Review: Emerald City, by Brian Birnbaum

EmeraldCityAbout the book, Emerald City

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dead Rabbits LLC (September 6, 2019)
  • Language: English

 

Set in Seattle, Emerald City follows Benison Behrenreich, the hearing son of deaf royalty. His father, CEO of a multimillion-dollar deaf access agency, has bribed Myriadal College officials for Benison’s spot on their powerhouse basketball team, where he struggles to prove himself and compensate for his father’s sins.

Julia Paolantonio has recently lost her father to a drug relapse. Her mother ships her off to live with her estranged granddad, Johnny Raciti, during the summer before her freshman year at Myriadal. Johnny offers her a deal: bring him Peter Fosch – tormented college dropout and the best drug runner west of the Cascades – and he’ll give Julia’s freshly widowed mother a board seat on his mobbed-up securities firm.

When Benison’s father is arrested for defrauding government subsidies for the deaf, the Behrenreichs are left vulnerable to his company’s ruthless backers – namely Johnny Raciti – forcing Julia and Peter to navigate the minefield left in the aftermath.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Brian BirnbaumAbout the author, Brian Birnbaum

Brian Birnbaum received his MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, The Smart Set, Potluck Magazine, LUMINA, 3AM Magazine, The Collagist, Anti-Heroin Chic, and more. His debut novel, Emerald City, is forthcoming in 2019 with Dead Rabbits, whose NYC reading series is spinning off into a literary press funded by a former Amazon dev manager. He also hosts the Dead Rabbits Podcast. Brian is an only Child of Deaf Adults (CODA), and works in development for his father’s deaf access company.

Connect with Brian:

Website | Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Every so often you encounter a book that just blows you away. For me, this summer (September is still summer), Emerald City is that book. Sure, the description sounds like any number of other books – Seattle, crime syndicate, family drama – these are common pieces – but Brian Birnbaum moves them distinctly uncommon ways.

First, there’s his use of language. It’s gritty, it’s present, it’s very, very real. I felt like his characters were people I would have run into on buses, in bistros, or in board rooms, as the situation might require. Then there are his characters, Julia, Johnny, and especially Benison. These characters aren’t merely dimensional, they practically leap off the page and get in your face, demanding that you listen to their stories.

And let’s not forget to talk about the Deaf culture that’s woven through the story. At no time does this addition feel like a ploy to make Emerald City unique or noticeable; rather, it’s completely organic, both incidental and important (yes, it’s possible to be both).

Reading this novel, I often felt like I had to pause and catch my breath, but I loved feeling that way, because it meant I was immersed in the story. I cannot wait to read Birnbaum’s next creation, and I foresee a long and successful career.

Goes well with a rare steak, twice-baked potatoes, and a Jameson & Ginger with a twist of lime.

 

 

 

Review: Dragonfly, by Leila Meacham – with Giveaway

About the book, Dragonfly

  • Genre: Historical / WWII / Espionage
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Date of Publication: July 9, 2019
  • Number of Pages: 576
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Dragonfly coverFrom the New York Times bestselling author of Roses comes a gripping new novel about five young spies embedded among the highest Nazi ranks in occupied Paris

At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds-a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer-all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of her or his own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named Dragonfly.

Thus begins a dramatic cat-and-mouse game, as the group seeks to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But…is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?

Praise for Dragonfly:

“Meacham’s impeccable pacing and razor-wire tension evoke the daily drama of life under a Reich whose French reign might have lasted little more than four years but felt like the thousand years that it threatened to endure.” ―Bookpage

“Meacham’s nail-biting tale will please fans looking for an intricate story of spycraft and deception.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Meacham ratchets the suspense ever tighter, while providing fascinating backstory on the intrepid five [American spies] as well as delivering a detail-rich portrait of Paris during the Occupation.” ―Booklist

“Complex, epic, and rich in historical detail-an uplifting story of finding friendship behind enemy lines.” ― Kirkus

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


Leila MeachamAbout the author, Leila Meacham

Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Tumbleweeds, Somerset, and Titans.

Connect with Leila:

Website | Bookbub | Facebook | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Mystery. Intrigue. War. Nazis. Leila Meacham’s epic novel Dragonfly is an immersive tale of espionage and evil, but more than that, it examines what we humans are willing to do for the causes we believe in, just or not.

Her tale opens in 1962, but we’re quickly propelled back in time, to memories of occupied France, where the author’s vivid descriptions were so visceral that there were times I literally jumped when shots rang out or people were jostled in the streets.

With five POV characters – all of whom we initially meet as tender twenty-two-year-olds – Dragonfly could be confusing. Instead, it’s a richly woven tapestry of character and plot, detail and description. I was particularly entranced with the author’s use of language, which was neither affected nor overly simple but captured the era perfectly.

Other reviewers have commented that this novel captures the echoes of today’s political culture as well as the period in which it was set, and I agree, but I have to wonder if it’s not so much that the novel’s tone is echoing the time, as that our culture has not progressed as much as we would hope.

At 576 pages, Dragonfly is a novel to savor, a book for slow, summer nights of pleasure-reading. You could rush through it if you tried, but you’d be doing yourself, and Ms. Meacham’s lovely prose, a great disservice.

Goes well with salad Nicoise, baguette, and peach iced tea.


Giveaway

Dragonfly giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

8/7/19 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
8/7/19 Review Reading by Moonlight
8/8/19 Review Nerd Narration
8/9/19 Guest Post The Page Unbound
8/9/19 Review Momma on the Rocks
8/10/19 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
8/10/19 BONUS Audio Review Hall Ways Blog
8/11/19 Audio Review Forgotten Winds
8/12/19 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
8/12/19 Review Bibliotica
8/13/19 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
8/13/19 Review StoreyBook Reviews
8/14/19 Audio Review Sydney Young, Stories
8/15/19 Guest Post Missus Gonzo
8/16/19 Review Max Knight
8/16/19 Review Book Fidelity

 

 

Review: Becoming Superman, by J. Michael Straczynski

Becoming-Superman-coverAbout the book, Becoming Superman

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

Featuring an introduction by Neil Gaiman!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


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

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

Connect with J. Michael Straczynski:

Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Goes well with chicken shawarma and craft beer.


TLC BOOK TOURSReview Stops for Becoming Superman

Tuesday, July 23rd: Reading Reality

Wednesday, July 24th: Bibliotica

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

Friday, July 26th: The Desert Bibliophile

Monday, July 29th: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Tuesday, July 30th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, July 31st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, August 1st: Literary Quicksand

Monday, August 5th: Tina Says…

Tuesday, August 6th: Man of La Book

Wednesday, August 7th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, August 9th: Instagram: @happiestwhenreading

 

Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot, by Susan Mallery

Summer of sunshine and margotAbout the book, The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HQN; Original edition (June 11, 2019)

The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


susan-mallery-3About the author Susan Mallery

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Susan Mallery is one of those authors whose books never fail to disappoint. The Summer of Sunshine and Margot, which had me hooked from the very title, is no exception.

As an only child, I think I’m drawn to stories about sisters – I’ve always wanted one, and yet, selfishly, I’m also glad not to have one. Reading about Margot – serious, steadfast, respectable – and Sunshine – fun-loving, a bit more wild, definitely less conscientious – made me wistful for a sister again. Oh, I have girlfriends, but it’s not the same.

What I loved about this novel is that the sisters were very different, but still shared common traits (not the least a tendency to make poor romantic choices), and that they were always unfailingly supportive of each other. True, they could be brutally honest, but such honesty always came from a place of love, never from jealousy or meanness.

As well, I enjoyed our glimpses into their love lives. While it’s true that no woman need be defined by her romantic partner, it’s fun to see love blossom, and even more so to experience it vicariously through such well-drawn characters. Mallery excels at capturing emotion on the page. Her characters never feel flat or fake, and that’s just one of the reasons I keep coming back to her work.

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is the perfect summer read. Bring it to the beach or pool, or keep it inside where the air conditioning is keeping the heat and humidity at bay. But do read it; you won’t be disappointed.

Goes well with tuna sandwiches, tomatoes and avocados in vinaigrette, and chilled lemon water, eaten al fresco.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

Excerpt tour:

Tuesday, May 28th: Sincerely Karen Jo

Wednesday, May 29th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, May 29th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Thursday, May 30th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, May 31st: Books and Spoons

Saturday, June 1st: The Lit Bitch

Monday, June 3rd: Audio Killed the Bookmark

Tuesday, June 4th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, June 5th: Reading Reality

Thursday, June 6th: Romantic Reads and Such

Friday, June 7th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 10th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

 

Instagram tour:

Monday, June 10th: @diaryofaclosetreader

Tuesday, June 11th: @booksandjil

Tuesday, June 11th: @_ebl_inc_

Wednesday, June 12th: @girlandherbooks

Thursday, June 13th: @thebooksellersdaughter

Friday, June 14th: @nerdybooknurse

Friday, June 14th: @radbabesread

Saturday, June 15th: @thesaggingbookshelf

Sunday, June 16th: @ohthebooksshewillread

Monday, June 17th: @pnwbookworm

TOUR REPLAY: @TLCBookTours

 

Review tour:

Monday, June 10th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Tuesday, June 11th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Reads

Wednesday, June 12th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, June 13th: Reading Reality

Monday, June 17th: Pacific Northwest Bookworm

Tuesday, June 18th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, June 19th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, June 20th: Seaside Book Nook

Friday, June 21st: Jathan & Heather

Monday, June 24th: Run Wright

Tuesday, June 25th: @libraryinprogress

Wednesday, June 26th: What is That Book About

Thursday, June 27th: Audio Killed the Bookmark and @beritaudiokilledthebookmark

Friday, June 28th: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Monday, July 1st: Amy’s Book-et List

Wednesday, July 3rd: Books & Bindings

Wednesday, July 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, July 5th: @booktimistic

Tuesday, July 9th: Romantic Reads and Such

Wednesday, July 10th: Sincerely Karen Jo

Wednesday, July 10th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, July 11th: Why Girls are Weird

Friday, July 12th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, July 15th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, July 16th: Treestand Book Reviews

Tuesday, July 16th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, July 17th: Book Fidelity

Thursday, July 18th: Bibliotica

Friday, July 19th: Not in Jersey

Review: The Islanders, by Meg Mitchell Moore

The-Islanders-coverAbout the book The Islanders

• Hardcover: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (June 11, 2019)

“One of my own favorite writers.” –Elin Hilderbrand

J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine meets the works of Elin Hilderbrand in this delicious summer read involving three strangers, one island, and a season packed with unexpected romance, well-meaning lies, and damaging secrets.

Anthony Puckett was a rising literary star. The son of an uber-famous thriller writer, Anthony’s debut novel spent two years on the bestseller list and won the adoration of critics. But something went very wrong with his second work. Now Anthony’s borrowing an old college’s friend’s crumbling beach house on Block Island in the hopes that solitude will help him get back to the person he used to be.

Joy Sousa owns and runs Block Island’s beloved whoopie pie café. She came to this quiet space eleven years ago, newly divorced and with a young daughter, and built a life for them here. To her customers and friends, Joy is a model of independence, hard-working and happy. And mostly she is. But this summer she’s thrown off balance. A food truck from a famous New York City brand is roving around the island, selling goodies—and threatening her business.

Lu Trusdale is spending the summer on her in-laws’ dime, living on Block Island with her two young sons while her surgeon husband commutes to the mainland hospital. When Lu’s second son was born, she and her husband made a deal: he’d work and she’d quit her corporate law job to stay home with the boys. But a few years ago, Lu quietly began working on a private project that has becoming increasingly demanding on her time. Torn between her work and home, she’s beginning to question that deal she made.

Over the twelve short weeks of summer, these three strangers will meet and grow close, will share secrets and bury lies. And as the promise of June turns into the chilly nights of August, the truth will come out, forcing each of them to decide what they value most, and what they are willing to give up to keep it.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Meg-Mitchell-Moore-APAbout the author, Meg Mitchell Moore

Meg Mitchell Moore works as a non-fiction writer in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and three young daughters.

Connect with Meg:

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


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Block Island is one of those places that family friends of mine often visit and talk about, but that I’ve never been to myself. I have a lovely china coffee service from the island, but that’s the closest I’ve come to being there… until I read The Islanders, because Meg Mitchell Moore’s story transported me to the place I’ve always wanted to be.

It’s the perfect summer read. A heightened version of a delicious beachy setting, fantastic characters (Joy, Lu, and Anthony) who are each interesting in their own right, and more so as their stories and secrets intertwine. I loved the combination of realistic interactions, charming settings and insidious small-town gossip, and Moore handled all quite deftly. Her characters never felt like caricatures, but were totally believable as the sorts of people one runs into in such places.

This is a great book to take on vacation, but if a visit to the shore isn’t in your plans this summer, it also provides a virtual seaside break. I was especially impressed with the way the author handled dialogue, but I confess, I wanted to hang out at Joy’s cafe and sample the whoopie pies while sipping espresso.

Add The Islanders to your summer reading list; you won’t be sorry.

Goes well with crab salad and fresh lemonade.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops for The Islanders

Instagram Features

Tuesday, June 11th: Instagram: @tarheelreader

Wednesday, June 12th: Instagram: @michellereadsbooks

Thursday, June 13th: Instagram: @beauty_andthebook_

Friday, June 14th: Instagram: @lauralovestoread

Saturday, June 15th: Instagram: @readingbetweenthe__wines

Sunday, June 16th: Instagram: @thats_what_she_read

Monday, June 17th: Instagram: @jennsbookvibes

Review Stops

Tuesday, June 11th: BookNAround

Wednesday, June 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, June 13th: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, June 14th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, June 18th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, June 20th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, June 21st: Bookapotamus

Monday, June 24th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Tuesday, June 25th: Write – Read – Life

Wednesday, June 26th: Booked J

Thursday, June 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, June 28th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, July 3rd: Into the Hall of Books

Wednesday, July 3rd: Bibliotica

Friday, July 5th: Comfy Reading

TBD: Monday, July 1st: Books and Bindings

Review: The Road to Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

The Road to Cromer Pier

 

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

 

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Martin Gore

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Martin:

Twitter | Facebook


My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Road to Cromer Pier Full Tour Banner

 

 

Review: A Beach Wish, by Shelley Noble

A-Beach-Wish-coverAbout the book, A Beach Wish

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 25, 2019)

New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble returns to the beach in her latest summer read about the family we create and the wishes we make that can shape us.

Zoe Bascombe has never said no to her family. When she blew her Juilliard audition, she caved to their wishes and went to business school. But when her mother dies and leaves instructions for Zoe to spread her ashes at a place called Wind Chime Beach, she defies her brothers and starts out for a New England town none of them has ever heard of and discovers a side of her garden club mother that her wildest dreams hadn’t imagined.

Zoe has another family.

Her first instinct is to run home. Instead she is caught in the middle of her feuding new relatives. With one family fighting among themselves and the other not speaking to her, Zoe must somehow find a way to bridge her new life with her old.

For the first time in her life, Zoe must make a stand for her family—both of them. If only she can only figure out how.

Her answer lies at Wind Chime Beach where for generations people have come to add their chimes to the ones already left among the trees. And when the wind blows and the air fills with music, their secrets, dreams, and hopes are sent into the world. There’s a message for Zoe here—if she has the courage to open her heart.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Shelley Noble AP Photo by Gary BrownAbout the author, Shelley Noble

Shelley Noble is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Whisper Beachand Beach Colors. Other titles include Stargazey PointBreakwater Bay, and Forever Beach—a story of foster adoption in New Jersey—and four spin-off novellas. A former professional dancer and choreographer, she lives on the Jersey shore and loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels. Shelley is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Connect with Shelley:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Shelley Noble has, over the years, become one of my go-to authors of beach books. I don’t mean this in a frivolous way, because she doesn’t write throw-away novels. Rather she’s a master of compelling family dramas that take place at or near beaches. This summer’s offering, A Beach Wish, is no exception. It’s a family drama that looks at the themes of blood family vs. chosen family, of nature vs. nurture, and of following your own dreams vs. staying on the path others choose for you.

Like many of Noble’s other works, this novel is centered around a beach, in this case Wind Chime Beach, that becomes its own character in the story. As much place as symbol, the beach is both a refuge and a place where one goes to confront one’s truth. It takes a lot to talent to endow a stretch of sand and water with that much presence and character, but it’s one of the ways the author really excels.

Speaking of characters, the people we meet in this novel read like real people. Quirky and flawed, sometimes even downright prickly, they are a group – an extended family, really – of individuals who are each well-rounded and dimensional. Lee, the musician who shares his secrets through his songs, Hannah, the would-be matriarch who is controlling but well-meaning, David, the photographer who buries his heart, Floret and Henry, keepers of the history, Noelle, Mel, and Eli, the younger generation, Eve, the innkeeper who is so much more, and Zoe, who is the POV character we first meet… all could easily populate the streets of any beach town we might visit. And their stories, if somewhat heightened because they’re in a novel, are still fairly plausible.

In A Beach Wish, Shelly Nobel has done once more what she has done before: crafted a warm and satisfying story that lets us look at yet another permutation of family, and come away wishing, just a little, that we were part of it.

Goes well with homemade cookies and iced tea.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour stops for A Beach Wish

Instagram Features

Tuesday, June 25th: Instagram: @tarheelreader

Wednesday, June 26th: Instagram: @reallyintothis

Thursday, June 27th: Instagram: @writersdream

Friday, June 28th: Instagram: @lauralovestoread

Saturday, June 29th: Instagram: @slreadsbooks

Sunday, June 30th: Instagram: @books.coffee.cats

Monday, July 1st: Instagram: @jessicamap

Review Stops

Tuesday, June 25th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 26th: Bibliotica

Thursday, June 27th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Friday, June 28th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, June 28th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, July 1st: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Friday, July 5th: Instagram: @beritaudiokilledthebookmark

Monday, July 8th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, July 9th: Books and Bindings

Wednesday, July 10th: Jathan & Heather

Thursday, July 11th: Tina Says…

Friday, July 12th: Reading Reality

Review: Genny’s Ballad (The Sisters #5) by Becki Willis (with Giveaway!)

BNR The Sisters, Texas PNG

About the book, Genny’s Ballad

  • Genre: Cozy Mystery / Romance / Women Sleuths
  • Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
  • Date of Publication: October, 2017
  • Number of Pages: 258
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Genny Cover2018 Best Mystery Series, Texas Association of Authors

By all accounts, everyone loves Genny.
So why does someone want her dead?

There’s something special about Genesis Baker, owner of The Sister’s popular New Beginnings Café. With her dimpled smile and twinkling blue eyes, Genny has practically the entire town eating from the palm of her hand. But Genny is hiding a secret. Despite her sunny disposition and golden touch, there is heartache in her past, and heartache, they say, comes in threes.

Heartache Number One: An unwelcomed customer shows up at New Beginnings. Apparently, the restraining order has lapsed.

Heartache Number Two: Genny’s arch nemesis from high school returns to town. Twenty years has done nothing to mellow the bitter feud between these two women.

Heartache Number Three: As Genny finally acknowledges her feelings for a younger man—sexy firefighter Cutter Montgomery—memories of her first love come back to haunt her.

On top of it all, someone is stalking Genny, determined to make her life miserable.

As it turns out, being kidnapped is only the beginning of her troubles… 

Book Five of the award winning The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, voted Best Mystery Series by the Texas Association of Authors, three years in a row!

Buy, read, and discuss this book – and the whole series!

Buy the book on Amazon! $0.99 Kindle Countdown promotional pricing 6/22 – 6/28!

Buy all or part of The Sisters series from the author’s website | Check the series out on Goodreads


About the author, Becki Willis

LinkedIn ║ BookBub║ Amazon Author PageBecki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of ’13, that dream became a reality.

Since that time, she has published numerous books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction, Best Women’s Detective Fiction, and Best Audio Book, won the 2018 RONE Award for Paranormal Fiction, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, Writer’s League of Texas, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

Connect with Becki

Website | Twitter | Goodreads  | Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | LinkedIn  | BookBub | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellCreepy ex-boyfriends, layers of mystery, hunky firefighters, supportive female friends, a cozy small-town setting, and apple turnovers – Genny’s Ballad, book five in Becki Willis’s The Sisters Texas Mysteries has all of that and more.

What more? How about a compelling plot that opens with bumps and grunts in the night and said hunky firefighter coming to the rescue. But while that’s a good beginning, a novel needs more than just an opening scene. Fortunately author Willis delivers. This is no ordinary cozy mystery. It’s got layered stories and nuanced characters, and it deals with the reality that the hopes, dreams, and loves we have when we’re young are not necessarily the hopes, dreams, and loves we get to keep, or choose to follow through with as we mature.

While I enjoyed that one of the many subplots involved the main character Genesis “Genny” Baker’s best friend Madison going through the joys and perils of her home (and life) being featured on a reality show about remodeling (and, by extension, Genny herself and many of their other friends) a scene I found particularly delicate and touching was one with an aging teacher who was clearly suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Working that into the story in a way that felt organic but still respectful of real people who live with such conditions speaks a lot to the author’s talent for writing believable characters.

I also  liked that Genny was flawed. She didn’t like asking for help, and that meant that she put herself in harm’s way. It’s easy to write a protagonist who is perfect. To write a character who is imperfect and still really likeable, someone we want to root for, takes real craft.

And I did root for Genny to resolve her issues, and for Madison to resolve her cases, just as wanted all of the various romances to end successfully, because in a cozy mystery you get to solve the crime and have the perfect kiss, if the author has done her job, and Becki Willis has absolutely done her job. (Similarly, I wanted the less savory characters to get their comeuppance. I’m looking at you in particular Pembroke. You really annoyed me.)

Of course, I have to mention that Genny’s Ballad  is book five in an ongoing series, in which book eight has just been released. While it’s completely satisfying as a stand-alone read, it would be even more enjoyable within the context of the series at large.

Cuddling, coziness, and creative crime solving by strong women characters – Genny’s Ballad has it all.

Goes well with apple turnovers and fresh coffee.


GIVEAWAY

GRAND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Wildflower Wedding + $20 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card

June 20-30, 2019

(U.S. Only) 

Giveaway Wildflower Wedding SMALL

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check Out the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

6/20/19 Chicken Scratch, #1 StoreyBook Reviews
6/20/19 When the Stars Fall, #2 Tangled in Text
6/21/19 Stipulations & Complications, #3 Max Knight
6/22/19 Home Again: Starting Over, #4 Reading by Moonlight
6/23/19 Genny’s Ballad, #5 Bibliotica
6/24/19 Christmas in The Sisters, #6 The Clueless Gent
6/25/19 The Lilac Code, #7 Hall Ways Blog
6/26/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Book Fidelity
6/26/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Carpe Diem Chronicles
6/27/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Chapter Break Book Blog
6/27/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 The Librarian Talks
6/28/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Forgotten Winds
6/28/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Nerd Narration
6/29/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 That’s What She’s Reading
6/29/19 Wildflower Wedding, #8 Sydney Young, Stories

LoneStarBookBlogTours sm

LoneStarLitLife

Review: Moon Rush by Leonard David

Moon-Rush-cover-670x1024About the book, Moon Rush

• Hardcover: 224 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 7, 2019)

Veteran space journalist digs into the science and technology–past, present, and future–central to our explorations of Earth’s only satellite, the space destination most hotly pursued today.

In these rich pages, veteran science journalist Leonard David explores the moon in all its facets, from ancient myth to future “Moon Village” plans. Illustrating his text with maps, graphics, and photographs, David offers inside information about how the United States, allies and competitors, as well as key private corporations like Moon Express and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, plan to reach, inhabit, and even harvest the moon in the decades to come.

Spurred on by the Google Lunar XPRIZE–$20 million for the first to get to the moon and send images home–the 21st-century space race back to the moon has become more urgent, and more timely, than ever. Accounts of these new strategies are set against past efforts, including stories never before told about the Apollo missions and Cold War plans for military surveillance and missile launches from the moon. Timely and fascinating, this book sheds new light on our constant lunar companion, offering reasons to gaze up and see it in a different way than ever before.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

I’ve been a science fiction fan practically forever, but my love of science fiction led me to want to know the real story of our solar system. For years, the definitive view of the American space program has been Maury Chakin’s book From the Earth to the Moon, which is a detailed look at the Apollo missions (it’s worth a read, by the way).

But now, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of that historic first moon landing, we are looking at the moon in a new light: as a possible launch pad for missions to Mars and eventually beyond.

In Moon Rush, science journalist Leonard David reminds of of the history  we have the moon, but also guides us toward the future, discussing science and technology in terms that are not simplistic but also don’t require that one be an actual rocket scientist to comprehend.

One thing I appreciated was that David highlighted the differences between NASA’s plan for our closest satellite (and possible sister planet) and the way private companies are looking at the new space race. Twenty-first century technology isn’t limited to government sources, and this book addresses the very real possibility of a privatized moon. How would that look? What could happen.

More importantly, though, David’s writing retains the one thing all we space buffs share: a sense of hope and wonder. Moon Rush is about science and technology in space, yes, but it’s also about possibility.

Goes well with: mango-peach iced tea, sliced apples, and sharp cheddar cheese.


TLC BOOK TOURSTour Stops

Tuesday, May 21st: Instagram: @dropandgivemenerdy

Thursday, May 23rd: Thrill me. Chill me. Reads.

Friday, May 24th: Instagram: @createexploreread

Tuesday, May 28th: Just a Secular Homeschooler

Tuesday, May 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, June 3rd: Man of La Book

Thursday, June 6th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, June 7th: Real Life Reading

Monday, June 10th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, June 17th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 19th: Instagram: @shereadswithcats

Review: Summer on Mirror Lake, by JoAnn Ross

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

Hardcover: 384 Pages

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

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

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

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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


JoAnn-Ross-300x200About the author, JoAnn Ross

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

Connect with JoAnn:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


melysse2019.jpgx100My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 3rd: Bookmark Lit

Monday, June 3rd: @nerdybooknurse

Monday, June 3rd: @angelareadsbooks

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

Wednesday, June 5th: Book by Book

Thursday, June 6th: Reading Reality

Friday, June 7th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 10th: Romancing the Readers

Monday, June 10th: @_ebl_inc_

Tuesday, June 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, June 12th: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, June 13th; Bibliotica

Friday, June 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, June 17th: A Holland Reads

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

Thursday, June 20th: Why Girls Are Weird

Friday, June 21st: The Lit Bitch

Monday, June 24th: @simplykelina

Tuesday, June 25th: Seaside Book Nook

Wednesday, June 26th: Jathan and Heather

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

Friday, June 28th: @cassies_books_reviews