Review: Games Divas Play, by Angela Burt-Murray

About the book Games Divas Play Games Divas Play

Series: A Diva Mystery Novel (Book 1)
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 29, 2014)

The former Editor-in Chief of Essence magazine, Angela Burt-Murrary’s new novel takes readers inside the high-stakes world of professional basketball—where everyone plays to win. In GAMES DIVAS PLAY, the first book in the Diva Mystery Series, Burt-Murray introduces an ambitious entertainment reporter battling backstabbing colleagues and reeling from murderous threats, the desperate wife of NBA star Marcus King, who’s as popular with the ladies as he is with hoops fans, and a scandalous groupie shopping a reality show based on her affair with Marcus. These three women soon learn what it really takes to stay on top when they engage in a ruthless battle for love and the limelight. GAMES DIVAS PLAY is a juicy, gossipy, and flat-out fun read; James Patterson meets Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Buy, read, and discuss Games Divas Play

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About the author, Angela Burt-Murray

Angela Burt-Murray is the cofounder and editorial director of Cocoa Media Group, cohost of the talk show Exhale, and coauthor of two previous books, The Vow and The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life. She was formerly the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, where she was the recipient of numerous honors. Her work is regularly featured in such publications as Ebony, Parenting, and Heart & Soul. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons.

My Thoughts

It’s not often that you come across a mystery that is also funny and sassy, but Games Divas Play is all three. From the very first page, the reader is thrust into the action, witnessing a murder in progress, and from there, the three women at the core of the novel, Nia, Vanessa, and Laila, take us on a fast-paced journey that feels like you’re riding a roller-coaster and shopping for designer shoes at the same time.

I have to confess that Nia was my favorite character, possibly because when I’m not doing book reviews, I interview a lot of celebrities for my day job, and I know how hard it is to build trustworthy connections with publicists, agents, and managers. That said, Vanessa and Laila were no less interesting, and no less dimensional. These women were all people you could easily run into during your life.

Similarly the supporting characters were well-rounded and believable, though my favorite was the fabulous MJ, Nia’s flamingly gay assistant. With this character author Burt-Murray stays just this side of caricature, and I know this to be true, because I’ve worked with versions of MJ for most of my life.

The plot of the novel, especially the mystery, was well-crafted, with a nice balance of information, action, and intrigue. I was kept guessing til the very end, which I found to be satisfying in every way.

This novel is the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book.

Goes well with Cocktails and coconut shrimp.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours, who provided me with an ARC of the novel in exchange for my review. For more information, and to see the entire list of tour stops, visit the tour page by clicking HERE.

Review: Deadly Assets, by Wendy Tyson

About the book, Deadly Assets Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

An eccentric Italian heiress from the Finger Lakes. An eighteen-year-old pop star from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Allison Campbell’s latest clients seem worlds apart in every respect, except one: Both women disappear on the same day. And Allison’s colleague Vaughn is the last to have seen each.

Allison’s search for a connection uncovers an intricate web of family secrets, corporate transgressions and an age-old rivalry that crosses continents. The closer Allison gets to the truth, the deadlier her quest becomes. All paths lead back to their sinister Finger Lakes estate and the suicide of a woman thirty years earlier. Allison soon realizes the lives of her clients and the safety of those closest to her aren’t the only things at stake.

Buy, read, and discuss Deadly Assets
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About the author, Wendy Tyson Wendy Tyson

Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again with her husband, three kids and two muses, dogs Molly and Driggs. Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, including KARAMU, Eclipse, A Literary Journal and Concho River Review.

Connect with Wendy

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My Thoughts

First of all, it’s important to know that Deadly Assets is the second Allison Campbell mystery. When a representative of the publisher contacted me, because I’d reviewed another of author Wendy Tyson’s novels late last year, I was actually sent a copy of book one, Killer Image, as well. I read both books back-to-back over the last few days, and loved them both.

Tyson excels at writing mysteries that are grounded in real life, plausible situations. You never feel that her stories are complete fantasy, and some of the chill you get while reading them is because so many of the characters could be people you know. As well, she populates her novels with diverse characters – Allison herself, Allison’s ex-mother-in-law Mia, who is dating Christopher Vaughn (known by his last name) who is also Allison’s colleague in her image consulting firm, and happens to be African-American, and his computer genius brother who happens to be quadriplegic – these are just a few. This makes you really believe that the novels take place in a real version of Pennsylvania.

Both novels, and Deadly Assets especially, are also incredibly well plotted. While it’s true that I was able to solve each cast slightly before Allison herself did, that’s only because we, as readers, see a bit more of the big picture than she does as a character. Still, I was never disappointed by any of the twists or turns that took place, and when Allison was in jeopardy, while I knew she was unlikely to die (this is a series, after all) I also knew that Tyson had no qualms about giving her serious injuries.

Where Killer Image included the requisite first-novel-in-a-series exposition of character backstory, Deadly Assets focused mainly on the current story. This in no way made the second book hard to follow, as there was enough backstory to understand the flavor of each recurring character. In fact, it could very easily be read as a standalone novel without the reader feeling like anything was missing, though reading them in order will increase your enjoyment, as it did mine.

If you’re looking for a mystery series that has believable characters, plausible storylines, and a great mix of character and action – especially if you’re looking for such a series in which women are the crime solvers and not only the victims, you must – must – read Wendy Tyson’s Allison Campbell series. Deadly Assets was just published this week, and I’m already itching for book three.

Goes well with a blueberry muffin and a cafe mocha.

Review: The Virtues of Oxygen, by Susan Schoenberger

About the book, The Virtues of Oxygen The Virtues of Oxygen

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 22, 2014)

From the award-winning author of A Watershed Year comes a heartrending story of unlikely bonds made under dire straits. Holly is a young widow with two kids living in a ramshackle house in the same small town where she grew up wealthy. Now barely able to make ends meet editing the town’s struggling newspaper, she manages to stay afloat with help from her family. Then her mother suffers a stroke, and Holly’s world begins to completely fall apart.

Vivian has lived an extraordinary life, despite the fact that she has been confined to an iron lung since contracting polio as a child. Her condition means she requires constant monitoring, and the close-knit community joins together to give her care and help keep her alive. As their town buckles under the weight of the Great Recession, Holly and Vivian, two very different women both touched by pain, forge an unlikely alliance that may just offer each an unexpected salvation.

Buy, read, and discuss The Virtues of Oxygen

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About the author, Susan Schoenberger Susan-Schoenberger_Photo-Credit-Shana-Sureck

Susan Schoenberger is the author of the award-winning debut novel A Watershed Year. Before turning her attention to writing fiction, she worked as a journalist and copyeditor for many years, most recently at The Hartford Courant and The Baltimore Sun. She currently serves as the director of communications at Hartford Seminary and teaches writing classes at the Mark Twain House in Hartford. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband and three children.

Connect with Susan

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My Thoughts

You would think that a story about a woman who spends her entire life in an iron lung would be pretty grim, but The Virtues of Oxygen is anything but. Author Susan Shoenberger gives us not only a glimpse into what is now a very rare form of disability, but also a character piece about two women who are not in competition with each other, but work as partners.

Vivian, the one in the iron lung, is the perfect example of how the internet has, and still can, change lives. We get her backstory as a series of unaired podcasts, flashbacks into the life of a once boisterous and vibrant child, whose mind was both a blessing and a curse for much of her life.

Holly is not in an iron lung, but circumstance has given her a life almost as limited as Vivian’s. The death of her husband, the economic recession – both have conspired against her, to the point where she’s in danger of losing her house, when we first meet her.

Together, these two women move from companions to friends to a sort of chosen family, as each learns more about the other and herself, and opens herself enough to both give and receive assistance, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial.

Yes, there are other characters in the novel, but all revolve around these two strong personalities, Vivian and Holly. Holly and Vivian.

I’ll confess that while I’ve never been as close to Holly was at homelessness, I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck in a society where even those of us who would normally be considered upper-middle-class are sometimes one or two paychecks away from foreclosure.

I’ll also confess that Vivian made such an impression on me that I spent no small amount of time on Google, reading about real women who lived in iron lungs after being stricken by polio, including the woman whose story actually inspired Shoenberger to write this novel.

The Virtues of Oxygen is a gripping read, and the ending, while somewhat predictable, is also true to the characters the author created. It’s also the ending I wanted them to have, one filled with the easy breath of hope.

Goes well with Bacon, eggs, and a toasted English muffin, eaten at a local diner.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, including the complete tour schedule, click HERE.

Review: The Captive, by Grace Burrowes

About the book, The Captive The Captive

Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, is captured out of uniform by the French, and is thus subject to torture. Christian does not break, not once, and is released when Toulouse falls. Back in England, Christian has great difficulty taking up the reins of his life until Gillian, Countess of Windmere, a relation of his late wife, pointedly reminds him that he has a daughter who still needs him very much—a daughter who no longer speaks. Gilly pushes, pulls, and drags Christian back to life, and slowly, she and he admit an attraction to each other.

Christian offers Gilly marriage, but Gilly is a widow, and has fared badly at the hands of her first husband. Gillian will not pledge her heart to a man bent on violence, for Christian cannot give up his determination to extract revenge from his torturer. What will it take for them to give up their stubborn convictions and choose each other over the bonds the past?

Buy, read, and discuss The Captive

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About the author, Grace Burrowes Grace Burrowes

Grace says, “I am the sixth out of seven children and was raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life I spent a lot of time reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named—unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. I also spent a lot of time practicing the piano. My first career was as a technical writer and editor, a busy profession that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels.”

“It also left time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.”

“While reading yet still more romance novels (there is a trend here) I opened my own law practice, acquired a master’s degree in Conflict Management (I had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing…. romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. (“Mom, why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?”)”

“I eventually got up the courage to start pitching manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in “the call” started out: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)”

Connect with Grace

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I’m not really a big romance reader. And I’m really not a big historical romance reader. Nevertheless, when the pitch to review The Captive arrived in my inbox, I was feeling like I should broaden my horizons a little. Besides, I’ve always maintained that what matters is the quality of the storytelling.

In this case, I was pleasantly surprised. Grace Burrowes writes historical romance that feels contemporary. She’s an amazing storyteller, and has created characters I wouldn’t mind sitting down to tea with, and a world I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in, but wouldn’t mind visiting for a few days.

I liked that she made Gilly strong and feisty while still keeping her true to the historical era of the story, and I liked that Christian was a single father, and was forced to actually address that state of affairs.

I’m always going to prefer more contemporary stories, but if all historical romances were as delightful as Grace Burrowes’s The Captive I’d consider reading period pieces of this ilk a little more often.

Goes well with a turkey taco salad and fresh limeade.

Review: The Little Women Letters, by Gabrielle Donnelly

About the book, The Little Women Letters The Little Women Letters

USA TODAY sings that “Fans of Louisa May Alcott can rejoice” thanks to this charming and uplifting story of the imagined lives of three of Jo March’s passionate, spirited descendants—that’s Jo March from Little Women!

With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, preparing to launch a career on the London stage, Lulu can’t help but feel like the failure of the Atwater family. Lulu loves her sisters dearly and wants nothing but the best for them, but she finds herself stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs with no romantic prospects in sight.

Then Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. As she delves deeper into the lives and secrets of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance, but can the words of her great-great-grandmother help Lulu find a place for herself in a world so different from the one Jo knew?

As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.

Buy, read, and discuss The Little Women Letters

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About the author, Gabrielle Donnelly (from her website) Gabrielle Donnelly

Gabrielle Donnelly was born in London and has known that she wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She read, wrote, and daydreamed her way through grammar school in North London and to a Bachelor of Arts degree from London University; when she was 22, she got her first job as a reporter in the London office of the DC Thompson newspaper The Weekly News; she has made her living as a journalist ever since.

In 1980, realizing that she had lived for all of her life in London and deciding that she should probably at least briefly experience living somewhere else before it was too late, she moved to Los Angeles for a six-month-long working vacation. She has never returned. She writes about show business for a variety of British magazines and newspapers, and, as a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, votes every year for the Golden Globe Awards.

The Little Women Letters is Gabrielle’s fifth novel. Previously, Holy Mother, Faulty Ground, and All Done With Mirrors were printed in Britain by Victor Gollancz; The Girl In The Photograph was printed in America by Penguin Putnam. The Little Women Letters is the first to be published in both countries, and she says it is the one she has had by far the most fun writing.

A committed singleton throughout her twenties and thirties, she surprised herself and everyone else at over forty by falling madly in love with and marrying Los Angeles-born computer specialist Owen Bjornstad. They live in Los Angeles in a spectacularly untidy house a couple of miles from the ocean, and make each other laugh a very great deal.

Gabrielle is a Corporator of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House Museum in Concord, Massachusetts.

Connect with Gabrielle

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I don’t remember how I heard of The Little Women letters, but it might have appeared on my radar (bookdar?) around Christmas, after watching The March Sisters at Christmas and finding a forum thread talking about other contemporary interpretations of Alcott’s classic story.

I didn’t actually buy my copy until March (we got our check from the class action suit against a certain bookseller named after a river and a tribe of warrior women, and bought a ton of kindle books), but I read it in one sitting on a blustery spring day, and really enjoyed the experience.

At first, I thought it was an odd choice to have only three sisters instead of the expected four, but it made sense in the end. I also liked the twist of Lulu (the Jo surrogate) following a path slightly different than what the reader – at least this reader – was led to expect.

Overall, this is a lovely, entertaining read about fully-fleshed-out, smart, interesting young women, and the convention of treating the source material as if it were real works wonderfully.

Nothing ever seems hokey, and nothing is ever too sweet or too perfect, despite the ultimate happy ending.

Goes well with hot tea and apple crumble.

Book Blast: Time of Possession, by Jami Davenport

Time of Possession – Week Blitz
By Jami Davenport
Seattle Lumberjacks #5
Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 30, 2014

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Supposedly undersized for the NFL, Brett Gunnels went off to do a stint in the US Army right out of high school. Returning damaged yet stronger and more determined than ever to prove himself, he was picked last in the draft. Mr. Irrelevant, they called him. The last few years as a backup quarterback have given him no opportunity to compete for the starting job. That’s why he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Puget Sound.
Estelle Harris is engaged to a man she doesn’t love, working a job she hates, and fooling everyone including herself in the process. Her love of animals is the only thing that gives her purpose—a love she shares the Lumberjacks’ reclusive quarterback. And then their mutual friendship turns a hot, dark, forbidden corner and there’s no going back.
True love is like football. It’s not always how long you have the ball. It’s what you do when you get it.
About the Author: Jami Davenport

An advocate of happy endings, Jami Davenport writes sexy romantic comedy, sports hero romances, and equestrian fiction. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare.
Jami works in IT for her day job and is a former high school business teacher and dressage rider. In her spare time, she maintains her small farm and socializes whenever the opportunity presents itself. An avid boater, Jami has spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, a common setting in her books. In her opinion, it is the most beautiful place on earth.


Buy Links

AmazonB&N  | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

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Review: Painting the Moon, by Traci Borum

About the book Painting the Moon Painting the Moon

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Release Date: June 7, 2014
Pages: 300

When Noelle Cooke inherits a cottage from her British aunt, she also inherits a cottage full of secrets–a locked room, an old journal, an art gallery in financial ruin. Noelle never planned to abandon her life in San Diego, never intended to move across the ocean to live in a tiny Cotswold village. But the idea becomes irresistible, especially with the possibility of saving the gallery.

And just when Noelle settles into her new village life and starts to discover the cottage’s mysteries, someone from her past reappears—her first love, Adam Spencer. But an impossible barrier stands between them, and Noelle is forced to make a choice. Will she risk her heart? Or will she walk away…and lose him all over again?

Buy, read, and discuss Painting the Moon

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About the author, Traci Borum Traci Borum

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

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

Connect with Traci

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My Thoughts

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from the author of this novel, asking me if I’d consider it for review. Her email was so sweet, and her bio resonated so much with me, that there was no way I could say no. Besides, I’ve been reading so much heavy, serious fiction – which I love – that it’s nice to review something a bit lighter from time to time. Painting the Moon came into my life exactly when I needed it, and I stayed up all night because I was so absorbed with the story.

On the surface, it’s a somewhat predictable “twinkling brown eyes” novel – cute English village, American relative inheriting adorable cottage, handsome and mostly-single male childhood friend looking to reconnect – but that’s just the surface. Author Borum takes those elements and really makes them sing with vivid descriptions of people and places – I could taste the shepherd’s pie, smell the paint on the canvas, feel the English rain – and I could also hear the characters’ distinct voices, especially Noelle herself, but also the pub owner and the gardener/handyman.

One thing I particularly loved about this novel was the use of Nioelle’s aunt’s (well, great aunt, but why be picky) advice on painting at the head of the chapters. It really made you feel like the aunt was a character in the story, rather than just a reason for Noelle to move from San Diego to the Cotswolds.

Painting the Moon is a fabulously entertaining story about love, art, and the choices we make as adults, and should not be overlooked. It’s the perfect novel for a lazy summer afternoon. If there’s a thunderstorm brewing while you read it, so much the better.

Goes well with hot tea and peach-rhubarb pie.

Review: the New Men, by Jon Enfield

About the book, The New Men The New Men

Publisher: Wayzgoose Press (May 14, 2014)
Print Length: 303 pages

For us, the new man, he is one of two things. First, he is the new worker, a man we instruct and investigate until his probation is complete. But also he is an idea. In the foundry, they make parts. On the line, they make autos. But in Sociological, we make men.

Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment.

The new century and the new auto industry are bursting with promise, and everyone wants Henry Ford’s Model T. But Ford needs men to make it. Better men. New men. Men tough enough and focused enough to handle the ever-bigger, ever-faster assembly line. Ford offers to double the standard wage for men who will be thrifty, sober, and dedicated… and who will let Ford investigators into their homes to confirm it.

Tony has just become one of those investigators. America and Ford have helped him build a new life, so at first he’s eager to get to work. But world war, labor strife, and racial tension pit his increasingly powerful employer against its increasingly desperate enemies.

As Tony and his family come under threat from all sides and he faces losing everything he’s built, he must struggle with his conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.

Buy, read, and discuss The New Men

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About the author, Jon Enfield Jon Enfield

Jon Enfield has written for a range of audiences and publications. His work has appeared in Conjunctions, Poetry Ireland Review, Underground Voices, Xavier Review, and He is a former fiction editor of Chicago Review, and he taught writing at the University of Southern California for several years. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago for his dissertation on the relationships between American film and fiction 1910-1940.

The New Men arose from his longstanding fascination with America in the early twentieth century and from his sense that the emergence and evolution of the American auto industry shed light on some fundamental realities of present-day America.

Connect with Jon


My Thoughts

I was a bit concerned when I agreed to review this book. I mean, the concept and plot sounded interesting, but it had the potential to be a lot dryer than I typically prefer. I’ve never been more pleased to be proven wrong.

From the opening notes, where author Jon Enfield warns us about specific spelling and dialogue choices to the very last page, I was never bored. In fact, it would be fair to say that I was riveted, because I read this book last weekend, cover to cover, in one night.

We often hear about the concept of a “company town,” and I’ve certainly experienced a few: Marshalltown, IA, for example, is pretty much dominated by Fisher, and my husband and I worked in the Sioux Falls, SD campus of Gateway, back when they were a new-ish corporation. In The New Men, however, Enfield shows us the best and worst of company town culture – the progressive programs put in place to create the perfect workers, and the strictures that came with working for such a business.

After spending roughly half of the last decade doing corporate blogging for auto sales and auto insurance companies, it was incredibly interesting to me to see, in this novel, how the industry began, and to reflect upon the way it’s changed. Through his protagonist, Tony, and through all the other characters in The New Men Enfield shows us, not just a version of what was, but lets us glimpse what could have been, as well.

Sometimes gritty, sometimes poignant – often at the same time – The New Men is a period piece that manages to comment on contemporary culture without feeling as if it’s doing so. Taken as pure fiction, however, it’s a compelling story about people who aren’t that different than most of our grandparents. If you want something a bit toothier than typical summer fare, this novel is an excellent choice.

Goes well with Baked ziti, garlic bread, and a huge salad with fresh tomatoes.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

NetGalley Wrapup – 2014 First Half – Volume I

At the urging of one of the blog tour companies I work with, I signed up for an account with NetGalley earlier this year. This allows publishers to send me widgets for the books I’ve agreed to review, so I can download them straight to my kindle. It also allows me to leave feedback – usually a few good lines from my review and a link to the rest – directly for the publisher.

I’ve been reading like crazy all year – as I always do – but I’m a little behind on reviews that are NOT for tours – so here’s my NetGalley wrapup for titles I’ve read in the first half of 2014 that do NOT have separate review pages in this blog.

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Don't Even Think About It

I always love Sarah Mlynowski’s work and this is no exception. She’s funny, smart, and her characters – teens in this case – are always believable, although they tend to occupy a slightly heightened reality. Great work, great read.

The Art of Arranging Flowers, by Lynne Branard The Art of Arranging Flowers

If you, like me, have ever spent your last ten dollars on fresh flowers when you should have spent it on milk or bread, you will love this novel. It’s a delightful human story about relationships, loves, and lives, and of course flowers. Mix in a little bit of magical realism, and you have a bouquet of compelling storytelling wrapped in raffia. READ THIS BOOK

Dangerous Dream: A Beautiful Creatures Story, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Dangerous Dream

I hadn’t read the books, but only seen the movie, when I read Dangerous Dream. Nevertheless, I was sucked into this richly created world and enjoyed finding out what happened next with the characters. It made me buy the books, for a better understanding of what had come before. It may be YA, but it appeals to all ages.

All of the above books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Review: Love & Treasure, by Ayelet Waldman

About the book, Love & Treasure Love & Treasure

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Knopf (April 1, 2014)

A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.

In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.

A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.

Buy, read, and discuss Love & Treasure

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About the author, Ayelet Waldman Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman is the author of the recently released Love and Treasure (Knopf, April 2014), Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was adapted into a film called “The Other Woman” starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on “All Things Considered” and “The California Report.” Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand, the Netherlands and China, Russia and Israel, South Korea and Italy.

Connect with Ayelet

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My Thoughts

You wouldn’t think that a novel that spends fully half it’s pages dealing with the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust could be magical and amazing, but Ayelet Waldman’s Love & Treasure manages to be so.

To be clear, those magical moments come between a lot of candid, even gritty, scenes. The first half of the book is the story of Jack Wiseman, an ethnic Jew and American soldier, in Europe at the end of World War II. Largely due to circumstance he is put in charge of a warehouse which holds the contents of a train, which, in turn, was full of the stolen, stripped down belongings – everything from ceramics to jewelry to bed linens to art – of Hungarian Jews who were either sent to concentration camps or sent to forced labor camps by the Nazis.

The second half of the book is mostly the story of Jack’s granddaughter Natalie, and her quest to fulfill her grandfather’s dying wish: track down the owner of a necklace he took from the warehouse, and return it. To do this, she travels to Europe and Israel, hooking up with an art dealer named Amitai who operates just at the surface, or maybe slightly below, the law. He isn’t a bad person, but he doesn’t make high-percentage choices. Also, he’s not that interested in the necklace – he’s trying to track down a painting done by the same artist. (He is, however, increasingly interested in Natalie.)

The problem is that Natalie’s story, which I referred to as the second ‘half,’ ends in such a way that it feels like an ending, but there’s a third part of the story, the history of the necklace’s original owner.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning the story of the necklace, loved a glimpse into early twentieth century feminism in Europe, it just felt like the novel would have been even more magical and amazing than it already is if Jack had been part one, Natalie had been part two, and the rest had been woven through in bits and glimpses.

But that’s me, who sometimes likes books to be ideally structured even though life never actually is, and the reality is that this minor structural issue didn’t detract from the story in any way. Jack’s section is heartbreaking, Natalie’s is a grand adventure, and all the rest? Quiet magic and amazing history.

Is this a beach read? Maybe not.
But it’s a great book for a lazy summer Sunday.

Goes well with: Organic eggs scrambled with spinach, salmon and cream cheese, a toasted bagel with butter, and a few chunks of really ripe cantaloupe.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.