Wednesday, June 29, 2016

TLC Book Tours: Review of The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: June 21st, 2016
Pages: 384


April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—Lala, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. Lala knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love, the kind of love his parents won’t—or can’t—show him.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Oh my, did I itch to get my hands on this book! I've read and really enjoyed a few of Karen Harper's books before (The Queen's GovernessMistress of Mourning) and seem to never be able to turn down a book about the British royal family. On top of that, I haven't read very much about the Windsors, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about this branch of British royalty. I'm so happy to say that The Royal Nanny not only fed my need for royal fiction but also gave me so much more than I expected when it came to the rearing and caring of children during this time period.

My favorite aspect of the story has to be the behind-the-scenes feel of it. As I read the story I couldn't help but think about how truly unique Charlotte's life was. I can't think of another position that would have not only the access to royal parents and their spectacular extended network of family and friends but that would have the ability to influence and raise the next generation of history-making individuals. These nannies love their charges (or should...Charlotte took over for a hideous woman who didn't!) and are loved in turn by these elite set of people, and not many people can say that.  In the capable hands of Ms. Harper we the reader are so lucky to see into every hidden corner and witness, from the viewpoint of an incredibly well drawn woman, history in the making as well as the youngsters who would go on to make even more history.

Another wonderful aspect is just how real the characters feel (which is wonderful, since many are, in fact, real people from history). It was easy for me to picture every one of the characters populating the story, with all their unique and interesting foibles. I especially adored Charlotte and her royal children, even when I found myself frustrated or disappointed by some of the choices they made. I think any time an author can make the reader really feel for the characters they present, the reader's going to be in for a treat. Add on to that a great perspective and storyline and you're golden. Now teach the reader something about history and the world around them, and I can't think of anything else you could want (at least for this history-loving reader).

Now, I will say that the only character I wasn't overly crazy about was Chad Reaver, the gamekeeper (and much more) of the Sandringham estate. I hate saying this as there isn't really anything wrong with Chad, he's a likable enough character, but I felt Charlotte's attraction to him pulled her attention (and therefore the attention of the reader) from the characters and situations I was  most interested in. She spent a lot of time thinking about him, and I (especially in the beginning) kept wanting to tell her to focus on other things around her that I wanted to hear more about. This is completely selfish, I know, but there you have it. I did like him more as the story progressed, but I'm never the biggest fan of the romance elements of stories, so this was my least favorite aspect.

All this being said, The Royal Nanny is a wonderful story. I'm sure I'll be thinking about Charlotte and her children for a good while now that I'm done spending time with them. Like most wonderful fiction stories, this story has me excited to read more nonfiction about nannies, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic and interaction, and each of these individual historical people. If you love historical fiction - especially the kind dealing with royalty - as much as I do, you can't go wrong with The Royal Nanny.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I know a lot of people can't stand covers with the heads cut off, but I actually don't mind them. I think the cover's pretty, with pleasant colors and the lovely picture of Sandringham in the background, and it definitely fits the story (Lala front and center!). I don't think it's the kind of cover that necessarily blows me away, but I still really like it!

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing  me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review! Continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the rest of the blog tour!

Buy the Book


About the Author


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author KAREN HARPER is a former Ohio State Dark Angel, and her novel Shattered Secrets was judged one of the best books of the year by Suspense Magazine.
University instructor and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor-era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for

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

TLC Book Tour for The Royal Nanny

Tuesday, June 21st: BookNAround
Wednesday, June 22nd: bookchickdi
Thursday, June 23rd: A Bookish Affair
Monday, June 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, June 28th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, June 29th: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, June 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 1st: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, July 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 6th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Thursday, July 7th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spotlight on Dating Tipes for the Unemployed by Iris Smyles

Publisher: Mariner Books
Pub Date: June 28th, 2016
Pages: 320

Stalled on the precipice of adulthood, Iris doesn’t know where her life post-college will lead and, to be honest, it’s not a primary concern. She’s tried applying for jobs, she’s dipped her toes into dating, and she’s become Manhattan’s resident expert at finding ways to distract herself from what she really wants to do.

When she does sit down to write, what emerges are meditations on small talk, family, arctic exploration, cannibalism, quantum physics, literary immortality, etiquette guides, memory, dreams, loneliness, growing up, and growing old. A refreshing blend of Proust and Holly Golightly, Iris covers it all.

Evoking the screwball heroines of a bygone age as she finds herself often a little lost in her own, Iris relates hilarious and heartbreaking episodes. A mature book about immaturity, Dating Tips for the Unemployed is a wistful, melancholic, madcap, and erudite picaresque about the miserable fun of trying to find a career, love, and yourself at home and abroad.

 Advanced Praise for Dating Tips for the Unemployed

“Structured in small episodes like Homer's Odyssey, which serves as an epigraph for the book, Smyles' adventuress calls to mind a Jane Bowles heroine who's read Ulysses while scrolling in despair through 10 open apps on her iPhone. Smyles' portrayal of Iris in all her weirdness offers much to recognize, fear, and embrace. Walking the line between self-obsession and thoughtful portraiture, Smyles explores an inextricable link between sex and loneliness, self-loathing and self-acceptance in contemporary New York.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Iris Smyles has reinvented Sally Bowles and Holly Golightly for the 21st century.”
Edmund White, author of City Boy and Marcel Proust: A Life

“An incandescent weave of fiction, essay, and spoof…. Iris Smyles is an original and her fictional doppelgänger ‘Iris Smyles’ is one of literature's most charismatic innocents, a Donna Quixote lost in the new world.”
Frederic Tuten, author of Tin Tin in the New World


Buy the Book


About the Author

IRIS SMYLES's stories and essays have appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, BOMB, the
New York Observer, Best American Travel Writing 2015, and other publications. Her first novel, Iris Has Free Time, was published in 2013.

Find out more about Iris on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Blast: Náápiikoan Winter by Alethea Williams + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publication Date: May 9, 2016
Publisher: C.A. Williams
eBook & Paperback; 295 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

At the turn of a new century, changes unimagined are about to unfold.

THE WOMAN: Kidnapped by the Apaches, a Mexican woman learns the healing arts. Stolen by the Utes, she is sold and traded until she ends up with the Piikáni. All she has left are her skills—and her honor. What price will she pay to ensure a lasting place among the People?

THE MAN: Raised in a London charitable school, a young man at the end of the third of a seven year term of indenture to the Hudson’s Bay Company is sent to the Rocky Mountains to live among the Piikáni for the winter to learn their language and to foster trade. He dreams of his advancement in the company, but he doesn’t reckon the price for becoming entangled in the passions of the Piikáni.

THE LAND: After centuries of conflict, Náápiikoan traders approach the Piikáni, powerful members of the Blackfoot Confederation. The Piikáni already have horses and weapons, but they are promised they will become rich if they agree to trap beaver for Náápiikoan. Will the People trade their beliefs for the White Man’s bargains?

Partially based on the works of Canadian trader, explorer, and mapmaker David Thompson, Náápiikoan Winter spans a continent, examining the cultures in flux at the passing of an era and the painful birth of another.

Praise for Náápiikoan Winter

"When we read NAAPIIKOAN WINTER our hearts were swept back in time. Alethea Williams writes with the same authority and beauty that A. B Guthrie, Bernard de Voto, Wallace Stegner, and Conrad Richter imparted to the page. We marveled at the quality of her research, and the precision with which Williams recreated the world of the Blackfeet at the time of white contact. Find the first page, dear reader, and you'll fall effortlessly into a long-gone world filled with both the noblest of humans, and the dross that always follows. This is no Western romance, but the nitty-gritty reality of the Northern Plains. We call NAAPIIKOAN WINTER masterful!" -W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, authors of PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR

Buy the Book


About the Author

Alethea Williams grew up in southwest Wyoming. Willow Vale is her first novel of the immigrant
experience, dealing with the Tyroleans after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. Her second novel details the Irish immigrant experience and the Orphan Train movement in Walls for the Wind. Walls for the Wind is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rogers Medallion winner, and placed first at the Laramie Awards in the Prairie Fiction category. Her third book, a Western American pre-history spanning the North American continent, entitled Náápiikoan Winter is now available.

She also has a collection of newspaper columns in print:Boomer Blues Book: Staying Alive and Sane in the Modern American West. Twice president of Wyoming Writers, Inc. she lives in her native state with long-time friend, Amazon parrot Bob.

For more information please visit Alethea Williams' blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!!!


To win a copy of Náápiikoan Winter as part of the tour-wide giveaway please enter using the GLEAM form HERE. Five copies are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 1st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.​
Good Luck!!

Book Blast Tour Schedule

Monday, June 13

Passages to the Past

Tuesday, June 14

Diana's Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 15

Let Them Read Books

Thursday, June 16

The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, June 17

Monday, June 20

The Maiden's Court

Tuesday, June 21

Book Nerd

Wednesday, June 22

CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, June 24

Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Monday, June 27

Broken Teepee
A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, June 28

A Holland Reads

Wednesday, June 29

It's a Mad Mad World

Friday, July 1

The True Book Addict



Friday, June 24, 2016

The Tip of My Wish List - Female Spies of WWII

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 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 reviewers 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 book to your own wish list. 

For June I've decided to highlight books about female spies and code breakers during WWII. These brilliant women helped bring the Nazi regime to it's knees and I am amazed by each and every one of them.  I'll link the titles to Goodreads where you can read reviews and find the various ways to purchase a copy if it sounds 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.



 “I am Eva Delectorskaya,” Sally Gilmartin announces, and so on a warm summer afternoon in 1976 her daughter, Ruth, learns that everything she ever knew about her mother was a carefully constructed lie. Sally Gilmartin is a respectable English widow living in picturesque Cotswold village; Eva Delectorskaya was a rigorously trained World War II spy, a woman who carried fake passports and retreated to secret safe houses, a woman taught to lie and deceive, and above all, to never trust anyone.

Three decades later the secrets of Sally’s past still haunt her. Someone is trying to kill her and at last she has decided to trust Ruth with her story. Ruth, meanwhile, is struggling to make sense of her own life as a young single mother with an unfinished graduate degree and escalating dependence on alcohol. She is drawn deeper and deeper into the astonishing events of her mother’s past—the mysterious death of Eva’s beloved brother, her work in New York City manipulating the press in order to shift public sentiment toward American involvement in the war, her dangerous romantic entanglement. Now Sally wants to find the man who recruited her for the secret service, and she needs Ruth’s help.

Restless is a brilliant espionage book and a vivid portrait of the life of a female spy. Full of tension and drama, and based on a remarkable chapter of Anglo-American history, this is fiction at its finest.

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain's Cold War Spy Master

From living in a tin-roofed shack north of Dar-es-Salaam to becoming Baroness Park of Monmouth, Daphne Park led a most unusual life—one that consisted of a lifelong love affair with the world of Britain's secret services. In the 1970s, she was appointed to Secret Intelligence Service's most senior operational rank as one of its seven Area Controllers—an extraordinary achievement for a woman working within this most male-dominated and secretive of organizations.

In Queen of Spies, Paddy Hayes recounts the fascinating story of the evolution of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from World War II to the Cold War through the eyes of Daphne Park, one of its outstanding and most unusual operatives. He provides the reader with one of the most intimate narratives yet of how the modern SIS actually went about its business whether in Moscow, Hanoi, or the Congo, and shows how Park was able to rise through the ranks of a field that had been comprised almost entirely of men.

Queen of Spies captures all the paranoia, isolation, deception of Cold War intelligence work, and combines it with the personal story of one extraordinary woman trying to navigate this secretive world. Hayes unveils all that it may be possible to know about the life of one of Britain's most celebrated spies.

A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France

The incredible true story of British special agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, sisters who risked everything to fight for freedom during the Second World War.
When elderly recluse Eileen Nearne died, few suspected that the quiet little old lady was a decorated WWII war hero. Volunteering to serve for British intelligence at age 21, Eileen was posted to Nazi-occupied France to send encoded messages of crucial importance for the Allies, until her capture by the Gestapo.

Eileen was not the only agent in her family---her sister Jacqueline was a courier for the French resistance. While Jacqueline narrowly avoided arrest, Eileen was tortured by the Nazis, then sent to the infamous Ravensbrück women's concentration camp. Astonishingly, this resourceful young woman eventually escaped her captors and found her way to the advancing American army.

In this amazing true story of triumph and tragedy, Susan Ottaway unveils the secret lives of two sisters who sacrificed themselves to defend their country.

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII

Once rumored to have been the inspiration for Ian Fleming's Miss Moneypenny, Vera Atkins climbed her way to the top in the Special Operations Executive, or SOE: Britain's secret service created to help build up, organize, and arm the resistance in the Nazi-occupied countries. Throughout the war, Atkins recruited, trained, and mentored the agents for the SOE's French Section, which sent more than four hundred young men and women into occupied France, at least one hundred of whom never returned and were reported MPD (missing presumed dead) after the war. Twelve of these were women and among Atkins' most cherished spies. When the war ended in 1945, she made it her personal mission to find out what happened to them and the other agents lost behind enemy lines, tracing rigorously their horrific final journeys. But as the woman who carried out this astonishing search appeared quintessentially English, Atkins was nothing of the sort. As we follow her through the devastation of postwar Germany, we learn Atkins herself covered her life in mystery so that even her closest family knew almost nothing of her past.

In A Life in Secrets Sarah Helm has stripped away Vera Atkins' many veils. Drawing on recently released sixty-year-old government files and her unprecedented access to the private papers of the Atkins family, Helm vividly reconstructs a complex and extraordinary life.

The Secret Ministry of Ag. & Fish: My Life in Churchill's Secret Army

'My mother thought I was working for the Ministry of Ag. and Fish.’ So begins Noreen Riols’ compelling memoir of her time as a member of Churchill’s ‘secret army’, the Special Operations Executive. It was 1943, just before her eighteenth birthday, Noreen received her call-up papers, and was faced with either working in a munitions factory or joining the Wrens. A typically fashion-conscious young woman, even in wartime, Noreen opted for the Wrens - they had better hats. But when one of her interviewers realized she spoke fluent French, she was directed to a government building on Baker Street. It was SOE headquarters, where she was immediately recruited into F-Section, led by Colonel Maurice Buckmaster. From then until the end of the war, Noreen worked with Buckmaster and her fellow operatives to support the French Resistance fighting for the Allied cause. Sworn to secrecy, Noreen told no one that she spent her days meeting agents returning from behind enemy lines, acting as a decoy, passing on messages in tea rooms and picking up codes in crossword puzzles. Vivid, witty, insightful and often moving, this is the story of one young woman’s secret war, offering readers an authentic and compelling insight into what really went on in Churchill’s ‘secret army’ from one of its last surviving members.
Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list:
Stephanie at Layered Pages is highlighting five historical fiction books that take place during the American Civil War HERE.
Magdalena from A Bookaholic Swede is sharing five steampunk novels she's excited to read HERE.

Heather at The Maiden's Court has five books about the natural disaster event, the Johnstown Flood, HERE.

Holly at 2 Kids and Tired Books is sharing five books set in Russia she wants to read HERE.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Audiobook Review: Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Publisher: Audible Studios
Pub. Date: October 5th, 2015
Length: 13 hours, 26 minutes


Audie Award Finalist, Original Work, 2016 

Based on the best-selling, award-winning graphic novel series Locke & Key - written by acclaimed suspense novelist Joe Hill (NOS4A2, Horns) and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez - this multicast, fully dramatized audio production brings the images and words to life.

A brutal and tragic event drives the Locke family from their home in California to the relative safety of their ancestral estate in Lovecraft, Massachusetts, an old house with powerful keys and fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them. As siblings Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke discover the secrets of the old house, they also find that it's home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all....

Featuring performances by Haley Joel Osment (Entourage, The Sixth Sense), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black, Star Trek: Voyager), Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Stephen King (The Stand, 11-22-63), as well as a cast of more than 50 voice actors, this audio production preserves the heart-stopping impact of the graphic novel's astounding artwork through the use of richly imagined sound design and a powerful original score.

*Locke & Key contains explicit language and adult situations.

What Did I Think About the Story?

This is hands down the best audiobook I have ever listened to! There is so much to praise about it that I'm sure I'm going to leave something out, but I'll do my best to fully express just how wonderful it was.

The audiobook version of Locke and Key is a wholly immersive experience, with a large cast of talented narrators that give distinction and gravitas to each character, orchestrated music tailored to the particular vibes of each scene, background noises of every kind - gravel scratching underfoot, squeaky doors, conversations and whispers, bangs, bumps and shrieks - so you feel you are experiencing the story, not just listening to it. Beyond the actual story, this kind of production value was something I've never experienced in an audiobook before and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be disappointed by just about anything I listened to next.

Now, to the story. It should be noted that there is quite a lot of violence and explicit language (which is noted above), but, for me, this wasn't a deterrent as it fit the characters and the often horrific situations they experienced. We have a lot of teenagers and troubled people dealing with murderous spirits....what else would you expect?!

I was completely fascinated by the magical keys and doors of  the Locke House...they did everything from turning people into ghosts, animals, and other sexes/races,  they made people bigger, gave them the ability to control shadows, manipulated memories, fixed things that were broken....and so much more! I am absolutely enamored by authors that can create and wrap the reader in such intricate and involved worlds and Joe Hill has mastered this ability in Locke and Key.

The other aspect of the story I really enjoyed was that, along with the ultra-cool yet sinister house and all its magical properties, it is also the story of a regular and, in many ways, relatable family. After the "brutal and tragic event" mentioned in the synopsis occurs, the grieving family moves back to the family home. The mother soothes her grief with alcohol and the two older teenage siblings are forced to care for their younger brother. The older siblings experience teen angst and struggle to find love and friendship among a new set of friends while the younger sibling struggles to be heard and valued by those that think he's too young to do much of anything. Now, who can't relate to at least some of that?

The scenes are broken up in short segments, divided up with foreboding music and a deep-voiced narrator that explains background information and sets up the next scene, which was very different from any other audiobook I've listened to before. I believe this was done to maintain the graphic novel formatting and, in the beginning, did take some getting used to, but once I did I really enjoyed this aspect as it made it easier to find natural stopping places whenever I had to (unwillingly) stop listening to get back to real life. There's also a steady thread of humor that runs through the heavier story, which did do something to break up the horror and sadness that was more prevalent.

The Locke and Key audiobook is so much more than just a story you can listen to - it's a fully immersive production that could rival any play or movie and unlike anything I've experienced before. I'm not sure if there are other audiobooks like this out there, but I really hope there are. If you're not easily offended or too squeamish this is a wonderful way to experience a story. I recommend it to anyone looking to become completely lost.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

Given how much goes on within the story, it's somewhat simplistic. I can't really wrap my head around what I would prefer as so many elements would work, but I probably would prefer something dealing with the house, the kids battling the many magical things they encounter, or the keys. However I believe this is meant to be the main demon they encounter, so it definitely fits the story. The way the title is constructed is perfect and the fact that it looks like a drawing from a graphic novel also fits the feel and structure of the story very well.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

I purchased a copy of the Audible audiobook version of Locke and Key for my own collection.  You can read more about it, other reviews, and find links to purchase on Goodreads HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Blast: A Moment Forever (Liberty Victory Series #1) by Cat Gardiner + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publication Date: May 28, 2016
Vanity & Pride Press
eBook; 600 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

In every footlocker, hope chest, and heart full of secrets there is a story waiting to be discovered and told.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.

Buy the Book

Excerpt of A Moment Forever

The closed door to the attic appeared innocuous, but like the pleasant personas and expressions many people conveyed, Juliana felt it was a dead giveaway that something terrible hid behind it. She was, after all, an example of that. Her deepest wounds, she believed, were cleverly masked behind her jovial expressions and happy demeanor, but she didn’t realize that the signs were evident in her near anorexic figure.

However, on this late afternoon, she felt open and liberated after surviving the luncheon with her mother. She had bared her inner feelings and animosity then came home to clean the vintage kitchen. Feeling renewed, she went to the grocer around the corner because her white Frigidaire looked as hollow as she had felt these last eleven years. Strangely, she was in the mood to cook a cheeseburger.

From the top of the staircase, Juliana could still hear the record player from the parlor. Melancholy tunes by the Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald filled the entire house. She hoped it would carry up into the attic, thinking the soulful music would transport her back to the era and mindset of William when he had last locked the garret.

Yes, it was locked and after an hour of searching the house high and low, she finally found the key inside a small box in one of the dresser drawers. Beside the brass skeleton key sat a gold signet ring with engraving upon the face: propellers and wings surrounded a small diamond at its center. The inscription along the inside of the band read, “With Love, Mom and Dad.”

“Here it goes,” Juliana said before holding her breath and nervously turning the key. She felt on the verge of a full-blown panic attack.

The door creaked like all the others in the house and her heart rate sped up as it had time and again in the course of this home’s unveiling.

Once the door was fully open, she pulled the slender cord hanging against the wall, illuminating the narrow passage by the bare light bulb fixture.

Each step up the steep staircase issued a groan from the hardened planks beneath every footfall of her black Converse sneakers until she stood at the top, fiercely gripping onto the simple banister. She looked around the large, dark room before taking the final step into the unknown, mysterious, and yet-to-be-discovered past of her great-uncle. After working herself up to it for the last two days, Juliana had been expecting something ominous and frightening in the attic, yet instead she felt a sense of peace coupled with sadness. Her thoughts traveled to her father, and her emotions became even more pronounced. Her eyes welled with tears at the morose tranquility the attic emanated.

Essentially, but for a couple of trunks and a few boxes neatly placed upon a shelf, the attic was empty, having lain undisturbed and unfilled since its purchase in December of 1942.

If these walls could talk, they would tell her how William had slid his footlocker under the eave after placing the last of its contents within and how he had waited one full year before doing so. They would tell his grand-niece how he waited until the very last minute to place the newspaper over the windows. Once beige strips of masking tape were now an aged, burnished orange. The empty space staring back at the modern-day interloper represented the very reason for William’s departure.

Although expecting the worst in the attic, she wasn’t prepared for the emptiness. She had imagined cobwebs extending from box to box and odd pieces of furniture and tools that had long outgrown their usefulness. She thought the attic would surely be filled with scary dolls and broken strollers, perhaps a rocking chair or an eerie mirror, maybe even some Dorian Gray-type painting and faded photographs. Expecting an antique cemetery of sorts filled with memories, stories, and voices of the past residents who had once lived at 300 Bradford Road, she was surprised by the vacant space before her.

The startling emptiness of the room confirmed to her that no happy memories had ever been created in this house. The house never became a home, had never filled with children’s laughter or generations of family dating back to its initial construction. No household item ever had the luxury of being used enough to justify its disregard, saving and eventual storing on the third floor. It was clear to Juliana that Primrose Cottage was only a place where William laid his head, not his heart. True life had never infused these walls. The attic led her to believe he had been a bachelor—never married, never had children, never sharing his life, let alone this house, with anyone. The starkness of the attic revealed the loneliness of the man at the time of his departure.

About the Author

Born and bred in New York City, Cat Gardiner is a girl in love with the romance of an era once known as the Silent Generation, now referred to as the Greatest Generation. A member of the National League of American Pen Women, Romance Writers of America, and Tampa Area Romance
Authors, she and her husband adore exploring the 1940s Home Front experience as living historians, wishing for a time machine to transport them back seventy years.

She loves to pull out her vintage frocks and attend U.S.O dances, swing clubs, and re-enactment camps as part of her research, believing that everyone should have an understanding of The 1940s Experience™.

Inspired by those everyday young adults who changed the fate of the world, she writes about them, taking the reader on a romantic journey. Cat’s WWII-era novels always begin in her beloved Big Apple and surround you with the sights and sounds of a generation.

She is also the author of four Jane Austen-inspired contemporary novels, however, her greatest love is writing 20th Century Historical Fiction, WWII-era Romance. A Moment Forever is her debut novel in that genre.

For more information please visit Cat Gardiner’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!!

To win an eBook of A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner please enter using the GLEAM form HERE

Two eBooks are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Good Luck!!

Book Blast Tour Schedule

Wednesday, June 15

The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 20

Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 22

The Recipe Fairy

Monday, June 27

The Gadoury Dreamer

Wednesday, June 29

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher: Washington Press
Pub. Date: June 7th, 2016
Pages: 352


From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I fell in love with Taylor Jenkins Reid's writing the first time I read her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, and have since read every book she's written as soon as I can get my hands on them (you can click the titles for links to my reviews: After I Do, Maybe in Another Life). Needless to say, I had her newest, One True Loves, pre-ordered and dove right in as soon as it was delivered. I was once again absolutely delighted with the complex, emotional story she presented, one that had me not only eager to see how the characters would react to the impossible-seeming situation but questioning how I would react given the same.

I think for me the best part of the story (save the interesting dilemma it presented) was the time taken to fully develop these characters. Without it, I don't think I would have cared as much about Emma's love story and, other than still being an entertaining story, it wouldn't have had the emotional impact on me it did (really as all her books do). As it is, Reid crafts these characters that are funny, flawed, emotive, and as relatable as they come. She then takes the time to really develop their relationships and experiences, making everything feel that much more understandable. Giving the reader a clear view into how Emma lived with and loved both men made it that much more complicated when trying to decide (or figure out) who she would end up with. I did, however, know who I wanted her to pick about half way through, and I somewhat surprised myself since it wasn't whom I initially thought I would have selected. I think that just speaks to how much she had me invested in each of their lives.

While this is heavily a story about a woman figuring out which of the two loves of her life she should end up with, that isn't all this story has to provide. There's a complicated relationship between Emma and her sister (which most people with siblings will be able to relate to), a look at how grief and hardship changes people, as well as the idea that you never quite know where your life might take you, which might include going back to the very places you try so hard to get away from. There are a number of interesting threads running through the story, giving plenty to enjoy and ponder as the story progresses and long after it's done.

I'm clearly a huge fan of this author and recommend her all the time. I'm always surprised at the complex situations she puts her characters in and the way they, somehow, find a logical and very satisfying conclusion. I laugh, I get a little misty, and I completely fall for her characters and their dilemmas every time. One True Loves and really all her books are perfect, especially for this time of year, and I can't recommend them enough if you want a thoughtful, satisfying read.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's simple yet beautiful in person. I don't think it necessarily represents the book all that well, but it is the sort of cover I enjoy for this sort of novel (don't ask me why but it reminds me of a retro, 70's-style sort of cover. Maybe the writing? Not sure but I love it). The colors are also appealing and it just has an all around beautiful appearance.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

I purchased my copy of One True Loves for my personal collection. You can read more about the book, other reviews, and links to the various places you can purchase a copy on Goodreads HERE.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spotlight on The Reporter’s Story by Joyce Strand + Tour-wide Giveaway!

Publisher: McCloughan and Schmeltz
Pub Date: June 16th, 2016
Pages: 270

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a not-so-wealthy businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?

Additional info about Emma: Emma Matheson is a young woman determined to be a star front-page reporter despite the bias against women in her day. Her mother died when she was born. She was reared by her father who runs a newspaper in Sacramento. She grew up learning about the newspaper business. Her father valued education and insisted she attend university before starting her career. She is bright, determined, a great writer — but a bit naive.

Buy the Book


About the Author


Joyce T. Strand is the author of who-done-it contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. All of her published six novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.

Her first three contemporary mysteries feature protagonist Jillian Hillcrest, a public relations executive who encounters murder and mayhem at her Silicon Valley company. Jillian’s boss, Brynn Bancroft, solves the next two mysteries when she leaves her position as Chief Financial Officer to run a winery in Sonoma.

In Strand’s first historical mystery, a Superior Court Judge strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939. In her newest mystery, THE REPORTER’S STORY, a house burglary in 1912 San Francisco piques a young reporter’s instincts that leads to intrigue and murder.

Strand headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California's Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. Strand lives with her two cats and collection of cow statuary in Southern California, and enjoys exploring and writing about the growing wine region in the Ramona Valley near San Diego.
You can find out more about Joyce and her books on her website, blog, and Goodreads and can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Giveaway Time!!


1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
Enter the tour-wide giveaway HERE
Good Luck!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Spotlight on The Gilded Cage by Judy Alter

Publication Date: April 18, 2016
Alter Ego Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 318 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Born to a society and a life of privilege, Bertha Honoré married Potter Palmer, a wealthy entrepreneur who called her Cissy. Neither dreamed the direction the other’s life would take. He built the Palmer House Hotel, still famed today, and become one of the major robber barons of the city, giving generously to causes of which he approved. She put philanthropy into deeds, going into shanty neighborhoods, inviting factory girls to her home, working at Jane Addams’ settlement Hull House, supporting women’s causes.

It was a time of tremendous change and conflict in Chicago as the city struggled to put its swamp-water beginnings behind it and become a leading urban center. A time of the Great Fire of 1871, the Haymarket Riots, and the triumph of the Columbian Exposition. Potter and Cissy handled these events in diverse ways. Fascinating characters people these pages along with Potter and Cissy—Carter Harrison, frequent mayor of the city; Harry Collins, determined to be a loser; Henry Honoré, torn between loyalties to the South and North; Daniel Burnham, architect of the new Chicago—and many others.

The Gilded Cage is a fictional exploration of the lives of these people and of the Gilded Age in Chicago history.

Praise for The Gilded Cage

“The Gilded Cage is a wonderful recreation of early Chicago and the people who made it what it is. Central character Cissy Palmer is a three-dimensional, real, vibrant person. The Gilded Cage is fiction, but firmly based on fact—the Chicago Fire, the prisoners from the War Between the States interred in Chicago, the newcomer Potter Palmer, the explosive growth of wealth in a prairie town, deep poverty adjacent to great riches—the American experience laid bare. You don’t have to be a Chicagoan to love this book.” -Barbara D’Amato, author of Other Eyes


Buy the Book


About the Author

Judy Alter is the award winning author of fiction for adults and young adults. Other historical fiction
includes Libbie, the story of Elizabeth Bacon (Mrs. George Armstrong) Custer; Jessie, the story of Jessie Benton Frémont and her explorer / miner / entrepreneur / soldier / politician husband; Cherokee Rose, a novel loosely based on the life of the first cowgirl roper to ride in Wild West shows; and Sundance, Butch and Me, the adventures of Etta Place and the Hole in the Wall Gang.

For more information visit Judy Alter’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.


The Gilded Cage Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 23

Excerpt & Giveaway A Holland Reads

Tuesday, May 24

Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 25

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, May 27

Review at In a Minute

Monday, May 30

Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 31

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, June 1

Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, June 2

Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Monday, June 6

Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Tuesday, June 7

Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, June 8

Spotlight & Giveaway at It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, June 9

Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, June 13

Review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 15

Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, June 16

Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, June 17

Review at New Horizon Reviews
Review at Jorie Loves a Story


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Spotlight on Béla’s Letters by Jeff Ingber

Publication Date: February 18, 2016
Paperback; 596 Pages
ISBN: 978-0985410025

Genre: Historical Fiction

"Béla’s Letters” is a historical fiction novel spanning eight decades. It revolves around the remarkable life story of Béla Ingber, who was born before the onset of WWI in Munkács, a small city nestled in the Carpathian Mountains. The book tells of the struggles of Béla and his extended family to comprehend and prepare for the Holocaust, the implausible circumstances that the survivors endure before reuniting in the New World, and the crushing impact on them of their wartime experiences together with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them. At the core of the novel are the poignant letters and postcards that family members wrote to Béla, undeterred by the feasibility of delivery, which were his lifeline, even decades after the war ended.

Buy the Book


About the Author

Jeff is a financial industry consultant, who previously held senior positions at Citibank, the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York, and The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. His latest book is “Bela’s Letters,” a family memoir based on his parents, who were survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust. Jeff also has written a screenplay entitled “The Bank Examiners.” He lives with his wife in Jersey City, NJ.

For more information visit Jeff Ingber’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!!

To win a copy of Béla’s Letters please enter using the GLEAM form HERE.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!

Bela's Letters Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 25

Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Friday, May 27

Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, May 28

Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, May 30

Excerpt at Diana’s Book Reviews

Friday, June 3

Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, June 6

Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 7

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, June 8

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Interview at New Horizon Reviews

Thursday, June 9

Guest Post at New Horizon Reviews

Friday, June 10

Review at New Horizon Reviews

Monday, June 13

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at It’s a Mad Mad World

Tuesday, June 14

Spotlight at The Mad Reviewer

Thursday, June 16

Review at Nerd in New York

Friday, June 17

Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, June 21

Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, June 22

Review at Bookish

Thursday, June 23

Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, July 1

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, July 4

Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past