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The Reinvention of Albert Paugh, by Jean Davies Okimoto #review #TLCBookTours

About the book The Reinvention of Albert Paugh The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

Page count: 288 pages

Publisher: Endicott and Hugh Books

Dr. Albert Paugh is flunking retirement. After selling his Vashon Island veterinary practice, he soon finds himself not only lost without his work, but suddenly single. His efforts to carve out a new life, both as a bachelor and a retiree, only leave him feeling like his golden years are fast becoming years of gloom. His regrets pile up until he moves to Baker’s Beach where he gets to know a very special neighbor, learns that friends are the family you choose, and finds a new sense of purpose. The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is a sweet, funny love story about retirees that will delight readers (and dog lovers) of any age.

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is the third book in Jean Davies Okimoto’s Island Trilogy, following The Love Ceiling and Walter’s Muse.

Buy, read, and discuss The Reinvention of Albert Paugh

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million


About the author, Jean Davis Okimoto Jean Davies Okimoto

Jean Davies Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Chinese, German, Danish, Korean and Hebrew. She is the recipient  of numerous awards including Smithsonian Notable Book, the American LibraryAssociation Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award. Her picture book, Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat was adapted by Shelly Duvall for the HBO and Showtime television series “Bedtime Stories.” Her debut novel for adults The Love Ceiling was a season’s pick by the King County Library System, named to the ABA Indie Next Reading Group List and ebook Fiction Winner in the 2009 Indie Next Generation Awards. She has appeared on CNN, Oprah, and The Today Show. Jeanie, who is also a retired psychotherapist, began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they (and their dogs Bert and Willie) are visited by deer families and their six grandchildren.

For more information on Ms. Okimoto, please visit her website at www.jeandaviesokimoto.com.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is a quirky and sweet novel, with an idyllic Pacific Northwest island setting and a cast of characters that can charm the pants off you, even while they’re driving you crazy. Reading it is like visiting the village you never knew you wanted to live in.

If I had to pick a word – a single word – to describe the eponymous title character, I would describe Albert as ‘befuddled,’ and while this novel could be considered to be ‘about’ his love of animals, his divorce, his post-retirement lifestyle, in many ways it’s really about Albert clearing away his terminal befuddlement and seeing the world with fresh, new, eyes.

As someone who has watched her parents move through many post-retirement configurations, and as someone who is no longer in any of the ticky-boxes that are anything other than ‘middle aged’ (this despite the fact that I got carded buying wine on Friday) this story felt especially relevant and poignant. We will all wake up one morning and realize our lives are not what we planned or hoped, and that the only people who can change that is ourselves.

Author Jean Davis Okimoto has a knack for characterization – every person (and dog) in this novel felt completely real, from the annoying woman with the corgi to the wife who demands a divorce in the early chapters, and the settings also felt incredibly cinematic.

This is the third book in a trilogy, but I haven’t read the first two. While I’m certain doing so would have given me greater familiarity with Vashon Island and it’s denizens, I did not feel like I was coming into the middle of a story at all.

If you want to read something that will charm the pants off you, and then get you out of your chair to play fetch with the dog in your life, The Reinvention of Albert Paugh would be an excellent choice.

Goes well with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, and a cold locally brewed craft beer.


Jean Davies Okimoto’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, August 3rd: Book Dilettante

Wednesday, August 5th: Mama Vicky Says

Monday, August 10th: The Book Wheel

Tuesday, August 11th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 12th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, August 13th: BookNAround

Friday, August 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, August 17th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, August 19th: Life is Story

Monday, August 24th: Joyfully Retired

Wednesday, August 26th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, August 28th: View from the Birdhouse

Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family, by Carlton Mellick III (@carltonmellick3) #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family Clownfellas

  • Publisher: Hydra (July 14, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC

“Carlton Mellick III goes past silly, through weird, detours around dumb, blasts through bizarre, and gets to a place where the normal physics of narrative no longer apply. You will never be the same.”—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland

In a topsy-turvy world where clowns are killers and crooks, Little Bigtop is a three-ring circus of crime, and no syndicate is more dangerous than the Bozo family. From the wildly original mind of Carlton Mellick III comes the short-story collection ClownFellas—an epic mob saga where life is cheap and the gags will slay you.

For years, the hard-boiled capos of the Bozo family have run all of the funny business in Little Bigtop, from the clown brothels to the illegal comedy trade. But hard times have befallen the Bozos now that Le Mystère, the French clown Mafia, has started moving in and trying to take over the city. If that weren’t enough, they’ve got to deal with the cops, the Feds, the snitches, the carnies, the mysterious hit man Mr. Pogo, and the mutant clowns over in the Sideshow district. With the odds stacked against them, the Bozos must fight to survive . . . or die laughing.

Buy, read, and discuss Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family

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


About the author, Carlton Mellick III Carlton Mellick III

Carlton Mellick III is an oafish gentleman with the stylishest of sideburns. He is one of the leading authors in the bizarro fiction genre—a booming underground movement that strives to bring weird, crazy, entertaining literature to the masses. Imagine a mixture of David Lynch, Dr. Seuss, South Park, and Troma movies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Connect with Carlton

Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Publisher’s Weekly described Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family as “Mario Puzo meets Barnum & Bailey” and that’s about as accurate a description as I can think of. Make no mistake about it, this collection of short stories is hilarious – clowns as gangsters? really?? – but it’s also dark, gritty, and disturbing.

In the world this book inhabits, Clowns are a kind of metahuman mutant, and each faction has different characteristics. The Bozo family is comprised of traditional American-style circus clowns, while other factions include the French Le Mystère (who are not, apparently, mimes, though I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were – a further tale, perhaps?)  and deal with attacks from the Jugglers.

The author, Carlton Mellick III has taken every gangster trope and every clown trope mixed them up and come up with something fresh and fantastic (in all senses of the word). In one story a coulrophobic (coulrophobia is fear of clowns) veterinarian is dragged to Little Bigtop to save the life of Don Bozo’s pet lion. In another, a human Associate is resisting the serum injection (Happy Juice) that will turn him from Human to Clown because he’s terrified of becoming a statistic. In the universe of Clownfellas, it seems, one in ten people become Sideshow Freaks instead of true Clowns, and are sent off to fend for themselves in the Sideshow without rights or recognition.

(A part of me wonders if that one-in-ten number was just for convenience, or if it was chosen specifically because that statistic is a popular (if not necessarily accurate) representation of the segment of our population that is LGBT.)

Whether you read it for a deeper cause, or simply enjoy the sendup of every mafia movie you’ve ever seen, this collection of tales is entertaining and thought provoking: what is normal? What constitutes crime? Would we be better off if we really could kill someone with a C4-loaded pie to the face and guns that used lethal BANG! signs instead of conventional bullets? Is it true that all you really need in life is “…a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants…?”

Goes well with popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, hot dogs, and beer served in a dangerously flimsy plastic cup.


Giveaway Clownfellas

This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a HYDRA mug and a copy of the book!

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/235babe7234/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”235babe7234″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_du4egdek”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>


Carlton Mellick III’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, July 13th: For the Love of Fictional Worlds

Wednesday, July 15th: PromoteHorror.com

Wednesday, July 15th: Wildfire Books

Monday, July 20th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, July 21st: Wag the Fox – author interview

Thursday, July 23rd: The Qwillery

Friday, July 24th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, July 27th: W. A. R. G. – The Writer’s, Artist’s & Reader’s Guild

Tuesday, July 28th: The Horror Honeys

Wednesday, July 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews

Thursday, July 30th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 3rd: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, August 5th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Friday, August 7th: Life is Story

TBD: The Scary Reviews

TBD: Bell, Book & Candle

TBD: Kari J. Wolfe

Wings in the Dark, by Michael Murphy (@mmurfy68) #review

Wings in the Dark Tour

About the book Wings in the Dark Wings in the Dark

  • Print Length: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (July 14, 2015)
  • Genre: Historical / Cozy Mystery

Witty and stylish in the classic Dashiell Hammett tradition: in Michael Murphy’s latest high-flying Jake & Laura Mystery, their Hawaiian honeymoon is interrupted when their friend Amelia Earhart is accused of murder.

Hawaii, 1935. Mystery novelist Jake Donovan and actress Laura Wilson are in gorgeous sun-soaked Hawaii, but their best laid plans for canoodling on the beach are interrupted by a summons from famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart. It seems a local businessman has been gunned down next to her plane. In just days, the famous pilot intends to fly from Honolulu to Los Angeles, making aviation history over the Pacific. But now, without Jake and Laura’s help, Earhart’s flight might never take off. Trailing a killer, the newlyweds’ sleuthing leads to a jealous pilot, a cigar-chomping female officer of the “Royalist Militia” and a notoriously disagreeable lieutenant colonel named Patton. With a sinister killer lurking in the shadows, it’s safe to say the honeymoon is over . . . and the danger has just begun.

Buy, read, and discuss Wings in the Dark

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a MillionGoogle Play | iBooks | Kobo | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy is a full-time writer and part-time urban chicken rancher. He lives in Arizona with his wife of more than forty years and the four children they adopted this past year. He’s active in several local writers’ groups and conducts novel-writing workshops at bookstores and libraries.

Connect with Michael

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

This is my third adventure with Jake and Laura, and having been with them since book one, I’m pleased to note that these books keep getting better and better.

This novel Wings in the Dark resonated with me more than the first two partly because of the presence of Amelia Earhart as a character, and partly because it’s set in Interwar (the period between the end of WWI and the start of WWII) period in Hawaii. My grandfather was in the Army and was stationed there in the 30s and again right before Peal Harbor (he left the day before the attack), and I recently came into possession of a scrapbook he made during his tour there in 1931-33, so it was a fantastic experience reading about fictional 1930’s Hawaii after handling artifacts from the real time period.

My personal connection aside, Jake and Laura, in book three, have married and are on their honeymoon, but their bickering banter, a staple of these books, never ceases. Their relationship is what makes these novels work so well, and I was glad to see it hadn’t suffered any just because there was a wedding.

The use of real historical figures (Amelia Earhart, etc.) blended in with fictional characters continues to work incredibly well, and it was interesting seeing another take on the female adventure-pilot we all grew up reading about.

The mystery was, as I expected it to be, well-plotted and well-paced, and while I was ahead of our crimefighting couple, it didn’t detract from the story at all.

I heartily recommend the Jake & Laura mysteries, and this book specifically, if you like cozy mysteries that have a flair for the dramatic, a great sense of style, and an epic amount of witty banter.

Goes well with fresh-caught seafood, grilled over an open fire on the beach, and drinks served in coconut shells.


Tour Stops Wings in the Dark Tour

July 7th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

July 8th: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy

July 9th: Book Review and Author Interview @ Mystery Please

July 11th: Book Review @ Mallory Heart Reviews

July 13th: Book Excerpt @ Nat’s Book Nook

July 15th: Book Review @ It’s a Mad Mad World

July 16th: Book Excerpt @ Author C.A. Milson’s Blog

July 18th: Book Review @ Splashed Into Books

July 19th: Author Interview @ Books Chatter

July 20th: Book Excerpt @ It Takes a Woman

July 22nd: Book Review @ Reading Reality

July 24th: Book Review @ Books, Books and More Books

July 26th: Book Review @ Michelle Dragalin’s Journey

July 28th: Book Review @ Bibliotica

July 30th: Book Review @ Joyfully Retired

August 1st: Book Review @ Vic’s Media Room

August 3rd: Book Excerpt @ Miss Ivy’s Book Nook

August 4th: Book Review @ Miss Ivy’s Book Nook

August 7th: Book Review @ Laura’s Interests

Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne (@andrewmayne) #review @TLCbooktours

About the book, Name of the Devil Name of the Devil

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: Bourbon Street Books; (July 7, 2015)

In this electrifying sequel to Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI-agent Jessica Blackwood must channel her past to catch a killer consumed by a desire for revenge.

When a church combusts in rural Appalachia, the bizarre trail of carnage suggests diabolical forces are at work. Charged with explaining the inexplicable, the FBI’s Dr. Ailes and Agent Knoll once again turn to the ace up their sleeve: Agent Jessica Blackwood, a former prodigy from a family dynasty of illusionists. After playing a pivotal role in the capture of the Warlock, a seemingly supernatural serial killer, Jessica can no longer ignore the world, and the skills, she left behind. Her talent and experience endow her with a knack for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be, and she soon realizes this explosion is just the first of many crimes.

As the death toll mounts, Jessica discovers the victims share a troubling secret with far-reaching implications that stretch from the hills of West Virginia to cartel-corrupted Mexico to the hallowed halls of the Vatican. Everyone involved in what happened on that horrible night so long ago has tried to bury it—except for one person, who believes that the past can be hidden, but never forgiven. Can Jessica draw on her unique understanding of the power and potential of deception to thwart a murderer determined to avenge the past?

Buy, read, and discuss Name of the Devil

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Andrew Mayne Andrew Mayne

Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E’s magic reality show Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, and has worked with David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. He lives in Los Angeles.

Connect with Andrew

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I never read the first Jessica Blackwood novel, and I really wish I had because after jumping into this series with the just-published second installment, Name of the Devil, I am hooked – HOOKED – on this series.

First, I love Jessica herself, she’s the perfect mix of smart and spunky, and sensitive, and I like the way she overcomes her past by using it, rather then suppressing it. That she comes from a family of illusionists makes her more interesting, and also differentiates her from all the other female agents currently existing in modern fiction. I also really appreciate the way Jessica’s background, and the skills that were practically bred into her, aren’t just character enrichment, but are crucial to her job, and the plot.

Second, the pacing: Wow! From the first paragraph the reader is in the middle of everything, and the pace is fast – at times I felt like an out-of-control rollercoaster – but then everything comes back long enough to catch a breath. Considering that there’s a decent amount of globehopping in this novel – Appalachia, Mexico, the Vatican – it makes sense that the pace must be quick. It works for this novel.

Third: Mayne’s prose: it’s upbeat an contemporary, but never feels too pithy for the subject matter. His dialogue is especially good, and his character descriptions are as detailed as only someone accustomed to discerning what is from what isn’t can be.

Bottom line: this is a great read, perfect for a hot summer day’s worth of intrigue and escapism, and while I’m sure having read the first book in the series would have  been helpful, I didn’t feel like my experience was terribly lacking because I began with book two.

Goes well with mineral water with lime, and a Caprese salad.


Andrew’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, July 7th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, July 8th: A Bookworm’s World

Thursday, July 9th: 5 Minutes For Books

Friday, July 10th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Monday, July 13th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, July 14th: Girl Lost in a Book

Wednesday, July 15th: Priscilla and her Books

Thursday, July 16th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Monday, July 20th: Always With A Book

Monday, July 20th: Mystery Playground

Tuesday, July 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, July 22nd: Why Girls Are Weird

Thursday, July 23rd: Bibliophilia, Please

Bum Rap, by Paul Levine (@Jake_Lassiter) #review #giveaway @tlcbooktours

About the book, Bum Rap Bum Rap

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2015)

NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with shifty clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It’s enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back—until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.

Jake knows that if he doesn’t get to the witness first, his client’s case is lost. Luckily, he’s got some good advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody.” And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

Buy, read, and discuss Bum Rap

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


About the author, Paul Levine Paul Levine

PAUL LEVINE worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. His books have been translated into 23 languages; Levine has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Shamus Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize.

Connect with Paul

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I haven’t read anything from Paul Levine in a while, though I reviewed Lassiter several years ago, but even so, I had no problem jumping back into his world – or worlds, really – this novel has Lassister joining forces with Levine’s other literary creation, the love & law partners Solomon and Lord, in order to prove that Solomon is innocent (not merely not-guilty) of a murder involving him being found in extremely incriminating circumstances.

As with all of Levine’s other work, there are a lot of details  – businesses, local celebrities, landmarks, etc. – that are only really relevant to people who live in South Florida, but also present is his signature gritty style. Yes, his books are a bit violent, but when you’re dealing with “last chance Lassiter” and the Russian mafia, that violence is appropriate for the story and the characters.

One thing I especially liked about Bum Rap is Levine’s choice to alternate POVs: a third person point of view when chapters focus on Solomon and Lord, alternating with first person when the chapter was Lassiter-centric. I thought this convention worked really well, spotlighting all three characters in the way readers of both series are most used to.

If you like fast-paced, gritty, mystery/thrillers this novel is for you.

Goes well with rum & coke, and a juicy steak.


Giveaway Bum Rap

One winner in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Bum Rap. Contest runs through 11:59 PM U.S. Central time on July 7th, and notified by email on July 8th.

To enter:

Option 1) Leave a comment on this post and share the best piece of advice you’ve ever received.

Option 2) Find my post about this book on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet it.

Paul Levine’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 29th: Books a la Mode

Wednesday, July 1st: Bell, Book & Candle

Thursday, July 2nd: Bibliotica

Friday, July 3rd: FictionZeal

Monday, July 6th: The World As I See It

Wednesday, July 8th: Griperang’s Bookmarks

Thursday, July 9th: Life is Story

Friday, July 10th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, July 13th: Book Dilettante

Monday, July 13th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, July 16th: Rhodes Review

Friday, July 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, July 20th: Lilac Reviews

Tuesday, July 21st: Back Porchervations

Thursday, July 23rd: Vic’s Media Room

Disclaimer, by Renee Knight #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Disclaimer Disclaimer

  • • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • • Publisher: Harper (May 19, 2015)

What if you realized the terrifying book you were reading was all about you?

A brilliantly conceived, deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a woman haunted by secrets—and the price she will pay for concealing the truth.

When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft’s bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger—or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first, she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfolds.

And then she realizes.

This isn’t fiction.

The Perfect Stranger re-creates in vivid, unmistakable detail the day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

Now that the past Catherine so desperately wants to forget is catching up with her, her world is falling apart. Plunged into a living nightmare, she knows that her only hope is to confront what really happened on that terrible day . . . even if the shocking truth may destroy her.

Buy, read, and discuss Disclaimer:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Renée Knight Renee Knight

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries and has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy “Writing a Novel” course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children.


My Thoughts TLC Tour Host

From the very first page, I was absolutely hooked on this story, which is told partly in flashbacks to two years before the novel’s ‘present’ and in alternating viewpoints of Catherine and someone else. (Spoilers, sweeties!  I can’t be more specific than that.)  It begins with Catherine being a bit unsettled about something – we quickly learn it’s a book she’s been reading – and the suspense builds from there, and keeps building to the end of the novel.

The plot is what makes a thriller, of course, but without compelling characters, even the best plot remains flat. In our primary POV character, Catherine, author Renee Knight has given us an interesting, complex woman who is keeping secrets that are agonizing her. Knight does an excellent job of depicting the guilt, the pain, and the longing to just tell the truth that Catherine feels, but she’s also surrounded this woman with equally dimensional characters who react to her apparent behavior oblivious to what is going on inside her mind. It’s a tricky balancing act, making sure no  one else knows what Catherine does, making sure no one really sees into her head, but Knight pulls it off with aplomb.

If I had to pick one word to describe Disclaimer, I would choose “cinematic,” because this novel feels like it would translate to the screen incredibly well. The author directs documentaries and writes film scripts, so perhaps she’s used to seeing things from a camera’s perspective, but I felt like every scene break would have been a perfect cut, and the pace of the novel is perfect for a movie theater experience.

If you want a fast paced thriller with real emotional impact, read Disclaimer. You won’t be disappointed.

Goes well with: a club sandwich, fresh coleslaw, and a vanilla cream soda.


Renée’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 19th: Booksie’s Blog

Thursday, May 21st: Kissin Blue Karen

Friday, May 22nd: A Bookworm’s World

Monday, May 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, May 26th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, May 27th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, May 28th: Staircase Wit

Friday, May 29th: JulzReads

Monday, June 1st: Book Hooked Blog

Tuesday, June 2nd: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, June 3rd: Ace and Hoser Blook

Thursday, June 4th: Ms.Bookish.com

Tuesday, June 9th: Bibliotica – That’s Me!

Wednesday, June 10th: Novel Escapes

Thursday, June 11th: Doing Dewey

Thursday, June 11th:From the TBR Pile

Friday, June 12th: The Well-Read Redhead

Monday, June 15th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Moonlight on Butternut Creek, by Mary McNear #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Moonlight on Butternut Lake Moonlight on Butternut Lake

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 12, 2015)

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Up at Butternut Lake comes the third novel in the Butternut Lake series—a dazzling story of two wounded souls seizing a second chance at life and love.

On the run from her abusive husband, Mila Jones flees Minneapolis for the safety and serenity of Butternut Lake. Ready to forge a new life, Mila’s position as home health aide to Reid Ford is more than a job. It’s a chance at a fresh start. Though her sullen patient seems determined to make her quit, she refuses to give up on him.

Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid retreats to his brother’s cabin on Butternut Lake and lashes out at anyone who tries to help. Reid wishes Mila would just go away. . .until he notices the strength, and the secrets, behind her sad, brown eyes.

Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond as Mila lowers her guard and begins to trust again, and Reid learns how to let this woman who has managed to crack through his protective shell into his life. While the seemingly endless days of summer unfold, Reid and Mila take the first steps to healing as they discover love can be more than just a dream.

Buy, read, and discuss Moonlight on Butternut Lake

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Mary McNear Mary McNear

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear is a writer living in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon. She writes her novels in a local donut shop where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made donuts. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

Connect with Mary

Facebook


My Thoughts:

Visiting Butternut Lake via Mary McNear’s always-engaging novels has become something of an annual habit, as I’ve now reviewed all three in the series. I always really enjoy the way she writes small-town life, and the way the local diner, Pearl’s, and the lake itself, are characters in and of themselves.

But it’s the human characters, drawn so well that you totally feel like you could run into them at a diner, or on the lake shore, that really drive McNear’s stories. In this one, we see Allie and Walter and their two children again, but they’re supporting characters. The story really centers around Walter’s brother Reid, recent survivor of a terrible car wreck, and Mila, on the run from a bad relationship (though the details aren’t revealed til the end of the novel) and looking for a fresh start.

That the two of them eventually connect with each other isn’t at all surprising – it’s inevitable – but McNear has created characters so real, and a setting so vivid, that it doesn’t matter how predictable the ultimate ending is, because when you’re traveling the twisting, turning road to Butternut Lake, it really IS about the journey.

And what a journey! This novel has the perfect blend of romance, suspense, small town living, and earthy supporting characters. You can hear the Minnesota accents in the dialogue of the locals, but they never, ever stray outside of credibility and into caricature.

Congratulations, Mary McNear, on bringing us all to Butternut Lake once more, and how fitting that my visit landed on Memorial Day weekend.

Goes well with: strawberry-rhubarb pie and homemade vanilla ice cream.


Mary McNear’s Blog Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 12th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Wednesday, May 13th: Fuelled by Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, May 15th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, May 18th: Always With a Book

Tuesday, May 19th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews

Monday, May 25th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, May 20th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 20th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, June 3rd: Reading Reality

TBD: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

A Match for Marcus Cynster, by Stephanie Laurens #Excerpt Tour #Giveaway @TLCBookTours

A Match for Marcus Cynster Excerpt Tour

I’m so excited to be part of the TLC Book Tours EXCERPT TOUR for the release of the latest book in Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series, A Match for Marcus Cynster!

About the book, A Match for Marcus Cynster A Match for Marcus Cynster

  • Series: Cynster (#23)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 438 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (May 26, 2015)

Duty compels her to turn her back on marriage. Fate drives him to protect her come what may. Then love takes a hand in this battle of yearning hearts, stubborn wills, and a match too powerful to deny. #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to rugged Scotland with a dramatic tale of passionate desire and unwavering devotion.

Restless and impatient, Marcus Cynster waits for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies in the lands surrounding his family home, but what will his future be and with whom will he share it?

Of one fact he feels certain: his fated bride will not be Niniver Carrick. His elusive neighbor attracts him mightily, yet he feels compelled to protect her—even from himself. Fickle Fate, he’s sure, would never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his. The best he can do for them both is to avoid her.

Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. The epitome of fragile femininity, her delicate and ethereal exterior cloaks a stubborn will and an unflinching devotion to the people in her care. She accepts that she cannot risk marrying and losing her grip on the clan’s reins to an inevitably controlling husband. Unfortunately, many local men see her as their opportunity.

Soon, she’s forced to seek help to get rid of her unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus Cynster is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for assistance with her peculiar problem.

Although at first he resists, Marcus discovers that, contrary to his expectations, his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, to claim her hand. Yet in order to convince her to be his bride, they must plunge headlong into a journey full of challenges, unforeseen dangers, passion, and yearning, until Niniver grasps the essential truth—that she is indeed a match for Marcus Cynster.

~ Excerpt ~

They buried Nigel and Nolan three days later. The atmosphere was more that of a witnessing than an honoring. The ambiance was strikingly different from that which had prevailed at their father’s funeral—but then Manachan had been revered by the clan and respected throughout the community, while Nigel and Nolan had been tolerated purely on the basis of being Manachan’s sons. As for acquaintances within the wider community, theirs proved to be limited to young hellions of similar ilk to themselves—irresponsible males intent on enjoying a hedonistic life with nary a thought for anyone or anything else.

Several of the latter unexpectedly turned up, driving curricles and phaetons, and greeting each other raucously.

The clan ignored them.

Initially, Niniver had been surprised by how many of the clan had chosen to attend. Then she’d realized that, for them as for her, the somber service marked the end of two years of uncertainty and unrest—two years of confusion, of not knowing what was going on, and of lost faith in the clan’s leadership.

Nigel was buried next to their father and mother in the Carrick family plot.

Nolan was buried in a far corner of the graveyard—rejected and disowned by all.

It was she who cast the first sod on Nolan’s coffin. Stony-faced, the clan elders followed her lead.

And then it was done.

No one felt any need to linger; everyone was glad to turn their backs and walk away.

As the gathering dispersed and the clan returned to the carts and drays that had brought them there, several of Nigel and Nolan’s friends surrounded her and attempted to press their patently insincere condolences on her.

She avoided society—in part because of just such men—but she’d long ago perfected one social art, that of keeping her feelings concealed and maintaining a mask of unruffled calm. Yet to be invited to join several would-be dandies on a picnic and, when she politely declined, to have her words ignored…

Luckily, Thomas intervened, and with several cutting words and a black scowl, he sent the horde packing. Together with Ferguson, Thomas escorted her away; she allowed them to lead her to her carriage, help her in, and shut the door.

Sean set the horses trotting, and the carriage pulled into the road, and finally, it was over.

She rested her head against the squabs and closed her eyes, holding in the tears that, suddenly, threatened to overflow.AMFMC Quote

Her family was gone—all of them. Thomas was her nearest blood relative, and he had his own place, his own role as consort to the future Lady of the Vale.

She…was alone. Completely alone. She had no place, no role—no life.

She was the one left behind.

But she knew the clan wouldn’t throw her out; she would have a place, a role, within it, even if she didn’t yet know what that would be.

She told herself to remain positive, or at least to keep her thoughts focused on what she yet had to do that day, on what lay immediately ahead.

The clan meeting to elect a new laird.

She sighed, opened her eyes, and glanced out of the window. “One way or another, I will find a way.”

Buy, read, and discuss A Match for Marcus Cynster

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About Stephanie Laurens Stephanie Laurens

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

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


Giveaway AMFMC Prize Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Monday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, May 12th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, May 13th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: In the Hammock

Friday, May 15th: Broken Teepee

Monday, May 18th: Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 19th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, May 20th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 21st: Bell, Book & Candle

Friday, May 22nd: Urban Girl Reader

Monday, May 25th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Tuesday, May 26th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, May 27th: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, May 27th: Read Love Blog

Thursday, May 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 29th: Written Love Reviews

The Mapmaker’s Children, by Sarah McCoy (@SarahMMcCoy) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

The Mapmaker's Children

About the book, The Mapmaker’s Children The Mapmaker's Children, by Sarah McCoy

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Crown (May 5, 2015)

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

Buy, read, and discuss The Mapmaker’s Children

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Sarah McCoy Sarah McCoy

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas.

Connect with Sarah

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

There are novels that you pick up thinking, “Hmm, this might be interesting,” and then you forget you have them until weeks later, when they resurface and you find yourself gripped – completely gripped – by the story, and kicking yourself for not reading it the second you got home. The Mapmaker’s Children was almost like that for me, because the original galley provider ignored my request for it more than once, and then when I finally got it, I was convinced it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea at all.

I was wrong.

I was so very wrong.

First, the historical part of this story – a fictional possibility of what the life of Sarah Brown, daughter of famed abolitionist James Brown (and, yes, you will have the song rolling through the back of your mind as you read this) may have been like, suggesting that she might have followed in her father’s footsteps, and put her artistic talent to use making maps for use on the Underground Railroad, is amazing. Yes, it’s fiction, but it’s fiction that feels completely plausible, especially since the author worked in real world touches. I especially liked the fact that Louisa May Alcott’s book of fairy stories was an important element of the story, and that so many real historical figures (including Louisa and her father Bronson) were rubbing elbows with the fictional, and quasi-fictional characters.

Then, there’s the contemporary part of the story. As a woman in her 40s who has had two miscarriages, Eden’s desperation to have a child resonated with me (though in my case, dogs are totally a substitute for children; I have five.) in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Her story was one where at times I wanted to hug her, at times I wanted to throttle her, and most of the time, I wanted to bake her some scones, brew some really good coffee and sit down for a cathartic venting session.

Author Sarah McCoy wove both stories, one based on history, one based on so many contemporary stories, into one lovely, gorgeous, satisfying tapestry of a novel. It made me want to go upstairs, pull out a quilting book and FINALLY learn to do something beyond hemming pants with my sewing machine. It also made me want to bake organic meatloaf suitable for all members of my family, whether they have two feet or four.

The Mapmaker’s Children is a well-crafted, brilliantly written novel, and I highly recommend it, especially to animal lovers, childless adults, and history buffs.

Goes well with Roasted free-range chicken with buttered carrots, and a spring green salad. Homemade cornbread on the side.


Giveaway The Mapmaker's Children, by Sarah McCoy

One lucky reader in the USA or Canada will win a copy of this book. How? Leave a comment on this post (include a valid email address in the comment form – only I will see the email address) telling me what historical figure you’d most like to hang out and have coffee with. Alternatively, find my post about this book in my twitter feed (I’m @melysse) and retweet it.

The winner will be announced next Thursday.


Sarah’s Tour Schedule: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, May 20th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, May 21st: Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, May 22nd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Monday, May 25th: Readers’ Oasis

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

Running Fire, by Lindsay McKenna (@lindsaymckenna) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

Running Fire

About the book, Running Fire Running Fire

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (April 28, 2015)

He was a haven in the midst of Hell…

Temporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger to conflict—even if most of her physical and emotional scars are courtesy of her vicious ex. Still, she’s got a bad feeling about picking up a team of stranded SEALs. A feeling that’s all too justified once enemy fire hits their helicopter and all hell breaks loose…

SEAL Kell Ballard’s goal was to get the injured pilot out of harm’s way and find shelter deep in the labyrinth of caves. It’s a place of dark intimacy, where Leah finds unexpected safety in a man’s arms. Where prohibited attraction burns brightly. And where they’ll hide until the time comes to face the enemy outside…and the enemy within their ranks.

Buy, read, and discuss Running Fire

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


About the author, Lindsay McKenna Lindsay McKenna

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

Connect with Lindsay

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

I don’t read a lot of Harlequin novels. Oh, I’m not judging – they’re great novels when you want to escape into something fun and frothy for a couple of hours, and the contemporary incarnation of the imprint tends to favor strong female characters who have lived a little bit, rather than doe-eyed, barely post-pubescent innocents. I don’t typically read them simply because it doesn’t occur to me.

That said, when I was offered the chance to read Lindsay McKenna’s Running Fire I said, “Please, sign me up,” because I’m do enjoy a good romance from time to time, and because the military aspect appealed to me. I am, after all, the granddaughter of a career Army officer, and a member of Soldiers’ Angels. As well, I lost a really good friend a couple of years ago, a friend who was one of my oldest ‘blog buddies’ and whose last email to me included pictures of an afternoon in Kabul. (He survived two tours in that region, only to die of cancer at far too young an age, but that’s another story.)

In any case, I began reading Ms. McKenna’s novel and found myself devouring it over the space of just a few hours. Her depiction of the male lead, Kell, matches my own experience with the SEALs I’ve met: off the job, they tend to be incredibly intelligent, kind, people, but once they’re in work mode their focus is laser-sharp. Likewise, I enjoyed seeing military life from the point of view of a woman who as also an officer. McKenna did a really good job of letting Leah be vulnerable, without diminishing the fact of her own training. Even when she was injured, she was never entirely helpless, and I thought the whole Leah/Kell relationship was treated as one of equals who had differing strengths.

To be honest, I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. I think I always start any military story being wary of the politics that might crop up. (Mine are decidedly liberal – I’m very much of the ‘love the soldier, hate the war’ school of thought). I needn’t have been concerned. In this story, there’s almost no mention of politics. Instead everything is very much in the present for each character: what do I have to do to survive this day, and improve my connection to this other person?

As a novel that does take place ‘in theater,’ as well as one that deals with (I’m trying hard not to spoil plot) past sexual abuse, there are a couple of bits of violence that may be off-putting for some readers, but it wasn’t gratuitous violence, and it wasn’t described in the kind of visceral detail that is likely to cause nightmares or anything.

As I said, I rarely read Harlequin novels, but when I do, I’m happy to share what I’ve read. I found McKenna’s work so engaging that I’m curious to read other novels in this series.

Goes well with Any variety of MRE…no, just kidding. Cheeseburgers, crinkle-cut fries, and Coca-cola.


Giveaway

If you want to experience Lindsay McKenna’s military romances for yourself, I have the opportunity for ONE reader from the USA or Canada to receive a copy of an earlier title in this collection: Taking Fire.

Taking Fire

To win: leave a comment here (make sure you leave a valid email address when filling out the comment form) or tweet about this review, and tag me in your tweet (@Melysse). I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday.


Lindsay McKenna’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 13th: Book Mama Blog – author guest post

Monday, April 20th: Feminist Reflections

Tuesday, April 21st: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, April 22nd: The World As I See It

Thursday, April 23rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Friday, April 24th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, April 27th: The Romance Dish – author guest post

Monday, April 27th: Hot Guys in Books

Monday, April 27th: Booked on a Feeling

Tuesday, April 28th: My Life. One Story At a Time.

Wednesday, April 29th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, April 30th: Mignon Mykel Reviews

Friday, May 1st: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Monday, May 4th: Books and Spoons

Tuesday, May 5th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Wednesday, May 6th: Bibliotica – That’s ME.

Thursday, May 7th: The Pen and Muse

Friday, May 8th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, May 8th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, May 11th: Life is Story

Wednesday, May 13th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, May 14th: Read Love Blog