Thursday, October 27, 2016

Behind Closed Doors - #FRC2016 Review

Review by Marlene Engel
Jack is a handsome, successful attorney who fights for the rights of those involved in domestic violence.  Grace spends a lot of time traveling as a buyer for Harrods.  But things change drastically shortly after they marry. While on their honeymoon, Grace learns who the real Jack is.  The one with a violent, criminal past, the one who’s controlling and abusive, and the one who is plotting to kill her special needs sister. 

To the outside world they appear to be the perfect couple: living in a beautiful house, hosting nice dinner parties.  While around friends Jack always plays the role of doting husband; always at Grace’s side and even agreeing to allow Grace’s sister to come live with them after graduation.  But her friends start getting concerned when she’s constantly turning down lunch invites.  Of course Jack has the perfectly scripted answer:  she’s anxious about having her sister stay with them.  But they aren’t buying it. 

Since being married she no longer works, is unreachable (as she has no cell phone or email address) and seems to hole up in her house with no contact with the outside world.  What they once thought was a storybook marriage, they are now beginning to question …

Behind Closed Doors is a heart pounding, psychological thriller debut novel by B.A. Paris.  To think that things like this happen in real life is terrifying, but the author writes it in a way that captivates you.  With complex characters and a hauntingly addictive storyline, this is a book that will be talked about for a long time to come.

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About the author:
B A Paris grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.

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Learn more about the BookSparks 2016 Fall Reading Challenge #FRC2016 HERE

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness - Pub Day Review & Giveaway

Review by Deb Czajkowski
Thirty-five-year-old Nina Popkin is the daughter and only child of school teachers Francis and Josephine Popkin. Today Nina would say “was.”  Now orphaned, Nina feels she has been left again.  Her father died when she was young, her husband, Dan, left her for another woman less than a year after they were married, and today cancer claimed her mother’s life.  But there’s also that first leaving: Nina’s birth parents.

That she was adopted was no secret. Nina also knew that Frank and Josephine desperately wanted her and dearly loved her.  But growing up in their quiet, strict home, with not even one extended family member, Nina has always felt alone, like she didn’t belong. And Nina wants to belong ─at least to someone.  Above all, though, Nina wants a family story, family history. 

So now, with the blessing of Josephine and the name of someone who can help her, Nina begins the search for her birth mother.  Easy-peasy?  Hardly!  Her first obstacle is the law that forbids the adoption agency from disclosing any information at all about her birth parents.  However, that same law does not include siblings. And Nina has one ─ her very own blood sister!

Lindy McIntyre is so not interested in being found!  Lindy already has five siblings with her adoptive family and she does not need nor want another one. Not even one who shares her blood.  And Lindy certainly, most definitely, is not interested in searching for their birth mother. 

Phoebe: the woman who gave birth to Nina and Lindy and also gave them up for adoption. Her story is hers alone to tell.

Easy-going, ever cheerful Carter Sanborn rescues Nina from a car-eating snowbank and is now attempting to also rescue her heart. At first Nina finds his Life-is-always-good!/Let it happen! attitude equal parts endearing and infuriating.  For grounded Nina, that scale soon tips (way) more to infuriating than endearing ─not good news for Carter!

Fifteen-year-old Indigo (a.k.a. Kayla) is as different from her father, Carter, as she can be, with her combat boots, torn mini skirt, and haphazard, purple-tinted hair. Add to that her sassy rain-cloud, My-life-is-not-good! attitude…. Well, you get the picture.  Ah, but that’s just one picture of Indigo. You really do need to see more to get the full, uh, picture!

Finding one’s birth family is tricky business. It must surely be kept in mind that sometimes people don’t want to be found (hint: sister).  And when people disappear, they just may not want to be forced to reappear (hint: birth mother).  Do you keep trying, keep pushing? Even when those same people keep pushing you away?  What to do, what to do? Tricky business indeed.

Is author Maddie Dawson’s novel The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness a great story for people who’ve been adopted?  Absolutely. Is The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness a great story for people who have not been adopted?  Absolutely!  I was not adopted, but I loved Dawson’s telling of Nina’s ─and Lindy’s and Phoebe’s─ stories.  Dawson’s stage-setting prologue with its cliff-hanger ending captivated me from the very beginning, and her laugh-out-loud humor kept me constantly turning the pages.  I loved how the chapters vacillated between the main characters, being told at each point from that character’s perspective, saying exactly what she was really thinking ─like “Did I say that out loud?” It made me feel like somehow I was actually sitting right there with every one of them, listening to every word.

How realistic is The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness? In my opinion, it’s as realistic as your family story or mine.  Adopted verses not adopted is really not the story here.  It’s finding your place in life, and that includes all of us.  Find a place for The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness in your life. I predict you’ll be happy you did.

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About the author:
Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day-care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

A Lowcountry Christmas - Pub Week Giveaway

A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.

As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays.

Then Taylor’s service dog arrives—a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog! When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father’s axe, determined to get his family the tree they can't afford, he takes the dog for company—but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.

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About the author:
Mary Alice Monroe is known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives and keen eye to setting. Monroe brings to life the many colorful people and the compelling story layers of her home--Charleston and the the beaches of the lowcountry. 

Mary Alice Monroe's books have achieved several best seller lists including the New York Times, SIBA, and USA Today. Mary Alice has received numerous awards, including the 2014 SC Book Festival Award for Excellence in Writing, the 2015 SW Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, The RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She serves on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her children's books received several awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh award. 

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A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Heart of Henry Quantum

In the bestselling tradition of A Man Called Ove and the beloved film Love Actually, a quirky, socially awkward man goes on a quest to find his wife a last-minute Christmas gift and encounters several distractions—including bumping into his ex-girlfriend who was the one who got away.

Henry Quantum has several thoughts going through his head at any given time, so it’s no surprise when he forgets something very important—specifically, a Christmas gift for his wife, which he realizes on the morning of December 23. Henry sets off that day in search of the perfect present for her: a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume. But much like Henry’s ever-wandering mind, his quest takes him in different and unexpected directions, including running into the former love of his life, Daisy. His wife, meanwhile, unhappy in her marriage, is hiding a secret of her own. And Daisy, who has made the unsettling choice of leaving her husband to strike out on her own, finds herself questioning whether she and Henry belong together after all.

A sweet, funny, and touching debut from author Pepper Harding shows how the seemingly insignificant events of one single day can change our lives forever—perhaps, if we’re lucky, for the better.

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About the author:
Pepper Harding is the pen name of a San Francisco writer known for an entirely different kind of literature. Born in far-away New Jersey, educated in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and finally at the University of Chicago, Pepper is a long time resident of the city, with stints in Marin, Berkeley and, currently, Sonoma County. Pepper has two kids, two cars, one spouse, and, some say, multiple personalities.

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The Heart of Henry Quantum
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Oliver the Cat Who Saved Christmas - Review & Giveraway

Review by Janine Rowe
An enjoyable tale for any age.

From the first page, I knew I was going to love this book.  It is heartwarming and entertaining.  The story starts with Oliver telling a new kitten about the night he was separated from his human George when the pub burned down and how he ended up being shared between two families.  Oliver comes to be known as a cat with magical qualities with the things he does for the people in his little town.  
 
Oliver’s main goal is to make sure everyone has a good Christmas.  While doing so, he helps a lot of people in different ways from bringing families together, helping a little girl recover from the loss of losing her cat and another little girl who has leukemia and no friends to play with.  He also helps the adults in his life by helping them build better lives for themselves, and in one case, even find love.  You will also meet Oliver’s cat friends and learn all about them as well. 

As you are reading this, you are probably thinking this is a child’s book, but I assure you people of all ages who love cats (or any animals) will enjoy this book.  It is well written and the story kept me turning the pages and not wanting it to end.  Even though it is a Christmas book, it’s a wonderful inspiring story for any time of the year.

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About the author:
SHEILA NORTON lives near Chelmsford in Essex with her husband and worked for most of her life as a medical secretary before retiring early to concentrate on her writing. Sheila is the award-winning writer of numerous women’s fiction novels and over 100 short stories published in women’s magazines.

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Oliver the Cat Who Saved Christmas

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Sweetly, Deeply, Absolutely - Virtual Tour Stop & Giveaway


By: Kira Archer
Releasing October 17, 2016 
Entangled Lovestruck

Blurb

Hello, Mr. Right...for Now.

With a month off from culinary school, Jenny Boyd has some serious party plans. Especially when the hottest guy in the club literally lands in her lap.  He’s 6’2” of cocky, sexy, man-candy, and just as commitment-phobic as she is. 

She’s definitely off limits…

Graphic designer Jared Crew is shocked when his best friend's sister-in-law doesn’t remember him right away. Luckily, she is more than willing to let him jog her memory, no complications required.

It’s all fun and games...until the condom breaks.

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Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Google

Author Info
Kira Archer resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. She tends to laugh at inappropriate moments, break all the rules she gives her kids (but only when they aren't looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else. She has odd, eclectic tastes in just about everything and often lets her imagination run away with her. She loves her romances a little playful, a lot sexy, and always with a happily ever after.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gift of a Lifetime - Giveaway

Hollywood movies are Beth’s passion. She hopes her life will always be filled with classic movie moments, where magical things happen every day. Her boyfriend Danny has always been the embodiment of her perfect Hollywood hero―though after seven years together the initial silver-screen romance has settled into something more predictable.

Then one morning at work just before Christmas, Beth receives an anonymous gift of a take-out coffee cup with a cryptic message. From there, she is given a series of other gifts and riddles directing her to some of NYC’s most popular landmarks―a treasure trail using unique rom-com-related prompts perfect for a movie-lover like Beth to decipher.

And she is forced to wonder: has Danny realized their relationship needs a boost―or could it be that charming new work colleague Ryan with his intense gaze, flirtatious smile, and almost encyclopedic movie knowledge, wants to sweep her off her feet? How would she feel about taking a chance on a leading man who seems determined to give her the Christmas gift of a lifetime...

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About the author:
Melissa Hill lives in County Wicklow with her husband and daughter.

A USA Today and international No 1 bestseller, she is the author of 15 novels, including THE CHARM BRACELET, SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY'S, BEFORE I FORGET, PLEASE FORGIVE ME and many more.

Hailed 'the queen of the big plot twist', her writing combines all the warmth and humour of contemporary women's fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page.

Melissa also co-writes forensic thrillers with her husband Kevin, under the pen-name Casey Hill, featuring crime scene investigator Reilly Steel. For more information visit www.caseyhillbooks.com

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The Gift of a Lifetime by Melissa Hill

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Kept Woman - Review - FRC2016

Review by Deb Czajkowski
“Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” from Marmion, an epic poem by Walter Scott

While this quote is not in The Kept Woman, it pretty much sums up the twists and turns of the various threads that make up the spider web plot of this intriguing and captivating novel.  My biggest question in writing this review is whether I liken author Karin Slaughter’s cast of characters also as spidery silk strands or as spiders themselves!

Will Trent works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and has just been brought in on a case involving a dead man.  Normally, the Atlanta Police Department handles routine deaths, even when the death is ruled a
murder.  So why is the GBI being called in on this one?  Two reasons: the victim and the murder site.  The victim has been identified as an ex-cop, and the location belongs to the city’s most celebrated athlete.

 Like many athletes today, basketball star Marcus Rippy is wealthy, powerful, and politically connected, enough so that he has just gotten away with a rape charge ─ despite Will Trent’s best efforts to convict him.

GBI’s newest medical examiner, Sara Linton, scores this stagy scenario and is quick to realize that the extensive amount of blood found at the scene could not possibly be from the one dead victim, the ex-cop.  But wait!  Bloody footprints are discovered leading away from the scene of the crime, but this person (The footprints suggest a woman.) has vanished ─ and, if the blood pool is any indication, she will not last long.

In the interest of full disclosure, Sara is also Will’s girlfriend of eighteen months.  And Angie Polaski is Will’s wife (albeit infamous and historically absent) of twenty or so years.  Angie is like the proverbial bad penny that keeps returning to you ─ except in her case, she’s more like a silver dollar’s worth of trouble and treachery! Read that Walter Scott quote again.  That quite nicely categorizes Angie’s life.

And so we’re back to that Halloween web of mystery and skullduggery, to the questions that don’t line up with any of the answers. Who do you trust?  Who do you believe?  Should you really trust or believe any of these participants in this plot portrayed to mislead and misdirect?

Karin Slaughter’s novel is cleverly and considerably filled with murder, mayhem, madness, and magic ─ the kind of magic that hides things (people?) in plain sight!  The story line in The Kept Woman changes directions more often than a roller coaster ride. Once you are buckled into that roller coaster seat and the car starts to move, you hang on tight and scream each time the ride takes an unexpected, an unseen turn, dip, or twist until your car returns to the station. Similarly, like that roller coaster ride, once you open The Kept Woman and read the Prologue, the ride has begun─ the fun, the fascination, the foils, the fabrications─ and it’s a non-stop ride to the finale.
Slaughter’s pageantry makes The Kept Woman a great any-season-of-the-year read. But fall, especially with Halloween right around the corner, is the perfect time to pick up a copy, cozy into your seat, and get ready for a great ride!

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About the author:
Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instantNew York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent Series, Grant County Series, and stand-alone novel Cop Town are all in development for film & television.

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Learn more about the BookSparks 2016 Fall Reading Challenge #FRC2016 HERE

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Just Fine With Caroline - Pub Day Promo/12 Things About .../Giveaway

From the author of Sit! Stay! Speak! comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.

Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.

As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.

Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.

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12 Things About Annie England Noblin


1.     I have three dogs—an English Bulldog named Mikey, a Boston Terrier named Lucky, and a Pug/French Bulldog mix named Lillie.
2.    I feed all the feral cats on my street. Two springs ago, one of the cats had kittens on my front porch. I brought her inside along with her kittens. A few weeks later, I found three half-drowned kittens on the sidewalk outside my house and brought them in as well. Now we have two inside cats (I found the rest homes). Their names are Master Splinter and Spooky.
3.    I also have two Beta fish—Leo and Shredder—and a hermit crab named Spike.
4.    I absolutely love to read historical fiction. I’m currently reading The Lake House by Kate Morton. Someday, I hope to write historical fiction as well.
5.    I’m from a very small Missouri Ozarks town called Koshkonong. We learn to spell the name of the town in kindergarten, and my graduating class had just fifteen students.
6.    I call my mother at least a dozen times a day.
7.     Some of the first stories I ever wrote were fan fiction, and I would share them with my friends for critiques and comments.
8.    When I sold my first novel, I was giving a final in one of the English classes that I teach. I was so excited that I leapt into the air and pulled a muscle in my back.
9.    I watch Judge Judy religiously, although I’m fully convinced she’d hate me if we ever met.
10.                     I love to take naps more than I love just about anything else in life.
11. I love to debate politics and religion, usually at the most inappropriate times.
12.                     I’ve lived many different places, including St. Louis, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas. But the Ozarks is my home, and I truly believe it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

Author bio:
Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

The Taste of Air - Review & Giveaway

What would you do if you found out that the mother you’ve known all your life has been living a secret life?

As far as Nell knows, her mother resides in an assisted living community in Massachusetts.  When she receives a startling call informing her that her mother is in a hospital in Vermont, she can’t comprehend how this could be. 

When Nell arrives in the town that her mother is said to be at, it is foreign to her.  While there, she discovers that her mother has a life that her and her family were not privy to.  And as they uncover the double life that Mary has led, they are transported back in time to the choices that Mary made that would change the course of all three women’s lives forever.

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About the author:
Gail Cleare has written for magazines, newspapers, Fortune 50 companies and AOL. Her award-winning ad agency represented the creators of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was the turle Leonardo's date for the world premiere of the second movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes.

As a fine art and nature photographer, Gail's work is held in private collections across the US, and she can often be found stalking creatures with a 300 mm lens.

Her first novel, Destined, a novel of the Tarot, won honorable mentions at the New England Book Festival and the Green Book Festival. Her second novel, women's fiction titled The Taste of Air, will be released by Red Adept Publishing in September, 2016. The unedited manuscript won a gold medal from HarperCollins' website Authonomy, and was shortlisted for a Somerset Award.

Gail Cleare lives on an historic farm in New England with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams and wide, windy skies.

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