Review: Paranormal Texas, by Tui Snider – with Giveaway

Paranormal Texas

About the book, Paranormal Texas: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places Near Dallas & Fort Worth

  • Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History
  • Publisher: Castle Azle Press
  • Date of Publication: September 19, 2019 (2nd Edition)
  • Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images
  • Scroll down for a Video
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Paranormal Texas More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!

Tui Snider’s popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What’s new in Paranormal Texas2nd Edition?

Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:

  • Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd editionhas over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.
  • Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.
  • More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
  • Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:

See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.

  • Continually updated:This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.
  • Add your paranormal activity:Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?

  1. Ghost Hunters– If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.
  1. Armchair Travelers– If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

“Tui’s 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone to read as only Tui can tell it!”  – Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Tui Snider

Tui SniderTui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TVCoast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman WakingShades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

Connect with Tui:

WEBSITE  |  FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  INSTAGRAM  |  YOUTUBE  | GRAVE HOUR ON INSTAGRAM


Watch a Video from the Author

5 Surprising Facts about Haunted Places in Paranormal Texas

 

 


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I first encountered Tui Snider’s work when I read and reviewed Understanding Cemetery Symbols two years ago. What I found then was a woman who was part storyteller, part adventurer, and part believer in the things the rest of us prefer not to notice – the unexplained, the ineffable, the shouldn’t-be-possible.

While I did not read the first edition of this book, Paranormal Texas: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places Near Dallas & Fort Worth, I can tell you that this edition, the second, had me urging my husband to plan some local and local-ish road trips, and the only thing that has kept us from doing so is that we were out-of-state when the book arrived at my house, and that I’m two weeks away from having (another) knee surgery.

Still, even just reading this book is like going on an adventure with Tui (I hope she doesn’t mind me using her first name) as your guide. Her language is friendly and accessible, as if she’s relating her experiences to a friend over coffee, and the information is presented in a logical manner: alphabetically by city.

It’s not just perfunctory information, either. Rather, Tui provides anecdotes that leave you steeped in local flavor, making this book almost as much a collection of spooky Texas folktales as it is a DFW travel guide.

Paranormal Texas is, of course, the perfect book for October (here’s hoping the weather cools down some so we can all explore these spirited sites in relative comfort), but it would be the perfect book for a lazy weekend in March or May, or (for the brave) August, as well.

Go forth and explore.

(Stay hydrated.)

Tui will guide you.

And if the hairs on your arms stand up when you’re looking at a gravesite or standing near an old bridge, well, that’s just a bonus feature.

Goes well with apple cider (hard or not) and bratwurst with mustard.


Giveaway 

 GRAND PRIZE (US only)

Signed Paperback + Handmade Cemetery Angel Pendant

+$10 Amazon Gift Card

2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy

3RD PRIZE (International)Kindle eBook

(US ONLY)

  October 1-October 11, 2019

Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Paranormal Texas Blog Tour Links:

10/1/19 Reading by Moonlight
10/2/19 Bibliotica
10/2/19 Book Fidelity
10/3/19 StoreyBook Reviews
10/4/19 Nerd Narration
10/4/19 Hall Ways Blog
10/5/19 Carpe Diem Chronicles
10/6/19 Forgotten Winds
10/6/19 Books and Broomsticks
10/7/19 The Page Unbound
10/8/19 The Book Review
10/8/19 Chapter Break Book Blog
10/9/19 Missus Gonzo
10/10/19 All the Ups and Downs

 

Review: Coming Home for Christmas, by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for ChristmasAbout the book, Coming Home for Christmas

 

  • Series: Haven Point (Book 10)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HQN; Original edition (September 24, 2019)

Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Raeanne Thayne RaeAnne-Thayne

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Cracking open a RaeAnne Thayne book, even when it’s a virtual ‘cracking’ because you’re reading a digital copy, is like hanging out with an old friend. The story will be new and exciting, but the voice telling it will be familiar.

This is especially true of Coming Home for Christmas, which isn’t just Thayne’s most recent release, but is also the tenth novel in her delightful Haven Point series. And while some may think the second day of autumn is a touch early to be reading a story set over the holidays, I found it a lovely respite from the heat and humidity of late summer.

As always, Thayne brings us a story rooted in family and relationships. Luke and Elizabeth are an estranged husband and wife, the latter having been missing for seven years when the novel opens with him storming into her current residence and demanding he return home with her. It’s an abrupt opening. Almost, I felt as though I’d missed a chapter, and yet, it set the pace of the novel perfectly, giving us a sense of urgency from Luke that carried through the entire book.

Both characters, as well as their friends and family, are written truthfully. No one is perfect; all are drawn with the charms and flaws of real people. This is what makes a RaeAnne Thayne novel so compelling: she peoples her fictional towns with the sorts of neighbors we all long to have, and populates their streets with the shops we all want to visit.

Is September a little early for a Christmas story? Maybe. But when you read Coming Home for Christmas, you’ll feel like you’re coming home to Haven Point, and you won’t mind that the calendar on your phone is a bit behind the one in the story.

Goes well with hot coffee and chocolate gingerbread.

 

Review: The Girl Who Loved Ghosts, by K.C. Tansley

The Girl Who Loved GhostsAbout the book, The Girl Who Loved Ghosts

 

  • Series: Unbelievables (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Beckett Publishing Group (September 16, 2019)

She’d do anything to save her friends and family. But will that mean sacrificing the ghosts she’s grown to love?

Kat is trying to settle back into her senior year at McTernan Academy, but destiny keeps getting in the way of schoolwork and friendships. Continuing her magical training means abandoning her best friend, until an attack by a mysterious entity on campus proves that the only place they’ll both be safe is Dumbarton, the ancestral home of the Langley family.

Evan struggles with his coursework, a flirty new housemate, and his daunting responsibilities as the Kingsley heir and new owner of Ravenhurst manor. He tries to hold onto his normal college life, but he knows it’s only a matter of time before he and Kat have to travel into the past again… And Kat is in mortal danger every minute they wait to retrieve the last amulet they need to defeat the Dark One.

As her normal life slips further away, Kat must face the terrible cost that comes with time travel. Completing her quest in the present requires changing the past. She knows that the results of her actions can be disastrous–because the ghosts of her ancestors tell her of their tragic fates. A trip to eighteenth-century Connecticut might change everything. Kat tries to protect everyone she loves, but risks destroying every relationship that matters to her.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


KC TansleyAbout the author, K.C. Tansley

K.C Tansley lives with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and two quirky golden retrievers on a hill somewhere in Connecticut. She tends to believe in the unbelievables—spells, ghosts, time travel—and writes about them.

Never one to say no to a road trip, she’s climbed the Great Wall twice, hopped on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, and danced the night away in the dunes of Cape Hatteras. She loves the ocean and hates the sun, which makes for interesting beach days. The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts is the first book in her YA time-travel murder mystery series.

As Kourtney Heintz, she also writes award winning cross-genre fiction for adults.

Connect with K.C.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I’ve been reading The Unbelievables series since the beginning, and it’s been a pleasure watching Kat grow up, just as it’s been a pleasure seeing K.C. Tansley’s writing get deeper and more evocative with every novel. Part of that, of course, is that her main character is getting older, but part of that is that when you’ve been writing in the same world for a while it becomes more and more real, just as it does when you’ve been reading it for a while.

At this point, I feel like Kat and her roommate/best friend Morgan, Evan, and even Seth are my friends, not just characters in books – they’re that well-drawn. When Kat feels alienated from Evan because his houseguest is getting flirty, I feel for her as keenly as I did when my own high school crush showed interest in someone else.

But this third installment in The Unbelievables series, The Girl Who Loved Ghosts, isn’t some teen romance. Sure, there are elements of romance in it, but it’s really about Kat’s calling to speak with ghosts, to help them solve their unfinished business, and for her combined work with Evan to unite their families, working with the living and the dead to do so.

This is a gripping adventure through time. It has moments of darkness and danger, but it also has moments of great poignance. It’s about honoring family, but it’s also about being true to yourself.

I loved revisiting Kat at her school, and joining her and Evan (and their friends) on their trans-dimensional trips to Dumbarton, but, as always, I was sad for the visit to end, and cannot wait for book four.

Goes well with beef stew and hard cider.

 

 

Review: Becoming Superman, by J. Michael Straczynski

Becoming-Superman-coverAbout the book, Becoming Superman

• Hardcover: 480 pages
• Publisher: Harper Voyager (July 23, 2019)

Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman!

“J. Michael Straczynski is, without question, one of the greatest science fiction minds of our time.”   — Max Brooks (World War Z)

For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics.  Yet there’s one story he’s never told before: his own.

In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.

Joe’s early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.

To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.

Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life.  It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


J.-Michael-Straczynski-AP-Photo-by-Peter-KonerkoAbout J. Michael Straczynski

J. Michael Straczynski has had one of the most varied careers of any American writer, penning hundreds of hours of television, comic books for Marvel and DC that have sold over 13 million copies, and movies that have grossed over a billion dollars.

Connect with J. Michael Straczynski:

Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

While I never got into Sense 8, my husband did, and we were both fans of J. Michael Straczynski’s previous television offerings, most notably Babylon 5, and Jeremiah. When I was offered the chance to read the man’s autobiography, then, I jumped at the chance, both to read it for my own enjoyment, and because I knew my husband would also like the opportunity (we share a Kindle library).
From the first word of Neil Gaiman’s introduction, I was hooked. Well, how could I not be? I mean, I’m a Gaiman fan, as well, so the combination was an automatic win-win for me, but getting to peek into the brain of someone whose work I’ve enjoyed for so long was a special experience.

Special… and often harrowing. I’m not one to spoil plots. I don’t even typically include a synopsis in my own thoughts, but JMS did not have an easy childhood, and there were moments when I wanted to reach back through the years and give that isolated, odd child a hug.

The moment when he discovered Superman is one I completely understood. My childhood was not nearly so traumatic, but we all have our moments – especially those of us who are geeks, or creators, or both – when something clicks inside us, and we recognize a kinship with something, even if that something is a fictional character in a red suit and tights. Superman is so iconic – is there any American kid who didn’t want to meet him or be him at some point in their life? – but that moment set the tone for the rest of the book, and the rest of this man’s life.

It’s a very honest narrative overall. Straczynski is clearly incredibly self-aware of who he is, where he’s from, and where’s he’s ended up. Like so many gifted people, he’s a little bit broken, but he’s made that work for him – and turned it into a gift for us.

This book isn’t a casual read, but if you’re a fan of JMS’s work, I’d highly recommend it.

Goes well with chicken shawarma and craft beer.


TLC BOOK TOURSReview Stops for Becoming Superman

Tuesday, July 23rd: Reading Reality

Wednesday, July 24th: Bibliotica

Thursday, July 25th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Friday, July 26th: The Desert Bibliophile

Monday, July 29th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Tuesday, July 30th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, July 31st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, August 1st: Literary Quicksand

Monday, August 5th: Tina Says…

Tuesday, August 6th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, August 7th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, August 9th: Instagram: @happiestwhenreading

 

Review: Summer on Mirror Lake, by JoAnn Ross

summer-on-mirror-lakeAbout the book, Summer on Mirror Lake

Hardcover: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQN; Original edition (June 11, 2019)

Summertime is the best time to lose yourself in the romance of Honeymoon Harbor…

When he lands in the emergency room after collapsing at the funeral of a colleague and friend, Wall Street hotshot Gabriel Mannion initially rejects the diagnosis of an anxiety attack. But when warned that if he doesn’t change his adrenaline-fueled, workaholic lifestyle he could end up like his friend, Gabe reluctantly returns to his hometown of Honeymoon Harbor to regroup.

As he adjusts to the sight of mountains instead of skyscrapers, Gabe discovers advantages to this small Pacific Northwest town he once couldn’t wait to escape. But it’s irresistible librarian Chelsea Prescott who, along with the two foster children she’s taken under her wing, makes slowing down seem like the best prescription ever.

Over the course of their summer romance, Gabe gets a taste of the life he might have had if he’d taken a different path. But with his return to New York City looming on the horizon, he’ll have to choose between the success he’s worked tirelessly for and a ready-made family who offers a very different, richly rewarding future…if he’ll only take the risk.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


JoAnn-Ross-300x200About the author, JoAnn Ross

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of bestselling authors, JoAnn lives with her husband and three rescued dogs — who pretty much rule the house — in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with JoAnn:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

If you want a summer read with depth and heart, JoAnn Ross’s Summer on Mirror Lake is it. Set in the charming Pacific Northwest village of Honeymoon Harbor (one of those towns that doesn’t really exist, but you totally wish did), this is a charming romance with a dash of social justice thrown in.

Main Characters Chelsea the librarian and Gabe the Wall Street mogul-turned-recreational-shipwright who works too hard come together in the way of all summer romances, when the former asks the latter to show the summer library kids what he’s doing (building a reproduction Viking ship). Chemistry ensues. Where the depth and social justice comes in are in the story of two sisters who are in the hands of a foster mother who means well, but doesn’t have a ton of time.

Author Ross has created a vibrant community in Honeymoon Harbor, one that makes you want to step inside the pages of the the book and spend a long weekend sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe, and poking around the galleries and cute shops. As well, she has created a collection of dimensional, believable characters, led by Chelsea and Gabe, but not limited to those two people.

Far more than a fluffy romance or your typical beach read, this book is a romance with meaning.

Goes well with hot coffee and a slice of peach pie.


TLC BOOK TOURSJoAnn Ross’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 3rd: Bookmark Lit

Monday, June 3rd: @nerdybooknurse

Monday, June 3rd: @angelareadsbooks

Tuesday, June 4th: Pacific Northwest Bookworm and @pnwbookworm

Wednesday, June 5th: Book by Book

Thursday, June 6th: Reading Reality

Friday, June 7th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 10th: Romancing the Readers

Monday, June 10th: @_ebl_inc_

Tuesday, June 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, June 12th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, June 13th; Bibliotica

Friday, June 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, June 17th: A Holland Reads

Wednesday, June 19th: Amy’s Book-et List

Thursday, June 20th: Why Girls Are Weird

Friday, June 21st: The Lit Bitch

Monday, June 24th: @simplykelina

Tuesday, June 25th: Seaside Book Nook

Wednesday, June 26th: Jathan and Heather

Thursday, June 27th: Lori’s Reading Corner – excerpt

Friday, June 28th: @cassies_books_reviews

Review: One Minute Later, by Susan Lewis

One-Minute-Later-coverAbout the book, One Minute Later

• Paperback: 512 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 11, 2019)

International bestselling author Susan Lewis’ riveting, unforgettable novel of a woman whose life changes in an instant and the handsome young man with whom she shares a secret history—perfect for readers of Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult and Susan Wiggs.

How well do you know the people you love? For one young woman returning to the past, the answer could be heart-shattering…

Vivi Shager is living her dream. Raised with drive and ambition by a resolutely single mother, Vivi has a thriving law career, a gorgeous apartment in London, and a full calendar that keeps her busy at work and at play. Then on the day of her twenty-seventh birthday, an undiagnosed heart condition sends Vivi’s prospects for the future into a tailspin. After escaping her roots nearly a decade ago, she’s forced to return to her childhood home to be cared for by her devoted and enigmatic mother. Vivi has always known the woman is hiding something and now she’s determined to find out what it is. Though her condition makes her fragile and vulnerable and she’s afraid of what may happen, her spirit remains strong. Then comes an unexpected ray of light.

Josh Raynor, a local veterinarian who his sisters claim is too handsome for his own good, brings a forbidden love to Vivi’s world. Josh and Vivi are soon inseparable, unaware of the past their families share. All Vivi knows is that Josh is wrestling with a demon of his own…

Then quite suddenly the awful truth is staring Vivi in the face and it changes everything.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Susan-Lewis-AP-Photo-by-Antony-Thompson-thousandwordmedia-dot-comAbout the author, Susan Lewis

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of more than forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense, and crime. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Following periods of living in Los Angeles and the South of France, she currently lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, James; stepsons, Michael and Luke; and mischievous dogs, Coco and Lulu.

Connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

This novel is a somewhat sad, extremely honest family drama that centers around organ donation, but adds in a complex mother-daughter relationship as well (as if those are ever simple). Through the main character, Vivi’s eyes, it also examines the differences between our expectations and our realities.

I felt the author created extremely realistic family dynamics. The way returning to your childhood home makes you feel less than an adult was very relatable to me, even without the twist of a chronic illness. As well I felt crafting the story so it took place in two time periods was a deft move letting us have more scope than just Vivi’s immediate surroundings.

While parts of this book are a bit harrowing, overall, I think this is a meaty novel that is well worth the read, and can certainly provide catharsis for women with difficulty relating to their own mothers or their own adult daughters.

Goes well with a glass of red wine, crisp apples and sharp cheddar.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for One Minute Later

Instagram Features

Tuesday, June 11th: Instagram: @jennsbookvibes

Wednesday, June 12th: Instagram: @readingwithmere

Thursday, June 13th: Instagram: @reallyintothis

Friday, June 14th: Instagram: @crystals_library

Saturday, June 15th: Instagram: @writersdream

Sunday, June 16th: Instagram: @theoxfordcommamomma

Monday, June 17th: Instagram: @storiesandcoffee

Tuesday, June 18th: Instagram: @tarheelreader

Review Stops

Tuesday, June 11th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 12th: bookchickdi

Thursday, June 13th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, June 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, June 17th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Tuesday, June 18th: Booked J

Wednesday, June 19th: Literary Quicksand

Thursday, June 20th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, June 24th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, June 25th: Brooke’s Books and Brews

Wednesday, June 26th: Into the Hall of Books

Thursday, June 27th: Comfy Reading

Review: The Wonder of Lost Causes by Nick Trout

The-Wonder-of-Lost-Causes-coverAbout the book, The Wonder of Lost Causes

• Hardcover: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (April 30, 2019)

In this unforgettable novel, perfect for fans of An Unexpected Grace and A Dog’s Way Home, a single mom and her chronically ill child receive a valuable lesson from an unlikely source—a very special dog who unexpectedly enters their lives and shows them that one person’s lost cause can be another’s greatest gift . . .

Dr. Kate Blunt will do anything for her son, Jasper. Well, almost anything. Since Jasper has the incurable lung disease cystic fibrosis, Kate’s always told him he couldn’t get a dog. It’s a tough call, but she’s a single mom taking care of a kid who fights for every breath he takes. The daily medical routine that keeps Jasper alive is complicated enough. Worse still, Kate’s personal resolve runs contrary to her work as the veterinarian in charge of a Cape Cod animal shelter, where she is on a mission to find forever homes for dogs in desperate need.

The scarred, mistreated wreck of a dog that turns up doesn’t stand a chance. Named Whistler, he’s too old, too ugly. But the dog forms an instantaneous bond with Jasper. Whistler never makes a sound, yet he speaks to Jasper in a myriad of mysterious ways. The clock’s ticking, the dog’s future hangs in the balance, and Jasper would do anything to find him a home; but Whistler has chosen them—for a reason.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Nick-Trout-AP-Photo-by-Deborah-FeingoldAbout the author, Nick Trout

Dr. Nick Trout works full-time as a staff surgeon at the prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He is the author of five previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Tell Me Where It Hurts, and his writing has been translated into sixteen different languages. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Kathy; their daughter, Emily; their adopted labradoodle, Thai; and Emily’s service dog, a black Labrador named Bella.

Connect with Nick:

Find out more about him at his website.


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

A child with cystic fibrosis, a mother who wants her son to live a long and healthy life, a dog who desperately needs a home – these are the central figures of The Wonder of Lost Causes but while each can be perceived as such at the beginning of the story, by the end, it’s clear that each of these three beings is exactly who and what they’re meant to be.

Jasper – whom we meet as a young boy – struggles to breathe because of his disease. A family friend is an adult survivor of this illness -one of the oldest survivors of it, in fact – and I’ve heard him describe the sensation of drowning inside your own body that author Trout uses with Jasper so vividly.

Jasper’s mother, Kate Blunt, is a shelter veterinarian who takes in hard luck cases and rehomes them. Sure, Jasper always wants to take them home, but they can’t – they live in a no-pets-allowed apartment. (This is the only part of the story that didn’t ring true for me. I have four dogs, all rescues, and work in rescue, and every rescuer, every shelter worker, every vet and vet tech I know has multiple animals. Even the local animal control officers I know will “hide” dogs in the system if they think it will buy them time.) Still, I did believe that she wanted the best for her son. And having a child with a chronic illness does change the way you see the world.

Then there’s Whistler – that’s his name, we’re told, because he told Jasper so – the dog. He’s a hard luck case, abandoned by one loving owner, then either run away or given up by a string of others… I’ve met dogs like this, and usually, if they’re lucky, they find the right person, finally, to give them that final forever home.

These three beings come together over the course of the novel, in a story that is heart-wrenching, heartwarming, frustrating, and fabulous, all by turns.

Author Trout excels at writing the boy-and-dog interactions, especially, and I wanted to reach through the screen and hug both. Kate made be bristle a lot, but I finally warmed to her, understanding her fear and her hopes. As I said, her intentions were always the best.

At it’s heart, this isn’t a disease story or a vet story or an animal story, it’s a family story, and this family, is both familiar and unique.

But it’s also an emotionally satisfying one, and while there are sad moments, the tears are earned. “When you cry about losing a dog,” an adult Jasper tells another child late in the novel, “it means the dog did its job.” Like the dogs we all love, this novel does its job, and does it brilliantly.

Goes well with a hot dog a fries that you sneak a few of to your dog.


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Review: 99% Mine, by Sally Thorne

99-Percent-Mine-coverAbout  the book, 99 Percent Mine

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (January 29, 2019)

Readers and critics alike raved over USA Today bestselling author Sally Thorne’s smash hit debut, The Hating Game, which has sold in over 20 countries. Now she’s back with an unforgettable romantic comedy about a woman who finally has a shot at her long time crush—if she dares.

Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Buy, read, and discuss 99% Mine:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Sally Thorne Sally-Thorne-AP-Photo-by-Katie-Saarikko

Sally Thorne is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Hating Game. She spends her days climbing into fictional worlds of her own creation. She lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband in a house filled with vintage toys, too many cushions, a haunted dollhouse and the world’s sweetest pug.

Connect with Sally

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


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

99% Mine was my first introduction to Sally Thorne’s writing, but it was a welcome one, and the perfect antidote for a glum January weekend as I was recovering from oral surgery with characters who are witty, refreshingly real, and unaffected, and also delightfully flawed, just the way real people should be. Main character Darcy, who has a congenital heart defect, is first introduced to us as she’s working as a bartender under an assumed name, where she provides us with this key piece of information: when confronted with any group of men, identify the alpha. She does this with a group of guys who come in to drink, and immediately proves that her power is greater than theirs.

At home, however, author Thorne shows us another side to Darcy – lonely, isolated, and not as together as she seems. When childhood-best-friend Tom Valeska shows up to start the remodel on Darcy’s inherited house (she shares ownership with her twin brother Jamie, whom we meet through phone calls, for the most part) the tenor of the story changes to one of reclaimed friendship with a dash of romantic comedy.

Ultimately, this is a satisfying read, a fresh spin on family dramas mixed with a healthy dose of romance for balance. I found all the characters to be compelling, including the house, which was more than a plot device or a setting, if slightly less than an actual member of the cast. As well, I liked the fact that Loretta, the twin’s dead grandmother was also a sort of character, appearing through memories, references and signs.

While I was aware that author Thorne is Australian, I found it interesting that she chose not to specify the setting of her novel. It could have taken place in any major city in almost any English-speaking country.

Overall, this was an entertaining, fast-paced read.

Goes well with hot pizza and cold beer.


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Review: The Hollow Middle by John Popielaski

The-Hollow-Middle-coverAbout the book, The Hollow Middle

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Unsolicited Press (December 4, 2018)

The Hollow Middle follows Albert Lesiak, an aging English teacher in Connecticut, who receives a windfall in delayed acknowledgment of the government’s complicity in his father’s cancer death and decides that it is time to live a different life on land he owns in Maine.

When his wife Mary suggests that they could foster or adopt autistic twin boys she fell in love with on a website and could use the stipend money in furtherance of Albert’s vision, Albert gradually perceives himself as possibly adapting to the role of patriarch.

A meditation on the curiosity of making sense and the dilemma of becoming true, The Hollow Middle ambles, mostly, and goes still for periods of various duration, acting like it’s not beholden after all to the rhetorical.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Unsolicited Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


JohnPopielaski-Bio-PictureAbout the author, John Popielaski

John Popielaski is the author of several poetry collections, including, most recently, Isn’t It Romantic? which won the Robert Phillips Chapbook Award from Texas Review Press. The Hollow Middle is his first novel.

Connect with John:

Find out more about John on his website, and follow him on Facebook.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe Hollow Middle is not a fast read. In fact, it’s mindfully, even meditatively slow. It’s the kind of novel you read a few chapters of over a mug – or several – of tea, take time to digest them, and then go back for more. This is not a bad thing. In fact, the stillness of this book is an asset, because it means you really get to know the protagonist, Albert Lesiak.

In the initial chapters, Albert comes off as both prickly and kind of pompous. He’s detached from the world, an observer, rather than a real participant. You get the sense that things like sticky fingers would offend his sensibilities.

Despite this, he’s not a shallow character. He’s clearly leading an examined life and made decisions based on his perceived results.

And then everything changes.

But within that change, Albert remains surprisingly constant. His wife, Mary, serves as both chorus and director at different times, suggesting changes (adopting two boys being the biggest one) and then sitting back while Albert plays with all the angles and finds his own peace in the decision.

As I said, it’s a slow novel, almost more of a character study than anything else, and yet, it’s also compelling.

Author John Popielaski uses language with a combination of eloquence and economy of phrase that is refreshing to read. I found myself repeating sentences out loud because I was drawn to their rhythm. The characters feel like real – if slightly eccentric – people, and the situation is an interesting consideration of how we do or don’t change when we suddenly have the money to do whatever we want.

Goes well with: hot tea and shortbread cookies.


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Review: Aphrodite’s Closet, by Suzy Turner

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About the book, Aphrodite’s Closet

Aphrodite's Closet NEW COVER

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (May 9, 2017)

Agatha Trout didn’t even know she had a Great Aunt Petunia, so imagine her surprise when she finds Petunia left her a corner shop in her will. But it’s not just any old corner shop—it’s a corner shop that needs something unique, something the town of Frambleberry has never seen before.

 

Influenced by her confident best friend, Coco, Agatha is soon convinced that there’s only one way to go: an adults-only sex shop.

While some of the townspeople are clutching their pearls in horror, others are open to the new experiences this shop offers. But not everyone in Frambleberry is convinced. Will the women soldier on in the face of violent threats or will their fears get the best of them—and their new venture—before it even gets off the ground?

Buy, read, and discuss Aphrodite’s Closet:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Suzy Turner Suzy Turner 2017

Born in England and raised in Portugal, Suzy lives with her childhood sweetheart Michael, their two crazy dogs and three cats.

Shortly after completing her studies, Suzy worked as a trainee journalist for a local newspaper. Her love of writing developed and a few years later she took the job of assistant editor for the region’s largest English language publisher before becoming editor of a monthly lifestyle magazine. Early in 2010 however, Suzy became a full time author. She has since written several books: Raven, December Moon, The Lost Soul (The Raven Saga), Daisy Madigan’s Paradise, The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw, The Temporal Stone, Looking for Lucy Jo, We Stand Against Evil (The Morgan Sisters), Forever FredlessAnd Then There Was You, Stormy Summer and her latest, Aphrodite’s Closet.

In 2015 she launched her popular 40+ lifestyle blog which continues to go from strength to strength, while just over a year later, she trained to become a yoga instructor. Suzy continues to write, blog and teach yoga in one of Portugal’s loveliest settings – the Algarve.

Connect with Suzy:

Lifestyle Blog | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI am in love with Aphrodite’s Closet. Funny and smart, and a perfect example of the genre we used to call “chick lit,” but is really just another type of contemporary fiction, this novel will make you laugh, make you cry, make you nod in agreement with universal truths, and make you root for the heroine, Agatha Trout.

Author Suzy Turner has drawn two dynamic leads in Agatha and her best friend Coco. Either woman could easily be someone you know. Agatha is more low key, less adventurous, and more level-headed. At times she can even be frumpy. Coco, on the other hand, is bold and a little brassy, wears five-inch heels, and is also generous to a fault. Together they represent everything that is best about deep friendship.

That core friendship is what I loved about the novel, but I also appreciated Turner’s flair for snappy dialogue and her ability to create characters with just a few descriptors (busy-body Amelia and Agatha’s mother are prime examples).

Overall, this novel is a light, fast read that balances comedy and truth really well.

Goes well with cosmopolitans and light hors d’oeuvres.


Aphrodite's Closet