Review: Comfort Songs, by Kimberly Fish – with Giveaway

Comfort Songs Blog Tour

About the book, Comfort Songs

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Fish Tales, LLC
  • Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 348
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Comfort Songs by Kimberly FishAward-winning author of Comfort Plans, Kimberly Fish, delivers a novel about family, forgiveness, and the seeds of second chances.

Eight years ago, Autumn Joy Worthington, still reeling from the bitter divorce of her Grammy-Award-winning parents, endured the betrayal of a man who’d promised her a wedding. Running from pain seemed the logical response. Reinventing herself in Comfort, Texas, as a lavender grower, she creates a wildly successful gardening haven that draws in tourists and establishes an identity far removed from her parents’ fame. Her mother’s retirement from stardom inspires AJ to offer her refuge and nurse the dream that they could move past old hurts and the tarnish of the music industry … to find friendship. A grandmother in the early stages of dementia and the return of AJ’s father complicate the recovery, but nothing sets the fragile reality spinning like the arrival of Nashville music executive, Luke English.

As Alzheimer’s slowly knocks away the filters of their family, AJ comes to appreciate the true meanings of love and forgiveness — and that the power of redemption can generate from the most unlikely sources. When AJ uncovers the grit to make hard choices, she also discovers that the flowers that bloom the brightest can have the most tangled roots.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

Kimberly FishKimberly Fish is a professional writer with almost thirty years of media experience. She’s been telling stories far longer. She published her first novel, a WWII historical fiction novel, because of a true story in her adopted hometown that was too good to ignore.  She quickly followed that success with a sequel. Since then, she’s continued writing fiction and added a contemporary second-chance romance series set in Comfort, Texas, to her list of fun, fast-paced novels. Kimberly lives with her family in East Texas.

Connect with Kimberly:

WEBSITE |  INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE | PINTEREST |  TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100I reviewed Kimberly Fish’s previous novel Comfort Plans two years ago, and it was a pleasure to revisit her writing and the world she’s created in Comfort, Texas, with this novel, Comfort Songs.

With this story, set in the present but with flashbacks to previous eras, Fish really demonstrates her prowess at writing compelling tales of women in transition. Inez (aka Gran) is facing the descent into Alzheimer’s Disease. July, whose retirement as a performer opens the novel, is facing new directions in her career and her personal life, and AJ, the connective tissue between the two, claims she just wants to run her farm, Lavender Hill, but is also exploring creative pursuits and a possible romance, as well as reconnecting with her mother (July).

Fish handles all three story lines with equal care, weaving them in and out of each other, showing us the way Inez’s youth and July’s career have informed AJ’s choices. Each woman stands alone as a distinct character, but each also shares the commonality of family and personal struggle.

What I love about Fish’s writing is that she depicts the sorts of issues we all deal with every day – aging, adult mother-daughter relationships, and the search for personal fulfillment – using characters that may have sprung from her imagination, but feel incredibly real. These are women (and their partners) that we not only may know, but that we might even be, to some extent.

If you are looking for an inter-generational story with music, romance, and the sort of community we all sort of wish we could live in, read Comfort Songs; you will not be disappointed.

Goes well with hot coffee and scones with lemon curd.


Giveaway

SIGNED COPY OF COMFORT SONGS

+  HUMMINGBIRD FARMS HAND CREAM & HAND SOAP

OCTOBER 22-NOVEMBER 1, 2019

(U.S. Only)

Giveaway Comfort Songs

 

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10/22/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
10/22/19 BONUS Promo All the Ups and Downs
10/23/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
10/23/19 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
10/24/19 Review Sybrina’s Book Blog
10/25/19 Review Sydney Young, Stories
10/25/19 Review Bibliotica
10/26/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
10/27/19 Review Book Fidelity
10/28/19 Review The Book Review
10/28/19 Review Missus Gonzo
10/29/19 Review Forgotten Winds
10/30/19 Review The Clueless Gent
10/30/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
10/31/19 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/31/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles

 

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Review: The Road to Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier

 

The Road to Cromer Pier cover-2 (1)About the book, The Road to Cromer Pier:

 

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: nielsen (April 29, 2019)

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after thirty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits. The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Martin Gore

I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

Connect with Martin:

Twitter | Facebook


My Thoughts

I had a feeling going into The Road to Cromer Pier that I would connect with the story, and I was not wrong. A theatre brat myself, I miss the days when I got to live and breathe musicals, and when life revolved around rehearsals and performances. That this novel also had a coastal setting only increased it’s worth. If it had come with a barista delivering lattes and chocolate croissants every three chapters, it could not have been more perfectly designed for my tastes.

But preferences alone are not enough. The author must also demonstrate talent and craft, and Martin Gore has done both with this book. I’m new to his writing, and I’m not British, but I’ve read enough novels set in the UK that they never feel foreign to me. Rather, his storytelling was so immersive that I was completely engaged from the first page to the last.

Obviously, my main focus was on Janet and her story, because she is the glue that keeps the narrative flowing, but every character was compelling and dimensional and each one felt like someone I might have encountered doing improv or summer stock or even as a resident ingenue at a theatre camp when I was in high school.

As well, the Show itself felt like a character in its own right, and I loved that about Gore’s work. Having grown up on the periphery of several family businesses, including a neighborhood diner, I know how much they take on a life and power of their own, and he showed that so well.

The Road to Cromer Pier is no fluffy summer read, but a family drama with equal parts heartbreak and hearty laughter and I highly recommend it.

Goes well with Cracker Jacks, the old-style kind that still have a decent toy surprise, not because they have anything to do with the story, but because they fit the mood of it.

The Road to Cromer Pier Full Tour Banner

 

 

Cover Reveal: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier - Cover Reveal

The Road to Cromer Pier cover-2 (1)About the book, The Road to Cromer Pier

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

Pre-order this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


About the author, Martin Gore

I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

Connect with Martin:

Twitter | Facebook

 

Review: Driftwood Bay, by Irene Hannon – with Giveaway

BNR Driftwood Bay

Cover HIGH Res Driftwood BayAbout the book Driftwood Bay

  • Series: Hope Harbor Novel, Book 5
  • Genre: Contemporary / Christian / Romance
  • Publisher: Revell, April 2, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 368
  • Scroll down for giveaway

After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room—until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl invades her turf. But she needn’t worry. Dr. Logan West is too busy coping with an unexpected family, a radical lifestyle change, and an unruly pup to have any interest in his aloof and disagreeable neighbor.

Yet when both Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulled into the life of a tattered Christian family fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria, might they discover that love sometimes comes calling when it’s least expected?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites readers back to the charming seaside town of Hope Harbor, where they are sure to find peace, healing, and a second chance at happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss Driftwood Bay:

Baker Book House  ┃  Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble ┃  Christianbook.com  ┃ Books-A-Million  ┃  Kobo  ┃ Get It Local Today | Goodreads


Author Pic SMALLAbout the Author, Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, Sea Rose Lane, Sandpiper Cove, and Pelican Point, as well as Dangerous Illusions and the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, and she is a member of that organization’s elite Hall of Fame. Her many other awards include National Readers’ Choice, Daphne du Maurier, Retailers’ Choice, Booksellers’ Best, Carols, and Reviewers’ Choice from RT Book Reviews magazine, which also honored her with a Career Achievement award for her entire body of work. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist.

Connect with Irene:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Warmth, wisdom, hope, and fish tacos – that’s what you get from reading Irene Hannon’s latest Hope Harbor novel Driftwood Bay, and it’s a delightful combination that blends wholesome family drama, realistic life transitions and a cute small town with just enough romance to keep things interesting.

I must confess, I haven’t read the previous four installments in this series, and when I agreed to review this novel, I didn’t realize it was a Christian romance. In truth, I’m glad I didn’t notice that element because I’m not that into organized religion and it might have kept me from reading this novel. That would have been a big mistake, because Irene Hannon’s work is accessible to all, and while the characters in this story both mentioned and took strength from their faith, there was nothing preachy about the book. Faith was a character element and handled as such. The church community was also an integral part of the plot, acting the way the best faith communities should: taking in refugees, and otherwise helping people make useful connections to better their lives.

The other elements of the novel were equally well-crafted: lead characters Jeannette Mason (“the lavender lady”) and Logan West begin as neighbors brought together by the latter’s destructo-dog Toby, and watching their relationship evolve from somewhat prickly ‘just neighbors’ to an uncertain friendship, to more was both amusing and endearing. Each of these people had baggage in their backstory, but author Hannon managed to make their metaphorical luggage match in.  the best way.

Similarly, Hannon handled the Syrian refugee family, Mariam, Thomma, and Elisa, with great sensitivity, showing their struggles to overcome the loss of their home and family members, their struggles to learn English, and to acclimate to life in a fishing village rather than a mining town.

One thing I particularly appreciated, because I struggle with it in my own writing is the way Hannon depicted the child-characters Elisa and Molly (Logan’s young niece). It can be so easy to make little kids into caricatures rather than characters, but these two little girls are as real and dimensional as any of the adults, and the friendship they form is as special as any of the other relationships in the novel.

One side character I do want to mention is Charley who runs the taco truck (when he’s not off painting). I kept getting the feeling there was meant to be more to him than what we saw, but even if it was just the way I was reading him, I loved him as the person who tells you what you need you hear, when you most need to hear it, even if it’s sometimes a bit cryptic.

Overall, this is a wholesome, heartwarming novel that leaves you believing that communities can still come together and there is still hope in the world.

Goes well with fish tacos and a cold beer.

 

 


Giveaway MED Driftwood Bay

Grand Prize:  

A Copy of Driftwood Bay + Oregon Coast RainGlobe

1st Runner-Up:  

A Copy of Driftwood Bay + Book Lover’s Coffee Mug

2nd Runner-Up:  

A Copy of Driftwood Bay + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

April 2-12, 2019

(U.S. Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

4/2/19 Series Spotlight The Clueless Gent
4/2/19 Scrapbook Page Hall Ways Blog
4/3/19 Review Forgotten Winds
4/4/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
4/5/19 Character Interview Sybrina’s Book Blog
4/6/19 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
4/7/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
4/8/19 Author Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
4/9/19 Top Ten List Rainy Days with Amanda
4/10/19 Review Bibliotica
4/11/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews

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Review: Fatality in F, by Alexia Gordon – with Giveaway

bnr-fatalityinf

About the book, Fatality in F: A Gethsemane Brown Mystery

cvrfatalityinfGenre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Henery Press

Date of Publication: February 26, 2019

Number of Pages: 234

Scroll down for Giveaway.

Fresh from solving her third mystery—and saving Dunmullach’s firstborn males from a vengeful ghost—Gethsemane Brown’s ready to relax and enjoy her summer. Her plans include nothing more dangerous than performing in the opening ceremony of the annual rose and garden show and cheering on Frankie Grennan, who’s entered his hybrid rose into the competition.

 

But when a mysterious stalker starts leaving Frankie floral bouquets as coded messages, Gethsemane fears a copy-cat may be planning to recreate the still-unsolved murders of the infamous Flower Shop Killer. Then Frankie’s main competitor in the rose show—and the reason his marriage failed—turns up dead in Frankie’s rose garden. Frankie takes first prize in the category “prime suspect.”

 

So much for a relaxing summer.

 

As bodies start dropping like rose petals, Gethsemane must judge the other suspects and find the real killer. Or rose bushes won’t be the only things dead-headed in Dunmullach.

Praise for the Gethsemane Brown mystery series:

Book 1, Murder in G Major

Winner of the 2017 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel

2016 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel

Suspense magazine “Best of 2016” selection in Debut Novel category

Book 2, Death in D Minor

Runner-Up, 2017 Lone Star Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Mystery

Book 3, Killing in C Sharp

Starred review, Publisher’s Weekly, January 29, 2018

Buy, read, and discuss Fatality in F:

Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble  ┃  iBooks  ┃  Kobo  ┃ Goodreads


About the author, Alexia Gordon Alexia Gordon

A writer since childhood, Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in North Chicago, IL. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories

Connect with Alexia:

Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram  ║BookBub  ║ Twitter ║ Goodreads


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI confess! I didn’t read the first three books in this series. Normally, that’s a no-no in the world of reviews, but Alexia Gordon’s characters are so vivid, and the world they inhabit is so well-drawn that everything I needed to know about Gethsemane Brown that wasn’t spelled out in this novel, Fatality in F, was made clear from context. Seriously, stepping into this series unprepared was NOT a problem, so if you happen to do so, don’t let it it throw you. This book is a fantastic story, and not knowing the backstory doesn’t detract from the experience one whit.

Here’s what’s important to know: Alexia Gordon combines mystery, cozy, romance and a hint of paranormal in the perfect combinations. She has the best-ever setting – a cute Irish town, a rose and garden show, and a private boys school – it’s like she checked every box in some ultimate fantasy combination for all of us who have PBS brains and Hallmark hearts and then put her own spin on it, because nothing is sappy. Music, math, esoteric knowledge of the language of flowers – she manages to make it all fascinating and relevant, and leave you wanting more.

At the heart of it, of course, is Gethsemane Brown. She’s eccentric. She’s brilliant. She’s the kind of person you want to observe from a distance before approaching with caution and then spending an intense afternoon with, trading stories (and shots of whiskey). Better yet, she has male friends who aren’t in competition to be romantic partners. She’s confident and strong without needing a man to complete her, and that’s really refreshing.

Fatality in F is the perfect cure for a gray winter day: a compelling mystery with shots of humor and and whimsy and plenty of grace notes that never fall flat.

Goes well with Irish stew with brown bread and your favorite whiskey.


Giveaway

give-fatalityinf

One winner receives a signed copy of Fatality in F and 

a $30 Gift Card to David Austin Roses

FEBRUARY 26-MARCH 8, 2019

(US ONLY)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Stops for Fatality in F

 

2/26/19 Sneak Peek Texas Book Lover
2/26/19 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
2/27/19 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
2/28/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
3/1/19 Top 5 List StoreyBook Reviews
3/1/19 Author Interview Max Knight
3/2/19 Review Bibliotica
3/3/19 Review Sybrina’s Book Blog
3/4/19 Top 5 List That’s What She’s Reading
3/4/19 Top 5 List The Love of a Bibliophile
3/5/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
3/6/19 Series Spotlight Kelly Well Read
3/6/19 Excerpt Syd Savvy
3/7/19 Review Forgotten Winds
3/7/19 Review Book Fidelity

 

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Review: Learning to See, by Elise Hooper

About the book, Learning to See

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 22, 2019)

Learning-to-See-cover“Written with grace, empathy, and bright imagination, Learning to See gives us the vivid interior life of a remarkably resilient woman. Dorothea Lange’s story is about passion and art, love and family, but also about the sacrifices women make—and have always made—to illuminate the truth of the world.” Danya Kukafka, national bestselling author of Girl in Snow

Learning to See is a gripping account of the Dorothea Lange, the woman behind the camera who risked everything for art, activism, and love. …

In 1918, a fearless twenty-two-year old arrives in bohemian San Francisco from the Northeast, determined to make her own way as an independent woman. Renaming herself Dorothea Lange she is soon the celebrated owner of the city’s most prestigious and stylish portrait studio and wife of the talented but volatile painter, Maynard Dixon.

By the early 1930s, as America’s economy collapses, her marriage founders and Dorothea must find ways to support her two young sons single-handedly. Determined to expose the horrific conditions of the nation’s poor, she takes to the road with her camera, creating images that inspire, reform, and define the era. And when the United States enters World War II, Dorothea chooses to confront another injustice—the incarceration of thousands of innocent Japanese Americans.

At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, Dorothea Lange, creator of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, dares to be different. But her choices came at a steep price…

Buy, read, and discuss Learning to See:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the Author, Elise Hooper

Elise-Hooper-AP-Photo-by-Chris-Landry-PhotographyA New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she teaches history and literature. The Other Alcott was her first novel.

Connect with Elise:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI come from a long line of amateur photographers, so I’ve long been familiar with the real Dorothea Lange’s work. Reading a fictionalized version of her life, then, was something I was eager to do. Having read and enjoyed author Elise Hooper’s freshman outing, The Other Alcott, I was familiar with her crisp, no-nonsense style, one that makes her extrapolations feel like proper docu-dramas. In this case, I imagined Katharine Hepburn playing the lead character, though I’m not sure why. Possibly because Lange is from the time period that lends itself to that ‘trans-Atlantic’ accent.

I immediately fell in love with both the historic San Francisco setting, and the character at the heart of the novel, the prickly, feisty, determined Lange herself. Like her, I’m a brunette, and hardly a ‘looker,’ and have had to rely on brains and talent (as we all should, really), so I empathized with her a lot. Immediately I was thankful that she was living in a time when women in trousers was finally acceptable – how much easier to hide that ‘withered right leg’ that way.

Of course, it wasn’t just Lange’s struggle to become successful as an artist that intrigued me, but also her perspective on the world. She humanized the American poor, and, equally importantly, turned her lens on our worst selves, documenting the truth of the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.

Hooper’s novel shows us this, of course, but she also lets us see Lange’s private self: the young mother struggling to raise two children in the Depression-era economy, and balancing the need to make a living with the innate requirement that she must retain her own sense of integrity, both personal and artistic.

This is a novel, not a biography, but it’s a compelling and fascinating read, and where it may err in facts, it resounds with truth.

Goes well with bacon, eggs, pancakes, and a steaming mug of black coffee.


Tour Stops for Learning to See TLC Book Tours

Instagram Features

Tuesday, January 22nd: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Tuesday, January 22nd: Instagram: @readvoraciously

Wednesday, January 23rd: Instagram: @reading.betweenthewines

Wednesday, January 23rd: Instagram: @katieladyreads

Thursday, January 24th: Instagram: @readingbringsjoy

Thursday, January 24th: Instagram: @basicbsguide

Friday, January 25th: Instagram: @readingbetweenthe__wines

Saturday, January 26th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary

Sunday, January 27th: Instagram: @wellreadmama

Monday, January 28th: Instagram: @ciannereads

Review Stops

Tuesday, January 22nd: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Wednesday, January 23rd: BookNAround

Thursday, January 24th: Bibliotica

Friday, January 25th: InkyMoments

Monday, January 28th: Dreams, Etc.

Monday, January 28th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, January 29th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, January 30th: Into the Hall of Books

Thursday, January 31st: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, February 4th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary

Tuesday, February 5th: Doing Dewey

Wednesday, February 6th: Lindsay’s Book Reviews

Thursday, February 7th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, February 8th: 5 Minutes For Books

Review: Aransas Evening, by Jeff Hampton – with Giveaway

BNR Aransas Evening JPG

About the book, Aransas Evening

  • Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
  • Publisher: Jeff Hampton, Writer
  • Publication Date: October 4, 2018
  • Number of Pages: 346 pages
  • Scroll down for giveaway

Cover hi res Aransas EveningLife in Port Aransas was looking breezy and bright for Sam and his friends at the Dream Bean coffee shop. Shelly and Dave were talking marriage, Allie and Bo were tightening their family ties, and Sam was welcoming newcomers to town and falling for a new singer at the Sea Garden. But storms are never far away on the Texas Gulf Coast, and there would be none more destructive than Hurricane Harvey. Would Sam and his friends survive Harvey’s awful fury? And would life in Port Aransas ever be the same again? Find out in Aransas Evening, the sequel to Aransas Morning by Jeff Hampton.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Author Website │ Amazon │ Etsy  | Goodreads

Praise for the Aransas series:

–    “Hampton’s characters pulled me in; hook, line, and sinker.”

–    “The pace of the book is slow and easy, and I slipped into its rhythm like the ebb and flow of the water lapping against the shoreline.”

–    “A lovely story about community, and how family isn’t always the one you are born into.

–    “Isak Dinesen once wrote, ‘The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.’  Jeff Hampton has illustrated that with grace, elegance, and excellent coffee.”


About the author, Jeff Hampton

Author Pic Jeff HamptonJeff Hampton has based his life and career in Texas writing for newspapers, magazines, businesses, and institutions. His interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.

Aransas Evening is his sixth book, following Aransas MorningGrandpa JackJonah ProphetWhen the Light Returned to Main Street, and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Connect with Jeff:

Website ║ Goodreads ║ Twitter ║ Instagram ║ Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellWhen I read Jeff Hampton’s previous Aransas novel, Aransas Morning, I immediately fell in love with the setting, the people, and the theme of never being too old to discover who you truly are. It wasn’t a shock, then, that I jumped to read and review the sequel, and I’m glad I did, because returning to Port A was like coming home to a place I’d visited once, but only ever lived in my dreams.

The themes are a bit stronger in this novel, as is appropriate for a story that spans the days before and after Hurricane Harvey. (One could argue that we are still living in the ‘after,’ just not quite so close). We see Dave and Shelley’s relationship progressing toward marriage, albeit one built entirely on their terms, while we also see our beloved salty fisherman Bo and his daughter accept and try to handle his aging, and specifically his increasing memory loss/dementia/Alzheimer’s issues. For me, this story line hit particularly close to home, because as a young woman I watched my grandmother become diminished in that way, and also because in the time since August 2017, we’ve bid a permanent farewell to both of my in-laws, my stepfather (really my only father-figure) and my last great-uncle.

Death and loss and changing positions in life are part of growing older, and seeing characters in novels go through these very human changes is both revealing of who they are, and of who we are, as readers.

And then there is Sam. In the first novel, Sam was very much the central character; the major story line was his own escape from a previous life in Dallas and his evolution into the person he is by the end of the story. In Aransas Evening, while Sam is still a pivotal player, he’s more catalyst than protagonist at times, or maybe this novel is just more coherent as an ensemble piece.

Overall, Aransas Evening is a treat of a book, full of characters – old and new – who feel real enough to jump off the pages and share a mug of coffee while sitting with our toes in the sand. It’s a portrait of a place I wish I could visit in person, and a place I want to revisit in fiction over and over again.

Goes well with fresh-caught fish grilled over an open flame, and a cold beer.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

Grand Prize Winner:

Signed Copies of all six of Jeff Hampton’s books

2 Winners:

Signed Copies of both Aransas books + Grandpa Jack + a pack of Texas Themed note cards

2 Winners:

Signed Copies of Aransas Evening & Grandpa Jack + a pack of Texas Themed note cards

JANUARY 17-26, 2019

(USA only)

Giveaway Aransas Evening

 

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Tour Stops for Aransas Evening

1/17/19 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
1/17/19 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
1/18/19 Review Bibliotica
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1/22/19 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
1/23/19 Review The Clueless Gent
1/24/19 Review The Love of a Bibliophile
1/25/19 Scrapbook Reading by Moonlight
1/26/19 Review Forgotten Winds

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Review: America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

About the book, America for Beginners America-for-Beginners-cover

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (July 24, 2018)

Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.

Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.

Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pival’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week “working” vacation traveling across America be?

Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.

A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Leah Franqui Leah-Franqui-AP-Photo-by-Priyam-Dhar

Leah Franqui is a graduate of Yale University and received an MFA at NYU-Tisch. She is a playwright and the recipient of the 2013 Goldberg Playwriting Award, and also wrote a web series for which she received the Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting award (aftereverafterwebseries.com). A Puerto Rican-Jewish Philadelphia native, Franqui lives with her Kolkata-born husband in Mumbai. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is her first novel.

Connect with Leah:

Find out more about Franqui at her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

At first, I had a tough time connecting with this book – my stepfather was in the hospital in his last days of life, and I’d just had surgery and was dealing with Norco fog. I had to set it aside and go back to it. A month after surgery, and a week after the loss of my stepfather, I was feeling steady enough to tackle it again.

I’m glad I did.

Leah Franqui has, in this book, given us a fresh and interesting take on the “misfits take a road trip” trope. An Indian housewife, a Bangladeshi man masquerading as an Indian man, and a struggling actress are not the typical cast of such a book, especially with each of their backstories, but together, they present a charming picture as they experience both America and each other ‘uncensored.’

I really appreciated the way Franqui used posture and language to show us each character’s real self, and I also liked that we got so much backstory at the beginning. The characters may have been strangers to each other, but we readers had deep introductions to them, that made it less confusing when we were presented with so many characters to start.

For a first novel, America for Beginners really sings, and as much as I enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to reading whatever Ms. Franqui publishes next.

Goes well with chicken tikka masala and any beer with a rye note, such as Boulevard Rye-on-Rye.


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TBD: Bibliotica

Review: The Daisy Children, by Sofia Grant

About the book, The Daisy Children The-Daisy-Children-cover

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 7, 2018)

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…

When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.

There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Sofia Grant Sofia-Grant-AP-Photo-by-Madeira-James

Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.

Connect with Sofia:

Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I always enjoy it when a novel incorporates real events in a fresh way. In the case of The Daisy Children, that event is the 1937 explosion of a school in a small town in Texas. Interestingly, that event is what led to the requirement that a bad scent be added to natural gas, so that you can tell when there’s a leak.

Within the context of this novel, however, the explosion was a connection point for protagonist Katie, whom we meet on the day she’s fired from her job, and her vivacious cousin Scarlett, as the two go through ancient family photographs while waiting to collect a surprise (at least on Katie’s part) inheritance.

As with her first novel, The Dress in the Window, Sofia Grant’s touch is a delicate one, giving the impression that she was listening to characters as they told their own stories, rather than creating them from imagination and research. Her dialogue is spot-on, with Katie and Scarlett having their own distinct voices, of course, but also with the period characters sounding as if they were accurately placed in the 30s and 40s, but without being fussy.

The plot was interesting – I never lost focus, and zipped through this book in a few hours – and descriptions were vivid (sometimes a bit too much so.)

Overall, this is a solid sophomore offering, and I recommend Grant’s work to anyone who wants to get lost in a good book.

Goes well with sweet tea and chicken salad served with homemade biscuits.


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TBD: A Bookish Affair

Review: Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

About the book, Boardwalk Summer Boardwalk Summer

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 19, 2018)

In this new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Dowry, two young women two generations apart discover the joy and heartbreak of following their dreams. Aspiring Hollywood actress Violet makes a shocking choice in 1940, and seventy years later, Mari sets out to discover what happened on that long ago summer.

Santa Cruz, Summer 1940: When auburn-haired Violet Harcourt is crowned Miss California on the boardwalk of her hometown, she knows she is one step closer to her cherished dream: a Hollywood screen test. But Violet’s victory comes with a price—discord in her seemingly perfect marriage—and she grapples with how much more she is willing to pay.

Summer 2007: Single mother Marisol Cruz lives with her parents in the charming beach cottage that belonged to her grandfather, Ricardo, once a famed performer on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Drawn to the town’s local history and the quaint gazebo where her grandparents danced beneath the stars, Mari sells raffle tickets at the Beach Boardwalk Centennial Celebration, and meets Jason, a California transplant from Chicago.

When Mari discovers the obituary of Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen who died too young, she and Jason are sent on a journey together that will uncover her grandfather’s lifelong secret—his connection to Violet—a story of tragedy and courage that will forever transform them.

Buy, read, and discuss Boardwalk Summer:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About Meredith Jaeger Meredith-Jaeger-AP-Erika-Pino-Photography

USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

Connect with Meredith:

Find out more about Meredith at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

It seems appropriate that my review of this book, Boardwalk Summer is going live on the day of the summer solstice, because it’s such a magical book with it’s twin stories, one set in nearly contemporary Santa Cruz, and one set several decades before.

Our two heroines, Marisol (2007) and Violet (1940) couldn’t be more different: Mari is Latinx, a single mother, a history buff, and part of a generations-old Santa Cruz family. Violet is an unhappy wife stuck in a brutal marriage, but left with unfulfilled dreams of an acting career.

The men in the story were all well drawn also, but it was the women, more than anything, that truly captured my attention.

Still, those surface differences hide something similar: both women are strong and determined, each in their own way, and each must ultimately make hard choices in order to find a life that is closer to the one they dream of.

Aside from the strong woman characters found, not just in Mari and Violet, but also in Marisol’s mother and young daughter, and in Violet’s friend’s Evie and Roxy, what I loved about this book was the way the city of Santa Cruz was a character in its own right, both in the 40’s and in the contemporary part of the story.

Boardwalk towns always have a kind of magic that other cities never do, but Santa Cruz is a special blend of old world California and new, hipster California, of the dark side of colonialism, and the brighter side of a thriving Latinx culture and a university town (Go Slugs!) blending into a quirky, lively, harmonious whole, and author Meredith Jaeger has captured that particularly well.

With realistic, dimensional characters, a true-to-life setting and a pair of plots that are equally compelling Boardwalk Summer is as delightful as a ride on the Giant Dipper (the vintage wooden roller coaster on the boardwalk) without any chance of nausea afterward.

Goes well with cotton candy eaten as you stroll along the wooden planks on a balmy summer evening, listening to the music from the carousel.


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