Review: The Gift of Cockleberry Bay, by Nicola May – with Giveaway

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About the book, The Gift of Cockleberry Bay

 

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Lightning Books (April 1, 2020)
  • Scroll down for giveaway.

The Gift of Cockleberry Bay FINAL COVERFrom the author of the #1 BESTSELLING The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay

All of our favourite characters from Cockleberry Bay are back in this final, heart warming story in the series. Including Hot, Rosa Smith’s adorable dachshund and his new-born puppies.

Now successfully running the Cockleberry Café and wishing to start a family herself, Rosa feels the time is right to let her inherited Corner Shop go. However, her benefactor left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

Rosa is torn. How can she make such a huge decision? And will it be the right one? Once the news gets out and goes public, untrustworthy newcomers appear in the Bay . . . their motives uncertain. With the revelation of more secrets from Rosa’s family heritage, a new journey of unpredictable and life-changing events begins to unfold.

The Gift of Cockleberry Bay concludes this phenomenally successful series in typically brisk and bolshy style and will delight the many thousands of Rosa’s fans.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon US | Amazon UK


About the author, Nicola May

The Gift of Cockleberry AuthorNicola May lives in the UK, five miles from the Queen’s castle in Windsor, with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon and devouring cream teas.

Her bestselling The Corner Shop in Cockleberry, the 1st book in the Cockleberry Bay series, went to #1 on Amazon and stayed there for an unprecedented 6 weeks.

She classes her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick,’ writing about love, life and friendships in a real, not fluffy kind of way. She likes burgers, mince pies, clocks, birds, bubble baths and facials – but is not so keen on aubergines.

Connect with Nicola:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Since I haven’t read the first two books in the Cockleberry Bay trilogy, I was a bit concerned that jumping into book three would be confusing. I was wrong. Nicola May’s writing is so vivid, that the characters, both established and new, in The Gift of Cockleberry Bay jumped off the page and into my brain, and my heart.

And how could they not?

Rosa and Josh, Sara, Jacob and Raffi, Alec, Mary, and all their dogs (and one cat) inhabit the sort of coastal village where I was born (albeit mine was an American version) and where I long to live. Sure, there’s constant gossip because everyone’s lives are interconnected, but there’s also support, friendship, and love of every kind. Even better, Cockleberry Bay is a town with a cute cafe (ROSA’s named for ROsa and SAra), a nicer restaurant, a pub, and a corner shop that features pet paraphernalia. I was ready to move in within twenty pages.

But this novel is not all fluff. It opens with a major storm that causes real damage to the town. It has family drama (long lost relatives turning up), romantic drama – Josh and Rosa spend a lot of the novel on separate continents because of his work, and they’re also trying to conceive – and town drama: Rosa has decided it’s time to pass the Corner Shop on to a new caretaker, but who will that be?

All of this is shared with descriptions that put you in the scene, and by characters who are fully dimensional. Reading this, I felt like I was sipping coffee in the cafe, watching it all unfold before me.

Is this a romantic novel? Yes. But it’s not a romance in the Silhouette sense of the word (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Rather, this is a novel that explores the comedy and tragedy of normal life in a small town, in a version of reality that’s only slightly heightened. Plus there are cute dogs.

Goes well with coffee and a bacon sandwich.


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Review: The Blue Zones Kitchen, by Dan Buettner

The-Blue-Zones-Kitchen-coverAbout the Book: The Blue Zones Kitchen

• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (December 3, 2019)

Best-selling author Dan Buettner debuts his first cookbook, filled with 100 longevity recipes inspired by the Blue Zones locations around the world, where people live the longest.

Building on decades of research, longevity expert Dan Buettner has gathered 100 recipes inspired by the Blue Zones, home to the healthiest and happiest communities in the world. Each dish–for example, Sardinian Herbed Lentil Minestrone; Costa Rican Hearts of Palm Ceviche; Cornmeal Waffles from Loma Linda, California; and Okinawan Sweet Potatoes–uses ingredients and cooking methods proven to increase longevity, wellness, and mental health. Complemented by mouthwatering photography, the recipes also include lifestyle tips (including the best times to eat dinner and proper portion sizes), all gleaned from countries as far away as Japan and as near as Blue Zones project cities in Texas. Innovative, easy to follow, and delicious, these healthy living recipes make the Blue Zones lifestyle even more attainable, thereby improving your health, extending your life, and filling your kitchen with happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


Dan-Buettner-APAbout the author, Dan Buettner

Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. His groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story “Secrets of Living Longer” and two national bestsellers, The Blue Zones and Thrive. He lives in Minneapolis, MN.

Connect with Dan:

Visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at his website bluezones.com


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

The Blue Zones Kitchen is a beautiful cookbook with fantastic pictures and a hundred recipes from different “blue zones” around the world. What are blue zones? They’re regions that the author has identified as having populations with above average longevity and health.  Along with diet, the theory is that these people are longer-lived because walking is their primary source of transportation, they have a strong sense of community, and while their diets are not completely vegan, they are mostly plant-based with occasional meat and fish, and minimal dairy.

The regions highlighted in this cookbook are:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicola, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California

In each section, author Dan Buettner talks about about the customs and cultures of the region, and what their staple foods are, and then shares a selection of recipes specific to that region. So far, tried a couple of the Sardinian vegetable dishes and found them really tasty. As a mid-level foodie and kitchen improvisor who tries to eat mindfully (though I’m not a vegetarian), I found this cookbook really expanded my idea of meat-free eating. It uses a lot of fresh vegetables and regional seasonings – the Okinawa section might be my favorite once I have time to explore those offerings – though some of those seasonings could be difficult for people outside of major cities to find.

The instructions for each recipe are well organized, though they do assume you have a basic knowledge of cooking. The level of difficulty varies with each recipe, but since most use vegetables – and especially beans – nothing is hugely complicated.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan looking for more variety in the dishes you serve, this book is ideal. If you’re a mindful omnivore, like me, who wants to broaden their culinary repertoire, it’s also a good bet.

Goes  well with a rainy afternoon and a freshly-arrived community supported agriculture box.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for The Blue Zones Kitchen

Tuesday, February 18th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, February 19th: Read. Eat. Repeat.

Thursday, February 20th: Instagram: @books_with_bethany

Monday, February 24th: Run Wright

Tuesday, February 25th: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites

Thursday, February 27th: Instagram: @thelastbiteblog

Friday, February 28th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Monday, March 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, March 3rd: Living My Best Book Life

Wednesday, March 4th: Eliot’s Eats

Thursday, March 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, March 6th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, March 9th: PNW Pixie

Monday, March 30th: Bibliotica

Review: Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds, by Nick Albert

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

Fresh Eggs KindleAbout the book, Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds

Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Paperback (Amazon UK) | Paperback (Amazon US) | Kindle (Amazon UK) | Kindle (Amazon US) | Audible (UK) | Audible (US) | Goodreads


Fresh Eggs Author ireland 3 004About the author, Nick Albert

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.

In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020.

Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.

Connect with Nick:

Website | All Author | Amazon | Facebook (Personal) | Facebook (Page) | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

For almost my entire adult life, I’ve loved stories of people moving to new places and building or refurbishing their homes. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence was my “gateway book” in this respect, but since then, I’ve read many others.

It should be no surprise, then, that when given the opportunity to read and review Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds, the first book in Nick Albert’s saga of moving from England to Ireland to revamp, not only a “secondhand” home, but also his own life, I leapt at the chance with all the excitement of a dog chasing a tennis ball. (Like one of Nick’s dogs, mine are into the chase, but not so good at the retrieval part of the game.)

I was immediately absorbed by Nick’s story. He’s candid about the less pleasant aspects of his life – facing repeated staff reductions at work and being the lone survivor (something my husband has gone through more than once) – and then choosing the redundancy package so that he could make a fresh start. (Is it just me, or do these things sound more civilized when phrased in British English instead of American?)

I laughed at the bit where he described the pushpin-and-atlas method of choosing a new place to live to his (adult) daughter (to be fair, this method did not work), and nodded in sympathetic understanding at every mention of a contractor whose work was dependent on other contractors’ work being done, or who couldn’t meet a deadline, having heard similar stories from my own parents when they retired to Baja California Sur, Mexico, twenty years ago (in their case, they refurbished one house, built their second, and then sold that and built their last house, which my mother just sold in the aftermath of my stepfather’s death).

Nick is an engaging storyteller. I felt like I was experiencing all these life changes with him. I could feel the rain, breathe in the wind, and smell the distinctive odor of a dog who has rolled in something disgusting. I was disappointed when I came to the end of this first volume, and then delighted when I realized two sequels are already available, and a third will be coming out later this year.

If you are the kind of person who sees those Facebook ads to buy an island in Scotland, or who fantasizes about moving to Italy every time you catch a few minutes of Under the Tuscan Sun, you will love this book. If you don’t do either of those things, you will still find Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds a worthy read, because of the warmth, honesty and humor with which it was written.

Goes well with cottage pie and a pint of ale.

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Review: The War Beneath, by S. R. Hughes

The-War-Beneath-coverAbout the book, The War Beneath

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Permuted Press (October 1, 2019)

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


S.R.-Hughes-APAbout the author, S.R. Hughes

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

Connect with S.R.

Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


MissMeliss2020My Thoughts

S.R. Hughes’s novel The War Beneath is an excellent choice for anyone who likes paranormal thrillers, but it’s an equally good read for those who don’t require a paranormal element but like their lead characters a bit down at the heels.

In this novel, Hughes weaves the paranormal (protagonist Paul talks to ghosts) into the story quite organically, and the fact that the forensic psychologist doesn’t particularly want his ability adds depth to the entire story. Personally, I like it when authors give us reluctant heroes, and tarnished heroines. In Deirdre, we get the latter, and the fact that isn’t perfect – that neither of them are – is what makes the supernatural factor feel more plausible.

Two things I really appreciated about this book were Hughes’s ear for dialogue, and his descriptions. From the first page I could see Oceanrest, and from the first lines any character spoke, I knew exactly who they were.

The War Beneath is the kind of novel that sucks you in and doesn’t let go until you’ve finished the last page. I read it in a single night, because it was that compelling. Despite it being a quick read, though, it’s not light. Both Paul and Deirdre have to examine the truths of their own lives while they’re dealing with the external events of the story, and that examination is what makes this novel relatable and fascinating.

The War Beneath should be on the top of the TBR pile for fans of paranormal thrillers and “straight” thrillers alike.

Goes well with: cold beer and Maine lobster rolls.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for The War Beneath

Monday, February 10th: Dog-Eared Days of Summer
Tuesday, February 11th: Jessicamap Reviews
Wednesday, February 12th: Bibliotica
Thursday, February 13th: Instagram: @barksbeachesbooks
Friday, February 14th: The Bookish Alix
Monday, February 17th: Instagram: @bookclubwithbite
Tuesday, February 18th: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites
Wednesday, February 19th: Instagram: @colbywilkens
Thursday, February 20th: Crossroad Reviews
Monday, February 24th: love yo shelf

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Coffee Traveller, by Fahad Ben G

Coffeetravellerbnr

About the book, Coffee Traveller

 

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (October 29, 2019)
  • Language: English

Coffee TravellerCoffee Traveller: A collection of musings about travel, life, love, family, relationships, the future and growing up in Saudi Arabia, by the author and poet Fahad Ben G.

Young Saudi Arabian author and poet publishes a collection for Saudi men and women exploring love, memory, break up stages, pain, grief and the human need to express feelings through social media.

When Fahad made the decision to share some of his writing on social media, he was overwhelmed by supportive messages; his gender-neutral writings, borderless stories and poems connected instantly with readers. By sharing his thoughts and unresolved emotions on lost love, the pain of break ups, nostalgia for childhood, and the profound desire to make connections, he saw that he was not alone, and that his work could inspire and comfort other people.

Coffee Traveller brings together a collection of Fahad’s stream of consciousness-style prose and verse, creating vivid images of the past, rich snapshots of home and friendship, tender portraits of love, loss and suffering. Fahad uses journalling prolifically; as a way of recording and memorialising the past, charting feelings, emotions, fears and self-doubt in much the same way an explorer would describe new continents and oceans. Fahad’s travels are internal, spiritual, encompassing the mundane and the profound, looking for connection points and shared experiences.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Fahad Ben G

Fahad Ben. G was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has a Masters in Linguistics from Imam Mohammed Bin Saud University in Riyadh. He is certified in protocol & etiquette. He studied acting and received his Diploma in acting from Giles Formen Center, London. Having lived in France and Japan, he settled in London in 2017.

Connect with Fahad:

Instagram


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellIn talking about his writing, the author of this lovely collection of poems and thoughts – musings – says, “I write about you not to make you come back; I just need to get rid of the things that used to upset me and I couldn’t tell you about back then.”

Obviously, he isn’t talking about we readers, and yet many of the pieces in this collection – indeed, most of them – express universal thoughts and ideas with delicate, compact phrasing, and word choices that are completely the author’s own. Many of these small texts do, indeed, feel directed at us.

Because this is a book of, essentially, poetry, it’s not the kind of thing you pick up and read straight through. You could do that, but I found it was better experienced in small doses, stretching out the experience over days and weeks. I left it on my coffee table and whenever I had a free moment, I’d pick it up and read a few more pieces, letting them digest.

Fahad’s writing is gender-neutral. He pays little attention to paragraph structure. Many of these read almost like Zen koans. And yet, all of them touch you, connecting to the inherent humanity in all of us.

Coffee Traveller is a delightful surprise, a breath of warm air scented with coffee and spices, and a welcome addition to any collection.

Goes well with espresso and those sesame honey sticks they sell at health food stores.

 

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Review: Covey and JayJay Get Educated, by Shelton L. Williams – with Giveaway

BNR Covey and JayJay GE

About the book, Covey and JayJay Get Educated

  • Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 209 pages
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

CoverAmateur detectives, Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls, are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor.

Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action?

The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Shelton L. Williams

Author Pic Shelton WilliamsShelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the BloodSummer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

Connect with Shelly:

Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI did a spotlight on the first Covey Jencks novel last year, so the name of the amateur sleuth was not unknown to me, and neither was his creator, Shelton L. Williams, but all I had time to read at the time was the excerpt I posted in the spotlight. While I’m sure reading book one would have benefited me, jumping into book two, Covey and JayJay Get Educated, didn’t make me feel lost or confused at all.

In fact, I was delighted by Williams’s storytelling and his funny, smart, snarky characters from chapter one, where Jenks muses, “How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? I don’t know. How many can you afford?”

No, I was more than merely delighted. I was hooked. This story has everything… drama, romance, a murder mystery (as Jay Jay, Jencks’s “partner in business and in life” asks when she first steps onto the page, “Does everyone you know get murdered?” (Apparently not quite…)), the politics of academia, and of course humor.

I’ve read a lot of mysteries over the years, but this is the first book in a long while that has felt so refreshing. Yes, Covey and JayJay are handling serious issues, but they do it without ever taking themselves too seriously.

Author Williams is deft with language, and even better with using his characters to comment on culture and regional idiosyncrasies. Examples include a remark about JayJay being black, and whether that’s an issue for Covey in their town of Odessa, Tx, and JayJay commenting about never having seen a basement. (Having lived in Texas for fifteen years now, I can vouch for the latter: basements here are a rare thing. I can’t speak to the climate of Odessa, though, I’ve never been there.)

But there are other characters beside those listed in the title. Jencks has associates, and there’s a b-plot with M.A. and her partner Beth that is easily as interesting as the main story. As well, this story is incredibly relevant to real life, as it addresses white nationalism as part of the on-campus mystery Covey and JayJay must solve.

Along with his skill at writing dialogue, Williams is adept at pacing, as well. As much as I enjoyed the banter between Covey and JayJay, it was the mystery they had to solve that kept me reading. Each twist and turn was well plotted, and when the ending came, as much as I was satisfied with a well-told story, I also wanted more time with these characters. (I know, I know, I can go back and read book one.)

If you love a mystery, and also love banter worthy of a classic Hepburn and Tracy film, Covey and JayJay Get Educated should be your first choice. Unless you haven’t read book one. Then buy both.

Goes well with: a barbecue bacon burger and a Shiner bock.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

FOUR WINNERS!GRAND PRIZE: signed copy of each of the author’s books

SECOND PRIZE: signed copy of both Covey Jencks and

Covey and JayJay Get Educated

THIRD PRIZE: Audio book of Covey and JayJay Get Educated

FOURTH PRIZE: Kindle version of Covey and JayJay Get Educated

DECEMBER 10-20, 2019

(U.S. Only)

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Check Out the Other Blogs on this Tour

12/10/19 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
12/10/19 Notable Quotable Kelly Well Read
12/11/19 Review Librariel Book Adventures
12/12/19 Author Interview The Page Unbound
12/13/19 Review KayBee’s Book Shelf
12/13/19 Playlist Chapter Break Book Blog
12/14/19 Review Bibliotica
12/14/19 Excerpt Part I The Clueless Gent
12/15/19 Excerpt Part II All the Ups and Downs
12/16/19 Review Forgotten Winds
12/16/19 Notable Quotable Hall Ways Blog
12/17/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
12/18/19 Scrapbook Page StoreyBook Reviews
12/19/19 Review Book Fidelity
12/19/19 Review Reading by Moonlight

 

LSBBT

Lone Star Lit

Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery by Sharon Ibbotson

About the book, Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery

  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Choc Lit (December 4, 2019)

Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream … 

Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.

But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Sharon Ibbotson

Author Bio – Sharon was born in Sydney, Australia but now lives in London with her husband, two small children and two black cats named for desserts. She started writing ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fanfiction aged 15, which eventually transformed into the historical romance novels she writes today. She has two novels published by Choc Lit, and when not writing, can be found baking cakes badly or drinking wine well.

Connect with Sharon:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThere are books that fall into your life with little fanfare and end up being absolute treasures. For me, this December, one of those books is Sharon Ibbotson’s Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery, which is a romance told in food and shared stories.

It’s the structure of the novel that struck me first. Each chapter is headed by a word – usually a food item, but not always – and then the chapter builds to include that word. Sometimes that inclusion is offhand, other times it’s extremely important – in “Apple” for example, our romantic lead, Cohen Ford, learns the BSL sign for “apple,” from his love interest, Rachel, a deaf woman who was adopted as a young girl by his mother’s close friend. The keywords are important, but the chapters feel so organic that everything flows perfectly.

Then there’s the ice cream – the different flavors serve to punctuate the emotions of each character… another bit of craft that I admire Ibbotson for doing so, so well.

Of course, this novel isn’t just a romance. It’s a piece about mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons, those early relationships that color all our lives, and influence our choices long into our adulthoods.

While I began the novel not really liking Cohen Ford, I grew to appreciate him. His growth in this novel is exponential, and mostly self-directed. River may be his muse (of a sort), but he did the hard work, the internal work, himself, turning into a character I would love to follow into a future novel.

I also appreciated the way the author incorporated the use of sign into the piece. Any kind of foreign language or dialect can be tricky to depict, but Ibbotson did a fabulous job of incorporating descriptions of British Sign Language (some of which confused me, because it’s SO different from American Sign Language, which I’m not fluent in, but recognize and get the gist of).

While Cohen is the main character (and kudos to the author for writing a romance from the male POV), River, her mother Rushi, and Cohen’s mother Esther are all equally dynamic. Having spent a chunk of my life with a Jewish (step)grandmother, I found Esther’s cadences so familiar. She isn’t a stereotype by any means, but she’s very much a Jewish mother, despite her career and remarriage being less-than-typical.

I also liked the character of Billy a lot… this hearing father of a deaf son is the kind of parent every kid should have, and he acted as a sort of interpreter for Cohen and River, not only literally, but also translating their emotions. Everyone needs a family friend like Billy.

The pacing of this book was just right, neither super-fast nor mind-numbingly slow, and at times, when one of the characters was relating a memory, the language was almost lyrical.

And then there’s the delight of a novel that mixes Hanukkah and Christmas themes into a single story without it becoming us vs. them.

This is a much deeper novel than the back cover blurb implies, and I recommend it to everyone looking for a holiday read.

Goes well with: strawberry ice cream or melon gelato. You choose.

 

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Review: Santa Claus Bank Robbery by Tui Snider – with Giveaway

BNR Santa Claus Bank Robbery

About the book Santa Claus Bank Robbery

  • Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / Texas History
  • Publisher: Castle Azle Press
  • Date of Publication: December 8, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 146 pages + black & white photos
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Cover Santa Claus Robber hi resWhen Marshall Ratliff dressed like Santa Claus to pull a Christmas-time heist, he thought it would be easy. Unfortunately for him, when the citizens of Cisco heard Santa was robbing a bank, they came running – with loaded guns in hand!

But can you blame them? In 1927, the only way to earn the $5000 Dead Bank Robber Reward was to kill a bandit while the crime was in progress.

This bungled bank robbery led to a wild shootout and a getaway with two little girls as hostages. And that is only the beginning!

Tui Snider’s true-crime tale reads like a comedy of errors as the consequences of the Santa Claus Bank Robber’s actions escalate to include a botched car-jacking, one of the biggest manhunts in Texas history, and a jailbreak leading to a deadly conclusion.

Meanwhile, it’s up to readers to decide whether or not a mysterious blonde helped these gangsters escape. And if so, did she get away with murder?

Watch the trailer for this book:

 

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


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellOver the last few years of doing book reviews for Lone Star Book Blog Tours, I’ve fallen in love with Tui Snider’s books about cemetery symbology and spooky Texas locations, but with this book, Santa Claus Bank Robbery, I got to see a side of her work that is slightly more narrative, though still non-fiction.

And I loved it.

Presented almost like a forensic analysis (though with a lot more warmth and humor), this book tells the true story of a 1920s bank robbery where one of the bandits dressed in a (stolen) Santa Claus suit to rob a bank. Well, part of a suit. He didn’t have the pants, and that’s actually just one of the many things that went wrong with the heist, and the bandits’ lives.

True crime novels tend to be either very dry or quite grisly. Santa Claus Bank Robbery is neither. Rather, it’s a dive into Texas history that offers insights only a contemporary historian/storyteller could consider. (Example: one of the people in the book, a young girl, says she spent so much time in court in one year that she flunked 7th grade. Snider posits the theory that the child was suffering from burnout and PTSD… and she’s probably not wrong.)

One thing I really liked is that Snider corrected and clarified an earlier work about the events in Santa Claus Bank Robbery without being disrespectful to the previous author’s work. She does question his choice to use pseudonyms for a lot of the key figures, and also notes his avoidance of going too deeply into the details of one family, but she also expresses envy that he (A.C. Greene) had access to at least one of the original sources, one of the men who was with Santa Claus (really Marshall Ratliff) in the bank.

While I’m not a native Texan (I’m a Jersey girl who was raised in Colorado and California), I’ve now lived in Texas longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and reading Snider’s books has really been a wonderful way for me to explore the Lone Star State in new and interesting ways.

That said, even if you have no connection to Texas at all, Santa Claus Bank Robbery is a fascinating picture of a period between the “wild west” and modern Texas, and Snider’s treatment of it is fair and balanced without whitewashing or soft-pedaling anything.

Goes well with: BBQ brisket, fried squash, potato salad, and sweet tea.


Giveaway

GRAND PRIZE (US only)

Signed Paperback +$10 Amazon Gift Card

+ Thank You Post Card

2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy + Thank You Post Card

3RD PRIZE (International)Kindle eBook

  December 12-22, 2019

Giveaway

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Check Out the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

12/12/19 Review Bibliotica
12/12/19 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/13/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
12/14/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/14/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/15/19 Review Book Fidelity
12/16/19 Review All the Ups and Downs
12/17/19 Review The Page Unbound
12/17/19 Review Books and Broomsticks
12/18/19 Review The Book Review
12/19/19 Review The Clueless Gent
12/20/19 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
12/20/19 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
12/21/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
12/21/19 Review Forgotten Winds

 

LSBBT

Lone Star Lit

Spotlight on The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later, by Barbara Barth, with Guest Post

The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years LaterAbout the book, The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later

  • Print Length: 374 pages
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
  • ASIN: B07YBNHXZG
  • Scroll down for Guest Post and Tour Info

Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, Ten Years Later continues the author’s journey from widow to a slightly askew woman. A memoir written with warmth and candor on being single again, aging, and finding a creative path surrounded by dogs, friends, laughter, and a bit of craziness. Barbara Barth shares stories on the adventures that followed her first year alone as she moved headfirst into a new life, listening to her heart, sometimes not so wisely, but always full speed ahead. Join her on the ride of her life, from owning an antique shop to moving to a Victorian cottage outside of Atlanta, and all the follies in between. Going into the next decade with six dogs by her side, the author proves you are only as old as you feel, and happiness begins with a grateful heart. A funny and engaging memoir for anyone who wants to be their own superhero facing life’s good and bad moments.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Barbara BarthAbout the author, Barbara Barth

Author, blogger, sometimes antique dealer, dog hoarder, bedazzled by life. Widowed ten years ago, Barth writes about finding a creative path back to happiness. Her recent move to a 1906 historic cottage brought many surprises, including discovering the Monroe–Walton Center for the Arts where she started the monthly Walton Writers group and is on the MWCA Board as Literary Arts Chair. Barth is a contributor to Walton Living Magazine and a former blogger for The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television’s morning show for women. Currently she lives with six dogs, rescue dogs that rescued her.

Connect with Barbara

Website | Amazon | Twitter


Guest Post from Barbara Barth

Grief Over the Years and Finding Happiness Again

Writing about grief is a tough subject. Everyone handles it in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to move forward. My memoirs are only my stories, but I hope they make people laugh and see they are not alone with their sadness, loneliness, or crazy way of dealing with life.

A recent review on Amazon written by a friend made me stop and think about the past ten years (the subject of my new memoir).  I’m sharing it with you here because it speaks better than anything I could write.

“Barbara Barth lost her husband, her mother, and three dogs she loved. Most of an inheritance she had was a casualty of several business ventures that were not financial successes–though she tells us they were successful in other ways. She endured three major surgeries, including a hip operation that went badly wrong putting her temporarily in the Nursing Home From Hell. Given all that, you would expect this book to be a sad or depressing book. Yet it is anything but. Ms. Barth deals with her troubles and with life in general with good grace and a quirky sense of humor and a spirited will to live a creative life come what may. As long as there are dogs.”

Of course, my initial reaction to that list made me think I sounded like a darn train wreck. Then I smiled. The important part of that review are the final words; good grace and quirky humor, and of course, the dogs.

I have a passion for art, writing (which was new to me after I lost my husband), books, antiques, dogs, and making new friends. Keeping busy, doing all the things I loved, helped me find myself again. I wanted to do something I’d never done before (writing) to make sense of my loss and the year I had my shop (2011) brought many creative people into my life. I felt full of purpose, and purpose is a powerful drug for me.

The loss of my mother in 2016 changed things again. She was always in my corner with all the crazy things I did, and we had writing in common. At 84 she started writing again (she wrote when we were kids) and we shared our stories at night. We talked every evening on the phone and, as her health declined, sometimes several times a day. I didn’t always like calling her at 10 PM, which I did even if I was out with friends, but I knew how much she looked forward to hearing another voice at night. My nights are quieter now without those calls, but if I get lonely, I pick up the phone and find a friend to laugh with. Friends are my lifeline and I treasure mine.

My only advice, if you call it advice, is to stay involved with life. Do what you love, be it art or writing or dancing or grandkids. We all have those buttons that make us happy. Press those buttons and carry on the best you can. Take all the time you need to heal but reach out to life and friends, even if it is only baby steps until you feel grounded again.


Visit the Other Great Stops on this Tour

Today @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Barbara Barth’s new book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

 

November 12th @ All Things Audry

Author Barbara Barth is a guest writer over at Audry’s blog today and will be talking about women friendships.

http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

 

November 13th @ Words from the Heart

Stop by Linda’s blog and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about publishing anthologies.

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

 

November 14th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Mason’s blog today and you can read Barbara’s guest post about starting a writing group. Don’t miss it!

https://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

 

November 15th @ The World of My Imagination

Visit Nicole’s blog and read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

 

November 16th @ Lori Duff Writes

Stop by Lori’s blog today where you can read her interview with Barbara Barth and read her review of Barbara’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

 

November 16th @ Jill Sheets Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and you can read Barbara Barth’s guest post about self-publishing.

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com.

 

November 17th @ A Storybook World

Be sure to stop by Deirdra’s blog today and check out her spotlight of the book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later and enter to win a copy of the book!

http://www.astorybookworld.com

 

November 18th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Be sure you visit Bev’s blog and read Barbara Barth’s guest post about starting over at 70. You won’t want to miss this!

http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

 

November 19th @ Look to the Western Sky

Be sure to visit Margo’s blog and read her interview with author Barbara Barth. Don’t miss it!

https://margoldill.com/blog

 

November 20th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today and read Barbara Barth’s guest post about publishing anthologies.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

 

November 21st @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Stop by Cassandra’s blog today and read her review of The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

 

November 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Join us at Karen Brown Tyson’s blog where you can read a guest post about self-publishing by author Barbara Barth. Don’t miss it!

http://www.karenbrowntyson.com

 

November 23rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

 

November 24th @ Choices

Be sure to stop by Madeline’s blog and read Barbara Barth’s guest post that will be talking about women friendships.

http://madelinesharples.com/

 

November 25th @ Wild Woman Writer

Visit Anne’s blog today and you can read Barbara Barth’s blog guest post about starting over at 70.

https://wildwomanwriter2018.blogspot.com/

 

November 26th @ Life Like A Galaxy Girl

Stop by Alanna’s blog today and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s memoir The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://lifelikeagalaxygirl.com/

 

November 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today and you can read her interview with author Barbara Barth and find out more about this incredible author!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

 

November 28th @ Bibliotica

Stop by Melissa’s blog and make sure you read Barbara Barth’s guest post about grief over the years and finding happiness again.

https://www.bibliotica.com/

 

November 29th @ Stranded in Chaos

Visit Sara’s blog and you can read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

https://strandupdate.blogspot.com/

 

November 30th @ Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again and read his review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

 

December 1st @ Words from the Heart

Visit Linda’s blog and read her review of Barbara Barth’s book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. 

https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com

 

December 2nd @ Women’s Writing Circle

Stop by the blog Women’s Writing Circle and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about adopting dogs while all her friends are having grandkids. Don’t miss this one!

http://www.susanweidener.com/

The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later

Review: A Friend in Deed, by G.D. Harper – with Giveaway for UK Residents

A Friend In Deed

About the Book, A Friend in Deed

 

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Troubador Publishing (October 18, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • Scroll Down for Giveaway

A Friend In Deed CoverBritain: a few years from now. A new populist political party has won the recent general election.

Duncan Jones, freelance political journalist and blogger, loses his weekly column at a national newspaper and turns to investigative reporting. The chance remark of a friend leads him to suspect that the Russians are directing the new British government’s policies and decisions. As he visits Moscow and Ukraine to discover more, scandal follows intrigue, dark forces attempt to silence him by whatever means possible and he turns to an unlikely ally for help.

A Friend in Deed is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in an all-too-believable near future. It is also the story of how one man confronts the traumas in his past and works out how to resolve them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the Author, G.D. Harper

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I worked in Russia and Ukraine for ten years, which gave me the ideas for the plot and setting that I used in A Friend in Deed.

Connect with G.D.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100A Friend in Deed is set “a few years from now” but it’s eerily close to what we see happening in both the U.S. and the U.K. with the shifts in politics and the way the media is being manipulated.

In this novel, Duncan Jones, aka political blogger Richard Foxe, and novelist Mark Jackson is a middle-aged journalist finding himself a victim of the fading of print media when two things happen at once: his paper downsizes him, basically requiring that every story be a “scoop,” and he meets Tanya, a younger-than-he-is (but not scandalously young) woman from Ukraine.

From this simple setup comes a novel that grips you and doesn’t let go. Duncan is the perfect everyman. He isn’t a hero, he just wants the truth, even if that truth comes with a risk. And risk there is. Part spy novel, replete with an introverted tech genius, and part psychological thriller – are the connections Duncan is making too good to be true? Does his past really inform his present and future? – we follow Mr. Jones down the darkened paths of London, Moscow, and the internet in his attempt to write the perfect political expose and also conquer his inner demons.

I loved the pop culture elements that author Harper included in this novel, from the opening, with Jones staring (and being stared at) by a portrait of Peter Capaldi, to the references to Tanya eventually (maybe) appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. I liked that Jones experienced real fear and trepidation about involving his friends in his… adventures… and I really appreciated the use of the character Nigel to explain the ins and outs of contemporary (ish) hacking and internet security.

One nuance I really appreciated is that Harper writes really good friendships between men and women. Sure, there’s some flirting, but it’s meant in fun. It’s clear that Harper respects his characters and his readers, but that particular bit of craft really mattered to me.

Overall, this is a compelling story that is both an entertaining read and a warning to all of us to be informed citizens of our respective nations.

Goes well with: fish and chips and a microbrew beer.


Giveaway

Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of GD Harper’s Psychological Fiction Trilogy (Open UK Only)

  • Prize features all three books, Love’s Long Road, Silent Money and A Friend in Deed

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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