The Captive Condition, by Kevin P. Keating

About the book,  The Captive Condition The Captive Condition

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (July 7, 2015)

From a thrilling new voice in fiction comes a chilling and deliciously dark novel about an idyllic Midwestern college town that turns out to be a panorama of depravity and a nexus of horror.

For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and the aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to pursue an advanced degree there. But Edmund soon learns he isn’t immune to the impersonal trappings of fate: his girlfriend, Morgan Fey, smashes his heart; his adviser, Professor Martin Kingsley, crushes him with frivolous assignments; and his dead-end job begins to take a toll on his physical and mental health. One night he stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan, an unapologetic townie, drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide or murder? In the days that follow, Emily’s husband, Charlie, crippled by self-loathing and frozen with fear, attempts to flee his disastrous life and sends their twin daughters to stay with the Kingsleys. Possessed by an unnamed, preternatural power, the twins know that the professor seduced their mother and may have had a hand in her fate. With their piercing stares, the girls fill Martin with a remorse that he desperately tries to hide from his wife. Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named the Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both. Xavier D’Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail. And Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal, attends a retrospective of her work that is destined to set the whole town on fire.

Kevin P. Keating’s masterly novel delves into the deepest recesses of the human capacity for evil.

Buy, read, and discuss The Captive Condition

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

About the author, Kevin P. Keating Kevin Keating

After working as a boilermaker in the steel mills in Ohio, KEVIN P. KEATING became a professor of English and began teaching at Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland State University, and Lorain County Community College. His essays and stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, and his first novel, The Natural Order of Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. His second novel, The Captive Condition, will be released by Pantheon Books in July of 2015. He lives in Cleveland.

Connect with Kevin


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I generally really enjoy dark fiction, but I had a difficult time with The Captive Condition in part because some of the scenes in the early part of the book – twins picking on their little brother – really disturbed me. I am, after all, the poster child for being able to watch any movie as long as no kids or dogs are harmed. Then, too, I read it at the same time that both of my husband’s parents were going through major medical drama – drama which is not yet resolved – so I wasn’t in a good place to really appreciate this story.

That said, author Kevin P. Keating absolutely captures the dark malevolence of this small midwestern town perfectly. Critics have compared him to Poe, and there’s definitely a lot of that in his voice. His use of language is finely honed. His ability to set a scene is phenomenal. I was especially struck by the description of the bridge across the falls early in the novel. The man can clearly write the hell out of anything.

What I found difficult, however, was that there were really no characters that I sympathized with, especially in the first third of the book. Our narrator/protagonist Edmund is a little too clueless, a little too arrogant, for my taste. His girlfriend seemed mean. His advisor seemed petty. Maybe I was missing something, but I just couldn’t get invested in the story.

As readers, we bring as much of ourselves to the stories we read as do the writers who create those stories. In The Captive Condition Keating has given us a thought-provoking look at the kind of pervasive evil that colors entire lives and communities, and it’s a story I probably would have responded better to if all these external things hadn’t colored my reaction.

Goes well with strong coffee and warm apple pie. Trust me, you’ll need them.

Kevin P. Keating’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, August 26th: Mallory Heart Reviews

Saturday, August 29th: Books that Hook

Monday, August 31st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 2nd: Read Love Blog

Friday, September 4th: 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, September 8th: Book Chatter

Wednesday, September 9th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, September 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, September 14th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, September 16th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, September 23rd: Bibliotica

Date TBD: Wildfire Books

Date TBD: The Steadfast Reader

TBD: More Than Just Magic

TBD: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Montpelier Tomorrow, by Marylee MacDonald (@maryleemacd)

About the book, Montpelier Tomorrow Montpelier Tomorrow

• Paperback: 318 pages
• Publisher: All Things That Matter Press; First edition (August 21, 2014)

Mid-life mom, Colleen Gallagher, would do anything to protect her children from harm. When her daughter’s husband falls ill with ALS, Colleen rolls up her sleeves and moves in, juggling the multiple roles of grandma, cook, and caregiver, only to discover that even her superhuman efforts can’t fix what’s wrong.

Buy, read, and discuss Montpelier Tomorrow

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the author, Marylee MacDonald Maryllee MacDonald

A former carpenter and mother of five, Marylee MacDonald began writing when her last child left for college. Her fiction has won the Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Award, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, the Matt Clark Prize, and the ALR Fiction Award. Her novel, Montpelier Tomorrow, was a Finalist in the 2014 IPPY Awards and the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize. She is widely published in literary magazines such as American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Folio, Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Broad River Review, Four QuartersNew Delta Review, North Atlantic Review, Raven Chronicles, Reunion: The Dallas ReviewRiver Oak Review, Ruminate, StoryQuarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, and Yalobusha Review.

Connect with Marylee

Website |  Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Google+

My Thoughts MissMeliss

I knew going in that this would not be the happiest of novels, since the description tells you that one of the characters is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) right off the bat. (No pun intended.)  What surprised me was that Colleen was such a three dimensional character – from the young widow left with three young children and no income, to the capable, take-charge grandmother, she’s just the kind of person you’d want to have around during a crisis, balancing the need to nurture with the equally vital need to get things done.

What surprised me is that many of the other characters are less likeable. Sandy (Colleen’s daughter) has a relationship with her mother that is prickly at best, and although I suspect she knows that her mother means well their scenes together often hold a note of antagonism. Tony, the son-in law (Sandy’s husband) means well, but he’s just been diagnosed with a disease people don’t typically get until 20 or 30 years later in their lives and a  lot of his early behavior wavers between resentment and overcompensation. Then, too, his parents seem oblivious to the reality of having a (grown) son with special needs, and I found their behavior really annoying.

Which is not to say that this is a bad novel.

It’s actually a really gripping story, and while I can’t honestly use the word ‘enjoyed’ given the subject (including an unexpected death deep inside the story). The characters are well drawn, and probably fairly accurately depict what real people would be going through under similar circumstances. As well, the plot is well crafted, and the writing is clean and accessible. It a fast read, if not always an easy one, but well worth whatever time you spend on it.

Colleen, especially shines in this novel, as the perfect contemporary heroine: an everyday soldier in the battle for a good life.

Goes well with, comfort foods like tuna casserole, and homemade iced tea.

Marylee’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Monday, August 24th: bookchickdi

Wednesday, August 26th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, August 31st: BoundbyWords

Friday, September 4th: Back Porchervations

Friday, September 4th: Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, September 8th: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, September 9th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, September 10th: Time 2 Read

Friday, September 11th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, September 14th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, September 15th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, September 16th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Thursday, September 17th: Seaside Book Nook

Friday, September 18th: Dreams, Etc.

Monday, September 21st: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Wednesday, September 23rd: The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Thursday, September 24th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Wednesday, September 30th: The Reading Cove Book Club

Broken Homes & Gardens, by Rebecca Kelley (@rkelleywrites) #review #TLCbooktours

About Broken Homes & Gardens Broken Homes & Gardens

Paperback: 268 pages

Publisher: Blank Slate Press (April 28, 2015)

A girl, a guy, a broken-down house. Not exactly on-again, off-again, Malcolm and Joanna are in-again, out-again: in love, out of each other’s arms, in an awkward co-living arrangement, out of the country. Their unconventional relationship is the only way, Joanna says, to protect herself from the specter of commitment, which inevitably leads to heartbreak.

When Harry Met Sally for the Millennial generation, set in the damp and drizzly neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon, Broken Homes and Gardens is an ode to friendship, lust, and the unrelenting pull of love.

Buy, read, and discuss Broken Homes & Gardens

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

About the author, Rebecca Kelley Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca Kelley grew up in Carson City, Nevada, wandered for a few years, and eventually landed in Portland, where she teaches writing at Oregon College of Art and Craft. She is the co-author of The Eco-nomical Baby GuideBroken Homes & Gardens is her first novel.

Connect with Rebecca

Goodreads | Website | Twitter

My Thoughts MissMeliss

Sometimes a book arrives in your life exactly when you need it to. Lisa at TLC Book Tours offered this book to me when most of my summer review schedule was already set, but it looked like a fun and quirky novel (and I loved the title, a play on a certain magazine of some note), and I knew I’d be reading it at the end of my Dog Days of Podcasting run over at <a href=””>The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub</a>.

I didn’t just read it, though. I devoured it.

I quickly fell in love with the somewhat aloof and more than a little clueless Joanna and the inscrutable (at first) Malcolm, thrown together when both are essentially abandoned at a party by her sister and his roommate (her sister’s lover/fiance/husband). Malcolm is leaving the country the next day, and the two become pen pals while dating other people, then he returns but they never quite hook up even though they end up cohabitating, and even though they’re so obviously meant for each other that you want to hit them with a blunt object. Or two.

In any case, Rebecca Kelley manages to balance poignance and absurdity, heartbreak and hopefulness in a way that never feels overly crafted, just well written. Her characters feel like the real, if sometimes annoying, people most of us know, or have been, and the core relationships – Joanna and Laura as sisters, and as daughters of Tess, Laura and Ted, Joanna and Malcolm, and old friends Ted and Malcolm all ring true.

It’s not a piece of somber, serious literature, but neither is Broken Homes & Gardens romance novel fluff. It’s a perfectly contemporary love story about imperfect contemporary lovers, and it should be on your reading list, for the next time you want something that’s light, but not frothy.

Goes well with a steaming mug of chai and an oatmeal craisin cookie.

Rebecca Kelley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, August 17th: Open Book Society

Monday, August 24th: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Wednesday, August 26th: Chick Lit Central

Thursday, August 27th:  Palmer’s Page Turners

Monday, August 31st: Diary of a Stay At Home Mom

Wednesday, September 2nd: Bookmark Lit

Thursday, September 3rd: Bibliotica

Monday, September 7th: girlichef

Tuesday, September 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, September 8th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, September 9th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, September 10th: Book Dilettante

Friday, September 11th: From L.A. to LA

Wednesday, September 16th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, September 17th: Book Mama Blog



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

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


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=”” 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:

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:

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


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