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Woman with a Gun, by Phillip Margolin – Review

About the book, Woman with a Gun Woman with a Gun

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (December 2, 2014)

This compelling thriller, from New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin, centers on an intriguing photograph that may contain long-hidden answers to the mystery of a millionaire’s murder.

At a retrospective on the work of acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran, aspiring novelist Stacey Kim is fascinated by the exhibition’s centerpiece: the famous Woman with a Gun, which launched the artist’s career. Shot from behind, the enigmatic black-and-white image depicts a woman in a wedding dress standing on the shore at night, facing the sea. But this is no serene, romantic portrait. In her right hand, which is hidden behind her back, she holds a six-shooter.

The picture captures Stacey’s imagination and raises a host of compelling questions: Who is this woman? Is this a photograph of her on her wedding day? Does she plan to kill herself or someone else? Obsessed with finding answers, she soon discovers the identity of the woman: a suspect in a ten-year-old murder investigation. Convinced that proof of the woman’s guilt, or innocence, is somehow connected to the photograph, Stacey embarks on a relentless investigation.

Drawn deeper into the case, Stacey finds that everyone involved has a different opinion of the woman’s culpability. But the one person who may know the whole story—Kathy Moran—isn’t talking. Stacey must find a way to get to the reclusive photographer, and get her to talk, or the truth about what happened that day will stay forever hidden in the shadows.

Buy, read, and discuss Woman with a Gun

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Phillip Margolin Phillip Margolin

Phillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.

Connect with Phillip:

Website | Facebook.


My Thoughts

How often do we see a photograph, a painting, a sculpture, and want to know the story behind it? How often do we actually go after the story once we’ve begun to wonder. In Woman with a Gun, Stacey Kim does what all of us (or at least I) have fantasized about – she sees the picture “Woman with a Gun” and is driven to find out the story.

I enjoyed the layers of this tale – the actual police investigation and Stacey’s more writerly one. I enjoyed the use of language, and the depth displayed by all of the characters. Stacey was especially engaging, but the photographer Kathy Moran was equally compelling, and all the other characters held my interest and never felt flat or at all like ‘stock’ characters.

I’m usually a step ahead of the story when it comes to whodunnits, but in this case I enjoyed being in the dark to the very end, and further enjoyed the blend of ‘mystery’ and ‘thriller’ that author Margolin mixed up for this novel.

I haven’t read any of his other work, but my Amazon wishlist has just expanded by several titles.

Goes well with Steak, mashed potatoes, a green salad, and a stiff drink.


Phillip’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below or click HERE.

Tuesday, December 2nd: The Steadfast Reader

Tuesday, December 2nd: Staircase Wit

Wednesday, December 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, December 4th: Under My Apple Tree

Monday, December 8th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, December 9th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, December 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, December 10th: Great Minds Read Alike

Thursday, December 11th: Bibliotica

Friday, December 12th: FictionZeal

Monday, December 15th: Fuelled by Fiction

Tuesday, December 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, December 17th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, December 18th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, December 19th: Reading in Black & White

Monday, December 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook

Tuesday, December 23rd: Living in the Kitchen

TBD: BoundbyWords

Release, by Hope Russell Nunki (@hotbluestar) – Review

About the book, Release Release

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Noon Key Productions LLC (November 15, 2014)
  • Ecstasy. Absolution. Escape. After three years of desperation, her release may be a new beginning… or it may be her end. Miscarrying Theodore on Leap Day devastated Mandelyn and Henry in ways that weren’t obvious at first. As year followed year, postpartum depression, marital dysfunction, and ethical corruption quietly metastasized under the guise of a lovely home and stable careers. To free herself of yearning and regret, Mandelyn turns to journaling with a virtual counselor, waxing nostalgic for past loves-sharp-witted Joshua, mercurial Sam, and enigmatic Dante. Never mind that Joshua came out of the closet after years of chaste camaraderie, Sam toyed with her emotions, and Dante, after a steamy year that culminated in a summer trip to India, simply faded from her life without explanation. Never mind that, discovering her journals, Henry makes a heartbreaking decision: “I release you. Go. Find yourself. See if something or someone- in your past or in your future-holds the keys to your happiness. Maybe you’ll find that you have what you need somewhere inside you. If you don’t live this life fully, Mandelyn, it won’t be on my account. I think you know I love you, but if the character of my love doesn’t fulfill you, I don’t have anything else to offer. Quantum nonlocality, Proustian memory, and the energy vortexes of Sedona, Arizona play into the Odyssey takes through the chasms between science and religion, perception and reality, masculine and feminine, head and heart, love and lust, and forgiveness and gratitude.

    Buy, read, and discuss Release

    Amazon (paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Facebook


    About the author, Hope Russell Nunki (in her words)

    “I am a former professional mascot, signmaker, thespian, and school teacher. The common thread among these roles is a passion for illuminating common yet complex issues in accessible yet unusual ways. With a degree in theatre arts, communications, and English from Simpson College, I taught, directed plays, and coached speech teams in central Iowa before returning to my roots in the suburbs of Chicago.”

    “With more than 15 years of experience in professional services marketing, I ghost-write and by-lines articles by day. By night, I volunteer her time and opinions far too easily and laugh really obnoxiously. I serve at the pleasure of my Alpha Chi Omega alumnae chapter, the local Panhellenic society, my daughters’ elementary school association, and the Society for Marketing Professional Services. I practice hatha yoga intermittently and run 5K races poorly. My husband and I are raising four daughters who are convinced we are the modern day incarnation of the March family.”

    Connect with Hope

    Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


    My Thoughts

    When I was offered a review copy of this novel, I hesitated for a while, but only because I had so many reviews that I’d committed to. As it is, I waited longer than I meant to before posting it. This is in no way a reflection of Hope Russell Nunki’s fantastic novel.

    From the first scene, where Mandelyn comes home to find her husband Henry confronting her with information about her files, through the next chapter, where we learn about their stillborn son, four years earlier, through the rest of the novel, the author writes with a clear voice, in first person (which can often be tricky). We feel her protagonist’s pain even when we sympathize with Harry…and we want to see her life improve.

    What follows is a journey through pain and loss to self-awareness, and eventually self-fulfillment. The pitch I received described this novel as both ‘poignant’ and ‘hilarious’ and both are equally true. This is contemporary women’s fiction at its best: full of characters that sound real, emotions that ring true, and situations that may be somewhat heightened versions of reality, but never lack plausibility.

    It’s a gripping debut novel, a compelling read, and one I highly recommend. As well, I look forward to what Hope Russell Nunki creates next (no pressure.)

    Goes well with Koval white rye, and a cheese plate.

    Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, by S. R. Mallery (@sarahmallery1) – Review

    About the book, Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Sewing Can Be Dangerous

    • Publication Date: December 16, 2013
    • Publisher:Mockingbird Lane Press
    • Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio Book
    • Pages:
    • Genre: Historical Fiction/Short Stories

    The eleven long short stories in Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial star and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macrami artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

    Watch the trailer for Sewing Can Be Dangerous

    Buy, read, and discuss Sewing Can Be Dangerous

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Buy the audio version of Sewing Can Be Dangerous

    Amazon | Audible.com | iTunes


    About the author, S. R. Mallery S.R. Mallery

    S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life.

    First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

    Unexpected Gifts, her debut novel, is currently available on Amazon. Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, her collection of short stories, was released in Jan. 2014. Both books are from Mockingbird Lane Press.

    Connect with S.R.

    Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


    My Thoughts

    I don’t sew. I mean, I can hem pants if I really have to, and I can sew a button on, or make basic curtains, but I don’t have the love of fabric that real sewists (my mother’s word) have. I grew up in a house, however, where going barefoot meant you’d probably end up impaled by a straight pin, or three, and background noise nearly always included the cozy hum of a sewing machine’s flywheel punctuated by my mother’s cursing whenever something didn’t go according to plan.

    Despite not being a creator of fiber arts, myself, I have dabbled in crewel embroidery (and still do on rare occasions), I’ve tried to learn to knit (I had an excellent teacher, I am incapable of relaxing my grip enough), and I’m fascinated by quilting, and really will try it one day. The mostly-straight lines I can cope with, but quilting also involves math, and geometry was never my favorite subject.

    Reading about sewing, and other kinds of fiber arts, however, is something I love to do, so when I had the chance to review Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, I asked for it in paperback, partly because I knew the short stories would make the perfect “bath book,” and partly because I knew I could pass it on to my mother. (It’s part of her Christmas present this year. Shhh! Don’t tell her!!)

    I planned to read this book in the bath over a few days, but the first story hooked me so deeply that I was absorbed by Mallery’s prose and forgot to fill the tub. Also, like potato chips, you cannot (well, I cannot) read just one short story, so I had to keep going. Before I knew it, I’d read away a whole night, and only the fact that I didn’t have a bright enough light made me put this book down.

    My favorite piece is the the second story, which is about quilts and curses, and appealed to my love of all things spooky and dark, but every single story is a gem – or, more accurately, a hand-sewn bead among a collection of hand-sewn beads. Mallery’s voice is clear and consistent even when moods and tones are radically different, and it was lovely having so many different women as protagonists. Many of these stories could easily be expanded into longer works, if the author chose to do so, but they also stand well in their current format.

    Read this for yourself, even if you don’t sew. And buy a copy for a woman in your life who does sew, because she’ll love it.

    Goes well with Bold dark coffee laced with egg nog and mince pie served slightly warm.


    Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Blog Tour Schedule Sewing Can Be Dangerous Blog Tour

    This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

    Monday, December 1
    Review at Unshelfish

    Tuesday, December 2
    Review at Bibliotica

    Wednesday, December 3
    Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

    Thursday, December 4
    Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews and More

    Friday, December 5
    Guest Post at What Is That Book About
    Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog

    Monday, December 8
    Review at WV Stitcher

    Tuesday, December 9
    Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
    Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

    Wednesday, December 10
    Review at A Book Geek

    Thursday, December 11
    Review at Book Nerd

    Friday, December 12
    Review at Based on a True Story

    Monday, December 15
    Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

    Tuesday, December 16
    Review at Book Babe

    Wednesday, December 17
    Review at Just One More Chapter

    Friday, December 19
    Review at Book Drunkard

    Us, by David Nicholls – Review

    About the book, Us Us

    Hardcover: 416 pages
    Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

    David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

    Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

    The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

    Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

    Buy, read, and discuss Us

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

    Watch the trailer for Us


    About the author, David Nicholls David Nicholls

    David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.

    Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

    Connect with David

    Website | Facebook


    My Thoughts

    I loved One Day, so when I was offered the chance to review US I leapt at it, and I’m glad I did. This book is wonderfully crafted, the dialogue is snappy, but realistic, and the characters feel like real people.

    It takes a special kind of author to write about the (possible) end, and definite shift, of a marriage while still being witty, but Nicholls is an expert at that kind of poignance mixed with humor, and even at their worst his characters, and his plot, are thoroughly engaging. Personally, I was hooked quite early on, when there’s a bit of internal monologue from POV character Douglas about how if is son had needed another year of school, his marriage would have had one more year of perceived solidity. It’s such an unaffected observation, and on the surface it’s funny, but then you realize how very fragile he really is.

    Author Nicholls was an actor before he started writing, and I suspect that’s why his use of language is so dead-on. He writes with an actor’s ear, and his words are meant to be spoken aloud. Indeed, this is one of those books that had me reading bits to the dogs (hey, any audience is better than none) and following my husband around the house telling him, “No, wait, you must listen to this scene.”

    Small surprise, then, that his books end up as movies down the line. Consciously or not, they’re written to be cinematic.

    Us is the kind of novel that turns into an immensely popular art film, the kind that all the cool people see, but that never makes it into the mainstream multiplexes. I have no problem with that, as these are precisely the sorts of novels I most enjoy.

    If you, too, like wit-infused realism, then Us is the novel for you.

    Goes well with Thai food and iced coffee


    More About this Tour

    TLC Book Tours

    This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

    Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

    Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

    Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

    Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

    Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

    Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

    Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

    Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

    Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

    Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

    Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

    Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

    Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

    Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

    Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

    Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

    Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

    Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

    Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

    Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

    Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

    Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

    Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

    Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

    Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

    Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

    Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

    Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

    Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

    Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

    Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

    Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

    Wednesday, November 26th: missris

    TBD: Reading in Black & White

    TBD: …the bookworm…

    TBD: BoundbyWords

    Introducing: A Home For Christmas by M.K. McClintock (@mkmclintock) with Giveaway

    A Home for Christmas Book Blast

    About the book, A Home for Christmas A Home for Christmas


    Publication Date:
    November 5, 2014
    Trappers Peak Publishing
    eBook; 74 pages
    ASIN: B00NE43C0O

    Settings: 19th Century Montana, Wyoming, & Colorado
    Genre: Christmas Short Stories/Western/Sweet Romance

    Includes three historical fiction short stories to delight and entertain this holiday season.

    CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN
    In search of family she barely knows and adventure she’s always wanted, Katherine Donahue is saved from freezing on a winter night in the mountains of Montana by August Hollister. Neither of them expected that what one woman had in mind was a new beginning for them both.

    TETON CHRISTMAS
    Heartache and a thirst for adventure lead McKensie Stewart and her sister to Wyoming after the death of their parents. With the help of a widowed aunt and a charming horse breeder, McKensie discovers that hope is a cherished promise, and there is no greater gift than love.

    LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH
    Lily Malone has never had a real family or a real Christmas. This holiday season, she might get both. From an orphanage in New York City to the rugged mountains of Colorado, Lily sends out only one wish. But when the time comes, can she give it up so someone else’s wish can come true?

    Praise for A Home for Christmas

    “5 stars! I have just finished reading three short stories written by M.K. McClintock, part of her collection A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. I really enjoyed these charming historical fictions CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN, TETON CHRISTMAS and LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH!” – Nicole Laverdure

    “Heart-warming and inspiring.” – Kat Cambron

    “A delightful collection of stories sure to warm any reader’s heart.” – Elizabeth Loftus

    Order the eBook

    Amazon | Kobo

    Watch the Book Trailer

    (Or click HERE.)


    About the Author, M.K. McClintock MK McClintock

    MK McClintock is the author of bestselling historical western romance and award-nominated historical romantic mystery. She spins tales of romance and adventure inspired by the heather-covered hills of Scotland and the majestic mountains of home. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes in Montana.

    Learn more about MK by visiting her website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


    A Home for Christmas Book Blast Tour Schedule

    For the complete tour schedule, see below, or click HERE.

    Monday, November 3
    Literary Chanteuse

    Tuesday, November 4
    Unshelfish

    Wednesday, November 5
    Book Nerd
    The True Book Addict

    Thursday, November 6
    So Many Books, So Little Time

    Friday, November 7
    Bibliotica
    Let Them Read Books

    Monday, November 10
    Susan Heim on Writing

    Tuesday, November 11
    What Is That Book About

    Wednesday, November 12
    Historical Fiction Connection

    Friday, November 14
    Passages to the Past


    Giveaway

    Giveaway

    To enter to win the following prizes, please complete the form below. Giveaway ends on November 14th at 11:59pm EST. One winner per giveaway item.

    – PB Trilogy of the Montana Gallagher Series + Woolrich Rough Rider Throw (Open to US residents only)
    – Ebook Trilogy of the Montana Gallagher Series (International)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    To open the Rafflecopter form separately: click HERE.

    How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) – Review

    About the book, How to Build a Girl How to Build a Girl

    • Hardcover: 352 pages
    • Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2014)

    What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

    It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

    By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
    But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

    Imagine The Bell Jar—written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

    Buy, read, and discuss How to Build a Girl

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


    About the author, Caitlin Moran Caitlin Moran

    Caitlin Moran was named the Columnist of the Year by the British Press Awards in 2010, and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011 for her work at the Times of London. Her debut book, How to Be a Woman, won the 2011 Galaxy Book of the Year Award and was an instant New York Times bestseller.

    Connect with Caitlin

    Website | Twitter


    My Thoughts

    If I hadn’t gone to a performing arts high school (and been an only child in an upper middle class American family) I might have turned out very much like Johanna – depressed, and never quite fitting anywhere. As it is, I’m certain that I’ve met this girl, or girls like her, when I’ve worked with high school students.

    Fourteen is a difficult age, especially when nothing else in your life is remotely ‘normal,’ and Caitlin Moran captures the angst and alienation of the teen years incredibly well, then surrounds Johanna with a cast of eccentric, often annoying, but never boring characters, and the sense of glimpsing a world that’s not quite as pretty and happy as our own is only enhanced.

    And yet, as much as Johanna and her family are imbued with a sense of otherness, there’s also something profoundly, painfully, viscerally REAL about them that makes you want to alternately hug them and shake them until they come to their senses.

    This book is gritty, even grim at times, and yet it’s also a brilliantly written coming-of-age story with elements of snark and black comedy that should not be missed.

    Goes well with Fish and chips and a really good craft-brewed lager.


    TLC Book Tours

    This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the more information, and the complete list of tour stops, see the list below or click HERE.

    Monday, September 29th: BoundbyWords

    Tuesday, September 30th: The Scarlet Letter

    Wednesday, October 1st: Fourth Street Review

    Thursday, October 2nd: Lit and Life

    Tuesday, October 7th: The Steadfast Reader

    Wednesday, October 8th: Luxury Reading

    Thursday, October 9th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

    Friday, October 10th: Bibliophilia, Please

    Monday, October 13th: A Bookish Affair

    Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliotica

    Tuesday, October 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

    Wednesday, October 15th: guiltless reading

    Thursday, October 16th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

    Friday, October 17th: Books à la Mode

    Monday, October 20th: Consuming Culture

    Tuesday, October 21st: Drey’s Library

    Wednesday, October 22nd: The Whynott Blog

    TBD: Book Addict Katie

    Butternut Summer by Mary McNear – Review

    About the book, Butternut Summer Butternut Summer

    • Paperback: 400 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (August 12, 2014)

    Caroline’s life is turned upside down the moment her ex-husband, Jack, strides through the door of her coffee shop. He seems changed—stronger, steadier, and determined to make amends with Caroline and their daughter, Daisy. Is he really different, or is he the same irresistibly charming but irresponsible man he was when he left Butternut Lake eighteen years ago? Caroline, whose life is stuck on pause as her finances are going down the tubes, is tempted to let him back into her life . . . but would it be wise?

    For Caroline’s daughter, Daisy, the summer is filled with surprises. Home from college, she’s reunited with the father she adores—but hardly knows—and swept away by her first true love. But Will isn’t what her mother wants for her—all Caroline can see is that he’s the kind of sexy “bad boy” Daisy should stay away from.

    As the long, lazy days of summer pass, Daisy and Caroline come to realize that even if Butternut Lake doesn’t change, life does. . . .

    Buy, read, & discuss Butternut Summer

    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 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

    Mary McNear has created, in Butternut Lake, the kind of small town most of us would secretly love to live in, even when we pretend to be ultra-sophisticated urbanites. She’s also created a group of characters, old and new, who feel like just the sort of people who would actually inhabit such a town. I fell in love with her work when I read and reviewed Up at Butternut Lake in April, and that love has only grown stronger with Butternut Summer.

    In this book we have a lovely dose of family drama – Jack has been estranged from his wife Caroline and their daughter Daisy for most of the latter’s life – set against two romances – the slow, reconnection between Jack and Carolyn, and the almost-immediate connection between Daisy and Will. Each relationship is given its own attention, and its own rhythm, and McNear has done a particularly good job at showing the reluctance of former lovers to risk renewing their relationship as well as the intensity of young love.

    While it’s not a character, per se, the local diner, Pearl’s is as important to the plot of Butternut Summer as the U.S.S. Enterprise is to Star Trek. Not only is it the center of much of the action, saving the place is a core factor of Caroline and Jack’s relationship. It’s the coffee shop we all wish we could visit, park Luke’s, part Mel’s, and part something else entirely, and visiting it again through this novel reminded my of my own childhood visits to my own family’s diner in New Jersey.

    If you want a compelling story full of interesting, believable characters and a rich setting, you need to read Butternut Summer.

    Goes well with Broasted chicken and mashed potatoes, and a glass of iced tea.


    TLC Book Tours

    This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

    Review: Sweet Water, by Christina Baker Kline

    About the book Sweet Water Sweet Water

    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 1, 2014)

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about buried secrets and the redemptive power of forgiveness

    Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it’s time for a change. She moves to the small Southern town where her mother, Ellen, grew up—and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.

    From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother’s memory left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother’s death, Cassie begins to discover the desperate measures of which the human heart is capable.

    Buy, read, and discuss Sweet Water

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


    About the author, Christina Baker Kline Christina Baker Kline

    Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

    Connect with Christina

    Website | Facebook | Twitter


    My Thoughts:

    This is one of those books that had me reading passages – especially the italicized parts that took place in the past – out loud, so I could feel the way the language fit in my mouth, as well as my brain. I don’t do this a lot, but when I do, it’s always with a book I want to truly savor.

    Author Christina Baker Kline has woven a tapestry depicting a mother and daughter who never get to interact directly, but impact each other’s lives both directly and indirectly. Cassie, the daughter, is curious, questing, artistic. Ellen, the mother, long since deceased, feels like a living presence, despite existing only in flashback-like sequences.

    The supporting characters – Cassie’s lover, her father, Ellen’s friends – are woven just as vividly as the women at the heart of the story, and even Sweetwater itself feels more like a character than a mere place.

    This novel isn’t particularly long, but it also isn’t a fast read. Instead, it’s one to be absorbed slowly, like an unwinding country road through a field of wildflowers.

    Goes well with Sweet tea, fried catfish, and hush puppies.


    TLC Book Tours

    This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

    Review: The Yankee Club, by Michael Murphy

    About the book, The Yankee Club The Yankee Club

    Publisher: Alibi (August 12, 2014)
    Pages: 280

    In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.

    In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.

    Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

    Buy, read, and discuss The Yankee Club

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


    About the author, Michael Murphy

    Michael Murphy is a full time author and part time urban chicken rancher in Arizona. He lives in Arizona with his wife of forty-one years and the four children they adopted this past year. In August, Random House Alibi will publish his ninth novel, a historical mystery set in the prohibition era, The Yankee Club.


    My Thoughts

    I’ve been a mystery fan ever since I cracked open a reprint of one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels in a bookstore/cafe in Ashland, OR, when I was fourteen. I’ve been a noir fan almost as long, so you can imagine how eager I was to read The Yankee Club when I was offered the opportunity.

    Jake Donovan, former detective, now author of a series of novels based on his own experiences, is the perfect literary detective, hard-boiled but never hard-hearted. Laura, childhood friend turned actress, is his perfect partner in (solving crime). While either could easily have become stereotypes, author Michael Murphy gave us, instead, characters that are an homage to the genre, but are still fully-realized on their own.

    As well, the collection of supporting characters are well-rounded and interesting. Gino, owner of the speakeasy The Yankee Club, reminded me very strongly of some of my own family members (who ran boarding houses and diners near the Jersey shore during the prohibition years). Similarly Frankie, Mildred (whom exists mostly off-screen, but is nevertheless incredibly real, and Miss Belle Starr are people you’d expect to meet in Murphy’s version of New York, and yet each of them has their own moment, their own surprise, that makes you realize the level of crafting that went into this story.

    And the story itself is fantastic. Mystery. Intrigue. Personal jeopardy and emotional drama. All of these things abound, but none of them ever threaten to overwhelm the plot. The combination of fictional and real-life events works really well, and I especially enjoyed the real people peppered amongst Murphy’s creations.

    Bottom line, this is a gritty detective story, a romance, and a glimpse at a period in time not too far before our own, and woven through it all is the very real poignancy that comes from facing the knowledge that going home again is never exactly what you expect, but leaving it is never entirely possible.

    The best part about this book, however, is that it’s merely the first in a series.

    Goes well with a juicy steak, a perfectly baked potato with sour cream and chives, and a J&G.


    TLC Book Tours

    This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

    NetGalley Wrapup – 2014 First Half – Volume I

    At the urging of one of the blog tour companies I work with, I signed up for an account with NetGalley earlier this year. This allows publishers to send me widgets for the books I’ve agreed to review, so I can download them straight to my kindle. It also allows me to leave feedback – usually a few good lines from my review and a link to the rest – directly for the publisher.

    I’ve been reading like crazy all year – as I always do – but I’m a little behind on reviews that are NOT for tours – so here’s my NetGalley wrapup for titles I’ve read in the first half of 2014 that do NOT have separate review pages in this blog.

    Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Don't Even Think About It

    I always love Sarah Mlynowski’s work and this is no exception. She’s funny, smart, and her characters – teens in this case – are always believable, although they tend to occupy a slightly heightened reality. Great work, great read.


    The Art of Arranging Flowers, by Lynne Branard The Art of Arranging Flowers

    If you, like me, have ever spent your last ten dollars on fresh flowers when you should have spent it on milk or bread, you will love this novel. It’s a delightful human story about relationships, loves, and lives, and of course flowers. Mix in a little bit of magical realism, and you have a bouquet of compelling storytelling wrapped in raffia. READ THIS BOOK


    Dangerous Dream: A Beautiful Creatures Story, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Dangerous Dream

    I hadn’t read the books, but only seen the movie, when I read Dangerous Dream. Nevertheless, I was sucked into this richly created world and enjoyed finding out what happened next with the characters. It made me buy the books, for a better understanding of what had come before. It may be YA, but it appeals to all ages.


    All of the above books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.