Review: Lord of the Privateers, by Stephanie Laurens – with Giveaway

Lord of the PrivateersAbout the book, Lord of the Privateers

  • Series: Adventurers Quartet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (December 27, 2016)

The eldest of the Frobisher brothers and widely known as the lord of the privateers, Royd Frobisher expects to execute the final leg of the rescue mission his brothers have been pursuing. What he does not expect is to be pressured into taking his emotional nemesis, childhood sweetheart, ex-handfasted bride, and current business partner, Isobel Carmichael, with him. But is it Isobel doing the pressuring, or his own restless unfulfilled psyche?

Resolute, determined, and an all but unstoppable force of nature, Isobel has a mission of her own—find her cousin Katherine and bring her safely home. And if, along the way, she can rid herself of the lingering dreams of a life with Royd that still haunt her, well and good.

Neither expects the shock that awaits them as they set sail aboard Royd’s ship, much less the new horizons that open before them as they call into London, then, armed with the necessary orders and all arrangements in place, embark on a full-scale rescue-assault on the mining compound buried in the jungle.

Yet even with the support of his brothers and their ladies and, once rescued, all the ex-captives, Royd and Isobel discover that freeing the captives is only half the battle. In order to identify and convict the backers behind the illicit enterprise—and protect the government from catastrophic destabilization—they must return to the ballrooms of the haut ton, and with the help of a small army of supporters, hunt the villains on their home ground.

But having found each other again, having glimpsed the heaven that could be theirs again, how much are they willing to risk in the name of duty?

Buy, read, and discuss Lord of the Privateers

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


Stephanie LaurensAbout the author, Stephanie Laurens

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

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I love a good swashbuckler, and I love a good romance, especially when the characters feel equally matched. In Lord of the Privateers, Stephanie Laurens gives us exactly that. The romance – actually a rekindling of a relationship both parties keep trying to forget – has just the right amount of sizzle, and the sparks aren’t limited just to chemistry. Isobel and Royd banter, argue, bicker, make up, and start all over, all while handling the care and maintenance of a shipyard, a sailing fleet, their specific ship the Corsair, family drama, and a greater mission.

And they do it well. Seriously if Amy Sherman Palladino or Aaron Sorkin wrote Age of Sail romantic comedies, the result would be Stephanie Laurens’ work, except that Laurens has her own voice, and her own point of view, and nothing she does feels anything but fresh, fun, and interesting.

What I loved was Isobel in general. Yes, I found one plot point – one key decision she made – a little contrived, but over all she’s smart, strong, funny, and supremely real.

What I didn’t love: no one used a cutlass to slide down a mainsail. Okay, these weren’t actually pirates, but privateers – there is a distinction – but still.

If you want a romance that will have you totally hooked from page one, that will make you sigh with longing even as you feel imagined salt air in your face, and also balances the love story with the adventure story,  Lord of the Privateers is the novel for you.

Goes well with fish and chips and a good ale.


Giveaway

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TLC book tours: Catherine Ryan HydeStephanie Laurens’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 16th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 18th: Bibliotica

Friday, January 20th: Reading Reality

Monday, January 23rd: Buried Under Romance

Tuesday, January 24th: Dwell in Possibility

Wednesday, January 25th: The Romance Dish

Friday, January 27th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, January 30th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, January 30th: Let Them Read Books – Excerpt

Wednesday, February 1st: A. Holland Reads

Friday, February 3rd: Becky on Books

Monday, February 6th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, February 7th: Laura’s Reviews

Wednesday, February 8th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot

Friday, February 10th: The Maiden’s Court

The Darkest Secret, by Gena Showalter #review #TLCBookTours #giveaway

In June, 2016, Gena Showalter will be releasing the newest installment of her series The Lords of the Underworld. That novel, The Darkest Torment, is not yet ready for review, so, in conjunction with TLC Book Tours, many of us are reviewing other books in the series. I chose to review The Darkest Secret.  Read to the end of the page for the entire list of tour stops, and the chance to win a signed copy of the entire collection.

About the book, The Darkest Secret The Darkest Secret

  • Series: Lords of the Underworld
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (March 29, 2011)

Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when new demons possess him, the immortal warrior must be chained and isolated to protect those he loves. Death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty…. Haidee is an infamous demon assassin, raised to despise Amun’s kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

This novel, The Darkest Secret, is number seven in a series, and while each of the novels can be read as standalone stories, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a different experience reading them all in order.

But that’s beside the point.

The Darkest Secret opens with a homecoming, as we witness the changes in a place I’m calling Casa Demonica  – a sort of group home/mansion/commune for angels (warriors) and demons, each of whom is the ‘keeper’ of some great evil – some of them are four horseman-level evils, others are less intense – fatigue, for example – but all of the demons represent the darker side of humanity. Or demonity. Or… both.

Author Gena Showalter does a really good job of blending world-building with paranormal romance. I enjoyed the fact that there was nuance to her darkest creatures – they regret that their appetites cause harm, and actually try to make things easier for their human partners, as a rule.

I also enjoyed learning about the interpersonal relationships between these creatures. How precarious it must be to have friendships that could so quickly turn to death and destruction, or just as easily become true kinships – or switch between both extremes in the space of days, weeks, or years?

But beyond the demons themselves are their human hosts. In this case Amun is living within Micah, and Strider – it’s his point of view we first experience – has brought a human woman – Haidee – into Casa Demonica, but Haidee isn’t just a chick of the week, she’s Micah’s girlfriend.

Yeah. That’s not awkward at all.

Because Amun/Micah is experiencing the physical manifestation of a psychic disease, he’s strapped to a bed, and in terrible shape, and Haidee, of course, answers his mental call and makes her way through the house to be at his side.

Hurt/comfort is a very big part of this novel.

And yet, with the author’s fresh spin, and clear writing voice nothing ever seems trope-y or overdone. Instead, everything that should be cheesy or over the top combines in to a deliciously dark, exquisitely erotic fable for contemporary adults.

Goes well with dark chocolate, red wine, and a seriously plush sofa.


Giveaway Gena Showalter

The publisher is sponsoring a RaffleCopter contest to win a signed copy of the entire series of these books. Enter below. PLEASE NOTE: I have nothing to do with the giveaway, except as a facilitator.

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Gena Showalter’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, March 28th: Read Love Blog – Series spotlight

Tuesday, March 29th: Supernatural Snark **The Darkest Craving

Tuesday, March 29th: Booked on a Feeling **The Darkest Night & The Darkest Kiss

Thursday, March 31st: Bewitched Bookworms – spotlight, The Darkest Passion

Friday, April 1st: Reading Reality **The Darkest Touch

Monday, April 4th: Reader Girls **The Darkest Lie

Tuesday, April 5th: Bibliotica **The Darkest Secret

Wednesday, April 6th: Romancing the Book **The Darkest Seduction and The Darkest Craving

Thursday, April 7th: From the TBR Pile **The Darkest Night

Monday, April 11th: Lovely Reads  **The Darkest Whisper

Monday, April 11th: Books that Hook **The Darkest Touch

Tuesday, April 12th: Stranded in Chaos  **The Darkest Night, The Darkest Kiss

Wednesday, April 13th: Romancing the Readers **The Darkest Seduction

Friday, April 15th: Bibliophilia, Please ** The Darkest Night

Monday, April 18th: Stuck in Books – **The Darkest Pleasure

 

The Readers of Broken Wing Recommend, by Katarina Bivald #RafflecopterGiveaway #review

About the book, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 19, 2016)

The International Bestseller.
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Katarina Bivald Katarina Bivald

Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She’s currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books.

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn’t decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they’re better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having noone to recommend it to.

Läsarna i Broken Wheel Rekommenderar/The Readers in Broken Wheel Recommend is her first novel.

Connect with Katarina

Website | Instagram


My Thoughts MissMeliss

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a sweet, hopeful story from Swedish author Kataina Bivald. I was hooked by the title, and fell more in love as I began to read of Sara’s arrival and subsequent adventures in rural Iowa.

As someone who has lived in a town without a bookstore, and who mourns the loss of independent bookstores even as she fills her Kindle with ebooks from Amazon, I completely empathized with Sara. I’ve flirted with opening a bookstore (well, a bookstore/cafe) for lesser reasons than honoring a friend, and only the hard fact of being done with working retail has prevented me from doing so (but I still dream).

I like Sara herself as well. At first she seemed a bit mousy, but once she found her footing, she was a force to be reckoned with, though her version of being forceful was always more of a summer downpour rather than a full-scale squall. The supporting characters were all well drawn, also. It is because of them that Broken Wheel felt like every small midwestern town I’ve ever been in, and a couple I’ve lived in, and while I wouldn’t want to live there forever, I was happy with my virtual visit.

Translating something from another language is always difficult, and yet, this novel didn’t feel like it had been written in anything but English. It’s a lovely novel guaranteed to appeal to those who browse bookstores and take home too many books, and to those who read the occasional bestseller.

Goes well with hot apple pie with a wedge of cheddar cheese, and coffee.


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(This giveaway is administered by the blog tour coordinator, not by MissMeliss.)

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RBW Blog Tour

The Christmas Bridge, by Elyse Douglas (@douglaselyse) #review #rafflecopter #giveaway #TLCBooktours

About the book, The Christmas Bridge The Christmas Bridge

Print Length: 183 pages

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

A First Love. A Second Chance.

A young widow travels to New York on business a few days before Christmas. She has reluctantly made a date with a lover she hasn’t seen in 20 years, and she is nervous and apprehensive. Twenty years before, she made a difficult decision that has both troubled and haunted her ever since. She knows she’s about to come face-to-face with her past and she’s hoping for some redemption and resolution. She also wonders if she can somehow pick up where she left off 20 years ago and start again.

An exciting chance encounter changes everything. Now, not only will she face the past with hope to rekindle an old romance, but there is the possibility that this chance meeting will bring her love and happiness she never thought possible.

Once again, she will have to choose. She will have to make the right decision. She will have to believe that Christmas miracles can still happen.

Buy, read, and discuss The Christmas Bridge

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Elyse Douglas

Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington.

Elyse Douglas>Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University.  She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a  speech-language pathologist.  She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed five novels: The Astrologer’s Daughter, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town and The Christmas Diary.

Douglas Elyse Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages.  He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. His two detective books include Death is Lookin’ for Elvis and Death is a TapDancer. His great great grandfather lived to be 132 years old, and was the oldest man in the world when he died in 1928.

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.

Connect with Elyse Douglas

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

Christmas is a time for a bit of heightened reality. More romance, more fluff. I like that about this time of year. It makes the grey days softer, and the chilly weather a little less biting. The Christmas Bridge, the latest in a collection of Christmas-themed novels from the writing team known as Elyse Douglas is the perfect embodiment of all this.

Olivia and Brett meet in New York on Central Park’s Bow Bridge. It’s cold in the way only New York can ever be cold – slushy and grey and a weird mix of hard and soft – but they connect, and go for a hot chocolate, and from that moment you know they’re destined to be together. This is not a spoiler. It’s a Christmas novel, and a romance at that. You know the lead characters are going to end up in love by the end.

You still want to follow their journey.
Even though that journey involves Olivia constantly worrying that she’s in the wrong relationship, because she was supposed to meet an old lover on that bridge.

At least I did, because I found this romance to be a great representative of the season. Brett is a professional baseball player – wealthy, playful, but also a truly good guy. Olive struck me as being a bit naive at times, but maybe that was her way of staying human, because it worked for her. Together they share meals and trips to museums – the kinds of dates we all wish we could go on when we’re stuck in the suburbs, and somehow never do go one, even when we’re living more urban lives.

I thought they were well drawn, dimensional and flawed, but still existing in that heightened-reality Christmas romance bubble.

Similarly, the supporting characters were memorable and real without being overpowering. I liked the banter, particularly between Brett and Big Mike.

Overall, this novel is a lovely contemporary Christmas romance, and it does a great job of giving you a few hours of escapism and joy before you have to return to whatever prosaic reality you typically inhabit.

Goes well with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, obviously.


Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Elyse Douglas’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 16th: Majorly Delicious

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Nerd

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

Monday, November 23rd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 25th: Read Love Blog

Friday, November 27th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, November 30th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Wednesday, December 2nd: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, December 3rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Monday, December 7th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, December 10th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, December 14th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, December 14th: A Night’s Dream of Books 

Tuesday, December 15th: FictionZeal

Wednesday, December 16th: The Romance Dish

Friday, December 18th: A Splendid Messy Life

 

Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares, by Tom DeLonge (@tomdelonge) & Suzanne Young (@suzanne_young) #giveaway #review

About the book, Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares Poet Anderson ...Of Nightmares

  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 194327200X
  • Publisher: To The Stars…; 1 edition (October 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2015

From the imagination of Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves and NY Times bestselling author Suzanne Young. Jonas Anderson and his older brother Alan are Lucid Dreamers. But after a car accident lands Alan in a coma, Jonas sets out into the Dream World in an attempt to find his brother and wake him up. What he discovers instead is an entire shared consciousness where fear comes to life as a snarling beast called a Night Terror, and a creature named REM is bent on destruction and misery, devouring the souls of the strongest dreamers. With the help of a Dream Walker—a guardian of the dreamscape, Jonas must face his fears, save his brother, and become who he was always meant to be: Poet Anderson.

Buy, read, and discuss Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares

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About the authors, Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young

Tom DeLonge Tom DeLongeis the award-winning American musician, producer and director, best known as the lead vocalist and songwriter for the platinum-selling bands Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves. Under his media production company To The Stars…, Tom has created transmedia entertainment properties that span music, film, comics and books. Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares will also coincide with an original soundtrack recorded by the band that you can listen to while you read.

Suzanne Young Suzanne Youngis the New York Times bestselling author of The Program series of novels for young adult readers. Young lives in Arizona where she also teaches high school English. Her novels include , The Program, The Treatment, The Remedy, The Epidemic, and Hotel Ruby

Connect with Tom & Suzanne

Tom’s Twitter | To the Stars Media Twitter | To the Stars Media Website | Suzanne’s Twitter | Suzanne’s Website


My Thoughts: MissMeliss

When the publicists for this novel invited me to be part of the blog tour, I asked if I could have Friday the 13th as my review date, and I was delighted that they agreed. But really, what better day is there to post a review of a book that involves dreams and nightmares.

As someone whose dreams are vivid, and whose favorite horror film is the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, it was a foregone conclusion that Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares would appeal to me. It has everything I love: a well-paced plot, richly drawn characters, an original setting, a provocative setting: a Dreamscape populated by dreamers and their creations, nightmare creatures born of unresolved emotional conflict and unhealed emotional trauma.

Protagonist Jonas (aka Poet in the Dreamscape) is a 16-year-old lucid dreamer with a brother in a coma, dead parents, and no one to take care of him. The part of me that is way too old to be reading YA wanted to gather him into a warm hug and make him some soup. The part of me that used to be a teenaged-girl wanted to figure out what made him tick. He leaped off the page and into my imagination, and was so dimensional, and so sympathetic (even during the moments when I kind of wanted to shake him into sensibility) that I was happy to follow his journey.

The few real-world people we meet were mostly (but not entirely) peripheral to the beings in the Dreamscape, but they served an important purpose. They grounded the story in the here and now-ish, so that young Jonas/Poet had an external anchor other than his brother.

The people (and scary monsters) inside the Dreamscape were more vivid, but their edges were blurry, as is typical for dream constructs, still, it is through them that Poet/Jonas learns his inner identity, hones his abilities, and navigates the twisting, winding world formed by the lucid dreams of many, many dreamers.

While I enjoyed Poet’s quest – because this is absolutely a quest novel, even if that’s not explicitly stated – I was equally fascinated by the world building done with regard to the Dreamscape. The notion that the nightmare creatures we create can grow strong enough to break into the waking world is chilling, but it also makes sense. How many of us are troubled from unresolved issues that haunt our dreams? How strange is it, really, that those hauntings would grow in power?

I have to admit that I never had access to the soundtrack that goes with this novel, but while I’m certain that would enhance the experience for some, I don’t feel it is truly necessary. I very quickly found myself immersed in the story, only coming up for air when I was desperately hungry, or had to wrangle dogs (I have five).

Authors DeLonge and Young should be commended for creating something completely engaging, original, and rich. I know the average teenager would dig this novel, but I’m equally certain that my own peers will find it compelling and worthy as well.

Goes well with a hearty chili and freshly made skillet corn bread, and a steaming mug of hot spiced cider.


Giveaway Poet Anderson Giveaway

Two (2) winners receive a personalized special edition signed copy of POET ANDERSON…OF NIGHTMARES and an Of Nightmares t-shirt (INT)
Ends 12/23

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

About the book Clownfellas: Tales of the Bozo Family Clownfellas

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the author, Carlton Mellick III Carlton Mellick III

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

Connect with Carlton

Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

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

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

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

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

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

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


Giveaway Clownfellas

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 15th: PromoteHorror.com

Wednesday, July 15th: Wildfire Books

Monday, July 20th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

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

Thursday, July 23rd: The Qwillery

Friday, July 24th: From the TBR Pile

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

Tuesday, July 28th: The Horror Honeys

Wednesday, July 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews

Thursday, July 30th: Bibliotica

Monday, August 3rd: Bewitched Bookworms

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

Friday, August 7th: Life is Story

TBD: The Scary Reviews

TBD: Bell, Book & Candle

TBD: Kari J. Wolfe

The Rhyme of the Magpie, by Marty Wingate #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book, The Rhyme of the Magpie: A Birds of a Feather Mystery The Rhyme of the Magpie

Published by: Alibi  (June 02, 2015)
Pages: 224

For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

Buy, read and discuss The Rhyme of the Magpie

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


 About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.


My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Marty Wingate’s since I cracked open the first of her Potting Shed mysteries, so when I was offered the chance to review this book, the first in a new series, I jumped at it. I have t admit, it took me a while to warm up to the new characters and premise.

Once I did warm up to Julia and her life, I was hooked. I love the use of the magpies as a recurring theme, and the way birds, signs, and portents are all woven together. I thought each character, even those we don’t spend a lot of time with were distinct and dimensional.

Wingate has a special knack for vivid descriptions of place – you can smell the rain when the air is damp, and you can feel your feet squelching through soggy soil, or crunching over gravel. She also has an excellent ear for dialogue, to the point where I could hear the characters’ accents in my head – and no, they’re not all generic-sounding ‘received’ pronunciation. That she manages to do this without writing much in dialect always impresses me.

Marty Wingate might just be the new Queen of the Cozy, but her cozy mysteries are deceptive in that they balance quaint village live with strong female characters who achieve self-significance while still maintaining femininity.

Long may she reign.

Goes well with proper fish and  chips, and a hand-crafted lager.


Giveaway

This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 e-gift card and a copy of the book!  Enter to win.

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Marty Wingate’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, June 2nd: Mystery Playground

Wednesday, June 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, June 3rd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, June 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, June 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, June 5th: Back Porchervations

Wednesday, June 10th: Reading Reality

Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired

Friday, June 12th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, June 16th: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, June 17th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Thursday, June 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 23rd: FictionZeal

Wednesday, June 24th: 2 Kids and Tired

Dark Screams (Volumes 2 & 3), edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar #review #giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, Dark Screams, Vol. 2 Dark Screams, Vol. 2

  • On Sale: March 03, 2015
  • Pages: 138
  • Published by : Hydra

Robert McCammon, Norman Prentiss, Shawntelle Madison, Graham Masterton, and Richard Christian Matheson scale new heights of horror, suspense, and grimmest fantasy in Dark Screams: Volume Two, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the renowned Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE DEEP END by Robert McCammon
Everyone thinks the drowning death of Neil Calder in the local swimming pool was a tragic accident. Only his father knows better. Now, on the last night of summer, Neil returns in search of revenge.

INTERVAL by Norman Prentiss
Flight 1137 from St. Louis by way of Nashville has gone missing. As anxious friends and family gather around the gate, a ticket clerk finds herself eyewitness to a moment of inhuman evil.

IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK by Shawntelle Madison
Eleanor has come from New York City to prep an old Victorian house in Maine for America’s Mysterious Hotspots. Although she’s always thrown herself into her work, this job will take her places she’s never dreamed of going.

THE NIGHT HIDER by Graham Masterton
C. S. Lewis wrote about a portal that led to a world of magic and enchantment. But the wardrobe in Dawn’s room holds only death—until she solves its grisly mystery.

WHATEVER by Richard Christian Matheson
A 1970s rock ’n’ roll band that never was—in a world that is clearly our own . . . but perhaps isn’t, not anymore . . . or, at least, not yet—takes one hell of a trip.

Buy, read and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 2

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About the book Dark Screams, Vol. 3 Dark Screams, Vol. 3

  • On Sale: May 12, 2015
  • Pages: 108
  • Published by : Hydra

Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.

GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.

NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.

I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.

THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.

Buy, read, and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 3

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


My Thoughts

I love horror. I love short stories. I understand (as much as anyone without formal training can) the psychology of the human brain that gives us pleasure and a bit of a thrill when we’re scared. In these two ebook anthologogies, Dark Screams, volumes 2 & 3, I was given a couple hundred (and change) rich pages of all the things I love.

There wasn’t a single story in either volume that I found unreadable, though the subject matter in a couple of them (most specifically “I Love You, Charlie Pearson”) did make me uncomfortable. But horror shouldn’t be just empty scares. It needs to hit you in the sweet spot where the Amygdala and the Cerebrum whisper to each other, where intellect and emotion intertwine, and all of these stories do that, and they do it well.

Not that I’m surprised. I mean, look at that list of authors. Even if the only name you recognize is Peter Straub, consider that he would never allow himself to be in the company of authors of unequal caliber – or at least, he’d never allow his work to be so. And I’m not just highlighting his name because his contribution, “The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero,” is my favorite from Volume 3 – written from (mostly) a young boy’s point of view, it’s both chilling and poignant.

My other favorite from volume 3 is “Nancy,” because I identified with the character of the ‘new girl’ trying to navigate her way through the popular and not-so-popular crowds in a town that also has its fare share of actual (as opposed to metaphoric) ghosts.

Volume 2 felt, to me, a bit more polished – the stories of a more equal quality, although I confess, I had to read the novella at the end – Richard Christian Matheson’s “Whatever,” twice in order to really ‘get’ it. Then I was blown away. Still, I want to give “The Interval” (Norman Prentiss) which gives new meaning to the limbo we all feel when we’re caught between hope and reality, and “The Night Hider” (Graham Masterton) which posits a dark and interesting origin story for C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, special attention. Both those stories really played with convention, reality, and what we think we know.

Also on my personal “hit list” is “The Deep End,” by Robert McCammon, which does for swimming pools what Jaws did to the ocean when it was first released (just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Y…) and made me seriously glad that the constant rain has kept me OUT of my own swimming pool so far this year.

If you love horror, if you appreciate the pace and brevity of a short story, if you were the kid whose favorite part of summer camp was telling ghost stories after dark – you will love these two anthologies.

Just make sure you turn on the lights as you enter rooms for a few days afterward.

Goes well with buttered popcorn and either slightly sweetened cinnamon iced tea or crisp apple cider.


 Giveaway

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TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Dark Screams: TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 27th: A Fantastical Librarian – Volume 2

Wednesday, April 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Volumes 2 and 3

Monday, May 4th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 5th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 2

Wednesday, May 6th: Wag the Fox – Volume 2

Thursday, May 7th: Bewitched Bookworms – Volumes 2 and 3

Friday, May 8th: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 2

Monday, May 11th: Bibliophilia, Please – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 12th: In Bed with Books – Volume 3

Thursday, May 14th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 3

Friday, May 15th: Wag the Fox – Volume 3

Tuesday, May 19th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 3

Thursday, May 21st: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 3

Thursday, May 28th: Bibliotica – Volume 2 & 3

Friday, May 29th: Sweet Southern Home – Volume 3

Monday, June 1st: Kahakai Kitchen – Volumes 2 and 3

 

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

A Match for Marcus Cynster Excerpt Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Excerpt ~

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

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

The clan ignored them.

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

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

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

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

And then it was done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was the one left behind.

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

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

The clan meeting to elect a new laird.

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

Buy, read, and discuss A Match for Marcus Cynster

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About Stephanie Laurens Stephanie Laurens

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

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook


Giveaway AMFMC Prize Pack

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

Monday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, May 12th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, May 13th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 14th: In the Hammock

Friday, May 15th: Broken Teepee

Monday, May 18th: Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 19th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, May 20th: Bibliotica

Thursday, May 21st: Bell, Book & Candle

Friday, May 22nd: Urban Girl Reader

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

Tuesday, May 26th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, May 27th: The Romance Dish

Wednesday, May 27th: Read Love Blog

Thursday, May 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 29th: Written Love Reviews

The Case of the Invisible Dog, by Diane Stingley #review #Giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, The Case of the Invisible Dog: A Shirley Homes Mystery The Case of the Invisible Dog

  • Published by : Alibi (May 19, 2015)
  • Pages: 385

In the start of a charmingly imaginative cozy series sure to delight fans of Carolyn Hart and Diane Mott Davidson, Diane Stingley introduces a blundering detective who believes herself to be the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

After failing to launch her career as a Hollywood actress, Tammy Norman returns home to North Carolina, desperate for a regular paycheck and a new lease on life. So she accepts a position assisting Shirley Homes, an exceptionally odd personage who styles herself after her celebrated “ancestor”–right down to the ridiculous hat. Tammy isn’t sure how long she can go on indulging the delusional Shirley (who honestly believes Sherlock Holmes was a real person!), but with the prospect of unemployment looming, she decides to give it a shot.

Tammy’s impression of her eccentric boss does not improve when their first case involves midnight romps through strangers’ yards in pursuit of a phantom dog—that only their client can hear. But when the case takes a sudden and sinister turn, Tammy has to admit that Shirley Homes might actually be on to something. . . .

Buy, read, and discuss The Case of the Invisible Dog

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About the author, Diane Stingley

Diane Stingley is the author of Dress You Up in My Love and I’m With Cupid. She was also a columnist for The Charlotte Observer and received e-mails from around the country in response to her columns. She currently resides in North Carolina and is hard at work on the next Shirley Homes mystery.


My Thoughts

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan almost as long as I’ve been able to read, and unlike some purists, I’m happy to discover new takes on the character. I’ve read – for review as well as just for pleasure – the works of Laurie R. King and Stephanie Osborn, for example, and loved them to bits, even though each woman writes a radically different version of Holmes. I also love the BBC series Sherlock, but, I confess, I’ve never been able to get into Elementary.

The practical upshot of all this is that when I was invited to review The Case of the Invisible Dog, I was really excited to do so. Diane Stingley also has a fresh perspective on Holmes – her detective, Shirley Homes (no-l), likes waffles with extra butter syrup on the side, and is a little more of a psychopath than even Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes at his most…idiosyncratic. She also uses the name of her famous ‘ancestor’ (because in this universe he’s a real person – or at least Shirley believes he is), to help build her business.

Her Watson, who is our point of view character, is Tammy, failed actress, successful purveyor of bon mots. She’s maybe not as book-smart as previous Watsons we have known, but she’s street smart and snarky – two things I always enjoy in a character. It’s her voice that narrates this story, and everything we see is filtered through her eyes and perceptions.

Author Diane Stingley has done a great job of creating a slightly kooky, absolutely cozy version of the Great Detective, or rather, the Great Detective’s Descendant, and I found this novel to be engaging and interesting, especially once things got a little bit twistier and darker near the end.

If you’re looking for a female detective who is basically Sherlock Holmes in drag and a contemporary setting, this novel is NOT for you, but if you want something fun, fresh, a little bit fluffy (but in a good way), give The Case of the Invisible Dog a shot. Worst case: you’ll crave a trip to your local diner, at the end.

Goes well with Waffles with extra butter and syrup (warm, organic, maple), a side of crispy bacon, and coffee with cream.


Giveaway

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Diane Stingley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, May 11th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, May 12th: Bibliotica – That’s ME

Wednesday, May 13th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, May 14th: Mama Vicky Says

Monday, May 18th: Priscilla and Her Books

Monday, May 18th: Bell, Book & Candle

Tuesday, May 19th: Book Babe

Wednesday, May 20th: Reading Reality

Monday, May 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 26th: Open Book Society

Wednesday, May 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, May 28th: For the Love of Fictional Worlds

Monday, June 1st: A Book Geek

Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility

Monday, June 8th: Staircase Wit

Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired