Margaret Brownley (“A Texas Ranger for Christmas”) and Anna Schmidt (“A Christmas Baby”) but each one was charming and sweet and full of the hope, wonder, and joy that fills the Christmas season.

Goes well with a salted caramel mocha (or hot chocolate) and a slice of gingerbread (I make mine with a candy cane frosting laced with peppermint schnapps).


Giveaway

December 1-December 10, 2017

Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

(U.S. Only)

 

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Check Out The Whole Blog Tour

12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

Lone Star Book Blog Tours

 

Lone Star Literary Life

Spotlight: The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali – With Giveaway

THE BIG EVENT

About The Big Event

The Big EventYou are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

A Gorgeous Venue, A Room Full of Friends, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Buy, read, and discuss The Big Event:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BlogSite | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Watch the Trailer


About The Author

Anne John-LigaliAnne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Connect with Anne:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter


Enter the Giveaway

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Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

To enter and for full terms and conditions, please follow the link for everything you need to know.

http://annejohnligali.com/651-2/

THe Big Event

Review: The Silent Fountain, by Victoria Fox

About the book, The Silent FountainThe Silent Fountain

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (October 31, 2017)

Hollywood, 1978 

Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…

Tuscany, Present day 

Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.

The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.

Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. 

And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Buy, read, and discuss The Silent Fountain:

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About the author, Victoria Fox Victoria Fox

Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America. She divides her time between Bristol and London.

Connect with Victoria:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts: Melissa A. Bartell

The Silent Fountain is not a fast read. Rather, it unwinds like a road through the Italian countryside, the kind where there might be sunflowers on one side and a grove of olive trees on the other. It’s full of intrigue and deception, scandal and sorrow, and it’s worth every moment it takes to follow the various twists and turns.

I’ve always enjoyed parallel stories. In this novel, we have the story of faded movie star, Vivian Lockhart, a recluse wrapped in mystery and loss, and Lucy, young, vibrant, and equally troubled. As these two women exist near each other, around each other, and eventually open up to each other, each works through her own issues, and while the bond they form is neither lasting nor unbreakable, it’s supremely real nevertheless.

Of course, there is a third primary character in this moody book: Castillo Barbarossa itself. It’s an old, spooky house with dark corners and the titular “Silent Fountain,” and it looms large throughout the entire story, serving as both setting and silent chorus.

While this book was, ultimately, nothing like what I expected, it was a compelling read, well crafted, and truly beautiful.

Goes well with buttery roasted chicken, roasted peppers and tomatoes, and a bottle of any local table wine you like.


Victoria Fox’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: The Silent Fountain at TLC Book Tours

Monday, October 30th: OMG Reads – excerpt

Tuesday, October 31st: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, October 31st: Art Books Coffee on Instagram

Tuesday, October 31st: A Thousand Books to Read on Instagram

Wednesday, November 1st: Annika B Bauer on Instagram

Wednesday, November 1st: Beach.House.Books on Instagram

Thursday, November 2nd: The Lit Bitch

Monday, November 6th: A Holland Reads

Monday, November 6th: Girls in Books blog and Instagram

Tuesday, November 7th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen blog and Instagram

Wednesday, November 8th: Suzy Approved – excerpt

Thursday, November 9th: Books & Bindings

Friday, November 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, November 10th: Palmer’s Page Turners – excerpt

Friday, November 10th: Bookish Cassie on Instagram

Saturday, November 11th: From the Library of Mrs. Gardner blog and Instagram

Monday, November 13th: Ms Nose in a Book

Monday, November 13th: Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 14th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, November 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, November 16th: Broken Teepee blog and Instagram

Thursday, November 16th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 17th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, November 20th: LiteraryJo Reviews blog and Instagram

Tuesday, November 21st: Novel Gossip blog and Instagram

Wednesday, November 22nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, November 24th: Kahakai Kitchen blog and Instagram

Spotlight: Death in D Minor, by Alexia Gordon – with Giveaway

Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon

About the book, Death in D Minor

  • Series: Gethsemane Brown Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Genre: Paranormal Mystery / African American Sleuth
  • Publisher: Henery Press
  • Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 236

Death in D MinorGethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law’s come to visit. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with an investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the woman’s help clearing him. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

Buy, read, and discuss Death in D Minor:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Goodreads


Praise for Death in D Minor

  • Gethsemane Brown is everything an amateur sleuth should be: smart, sassy, talented, and witty even when her back is against the wall. In her latest adventure, she’s surrounded by a delightful cast, some of whom readers will remember from Gordon’s award-winning debut and all of whom they won’t forget. Gordon writes characters we want resurrected. ~ Cate Holahan, author of The Widower’s Wife and Lies She Told
  • Erstwhile ghost conjurer and gifted concert violinist Gethsemane Brown returns in this thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Murder in G Major. Facing eviction from the historic seaside cottage she calls home, Gethsemane must clear her brother-in-law’s name – as well as her own – when a priceless artifact goes missing and the wealthy dowager to whom it belonged is “helped” over a high balcony railing.  With the help of a spectral sea captain she accidentally summoned, Gethsemane tries to unravel the mystery as the murderer places her squarely in the crosshairs. ~ Daniel J. Hale, Agatha Award-winning author

Author Alexia Gordon’s Top 5 Whiskies

Ardbeg UigeadailGethsemane Brown drinks whiskey. Bushmills 21yr is her favorite but Waddell and Dobb Double-Oaked 12yr Reserve Single Barrel bourbon is a close second. I believe in researching what I write about so I studied whiskey. I learned about distillation and aging, the difference between whisky, whiskey, and bourbon, the meaning of terms like single barrel and single malt. The best part of my research my hands-on study of taste. Call it field work. If Gethsemane Brown was going to drink whiskey, I was, too. (Don’t worry, Mom, I don’t overdo it. And I never drink and drive.) I learned that not all whiskies taste the same, that some are better for mixing in cocktails and some for sipping unadorned, and that they pair with food the same way wine does. I also I play favorites. My top five:

  1. Ardbeg Uigeadail. I can’t spell it and I can’t pronounce it but I love the in-your-face peaty taste. Smoke in a glass.
  2. Laphroaig 10yr. Laphroaig, like Ardbeg, is an Islay distillery. Islay whisky is peaty whisky. Which is a good thing. Laphroaig 10 isn’t quite as intense as Uigeadail. A nice choice when you’re feeling slightly more laid back.
  3. Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy. Tastes like chocolate. Worth every penny.
  4. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. Straight bourbon. Straight American. Straight good.
  5. Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select. Tennessee whiskey. For when you graduate from Jack and Diet Coke.

About the Author, Alexia Gordon

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, releases July 11, 2017.

Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at www.missdemeanors.com, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers, and featured on Femmes Fatales.

Connect with Alexia:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


Giveaway (US Only)

Death in D Minor - Givewaway

Grand Prize: Copy of Death in D Minor + Swag Pack ($50 value)

2nd Prize: Copy of Death in D Minor 

October 25-November 3, 2017

(U.S. Only)

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Tour Stops for Alexia Gordon’s Death in D Minor:

Death in D Minor

25-Oct Review Hall Ways Blog
25-Oct Notable Quotable Texan Girl Reads
26-Oct Top 5 List Books and Broomsticks
27-Oct Review Momma On The Rocks
27-Oct Playlist 1 Texas Book Lover
28-Oct Review Chapter Break Book Blog
29-Oct Excerpt A Page Before Bedtime
30-Oct Author Interview The Librarian Talks
30-Oct Review Forgotten Winds
31-Oct Playlist 2 Syd Savvy
1-Nov Review Tangled in Text
1-Nov Top 5 List Bibliotica
2-Nov Notable Quotable Missus Gonzo
2-Nov Notable Quotable StoreyBook Reviews
3-Nov Review Reading By Moonlight

Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Lone Star Literary Life

Review: A Deadly Eclair: a French Bistro Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber

About the book, A Deadly EclairA Deadly Eclair

 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

Buy, read, and discuss A Deadly Eclair:

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


About the author, Daryl Wood Gerber

Daryl Wood GerberAgatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Connect with Daryl:

Website | Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellI saved reading this book until October, knowing that I’d be writing my review to go live on Halloween, and I ended up reading it while watching the wildfires in California decimate a significant amount of the Napa valley and surrounding areas, which made this lovely, cozy mystery feel just a little bit bittersweet. I can’t help but wonder if the author, Daryl Wood Gerber, will use the fires in future entries into this series.

Brutal reality aside, I really enjoyed this book. Cozy mysteries can sometimes feel too saccharine, but Gerber’s writing is witty and on point, and her plot moved at the perfect pace. True, a wine country wedding in a French bistro is inherently frothy, but she made sure most of the froth was in coffee drinks and on dresses.

Bistro owner-cum-amateur detective Mimi was likeable from the first page, though I felt that some of her interactions while in sleuthing mode were a little bit abrupt. Overall, however, the balance of cooking and questioning was a good one, and the wedding background was the perfect choice for a series opener.

I also really liked Heather, whose no-nonsense style was the perfect counter to Mimi’s self-doubt, Jorianne, her best friend, and Bryan, who, sadly, becomes the victim of the eponymous eclair.

“Go big or don’t go at all,” Mimi is advised by entrepreneur (and uncle of the bride), Bryan Baker, but it would seem that Daryl Wood Gerber received the same advice, because she’s certainly gone big with the launch of her new French Bistro series, giving us a great story full of lively, interesting characters as well as a collection of the recipes used in the novel (as much as I love eclairs, I’m most interested in the onion soup).

Goes well with espresso or cappuccino and either a raspberry  sour cream tart (see the book for recipe).

 

 

Review: The Other Alcott, by Elise Hooper

About the book, The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 5, 2017)

Named one of POPSUGAR’s 25 Books to Read This Fall!

Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

Praise for The Other Alcott:

“Elise Hooper’s thoroughly modern debut gives a fresh take on one of literature’s most beloved families. To read this book is to understand why the women behind Little Women continue to cast a long shadow on our imaginations and dreams. Hooper is a writer to watch!”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens

Buy, read, and discuss The Other Alcott:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Elise Hooper

Elise HooperThough a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise Hooper lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she teaches history and literature.

Connect with Elise:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellWhen I was six or seven, my mother and I started reading Little Women, a chapter a night, as we had every book until then. It was the last book we read that way, because my reading ability had finally progressed enough that the tiny print and paper-thin pages (it was all three of the March sisters’ novels in one volume) posed no challenge to me, and a chapter a night was no longer enough.

Like most fans of those books, I wanted to be Jo March. There are times when I still want to be Jo. But I never disliked Amy, and when I was given the chance to read The Other Alcott, a novelization of May Alcott’s (the model for Amy) life, I jumped at it. There might even have been begging involved.

I was not disappointed.

Author Elise Hooper has taken a massive amount of research and turned it into an engaging novel that gives us a glimpse at the youngest Alcott sister. As well, she shows how May and her fictional counterpart are similar, and how they are different.

While some of the connections May makes in this novel are merely supposition; others are true to life. Mary Cassatt, whose art I’ve loved ever since I learned what Impressionism was, was both a contemporary and a friend. May spent a lot of time in Europe, making the French countryside her home – and I find myself a bit envious.

Part biography, part love story (May has a  great love come into her life when he’s in her mid-thirties – old for the time) and entirely engaging, The Other Alcott exists in that area between pure fact and total fiction. It’s truthful even when the author has extrapolated information (or even just made stuff up) and it feels like a much-needed addition to the library of any Louisa May Alcott fan.

Goes well with hot tea served in hand-painted china cups, and scones with jam and clotted cream.


Tour Stops

TLC Book ToursThursday, September 7th: History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, September 8th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, September 13th: Jathan & Heather

Thursday, September 14th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, September 18th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.

Thursday, September 21st: bookchickdi

Friday, September 22nd: A Bookish Affair

Monday, September 25th: Literary Lindsey

Tuesday, September 26th: BookNAround

Wednesday, September 27th: She’s All Booked

Thursday, September 28th: Openly Bookish

Friday, September 29th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, October 3rd: View From the Birdhouse

Wednesday, October 4th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 9th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, October 11th: A Literary Vacation

TBD: Unabridged Chick

TBD: Into the Hall of Books

Review: Last Christmas in Paris, by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

About the book, Last Christmas in Paris

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 3, 2017)

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Buy, read and discuss Last Christmas in Paris:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the authors, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Hazel GaynorHAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

Connect with Hazel:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Heather WebbHEATHER WEBB writes historical fiction for Penguin, including her novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover.

As a former military brat, Heather naturally grew up obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before channeling these passions into fiction. When not writing, she flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Connect with Heather:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellAs genres go, epistolary fiction is woefully underrepresented, but that’s probably because it’s really difficult to do well. In this novel, Last Christmas in Paris, authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb blew away all my fears, and gave me – gave all of us – a delightful read in the process.

While I enjoyed the novel as a whole, and nearly fell in love with Tom myself, it was Evie’s story that really gripped me. So many writers have the women just staying home when they write novels set during wartime, but Gaynor and Webb made their female lead into a woman with drive and determination, as well as a career, and friends that were separate from the circle of people she and Tom knew collectively. It’s so important to represent women as whole, dimensional beings, and these authors did so exceptionally well.

I felt the descriptions of places and people within this novel were incredibly cinematic, and I can easily imagine this story on the big screen as a Merchant Ivory production. As well, I felt that, despite things like the final letter being read at Christmastime in Paris, this novel managed to stay grounded in reality. It’s essentially an historical romance, yes, but it’s one grounded in reality, and the characters are incredibly human and flawed.

If you’re a sucker for a well-written letter, if you hoard stationery ‘just to have,’ as I do, or if you’re simply in the mood for a sentimental (but never sappy) love story, Last Christmas in Paris is the novel for you.

Goes well with hot chocolate and those ‘Danish’ butter cookies they sell in tins around holiday times.


Tour Stops

TLC Book ToursTuesday, October 3rd: Into the Hall of Books

Wednesday, October 4th: Back Porchervations

Thursday, October 5th: Bibliotica

Friday, October 6th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Monday, October 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, October 9th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, October 10th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, October 16th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 17th: Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, October 18th: Girl Who Reads

Wednesday, October 18th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, October 19th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Friday, October 20th: Books and Bindings

Monday, October 23rd: West Metro Mommy

Review: The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes, by David Handler

About The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes

• Paperback: 288 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 15, 2017)

Fans of JANET EVANOVICH and CARL HIAASEN, get ready. If you haven’t yet discovered wisecracking sleuth Stewart “Hoagy” Hoag and his faithful basset hound Lulu, you’re in for a sharp, hilarious treat.

Once upon a time, Hoagy had it all: a hugely successful debut novel, a gorgeous celebrity wife, the glamorous world of New York City at his feet. These days, he scrapes by as a celebrity ghostwriter. A celebrity ghostwriter who finds himself investigating murders more often than he’d like.

And once upon a time, Richard Aintree was the most famous writer in America — high school students across the country read his one and only novel, a modern classic on par with The Catcher in the Rye. But after his wife’s death, Richard went into mourning… and then into hiding. No one has heard from him in twenty years.

Until now. Richard Aintree — or someone pretending to be Richard Aintree — has at last reached out to his two estranged daughters. Monette is a lifestyle queen à la Martha Stewart whose empire is crumbling; and once upon a time, Reggie was the love of Hoagy’s life. Both sisters have received mysterious typewritten letters from their father.

Hoagy is already on the case, having been hired to ghostwrite a tell-all book about the troubled Aintree family. But no sooner does he set up shop in the pool house of Monette’s Los Angeles mansion than murder strikes. With Lulu at his side — or more often cowering in his shadow — it’s up to Hoagy to unravel the mystery, catch the killer, and pour himself that perfect single-malt Scotch… before it’s too late.

Buy, read, and discuss The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, David Handler

David Handler has written nine novels about dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag, including the Edgar and American Mystery Award–winning, The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as eleven novels in the bestselling Berger & Mitry series. He lives in a 230-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Connect with David:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

This book, The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes, is sort of a series reboot for David Handler’s detective duo Stwart “Hoagy” Hoag and his canine companion Lulu the Basset Hound. Or, if not technically a reboot (it’s set in the nineties) it’s a revisit, or a return.

Whatever you want to call it, this literary mystery is funny and smart, and it was refreshing to read something relatively light after so many deeper books. I love that author Handler doesn’t take himself or his material too seriously, but that Hoagy and Lulu still feel like real people – well, a real person and a real dog.

What I especially liked about this book was the period setting (and wow, do I feel old calling 1990 ‘period’). Handler reminded me of what it was like back then  – waiting for faxes, cell phones being relatively new and kind of rare – just the time it took to acquire or share information.

I also love Lulu. I’d read a series just about her. I might be biased, though, because I work in rescue and have four dogs of my own.

As someone who hadn’t read any of the other Stewart Hoag mysteries before this one, I do have to say that while The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes reads well as a stand-alone, it’s probably better appreciated if you’ve read the previous titles, which include:

The Man Who Died Laughing
The Man Who Lived By Night
The Man Who Would be F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Woman Who Fell From Grace
The Boy Who Never Grew Up
The Man Who Cancelled Himself
The Girl Who Ran Off With Daddy
The Man Who Loved Women to Death

Goes well with Chinese food and beer. Preferably delivered.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 15th: Brown Dog Solutions

Wednesday, August 16th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, August 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, August 18th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, August 21st: The Book Diva’s Reads

Tuesday, August 22nd: Tina Says…

Wednesday, August 23rd: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 23rd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, August 24th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 28th: Mama Vicky Says

Tuesday, August 29th: Reading is My Super Power

Wednesday, August 30th: Dreams, Etc.

Thursday, August 31st: BookNAround

TBD: In Bed with Books

TBD: Writing and Running Through Life