Friday, December 9, 2016

TLC Book Tours: Review of The Other Widow by Susan Crawford

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: December 6th, 2016
Pages: 352


Synopsis



The author of The Pocket Wife explores the dark side of love, marriage, and infidelity in this sizzling novel of psychological suspense.

Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .


It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Brennan is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.

 

What Did I Think About the Story?



I have always been incredibly creeped out by the idea of someone watching me without my knowledge. Any story that deals with stalking or even the possibility of someone lurking around the corner with nefarious intentions always jacks up the terror factor for me tenfold. Given this, the fact that each of these three women - Dorrie, the somewhat dramatic mistress; Karen, the dissatisfied widow; and Maggie, the ex-soldier/ex-cop insurance investigator - either feel someone watching them or witnesses someone stalking one of the other women completely pulled me into the story. I mean, there are points in the story where the fear of attack is almost palpable...and then the character turns around and no one is there. Like I said...creepy!

Another aspect that I loved (but admittedly did take a little bit of time to get used to) was the fact that the story was told in the present tense throughout. Broken up into chapters from the viewpoint of one of these three main women, this presentation went a long way to intensifying the actions and that feeling of immediacy and urgency. While there were portions and aspects that seemed somewhat superfluous given the main point of the story was Joe's mysterious death and the person who possibly caused it - Dorrie's acting, Maggie's time as a soldier, Karen's interactions with her best friend - these didn't slow down the general story enough to be a distraction.

I wasn't quite as fond of the characters as I was of the story in general. While they were all well developed and I genuinely enjoyed Maggie's character and found her a compelling addition, the rest of the characters were just so terribly flawed that I couldn't really feel overly sorry for them or what they experienced. Karen was somewhat endearing, but her lack of real grief - or what I felt would have been displayed as real grief - made me begin to feel somewhat dismissive of the actual fact that she lost her husband. Instead of really feeling for the characters, it was more like that somewhat removed emotion  you have when you hear a sad or shocking story about someone you don't know at all. Given that we are being placed into the lives and minds of these characters, as things are happening, I just expected to be more invested in what was happening to them.

I also can't say that the "big reveal" was all that surprising to me. I kind of had my suspicions about at least the main mystery of what really happened to Joe and who was stalking the women, however I will say that there is a secondary mystery that I didn't even realize WAS a mystery that did surprise. Any time an author can genuinely surprise me is a wonderful thing.

All in all The Other Widow held my attention and kept me turning the pages. The author did an exceptional job of keeping the tension high and the characters one step away from disaster. A story about passion, infidelity, and the lengths some people will go to get what they desire, I think those that enjoy a good, gritty mystery will enjoy their time spent within these pages.     


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's okay. It's kind of mysterious and you aren't able to tell who the woman is meant to be, however it doesn't really grab the eye and make you pick it up.


My Rating: 3.5/5.0



Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of The Other Widow in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Be sure to continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the rest of the tour schedule!
 
 

About the Author

 

Susan Crawford grew up in Miami, Florida, and graduated from the University of Miami with a BA
in English and a minor in psychology. She later moved to New York City and then Boston before settling in Atlanta to raise three daughters and work in the field of adult education. A member of the Atlanta Writers Club and the Village Writers, Susan teaches at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and dabbles in local politics. She lives with her husband and a trio of rescue cats in Atlanta, where she enjoys reading books, writing books, rainy days, and spending time with the people she loves.

Find out more about Susan at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Buy the Book

 
 
 
 

The Other Widow Blog Tour Schedule

 
 
Tuesday, December 6th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, December 7th: Buried Under Books
Thursday, December 8th: Books and Bindings
Friday, December 9th: A Literary Vacation
Monday, December 12th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, December 13th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, December 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, December 16th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, December 19th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, December 21st: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, December 22nd: FictionZeal
Wednesday, December 28th: Laura’s Reviews



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Guest Post by Cecily Wolfe, Author of Throne of Grace

Please join me in welcoming Cecily Wolfe to A Literary Vacation today! She's sharing some insight into her journey to become a writer and I really hope you enjoy it. Be sure to continue after for more information about Cecily and her newest historical fiction novel, Throne of Grace.
 
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

A lot of people ask me how to ‘become’ a writer. The answer is pretty easy: write. Just do it, like the Nike ad says. Easier said than done, as so many things are. As a single mother with a full-time job, volunteer and church commitments, it’s all about time management. That being said – I have characters that won’t leave me alone until I get their stories down. I daydream a lot and these characters just take over, which makes the idea aspect of writing incredibly easy for me (I have enough ideas to last a lifetime) but if I don’t get to my word count for the day, I get distracted by the story in my head.

I used to write first drafts in Word, but a few years ago became aware of Scrivener, which was on special for Nanowrimo participants (I was a Nanowrimo winner for several years before just sticking to a regular, daily writing schedule year round that produces what I need). Scrivener is all about production management and ease of organization/planning. My favorite aspect is the project goals, which can be open as you work or not. I always have it open, and watch the little color bar change from red (just started towards the day’s word count goal) to yellow (getting there) to green (close and finished) – which is extremely satisfying. No matter what is happening at our house (and there is always something), I can jump onto my computer (it is desktop on a big desk in the dining room, centrally located where children and pets can grab me if anyone’s head explodes or the house is on fire) and start cranking out the words. I know the story before I even begin to write the book itself, but the characters take over and a lot of the time things don’t come out the way I plan. I let that happen. My characters know their own story. It might sound a little goofy – and people will say, hey, but you’re the writer, you can write what you want – but it won’t be the true story for those characters if I don’t let it happen. After that first draft, I convert the file from Scrivener to Word (Scrivener does this for me) and print it. I find I edit best on paper. From there I go through it word by word, and read it out loud for fluidity and errors that are hard to catch by reading. Usually I have three or four drafts before offering an ARC for prepublication review, then go through that ARC as if my life depended on it - I wouldn’t want anyone to pay for a book with any errors of any sort. As a reviewer myself, I understand that ARCs have errors and would never call those to attention in a review (recently a reviewer of my Christian historical romance, Throne of Grace, did just that, even though I explained that it was an ARC - sigh). 

Bottom line – do what works for you. Word, Scrivener, legal pads (I do use these for notes, outlines, short story construction) – try and try again if you don’t get comfortable with any one method. If you love to write, it will happen, if you put in the time and effort. When you get reviews like these (for Throne of Grace, published October 25 of this year, the first of the Cliff Walk Courtships series), it is worth the effort knowing that you – and your characters – have connected with readers:
 

This is a wonderful story full of hope and happiness and hurt.

I couldn't help but feel connected to Arthur and Josie as they struggled with their choices. I was drawn into their world and enjoyed their story.

This is the first book I have read by this author and I'm looking forward to reading the next.

This book had the tender sweetness, old-fashioned feel, and strong faith thread that reminded me of a Grace Livingston Hill novel

A solid historical romance

Wow, what a delightful very well written Christian historical romance book.

This could also make another great Christian historical romance movie, or better yet a mini TV series. There is no doubt in my mind this is a very easy rating of 5 stars.
 
 
Many thanks to Colleen for allowing me the opportunity to guest post for A Literary Vacation.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
Publisher: Cecily Wolfe
Pub. Date: October 25th, 2016
Pages: 176


Arthur Davenport has it all: looks, money, and a successful future planned by his parents. He knows that something is missing, but when he and Josie, his mother's maid, develop a friendship that can only be based on Christian values, he realizes that his love for her is the key to his happiness. Can he convince her that he would gladly give up his life of luxury for a life of service with her?
 

Newport, Rhode Island in the last decades of the nineteenth century was a stunningly beautiful and glamorous playground for the rich during the summer months, and a perfect setting for a romance between a rich young man from New York City and a local girl who works for his family. The two couldn't possibly expect to have anything in common, as he is expected to follow his father in a financial career and she is merely a maid with a mother who takes care of local children while their parents work. Arthur Davenport, spoiled and bored, unsure of his place in his family and in the eyes of God, truly meets his match in Josie Warren, who is often just a bit hard on herself for not being the perfect Christian in thought as well as deed. The two meet on the famous Cliff Walk, and neither of them can imagine where or how their instant attraction will take them as he struggles to make his parents understand that his calling is the same as hers, to help those less fortunate. He has no money of his own, and if they disinherit him out of disapproval, how can he help Josie, who has spent her life working hard to help support herself and her mother? More importantly, how can he convince her that he would gladly give up his life of luxury just to be with her?
 
 

Buy the Book


 
 

About the Author

 
 
Ceci Wolfe writes whatever her characters tell her to write. A Harvest of Stars is dramatic, realistic fiction about two teens dealing with abuse in a small Kentucky town. Throne of Grace is the first in a series of historical inspirational romances set in beautiful turn of the century Newport, Rhode Island. Her stories have been published in the Rubbertop Review, Pilgrimage Press, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Rose Red Review, and Persephone's Daughters.
 
She shares a Pinterest page with her sisters Alys and Katy and has book-specific playlists on Spotify as ceciwolfe. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Goodreads.



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Release Day Spotlight on How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway + Giveaway!!


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: December 6th, 2016
Pages: 416

Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense


A page-turner about the murder of a teenage girl, from the author of Lacy Eye.


On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy's mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy's best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town's police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy's death.

 

Early Praise for How Will I Know You?



"Jessica Treadway draws her characters into an impossible knot and then expertly teases it apart. The question of what really happened to Joy kept me up half the night.” —Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder

"Sometimes a book pulls you in so deep that it's hard to let go. HOW WILL I KNOW YOU? is such a book. A mystery story, yes, but more than that, a compassionate, wise study of humans under pressure. I read furiously to find out the truth about the central crime, and I read slowly to savor Treadway's many stunning insights. A wondrous book!” —Robin Black, author of Life Drawing and If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This

"Exceptional...[Treadway's] ability to define meaningful characters stands out, and the ending is a shock.” —RT Book Reviews


Buy the Book

 
 

 

About the  Author

 
 
Photo by Michele McDonald
Jessica Treadway is the author of Lacy Eye, And Give You Peace, and two story collections, Absent Without Leave and Other Stories and Please Come Back to Me, which received the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. A professor at Emerson College in Boston, she lives with her husband in Lexington, Massachusetts.
 
Learn more about Jessica on her website.
 
 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 
 
Thanks to Tiffany Sanchez at Hachette Book Group I have two (2!) copies of How Will I Know You? to giveaway today (US/CAN only)! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!

 
Please Note: When verifying the extra entries I've noticed that some people are saying they following me in certain ways that they, in fact, do not. I want to give extra entries to those that are actually taking the time to follow my blog, so please double check that you are in fact following me before saying you do. This verification is becoming a time consuming process so I will begin to remove all extra entries for those that I find are cheating in any way. 

 
I'll use a random number generator to pick two winners on December 13th, 2016 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winners. The winners will then have 48 hours to respond to my email with their full mailing address. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.
 
Good Luck!!
 

 

 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Pub. Date: April 19th, 2016
Pages: 352

Genre: Mystery/ Thriller/ Suspense/ Crime Drama


Synopsis



What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I've been on such a kick with scary/mystery/thriller sorts of stories lately, so when I saw In a Dark, Dark Wood on my shelves I thought it was the perfect time to finally read it! It's gotten a lot of attention and the synopsis makes it sound interesting, even given the somewhat vague description, so I was ready and hoping to be scared out of my wits. So, did In a Dark, Dark Wood make me lose sleep and jump at every sound? Um, no. However, it did end up being a very good psychologically twisting story about the unreliability of  memory and the lengths some people will go to in order to get exactly what they want.

I think the creepiest thing about this story is the setting. Leonora, or "Nora" as she prefers to be called, is roped into going to the hen party (a bachelorette party) for an old friend of hers that she hasn't spoken to in a decade. We know from the beginning that something bad happened that pretty much ended the relationship, but she agrees to go with a mutual friend anyways. The party is set to take place over the course of the weekend in this glass house in the middle of these isolated snow-covered woods. The descriptions of this house made me feel just as uncomfortable as the characters appear to be - which is great! - as they feel like anyone can look in on them at any time without their knowledge. It's frozen and barren outside, there's shoddy phone service so no way to call for help if they need it, and this group of mismatched friends of the bride-to-be are basically stuck in this display house for the weekend....creepy!

Another great aspect, and one that really helped fuel the thriller feeling for me, was the pacing and delivery of the story. The narrative unfolds as a slow release of information about each of the people at the hen party - both their past and present - as they "enjoy" the weekend festivities, interspersed with short chapters of Nora after the party, battered and in the hospital with only blurry memories of what happened and police officers wanting to question her regarding something horrible that has happened. It's a measured, insidious sort of dread that builds as the story progresses and one that becomes almost feverish in pitch as Nora tries to uncover what really did happened. She - and therefore the reader - isn't sure if she can believe her memories of how the weekend unfolded or, really, what she thinks is true about each of the people involved, including herself. This makes trying to decipher what actually went down so much fun.

In a Dark, Dark Wood wasn't necessarily as dark and frightening as I initially thought it would be, however it was still very enjoyable. I was even shocked to find myself laughing at some of the snark-filled jokes and statements some of the characters had a tendency to say, which helped break up some of the more dramatic or heavy moments nicely and gave more complexity to the characters. I would definitely recommend the story to anyone looking for a well paced thriller and mystery that keeps you guessing.    


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's okay. It's not the sort of cover that would draw my eyes to it automatically, but it does fit the bleak, black night and white, snow-covered forest theme of the story quite well.


My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I bought a copy of In A Dark, Dark Wood for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and where to purchase a copy, on Goodreads.
 
 
 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Interview with B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Vincent LoCoco

Please join me in welcoming B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Vincent LoCoco to A Literary Vacation!! His first novel, Tempesta's Dream - A Story of Love, Friendship and Opera, became an Amazon bestselling novel and was awarded the 2014 Pinnacle Achievement Award in Historical Fiction. Amazon also has named his book as a Top Rated Novel in Italian Historical Fiction.


His most recent novel, A Song for Bellafortuna, was shortlisted in the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Competition and was named a Best Reads for 2015 and was awarded the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion Award in Historical Fiction. He is an estate planning attorney in New Orleans, where he lives with his wife and two children.






Hello, Vincent, and welcome to A Literary Vacation! To start off with, please tell us a little about your book, A Song for Bellafortuna?




Thanks for inviting me to discuss my novel, A Song for Bellafortuna. The story is set in the beautiful Sicilian hills. Bellafortuna is a small village and a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospers. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only the Sanguinetti family remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life, and he offers financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. When Antonio's only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family's past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidify the Vasaios' control.
 

What drew you to tell this particular story?



I live in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina devastated my city, I knew I wanted to write a story of rebirth and redemption. Somehow, that story transformed into the story that I told. Like New Orleans, Bellafortuna enjoyed its own rebirth.



What sort of research went into writing A Song for Bellafortuna? Did you do any traveling as part of your research?


I did a lot of research on Sicilian life at the turn of the century. I read a lot of travel type books on Sicily to get a good feeling of the country and its people. I did not travel there specifically for the novel, but had traveled to Italy a few times in the past and recalled my memories form those trips.



Was there anything you discovered as part of your research that you found surprising or shocking? Was there anything you wanted to incorporate into the story but had to cut for whatever reason?

 

The poverty of the Sicilian people at the turn of the century really surprised me. Luckily, there was nothing that I wanted to incorporate in the story but left out. Everything I had to say is in the story.



I would imagine that there is a lot of reading involved in the process of researching and writing a novel. Did you come across any books you would recommend for those that have read A Song for Bellafortuna and that want to read more about the settings and situations discussed?




I really have only one recommendation as it is the best book on the Sicily. On Persephone's Island, A book by Mary Taylor Simet.


Historical fiction happens to be my all-time favorite genre and I find myself going back and forth between what periods of history are my favorite to read about. Do you have a favorite time period to write and/or read about, or do you enjoy jumping around as I do? 


I like to jump around as well. I joke with my friends all the time that I must hate cell phones, as being a historical fiction writer means I never have to write about cell phones, email or faxes. A much slower paced life.


What does a typical day (if there is one) look like for you? How do you balance writing and the rest of your life?


I am an attorney, so all of my writing takes place either late at night or first thing in the morning – usually at a coffee shop for an hour before work.


What drew you to independently publish A Song for Bellafortuna as opposed to seeking traditional publishing?

I loved the element of control afforded by self-publishing.

How did you discover indieBRAG and what does it mean to you to have A Song for Bellafortuna awarded the BRAG Medallion?


Some other novels in my genre were winners. It means so much to be awarded a B.R.A.G. Award as the process is very selective and it means that a few readers fell in love with the story and thought it worthy of being named an award winner.





Thank you so much, Vincent, for answering my questions!

You can learn more about Vincent and his books on his website and connect with him Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. You can  purchase a copy of A Song for Bellafortuna at  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Audible.


A Message from indieBRAG:


We are delighted that Colleen has chosen to interview Vincent LoCoco, who is the author of A Song for Bellafortuna, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ® , a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as A Song for Bellafortuna merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Release Day Review: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pub. Date: November 29th, 2016
Pages: 304


Genre: Historical Fiction/ French History / Historical Romance


Synopsis



Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.


In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France--a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live--one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman's place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.


What Did I Think About the Story?



The Eiffel Tower is such an iconic symbol of architectural and artistic innovation. I've long been fascinated by it and visiting - and climbing! - it are high up on my bucket list. The gorgeous cover showcasing this remarkable feat of engineering drew me right in and had me requesting a copy of To Capture What We Cannot Keep for review even before reading the synopsis. Even with it's heavy emphasis on the romance between these characters, which isn't typically a big draw for me, I was really looking forward to seeing how the author tackled the ever-changing world of Paris during this time and how the characters and the building of the Eiffel Tower would fit into that world. While I do think the author did a remarkable job of bringing this world to life, I had a few issues with the story that kept this from being a runaway hit for me.

Let's start with the positive. I'm still in a little bit of awe over how vividly Beatrice Colin brought Paris and the building of the tower to life. She shows it all, from the glamour and beauty of the rich and artistic all the way down to the poor, disabled, and desperate. We see the gritty streets and building sites and the opulent artist's salons, and this goes a long way to explaining the pretty hard drawn lines between the various social classes of the characters. The descriptions of the actual building of the tower were my favorite of the whole book and the reader gets to experience it all down to the tiniest girder bar through to the opening. There's a scene towards the end of the story when Cait is climbing the tower in search of Emile when she is overcome with a terrible panic attack due to the height and I will admit to becoming a little uncomfortable myself when reading it...all while I'm safely sitting on my couch! This is just one example of the expressive writing style the author displayed throughout the whole story.

I also very much enjoyed learning more about Gustave Eiffel himself as well as his involvement in the French attempt to build the Panama Canal and the ensuing scandal and bankruptcy. Eiffel is portrayed for much of the story as this whirlwind of a man, one that's kind yet highly ambitious and hardworking, and I'm now determined to read more about him after getting this small taste. This need for more information brought about by an author's presentation is always the sign for me of great writing.

What I did not enjoy as much was the character development of all other characters. I wanted to like these characters, especially Cait and Emile, but I just found something lacking in nearly all of them. The constant back and forth between Cait and Emile became quite irritating, and I couldn't help but continuously wonder why, if they actually loved each other as they internally claimed (because I don't believe they ever outwardly stated it and, if they did, I missed it), they didn't do whatever it took to be together even if that meant going against what was expected of them. It was probably the most non-romantic romance I've encountered. The other characters weren't much better and I especially disliked Cait's two Scottish charges as they were incredibly selfish and vapid. The only other character I liked (other than Eiffel) was Gabrielle, the drug-addicted artist's wife who's Emile's mistress at the beginning of the novel, and I enjoyed her mainly for her ability to ruffle up the other characters and bring some actual spice to the story.   

It's been a while since I've read a story that had me so divided on the likes and dislikes within it. I absolutely adored the descriptions of Paris and the building of the tower and would have happily spent the entire book reading more about that. However, the characters left so much to be desired that I just couldn't love the story overall. There is just so little romance going on within that I think those that enjoy those sorts of story will likely be disappointed. However, if you can look past that aspect and just enjoy the dynamic and multilayered world the author places these characters in, there is still much that can be enjoyed here.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's GORGEOUS!! As I said above the cover is actually what drew me to pick this book up in the first place. I love the idea of reading a novel about the building of the Eiffel Tower and the coloring, with the snow-dappled filminess and golden framing, is classically beautiful. Wonderful job done by whoever picked this cover!


My Rating: 3.0/5.0


I received a copy of To Capture What We Cannot Keep from Netgalley and Flatiron Books. All opinions are my own. You can find more information, including other reviews and where to purchase a copy, on Goodreads.


I read To Capture What We Cannot Keep as a buddy read with some blogger friends and will link to their reviews below as they become available. Be sure to check them out!


Layered Pages 

The Maiden's Court





Friday, November 25, 2016

The Tip of My Wish List - 'Tis the Season!

To change things up this year, I've decided to do a monthly post on 5 books from my insane wish list that I am most excited about getting to. Some might be new, some old and some out of print...my wish list has it all! I'll pick a theme each month and share my wish list post on the last Friday of the month. I know a number of excellent bloggers who will be doing similar posts and I'll be sure to link to their posts as well so you can see all the goodies we're excited about and, hopefully, add a few new books to your own wish list.


Even though I live in Florida and you wouldn't know it wasn't Summer unless you looked on a calendar, I am always ready for all things holiday once Halloween has come and gone. That means lots of baking, putting up decorations, and reading and watching a ton of Christmas movies! Because my brain is completely zoned towards Christmas at this point, I've decided this month to share 5 books that I want to read that take place around the holiday season.


  I'll link the titles to Goodreads where you can read reviews and find the various ways to purchase a copy of the books if they sound like your style. I really hope you enjoy and let me know if you've read any of these or have others you would add to the list.
 
 
 
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Generations of believers in hope and goodwill have made Valentine Davies’ Miracle on 34th Street a treasured part of their holiday traditions. Millions of copies of this award-winning story have sold since its first publication in 1947, delighting readers of all ages. A facsimile edition of the book is now faithfully re-created, offering a new generation--and fans of the original--the beauty of the classic 1940s design. Details of how the book came to be written, and made into a beloved film, are included in a brief historical note.
 
 
 
 
Every child knows about Santa Claus, the jolly man who brings gifts to all on Christmas. There are many stories that tell of his life, but the delightful version relayed in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is by far the most charming and original of all. Only L. Frank Baum, the man who created the wonderful land of Oz, could have told Santa's tale in such rich and imaginative detail.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


‘Be prepared to perform what you promised, Gawain;
Seek faithfully till you find me …’


A New Year’s feast at King Arthur’s court is interrupted by the appearance of a gigantic Green Knight, resplendent on horseback. He challenges any one of Arthur’s men to behead him, provided that if he survives he can return the blow a year later. Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and decapitates the knight – but the mysterious warrior cheats death and vanishes, bearing his head with him. The following winter Gawain sets out to find the Knight in the wild Northern lands and to keep his side of the bargain. One of the great masterpieces of Middle English poetry, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight magically combines elements of fairy tale and heroic sagas with the pageantry, chivalry and courtly love of medieval Romance. Brian Stone’s evocative translation is accompanied by an introduction that examines the Romance genre, and the poem’s epic and pagan sources. This edition also includes essays discussing the central characters and themes, theories about authorship and Arthurian legends, and suggestions for further reading and notes.




Skipping Christmas
Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.




The Little Match Girl


Fearful of returning home to a violent father without having sold enough matches for the day, the Little Match Girl remains on the street resigned to warming herself by lighting matches. With each match, she sees a vision—a warm stove, a table laden with hot food, a beautiful Christmas tree decorated with lights leading up to the sky, so high that one becomes a shooting star. According to her grandmother, each shooting star is a person who had recently passed on and is now heading to heaven. Her next strike brings a vision of her grandmother—the only person in the world who ever loved the Little Match Girl—who takes her away in her warm embrace to heaven. The classic ending is intact here and accompanied by gentle, sensitive illustrations—children will return to this stirring tale often to understand its tragedy and the valuable lessons within.
 
 
 
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Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list:
 
 
Heather at The Maiden's Court is sharing 5 non-fiction books she's excited to read HERE.

Erin at Flashlight Commentary has a delicious group of winter-themed stories HERE.

Stephanie at Layered Pages is sharing a little of this and a little of that HERE.

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede has 5 crime novels she's excited to read HERE.

Holly at 2 Kids and Tired has 5 more Christmas books to share with everyone HERE.