Finding the Rainbow by Traci Borum #review #giveaway

About the book Finding the Rainbow Finding the Rainbow

 

  • Series: Chilton Crosse
  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (March 6, 2015)

 

Holly Newbury’s life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse. While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery. Her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything. Then a film crew’s arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie’s love-shy American writer.

The production of an Emma film isn’t the only drama in town, though. Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for. Holly’s sisters endure growing pains. And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further. After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.

Read an excerpt from Finding the Rainbow

Finding the Rainbow – Excerpt

Buy, read, and discuss Finding the Rainbow

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads


About the author, Traci Borum Traci Borum

Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan. She’s also an avid reader of women’s fiction, most especially Elin Hilderbrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels. Since the age of 12, she’s written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.

Traci also adores all things British. She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater–must be all those dreamy accents! Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it’s the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to “look up, slow down, enjoy your life.”


My Thoughts

I fell in love with the first Chilton Crosse novel, Painting the Moon, when I read it last year, so when Traci Borum asked me if I’d read and review her newest book, Finding the Rainbow, I was delighted to do so.

It was so nice to visit Borum’s fictional English village again, to hang out with the locals at the pub (the owners are trying to get pregnant, when we first catch up with them), and to meet this book’s main character, Holly. I really liked her as a character, and I’d have loved to hang out with her, though I confess that I am more than a little jealous of her Hideaway Cottage, the playhouse she’s turned into a reading sanctuary. Seriously, every woman needs a room like that (although mine would have wifi).

I also enjoyed meeting Holly’s family – her three sisters, her father – Frank the gallery owner who has a ‘thing’ for Holly was another great character. And Fletcher (one of my favorite names) , the writer of the movie filming in town is a wonderful addition both to Holly’s life, and the village itself.

Here’s what I love about Traci Borum’s work: under anyone else’s pen, this story would be simperingly sweet, and drenched in lace. But Borum puts in the layers, the nuances, the dimensional personalities, the pipe dreams, and the promises that make her characters feel like real people, and the village of Chilton Crosse feel like a real place.  When she writes a domestic scene – like the sisters having breakfast in the early part of the book, Borum shows off her talent for dialogue and comic timing, but when she then has to convey emotion – unrequited love, flat out lust – of a different kind, she does so with grace and deftness.

Reading Finding the Rainbow may not lead you to a pot of gold, but it might lead you to brew a pot of tea and revel in peace and silence for a while.

Goes well with: Hot tea, buttered currant scones, and a soft rainshower.


Giveaway

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This blog post brought to you courtesy of Red Adept publishing. See the whole tour page HERE.

Trail of Broken Wings, by Sejal Badani #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Trail of Broken Wings Trail of Broken Wings

  • Paperback: 378 Pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 1, 2015)

When her father falls into a coma, Indian American photographer Sonya reluctantly returns to the family she’d fled years before. Since she left home, Sonya has lived on the run, free of any ties, while her soft-spoken sister, Trisha, has created a perfect suburban life, and her ambitious sister, Marin, has built her own successful career. But as these women come together, their various methods of coping with a terrifying history can no longer hold their memories at bay.

Buried secrets rise to the surface as their father—the victim of humiliating racism and perpetrator of horrible violence—remains unconscious. As his condition worsens, the daughters and their mother wrestle with private hopes for his survival or death, as well as their own demons and buried secrets.

Told with forceful honesty, Trail of Broken Wings reveals the burden of shame and secrets, the toxicity of cruelty and aggression, and the exquisite, liberating power of speaking and owning truth.

Buy, read, and discuss Trail of Broken Wings

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


About the author, Sejal Badani Sejal Badani

Sejal Badani is a former attorney. She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their two dogs.


My Thoughts:

Everyone knows that old saying about how there are three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth, and never has that been more true than in Sejal Badani’s new novel Trail of Broken Wings, where each of the four women in the story (mother, Ranee, and her three daughters, Marin, Trisha, and Sonya) has her own story and her own truth, but so do the men in their lives, although those truths are more quietly spoken.

With four main characters, you might think the narrative would be a little bit confusing, but Badani makes all the characters – not just Ranee and her daughters – distinct and dimensional, just each of their stories is distinct. I especially liked the subtle ways in which Badani used language – Ranees is more stylized, highlighting her status as someone who immigrated as an adult, while the daughters are all much more American in their speech patterns.

The mostly male supporting characters – Gia (Marin’s teenaged daughter) Raj (Marin’s husband by an arranged marriage), Eric (Trisha’s husband), and David (the handsome doctor destined to be Sonya’s love interest) are all fully realized – something a lot of women don’t always do well, just as a lot of mean never fully realize their female supporting characters.  Of all of them, Raj was the least open to us, as readers, and I have to confess, I’d have liked more of him.

Then there’s Brent, Ranee’s husband, and father of her girls. Also an immigrant (he and Ranee married and started their family back in India), he spends most of the novel in a coma, but his presence is strongly felt throughout the novel, even so, and, as his actions dictate almost everyone else’s choices, without ever speaking a line, he becomes one of the most influential characters in the book.

I liked the structure of this novel – alternating chapters, headed with the POV character’s name, and I liked the way the past both formed the present, and became a release, as well. It was a satisfying read, and ended with a note of hope, if not a perfect pat ending, and I like that better than pretty bows, anyway.

The use of Indian culture as both a grounding mechanism and as  counterpoint to modern American life worked really well, and the constant descriptions of food made my mouth water, and might seem out of place, unless you believe, as I do, that food is a source of both culture and comfort.

While this book does deal with very dark subjects (child abuse, domestic violence, rape), it does so in a sensitive manner based in truth, and never sensationalized.

If you’re up for a good family drama that straddles the line between contemporary and literary fiction, you will not be disappointed by Trail of Broken Wings.

Goes well with: chai tea, garlic naan, and whatever other Indian food suits your fancy.


Sejal Badani’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 5th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Wednesday, May 6th: Lit and Life

Thursday, May 7th: She Treads Softly

Monday, May 11th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, May 12th: Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 13th: BookNAround

Thursday, May 14th: Bell, Book & Candle

Monday, May 18th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Tuesday, May 19th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, May 20th: Unshelfish

Tuesday, May 26th: Life is Story

Wednesday, May 27th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 28th: A Reader’s Oasis

Wednesday, June 3rd: Bibliotica

Thursday, June 4th: Broken Teepee

TBD: Ageless Pages Reviews

 

The Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry (@sneezingcow) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

About the book The Jesus Cow The Jesus Cow

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 19, 2015)

The New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and bighearted tale—a comic yet sincere exploration of faith in the face of the modern world.

Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart; a Hummer- driving developer hooked on self-improvement audiobooks is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm; and inside his barn lies a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. Harley’s best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to sidestep the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”

Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door—and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours, pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a per- centage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy, calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and in the process raise enough money to keep his land and, just maybe, win the woman in the big red pickup?

Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and souvenir snow globes. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.

Buy, read, and discuss The Jesus Cow

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Perry Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his family.

Connect with Michael

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter 


My Thoughts

I’ve been reading Michael Perry‘s memoirs for years now, having first “met” him when I picked up a copy of Population: 485 on the discount rack at Barnes and Noble. In fact, my first review for TLC Book Tours was Perry’s Visiting Tom. He writes with this tone that combines intelligence (he listens to NPR) and cozy Americana (like Garrison Keillor without the collection of tag lines, or Stephen King without the killer clowns and sadistic vampires), and it’s that unassuming style that sucks you into his writing.

The Jesus Cow is Michael’s first novel. (Can I call him Michael? After reading so much of his writing, I feel like we’re on a first name basis, or should be). I have to admit I was a bit concerned that what works so well in personal stories might not translate to fiction, and I have to say, I’ve never been more glad to be wrong. First, this is absolutely, unmistakeably a Michael Perry book. Second, it’s also absolutely, unmistakeably fiction.

Oh, sure, The Jesus Cow pays the same attention to the details of rural small-town life that Perry’s other work does, and addresses (if somewhat obliquely) what is happening in our agricultural communities – something he’s never shied away from discussing, but it’s also just a story: a story of a man, a calf, and the preposterous situation surrounding the two.

I feel safe saying that only Michael Perry could tell a story like this, and make it feel so real that you want to leap out of your chair and drive to Wisconsin. He has given us a collection of memorable characters: Harley, Billy, Klute, Carolyn, Maggie, and Mindy all have distinct voices, and feel like people you’ve run into at the mini-mart. (I’m quite certain we’ve driven behind Carolyn’s Subaru, actually). He’s got a knack for setting a scene that I actually envy. And he does it all with an economy of phrase that Hemingway would hate because he’d feel threatened by it.

Reading The Jesus Cow won’t change your life, but it will give you a glimpse into rural America that is filtered through the lens of fiction, and if nothing else, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll want to invite a friend over for a “staff meeting” that involves gathering around the kitchen table with a couple of beers.

Goes well with a farmhouse breakfast of eggs, bacon and hashbrowns, OR, a couple of doughnuts from the mini-mart, washed down with a giant cup of coffee.


Giveaway The Jesus Cow

Want to read this book? If you have a USA mailing address (sorry, this one’s US only), enter to win a copy. ONE winner will be selected next Tuesday and notified by email, as well as on this blog.

How to enter? Leave a comment on this post before 11:59 PM US Central Daylight Time on Monday, June 8th telling me about your favorite roadside attraction. OR follow @Melysse on Twitter and retweet my post about this review.


Michael’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 19th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Thursday, May 21st: Buried Under Books

Friday, May 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, May 25th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Tuesday, May 26th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Wednesday, May 27th: Gspotsylvania: Musings from a Spotsylvania Dog and Bird Mom

Thursday, May 28th: girlichef

Tuesday, June 2nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 3rd: BookNAround

Thursday, June 4th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Monday, June 8th: Booksie’s Blog

Tuesday, June 9th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Wednesday, June 10th: Apples and Arteries

Thursday, June 11th: A Dream Within a Dream

Friday, June 12th: Imaginary Reads

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

Running Fire

About the book, Running Fire Running Fire

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

He was a haven in the midst of Hell…

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss Running Fire

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


About the author, Lindsay McKenna Lindsay McKenna

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

Connect with Lindsay

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Giveaway

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

Taking Fire

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


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

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

Monday, April 20th: Feminist Reflections

Tuesday, April 21st: Palmer’s Page Turners

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

Thursday, April 23rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Friday, April 24th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

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

Monday, April 27th: Hot Guys in Books

Monday, April 27th: Booked on a Feeling

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

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

Thursday, April 30th: Mignon Mykel Reviews

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

Monday, May 4th: Books and Spoons

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

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

Thursday, May 7th: The Pen and Muse

Friday, May 8th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, May 8th: Written Love Reviews

Monday, May 11th: Life is Story

Wednesday, May 13th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, May 14th: Read Love Blog

The Hurricane Sisters, by Dorothea Benton Frank (@dorotheafrank) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, The Hurricane Sisters The Hurricane Sisters

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 7, 2015)

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

Buy, read, and discuss The Hurricane Sisters

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound  | Goodreads


About the author, Dorothea Benton Frank Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Connect with Dorothea

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

There are certain authors I gravitate to whenever I want a compelling drama with strong women, complex relationships, and fabulous coastal settings. Dorothea Benton Frank is one of them, and I know that when her name is on a book cover, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be disappointed in the story, even if I don’t always connect with the characters. (I suspect this is because of my bleeding-heart liberal, Yankee upbringing.)

When I was offered the opportunity to review The Hurricane Sisters in tandem with it’s release in paperback (it was originally published last summer), I leaped at the chance, and the book caught me in it’s pages and gave me a long, stormy afternoon’s entertainment. (There’s something eerie about reading a novel set against an impending hurricane, while tornado warnings are going on around you.)

What I love about all of Frank’s work is true of this novel: Interesting female characters, male characters who aren’t just cookie-cutter creations in pastel shirts – and a truly intergenerational story that is intertwined with Charleston and Sullivan’s Island. I felt for poor Ashley, being so betwixt and between, identified more than I care to admit with Liz, and wanted to adopt Maisie as my own grandmother (I would totally have offered her a third martini. I like mine dirty. I’m sure she wouldn’t care.) I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Clayton, slightly bewildered father, and Ivy, the gay brother who is the most functional and stable of the family.

I also liked that this book wasn’t just a coming-of-age novel for Ashley, or a coming-out novel for Ivy, and it wasn’t just a bonding story, or a family drama – it was all of these things and more, woven together the way real family issues intersect with each other, running parallel at times, and perpendicular at others.

The thread of domestic violence that runs through the tapestry of this story only made it more relevant for me. Not that I dislike Frank’s less message-laden work, but I could tell that something in her research really affected the author, and, indeed, she mentions this in the afterword.

As with any author’s work, every reader will respond to different stories in their own way. In the past, I haven’t always felt like I was ready for some of Frank’s work, enjoying it, but missing the point. Reading The Hurricane Sisters as someone fast approaching her 45th birthday, I feel like I’m finally part of her target demographic, but no matter your age, I still say, it’s highly unlikely that YOU will be disappointed by any book with Dorothea Benton Frank’s name listed as the author, and especially not this one.

Goes well with gin martini’s, dirty, followed by a steak and shrimp and a simple salad.


Dorothea’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, April 7th: The Discerning Reader

Wednesday, April 8th: The man thoughts of a reader

Thursday, April 9th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, April 10th: Books and Bindings

Monday, April 13th: Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, April 20th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, April 21st: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Wednesday, April 22nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, April 23rd: A Novel Review

TBD: A Chick Who Reads

The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson #review (@TLCBookTours)

About the book, The Bookseller The Bookseller

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (March 3, 2015)
  • A mesmerizingly powerful debut novel about the ways in which past choices can irrevocably define the present—and the bittersweet confrontation of what might have been

    1962: It may be the Swinging Sixties in New York, but in Denver it’s different: being a single gal over thirty in this city is almost bohemian. Still, thirty-eight-year-old Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She was involved, once—with a doctor named Kevin—but when things didn’t work out the way she had hoped, she decided to chart her own path. Now she dedicates herself to the bookstore she runs with her best friend, Frieda, returning home each evening to her cozy apartment. Without a husband expecting dinner, she can enjoy last-minute drinks after work with her friends; without children who need to get ready for school, she can stay up all night reading with her beloved cat, Aslan, by her side.

    Then the dreams begin.

    1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They live in a picture-perfect home in a suburban area of Denver, close to their circle of friends. It’s the ideal place in which to raise their children. Katharyn’s world is exactly what Kitty once believed she wanted . . . but it exists only when she sleeps.

    At first, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. Even though there is no Frieda, no bookstore, no other familiar face, Kitty becomes increasingly reluctant to open her eyes and abandon Katharyn’s alluring life.

    But with each visit to her dreamworld, it grows more real. As the lines between the two worlds begin to blur, Kitty faces an uncertain future. What price must she pay to stay? What is the cost of letting go?

    Buy, read, and discuss The Bookseller

    Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Goodreads


    About the author, Cynthia Swanson Cynthia Swanson

    Cynthia Swanson is a writer and a designer of the midcentury modern style. She has published short fiction in 13th Moon, Kalliope, Sojourner, and other periodicals; her story in 13th Moon was a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and three children. The Bookseller is her first novel.

    Connect with Cynthia

    Website | Facebook


    My Thoughts

    Because I read quickly, it’s actually pretty typical for me to pick up a book and read it straight through in a matter of a few hours. Last weekend, in fact, I read four novels that way, because it was rainy and I wasn’t feeling well, and …well, you get the idea.

    When I picked up The Bookseller (well, opened the file on my Kindle) at 3 AM on Thursday night/Friday morning, I thought, oh, I’ll just read a chapter while I sit here in the bathroom (oh, come on, you all do it, too). So entranced was I, however, by Kitty/Katharyn’s story that I found myself unable (once I’d returned to bed) to actually sleep. Instead I inhaled Cynthia Swanson’s writing, while my husband snored blissfully next to me. I was bleary by dawn, but I was bleary with a completed story settled into my consciousness.

    Swanson has created a set of characters that are plausible in both realities depicted. In the reality where our protagonist is called Kitty, her life seems a bit lonely, but charming, and and she has a good friend in Frieda and supportive loving parents. In the reality where she is Katharyn, she has the perfect husband and three adorable children, though one of them isn’t quite like the others.

    It’s obvious from the start that one reality has to go in order for the other to stay, but until the very end, I was not entirely certain which it would be, and I love that Swanson kept me guessing that long.

    As someone who spent a chunk of her childhood in suburbs (Arvada, Golden) and relative exurbs (Georgetown) of Denver, CO, I appreciated the authors level of detail. As I told a friend, “There are scenes when she shops at May D&F! I remember my mom driving there to bring home the first ‘Patty & Jimmy’ and ‘Hello Kitty’ puffy stickers, when those things were brand new to America.”

    I also appreciated that each reality was not without flaws.

    Swanson has a knack for writing complex, interesting, human characters, and for writing a book that is both technically a period piece, but at the same time, completely contemporary. I really hope she has another book in process, because hers is a voice I’d like to hear more from.

    Goes well with Hot coffee and a Navajo-style burrito (mostly because that’s what I remember eating as a kid in Colorado).


    Cynthia’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

    Tuesday, April 7th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

    Wednesday, April 8th: The Discerning Reader

    Wednesday, April 8th: Read Lately

    Thursday, April 9th: A Chick Who Reads

    Friday, April 10th: 5 Minutes For Books

    Monday, April 13th: West Metro Mommy

    Tuesday, April 14th: Reading Reality

    Wednesday, April 15th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

    Thursday, April 16th: Kritters Ramblings

    Monday, April 20th: BoundbyWords

    Tuesday, April 21st: Readers’ Oasis

    Wednesday, April 22nd: Vox Libris

    Thursday, April 23rd: Read. Write. Repeat.

    Friday, April 24th: Always With a Book

    Monday, April 27th: Patricia’s Wisdom

    Tuesday, April 28th: A Bookish Way of Life

    Thursday, April 30th: Bookshelf Fantasies

    Friday, May 1st: Bibliophiliac

    Wednesday, May 6th: Ms. Nose in a Book

     

The Tusk that Did the Damage, by Tania James #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About The Tusk that Did the Damage The Tusk that Did the Damage

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (March 10, 2015)

From the critically acclaimed author of Atlas of Unknowns and Aerogrammes, a tour de force set in South India that plumbs the moral complexities of the ivory trade through the eyes of a poacher, a documentary filmmaker, and, in a feat of audacious imagination, an infamous elephant known as the Gravedigger.

Buy, read, and discuss The Tusk that Did the Damage

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


About the author, Tania James Tania James

TANIA JAMES is the author of the novel Atlas of Unknowns and the short-story collection Aerogrammes. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Granta, Guernica, One Story, A Public Space, and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Washington, DC.


My Thoughts:

There is a meme going around Facebook – a picture of an elephant kept in solitary confinement in a zoo, and the poor creature is so lonely that she’s holding her own tail. That image was burned into my brain, and kept resurfacing while I read this book, The Tusk that Did the Damage, and it really was the perfect image.

It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed this book, because so much of it is about the awful things we do to elephants in exchange for money, but it was so well written, and well crafted, that I can’t not say it. Tania James gave us the expected POVs of the filmmakers (Emma is my favorite human in the book, though Manu is a close second) and the poachers, but then, in a bold move, she also let us see things from The Gravedigger’s point of view and I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job at getting inside an elephant’s head.

Poaching specifically, and trophy hunting in general, are activities that have never made sense to me. I mean, I understand responsible hunting when you use the entire animal – for food, for clothing, etc – but killing majestic creatures for the bragging rights or the cash is something that I, as someone who works in pet rescue, find unconscionable, so you’d better believe I was in tears for a lot of this novel.

And yet, I would still recommend it, because it’s an important story, and a well-told one. Fiction serves to entertain, yes, but it can also be a teaching tool. James teaches us about elephants, about ivory, about what we as humans are capable of – the good and the bad – and every lesson is an important one.

Read this book. It may not change your life, but it will definitely change your perspective on elephants.

Goes well with vegetable curry and African beer.


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Tania James’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, March 9th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, March 10th: The Feminist Texican Reads

Wednesday, March 11th: Life is Story

Thursday, March 12th: Books on the Table

Monday, March 16th: BookNAround

Wednesday, March 18th: 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, March 19th: Conceptual Reception

Monday, March 23rd: She Treads Softly

Tuesday, March 24th: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, March 25th: Julz Reads

Thursday, March 26th: Under My Apple Tree

Monday, March 30th: Read Her Like An Open Book

Tuesday, March 31st: My Bookshelf

Wednesday, April 1st: Bibliotica – That’s ME!!!

Monday, April 6th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, April 7th: Read. Run. Breathe.

Wednesday, April 8th: Book Snob

Thursday, April 9th: Suko’s Notebook

Dog Crazy, by Meg Donohue (@megdonohue) #review #fiction # @tlcbooktours

About the book Dog Crazy Dog Crazy

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 10, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

Buy, read, and discuss Dog Crazy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Meg Donohue Meg Donohue

Meg Donohue is the author of How to Eat a Cupcake. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two young daughters, and their dog.

Connect with Meg:

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter.


My Thoughts

From the moment I saw the cover art – lab puppies – it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to read this book. What was less a ‘given’ was that I would love it as much as I did, but…I did. So there’s that.

I was hooked from the opening chapter when a woman is described as having ‘hidden in her bedrooom for two days’ after her loyal dog died. “That could be me,” I thought, and indeed, that was me several years ago, first when I had to watch my chihuahua succumb to a heart murmur, and a few years later, when we had to put our staffie/jrt mix down. As a child-free couple, our dogs are our children, so this book resonated with me on many levels.

I could even understand lead character Maggie’s fear of leaving her house, as I tend to have hermitish cycles in my own life. Oh, I’m not agoraphobic, like Maggie is, but I certainly understand the deep-seated psychological need to be safe and secure.

Author Meg Donohue has spun a fantastic tale, a fast read that is never boring and never feels too light, but zips along just the same. Her characters, despite the almost absurd situation: a therapist who is clearly in need of therapy herself, helping people cope with the loss of their furry friends, and still mourning her own, feel like real people (though, honestly, the San Francisco setting only helps this), and their stories are compelling.

Do not fear that because it deals with dead pets, Dog Crazy is a sad book. It’s not. Yes, there are bits that are poignant, but there are also parts that are hilarious, and what’s even better is that the hilarity comes organically, from the things life hands us every day, and never feels contrived.

In short, Dog Crazy is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a rainy day, with a pot of coffee or tea nearby, and, ideally, a dog (or cat) to cuddle while you read it.

Goes well with a grande flat white and a butter croissant.


Meg’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below, or click HERE.
Tuesday, March 10th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, March 11th: 100 Pages a Day … Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, March 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 13th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, March 16th: Always With a Book

Tuesday, March 17th: BookNAround

Wednesday, March 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, March 19th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 24th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, March 26th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, March 30th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, March 31st: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, April 1st: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, April 10th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Cauchemar, by Alexandra Grigorescu (@a_grigorescu) – #review @ecwpress #Bibliotica

About the book Cauchemar Cauchemar

Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: ECW Press (March 17, 2015)

Gripping, fast-paced, gorgeously written, and with unforgettable characters, Cauchemar tells the story of 20-year-old Hannah, who finds herself living alone on the edge of a Louisianan swamp after her adopted mother and protector dies. Hannah falls in love with Callum, an easy-going boat captain and part-time musician, but after her mysterious birth mother, outcast as a witch and rumoured to commune with the dead, comes back into Hannah’s life, she must confront what she’s been hiding from — the deadly spirits that haunt the swamp, the dark secrets of her past, and the nascent gift she possesses. Like the nightmares that plague Hannah,

Cauchemar lingers and haunts.

Buy, read, and discuss Cauchemar

ECW Press | Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Alexandra Grigorescu Alexandra Grigorescu

Alexandra Grigorescu has a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Toronto, where she attended writing workshops led by George Elliott Clark and Jeff Parker and wrote her thesis under the guidance of Camilla Gibb. She works as a freelance writer and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Connect with Alexandra

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

When my husband asked me what it was that kept me in the bathtub reading until I’d turned into a prune, I told him it was a novel called Cauchemar, and that it was a sort of spooky, supernatural coming-of-age story that was both beautiful and haunting.

The story itself, Hannah’s story, is compelling: a young woman loses the maternal figure (not her biological mother) whom she’s lived with for most of her life, and is forced to face her family history, her mother’s reputation, and her actual mother while she tries to find herself.

Hannah’s love interest, Callum, reminded me of every working musician I ever dated before I got married. He’s not a superstar, he’s the kind of guy who plays gigs and has a couple groupies and is happy to share a beer after the show – but then he meets Hannah.

It could have been a perfunctory love story with a young woman, and an older (but not OLD), more experienced man, but author Alexandra Grigorescu mixes in a bayou setting, a dash of supernatural intrigue, and enough music and cookery to fill anyone’s plate. Even better, she does it well: you can hear the rippling of the river, the buzzing of the mosquitoes. You can smell the herbs in Hannah’s cooking, feel the way Callum’s music thrums through the floorboards, and, if you’re really receptive, you might even convince yourself you’ve seen something spooky out of the corner of your eye.

What I love about Grigorescu’s prose is that it’s lush and hearty, with enough vivid description to really give you a sense of place, but without any affectation. Likewise, her dialogue seems appropriate for a small town in the American south, with each character having a distinct voice that never detracts from the work as a whole.

For me, personally, an added benefit was that this story hit me in the sweet spot of my amygdala, the one that makes the spooky stuff seem spookier and the romantic parts seem even more romantic. I finished the novel sitting up in bed in the middle of the night, because I HAD to finish the story before I could sleep.

This is Alexandra Grigorescu’s debut novel, and I’m a little worried that she won’t be able to top it when she produces her second book, because it hits all the right notes (musical and foodie), and leaves you satisfied but willing to have more.

Goes well with Fresh-caught fish, gumbo, and sweet tea.


Alexandra Grigorescu’s Blog Tour Stops Cauchemar

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by the publisher, ECW Press. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE. For a guest post from the author, Alexandra Grigorescu, click HERE.

MARCH 1: Review and giveaway at The Book Binder’s Daughter
MARCH 2: Review and guest post at Bibliotica (That’s ME!)
MARCH 3: Review and excerpt at Bella’s Bookshelves
MARCH 4: Guest post at Write All the Words! for their International Women’s Week feature
MARCH 5: Interview and excerpt at Editorial Eyes
MARCH 7: Review at Lavender Lines
MARCH 9: Review at Svetlana’s Reads
MARCH 10: Review and interview at The Book Stylist
MARCH 11: Review, guest post, and giveaway at Booking it with Hayley G
MARCH 12: Guest Post at Dear Teen Me
MARCH 13: Review and giveaway at The Book Bratz
MARCH 14: Interview and excerpt at Feisty Little Woman

House Broken by Sonja Yoerg (@sonjayoerg) – #Review #Bibliotica

About the book House Broken House Broken

Pages: 332
Publisher: NAL (January 6, 2015)

Veterinarian Geneva Novak understands the behavior of umpteen species—just not her mother, Helen.

Geneva fled her childhood home—and her mother’s vodka-fueled disasters—without a backward glance. Twenty-five years later, Helen totals her car and her leg, and none of her children will play nurse. Geneva’s husband, whose family lives in each other’s pockets, convinces her that letting Helen move in might repair the mother-daughter relationship.

Geneva’s not holding her breath.

But she recognizes an opportunity. With her mother dependent and hobbled, Geneva may finally get answers to questions that have plagued her for years: why her eldest sister exiled herself to Africa, why her mother won’t discuss Geneva’s long-dead father, and why—there has to be a reason—Helen treats alcohol like a general anesthetic.

Buy, read, and discuss House Broken

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


About the author, Sonja Yoerg Sonja Yoerg

Sonja Yoerg grew up in Stowe, Vermont, where she financed her college education by waitressing at the Trapp Family Lodge. She earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and studied learning in blue jays, kangaroo rats and spotted hyenas, among other species. Her non-fiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA) was published in 2001.

While her two daughters were young, Sonja taught in their schools in California. Now that they are in college, she writes full-time.

She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband. HOUSE BROKEN is her first novel.

Connect with Sonja

Website | Twitter


When Sonja Yoerg contacted me through this blog, asking if I’d read and review her book, I leaped at the chance. After all, I work in rescue, so I’m always up for reading about any character who works with animals. I’m really glad I accepted her offer, because House Broken is a wonderful book.

The main character, Geneva, is a veterinarian who clearly cares about her patients and their human companions, but, like many women who work in ‘caring’ professions, she has a hard time prioritizing her own self-care, and the needs of her family. While much of this novel is centered around Geneva’s relationship with her injured mother, I really liked that we got to see the whole picture of her life with its flaws and imperfections as well as its joys.

The mother-daughter dynamic was captured particularly well. Even those of us who, like me, have really strong relationships with our mothers, have still had to navigate tricky passages of our lives. I’m very fortunate that my own mother is hale and hearty, but having watched my mother deal with my grandmother’s recuperation from a hip replacement, decades ago, I know about the family secrets, bitter truths, and too-candid opinions that tend to surface during challenging times.

Helen, Geneva’s mother in the story, is a character made much more complicated by her love of vodka, because you never know if what she says is meant, or is enhanced by alcohol (or the lack of same). What is especially poignant is the realization that these women love each other, but they don’t really like each other very much.

One thing I really appreciated was that we saw Geneva not just as a daughter, but also as a mother. Her own relationship with her children is both counterpoint and learning opportunity, and seeing the ‘whole picture’ of her life made the whole novel that much more compelling.

With House Broken, Sonja Yoerg has given readers a meaty, interesting family drama, with the perfect balance of conventional relationships, and unconventional twists to them.

Buy this book for the cute dog on the cover, but read it for the amazing story inside.

Goes well with Strong coffee and an ‘everything’ bagel, toasted, with sun-dried tomato cream cheese.