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.


America for Beginners Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Instagram Features

Tuesday, July 24th: Instagram: @theloudlibrarylady

Wednesday, July 25th: Instagram: @read.write.coffee

Thursday, July 26th: Instagram: @megabunnyreads

Friday, July 27th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Saturday, July 28th: Instagram: @absorbedinpages

Sunday, July 29th: Instagram: @sweetbookobsession

Monday, July 30th: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Review Stops

Tuesday, July 24th: Wining Wife

Thursday, July 26th: Broken Teepee

Friday, July 27th: Instagram: @the_need_to_read

Monday, July 30th: bookchickdi

Tuesday, July 31st: Instagram: @Novelmombooks

Wednesday, August 1st: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, August 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, August 6th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, August 7th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, August 8th: Literary Quicksand

Thursday, August 9th: From the TBR Pile

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.


Tour Stops for The Daisy Children TLC Book Tours

Instagram Features

Sunday, August 5th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds

Monday, August 6th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary

Tuesday, August 7th: Instagram: @girlsinbooks

Wednesday, August 8th: Instagram: @writersdream

Thursday, August 9th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate

Friday, August 10th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary

Saturday, August 11th: Instagram: @theloudlibrarylady

Review Stops

Tuesday, August 7th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 8th: Broken Teepee

Friday, August 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, August 13th: bookchickdi

Tuesday, August 14th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Wednesday, August 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, August 15th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, August 16th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, August 20th: Wining Wife

Tuesday, August 21st: Instagram: @writersdream

Wednesday, August 22nd: Instagram: @Novelmombooks

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.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 19th: bookchickdi

Wednesday, June 20th: Reading Reality

Thursday, June 21st: Bibliotica

Friday, June 22nd: Literary Quicksand

Monday, June 25th: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Tuesday, June 26th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 27th: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews

Thursday, June 28th: Instagram: @notthepathtonarnia

Tuesday, July 3rd: BookNAround

Wednesday, July 4th: Tina Says…

Thursday, July 5th: Instagram: @writersdream

 

 

 

Spotlight: Dam Nation by Hays & McFall – with Giveaway

BNR Dam Nation Tour JPG

About the book, Bonnie & Clyde: Dam Nation

  • Series: Bonnie & Clyde (Book 2)
  • Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance
  • Publisher:  Pumpjack Press on Facebook
  • Date of Publication: March 24, 2018
  • Number of Pages: 266

cover HI RES Dam NationBonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work.  Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit.

So, why is someone trying to blow it up?

When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It’s their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.

Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?

The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.

Dam Nation, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels, continues the explosive “what-if” series, started in Resurrection Road, about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America’s Great Depression.

Praise for Dam Nation: GRAPHIC with Kirkus Review

Crisply written, well-researched, thoroughly entertaining. As in Resurrection Road, Hays and McFall evoke time and place well in this sequel. The story’s politics are fresh and timely. Readers will find Bonnie and Clyde to be great company, and the novel’s framing story (the widowed Bonnie’s 1984 recollections) gives their relationship an extra layer of poignancy. — Kirkus Reviews

“Dam Nation” highlights the real-life turmoil of the 1930s as only Hays and McFall can — shadowy intrigue, plenty of suspects and enough behind-the-scenes and under-the-covers action to keep the narrative sizzling along to the final page. — East Oregonian

A rollicking good read. The real history of the rise of unions and worker rights against the backdrop of a nation recovering from the Great Depression contributes an engrossing, realistic scenario; a vivid read that blends fiction with nonfiction elements in a way that makes the book hard to put down. — Midwest Book Review

Buy, read, and discuss Dam Nation:

Amazon | Goodreads

Check out a quote from Dam Nation:

Notable Quotable from Dam Nation

Watch the trailer for Resurrection Road (book one of Bonnie  & Clyde):

 


About the authors, Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall Authors Hays_Mcfall Photo

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed.

Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book.

Connect with Hays & McFall:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 


Giveaway

Three Winners Each Win a Signed Copy + $10 Amazon Gift Card

MAY 16-25, 2018

(U.S. Only)

Giveaway Dam Nation
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Bonnie & Clyde Dam Nation Blog Tour Stops

5/16/18 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
5/17/18 Review Forgotten Winds
5/18/18 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
5/19/18 Notable Quotable Bibliotica
5/20/18 Review Missus Gonzo
5/21/18 Character Interview Texas Book Lover
5/22/18 Notable Quotable Tangled in Text
5/23/18 Review Hall Ways Blog
5/24/18 Guest Post Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/25/18 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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Review: Searching for Pilar by Patricia Hunt Holmes – with Giveaway

Searching for Pilar

Scroll down for giveaway.

About the book, Searching for Pilar Searching for Pilar

  • Genre: Contemporary Suspense / Thriller
  • Publisher: River Grove Books
  • Publication Date: April 10, 2018
  • Number of Pages: 320 pages

Pilar, an innocent young wife and mother, is abducted during a fake job interview in Mexico City and forced into sex slavery in Houston. Can she survive the horrors of a world—one which many good Americans don’t see or ignore—long enough for her brother Diego to find her?

Searching for Pilar breaks open the secretive and dangerous world of sex trafficking, while exploring human nature and our connections to each another. Diego’s guilt transforms him from a rudderless youth into a man of purpose, and courage. While he searches, Pilar finds a strength that could save herself and a young girl who needs her. The themes of family, love, faith and the law intertwine in this action-packed tale of the Bayou City.

Buy, read, and discuss Searching for Pilar:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Patricia Hunt Holmes

Patricia Hunt HolmesPatricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with the international law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP.   She was consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers in Houston, and awarded the highest degree by her peers in Martindale Hubbell. She was a frequent speaker at national public finance and healthcare conferences.  Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

Patricia has been a member and board member of social service organizations in Houston that focus on helping women, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red.  She was a founding member and first board chair of Houston Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants.  For the past five years, she has been taking writing workshops with Inprint, associated with the outstanding University of Houston Creative Writing Program.  She began to write Searching for Pilar in a workshop after learning that Houston is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the country.

Connect with Patricia:

Website  ║  Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Goodreads ║ LinkedIn


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

With gritty subject matter – sex trafficking – at the heart of this novel, it was by no means an easy read, and I’m hesitant to say that I liked it, because, in terms of what Pilar suffered, I didn’t like it at all.

However, the fact that I even had to pause and think about what I was liking is testament to author Patricia Hunt Holmes’s talent as a storyteller. She create such a strong character in Pilar, and such a vibrant and rich (if often sinister and cold) world for her to occupy, that the story itself was gripping, and I stayed up far too late to read to the end, because I couldn’t let the story go unfinished.

What I really liked about Searching for Pilar was the author’s sense of place. Mexico scenes felt like Mexico, and Houston felt like Houston. That level of detail really made the novel feel real – too real, in places – but these are stories we need to hear, this is an awareness we need to have.

Author Holmes gives us a compelling, ultimately brilliant story about a horrible practice, but she does it with care and grace and considerable talent.

Goes well with a chicken quesadilla with mango salsa, and a margarita on the rocks.


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS! 

1st & 2nd Prizes: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + Mexican Necklace

3rd Prize: Signed Copy of Searching for Pilar + $20 Amazon Gift Card

(U.S. Only)

Searching for Pilar Giveaway

 

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Searching for Pilar Blog Tour Stops

4/25/18 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
4/26/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
4/27/18 Author Interview Forgotten Winds
4/28/18 Review Tangled in Text
4/29/18 Guest Post The Page Unbound
4/30/18 Scrapbook Page That’s What She’s Reading
5/1/18 Review Bibliotica
5/2/18 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
5/3/18 Guest Post The Librarian Talks
5/4/18 Review Missus Gonzo

 

 

 

Review: A Dangerous Game, by Heather Graham

A Dangerous GameAbout the book, A Dangerous Game

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (March 13, 2018)

TROUBLE ALWAYS FINDS HER…

Wrapping up a normal day at the office, criminal psychologist Kieran Finnegan is accosted by a desperate woman who shoves an infant into her arms and then flees, only to be murdered minutes later on a busy Manhattan street.

Who was the woman? Where did the baby come from? Kieran can’t stop thinking about the child and the victim, so her boyfriend, Craig Frasier, does what any good special agent boyfriend would do—he gets the FBI involved. And asks Kieran to keep out of it.

But the Finnegans have a knack for getting into trouble, and Kieran won’t sit idle when a lead surfaces through her family’s pub. Investigating on her own, she uncovers a dangerous group that plays fast and loose with human lives and will stop at nothing to keep their secrets—and they plan to silence Kieran before she can expose their deadly enterprise.

Buy, read, and discuss A Dangerous Game:

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


About the author, Heather Graham Heather Graham

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She’s a winner of the RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America.

Connect with Heather:

Websites:

TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com | eHeatherGraham.com

Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter  | YouTube


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts:

I always enjoy Heather Graham’s work, and A Dangerous Game is no exception. It’s the third installment in her “New York Confidential” series, but even though I haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy, I had no problem following the backstories of the existing characters. In fact, one of the things I really liked was that when Graham writes intimate scenes between protagonist Kieran Finnegan and her boyfriend Craig Fraiser, they really show the comfort of an established relationship without feeling boring or stale.

Graham is equally deft at  writing intricate, fast-paced plots and vivid characters. The joy of reading something that’s part of a series is that the world you enter is rich and layered without the need for a ton of setup. The heart of the novel – the pub owned by Kieran and her brothers – was so well drawn that I found my mouth watering for shepherd’s pie, and I could hear the clanging of silverware and the driving beat of Irish rock music.

This isn’t ‘just’ a romance novel, however, it’s also a mystery, and that part of the book is never forgotten, nor is plot sacrificed for character moments that wouldn’t make sense.

Graham has given us another novel to devour – that’s really the way her books are best enjoyed – and, as always, I find that the experience was both entertaining and incredibly satisfying.

Goes well with Irish stew served with brown bread and a glass of hard cider.


Excerpt Tour Stops:  TLC Book Tours

Monday, February 19th: Stuck in Books

Tuesday, February 20th: Books & Spoons

Wednesday, February 21st: Read Love Blog

Thursday, February 22nd: Jathan & Heather

Monday, February 26th: Moonlight Rendezvous

Tuesday, February 27th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, February 28th: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, March 1st: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Friday, March 2nd: Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, March 5th: What is That Book About

Tuesday, March 6th: A Holland Reads

Wednesday, March 7th: Books a la Mode

Thursday, March 8th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, March 9th: Nightbird Novels

 

Review Tour Stops:

Monday, March 12th: Moonlight Rendezvous

Monday, March 12th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, March 13th: Books & Bindings

Wednesday, March 14th: Romancing the Readers

Monday, March 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 20th: Thoughts of a Blond

Wednesday, March 21st: Books & Spoons

Thursday, March 22nd: Write Read Life

Friday, March 23rd: The Romance Dish

Friday, March 23rd: Jathan & Heather

Monday, March 26th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, March 27th: Stranded in Chaos

Wednesday, March 28th: A Holland Reads

Thursday, March 29th: Cheryl’s Book Nook

Friday, March 30th: Clues & Reviews

Monday, April 2nd: Sultry Sirens Book Blog

Tuesday, April 3rd: Book Nerd

Wednesday, April 4th: OMG Reads – Spotlight

Thursday, April 5th: Mystery Suspense Reviews

Friday, April 6th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, April 10th: Evermore Books

TBD: A Fortress of Books

Review: Best Friends Forever, by Margot Hunt

About the book, Best Friends Forever

Best Friends ForeverHardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: MIRA (January 23, 2018)

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Buy, read, and discuss Best Friends Forever:

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


About the author, Margot Hunt

Margot HuntMargot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

Connect with Margot:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellOpening with a scene of contemporary domestic life, we are introduced to Alice Campbell before we ever meet Kat, wife of the deceased, and that’s appropriate, because most of this novel is from Alice’s point of view.

I really liked Alice’s internal commentary, the way she kept biting back her initial responses (something she learned from a marriage counselor) but more than that, I liked that even though she didn’t always like the choices she’d made during her life, she owned them.

Overall, this novel was a really satisfying read. I liked that the two female protagonists, Alice and Kat, were both mature adults with families, not wide-eyed ingenues, or still-naive newlyweds. I liked that their friendship was formed organically – a chance meeting – rather than in a PTA.

As to the story, Margot Hunt’s style kept me interested from the first page to the end, and she truly surprised me with a couple of her plot twists. Her voice is contemporary and fresh, very readable, and her descriptions are cinematic. I could totally see Best Friends Forever as a Lifetime movie (though I’d rather see it as a Starz limited series.)

Interesting, truthful characters, not just Alice and Kat, but also Alice’s husband Todd, and the two investigating officers, really grounded this novel in reality, while the tightly-woven plot really sang.

Goes well with a vodka martini, really dirty.


Review Tour for Best Friends Forever

Monday, January 22nd: Girls in Books blog and Instagram

Monday, January 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Literary Llama on Instagram

Wednesday, January 24th: Katy’s Library blog and Instagram

Thursday, January 25th: Clues and Reviews

Friday, January 26th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, January 29th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Tuesday, January 30th: LiteraryJo Reviews blog and Instagram

Wednesday, January 31st: Bibliotica

Friday, February 2nd: Chick Lit Central

Monday, February 5th: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Tuesday, February 6th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, February 7th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, February 8th: A Holland Reads

Friday, February 9th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind and Instagram

Sunday, February 11th: Books and Bindings

Monday, February 12th: Novel Gossip blog and Instagram

Monday, February 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, February 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 15th: Bookchickdi

Friday, February 16th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Review: Aransas Morning, by Jeff Hampton – with Giveaway

 

About the book, Aransas Morning Aransas Morning

  • Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life
  • Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 304

When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.

Praise for Aransas Morning:

  • “Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”
  • “In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”
  • “I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”
  • “Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”
  • “Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”

Buy, read, and discuss Aransas Morning:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Etsy | Jeff Hampton Writer


About the Author, Jeff Hampton

Author pic Jeff HamptonDuring a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.

He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where 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 Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa JackWhen the Light Returned to Main StreetJonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Connect with Jeff:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve lived in Texas for almost fourteen years, but I’ve never been to the Gulf Coast, and my first thought when reading Aransas Morning was, “I have to correct that error.”

My second thought was that beach towns are essentially the same whether they’re in New Jersey, California, Mexico, or, apparently, Texas, and as a long-time visitor and some-time resident of such towns, I really loved how well the author, Jeff Hampton, captured the laid-back vibe so inherent to such places. There’s just something about living so close to sun, sand, and surf that changes your internal rhythms, and even I, a life-long night owl, find myself up at sunrise whenever I’m at the beach.

Aside from immediately putting the reader in that beachy state of mind, Hampton tells a compelling story. There’s nothing flashy in his writing – the language is pretty simple, and the characters are the kinds of ordinary people we interact with every day – and yet there’s something about Sam, Dave, Bo, Shelly, and Allie that makes you want to keep reading.

From the first chapter, I was rooting for every character. I particularly loved that grizzled fisherman Bo had that softer side, that twinkle in his eye. Gruff characters run the risk of being stereotypes, but Hampton gave this gruff character just enough depth that he became supremely real.

In fact, that’s true of all of the characters in this novel. Each is flawed; none are villains. They’re a collection of people who are each on their own journey, and any one of them is interesting enough to follow, but Hampton has woven them together into a tapestry of growth and change, new relationships, and old dreams, and created something truly special.

Isak Dineson once wrote, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” In Aransas Morning, Jeff Hampton has illustrated that with grace, elegance, and excellent coffee.

Goes well with: Fresh-caught fish, grilled on an open fire, served with a simple salad and cold beer.


Giveaway

Giveaway Aransas Morning

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Aransas Morning Blog Tour Links

1/23/18 Promo A Page Before Bedtime
1/23/18 Promo Reading by Moonlight
1/24/18 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
1/24/18 Review Bibliotica
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 2 Forgotten Winds
1/26/18 Review Texan Girl Reads
1/27/18 Review Tangled in Text
1/28/18 Author Interview The Page Unbound
1/28/18 Playlist Syd Savvy
1/29/18 Review The Clueless Gent
1/30/18 Promo Texas Book Lover
1/30/18 Scrapbook Page The Librarian Talks
1/31/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
2/1/18 Review Missus Gonzo

 

 

Review: Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms, by Leigh Greenwood and Others – with Giveaway

Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms

About the book, Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms

  • Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / HistoricalChristmas in a Cowboy's Arms
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
  • Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
  • Authors: Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, Amy Sandas
  • Number of Pages: 512

The Beating Heart of Christmas

In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.

Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

Buy, read, and discuss Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms:

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


Connect with the Authors

Rosanne BittnerRosanne Bittner

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Linda BrodayLinda Broday

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

Margaret BrownleyMargaret Brownley

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Anna SchmidtAnna Schmidt

Website | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

 

 

Amy SandasAmy Sandas

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

 

Leigh Greenwood

Website | Goodreads


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’m not a regular reader of romance novels, so the novellas in this collection, Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms were all new material for me. I suppose being more familiar with the authors’ various series would have been helpful, but I didn’t feel like I was missing any major puzzle pieces by coming to these stories as a new reader.

All six of the works in this collection have two things in common: they’re Christmas romances, and they’re set in the West in the 1800’s. It’s a fun period to explore, and an excellent region to choose. As I learned from several visits to the Cowgirl Museum in Fort Worth (not as hokey as it sounds), women of the west were strong, smart, and incredibly resourceful.

This is true even within their relationships.

And this book explored a variety of relationships. In no particular order, we have a woman defying prejudice to marry a Latino man, man who regularly converses with his horse and dog while on the road to clear his besmirched name and ends up helping a widow in distress, a woman who’s been burned by love for a Texas Ranger but finds herself falling for another, and a doctor being kidnapped by outlaws only to find his ex holding him at gunpoint. And that’s only four of the six stories.

Because each tale was written by a different person, the tone of each is distinctly different. I was most drawn to the stories by Margaret Brownley (“A Texas Ranger for Christmas”) and Anna Schmidt (“A Christmas Baby”) but each one was charming and sweet and full of the hope, wonder, and joy that fills the Christmas season.

Goes well with a salted caramel mocha (or hot chocolate) and a slice of gingerbread (I make mine with a candy cane frosting laced with peppermint schnapps).


Giveaway

December 1-December 10, 2017

Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

(U.S. Only)

 

Enter to Win

 

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Check Out The Whole Blog Tour

12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

Lone Star Book Blog Tours

 

Lone Star Literary Life

Spotlight: The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali – With Giveaway

THE BIG EVENT

About The Big Event

The Big EventYou are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

A Gorgeous Venue, A Room Full of Friends, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Buy, read, and discuss The Big Event:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BlogSite | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Watch the Trailer


About The Author

Anne John-LigaliAnne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Connect with Anne:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter


Enter the Giveaway

The Big Event - Giveaway

Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

To enter and for full terms and conditions, please follow the link for everything you need to know.

http://annejohnligali.com/651-2/

THe Big Event