Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Scandalous Proposal by Kasey Michaels (4.5 stars) & Giveaway

About A Scandalous Proposal

Series: The Little Season (Book 2) 
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages Publisher: HQN Books (March 29, 2016) 

The drama of London’s Little Season continues in this vibrant new series by USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels featuring three courageous war heroes surrendering at last to love…  

Who would have thought a man could tire of being fawned over and flirted with? Ever since Cooper Townsend returned from France as a hero with a new title, he has been relentlessly pursued by every marriageable miss in London. Perhaps that’s why the unconventional Miss Daniella Foster is so appealing. She doesn’t simper or flatter. She only wants him to help unmask her sister’s blackmailer, and Coop has never been so intrigued… 

Let every other woman in London fight over His Lordship’s romantic attentions. Marriage is the last thing on Dany’s mind…at least until she samples his illicit kisses. Now, as a mutual enemy races to ruin Coop’s reputation and Dany’s family name, an engagement of convenience will spark an unlikely passion that might save them both.
  .
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Review

Normally, I summarize a book and then share my thoughts, but I think it can help to get the point in a review sometimes. So, here goes...

What I want in a book--and that's the beauty of what we love as readers, we all might want different things--is to escape into a world where the characters matter to me, there's some humor and fun, maybe even a little mystery, and a satisfying feeling left at the end. And let's be honest... there are many other factors that affect my feelings about a book that have nothing to do with the story: my mood, timing, health, etc. 

Can I just say that this book hit a real sweet spot with me? I needed some romantic escape with some much-appreciated humor and wittiness. Add to that a spunky female lead who doesn't take no for an answer and a guy who not only appreciates that but is drawn to it, especially in a historical time period where these traits weren't acceptable, and the story fulfilled all my needs as a reader.

There's a fun little blackmail mystery going on, too. Nothing is too heavy or complex. But that's what I really needed right in the moment I was reading it. I'm happy to recommended it as a lovely gem of a book. I hope it hits the same sweet spot for you.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Giveaway

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About Kasey Michaels 

USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels is the author of more than one hundred books. She has earned four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and has won an RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award and several other commendations for her contemporary and historical novels. 

Kasey resides with her family in Pennsylvania.

Connect with Kasey Website | Facebook


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on the A Scandalous Proposal blog tour page.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Gatekeeper's Bride by Eva Pohler Release Day

The Gatekeeper's Bride:
 A Prequel to The Gatekeeper's Saga


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Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1nO14qx

ABOUT THE BOOK

Unrest brews among gods and mortals alike when Hades makes a deal with the Fates to end his loneliness in the Underworld. But when Persephone proposes to conspire with him in a plot against Demeter, things get out of hand. Soon, the war among the gods is as critical as the one playing out among the Achaeans and Trojans on Earth. 

Find out the truth of how Hades and Persephone met and fell in love and the impact it had on the rest of the pantheon during these tumultuous times. Learn how their children--Hypnos, Thanatos, Megaera, Tisiphone, Alecto, and Melinoe--came into being. Discover why they were assigned their respective duties as Sleep, Death, the Furies, and the goddess of ghosts. Find out the real reason why the Olympians possessed such profound disdain for these Underworld gods. 

This prequel to The Gatekeeper's Saga is more than a retelling of the Persephone myth. Many more of the ancient myths are woven together to reveal the conflict, tension, and relationships among the gods in one of the most beloved pantheons in human history. The Gatekeeper's Bride can be read before or after The Gatekeeper's Saga, but readers might find more enjoyment from it after having met the characters by reading the saga first.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Eva is a wife and mother of three living in San Antonio, Texas. She earned her B.A. in English from Trinity University, her M.A. in English from St. Mary’s University, and her Ph.D. in English from Texas Tech University. She wrote her dissertation on narrative strategies, in which she analyzed the use of voice, point of view, character, plot, and other narrative devices used in twentieth-century British and American literature, informed by narratologists such as Tsvetan Todorov, Gerard Genette, Vladimir Propp, Seymour Chatman, Wayne Booth, and James Phelan. She also took as many classes in creative writing as was allowed at every university she attended and had the honor of studying under Robert Flynn, Nan Cuba, and Walt McDonald.
She currently writes fiction for teens and adults and teaches writing and literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio. For years she was a den leader and cub master for her sons in Boy Scouts and a troop leader for her daughter in Girl Scouts. She loved those years, but they are behind her, leaving her with more time to read and write.
She’s also an avid reader. Her favorite authors are Tracy Chevalier, Ann Patchett, J.K. Rowling, J. R.R. Tolkien, Suzanne Collins, and Stephanie Meyer. She’s also read everything by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and other literary giants whom she also loves. She’s read single books she adores by authors like Elizabeth Wein, Diane Setterfield, Philippa Gregory, and Katherine Stockett. And her favorite book of all time, though she never read anything else by her, is Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.
Her books include The Gatekeeper’s SagaThe Purgatorium SeriesThe Vampires of Athens Series, and The Mystery Book Collection.
You can keep in touch with Eva by email at eva@evapohler.com.
She’s also part of an amazing hub for authors and readers called Indie-Visible: Defending Literary Justice for All.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker (3.5 stars)

About When I'm Gone

Hardcover 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 15, 2016) 

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…
 


Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home. 

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep. 
  .
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Review

Luke has barely walked away from his wife's funeral when he begins receiving letters from her. Through the course of a continuing post-death correspondence, he gets an inner look at his wife's feelings about her declining health and the secrets she kept from him. 

What started as a poignant portrayal of life after extreme loss became a mystery about buried secrets. Personally, I found this transition a bit jarring. Swept up in the initial emotions, transitioning to a mystery was a slow adjustment for me.

However, I will say that I couldn't put the book down, completely intrigued with finding out these characters' backgrounds. And the journey was worth it. 

For potential readers, I'd say this... it might feel as first as if you are reading two different stories. But don't give up. Investing your time into these memorable characters will be worth it in the end.

Rating: 3.5 stars  

About Emily Bleeker 

A19o5ZS07cL._SY200_Emily Bleeker is a former educator who discovered her passion for writing after introducing a writer’s workshop to her students. She soon found a whole world of characters and stories living inside of her mind. It took a battle with a rare form of cancer to give her the courage to share that amazing world with others. 

Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and four kids. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running. Connect with her or request a Skype visit with your book club at emilybleeker.wordpress.com

Connect with Emily Website | Facebook | Twitter


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on the When I'm Gone blog tour page.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

North of Here by Laurel Saville (3.5 stars)

About North of Here

Hardcover 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 1, 2016) 

Many may dream of a simpler life in the north woods, far away from the complications of the modern world. But in her absorbing and uncompromising second novel, North of Here (Lake Union; March 1, 2016), Laurel Saville reveals the dark side of such a life for four young people living in the Adirondack Mountains. This story of misguided decisions, a dangerous back-to-nature cult, and the universal search for meaning and love intertwines these troubled lives into a riveting blend of penetrating love story and persuasive page-turner. Saville, author of the #1 Kindle bestseller Henry and Rachel, once again taps her astute narrative powers in a tale of tragedy, survival, and love. 

At the heart of the drama are four unforgettable, strikingly-drawn characters:

  • Miranda: A young “heiress” who discovers that the mountain property she has inherited is encumbered by her father’s debts and misdealing.
  • Dix: A self-assured “mountain man” who is really an educated, financially secure son of two accomplished professionals.
  • Darius: A preppy trust fund refugee who turns his own quest for meaning into a dangerous back-to-nature cult bent on healing lost souls
  • Sally: A brassy, street-smart social worker who, despite being perpetually unlucky in love, ultimately has the foresight to see the perils of loving Darius.

  • As this masterful novel unfolds, these four will become inextricably entwined in troubles that far exceed simple crimes of the heart. .

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    Review

    The story starts with Miranda and her deteriorating family life. Tragedy after tragedy strikes her family, leaving her in a fragile state. She struggles to find her value. All of this adds up to a very vulnerable young woman being taken advantage of by a very disturbed man. 

    If you've ever wondered how a cult gains any footing, this story will show you just how easy it is to prey on those who are suffering and afraid. It's an intimate look into insecurity and a desperate need to find something, anything, to hold onto.

    Because of the theme, the story is often difficult to read. As the reader, you want to shake some sense into some people and pull others into a healing embrace. By the end, I felt raw and exposed, desperately in need of something happy.

    I commend the author on tackling such a difficult subject and creating an emotion-filled story. Unfortunately, I struggled through some of the characters and situations. I also felt the changing point of views disrupted the story, especially since I had one character I cared about more than the others (Miranda).

    As far as rating this book, I went back and forth. Part of me appreciated the raw intensity of it, but another part felt disconnected, possibly because of the pain involved in the story. Since I received an uncorrected proof, I will hope some of the awkward phrasing, pronoun confusion, and flow was fixed in the final edit. 

    If you appreciate a gut-wrenching and emotional journey, North of Here will give you plenty to ponder.

    Rating: 3.5 stars

    About Laurel Saville
    613V18U93nL._UX250_
    Laurel Saville is the award-winning author of the memoir Unraveling Anne, the novel Henry and Rachel, and the four-part short story “How Much Living Can You Buy,” as well as numerous essays, short stories, and articles. 

    She has an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. Once again, Laurel Saville applies her “poetic, lyrical voice” (Booklist) to a story that captures the complications of the lives we live—or wish to live. 
    Connect with Laurel

    Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

    Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
    Please visit other stops on the North of Here blog tour page.

    Monday, March 21, 2016

    Emancipation by Jo Michaels (5 stars)

    About Emancipation

    Tobias Butler has been sitting on death row since being sentenced for a gruesome murder in 2007. Bored out of his mind, he decided to apply to the online pen pal program in 2012. It's a pleasant distraction—nothing more, nothing less—for three years, until he's contacted by a beautiful, smart young lawyer named Jess. She's convinced he's innocent and wants to see him freed. As they organize their attack on the judicial system, he wonders how she plans to get his conviction overturned—because he's guilty, and he knows it. Jess is desperate to release him—and he's desperate to feel his hands squeeze the life out of her once she does.

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    Review

    Tobias Butler has no remorse for the murders he's committed. Nor does he have any trouble sleeping at night. But, he's intrigued by the lawyer who swears she can get him freed and is convinced he's innocent. 

    Thus begins a game of cat and mouse, where Tobias plays along to gain the one thing he had given up on... life outside a cell.

    There are so many things I love about this book. Some of which I can share, some I can't. It's truly an experience I'd love readers to have without any spoilers. 

    What I can say...

    Tobias is a well-crafted, disturbing character. No, you'll never think he's innocent, nor will you get a bunch of excuses about his behavior. I found this so refreshing. He's an unapologetic psychopath. But you can't help but get swept up in his story, to wonder if he'll get away with murder yet again.

    And Jess... well, let me just say that everyone will see what they want to see until the story unfolds to show you the truth. Intriguing characters are crucial in my opinion to an excellent, 5-star read. Whether you like these characters or not remains to be seen, but you will no doubt be intrigued and perplexed by their actions. And, if you are like me, extremely curious as to where their actions will lead.

    Oh, and you will NOT see what's coming. At least not until the author means for you to. And even then, you'll be in denial at first, your mouth agape as you try to process what's happening. 

    If you crave an intense thriller with jaw-dropping moments, you'll love Emancipation. It's a wild, dark ride with shockingly brilliant moments. 

    Rating: 5 stars

    About the Author


    Jo Michaels is...

    Hi, I'm Jo. Let's forget all the "Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah" stuff and just go with it. I'm a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.

    I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.

    At the risk of sounding cliche, I'm going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I'm married to. Along with my children, he's my whole world.

    I've lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I've had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I've written about in Yassa.

    One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I'd love to hear from you.


    You can find out more about Jo on Twitterher websiteher blog, andFacebook. Also, find out more about her indie author services at Indie Books Gone Wild.

    Note: I was privileged to edit this book through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

    Friday, March 18, 2016

    The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie (3.5 stars)

    About The Sisters of Versailles

    Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy 
    Paperback: 432 pages Publisher: Atria Books (September 1, 2015) 

    Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed. 

    The Sisters of Versailles centers on the (relatively, at least for the genre) overlooked period of early 18th century France. The French Revolution and Marie Antoinette have been extensively written about; it’s time for fans of that time period to step further back in time and to explore the reign of Louis XV (1715 – 1774) a time of increasing social turbulence and change that sets the stage neatly for the Revolution that follows.  

    Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear

    Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters—Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne—four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail. 

    Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters—sweet, naïve Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power. 

    In the tradition of The Other Boleyn GirlThe Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Telling the story of a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

    “Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS) 

    “A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy) 

    “Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution…. Historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal) 

    “Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)

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    Review

    In my humble opinion, sisters should have an unbreakable bond. But that could come from the fact that I'm the oldest of three sisters and have three daughters. However, in this novel, the sisters seem genetically predisposed to rivalry and running all over each other.

    Guess when a man--especially a King--is involved, these things will happen. Still, I found the King shallow and immature, so at times, I just didn't get what the fight was about... except for power. Sadly, I didn't really like any of the girls because of their underhanded ways. 

    But even saying all of that, I couldn't help but read on and see what it would all lead to. Sally Christie has an intriguing writing style and builds the story to keep you engaged. I especially appreciated the inserted letters between all the women. It was an excellent vehicle to show how underhanded they really were. But, unfortunately, that led me back to not always liking them.

    Writing, storyline, historical intrigue--4 stars
    Likable characters and believable romances--3 stars

    But maybe I'm just cynical. Give it a chance. If for no other reason then it is beautifully written and well crafted.

    Rating: 3.5 stars


    About Sally Christie 

    SC2Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it. 

    Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment. 

    When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic. 

    Connect with Sally 
    Website | Goodreads


    Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

    Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
    Please visit other stops on The Sisters of Versailles blog tour page.

    Friday, March 11, 2016

    The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer (4 stars)

    About The Girl in the Red Coat

    Hardcover: 336 pages 
    Publisher: Melville House (February 16, 2016) 
    Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
    Dagger Award finalist
     


    Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing. 

    And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone. 

    Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good. 

    Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother … 

    Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget. 

    “Keeps the reader turning pages at a frantic clip… What’s most powerful here is not whodunnit, or even why, but how this mother and daughter bear their separation, and the stories they tell themselves to help endure it.” —Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You) 

    “Compulsively readable…Beautifully written and unpredictable, I had to stop myself racing to the end to find out what happened.” —Rosamund Lupton (Sister)   

    “Both gripping and sensitive — beautifully written, it is a compulsive, aching story full of loss and redemption.” —Lisa Ballantyne (The Guilty One) 

    “Hamer’s dark tale of the lost and found is nearly impossible to put down.” —Booklist  .\

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    Review

    A mother's worst nightmare... her child goes missing. Divorced Beth is raising her daughter, Carmel, pretty much by herself. Then, one foggy day... Carmel is gone. 

    There were times I had to lay this book down and take a few minutes to step away because it's so intensely emotional. I'm a mom, and the thought of one of my children (I have three daughters, so I especially connected) going missing... a lump immediately forms in my throat.

    But added to that is the girl's journey (which we get to see thanks to alternating points of view). I would grieve for the mother and then go through a myriad of emotions for the daughter. So many times I worried tragedy was just around the corner.

    I won't give away any more, and I hope no reviewers give away the ending. However, I will say the story ended too abruptly for me. Ultimately, that's a compliment because I didn't want to let the characters go.

    An emotional journey that will grab your heart and not let go. Highly recommend.
    Rating: 4 stars

    About Kate Hamer 
    Kate.Hamer_

    KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. 

    She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.



    Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

    Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
    Please visit other stops on The Girl in The Red Coat blog tour page.