Spotlight: Hidden Sea by Miles Arceneaux – with Giveaway

Hidden Sea

About the book, Hidden Sea

 

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Miles Arceneaux (October 1, 2017)

Hidden SeaCharlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.

But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.

Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.

What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.

Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.

Praise for Hidden Sea

  • “A riveting story from Texas that wanders down the cartel-invested Gulf Coast of Mexico and drifts across to lawless Cuba. The characters are as salty as the sea and the plot pulls you along as powerfully as the loop current. –W.F. Strong, Stories from Texas, Texas Standard Radio Network
  • Hidden Sea is a total blast: smart, funny, and riveting, with unforgettably colorful characters and a world so alive that you’ll swear you’re really there.”Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone
  • “In Hidden Sea, Miles Arceneaux tosses us in the drink of a timely contemporary adventure tale with the Sweetwater clan, complete with pirates, slave ships, family secrets, and the mother of all plot twists, in his patented Gulf Coast noir style.” Michelle Newby Lancaster, Contributing Editor, Lone Star Literary Life, NBCC Literary Critic

In Case You Were Wondering about Hidden Sea:

If the Miles Arceneaux book series was turned into a board game like CLUE, these items would be the murder weapons – each have been used to dispense with one of the characters in our five Gulf Coast mysteries.

  • gaff hook
  • Karankawa lance
  • rusty fillet knife
  • rolled up newspaper
  • pick ax
  • 48” pipe wrench
  • wadcutter cartridges from a Smith &Wesson Model 1913 automatic

Buy, read, and discuss Hidden Sea:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads


About the author, Miles Arceneaux

Miles Arceneaux“Miles Arceneaux” is the pen name of three long-time Texas friends. James R.  Dennis is a former attorney turned Dominican friar who lives in San Antonio. Brent Douglass is an international businessman from Austin. John T. Davis, also of Austin, is a journalist and author. Together, as “Miles,” they have been featured authors at the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, and the Lubbock Book Festival.

Connect with Miles:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


Giveaway

Hidden Sea Giveaway

Grand Prize: Autographed copies of all five Gulf Coast series books by Miles Arceneaux + a copy of Geoff Winningham’s Traveling the Shore of the Spanish Sea — The Gulf Coast of Texas and Mexico

Two Runners-Up: Each win an autographed copy of Hidden Sea

October 11-October 20, 2017

U.S. Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the other great blogs on the Hidden Sea tour:

10/11 promo Texas Book Lover
10/12 Review Forgotten Winds
10/12 ICYWW #1 Bibliotica
10/13 Review Missus Gonzo
10/14 Excerpt 1 Syd Savvy
10/14 Author Interview A Page Before Bedtime
10/15 Review Texan Girl Reads
10/16 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
10/16 ICYWW #2 Chapter Break Book Blog
10/17 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/18 Excerpt 2 Books and Broomsticks
10/18 Playlist The Page Unbound
10/19 Review Reading By Moonlight
10/20 Review Tangled in Text
10/20 ICYWW #3 The Librarian Talks

Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Lone Star Literary Life

Review: Beauty and Attention, by Liz Rosenberg – with Giveaway

About the book, Beauty and Attention Beauty and Attention

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (October 25, 2016)

The riveting story of one brave young woman’s struggle to free herself from a web of deceit.

For misfit Libby Archer, social expectations for young women in Rochester, New York, in the mid-1950s don’t work. Her father has died, leaving her without parents, and her well-meaning friends are pressuring her to do what any sensible single girl must do: marry a passionate, persistent hometown suitor with a promising future. Yet Libby boldly defies conventional wisdom and plans to delay marriage—to anyone—by departing for her uncle’s Belfast estate. In Ireland, Libby seeks not only the comfort of family but also greater opportunities than seem possible during the stifling McCarthy era at home.

Across the Atlantic, Libby finds common ground with her brilliant, invalid cousin, Lazarus, then puts her trust in a sophisticated older woman who seems to be everything she hopes to become. Fraught with betrayal and long-kept secrets, as well as sudden wealth and unexpected love, Libby’s journey toward independence takes turns she never could have predicted—and calls on courage and strength she never knew she had.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Liz Rosenberg Liz Rosenberg

The author of more than thirty books for adults and young readers, Liz Rosenberg has published three bestselling novels, including The Laws of Gravityand The Moonlight Palace. She has also written five books of poems, among them 2008’s Demon Love, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and After Great Grief, forthcoming from the Provincetown Arts Press. Her poems have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Rosenberg’s books for young readers have won numerous awards and honors and have been featured on the PBS television show Reading Rainbow. A former Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Rosenberg teaches English at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where she earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She lives in Binghamton with her daughter, Lily, and a shih tzu named Sophie. Although she has homes in New York and North Chatham, Massachusetts, her heart is still in Ireland.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I really needed this novel this week. It’s so well written, and so hopeful, but even though the subjects are often serious, it’s not heavy. I love the way books sometimes come into our lives at the perfect time, and that was the case, for me, with Beauty and Attention.

Like the previous novel I reviewed, Madame Presidentess, this is a piece of historical fiction. Unlike that other novel, this one takes place in a period – the 1950s – much closer to our own. I found it particularly interesting to read a story set in the McCarthy era and juxtapose it with the current political climate (and the fears many of us have about the immediate future).

But this is not a political story. Rather it’s an exploration of self-discovery.

I really enjoyed traveling with Libby on her literal journey from the USA to Ireland, and her metaphysical one as she completed her coming-of-age process and figured out her own needs, wants, and goals. I would really enjoy having a coffee with her, and chatting for an hour or two, I think.

I also liked the character of Lazarus a lot more than I thought I would based on his initial description in the early part of this novel. Like Libby, he was interesting, dimensional, and not at all stereotypical.

Overall, this story is well crafted, with some great turns of dialogue that really popped off the page, and I found it to be both refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who wants a satisfying read that is compelling but also entertaining.

Goes well with tea and cookies – I vote for those “Danish” butter cookies that come in tins and are in all the stores during the holidays.


Giveaway Beauty and Attention

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Beauty and Attention. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 27th.


Liz Rosenberg’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 25th: Reading is my Superpower

Wednesday, October 26th: Reading Reality

Thursday, October 27th: Building Bookshelves

Tuesday, November 1st: Just Commonly

Wednesday, November 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, November 3rd: Books Without Any Pictures

Friday, November 4th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, November 7th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Tuesday, November 8th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, November 9th: A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 10th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, November 11th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, November 15th: Back Porchevations

Wednesday, November 16th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 18th: I Brought A Book

Monday, November 21st: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, November 22nd: The Magic All Around Us

Love Literary Style, by Karin Gillespie – With Giveaway

About the book, Love Literary StyleLove Literary Style

They say opposites attract, and what could be more opposite than a stuffy literary writer falling in love with a self-published romance writer?

Meet novelist Aaron Mite. He lives in a flea-infested rented alcove, and his girlfriend Emma, a combative bookstore owner, has just dumped him. He meets Laurie Lee at a writers’ colony and mistakenly believes her to be a renowned writer of important fiction. When he discovers she’s a self-published romance author, he’s already fallen in love with her.

Aaron thinks genre fiction is an affront to the fiction-writing craft. He likes to quotes the essayist, Arthur Krystal who claims literary fiction “melts the frozen sea inside of us.” Ironically Aaron doesn’t seem to realize that, despite his lofty literary aspirations, he’s emotionally frozen, due, in part, to a childhood tragedy. The vivacious Laurie, lover of flamingo-patterned attire and all things hot pink, is the one person who might be capable of melting him.

Their relationship is initially made in literary heaven but when Aaron loses his contract with a prestigious press, and Laurie’s novel is optioned by a major film studio, the differences in their literary sensibilities and temperaments drive them apart.

In a clumsy attempt to win Laurie back, Aaron employs the tropes of romance novels. Too late. She’s already taken up with Ross, a prolific author of Nicholas Sparks-like love stories. Initially Laurie is more comfortable with the slick and superficial Ross, but circumstances force her to go deeper with her writing and confront a painful past. Maybe Aaron and Laurie have more in common than they imagined.

In the tradition of the Rosie Project, Love Literary Style is a sparkling romantic comedy which pokes fun at the divide between so-called low and high brow fiction.

Buy, read, and discuss Love Literary Style

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Read an Excerpt


About the author, Karin Gillespie Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie is the author of the national bestselling Bottom Dollar Girls series, 2016 Georgia Author of the Year, Co-author for Jill Connor Browne’s novel Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big Ass Novel. Her latest novel Love Literary Style was inspired by a New York Times article called “Masters in Chick Lit” that went viral and was shared by literary luminaries like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Rice. She’s written for the Washington Post and Writer Magazine and is book columnist and humor columnist for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine respectively. She received a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2016.

Connect with Karin

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I’m old enough to have grown up with reruns of a silly 1970’s anthology show called “Love, American Style,” and for some reason, the theme song from that show keeps running through my head every time I see the title of Karin Gillespie’s funny, sweet, clever novel, Love Literary Style.

I always enjoy it when authors take a well-known trope and subvert it, and that’s what Gillespie has done in this book. She’s taken all the conventional trappings of a conventional romance – Girl and Boy are unhappy alone and have similar, but not duplicate, aspirations. Girl and Boy meet in a controlled environment, fall madly in love, and can’t make it work, then angst about it until they put themselves back on the ‘correct’ path – and turns them into something that skirts the edge between contemporary romance, general fiction, and literary fiction.

Her lead characters, Laurie and Aaron are both quirky, engaging people, who feel like slightly heightened versions of the types of people we all know: the bubbly, boisterous, young woman who doesn’t just wear pink, but lives it, and the charmingly dweeby academic who, deep down, wants to break out of his shell.

But far from being stereotypes, they are truly dimensional characters. Laurie wants to write romances and Aaron wants to publish his literary novel, but both of them are very much akin, in that they each want a committed partner who will support their artistic endeavors and their emotional needs, and I found both their journeys to be interesting and somewhat uplifting.

As an aspiring writer myself (aren’t we all?) I loved the behind-the-scenes glimpses at the publishing world, both mainstream/commercial and indie/self, as well as the “class wars” between mass market and literary fiction. (Personally I read a little of everything.)

Overall, Love Literary Style is a refreshing romp of a literary romance – light enough to be enjoyed by almost anyone, but deep enough to give those who want a meaty read their satisfaction, as well.

Goes well with pink cocktails followed by grilled pork chops.


Giveaway Love Literary Style

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Love Literary Style. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, November 8th.


Karin Gillespie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 2nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 2nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Thursday, November 3rd: Mom in Love with Fiction

Friday, November 4th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 7th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 8th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 8th: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, November 9th: Wall to Wall Books

Thursday, November 10th: Reading is my Superpower

Friday, November 11th: Not in Jersey

Sunday, November 13th: Writer Unboxed – author guest post

Monday, November 14th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, November 15th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 16th: Buried Under Romance

Thursday, November 17th: Thoughts on This ‘N That

Monday, November 21st: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, November 22nd: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Monday, November 28th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Review: Deliver Her, by Patricia Perry Donovan – with GIVEAWAY

About the book, Deliver Her Deliver Her

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 2016)

Author Patricia Perry Donovan weaves her tale flawlessly, testing the boundaries of family and friendship.

On the night of Alex Carmody’s sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.

Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.

When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.

Buy, read, and discuss Deliver Her.

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Patricia Perry Donovan Patricia Perry Donovan

Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband.

Connect with Patricia

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

In the endless onslaught of political ads, political opinions on facebook, and political arguments seemingly everywhere, I spent this last weekend engaging in some serious self-care. How? I took a bubble bath. I binge-watched the supernatural show Haven on Netflix, and a read three novels. One of them was Deliver Her, and it was fantastic.

Told in alternating points of view from Alex, a sixteen-year-old girl who was in a car accident the night of her sweet-sixteen, and which resulted in the loss of her best friend, Meg, Alex’s mother, currently separated (in situ, as the economy doesn’t allow them to afford separate residences) from Jacob, her husband, and Carl, a recovered addict/alcoholic who runs a business transporting troubled teenagers to their rehab programs, this is a book that straddles the line between contemporary family drama and serious literary fiction (not that the two can’t be the same).

I felt that author Patricia Perry Donovan captured Alex’s voice really well. She seemed like the teenager I once was, and like the sullen or troubled teenagers I’ve known: hot and cold emotions, moods, etc., angry one moment, trying so hard to be an adult, but at the same time, not wanting to truly leave childhood behind.

Meg was the character I most identified with, even though I’ve never had children, and am fortunate to have a solid marriage (we fight, of course, because we’re both human beings with opinions, but we’ve never gotten to the point of considering an ending). Still watching her marriage crumble was both moving and fascinating. I found myself empathizing with her, but also feeling great sympathy for Jacob.

Carl, on the other hand, I’d have loved to have a whole novel about. Complex, funny, smart, caring – that he turned his addiction and recovery into a way to help others, I found to be very moving.

Like many people, I was initially under the impression that this novel would be a boarding school story, focusing on Alex. Instead it was a deeply moving, incredibly rich read about the literal journey  –  Delivering Alex to The Birches – and the spiritual one of the entire Carmody family as well as Carl.

If you like family dramas like This is Us, you will love this novel. When it comes to a great story, Deliver Her really delivers.

Goes well with coffee and chocolate cherry protein bars.


Giveaway Deliver Her

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Deliver Her. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time on Sunday, October 30th.


Patricia Perry Donovan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Monday, October 3rd: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Wednesday, October 5th: Just Commonly

Monday, October 10th: Building Bookshelves

Monday, October 10th: Books ‘N Tea

Wednesday, October 12th: Books a la Mode

Friday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, October 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, October 19th: Wall-to-Wall Books

Thursday, October 20th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, October 26th: Back Porchervations

Sunday, November 6th: Writer Unboxed – guest post

Review: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

About the book, Mystic Summer Mystic Summer

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (June 21, 2016)

A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


About the author, Hannah McKinnon Hanna McKinnon

Hannah McKinnon is the author of The Lake Season and Mystic Summer. She graduated from Connecticut College and the University of South Australia. She lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, with her family, a flock of chickens, and two rescue dogs.

Connect with Hannah

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

When I saw this title in the list of summer tours, I immediately sent an email begging to review it because it was ‘speaking’ to me. Having read it (twice) I’m glad I did, because this book is the perfect launch for the summer reading season.

I found main character Maggie to be really likeable, and I found both her roommate Erika (in the throes of wedding planning) and her actor-boyfriend Evan  so well drawn that I was immediately caught in fond reminiscences of the early days of my own marriage, when we lived in cheap apartments, and weren’t really working up to our level of potential – yet. I also liked the boy-next-door, childhood love, Cameron, who wasn’t pedestal perfect. I maintain that it’s the flaws in characters that make them feel real, and these characters are all well balanced with lovely attributes (loyalty, wit, intelligence) and flaws (indecision, prime among them).

I also loved the fact that most of the novel takes place in and around Mystic, CT. While I’ve never explored the whole town, I’ve made the requisite visits to the old Mystic Seaport, and loved it’s shippy, tarry, historical wonder, and I’ve also lived in tourist towns (Georgetown, CO), so I know what it’s like to be a townie, and understand the love-hate relationship that locals always have with tourists. Author Hannah McKinnon manages to make the town of Mystic, and the Mystic River into a character in its own right, and I really appreciate that the setting was so intrinsic to the story.

The story itself blends yearning and nostalgia, and the inevitable choices we make between embracing the new and returning to the old and familiar, and it does so in a way that is both compelling and interesting. While this novel could easily have turned into a formula romance (and I admit there’s a time and place for those), McKinnon’s writing is deeper than that, and her characters don’t always make the obvious choices.

One thing that struck me early in the novel was the obvious love Maggie’s mother has for her children. It’s talked about, but there’s a scene after Mom’s birthday where Maggie says she’s staying the night, and her mother’s response is basically, “Woohoo! She’s STAYING!”

Overall, Mystic Summer was a richly detailed, unputdownable story that is light enough to be a beach read, but deep enough to be satisfying and interesting all the way through.

Goes well with, New England clam chowder, crusty sourdough bread, and chilled Samuel Adams Summer Ale.


Giveaway Mystic Summer

One winner in the U.S. or Canada will get a copy of this book. Enter by commenting on this post (tell me one thing you’re looking forward to this summer), OR Like AND Share the Facebook post (I’m MissMelysse), OR Retweet my Twitter post about this review (I’m @Melysse). One entry per action. No more than one entry per action, per person. Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Wednesday, June 22nd.

 


Hanna McKinnon’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 6th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, June 8th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, June 9th: Bilbiotica

Friday, June 10th: My Book Retreat

Monday, June 13th: Just Commonly

Monday, June 13th: Book Mama Blog

Tuesday, June 14th: Dreams, Etc.

Tuesday, June 14th: Chick Lit Central – Author Q&A

Wednesday, June 15th: Reading is my Superpower

Wednesday, June 15th: Bookmark Lit

Friday, June 17th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, June 20th: The Reading Date

Tuesday, June 21st: The Well Read Redhead

Saturday, July 2nd: Books a la Mode

Night Hawk by Lindsay McKenna (@lindsaymckenna) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

About the book,  Night Hawk Night Hawk

  • Series: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (December 29, 2015)

ONCE UPON A RANCH IN WYOMING…

After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man’s widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief…until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she’s never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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

Lindsay McKenna is a really engaging writer, and even though I don’t go out of my way to read romances, I pleaded to be allowed on this blog tour, because I respect her work so much. I love that she honors our military (active duty and veterans) by featuring military characters in her novels, and I love that she treats both the people and the institution with honesty and respect.

I am less a fan of westerns, so for me, Night Hawk was a little difficult because of the Wyoming ranch community setting. A childhood that took place, in part, in the Colorado Rockies, and a marriage that began in the Great Plains of South Dakota taught me that there is beauty in those rugged, wide open places, but I’m really glad I only ever have to visit them in books and movies. I’m a city girl with beachy proclivities, and I’m okay with that.

But enough about me. Kai, the heroine of this novel, is ex-military, retired after ten years of service, and looking for work as a wrangler or mechanic when we first meet her, and from page one, I wanted to befriend her. Gil, Kai’s one-time lover, and best friend of her deceased husband, is the perfect romance novel hero, but with the depth and nuance that only Ms. McKenna can bring. Actually, it’s her depiction of the heroes where I think McKenna particularly excels, because while romance novels are usually written by women, for women, with women as protagonists, if the men don’t come across as dimensional beings, the romance doesn’t work.

Their story is one of grief and loss, hope and love, separation and coming back together, and McKenna handles each mood with a deft hand, making the novel feel like a glimpse into an ever-so-slightly-heightened version of reality. There are no roller-coaster extreme ups and downs, no soap opera-esque histrionics, just solid storytelling and a good amount of yummy love scenes that feel steamy without being uncomfortably explicit.

I look forward to more from Ms. McKenna, in this series, and her others.

Goes well with a bowl of thick, spicy chili, and a cold beer.


Giveaway Wolf Haven

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of one of Lindsay McKenna’s other novels, Wolf Haven.

How? You have two options:

1) Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.

OR

2) Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about a person you reconnected with after a long separation.

You have until 11:59 PM US Central time on Tuesday, February 2nd.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Lindsay McKenna’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 4th: Majorly Delicious

Monday, January 4th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 6th: Reading Reality

Friday, January 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, January 11th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Tuesday, January 12th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, January 13th: Mignon Mykel Reviews

Friday, January 15th: Read Love Blog

Monday, January 18th: Romantic Reads and Such

Tuesday, January 19th: It’s A Reading Thing

Wednesday, January 20th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Thursday, January 21st: Life is Story

Friday, January 22nd: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, January 25th: What I’m Reading

Tuesday, January 26th: Bookaholics Not-so-Anonymous

Wednesday, January 27th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 28th: Books a la Mode

Friday, January 29th: Black ‘n Gold Girls Book Spot

TBR: From the TBR Pile

Girl Through Glass, by Sari Wilson (@sariwilson) #review #giveaway #tlcbooktours

About the book Girl Through Glass Girl Through Glass

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)

An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parents’ divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.

Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.

In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.

Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.

Buy, read, and discuss the book:

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Sari Wilson Sari Wilson

Sari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York and was on scholarship at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

Connect with Sari:

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

When I was five or six, my Auntie Annette brought me a pre-release copy of the book A Very Young Dancer, which was the story of the young girl who was playing Marie in that year’s production of The Nutcracker. Like most little girls who grew up in the seventies, I took the requisite ballet classes when I was little. While I switched to tap and jazz before I was ever on pointe, my body still remembers a lot of those early ballet classes, and it’s no coincidence that the railing in the upper hallway of my house is barre height.

I don’t dance anymore. I haven’t in years. But I’m still a fanatic for ballet, so when I was offered the chance to review Girl Through Glass, I didn’t merely leap at the chance; I did a grand jeté.

First, I really loved the way this novel was structured. By alternating contemporary sections with visions of the past we got to see the world of ballet from two angles.

From Mira’s point of view, we saw the harsh reality of dance training, especially when one is good enough to be elite. We meet her apparent benefactor, the older man many girls fantasize about, though Maurice is no typical object of adolescent fantasy: limping and a little peculiar. Even so, he helps Mira glimpse a world beyond that of her mother, who is constantly searching for her true self, and her father, who is establishing a new relationship.

I really liked the details included in Mira’s young life – not just descriptions of classes, and the way different teachers interact, but the different sources of ballet slippers, the behind-the-scenes behavior of dancers, etc.

In the contemporary story, there were times when I wanted to shake Kate, former dancer-turned-professor, and demand to know what she was thinking. This is a woman who seems to shoot herself in the foot by making low-percentage choices, to the point where they affect her career. When she receives a letter from a childhood acquaintance, it’s enough to send her into an emotional tailspin, and motivate her to leave her teaching position in Ohio and return to New York to confront the secrets of her past.

It should be noted that one of the other structural elements that makes this novel particularly haunting, is the change in person. The Kate sections are written in first person, while the Mira sections are in third person. This serves to further distance the past from the present, and I found it to be an incredibly effective choice by he author.

While this novel is likely to be more enjoyable to those readers who know the smell of leather and rosin, who have, at times, owned more leotards than t-shirts, and who danced around their living rooms pretending they were on stage, I believe it’s an appealing read to anyone who is fascinated by the way we change as we move between different stages of our lives.

Goes well with smoky Russian blend tea, strong cheese, and crusty bread.


Giveaway Girl Through Glass

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of Girl Through Glass.

How? You have two options:

1) Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.

OR

2) Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about one of your childhood passions. Were you a dancer? Did you love horses? Were you on a softball team?

You have until 11:59 PM US Central time on Monday, February 1st.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Sari’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, January 26th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, January 27th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, January 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Friday, January 29th: Broken Teepee

Monday, February 1st: Stephany Writes

Tuesday, February 2nd: Raven Haired Girl

Wednesday, February 3rd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, February 4th: Book Journey

Monday, February 9th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, February 11th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, February 12th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, February 16th: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, February 17th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, February 18th: A Bookish Way of LIfe

Monday, February 22nd: View from the Birdhouse

Tuesday, February 23rd: Books on the Table

Wednesday, February 24th: Dreams, Etc.

 

 

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, by Elizabeth LaBan (@ElizabethLaBan) #review #giveaway

About the book, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife The Restaurant Critic's Wife

Paperback: 313 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 5, 2016)

What could be better than being married to a restaurant critic? All those amazing meals at the best restaurants…pure nirvana, right? Well, Lila Soto, the heroine of Elizabeth LaBan’s charming new novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife (Lake Union Publishing; January 5, 2016), might tell you otherwise. Sure the food is heavenly, but the downsides are considerable—especially being married to a man who is obsessed with his job and paranoid to the point of absurdity about being “outed” from his anonymity. Add to the scenario the fact that Lila has given up her own career to follow her husband’s job to a new, unfamiliar city, and that she is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom—a gig she never aspired to, despite loving her kids—and you begin to see why Lila is doubting every life decision she’s ever made.

Though it Ais not an autobiography by any means, it can’t be overlooked that Elizabeth LaBan is herself married to Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan. “This book wouldn’t exist without my husband,” she says, “who brings excitement, adventure, love, and great food into our lives every day, and has always been open to my writing a novel about a woman who is married to a wacky restaurant critic. For the record, Craig is not obsessive or controlling like Sam—and Craig did not tell me to say that.” But, even if her main characters are fictitious, there is no denying that Elizabeth draws on aspects of her own life to lend a delicious verisimilitude to the novel.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is a charming portrait of the complexities of life that many women face when dealing with their marriages, their children, their friendships, and their careers. All the talk about exquisite food is merely the icing on a one-of-a-kind cake. 

Buy, read, and discuss The Restaurant Critic’s Wife

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


About the author, Elizabeth LaBan Elizabeth LaBan

Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children. She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.

Connect with Elizabeth

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

This novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, was the perfect novel to begin a new year of reviews. It was well written, engaging, drawn from aspects of the author’s life, but vastly different than her actual story, and most importantly, the characters were all incredibly real with quirks and flaws that made them feel just like those people at the next table over in the restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

From the first, I really empathized with Lila. I’ve got dogs, not kids, but I know all too well what it’s like to find yourself in a life you didn’t really choose, even if there are bits of it that you like, and I also know what it’s like to be in a new place without a support system. LaBan set up Lila’s isolation and need for community incredibly well, and I felt that it was especially poignant when juxtaposed with Sam’s obsession with secrecy and anonymity.

Lila’s mother annoyed me at first, but I think that’s only because some of her points were valid – points I’ve heard from my own mother over the years  – trust me: you are never too old to resent that your mother is almost always right.

Overall, this book was a great read. It was meaty without being too heavy, and nicely balanced drama and wit. I haven’t read any of Elizabeth LaBan’s other work, but after reading The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, I really want to.

Goes well with baked brie en croute and a glass of wine.


Giveaway The Restaurant Critic's Wife

One person in the US/Canada can win a copy of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. How? You have two options:

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@melysse) and retweet MY tweet with the link to this review.
  2. Leave a comment (make sure there’s a valid email address – no one will see it but me) telling me about the best (or worst) restaurant meal you’ve ever had.

You have until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, January 13th.

Winner will be informed by email or direct message on Twitter (as applicable).


Elizabeth LaBan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, January 4th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Tuesday, January 5th: Why Girls are Weird

Wednesday, January 6th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Thursday, January 7th: Bibliotica

Monday, January 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, January 12th: Chick Lit Central – author guest post

Wednesday, January 13th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, January 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, January 15th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, January 18th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Tuesday, January 19th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, January 20th: I’m Shelf-ish

Thursday, January 21st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, January 22nd: From the TBR Pile

Monday, January 25th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, January 26th: Read Love Blog

Wednesday, January 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Thursday, January 28th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, February 1st: Just Commonly

Wednesday, February 3rd: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Friday, February 5th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

 

Life and Other Neath-Death Experiences, by Camille Pagan (@cnoepagan) #review #TLCbooktours #giveaway

About the book, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

Paperback

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2015)

Many a novel has examined a woman’s life as she battles cancer—but perhaps no writer has approached the subject with the disarming charm and sharp wit that Camille Pagán employs in her second book, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel (Lake Union; November 1, 2015). Pagán, an award-winning journalist, pits her optimistic heroine against not just a life-threatening disease, but also a host of startling revelations that cause her to question everything she thought she knew about life and love.

When Libby Miller learns that she has a rare form of cancer, she naturally assumes it is the worst news she could possibly get that day—or ever. So when she arrives home and her husband blurts out a startling confession that makes their long and (she thought) happy marriage a sham, Libby is pushed to her breaking point. On an uncharacteristic impulse, she quits her job and heads to a small island in Puerto Rico. Just when Libby thinks nothing else could go wrong, a near-fatal plane crash triggers a new adventure, and she begins to fall in love with Shiloh, a pilot who has his own philosophy on life—and how Libby can best cope with her disease. But that’s only the beginning.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is a poignant, uplifting novel that examines just what it is that makes life worth living.

Buy, read, and discuss Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

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


About the author, Camille Pagán Camille Pagan

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes,Glamour, Men’s HealthParadeO: The Oprah MagazineReal SimpleWebMD.com, andWomen’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Connect with Camille

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

You wouldn’t think a book that opens with the main character learning she has cancer would be hilarious, and yet Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is one of the most satisfying, funniest, freshest novels I’ve read in a long while.

While I disagreed with Libby’s initial reaction to the news of her cancer, I certainly understood it. As she progressed in her relationship with herself, with her cancer, and with the people she meets when she decides that the status quo isn’t working for her (prompted by her husband’s announcement on the same day she gets her diagnosis) I found myself liking her more and more. She’s smart, and acerbic, and can pass for being strong and confident, but she’s also flawed, and all-too-human.

Her brother Paul, seen mainly via text messages and such, and Shiloh, whom she meets and spends a significant amount of time with in the latter half of the book, form a sort of Greek Chorus (along with her husband) both commenting on her life, and reflecting her choices (and refusal to make choices back at her), and I really liked that construct, whether or not the author intended it to read that way.

Author Pagan (forgive me for not including the accent marks) has an ear for natural-seeming dialogue, and an eye for detail. I loved the way all the different characters had distinct voices and facial expressions, but I also took note of things like the barista who had piercings and dreadlocks.

While the subject would seem grim, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is not a novel about cancer. It’s a novel about love and life and getting rid of anything that doesn’t improve your life.

Goes well with an ice cold margarita and a plate of ceviche, served surfside.


Giveaway Life and Other Near-Death Experiences

One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of Life and other Near-Death Experiences.

To enter:  Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about a time that you wanted to escape your life.

You can also find my tweet about this review (I’m @melysse on Twitter) and retweet it (make sure I’m tagged).

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CST on Monday, November 23rd.

Winner will be notified by email (or Twitter), and must provide their mailing address, which will be forwarded to the publicist for fulfillment.


Camille Pagán’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, November 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Wednesday, November 4th: BookNAround

Thursday, November 5th: Book Lover

Thursday, November 5th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, November 9th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, November 10th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, November 11th: FictionZeal

Thursday, November 12th: Just Commonly – review

Thursday, November 12th: Just Commonly – guest post

Monday, November 16th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, November 17th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, November 17th: Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, November 17th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 18th: Life is Story

Thursday, November 19th: Luxury Reading

Monday, November 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, November 25th: 5 Minutes for Books