Friday, December 29, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List - Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Books of 2018

If you're anything like me you've got a book wish list so long there is no way you will ever be able to read through it all. And, on top of that, it's never ending because you just can't stop adding more books to it! To try and organize myself I'm sharing 5 books from my wish list that I'm most excited to get to, usually with a common theme, on the last Friday of each 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. I'll also 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.

I cannot believe this is the last wish list post of 2017! Seriously, I don't even know where this year just flew by! So many good books added to the wish list that I want to read right now but might never get to...sigh. Anyways, let's concentrate on new books coming out next year that I really want to read. Maybe this time I'll actually get to them, lol! I've decided to concentrate on historical fiction novels being published in 2018. There are so many to choose from but here are five that are right at the top of my list!


An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.  

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

The Atomic City Girls

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

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

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

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

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

Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined--one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler's dictatorship . . .

In early 1943, Magda Ritter's parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty--working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler's mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Fuhrer's food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation--though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich's atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance.

Vividly written and ambitious in scope, The Taster examines the harrowing moral dilemmas of war in an emotional story filled with acts of extraordinary courage.

No Cure for the Dead

When a young nurse dies on her watch, Florence Nightingale must uncover the deep-hidden secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London. She has hardly had time to learn the names of the nurses in her charge when she suddenly finds one of them hanging in the Establishment’s library. Her name was Nurse Bellamy.

Florence’s mettle is tested by the dual goals of preserving what little reputation her hospital has and bringing Nurse Bellamy’s killer to justice. Her efforts are met with upturned noses and wayward glances except for her close friend and advocate inside the House of Commons, Sidney Herbert. As Florence digs deeper, however, her attention turns to one of the hospital investors and suddenly, Sidney becomes reluctant to help.

With no one but herself to count on, Florence must now puzzle out what the death of an unknown, nondescript young nurse has to do with conspiracies lurking about at the highest levels of government before she’s silenced too.

For fans of Anne Perry and Laurie R. King comes No Cure for the Dead, the rich and enthralling series debut from Christine Trent.


Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list(updated as they become available):

Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Magdalena at A Bookish Swede

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cover Crush (Holiday Edition): The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan (Author)‎ and Laurel Long (Illustrator)

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.

Now that it's December all I can think about are the upcoming holidays and hot cocoa and snow, even thought I live in Florida and it very rarely has that "holiday feel" outside. To help me get in the mood, I've decided to highlight holiday-themed covers all month long!

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....

I don't know about you but I'm not quite ready to let go of the Christmas feels yet! This cover pretty much epitomizes classic Christmas for me so is the perfect pick as my last (*sigh*) holiday cover of the year. There is so much beauty in this cover that you can't really go wrong no matter what part you look at. I love the sleigh with the bundled-up girl and her dog racing through what appears to be the sky. We've got clouds and rainbows and castles and so much enchantment and I want to curl up inside this cover for just a little bit longer.

My own nostalgic whimsy aside, let's see what the story behind the cover is about....

 Santa Claus is the King of Forever, Land of the Immortals. When one special boy writes to Santa asking what no other child has ever asked, a miracle occurs: Santa and Mrs. Claus are blessed with a daughter. But the birth of Holly Claus also brings about a terrible curse--from an evil soul named Herrikhan. Holly's heart is frozen, and the gates to Forever are locked, barring exit or entry.

As she grows into a beautiful and selfless young woman, Holly longs to break the spell that holds her people hostage. With four faithful and magical animal friends, she escapes to the wondrous world of Victorian New York, where she will face countless dangers, adventures, and a miracle all her own.

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 17 books of '17: My Favorite Reads of the Year!

Every year I have the hardest time coming up with my "favorites of the year" list even though I keep adding spaces to the list based on the year! I've become pretty picky in the books I choose to read and review, so I genuinely enjoy most of the books I read throughout the year. Below you'll find  my 17 favorite reads of 2017, all of which I rated either 5/5 or 4.5/5 (with the exception of the last one, which was my favorite 4/5 book of the year). I've include the synopsis so you have an idea of what the books are about and will link the titles of each book to my review.

Looking at the list as a whole I'm pleasantly surprised by the number of historical fiction novels on the list. I was worried I hadn't gotten to enough historical novels this year, but it looks like I did just fine! Even with the heavy history influences there are also some contemporary thrillers and mysteries as well, so something for most tastes. Let me know if you've read and enjoyed any of these books as well, or if you have other books you plan on adding to your "best of" lists (I'm always looking to add books to my wish list!). 


A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”

As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit– a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past– we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

A woman sets out on a cross-country road trip, unknowingly tracing in reverse the path her mother traveled thirty years before.

In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.

Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge - until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents - but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals - in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country - Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While scholarshipping at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice, words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can't believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true.

But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee's dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she's stunned to find they don't believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.

Until the day the phone rings . . .

A vivid, unforgettable story of an unlikely sisterhood—an emotionally powerful and haunting tale of friendship that illuminates the plight of women in a traditional culture—from the author of the bestselling The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and When the Moon Is Low.

For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice.

Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed. As Zeba awaits trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have also led them to these bleak cells: thirty-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an honor killing; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, who ran away from home with her teenage sister but now stays in the prison because it is safe shelter; and nineteen-year-old Mezhgan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for her lover’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, as they have been, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment. Removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his motherland have brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.

A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women, A House Without Windows is astonishing, frightening, and triumphant.

Ireland. 1925. The war is over. But life will never be the same…

In the green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill has burned to the ground. But young Celia Deverill is determined to see her ruined ancestral home restored to its former glory — to the years when Celia ran through its vast halls with her cousin Kitty and their childhood friend Bridie Doyle.

Kitty herself is raising a young family, but she longs for Jack O’Leary — the long-ago sweetheart she cannot have. And soon Kitty must make a heartbreaking decision, one that could destroy everything she holds dear.

Bridie, once a cook’s daugher in Castle Deverill, is now a well-heeled New York City socialite. Yet her celebrity can’t erase a past act that haunts her still. Nor can it keep her from seeking revenge upon the woman who wronged her all those years ago.

As these three daughters of Ireland seek to make their way in a world once again beset by dark forces, Santa Montefiore shows us once more why she is one of the best-loved storytellers at work today.

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre -- his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman's noose, Aleister Crowley's childhood chessboard, etc. -- so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker's sanity.

An engrossing and suspenseful novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Amy Hatvany about an affluent suburban family whose carefully constructed facade starts to come apart with the unexpected arrival of an endangered young girl.

I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

Small Little Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review of Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Pub. Date: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 337

Genre: Fiction / Crime / Suspense / Thriller / Mystery


Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

What Did I Think About the Story?

There were so many things that made me need to pick up and read this book, including the fact that I really enjoyed Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, so having this book compared to that one really got me excited, I've been on the hunt for a truly "twisty, psychological thriller", and including a podcast and the media as key points within that thriller had me intrigued as to just how that would work. Are You Sleeping has such an interesting, unique concept for a thriller and, while I'll admit it wasn't quite as thrillingly paced as I was expecting or hoping, it was quite successful in building a mystery based on an unreliable witness to a murder and keeping me guessing until close to the end.

I have to admit that, in the beginning, I wasn't much of a fan of our main character, Josie Buhrman. What kind of person would start building a new life with someone they profess to love without even telling them their true name? Who would bald-face lie about their parents being dead and then say their aunt had died just so they could go to the funeral of the mother they said had been dead for years? Then I learned just how twisted and dysfunctional the Buhrman family actually was and it was kind of understandable why she, at least early on, didn't tell the truth. Having your father murdered and your mother disappearing to go live with a cult across the country is bad enough. Then having your twin sister - the person you loved more than anyone else and the only person to see what really happened to your father - not only completely shut you out of their life but actively do things to devastate you is almost too much to handle. But when Poppy Parnell (a truly odious character that will exploit anything and anyone for some fame) gets inside Josie's head and forces her to confront the facts of her past, the truth that unravels is even worse, leaving you to question whether it's better to know the truth or to just believe the lie.

Lanie, Josie's twin, is a deliciously unreliable character, which makes you question everything she says and does and therefore leaving you guessing as to what she really saw and what really happened to their father. I won't go into details as to the myriad of ways she betrayed Josie as well as their aunt, but believe me when I say it's pretty bad. She's violent, easily unhinged, and incredibly manipulative. So how can anyone believe anything she says? Therein lies the great mystery and I loved trying to figure out what happened and whether Lanie was actively lying to everyone, telling the truth, or somewhere in between.

I think my favorite aspect of the story was the attention given to Poppy's popular podcast questioning Lanie's statement that she saw the teenaged next door neighbor murder her father and the social media firestorm that results from it. There are snippets of Twitter feeds, Redditt comments, and transcripts of Poppy's podcasts interspersed within the narrative and these aspects ask questions that make the reader think about what the answers might be (which is what gets Josie questioning her sister's statements and actions as well) as well as show you just how vicious outsiders can be when safely commenting and analyzing something that has nothing to do with them. As horrid as Poppy is she is really the catalyst that keeps the story going and the reason they discover the final straw that reveals the truth of what happened that night. I've not read a novel that quite employs media in this way and I really enjoyed it.

My only issue with the story is that it wasn't quite as thrilling as I was expecting. When I think of a twisting, psychological thriller I tend to think of chapters ending in cliffhangers and huge, anxiety-inducing moments that have you on the edge of your seat. This story is more of a slow release mystery that keeps you wondering and guessing, but not a story that makes you race to the finish line.

Are You Sleeping is an inventive mystery that keeps you wondering where the line is between the lies and truths being told. All of the characters are complicated and most are trying to hide something, even if it has nothing directly to do with the murder at the center of it all. I really enjoyed the layout of the story and I'm interested to see if the author uses this same format in future novels. I definitely recommend for those that enjoy mysteries with unreliable characters.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's okay. The yellow coloring and the typography gives it an eerie feel and the far off-center house makes you feel off-kilter as well. For much of the story you don't really know what happened within that Buhrman household, so that little peek of a window makes you wonder what you might see if you  looked inside, or what Lanie might have actually seen when she looked out.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of Are You Sleeping in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. For more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, please see Goodreads HERE.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Truth Behind My Fiction - Guest Post by John Richard Bell, Author of The Circumstantial Enemy

“If you don’t write it, Grandad’s story will be lost forever,” My daughter said.

I’ll never forget the yearning in her eyes. That was 17 years ago. Grandad was 80 at the time. He’s now 97. The family had heard his war stories over and over again. Fascinating tales of trials and tribulations. As a young Yugoslav air force pilot, he was coerced onto the wrong side of WWII with the German invasion of 1941. They dispatched him to the Russian front – from there to surveillance over the Adriatic Sea where he would parachute into the frigid waters with 3 bullets lodged in his body – after that, unsanitary Italian hospitals, North African detention centers, and finally POW camps in Illinois and Louisiana where he would spend the rest of the war. Yet his troubles were far from over. Upon repatriation, he became an enemy of the state in Tito’s newly-created communist regime.

After hours of historical research and interviews with Grandad, I self-published his biography and printed enough copies for the family and a few generations to come. I thought I was done as an author. That was not the case. My career as a CEO of a Fortune 500 company had come to an end with the sale of the business. On my back as I bailed from the corner office was another type of parachute, a golden one. Though financially secure, I was too young to retire, so I decided to reinvent myself as a corporate strategy consultant. That career shift resulted in plenty of travel and lonely nights in hotel rooms.

How would I use all of that down time? I began blogging about leadership, strategy, and branding on my website – pumping out a blog every week. A hundred blogs later, I thought back to Grandad’s story. Could I fictionalize that tale into a thrilling novel? I thought I could. But after penning a few chapters of what would become The Circumstantial Enemy, I was struck by my naivety. I knew nothing about writing fiction. Eager to learn, I didn’t write a word for a year because I threw myself into books about how to write fiction and historical fiction. My next mistake was penning a manuscript of 225k words. When everyone and their brother said it was too long, I cut it back to 180k. Then another 40k went into the fireplace before literary agent Eric Nelson agreed to offer advice.

Though he loved the story, Eric said I needed better structure and focus. He also said he was shifting his own focus to the lucrative business book market. I said that I could write a business book for him. Nine months later, Do Less Better: The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World was released by Palgrave Macmillan USA.

Do Less Better was an easy transition from blogging. Writing fiction was another story. It became the biggest challenge of my CEO afterlife. Eight years ago as a retiree I began The Circumstantial Enemy. I had the first draft complete in 2 years. I needed another 3 years for rewriting and editing as well as checking the historical facts and all those little details of the 1940s that had to be correct – a 100% correct. And then there was another 3 years of trying to persuade bona-fide publishers to take on the project. In the end, my persistence paid off.

More than 20 years have passed since I left the corner office. It seems like half that long. Much has changed, including me. Somehow I reinvented myself. Transformation is never easy. Reinvention never happens without passion, determination and hard work. At 71, I am a rookie historical novelist. More importantly, I’m just another example of an everyday guy getting out of life what he’s putting into it.
Pub. Date: October 12th, 2017
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: 324
Genres: Fiction / Historical Fiction / Military Fiction / Romance
On the wrong side of war, there is more than one enemy…

When Croatia becomes a Nazi puppet state in 1941, carefree young pilot Tony Babic finds himself forcibly aligned with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Unbeknownst to Tony, his sweetheart Katarina and best friend Goran have taken the side of the opposing communist partisans. The threesome are soon to discover that love and friendship will not circumvent this war’s ideals.

Downed by the Allies in the Adriatic Sea, Tony survives a harrowing convalescence in deplorable Italian hospitals and North African detention stockades. His next destination is Camp Graham in Illinois, one of four hundred prisoner of war camps on American soil.

But with the demise of the Third Reich, repatriation presents a new challenge. What kind of life awaits Tony under communist rule? Will he be persecuted as an enemy of the state for taking the side of Hitler? And then there is Katarina; in letters she confesses her love, but not her deceit… Does her heart still belong to him?

Buy the Book


About the Author

John Richard Bell was born in Chigwell, UK and now resides in Vancouver, Canada. Before becoming an author of historical fiction, he was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and a global strategy consultant. Based on a true story, The Circumstantial Enemy is an energetic journey to freedom through minefields of hatred, betrayal, lust and revenge. Rich in incident with interludes of rollicking humor, it’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, and the power of friendship, love and forgiveness.
You can learn more about John and his writing on his blog, as well as connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cover Crush (Holiday Edition): Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at
Flashlight Commentary, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. I've decided to join in this year and will link to their posts down below.

Now that it's December all I can think about are the upcoming holidays and hot cocoa and snow, even thought I live in Florida and it very rarely has that "holiday feel" outside. To help me get in the mood, I've decided to highlight holiday-themed covers all month long!

 So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....

I can say, with the upmost honesty, that if I could physically crawl into this cover I would in a heartbeat! I want to live on this street like you wouldn't believe. I absolutely love the blue-hued background overlaid with mounds and mounds of snow and complemented with sparkly trees and lights. I also really want that beautiful puppy smiling up front (and what's he looking at...Santa perhaps?). It's picturesque to say the least!

Let's see what golden goodies we can look forward to by turning the first page....

Savor the magic of the season with Debbie Macomber’s newest Christmas novel, filled with warmth, humor, the promise of love, and a dash of unexpected adventure.

Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.

At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard—never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises—and their greatest wishes may yet come true.

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Spotlight on The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen by Collins Hemingway + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Pub. Date: June 20, 2015
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Pages: 200

Genre: Historical Fiction

Everyone should marry once for love – Even Jane Austen

Jane Austen, single and seemingly comfortable in the role of clergyman’s daughter and aspiring writer in the early 1800s, tells friends and family to hold out for true affection in any prospective relationship. Everybody, she says, has a right to marry once in their lives for love.

But when, after a series of disappointing relationships, the prospect of true love arrives for her, will she have the courage to act? The Marriage of Miss Jane AUsten re-imagines the life of England’s archetypal female by exploring what might have happened if she had ever married. It shows how a meaningful, caring relationship would have changed her as a person and a writer.

It also takes her beyond England’s tranquil country villages and plunges her info what the Regency era was really about: great explorations and scientific advances, political foment, and an unceasing, bloody war.

In such times, can love—can marriage—triumph?

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen

“What if Austen, who penned so many classic love stories, found her own romantic match? Ashton Dennis fits right into the Austen universe, while this Jane remains true to life, an intelligent and determined young woman. The writing is Austen-ian, and Hemingway has a talent for witty banter and wry observations that would make Elizabeth Bennet proud. An enjoyable first novel in an imaginative, well-researched series.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A skillful portrayal of a … literary icon takes this historical romance on an imaginative journey of the soul. … Insight and intuition, along with meticulous research, have created a believable version of her character in this tender story of Ashton and Jane. … Excellent character development enhances the plausibility of the scenario. Background, motivation, eccentricity—everything that constitutes a personality allow these fascinating people to step off the pages in lifelike form.” —Julia Ann Charpentier, Foreword CLARION Reviews, 4 stars

“All readers of Jane Austen wonder what Jane’s life might have been like had she married, or had money. The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen explores these intriguing possibilities. It also depicts Austen in a rapidly changing world, connecting her to important aspects of the era-war, slavery, indistralization, and new modes of travel. Heminghway’s book raises many ‘what if’s’ in his thoughtful and thought-provoking portrayal of Jane Austen falling in love.” -Susannah Fullerton, author of A Dance with Jane Austen and Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

“[An] engaging and remarkably convincing romance. … Wry, observant, laconic—much like Jane Austen herself, without ever dipping into pastiche or mimicry. … Hemingway, with the lightest touch, builds up a thoroughly convincing alternative history for Jane. … [A] thoughtful re-imagining of Austen’s love life.” —Joceline Bury, Jane Austen’s Regency World

Buy the Book


About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents 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!!

HFVBT Schedule

Monday, December 4

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 5

Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Wednesday, December 6

Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Thursday, December 7

Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, December 8

Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Adventures Thru Wonderland

Sunday, December 10

Review at Clarissa Reads it All
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Monday, December 11

Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, December 12

Feature at The Hungry Bookworm

Wednesday, December 13

Review at Pursuing Stacie

Saturday, December 16

Interview & Excerpt at T’s Stuff

Monday, December 18

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, December 20

Review at Faery Tales Are Real
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Friday, December 22

Feature at The Reading Queen

Wednesday, December 27

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, December 29

Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Tuesday, January 2

Feature at Broken Teepee

Thursday, January 4

Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Excerpt at Books of All Kinds

Friday, January 5

Review at Birdhouse Books

Monday, January 8

Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, January 10

Review at Singing Librarian Books
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Thursday, January 11

Review at What Cathy Read Next

Friday, January 12

Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story