Review: In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo

About the book, In Praise of Difficult Women

• Hardcover: 352 pagesIn-Praise-of-Difficult-Women-cover
• Publisher: National Geographic (February 27, 2018)

From Amelia Earhart to Carrie Fisher, this witty narrative explores what we can learn from the imperfect and extraordinary legacies of 29 iconic women who forged their own unique paths.

Smart, sassy, and unapologetically feminine, this elegantly illustrated book is an ode to the bold and charismatic women of modern history. Best-selling author Karen Karbo (The Gospel According to Coco Chanel) spotlights the spirited rule breakers who charted their way with little regard for expectations: Frida Kahlo, Nora Ephron, Hillary Clinton, Amy Poehler, Shonda Rhimes, Elizabeth Taylor, and Helen Gurley Brown, among others. Their lives–imperfect, elegant, messy, glorious–provide inspiration and instruction for the new age of feminism we have entered. Karbo distills these lessons with wit and humor, examining the universal themes that connect us to each of these mesmerizing personalities today: success and style, love and authenticity, daring and courage. Being “difficult,” Karbo reveals, might not make life easier. But it can make it more fulfilling–whatever that means for you.

Buy, read, and discuss In Praise of Difficult Women:

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the Author, Karen Karbo

KAREN KARBO is the author of multiple award-winning novels, memoirs and works of nonfiction. Her best-selling “Kick-Ass Women” series includes The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman, which was an international bestseller. Karbo’s short stories, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Outside, the New York Times, Salon, and other publications. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a winner of the General Electric Younger Writer Award. Karbo lives in Portland, Oregon, where she continues to kick ass.

Connect with Karen:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

When I asked to review this collection of essays, I originally thought it was a collection of works by the women included. It is not. Instead, it’s a collection of essays – part biography/part anecdote – about twenty-nine of the women our culture in general, and author Karen Karbo specifically, consider to be iconic.

It’s a fairly well-rounded collection of women, each given an a specific adjective. J.K. Rowling is dubbed ‘feisty,’ for example and Shonda Rimes is ‘unstoppable,’ while Jane Goodall is described as ‘determined,’ Hillary Clinton is ‘ambitious’ and Carrie Fisher, the final essay in this collection, is ‘droll.’  The order seems haphazard – Janis Joplin is among the final entries, while Coco Chanel is in the middle – but this isn’t the sort of book where order particularly matters. Rather, it’s the kind of book you can pick up anywhere, read an essay or two, and then come back to a while later, and read a few more.

Karbo’s writing voice is crisp and easy. This doesn’t negate the seriousness of some of her subject matter, it just makes it feel like you’re hearing these women described by a friend. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because while all of the women represented here are (or were) at the tops of their field, this book humanizes them. Through Karbo’s eyes we see them as women first, and icons second.

One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this book was the author’s use of footnotes. Some merely clarified dates and titles, while others were personal asides. Her comment about naming an indie rock band “Forest of Dean,” made me laugh out loud.

Over all, this is a fantastic collection of well-written essays about iconic women who are supremely real people.

Goes well with hot coffee and an almond croissant.


Tour Stops https://tlcbooktours.com/2018/02/karen-karbo-author-of-in-praise-of-difficult-women-on-tour-march-2018/

Tuesday, February 27th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, March 1st: A Bookish Affair

Monday, March 5th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, March 6th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, March 7th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, March 13th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, March 14th: Doing Dewey

Thursday, March 15th: Bibliotica

Friday, March 16th: bookchickdi

Monday, March 19th: Openly Bookish

Monday, March 19th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

TBD: 5 Minutes For Books

Review: Meet the Frugalwoods, by Elizabeth Willard Thames

About the book Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence through Simple Living

• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: HarperBusiness (March 6, 2018)

Meet-the-Frugalwoods-coverThe deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

Buy, read, and discuss Meet the Frugalwoods:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Elizabeth Willard Thames

Elizabeth Willard Thames is the personal finance blogger behind the award-winning Frugalwoods.com. At thirty-two she abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of Vermont with her husband and young daughter. Started in April 2014, Frugalwoods is a respected voice in the personal finance, early retirement, and lifestyle blogging sector and empowers readers to take charge of their finances and create fulfilling lives. Thames holds BAs in political science and creative writing from the University of Kansas and an MA in public administration from American University. Prior to following her calling as a writer and homesteader, she worked for ten years in the nonprofit sector as a fund-raiser and communications manager.

Follow the Frugalwoods:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMy husband and I suck at saving. Well, we don’t suck, so much as we rely on retail therapy and have way too much house for two people and four dogs.

It’s because of this that I was initially attracted to reading Meet the Frugalwoods.

I haven’t read the Frugalwoods blog, but in this book Elizabeth Willard Thames has given us something that’s partly an autobiography and partly an object lesson on how to achieve, if not your actual dream, than at least a better level of financial security.

Thames’s voice is simple and accessible. There’s a touch of self-deprecating humor, but mostly she’s pretty no-nonsense. Reading this book doesn’t make you feel like you’ve done everything wrong; rather it gives a different perspective on how you could be managing finances, and I say this as someone who worked in the mortgage industry for half a lifetime, before quitting to write and podcast and do audio drama.

Granted, at 47, I’m a bit out of the Frugalwoods demographic, but I still found Thames’s story inspiring and uplifting, and I think for the millennial generation, especially those on the older end of it, the advice and information shared in Meet the Frugalwoods could be invaluable.

Goes well with a grocery store bagel and cream cheese (but only if your grocery store makes decent bagels), and coffee you brew at home.


Tour Stops

https://tlcbooktours.com/2018/01/avraham-azrieli-author-of-deborah-calling-on-tour-january-february-2018/Tuesday, March 6th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, March 7th: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, March 8th: Literary Quicksand

Friday, March 9th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Monday, March 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, March 15th: Man of La Book

Monday, March 19th: What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 20th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, March 21st: Doing Dewey

Thursday, March 22nd: Based on a True Story

 

 

Review: The Atomic City Girls, by Janet Beard

About the book, The Atomic City Girls

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 6, 2018)

The-Atomic-City-Girls-cover“Focuses on the little-known realities behind the Manhattan Project […] Readers who enjoyed Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls will appreciate this glimpse into the beliefs and attitudes that shaped America during World War II.”— Library Journal

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.

Buy, read, and discuss The Atomic City Girls:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Janet Beard Janet-Beard-AP-Photo-by-Bradley-Cummings

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard earned an MFA in creative writing from The New School. She currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio.

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


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellAs the brief on this novel says, this book is very much in the vein of Hidden Figures, in that it’s a fictionalized version of a true story, and involves women working in STEM fields, on significant projects. The difference, of course, is that June didn’t know what she was working on at the time. In fact she didn’t learn what she’d been a part of until much later.

I felt that reading this novel at a time when we’re talking about arming teachers (please, God, I hope we don’t) was oddly appropriate. It’s easy to believe you have the power to shoot someone, but a far different thing to actually do it. It’s easy to say “kill the enemy!” and much less simple when you realize that enemy has a human face, and human lives.

While I appreciated the historical details author Janet Beard incorporated into her story – beginning with June’s grandfather being forced to leave his cabin in the area about to be commandeered by the U.S. military – what I liked was that she kept things simple and elegant. June is just like any other young woman experiencing her first taste of independence – a job, a romance – it’s just that her universal experience is set against patterns and events  – The Manhattan Project – the bombing of Hiroshima – that exist on a vastly different scale.

I found The Atomic City Girls to be a fascinating read and a truly gripping story.

Goes well with a turkey and havarti sandwich with pesto, and a glass of iced tea.


Tour Stopshttps://tlcbooktours.com/2018/01/avraham-azrieli-author-of-deborah-calling-on-tour-january-february-2018/

Tuesday, February 6th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, February 7th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, February 8th: Literary Quicksand

Friday, February 9th: West Metro Mommy

Monday, February 12th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, February 13th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, February 14th: Peppermint PhD

Thursday, February 15th: Time 2 Read

Monday, February 19th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, February 20th: Openly Bookish

Wednesday, February 21st: A Literary Vacation

Thursday, February 22nd: Bibliotica

Monday, February 26th: Literary Lindsey

Tuesday, February 27th: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_

Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds

Thursday, March 1st: bookchickdi

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

About the book The Lucky Ones The Lucky Ones

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Buy, read, and discuss The Lucky Ones:

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


About the author, Tiffany Reisz Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Every so often you stumble across a novel that doesn’t look all that amazing, and then you get into it and you find out it’s compelling, interesting, and really satisfying, and pretty amazing after all.

That was my experience with The Lucky Ones. I was part of the excerpt tour in January, but hadn’t read the book at the time I posted my excerpt. When I finally sat down to start it and read the opening scenes with Allison with her ten-lover McQueen, I was half-convinced I was reading the wrong novel.

But then the story unfolded. Allison read the letter from Roland, and dashed back to the Oregon coast, and not only did I fall in love with the house – The Dragon (I want a house like that, in a place like that)  – but I was hooked on the story.

I really liked the way the author, Tiffany Reisz, crafted this novel like a romance, until it became a thriller disguised as a family drama with romantic interludes. I loved all the characters, flawed and human as they were. The layers of secrets, peeling away like onions, kept me intrigued til the very end.

Reisz’s use of language is really effective. Allison was the point of view character, so her voice was the clearest, but each character had his or her own distinct voice – Roland was suitably introspective. Dr. Capello reminded me of an older, gritter version of Alan Alda, and Thora was someone I’d have loved to hang out with.

Overall, it’s we, the readers, who are lucky, because we get to read The Lucky Ones.

Goes well with a burger and a beer, enjoyed on a beach blanket on the sand.


The Lucky Ones Review Tour: TLC Book Tours

Monday, February 12th: Rockin’ & Reviewing

Monday, February 12th: Into the Hall of Books and @intothehallofbooks

Tuesday, February 13th: Clues and Reviews and @cluesandreviews

Tuesday, February 13th: Read Love Blog

Tuesday, February 13th: @anniabbauer and @beach.house.books

Wednesday, February 14th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 15th: 5 Minutes for Books

Friday, February 16th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, February 20th: Books a la Mode

Tuesday, February 20th: Katy’s Library and @katyslibrary

Wednesday, February 21st: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind and @artbookscoffeee

Thursday, February 22nd: Tales of a Book Addict

Friday, February 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings

Friday, February 23rd: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Monday, February 26th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, February 26th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Tuesday, February 27th: @athousandbookstoread

Tuesday, February 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, February 28th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 28th: The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 2nd: Not in Jersey

Monday, March 5th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, March 6th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, March 7th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, March 8th: Hoser’s Blook

Friday, March 9th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, March 9th: What is That Book About

Review: Deborah Rising/Deborah Calling by Avraham Azrieli

About Deborah Calling Deborah Calling

• Print Length: 432 pages
• Publisher: HarperLegend (July 25, 2017)

The author of the bestselling Deborah Rising continues the fascinating story of the biblical prophetess Deborah in this entrancing work of visionary fiction—a tale of danger, mysticism, intrigue, and daring.

Deborah’s father dreamed that, one day, she would become a prophet—a seemingly impossible dream for a woman in a patriarchal society. To see this wish come true, Deborah made the cunning decision to become a man by seeking out a mysterious elixirist who could turn women into men.

Under the elixirist Kassite’s tutelage and training, Deborah learns the essential traits of masculinity and steadily grows stronger, building muscle and willpower. But Kassite requests something in return: he needs Deborah’s help to escape enslavement and return to his homeland. It is the beginning of another thrilling adventure through the desert—a cat-and-mouse chase between Deborah and her violent fiancé who still hunts her, a chance meeting with an ancient healer who has a prophetic message, and a revelatory spiritual experience in an abandoned cave.Deborah Rising

As she continues on the path God has laid before her, Deborah witnesses the darkness that can take hold in the hearts and souls of men—evil that causes her to reflect on the wisdom, insight, and inspiration she has gained from the women in her life. Will becoming a man truly help her become a prophetess, or might there be another path? Visionary dreams, a mysterious eagle, and an extraordinary band of ex-slaves will help Deborah find the answer . . . and ultimately her calling.

A riveting adventure tale derived from traditional biblical fiction, Deborah Calling imagines the life of one of the most famous figures from the Old Testament as she continues on her path to becoming a prophetess.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Goodreads


About the author, Avraham Azrieli

Avraham Azrieli is the author of nine fiction and nonfiction works. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thrillers Writers Association, the Historical Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Authors Guild, and other professional societies, and his work has been reviewed by numerous outlets, including Examiner, US Review of Books, New York Daily News, The Jewish Journal, San Francisco Book Review, and more. He lives in Maryland.

Visit him online at azrielibooks.com.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Please note: I read Deborah Calling and its predecessor, Deborah Rising, back to back, so to me, they run together becoming one story, and I’m honestly no longer certain what was in book one and what was in book two.

While I typically enjoy historical fiction, it’s rare when I read anything based in a biblical tale. I’m not particularly religious, and I feel like I’m never the best audience for these things. When I do read such things, I’m afraid I compare them all to either The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant or Certain Women, by Madeleine L’Engle.

Azrieili’s two Deborah books are neither as splashy as Diamant’s novel, nor as intellectual as L’Engle’s, but they are not without their own merit. I found the author’s choice of relatively plain, simple language was a good contrast to the epic vastness of the story he was trying to tell, and he managed to bridge the gap between making things accessible to contemporary readers while also keeping the flavor of the source material.

That said, I’m finding it difficult to separate my emotional reaction to these books, which open with an extremely violent act against Deborah’s older sister, from my critical response.

Melissa-the-reader feels over-saturated with stories about women being mistreated, ignored, and brutalized, and to read about it happening in an historical setting was unsettling at best.

Melissa-the-reviewer, on the other hand, understands that much of the misogyny represented in these novels was accurate to the period, and she certainly understands that the author was in no way endorsing such treatment of women, or of people who are not of the dominant faith of any land. At the same time, that reviewer-self understands that when you’re reading about difficult concepts they should unsettle you, because that means the author has done his or her job.

My recommendation, then, is that while these are stories of a strong woman forging a unique, and often difficult, path from pawn to prophet, please ensure that you understand the context before you dive in.

Overall, I felt that these were well-written, well-paced, interesting stories, and the author’s writing voice is one of quiet grace, which I really appreciated.

Goes well with hot tea, and date-nut bread slathered in butter.


Tour Stops https://tlcbooktours.com/2018/01/avraham-azrieli-author-of-deborah-calling-on-tour-january-february-2018/

Friday, January 12th: History from a Woman’s PerspectiveDeborah Rising

Wednesday, January 17th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.

Thursday, January 18th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, January 23rd: Reading Reality – Deborah Rising

Monday, February 12th: Mother’s Circle

Wednesday, February 14th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 19th: Write – Read – Life

Wednesday, February 21st: A Bookish AffairDeborah Rising

Friday, February 23rd: Reading Reality – Deborah Calling

Monday, February 26th: A Bookish AffairDeborah Calling

Monday, February 26th: Openly Bookish

TBD: History from a Woman’s PerspectiveDeborah Calling

TBD: Based on a True Story

Review: The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, by Kristin Rockaway

About the book, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World The-Wild-Womans-Guide-to-Traveling-the-World-cover

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: Center Street (June 6, 2017)

Fans of Sophie Kinsella and The Devil Wears Prada will love this smart, sexy debut novel of wanderlust.

Objectively, Sophie is a success: she’s got a coveted job at a top consulting firm, a Manhattan apartment, and a passport full of stamps. It isn’t quite what she dreamed of when she was a teenager dog-earing pages in exotic travel guides, but it’s secure. Then her best friend bails just hours after they arrive in Hong Kong for a girls’ trip, and Sophie falls for Carson, a free spirited, globetrotting American artist. He begs her to join him on his haphazard journey, but she chooses responsibility and her five-year plan.

Back in New York, that plan feels less and less appealing. As Sophie recalls the dreams she’s suppressed, the brief international jaunts she sneaks in between business trips no longer feel like enough. Carson isn’t ready to let her go either, but as they try to figure out their relationship, Sophie realizes she may have to pursue her passions with or without him.

Buy, read, and discuss The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kristin Rockaway Kristin-Rockaway-AP

Kristin Rockaway is a native New Yorker with an insatiable case of wanderlust. After working in the IT industry for far too many years, she finally traded the city for the surf and chased her dreams out to Southern California, where she spends her days happily writing stories instead of software. Her debut novel, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, was released from Hachette Book Group in June 2017. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, browsing the aisles of her neighborhood bookstores, and planning her next big vacation.

Connect with Kristin:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts: Melissa A. Bartell

The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World is one of those novels you really wish was a travel guide, because Kristin Rockaway is so good at describing places and food, that you want to instantly jump through the pages to Hong Kong or New York, or… wherever.

Fortunately, her skills at writing character and plot are just as good, so you jump into the pages of her story as well. I really enjoyed following Sophie on her journeys – both the literal and the emotional one – as she navigated not just the world, but her own needs and desires, as well as her own heart.

It’s a scary thing to step off the path we’ve created for ourselves, and Carson was the perfect catalyst for Sophie to do just that. Rockaway has given us a couple that is passionate, funny, and may or may not be perfect for each other, which ultimately makes them both slightly heightened and supremely real.

I really enjoyed the way Rockaway balanced the comedic and serious moments in this novel.

I recommend it to anyone who longs for an escape, but isn’t sure they’re quite ready.

Goes well with Asian street food, though I prefer Singaporean dishes to those from Hong Kong.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Friday, January 19th: Staircase Wit

Monday, January 22nd: #redhead.with.book

Friday, January 26th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, January 26th: Wining Wife

Tuesday, February 6th: Rockin’ and Reviewing

Friday, February 9th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 12th: Literary Quicksand

Tuesday, February 13th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, February 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Thursday, February 15th: Eliot’s Eats

Friday, February 23rd: Instagram: @writersdream

Monday, February 26th: Thoughts From a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Tuesday, March 6th: Just One More Chapter

Excerpt from The Lucky Ones, by Tiffany Reisz

About the book The Lucky Ones The Lucky Ones

Print Length: 368 pages

Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Buy, read, and discuss The Lucky Ones:

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


About the author, Tiffany Reisz Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany:

Website | Facebook | Instagram


Read an Excerpt from Chapter 4 of The Lucky Ones

Inside the envelope she found a letter. Before she lost her cour­age, she unfolded it and read.

Dear Allison,

What to say? I’ll be quick. It’s been thirteen years and I know I should leave you alone but you’ve been on my mind a lot lately so I’ll get to the point fast. Dad is dying. Stage five renal failure. He doesn’t know I’m writing you. I didn’t want to get his hopes up. Fact is, he’s always missed you. Any time your name comes up, you can tell he’s full of re­gret. So am I. If you have it in your heart to come see him one last time, I’d be forever grateful. If you don’t, I don’t blame you. But if you do come, we’re still at the old house, and you’re sure to find one of us here day or night. Dad’s determined to die at home in his own bed, and we’re going to do the best we can to honor his wishes. If you want to come, all I ask is please come soon. He doesn’t have long.

There’s so much more I want to say to you, but I’ll end here. I’ve taken up enough of your time.

Roland

P.S. Found this while digging through the attic. If you read as much now as you used to, you probably want it back.

P.S. #2. I think about you every time it rains.

A humble letter, humble and polite. Humble and polite and adult. It wasn’t until Allison read that letter that it hit her: Roland Capello wasn’t sixteen anymore. What sixteen-year-old boy says things like “I’ve taken up enough of your time”? What sixteen-year-old boy talks about stage five renal fail­ure? What sixteen-year-old boy knows anything about regret?

In her mind Roland had been forever sixteen. Tall and thin with long coltish legs covered in light blond hair. Board shorts, ripped and faded T-shirts, hair long enough he could tuck it behind his ears. Wraparound sunglasses like Bono’s, worn up on his head more often than over his eyes to hold his hair back.

Allison had to walk away from the letter for a few minutes simply to recover from the simple realization that as much time had passed for Roland as it had for her. She was thirteen years older and so was he. Roland’s birthday was in July. Ro­land, eternally lanky and lean and sixteen, was now thirty. A grown man. And here she was, twenty-five and freshly dumped. Adults now, both of them.

She stood in the middle of her living room and breathed through her hands. When she looked up, she was jarred by her surroundings—the gray walls and the mullioned window and the red sofa with its intricately carved oak arms. For a split second she’d been back in the past where the walls were floor-to-ceiling windows instead of floor-to-ceiling bookcases and outside the door there was ocean, not asphalt.

Still shaking, Allison walked back to the table and the pack­age and the letter. Dr. Capello was dying. She wasn’t ready to deal with that yet so she turned her attention instead to what­ever it was Roland had sent her. She pulled it from the pad­ded envelope and removed the newspaper wrapped around it. And as soon as she saw it, tears scalded her eyes.

It was a book, of course, a battered old yellow paperback with a winged centaur on the cover and three children riding on its back. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

“Oh, Roland…” she breathed. “You remembered.”

She sat down because she couldn’t stand anymore. Allison slowly flipped through the book. The pages had grown so soft and supple with age it felt like she was holding not a book but another hand in her hand. She opened it to the middle and pressed her face into the pages. She inhaled the scent of paper, ink and glue, and if they could make a perfume that smelled like old books, Allison would wear it every day of her life.

Roland had read this book to her. He’d read it to her the first night she’d spent at The Dragon. Not the whole thing, of course, but the first few chapters while she sat on his lap in the big blue reading chair with the other kids in the house gathered around on the rug, and she was in charge of turn­ing the pages.

She’d loved him for letting her turn the pages.


Check Out the Other Stops on this Excerpt Tour

EXCERPT TOUR:

Monday, January 22nd: Books & Spoons

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 24th: A Literary Vacation

Thursday, January 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Friday, January 26th: What is That Book About

Monday, January 29th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, January 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Wednesday, January 31st: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 1st: Suzy Approved

Friday, February 2nd: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Monday, February 5th: Clues and Reviews

Tuesday, February 6th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, February 7th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 8th: Books a la Mode

Friday, February 9th: Jathan & Heather

Review: Best Friends Forever, by Margot Hunt

About the book, Best Friends Forever

Best Friends ForeverHardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: MIRA (January 23, 2018)

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

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

Buy, read, and discuss Best Friends Forever:

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


About the author, Margot Hunt

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

Connect with Margot:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Goes well with a vodka martini, really dirty.


Review Tour for Best Friends Forever

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

Monday, January 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Literary Llama on Instagram

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

Thursday, January 25th: Clues and Reviews

Friday, January 26th: From the TBR Pile

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

Tuesday, January 30th: LiteraryJo Reviews blog and Instagram

Wednesday, January 31st: Bibliotica

Friday, February 2nd: Chick Lit Central

Monday, February 5th: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Tuesday, February 6th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Wednesday, February 7th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, February 8th: A Holland Reads

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

Sunday, February 11th: Books and Bindings

Monday, February 12th: Novel Gossip blog and Instagram

Monday, February 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, February 14th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 15th: Bookchickdi

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

Review: The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor

About the book The Chalk Man

The Chalk ManHardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: Crown (January 9, 2018)

The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry that will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

Buy, read, and discuss The Chalk Man:

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


About the author, C. J. Tudor

CJ TudorC. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Connect with C.J.:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

Melissa A. BartellThis was the first novel I read after Christmas, and it was the perfect moody read for a chilly winter day. I loved the scenes with young Eddie and his friends using their chalk man code, and their reactions to the initial discovery of the dead body, but the mystery that adult Eddie and his now-grown friends had to solve kept me absorbed – and even guessing  – to the end of the story.

What I really appreciated in Tudor’s writing was the way she lulls readers into the every-day life of a sleepy town before throwing in a suspenseful twist. Her voice, at least in this novel, is quietly engaging, and I would have been equally happy if she’d written something that was a family drama, but I’m glad she used it for suspense. I like the way she underplayed so much of the dark parts of the story. I’m looking forward to more from Tudor, hopefully very soon.

The Chalk Man is a satisfying read with a plot that keeps you just uncertain enough of the eventual outcome that you keep reading.

Goes well with: carnival food – a hot dog on a stick or a hot pretzel with mustard, and root beer.


C. J. Tudor’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

TLC Book ToursTuesday, January 2nd: BookBub blog “18 Books for Stephen King Fans Coming in 2018”

Friday, January 5th: BookBub blog and Facebook video “16 Novels We’re Looking Forward to Reading in 2018”

Monday, January 8th: Katy’s Library blog and @katyslibrary

Monday, January 8th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Tuesday, January 9th: @everlasting.charm

Tuesday, January 9th: Clues and Reviews and @cluesandreviews

Wednesday, January 10th: She Treads Softly

Wednesday, January 10th: Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, January 10th: Tome Tender

Thursday, January 11th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Thursday, January 11th: Rockin’ & Reviewing

Friday, January 12th: Snowdrop Dreams

Friday, January 12th: Jathan and Heather

January 15th: BookBub Blog – author guest post “Eight Thrillers with Scary Children/Teenagers”

Tuesday, January 16th: Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, January 16th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, January 17th: Suzy Approved

Wednesday, January 17th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 18th: Lit Wit Wine Dine

Thursday, January 18th: Bibliotica

Friday, January 19th: Write Read Life

Friday, January 19th: 5 Minutes for Books

Monday, January 22nd: What is That Book About

Monday, January 22nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, January 23rd: A Bookworm’s World

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Book Diva’s Reads

Wednesday, January 24th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, January 25th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Reviews

Friday, January 26th: Lovely Bookshelf

Monday, January 29th: Novel Gossip blog and @novelgossip

Monday, January 29th: A Literary Vacation

Monday, January 29th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, January 30th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, January 31st: Staircase Wit

Thursday, February 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Review: The Paris Secret, by Karen Swan

About the book, The Paris Secret

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 14, 2017)

The Paris SecretIn this glittering tale of forgotten treasures and long-held secrets, international bestseller Karen Swan explores one woman’s journey to discovering the truth behind an abandoned apartment and a family whose mysteries may be better left undiscovered.

When high-powered fine art agent Flora Sykes is called in to assess objets d’art in a Paris apartment that has been abandoned since WWII, she is skeptical at first—until she discovers that the treasure trove of paintings is myriad…and priceless. The powerful Vermeil family to whom they belong is eager to learn more and asks Flora to trace the history of each painting.

Despite a shocking announcement that has left her own family reeling, Flora finds herself thrown into the glamorous world of the Vermeils. But she soon realizes there is more to this project than first appears. As she researches the provenance of their prize Renoir, she uncovers a scandal surrounding the painting—and a secret that goes to the very heart of the family. The fallout will place Flora in the eye of a storm that carries her from London to Vienna to the glittering coast of Provence.

Xavier Vermeil, the brusque scion of the family, is determined to separate Flora from his family’s affairs in spite of their powerful attraction to one another. Just what are the secrets he is desperately trying to hide? And what price is Flora willing to pay to uncover the devastating truth…?

Buy, read, and discuss The Paris Secret:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Karen Swan Karen Swan

Karen Swan worked as a fashion editor before moving into writing fiction. She is married with three children and lives in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the South Downs. She is the author of the novels The Summer Without YouChristmas at Claridges, and The Perfect Present.

Connect with Karen:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellKaren Swan’s The Paris Secret is the perfect book to get lost in on a chilly autumn evening. It’s got large amounts of mystery and intrigue, and just enough romance to keep things from feeling too cold, as well as just a dash of family drama.

I loved that the female lead, Flora, was an expert in fine art – that’s so much more interesting than being another financial wiz, plus it gave author Swan a good reason for vivid descriptions of places (Paris itself, as well as the apartment filled with art and antiques) and things (the objets d’art referenced on the back cover).

It’s always so much fun to see glamorous places and insert yourself into sectors of society you wouldn’t normally inhabit, through Flora’s eyes, we readers are able to do that. Her experience with the Vermeil family is both enchanting and alarming, and there were moments I was glad I was only reading a novel.

The intrigue in The Paris Secret kept me interested from page one to the end of the novel, and I’m so in love with Swan’s writing voice – she gets the tone of mystery with a bit of warmth and flirting just rightthat I’m eager to check out her other work.

If you love a good mystery, but want one with a softer side for the holiday season, The Paris Secret is perfect for you.

Goes well with cappuccino and a croissant filled with creme de marrons (chestnut cream). 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 14th: Books and Bindings

Thursday, November 16th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 17th: BookNAround

Wednesday, November 22nd: Broken Teepee

Monday, November 27th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, November 29th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 30th: Jathan & Heather

Thursday, November 30th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, December 1st: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, December 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, December 4th: Reading Reality

Friday, December 8th: A Splendid Messy Life

TBD: A Bookish Way of Life

TBD: Girl Who Reads

TBD: StephTheBookworm