Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

About the book The Lucky Ones The Lucky Ones

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Buy, read, and discuss The Lucky Ones:

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


About the author, Tiffany Reisz Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Every so often you stumble across a novel that doesn’t look all that amazing, and then you get into it and you find out it’s compelling, interesting, and really satisfying, and pretty amazing after all.

That was my experience with The Lucky Ones. I was part of the excerpt tour in January, but hadn’t read the book at the time I posted my excerpt. When I finally sat down to start it and read the opening scenes with Allison with her ten-lover McQueen, I was half-convinced I was reading the wrong novel.

But then the story unfolded. Allison read the letter from Roland, and dashed back to the Oregon coast, and not only did I fall in love with the house – The Dragon (I want a house like that, in a place like that)  – but I was hooked on the story.

I really liked the way the author, Tiffany Reisz, crafted this novel like a romance, until it became a thriller disguised as a family drama with romantic interludes. I loved all the characters, flawed and human as they were. The layers of secrets, peeling away like onions, kept me intrigued til the very end.

Reisz’s use of language is really effective. Allison was the point of view character, so her voice was the clearest, but each character had his or her own distinct voice – Roland was suitably introspective. Dr. Capello reminded me of an older, gritter version of Alan Alda, and Thora was someone I’d have loved to hang out with.

Overall, it’s we, the readers, who are lucky, because we get to read The Lucky Ones.

Goes well with a burger and a beer, enjoyed on a beach blanket on the sand.


The Lucky Ones Review Tour: TLC Book Tours

Monday, February 12th: Rockin’ & Reviewing

Monday, February 12th: Into the Hall of Books and @intothehallofbooks

Tuesday, February 13th: Clues and Reviews and @cluesandreviews

Tuesday, February 13th: Read Love Blog

Tuesday, February 13th: @anniabbauer and @beach.house.books

Wednesday, February 14th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 15th: 5 Minutes for Books

Friday, February 16th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, February 20th: Books a la Mode

Tuesday, February 20th: Katy’s Library and @katyslibrary

Wednesday, February 21st: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind and @artbookscoffeee

Thursday, February 22nd: Tales of a Book Addict

Friday, February 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings

Friday, February 23rd: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Monday, February 26th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, February 26th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Tuesday, February 27th: @athousandbookstoread

Tuesday, February 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, February 28th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 28th: The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 2nd: Not in Jersey

Monday, March 5th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, March 6th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, March 7th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, March 8th: Hoser’s Blook

Friday, March 9th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, March 9th: What is That Book About

Review: The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, by Kristin Rockaway

About the book, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World The-Wild-Womans-Guide-to-Traveling-the-World-cover

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: Center Street (June 6, 2017)

Fans of Sophie Kinsella and The Devil Wears Prada will love this smart, sexy debut novel of wanderlust.

Objectively, Sophie is a success: she’s got a coveted job at a top consulting firm, a Manhattan apartment, and a passport full of stamps. It isn’t quite what she dreamed of when she was a teenager dog-earing pages in exotic travel guides, but it’s secure. Then her best friend bails just hours after they arrive in Hong Kong for a girls’ trip, and Sophie falls for Carson, a free spirited, globetrotting American artist. He begs her to join him on his haphazard journey, but she chooses responsibility and her five-year plan.

Back in New York, that plan feels less and less appealing. As Sophie recalls the dreams she’s suppressed, the brief international jaunts she sneaks in between business trips no longer feel like enough. Carson isn’t ready to let her go either, but as they try to figure out their relationship, Sophie realizes she may have to pursue her passions with or without him.

Buy, read, and discuss The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kristin Rockaway Kristin-Rockaway-AP

Kristin Rockaway is a native New Yorker with an insatiable case of wanderlust. After working in the IT industry for far too many years, she finally traded the city for the surf and chased her dreams out to Southern California, where she spends her days happily writing stories instead of software. Her debut novel, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, was released from Hachette Book Group in June 2017. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, browsing the aisles of her neighborhood bookstores, and planning her next big vacation.

Connect with Kristin:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts: Melissa A. Bartell

The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World is one of those novels you really wish was a travel guide, because Kristin Rockaway is so good at describing places and food, that you want to instantly jump through the pages to Hong Kong or New York, or… wherever.

Fortunately, her skills at writing character and plot are just as good, so you jump into the pages of her story as well. I really enjoyed following Sophie on her journeys – both the literal and the emotional one – as she navigated not just the world, but her own needs and desires, as well as her own heart.

It’s a scary thing to step off the path we’ve created for ourselves, and Carson was the perfect catalyst for Sophie to do just that. Rockaway has given us a couple that is passionate, funny, and may or may not be perfect for each other, which ultimately makes them both slightly heightened and supremely real.

I really enjoyed the way Rockaway balanced the comedic and serious moments in this novel.

I recommend it to anyone who longs for an escape, but isn’t sure they’re quite ready.

Goes well with Asian street food, though I prefer Singaporean dishes to those from Hong Kong.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Friday, January 19th: Staircase Wit

Monday, January 22nd: #redhead.with.book

Friday, January 26th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, January 26th: Wining Wife

Tuesday, February 6th: Rockin’ and Reviewing

Friday, February 9th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 12th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, February 13th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, February 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, February 15th: Eliot’s Eats

Friday, February 23rd: Instagram: @writersdream

Monday, February 26th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Tuesday, March 6th: Just One More Chapter

Excerpt from The Lucky Ones, by Tiffany Reisz

About the book The Lucky Ones The Lucky Ones

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Buy, read, and discuss The Lucky Ones:

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


About the author, Tiffany Reisz Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


Read an Excerpt from Chapter 4 of The Lucky Ones

Inside the envelope she found a letter. Before she lost her cour­age, she unfolded it and read.

Dear Allison,

What to say? I’ll be quick. It’s been thirteen years and I know I should leave you alone but you’ve been on my mind a lot lately so I’ll get to the point fast. Dad is dying. Stage five renal failure. He doesn’t know I’m writing you. I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Fact is, he’s always missed you. Any time your name comes up, you can tell he’s full of re­gret. So am I. If you have it in your heart to come see him one last time, I’d be forever grateful. If you don’t, I don’t blame you. But if you do come, we’re still at the old house, and you’re sure to find one of us here day or night. Dad’s determined to die at home in his own bed, and we’re going to do the best we can to honor his wishes. If you want to come, all I ask is please come soon. He doesn’t have long.

There’s so much more I want to say to you, but I’ll end here. I’ve taken up enough of your time.

Roland

P.S. Found this while digging through the attic. If you read as much now as you used to, you probably want it back.

P.S. #2. I think about you every time it rains.

A humble letter, humble and polite. Humble and polite and adult. It wasn’t until Allison read that letter that it hit her: Roland Capello wasn’t sixteen anymore. What sixteen-year-old boy says things like “I’ve taken up enough of your time”? What sixteen-year-old boy talks about stage five renal fail­ure? What sixteen-year-old boy knows anything about regret?

In her mind Roland had been forever sixteen. Tall and thin with long coltish legs covered in light blond hair. Board shorts, ripped and faded T-shirts, hair long enough he could tuck it behind his ears. Wraparound sunglasses like Bono’s, worn up on his head more often than over his eyes to hold his hair back.

Allison had to walk away from the letter for a few minutes simply to recover from the simple realization that as much time had passed for Roland as it had for her. She was thirteen years older and so was he. Roland’s birthday was in July. Ro­land, eternally lanky and lean and sixteen, was now thirty. A grown man. And here she was, twenty-five and freshly dumped. Adults now, both of them.

She stood in the middle of her living room and breathed through her hands. When she looked up, she was jarred by her surroundings—the gray walls and the mullioned window and the red sofa with its intricately carved oak arms. For a split second she’d been back in the past where the walls were floor-to-ceiling windows instead of floor-to-ceiling bookcases and outside the door there was ocean, not asphalt.

Still shaking, Allison walked back to the table and the pack­age and the letter. Dr. Capello was dying. She wasn’t ready to deal with that yet so she turned her attention instead to what­ever it was Roland had sent her. She pulled it from the pad­ded envelope and removed the newspaper wrapped around it. And as soon as she saw it, tears scalded her eyes.

It was a book, of course, a battered old yellow paperback with a winged centaur on the cover and three children riding on its back. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

“Oh, Roland…” she breathed. “You remembered.”

She sat down because she couldn’t stand anymore. Allison slowly flipped through the book. The pages had grown so soft and supple with age it felt like she was holding not a book but another hand in her hand. She opened it to the middle and pressed her face into the pages. She inhaled the scent of paper, ink and glue, and if they could make a perfume that smelled like old books, Allison would wear it every day of her life.

Roland had read this book to her. He’d read it to her the first night she’d spent at The Dragon. Not the whole thing, of course, but the first few chapters while she sat on his lap in the big blue reading chair with the other kids in the house gathered around on the rug, and she was in charge of turn­ing the pages.

She’d loved him for letting her turn the pages.


Check Out the Other Stops on this Excerpt Tour

EXCERPT TOUR:

Monday, January 22nd: Books & Spoons

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 24th: A Literary Vacation

Thursday, January 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Friday, January 26th: What is That Book About

Monday, January 29th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, January 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Wednesday, January 31st: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 1st: Suzy Approved

Friday, February 2nd: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Monday, February 5th: Clues and Reviews

Tuesday, February 6th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, February 7th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 8th: Books a la Mode

Friday, February 9th: Jathan & Heather

Spotlight: The Secret Life of Mrs. London, by Rebecca Rosenberg

Spotlight Secret Life of Mrs. London

About the book: The Secret Life of Mrs. London

  • Publication Date: January 30, 2018
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • Formats: eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Secret Life of Mrs. LondonSan Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London:

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry

Pre-order or discuss The Secret Life of Mrs. London:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Rebecca Rosenberg

Rebecca RosenbergA California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.


Visit the other blogs in this blast:

Tuesday, January 2
Passages to the Past

Friday, January 5
Creating Herstory (Fierce Femme Friday)

Monday, January 8
Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, January 9
The Lit Bitch
Just One More Chapter
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, January 10
To Read, or Not to Read

Thursday, January 11
Suzy Approved Book Reviews

Friday, January 12
Bibliotica

Monday, January 15
Donna’s Book Blog
View From the Birdhouse

Tuesday, January 16
A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 19
I Heart Reading

Monday, January 22
Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, January 23
The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 25
Pursuing Stacie

Monday, January 29
What Cathy Read Next

Spotlight Secret Life of Mrs. London

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

Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms

About the book, Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

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

The Beating Heart of Christmas

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

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

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

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

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


Connect with the Authors

Rosanne BittnerRosanne Bittner

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Linda BrodayLinda Broday

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

Margaret BrownleyMargaret Brownley

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Anna SchmidtAnna Schmidt

Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

 

 

Amy SandasAmy Sandas

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Leigh Greenwood

Website | Goodreads


My Thoughts

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

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

This is true even within their relationships.

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

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

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


Giveaway

December 1-December 10, 2017

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

(U.S. Only)

 

Enter to Win

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out The Whole Blog Tour

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

Lone Star Book Blog Tours

 

Lone Star Literary Life

Review: The Paris Secret, by Karen Swan

About the book, The Paris Secret

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 14, 2017)

The Paris SecretIn this glittering tale of forgotten treasures and long-held secrets, international bestseller Karen Swan explores one woman’s journey to discovering the truth behind an abandoned apartment and a family whose mysteries may be better left undiscovered.

When high-powered fine art agent Flora Sykes is called in to assess objets d’art in a Paris apartment that has been abandoned since WWII, she is skeptical at first—until she discovers that the treasure trove of paintings is myriad…and priceless. The powerful Vermeil family to whom they belong is eager to learn more and asks Flora to trace the history of each painting.

Despite a shocking announcement that has left her own family reeling, Flora finds herself thrown into the glamorous world of the Vermeils. But she soon realizes there is more to this project than first appears. As she researches the provenance of their prize Renoir, she uncovers a scandal surrounding the painting—and a secret that goes to the very heart of the family. The fallout will place Flora in the eye of a storm that carries her from London to Vienna to the glittering coast of Provence.

Xavier Vermeil, the brusque scion of the family, is determined to separate Flora from his family’s affairs in spite of their powerful attraction to one another. Just what are the secrets he is desperately trying to hide? And what price is Flora willing to pay to uncover the devastating truth…?

Buy, read, and discuss The Paris Secret:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Karen Swan Karen Swan

Karen Swan worked as a fashion editor before moving into writing fiction. She is married with three children and lives in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the South Downs. She is the author of the novels The Summer Without YouChristmas at Claridges, and The Perfect Present.

Connect with Karen:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellKaren Swan’s The Paris Secret is the perfect book to get lost in on a chilly autumn evening. It’s got large amounts of mystery and intrigue, and just enough romance to keep things from feeling too cold, as well as just a dash of family drama.

I loved that the female lead, Flora, was an expert in fine art – that’s so much more interesting than being another financial wiz, plus it gave author Swan a good reason for vivid descriptions of places (Paris itself, as well as the apartment filled with art and antiques) and things (the objets d’art referenced on the back cover).

It’s always so much fun to see glamorous places and insert yourself into sectors of society you wouldn’t normally inhabit, through Flora’s eyes, we readers are able to do that. Her experience with the Vermeil family is both enchanting and alarming, and there were moments I was glad I was only reading a novel.

The intrigue in The Paris Secret kept me interested from page one to the end of the novel, and I’m so in love with Swan’s writing voice – she gets the tone of mystery with a bit of warmth and flirting just rightthat I’m eager to check out her other work.

If you love a good mystery, but want one with a softer side for the holiday season, The Paris Secret is perfect for you.

Goes well with cappuccino and a croissant filled with creme de marrons (chestnut cream). 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 14th: Books and Bindings

Thursday, November 16th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 17th: BookNAround

Wednesday, November 22nd: Broken Teepee

Monday, November 27th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, November 29th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 30th: Jathan & Heather

Thursday, November 30th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, December 1st: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, December 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, December 4th: Reading Reality

Friday, December 8th: A Splendid Messy Life

TBD: A Bookish Way of Life

TBD: Girl Who Reads

TBD: StephTheBookworm

Review: A Recipe for Disaster, by Stephen Phelps – with Giveaway

About the book, A Recipe for Disaster: Cooking up a Big Italian Idea

A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

Buy, read, and discuss A Recipe for Disaster:

Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | iBooks | SmashWords | Goodreads


About the author, Stephen Phelps

Stephen PhelpsEducated at Oxford University, I began working with BBC Radio, moving to BBC TV where I launched Watchdog and produced the investigative legal series Rough Justice. In Hong Kong for BBC World Service Television I oversaw the start of BBC World. I then spent twelve years running my own TV production company, Just Television, specialising in investigative programmes in the field of law, justice and policing. In particular, Trial and Error for Channel 4 which exposed and investigated major miscarriages of justice, winning the Royal Television Society’s inaugural Specialist Journalism Award in 1999. Recently I have been working as a consultant for Aljazeera English on major documentary projects.

In 2002 I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Writing credits include many plays for BBC Radio, my most recent being a drama documentary for the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Books: The Tizard Mission published by Westholme Publishing in the United States, tells the extraordinary story of how Britain’s top scientists travelled in secret to America in the autumn of 1940 to give away all their wartime secrets to secure US support in WWII. A Recipe for Disaster is a book about living in Italy while trying to make a TV cookery series, Cookucina (now available on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

I have several other books and three screenplays in development.

Connect with Stephen:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Medium | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellI love travelogues and cookbooks and true stories about people undertaking bold things. Under the Tuscan Sun and Peter Mayle’s Provence series are some of my favorite books in this genre. I read them, and I imagine leaving my cushy suburban lifestyle and relocating to Guadalajara, MX, or somewhere in Scotland.

Agreeing to read and review A Recipe for Disaster: Cooking Up a Big Italian Idea was obviously a no-brainer for me. I expected that I would enjoy Stephen Phelps’ story about living and cooking in Italy, especially when he has a non-cooking partner. (My own partner has a limited repertoire of boxed pudding, soup from the deli, and pasta with pre-made sauce, and I still have to walk him through the latter.)

What I did not expect was to fall in love with the book so hard that I paid the $12 to buy the series from Amazon. What I did not expect was to spend page after page laughing, crying, and drooling over Stephen, Tam, and Lia, the process of making a tv show, the process of learning to cook, and the shared experience of living in such a surreal bubble in time.

Reading this book makes you want to get your grandmother’s recipe box and systematically work through every family favorite you’ve ever known, but it also makes you want to start a restaurant, make a tv show, and learn to cook a new-to-you kind of food, or speak a new-to-you language.

At the same time, makes you want to run far away from all those things because each one has its own frustrations.

Candid, funny, sometimes poignant, A Recipe for Disaster is one tasty piece of fiction.

Goes well with any of the food mentioned in the book with a glass of a good Italian table wine. Need not be fancy. (I really want to make the roasted tomatoes (with breadcrumbs, baked herbs and orange zest).)


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Review: Lona Chang, by AshleyRose Sullivan

About the book, Lona Chang

Lona Change: A Superhero Detective Story• Paperback
• Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (August 30, 2017)

When one of the world’s greatest superheroes dies in her arms, Lona Chang takes it upon herself to investigate his murder. Armed only with a power she barely understands and a mysterious coded book, Lona begins a quest for answers that leads her down a dark rabbit hole of secrets—secrets the ancient organization known as the Guild is determined to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, when a new threat descends upon Arc City, Lona’s soulmate (and freshly minted superhero) Awesome Jones defies the Guild, dons the cape and cowl of his father and finds a group of unlikely allies. But can Awesome trust them—or himself? He’ll have to fight his own demons first if he has any hope of defending the town–and the people–he loves.

As tensions rise between the Guild, Lona, Awesome, his allies and Arc City’s criminal underground, Lona realizes that life, and the answers to its questions, are never as simple as they seem in comic books.

Buy, read, and discuss Lona Chang:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, AshleyRose Sullivan

AshleyRose SullivanOriginally from Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends. Her work has been published in places like The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, and Monkey Bicycle and her novels, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale and Silver Tongue are available from Seventh Star Press.

Connect with AshleyRose:

Website


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellLona Chang is a secretary in a print shop, but she’s also a budding superhero and an amateur detective. Her partner – in love and and saving people – is Awesome Jones, also a superhero, but a normal guy, as well. Together they fight crime.

Okay, this book is more than that. In concept Lona Chang and it’s predecessor are comicbooks (Stan Lee insists that it should be one word, and I refuse to argue with him on a such a topic) in novel form, but they’re also a bit more complex than an actual comic, because in a novel there’s time to dig into people’s inner monologues and really explore the details of a world.

Author AshleyRose (also one word) Sullivan has given us a fairy tale for adults, one rich with characters and backstories and interconnected relationships, as well as diametrically opposed goals and desires. She’s given us a compelling mystery and two people who are ordinary people on the surface, until they let their extraordinary selves take over.

The writing style is contemporary and upbeat, riding the blurred edge between sophisticated Young Adult/New Adult fare and general fiction. The dialogue is snappy and believable. The world of Arc City is as vivid as Gotham, Star City, or Metropolis ever were, and the plot is well-paced, and truly interesting. From opening to ending, I was hooked on this story.

While I enjoyed Lona Chang as a stand-alone (I’m pretty good at extrapolating things from context) there are a lot of relationships and details that are better understood if you read Awesome Jones first. This review was actually rescheduled so I could have time to go back and read the first novel, and I’m not sorry. Both books are enjoyable, but the second is so much better after having read the first.

If you (like me) used to tie your hoodie over your head and let the rest of it flow free so you could have a cape, or if you tucked a beach towel into the collar of your t-shirt (also as a cape) – if you have perfected your delivery of the phrase “I’m Batman” – if last summers Wonder Woman movie made you cry, you will love Lona Chang and Awesome Jones – the characters, and their stories.

Goes well with a hot dog and a Coke, purchased from a street vendor and – hey! Did you see someone WOOSH by just now?


Tour Stops

Monday, October 16th: G. Jacks Writes

Tuesday, October 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, October 18th: The Book Diva’s Reads

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

Friday, November 3rd: Bibliotica

Monday, November 6th: The Paperback Pilgrim

Thursday, November 16th: The Sketchy Reader – Awesome Jones

Friday, November 17th: The Sketchy Reader –Lona Chang

Monday, November 27th: Book Hooked Blog – Awesome Jones

Tuesday, November 28th: Book Hooked Blog – Lona Chang

Thursday, December 7th: The Desert Bibliophile

Review: Tidewater Hit, by M.Z. Thwaite

About the book, Tidewater Hit Tidewater Hit

  • Series: Tidewater Novels
  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher:

One determined woman refusing to leave well enough alone.

In a heart-stopping moment, while rowing off the coast of Georgia the summer of 1986, Abbey Taylor Bunn discovers a dazed boating hit-and-run victim.

In the days following the successful rescue, Abbey becomes acquainted with a new potential real estate client, but the unidentified man worries a recently awakened side of her, the sleuth.

Who is he? Who left him to die, and why?

Ever-curious and afraid of nothing, she digs for clues and is rewarded by discovery after discovery until a grim picture begins to form. Only when she confronts the assailant does the final piece fall into place, and she realizes how fully her moral duty inserted her into the wounded framework of the lives of others.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, M.Z. Thwaite MZ Thwaite

M. Z. Thwaite is the author of the literary suspense novel Tidewater Rip in which she shares her life-long love affair with Georgia’s golden coast. A licensed Realtor since 1983, she continues to enjoy the simple pleasures of the hunting and fishing club on the coast of Georgia co-founded by her maternal grandfather. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her artist husband Steve Weeks of Riverton, New Jersey.

Connect with M.Z.:

Website


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellTwo years ago, I read the first novel in this series, Tidewater Rip, and loved it to bits. Over the last full weekend of September, I devoured this sequel, Tidewater Hit, and am happy to report that the community of Kings Bluff, Georgia is one where I still feel completely at home.

Dropping in on the fictional adventures of Abbey Taylor Bunn is like visiting an old friend. You may not see them very often, but you know the ice tea will be sweet and cold, the dog will be waiting to greet you, and the mystery will be incredibly compelling.

Such is the case with this novel.

From the opening, with Abbey rowing and discovering a man floating in a place where one is more likely than not to become sharkbait through every twist and turn I was on the edge of my seat. Or I would have been if I hadn’t been reading this in the bathtub.

What I loved was that relationships from the original novel – specifically Abbey’s with Atlanta-based lawyer Tom, but others as well – were continued. I also loved Sarge and his ‘dead rise’ fishing boat, which can be used for a multitude of other purposes. He made a big impression on me.

As well, author Thwaite has turned the community of Kings Bluff and those secluded cabins into a character in its own right.

While Thwaite’s skill and plot and dialogue is undeniable, where she excels is at giving readers a vivid sense of place. As I was reading this, I could taste the salt air, feel the tiny stinging bites of sand fleas (sand gnats), and feel the muggy heat. It is that feeling, as much as the story itself, that made the novel for me.

While Tidewater Hit is better enjoyed if you’ve read the previous novel, it can be read as a stand-alone work with little confusion on the reader’s part. Thwaite gives us enough backstory to understand Abbey’s history and mindset, but not so much that we’re bogged down in any kind of literary ‘previously on…’

As well, the author does an excellent job of honoring the 1986 setting without making it feel campy or too ‘period.’ This story may be set 31 years in our past, but it reads as contemporary literature.

Read this book if you love mysteries with strong female characters, a touch of humor in the right places, and plots that are intricate enough to be interesting, but not so convoluted that a diagram is required.

Goes well with a tomato and vidalia onion sandwich, or, if you’re more mainstream, fresh-caught shrimp cooked however you like them and cold sweet tea or chilled beer.

 

 

 

 

Review: Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider – with Giveaway

Understanding Cemetery Symbols

About the book Understanding Cemetery Symbols Understanding Cemetery Symbols

  • Series: Messages from the Dead
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Azle Press; 1 edition (August 19, 2017)

Graveyards don’t exist merely to shelter the dead. They also nurture the living. In fact, America’s garden cemeteries were our nation’s first public parks. People used to visit cemeteries not only to mourn the dead, but to have a pleasant day in nature with their family. “Understanding Cemetery Symbols” by Tui Snider helps history buffs, genealogists, ghost hunters and other curiosity seekers decode the forgotten meanings of the symbols our ancestors placed on their headstones. By understanding the meaning behind the architecture, acronyms, & symbols found in America’s burial grounds, readers will gain a deeper appreciation for these “messages from the dead.”

Buy, read, and discuss Understanding Cemetery Symbols:

Book ┃ Graveyard Journal Workbbook┃ Ghost Hunters Journal | Goodreads

Check out the trailer for Understanding Cemetery Symbols:

About the author, Tui Snider Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in quirky travel, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences and bookstores. Her best-selling books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, Unexpected Texas, and Understanding Cemetery Symbols. She recently taught classes based on her books at Texas Christian University.

When not writing books, you can find Tui exploring the historic graveyards and backroads of Texas with her husband, Larry.

Connect with Tui:

WebsiteAuthor Facebook | Book Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

When I was given the opportunity to review this book, I didn’t merely sign up for it, I begged for the chance. Partly, of course, it’s because a lot of my writing lately is focusing on ghosts, but also it’s because the subject fascinates me. Maybe it’s because we don’t bury our dead in my family – we have them cremated and scatter the ashes somewhere meaningful – or maybe I’ve just read too many gothic novels with confrontations in family crypts, but graveyards have always intrigued me. In fact, one of the only things I remember from a clever gardening book I read several years ago, is that graveyard roses are the hardiest plants if you want to grow roses from a cutting.

Tui Snider’s book does not cover the best ways to filch roses from the dead, but it is a lot more than just a glossary of symbols commonly found on headstones.

In fact, Understanding Cemetery Symbols has several chapters explaining the history and trends of burial in America, including a rundown of different types of cemeteries and descriptions of the different words – such as burial ground, churchyard, graveyard, etc. – that were used in different eras and are still used in different parts of the country. (Confession: like the author, I agree that ‘graveyard’ is creepier than ‘cemetery.’)

Of course, it also explains the symbols the title references, but it does so in a way that is never dry or dull. Author Snider’s warm, witty style of writing feels more like a conversation with a friend than any kind of book, and I found myself both impressed with her research and eager to field-test her data.

Speaking of field-testing, my review copy also came with copies of Ms. Snider’s Graveyard Journal, for tracking the different graves you visit and what symbols are present, and her Ghost Hunter’s Journal, for those of us who have more than a passing fancy for the supernatural. Both of these supplementary books are well-designed, and now that the weather in Texas is cooling off I’m excited about doing some judicious exploration.

Understanding Cemetery Symbols is an interesting read even if you never plan to go tromping around old churchyards, but it’s indispensable if you do feel the urge to explore, and the two journals will only enhance your experience.

Goes well with tuna sandwiches and sweet tea, enjoyed on a picnic blanket in the middle of a cemetery.


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Giveaway: Understanding Cemetery Symbols

Grand Prize: Signed Copies of Understanding Cemetery Symbols + wGraveyard Journal Workbook + Ghost Hunters Journal 

2nd & 3rd Prizes: Signed Copies of Understanding Cemetery Symbols

October 18-October 27, 2017

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Tour Stops for Understanding Cemetery Symbols

18-Oct Excerpt 1 Texan Girl Reads
19-Oct Review Chapter Break Book Blog
20-Oct Guest Post 1 Books in the Garden
21-Oct Review The Librarian Talks
22-Oct Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
23-Oct Excerpt 2 The Page Unbound
24-Oct Review Forgotten Winds
25-Oct Top 5 List Syd Savvy
26-Oct Guest Post 2 A Novel Reality
27-Oct Review Bibliotica

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