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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Katarina Bivald Katarina Bivald

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

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

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

Connect with Katarina

Website | Instagram


My Thoughts MissMeliss

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

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

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

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

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


Rafflecopter Giveaway

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RBW Blog Tour

The Past, by Tessa Hadley #review #ThePastbook #TLCBookTours

About the book, The Past The Past

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper (January 5, 2016)

“An exquisite writer, a writer’s writer, with a fine eye for detail and a way of crafting sentences that make you stop and inhale . . .  Hadley should be a bestseller rather than literary fiction’s best kept secret.”—The Times (London)

Three sisters and a brother, complete with children, a new wife, and an ex-boyfriend’s son, descend on their grandparents’ dilapidated old home in the Somerset countryside for a final summer holiday, where simmering tensions and secrets rise to the surface over three long, hot weeks.The house is full of memories of their childhood and their past—their mother took them there to live when she left their father—but now, they may have to sell it. And beneath the idyllic pastoral surface lie tensions.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in an abandoned cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister. As the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life—bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican—winds down to its inevitable end.

Over five novels and two collections of stories, Tessa Hadley has earned a reputation as a fiction writer of remarkable gifts. She brings all of her considerable skill to The Past, a work of breathtaking scope and beauty—her most ambitious and accomplished novel yet.

Buy, read, and discuss The Past

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Tessa Hadley Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley is the author of five highly praised novels: Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award; Everything Will Be All Right; The Master Bedroom; The London Train, which was a New York Times Notable Book; and Clever Girl. She is also the author of two short story collections,Sunstroke and Married Love, which were New York Times Notable Books as well. Her stories appear regularly in The New Yorker. She lives in London.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

It’s a good thing this book had me gripped from page one, because my iPhone neglected to remind me I had a review due until one o’clock this morning! I’m a fast reader, but reading with any real speed requires that I find the material truly engaging.

And this novel, The Past, is truly engaging.

It’s a perfect example of contemporary fiction: a bit of family drama, a bit of the interpersonal relationships among women, a bit of loss of innocence, and a bit of coming of age, all rolled into one sometimes tense, often poignant, family holiday at the cottage they’ve owned (collectively) for years.

We meet the players in ones and twos: Harriet, the pragmatic sister whose hair is going white, Alice and her quasi-stepson Kasim (age 20), Fran and her twin children Ivy and Arthur, and Roland, the brother, with his newest wife, Pilar, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Molly (age 16).  In a move that would feel like something out of an Agatha Christie story if this novel were an overt mystery (it’s not, though there are little bits of mystery), everyone is together at this house, there’s no signal for anyone’s mobile devices, and the configurations keep changing.

The twins are drawn to the Anglo-Indian Kasim, Harriet and Pilar bond, Alice buries herself in nostalgia, Fran grumbles a bit (her husband didn’t join the family on this holiday). Roland is the most opaque of the characters, sort of there as a presence, but without having the strong influence of the other characters, but that makes sense, I guess, because it’s the women – Harriet, Alice, Fran, and Pilar, and the girls, Molly and Ivy, who really move the plot while Kasim, Arthur, and, yes, Roland, observe, nudge, and stabilize. New configurations come from the original ones: Kasim and Molly discover each other, for example.

While the overarching theme of The Past had a lot to do with the way women approach aging, and the way we all must let go of things from our pasts, I felt, at times, that it was almost a graceful collection of character studies, interwoven with realistic dialogue and vivid descriptions of the house and its environs.

It was a great book to read quickly, but would probably be even better if savored.

One issue I had was with the presentation: dialogue, at least in the digital proof that I read, was set off by dashes rather than quotation marks. As someone who tends to use a lot of dashes within dialogue when I’m writing my own stuff, this choice combined with the lateness of the hour to muddle some of the attributions. I don’t know if the completed copies of the novel use this structure, so consider it a word of warning – it’s good, sometimes, to know what to expect.

Goes well with endless mugs of tea, and slices of navel oranges, with the occasional butter cookie.


Tessa’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, January 5th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, January 6th: BookNAround

Thursday, January 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, January 11th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, January 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, January 13th: Bibliotica

Thursday, January 14th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, January 15th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, January 18th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 19th: Bibliophiliac

Wednesday, January 20th: Curling Up by the Fire

Thursday, January 21st: From the TBR Pile

Friday, January 22nd: A Book Geek

Monday, January 25th: Novel Escapes

Tuesday, January 26th: Dreams, Etc.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, by Stephanie Osborn (@writersteph) #review

About the Book, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy's Curse

Print Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Pro Se Press (November 2, 2015)
Publication Date: November 2, 2015
Series: Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis

Holmes and Watson. Two names linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

Noted Author Stephanie Osborn (Creator of the Displaced Detective series) presents the first book in her Sherlock Holmes, Gentleman Aegis series – Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, the debut volume of Pro Se Productions’ Holmes Apocrypha imprint.

Buy, read, and discuss Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Stephanie Osborn Stephanie Osborn

Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences:
astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several
more, including geology and anatomy.

In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

The Mystery continues.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I’ve been a fan of Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective series since I reviewed the first one in the series as part of a blog tour several years ago. Her writing is always engaging and well-researched, and even when she’s playing with familiar characters, she manages to put her own spin on them, while still remaining true to the original author’s vision. When I was offered a chance to read this book, Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse, you’d better believe I jumped at the chance.

I’m so glad I did.

In this book, which is the first in a new series from Osborn (Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis), she’s gone back to the beginning of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, and given them a classic adventure that’s much more’ best-buds in an action adventure’ than the sort of contemporary bromance we see in shows like the BBC’s Sherlock (not that I dislike Sherlock. I’m as big a fan as anyone.) It’s a story that takes them to Egypt on a fast-paced hunt for an ancient Pharoah, and includes explorations into mythology and history as well as conventional mystery.

I really liked seeing a Holmes who wasn’t quite so confident in his ability to make a go of his consulting detective business and a Watson who was still in recovery from his war injury. The glimpses at each man’s vulnerability were subtle, but effective, and only served to make them seem even more dimensional than they would have otherwise.

Just as every fan of Doctor Who has ‘their’ doctor, every Sherlock Holmes fan has their preferred Holmes. I grew up watching Jeremy Brett on PBS, so, for me, any Holmes that ‘sounds’ like him is one I’m guaranteed to love. Osborn’s Holmes meets this criteria, but if Brett’s Holmes isn’t your preference, never fear, the Sherlock in this novel isn’t an imitation. He is absolutely his own character.

One thing I really liked about the structure of Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse is that the author included footnotes to explain archaic word-forms as well as the lines written in foreign languages (Arabic, French, Portuguese, Spanish) and certain cultural points of interest. In the Kindle version, these notes show up as clickable superscript numbers, that link you to the collection of end notes at the ‘back’ of the book. As someone who is addicted to annotated copies of favorite novels (the annotated Dracula even has a recipe for Chicken Paprikash), I really appreciated this, but if you’re someone who finds such insertions annoying, never fear, the notes are not at all intrusive, and you can absolutely enjoy the story without stopping to read them, if you so choose.

Bottom line: if you love classic Sherlock Holmes adventures, you will love this book, but if your only experience with the Great Detective is only through the BBC show (or the American Elementary, which, I confess, I don’t watch) you will likely enjoy it, too.

Goes well with either candy cane tea and pfeffernusse cookies or that spinach artichoke dip baked in a skillet with a ring of frozen dinner rolls, and a glass of pinot noir. (Why yes, I did start reading this over the holidays.)

 

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

 

Without Light or Guide, by T. Frohock

About the book Without Light or Guide Without Light of Guide

• Print Length: 128 pages
• Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (November 3, 2015)

Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimons… and a half breed caught in between. Although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don’t trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path. Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim’s suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

Buy, read, and discuss Without Light or Guide

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, T. Frohock

T. Frohock has turned her love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. She currently lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Check out more of her works and news at www.tfrohock.com.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I didn’t read the first novel in the series about Los Nefilim, so I was a bit lost at the beginning of the book, but context and retold backstory helped me immensely. Once I figured out how Frohock’s world works, I found myself immersed in her world, which was both period (the thirties) and paranormal (angels and daimons).

I found that I really liked Diago and Miquel, and found their story to be compelling, but I was equally entranced by the richness of the world-building the author did. Within ten pages I felt like I was in her world, one populated by vampires as well as the loftier creatures already mentioned. Her descriptions of people and place are so vivid that I felt like I was walking down the same streets, and meeting – or avoiding – the same people as her characters.

I also want to call out the way the author used language. There was a candor about some of the details – Diago’s missing finger (bitten off by a vampire in book one) – was presented so matter-of-factly that what could have been an ‘ick’ moment was just a nice bit of character detail. The way the characters spoke was also well written – contemporary, but not too much so, and the angels, particularly gave the impression, through their words – of great age and power.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed this story more had I started it from the beginning, but even beginning with book two, I enjoyed the world of Los Nefilim, in general, and this haunting story specifically.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, December 1st: You Can Read Me Anything

Wednesday, December 2nd: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, December 3rd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, December 7th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, December 8th: Dreams, Etc.

Wednesday, December 9th: A Book Geek

Thursday, December 10th: A Dream Within a Dream

Monday, December 14th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, December 15th: Raven Haired Girl

Wednesday, December 16th: Dwell in Possibility

Thursday, December 17th: Curling Up by the Fire

Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker #review #giveaway #TLCBookTours

About the book, Daughter of Sand and Stone Daughter of Sand and Stone

Hardcover: 312 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (December 1, 2015)

When Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity?

Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

Buy, read, and discuss Daughter of Sand and Stone

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


About the author, Libbie Hawker Libbie Hawker

Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring deeply human characters, with rich details of time and place. She is the author of ten novels, most of which take place in the distant past among ancient civilizations. She lives in the beautiful San Juan Islands with her husband.

Connect with Libbie

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

There are books that you read and think, “oh, that was a nice story,” and there are books that you have to sit with, and that sit with you. For me, Daughter of Sand and Stone was the latter, because it takes the central message of feminism – that a woman’s place is where she determines it should be – and frames it in a fictional telling of the life of Zenobia, Syria’s legendary warrior queen.

I could talk about the timeliness of this novel being published while Syria is once again in the spotlight of the world’s stage with citizens fleeing for their lives. I could talk about the way author Libbie Hawker showed us what daily life in the year 260 might have been like for wellborn women. I could even talk about the way even the greatest supporting characters were women: Zenobia’s mother and sisters. I could even talk about whether or not the ending of the novel, and Zenobia’s last major life-choice do a disservice to the woman whose story we’re following.

All of those things are relevant, interesting points but here’s what really struck me about Hawker’s portrayal of Zenobia:

She’s an educated, snarky bad-ass woman.

Okay, that sounds fluffier than I meant it to, but so many stories about Zenobia treat her like a legend and a goddess, and yes, she does have some mythical qualities, but it was just so refreshing to see this iconic woman treated as a real person. A dimensional person. A woman who is funny and flawed, who loves and hates, and sometimes makes bad choices. A woman who, but for a couple of thousand years of history, could be any woman in the world.

But the author’s version of the main character isn’t the only thing great about this book. The language is just beautiful. It sings on the page and makes you (well, it made me) walk around the house reading it aloud to my husband, my dog, anyone who would listen.

The language is absolutely contemporary, and yet it evokes a different way of speaking and listening.

Read this book. You will not regret it.

Goes well with coffee and spice bread with goat cheese and figs.


 

Giveaway

One lucky winner in the US or Canada can win a copy of Daughter of Sand and Stone

To enter:  Leave a comment on this entry (include a working email address – only I will see it) telling me about a time you challenged authority.

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,  December 7th.

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


Libbie Hawker’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 30th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, December 1st: Bibliotica

Tuesday, December 1st: Life is Story

Wednesday, December 2nd: Reading Reality

Thursday, December 3rd: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, December 4th: Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Monday, December 7th: Luxury Reading

Tuesday, December 8th: Spiced Latte Reads

Wednesday, December 9th: Book Dilettante

Thursday, December 10th: Mom’s Small Victories

Friday, December 11th: Book Nerd

Monday, December 14th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Monday, December 14th: Book Babe

Tuesday, December 15th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, December 16th: The Reader’s Hollow

Thursday, December 17th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Monday, December 21st: Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, December 22nd: The Lit Bitch

Friday, December 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, December 29th: I’m Shelfish

Tuesday, December 29th: Time 2 Read

Wednesday, December 30th: Broken Teepee

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

About the book, The Christmas Bridge The Christmas Bridge

Print Length: 183 pages

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

A First Love. A Second Chance.

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss The Christmas Bridge

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Elyse Douglas

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

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

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

Elyse Douglas live in New York City.

Connect with Elyse Douglas

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts MissMeliss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goes well with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, obviously.


Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of the book! Click the link below to enter.
Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Monday, November 16th: Majorly Delicious

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Nerd

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

Monday, November 23rd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 25th: Read Love Blog

Friday, November 27th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, November 30th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Wednesday, December 2nd: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, December 3rd: Romance Novels for the Beach

Monday, December 7th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, December 10th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, December 14th: Written Love Reviews

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

Tuesday, December 15th: FictionZeal

Wednesday, December 16th: The Romance Dish

Friday, December 18th: A Splendid Messy Life

 

The Crescent Spy, by Michael Wallace #TLCBookTours #review

About the book, The Crescent Spy The Crescent Spy

Paperback: 325 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 10, 2015)

Writing under a man’s name, Josephine Breaux is the finest reporter at Washington’s Morning Clarion. Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusations of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor.

To Josephine’s surprise, she’s whisked away to the White House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her past in order to secure her nation’s future?

Buy, read, and discuss The Crescent Spy

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


About the author, Michael Wallace Michael Wallace

Michael Wallace was born in California and raised in a small religious community in Utah, eventually heading east to live in Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition to working as a literary agent and innkeeper, he has been a software engineer for a Department of Defense contractor programming simulators for nuclear submarines. He is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Wall Street Journal bestselling Righteous series, set in a polygamist enclave in the desert.


My Thoughts MissMeliss

From the opening chapter where we meet Josephine Breaux pragmatically stripping off her hoop skirts and riding away in only her bloomers, to the very last page, Michael Wallace’s historical adventure, The Crescent Spy, is fascinating, thrilling, and a lot of fun. It’s also, at times, quite brutally honest in its depiction of Civil War-era America, and the treatment of wounded soldiers and women.

Josephine is a fierce, smart, motivated woman, who reminded me (in good ways) of another literary Josephine, though Wallace is , of course, nothing like Alcott. He is a contemporary author who writes historical fiction. She was writing stories that were contemporary to her. But this wasn’t meant to be a comparison of two fictional Josephines. Wallace writes his female protagonist very well. I felt like I was seeing Washington and New Orleans through her eyes.

I really appreciated the level of detail Wallace put into this novel. The dialogue was accessible but still ‘felt’ period. The descriptions were vivid, down to the sound of wooden wheels on the street, and all of the characters were incredibly dimensional.

I was so into this novel, that I completely forgot I was reading it for a review, and not just to enjoy.

Goes well with cafe au lait and beignets.


Michael Wallace’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, November 9th: Life is Story

Monday, November 9th: Literary Lindsey

Tuesday, November 10th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, November 11th: Time 2 Read

Thursday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Thursday, November 12th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, November 16th: 100 Pages a Day

Monday, November 16th: FictionZeal

Tuesday, November 17th: Book Babe

Wednesday, November 18th: Reading Reality

Thursday, November 19th: Bibliotica

Friday, November 20th: Just One More Chapter

Monday, November 23rd: It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, November 24th: Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, December 2nd: Mom in Love with Fiction

 

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