Review: A Firm Place to Stand, by Lori Altebaumer – with Giveaway

BNR A Firm Place to Stand

About the book, A Firm Place to Stand

  • Genre: Christian / Romantic Suspense
  • Independently published
  • Date of Publication: January 25, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 321
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

Cover Med Res A Firm Place to StandShe’s either being stalked or losing her mind.

A job at a camp in the rustic and often rugged landscape of West Texas offers Maribel Montgomery a chance to escape both, especially if she makes sure no one knows she’s there. But when the body of a woman washes up in the river on her first morning, her hopes of a safe place to start over are swept away.

The suspicion that she’s being watched follows her to her new home, and Maribel is forced to take a stand or keep running. Does she have the courage to face the danger stirring at the Pool of Siloam Camp? If she doesn’t, another girl might die. If she tries and fails, it could be her.

Circumstances force her into the acquaintance of Conner Pierce—a man with secrets of his own. Can Maribel risk working with him in order to save the next victim and find a missing girl? Or is he the killer?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | BookBaby | BookShop | GoodReads | Lone Star Literary Life


About the author, Lori Altebaumer

Author Pic Lori Altebaumer HeadshotA life-long Texan, Lori lives in a small community not far from the rugged West Texas landscape she loves to write about. The mother of now-grown twins, she has learned that the secret to survival is a well-developed sense of humor and an active prayer life. After years spent working in the insurance business, Lori now uses her time to educate, inspire, encourage, and entertain through the written word.

Connect with Lori:

WEBSITE ║ FACEBOOK ║ TWITTER ║ INSTAGRAM  || GOODREADS ║ AMAZON ║ BOOK BUB


My Thoughts

MissMelissWhile I’m not a particular fan of fiction labeled “Christian,” I dove into this book with an open mind. What I found was that the author, Lori Altebaumer, is brilliant at dialogue and description – if you’ve never experienced  a Texas summer day in reality, you will completely understand what one feels like after this novel. Similarly, you will believe that Maribel, Conner, the sheriff, and all the supporting characters are real people, because they talk like real people.

The opening of this thriller was strong. I was hooked from the first paragraph. The ending gave us enough closure of the mystery to be satisfying – something that not all thrillers accomplish –  while also leaving enough open that we can make delicious speculations about Maribel and Conner’s futures. Where I felt Ms. Altebaumer got a bit muddled was in the middle, when the action slowed and Maribel’s personal, spiritual journey took center stage.

Admittedly, I’m not the target audience for Christian literature,but I admired the skill it took the author to make the story Biblically-based without feeling contrived or preachy. This was not a religious treatise. It was a compelling thriller where the main character’s faith was integral to the story. And Altebaumer deftly wove all the components of her story into a cohesive whole that I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you want a gripping story with authentic characters, A Firm Place to Stand is a worthy choice.

Goes well with: a smothered burrito and sweet tea.


Giveaway

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THREE WINNERS: 

1ST PRIZE

Signed Copy of A Firm Place to Stand + $25 Gift Card to the Texas Indie Bookstore of Choice

2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of A Firm Place to Stand

3RD PRIZE: eBook of A Firm Place to Stand

APRIL 30-MAY 10, 2020

(US ONLY)

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A Firm Place to Stand Tour Stops

4/30/20 Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
4/30/20 BONUS post Hall Ways Blog
5/1/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
5/1/20 Excerpt 1 Reading by Moonlight
5/2/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/3/20 Excerpt 2 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/4/20 Review Nerd Narration
5/4/20 Review Bibliotica
5/5/20 Top 5 Book Fidelity
5/5/20 Review The Page Unbound
5/6/20 Review That’s What She’s Reading
5/7/20 Playlist All the Ups and Downs
5/7/20 Review Forgotten Winds
5/8/20 Review Tangled in Text
5/9/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews
5/9/20 Review Missus Gonzo

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Lone Star Lit

Review: The Road to Delano, by John DeSimone

With apologies, this was supposed to post yesterday, and something went wrong with WordPress, so I’ve posted it today, April 7.

About the book The Road to Delano

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Rare Bird Books (March 10, 2020)

The-Road-to-Delano-coverJack Duncan is a high school senior whose dream is to play baseball in college and beyond?as far away from Delano as possible. He longs to escape the political turmoil surrounding the labor struggles of the striking fieldworkers that infests his small ag town. Ever since his father, a grape grower, died under suspicious circumstances ten years earlier, he’s had to be the sole emotional support of his mother, who has kept secrets from him about his father’s involvement in the ongoing labor strife.

With their property on the verge of a tax sale, Jack drives an old combine into town to sell it so he and his mother don’t become homeless. On the road, an old friend of his father’s shows up and hands him the police report indicating Jack’s father was murdered. Jack is compelled to dig deep to discover the entire truth, which throws him into the heart of the corruption endemic in the Central Valley. Everything he has dreamed of is at stake if he can’t control his impulse for revenge.

While Jack’s girlfriend, the intelligent and articulate Ella, warns him not to so anything to jeopardize their plans of moving to L.A., after graduation, Jack turns to his best friend, Adrian, a star player on the team, to help to save his mother’s land. When Jack’s efforts to rescue a stolen piece of farm equipment leaves Adrian?the son of a boycotting fieldworker who works closely with Cesar Chavez?in a catastrophic situation, Jack must bail his friend out of his dilemma before it ruins his future prospects. Jack uses his wits, his acumen at card playing, and his boldness to raise the money to spring his friend, who has been transformed by his jail experience.

The Road to Delano is the path Jack, Ella, and Adrian must take to find their strength, their duty, their destiny.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Rare Bird Books | Goodreads


About the author, John DeSimone

John-DeSimone-APJohn DeSimone is a published writer, novelist, and teacher. He’s been an adjunct professor and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. His recent co-authored books include Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan (Little A Publishers), and Courage to Say No by Dr. Raana Mahmood, about her struggles against sexual exploitation as a female physician in Karachi. His published novel Leonardo’s Chair published in 2005.

In 2012, he won a prestigious Norman Mailer Fellowship to complete his most recent historical novel, Road to Delano. His novels Leonardo’s Chair and No Ordinary Man have received critical recognition.

He works with select clients to write stories of inspiration and determination and with those who have a vital message to bring to the marketplace of ideas in well-written books.

Connect with John:

Find out more about John at his website, and connect with him on Instagram.


My Thoughts

MissMeliss2020The Road to Delano is novel, but it’s based in truth even if the characters aren’t all based on specific real people, and John DeSimone has written that truth in a way that is vivid and cinematic, while still being emotionally real.

While I’m not a lifelong Californian like the author, I did spend my teen years in the San Joaquin valley, in Modesto and Fresno, and while those years were in the 80s, not the 60s, I remember all too well the news coverage of Cesar Chavez’s last hunger strike – the one that was contemporary to my life – as well as picket lines at grocery stores. To this day, I feel guilty whenever I buy grapes.

It is for that reason that this novel gripped me so much. I knew the vagaries of the United Farm Workers’ battle for basic rights and fair work conditions, but I didn’t have a real connection to it. This book gave me that. It gave me context. It gave me a better sense of the history of central California. And, by framing the story as a novel, it also gave me just enough distance that I didn’t have to clench my fists, or walk away from the text and cool down before going back.

As the daughter of activist parents (my parents formed the Amnesty International chapter in Modesto when I was twelve or thirteen), I really appreciated some of the cultural touchstones that DeSimone worked into his story. As someone who grew up with Joan Baez’s music (my Mom was a fan) and later got to meet her (she came for a benefit and slept in a sleeping bag on our floor!) the scene with her singing “Blowin’ in the Wind”  – even though it wasn’t a scene of terrible importance to the plot – really made me feel like I was in the book, and not just reading it.

That was made easier because of DeSimone’s deft use of dialogue. (I hadn’t realized the word “bitchin'” was quite that old – I thought it was from my generation). Similarly, his characters, especially Jack, Adrian, and Ella – but also the growers, the families, the other members of Jack and Adrian’s baseball team – were dimensional. These were not real people, but they easily could have been, and they certainly felt real.

If you’ve ever heard the name “Cesar Chavez” and wanted to know the context of his fight, if you’ve ever seen people protesting the sale of grapes, if you’ve ever heard the song “Deportee,” or even if you’re just vaguely familiar with the plight of farm workers in America you will find value in this novel. But even if you’re just picking it up because it seems interesting, it is a worthy read, and an important story.

Goes well with beer and tacos. Because I needed both after finishing this novel.


Tour Stops TLC BOOK TOURS

Tuesday, March 10th: Instagram: @jenabrownwrites

Wednesday, March 11th: Run Wright

Thursday, March 12th: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, March 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, March 13th: Orange County Readers

Monday, March 16th: BookNAround

Thursday, March 19th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, March 20th: Broken Teepee

Monday, March 23rd: Audio Killed the Bookmark

Wednesday, March 25th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, March 27th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Monday, March 30th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, March 30th: Life By Kristen

Monday, April 6th: Bibliotica

TBD: Thursday, March 26th: Wellreadtraveler

 

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

Banner - Cockleberry

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 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: 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

 

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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: 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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Review: The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf (with Giveaway for UK Readers only)

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About the book, The Haunting at Paradise HouseThe Haunting at Paradise House eBook

 

  • Series: Reapers of the Veil (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Grim House Publishing LLC (October 6, 2019)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway (UK only)

 

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

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About the author, Killian Wolf The Haunting Author Photo

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

Connect with Killian:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

This first novel in The Reapers of the Veil series by Killian Wolf is an engaging delve into contemporary fantasy. It opens with two reapers, Ambrose and Deacon, the former of whom has botched a collection. It then jumps to the apartment of lead character Addison, a young woman looking for work as a nurse. When a live-in position falls into her lap, she is trepidatious, but accepts the position anyway, and then strange events begin to occur.

While some of the setup was a bit implausible (nurses rarely have to seek employment in modern America) and some of the plot twists were a bit trope-y (I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the story), Wolf’s inclusion of the Reapers and their culture turns what could be a fairly predictable story into something fresh and unique.

I really enjoyed some of the details – grace notes, really – that Wolf included in her story: Addison’s love of Cuban coffee is one, the scent of Cuban cigars in Dax and Orlando’s mansion is another. These specifics made Wolf’s version of Florida feel more vivid and real, and were lovely accents, especially set against the creepiness of the house itself – especially the doll room. As well, while I liked Dax and Orlando as characters, I loved that the mansion was also a character, in a sense.

Part family drama, part haunted house story, part fantasy epic, this is the first novel in a series, and while it is a satisfying story on its own, I look forward to what comes next.

Goes well with Cuban coffee and a chocolate croissant.


Giveaway: UK Residents Only

Giveaway to Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (UK Only)

*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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Review: Comfort Songs, by Kimberly Fish – with Giveaway

Comfort Songs Blog Tour

About the book, Comfort Songs

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the author, Kimberly Fish

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

Connect with Kimberly:

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


My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Goes well with hot coffee and scones with lemon curd.


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SIGNED COPY OF COMFORT SONGS

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OCTOBER 22-NOVEMBER 1, 2019

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10/26/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
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10/29/19 Review Forgotten Winds
10/30/19 Review The Clueless Gent
10/30/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
10/31/19 Review Hall Ways Blog
10/31/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles

 

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Review: Beyond the Horizon, by Ella Carey – with Giveaway

BNR Beyond the Horizon

About the book, Beyond the Horizon

  • Historical Fiction / Friendship
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • Date of Publication: October 15, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 326
  • Scroll down for the giveaway!

Beyond the HorizonFrom the author of The House by the Lake comes a powerful novel of friendship during World War II, fighting for the truth, and making peace with the past.

At the height of World War II, Eva Scott’s dream comes true. Accepted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), she leaves balmy California and the man she loves for grueling training in Texas, ultimately landing at formidable Camp Davis in North Carolina.

Vastly outnumbered by men and amid contempt, discrimination, and sabotage, Eva and her closest friends, the unconventional Nina and straight-laced Helena, remain loyal to their mission and to each other. They stay focused on the horizon, determined to prove themselves capable women pilots. Until a fatal mission sends Eva’s dream crashing to earth . . .

Now, decades later, is it possible to discover the truth about the night that changed her life? Is there any hope she’ll recover all that she’s lost? When Eva finds herself embroiled in the fight to get military recognition for the WASP, she’s forced to confront the past, and to make a decision that could forever change her future.

Thrilling and inspiring, Beyond the Horizon is a portrait of love, friendship, and valor in a time of war—and a tribute to the brave women who risked their lives for their country.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Praise for Beyond the Horizon

Pull Quote - Beyond the Horizon

“With snappy dialogue, impressive historical details, a sense of adventure and courage on every page, and even a love story, Ella Carey has hit all the markers that make fine historical fiction.”

—Ann Howard Creel, bestselling author of The Whiskey Sea

“Fans of inspirational World War II fiction will cheer on Eva and her fellow pilots as they chase their dreams, endure heartbreak, and discover their true strength. Carey’s evocative descriptions bring home the exhilaration of flight—and the everyday indignities endured by young women who challenged the expectations of their time. The story’s final twist makes for a surprising and moving conclusion.” —Elizabeth Blackwell, author of On a Cold Dark Sea and In the Shadow of Lakecrest

“A moving, beautifully written novel about the amazing WASP during WWII. True to life and packed full of emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling like I was one of these extraordinary women pilots as I read the story.” —Soraya M. Lane, Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Girls of Pearl Harbor


About the author, Ella Carey

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen countries, in twelve languages. Her sixth novel is Beyond The Horizon, set around the Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War Two.

Ella is incredibly excited to share this book with her readers, as her mother was a W.A.A.A.F during World War Two, and her father was in the R.A.F, flying airplanes over occupied France. Ella travelled to Sweetwater, Texas, to research the novel, and is grateful to Ann Hobing, the then Executive Director of the WASP museum for sharing her wonderful knowledge of the WASP. Ella also worked with two pilots to craft the flight scenes.

Ella loves to connect with her readers For more information on the background to her novels and updates about her next release, and to contact her about appearances at your local book club, please visit her website.

Connect with Ella:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

melysse2019.jpgx100I’ve been reading and reviewing Ella Carey’s work since she published her very first novel, and I’ve been a fan of her work almost as long, so when I had the opportunity to read and review Beyond the Horizon, there was no question that I was excited to do so.

What I did not expect to find was a deep connection to the piece. This novel is about a woman named Eva who was a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II. Set in both the late 1970s, (which is now technically historical even though it’s when I grew up) against a Congressional commission to accept women pilots in the general air force, with flashbacks to the 40s and the war, this novel moves between time periods effortlessly. You always know when you are, but each period is written with equal vividness.

So, why the deep connection? I have a great-aunt who, while not a WASP, was an army medic in WWII, and, like Eva, part of her story involves the fact that the women who served in that war were not always given the appropriate acknowledgement for their contributions.

Even without a personal connection, this novel is a rich and fascinating read. It’s an historical adventure with a dash of romance – Eva’s only love is not the sky, after all – but it’s also a very human examination of the choices we make as we grow up, and grow older, and the compromises we sometimes make between our dreams and our necessities.

One detail that I really liked was the image of oranges, used in the opening scene at a 1977 farmers’ market and then in a flashback when the woman wanted oranges that were reserved for the men. Oranges seemed to be a symbol of freedom and identity in this novel, and it was a subtle touch I really appreciated.

Ella Carey’s novels are always well crafted, and this book is no exception. If you like stories that are both gentle and frank, while still compelling, read Beyond the Horizon.

Goes well with fresh oranges and cappuccino.


Giveaway

THREE PAPERBACK COPIES OF BEYOND THE HORIZON

OCTOBER 17-27, 2019

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10/19/19 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
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