Friday, April 28, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List - Books About Bookstores

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.
When I was looking through my book wish lists and trying to come up with a cohesive theme for this month's post I came across the perfect one: books that are about bookstores! I didn't realize there were so many of these sorts of books out there but there seem to be quite a lot. Below are just a few of the ones I've got on my wish list....enjoy!

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

The Bookman’s Tale

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries, with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

This Sunday Times bestseller is a miscellany of hilarious and peculiar bookshop moments: 'Can books conduct electricity?'
'My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that's ok... isn't it?'

A John Cleese Twitter question ['What is your pet peeve?'], first sparked the 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller's collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor.

From 'Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?' to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year's weather; and from 'I've forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter' to 'Excuse me... is this book edible?: here is a book for heroic booksellers and booklovers everywhere.

This full-length collection illustrated by the Brothers McLeod also includes top 'Weird Things' from bookshops around the world.

The Bookshop on the Corner

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

The Bookseller

The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It's everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?


Check out these lovely blogs for more books to add to your wish list:

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, April 27, 2017

Cover Crush: The Girl in the Glass by Elizabeth Fremantle

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.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
I just find this cover so intriguing! Having read Elizabeth Fremantle's books I'm pretty sure this book is historical fiction without reading the synopsis. That being said...who is this mysterious woman trapped in glass? Having her image so hazy and blurry makes her seem even more enigmatic and I just have to know who she is! The stark image also makes me think of coldness and isolation and loneliness. The crack in the glass does make me think the woman might be breaking out of her imprisonment or something is possibly coming in to get her. Either way how can I not want to learn more?
Let's see what is really going on in The Girl in the Glass Tower:
Arbella Stuart is trapped behind the towering glass windows of Hardwick Hall. Kept cloistered from a world that is full of dangers for someone with royal blood. Half the country wish to see her on the throne and many others for her death, which would leave the way clear for her cousin James, the Scottish King

Arbella longs to be free from her cold-hearted grandmother; to love who she wants, to wear a man's trousers and ride her beloved horse, Dorcas. But if she ever wishes to break free she must learn to navigate the treacherous game of power, or end up dead.

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spotlight on THE FISHERMAN'S BRIDE by Catherine Magia + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publication Date: November 2, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC, CreateSpace
Kindle & Paperback; 240 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biblical Fiction/Christian Literature


 She has no name. She is not even a footnote. Her tale is hidden behind the well-told fable of her husband, the man who would become Simon Peter, the first Apostle.

Cast off by her family after shunning a wealthy suitor to marry a humble fisherman, her life is fraught with hardship. She endures her husband’s growing restlessness, fish shortages from the Sea of Galilee, and the oppression of an all-powerful Roman Empire over her people. Then her life is forever changed when her dying mother is saved by a miracle performed by a young carpenter—a man who speaks with understanding and acts with compassion. A man who can inspire the extraordinary.

Simon Peter lives on in history as the undaunted martyr of the carpenter. This is the untold story of his young bride. Her journey traverses villages and deserts, love and tradition, and a brewing revolution, to an awakening of faith that challenges everything she has ever known.

Praise for The Fisherman's Bride

“Catherine Magia has penned a moving Christian story that transcends religious boundaries–a novel that occupies the rare space between the historical and the Biblical realms. At once speculative and interpretive, Magia’s vigorous first-person narrative of St. Peter’s wife makes a compelling case for the life, motivation and spirituality of a minor, nameless Biblical character. An ambitious and impressive debut.” -Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala and The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

“Right from the start, the evocative and compelling tone of The Fishman’s Bride casts its line and draws in readers with a deftness that borders on enchantment. Perhaps this is because Catherine Magia uses an uncommon perspective and outsider’s view of events. And, by ‘outsider,’ this means observations that come from beyond Jesus’ inner circle, yet are closely connected by love and association. Also included in the saga are stories of fortunes made and lost, faith thwarted and regained, fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the impact of social and political change upon entire communities. Catherine Magia’s attention to embracing the extent of daily living in Biblical times, from different methods of preserving fish to different attitudes encountered during their travels, brings the story to life.

Readers of Christian literature and Biblical retellings will find this story a powerfully written, compelling account of the impact of Jesus on all layers of society, narrated from the eyes of an outsider to his central group of believers who uses the ordinary life experiences of an unnamed wife to chronicle an extraordinary journey of love, faith, and miracles.” -D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

Buy the Book


About the Author

Catherine Magia was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to New Jersey as a teenager. Although her formal education was in the hard sciences, Catherine has always maintained a passion
for the written word, publishing her poetry in several literary journals including the Michigan Quarterly Review.

She discovered the voice of Simon Peter’s wife on a soul-searching journey, a trek through the biblical lands of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. She spent seven years researching and writing her debut novel, traveling as far as Ephesus, Turkey.

She is working on her second book – the conclusion to The Fisherman’s Bride.

By day, she works as an associate director of marketing research in the development of new cancer medications. She is currently based in Boston.

For more information please visit Catherine Magia’s website and blog.


It's Giveaway Time!!!


To win a copy of The Fisherman’s Bride by Catherine Magia, please enter via the Gleam form HERE. Two copies are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 5th. 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.

The Fisherman's Bride Tour Schedule

Monday, April 17

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 18

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, April 19

Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 20

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, April 21

Spotlight at The Paperback Princess

Saturday, April 22

Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Monday, April 24

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 25

Interview at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, April 26

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 27

Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, April 28

Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, May 1

Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, May 2

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 3

Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Thursday, May 4

Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, May 5

Review at Unabridged Chick


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Florence and Me: Release Day Guest Post by Donna Russo Morin, Author of The Competition

Through a little less than twenty years, the daring women that are Da Vinci’s Disciples strive, thrive, and survive one of the most tumultuous periods in Florentine history. In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, their very lives are threatened in the repercussions of one of the greatest assassination conspiracies in all of history. In THE COMPETITION, the strict social mores of the time are shattered, and once more, the women find themselves in physical danger. In the conclusion of the trilogy, THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, the Disciples will again put their lives on the line to save not just their art, but art itself. Come to think of it, much of Florence’s history was rife with strife.

But first I must tell of my own connection, one I didn’t know existed until after I started writing books set in Florence. Yes, in that glorious small speck of time between completing one book and starting another, I sent out a query to an organization that researches surnames. It took them a while to complete the appropriate investigation, during which time I developed the basic idea for the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy. It would seem as if my fascination for the ancient city was firmly entrenched in my psyche. The information, when it came from the research institute, wonderfully illustrated with my family crest on parchment looking paper, declared that the origin of my family was, most probably… Florence. My ancestors have been calling, and I am answering that call as best I can.

Julius Caesar named the city ‘Florentina’ (meaning ‘flourishing’) when founded in 59 BC as a military retirement haven. How portentous the name would come to be. Yet there is evidence of occupation dating back to prehistoric times. Caesar developed the city, true, with the assistance of the great Roman general and statesman, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, from a military state of mind, one that is still in evidence even today. Situated on a major artery leading to Rome, the Via Cassia (still known by that name in the heart of Rome, as the A1 for hundreds of miles leading throughout the country) it was rich with fertile farmland. The combination proved successful and it soon grew from a small Roman settlement to a lively commercial epicenter. 

Enclosed in a wall approximately 1800 meters long, the city is rectangular in shape, and developed, as did most cities initially Roman, with straight roads and right angles. The main roads led to four towered gates and the Arno—a major river flowing in from the west coast—at first lay outside its gates. Located at the apex of main roads and a large river, found Florence growing rapidly, commercial activity and trade thrived, as did the city.

Christianity made its way to Florence in the second century and by the next, churches began to spring up like the shoots of spring flowers. Today there are close to forty churches and these religious houses are partially responsible for the birth of the Renaissance. 

Like so many other locations in Italy, Florence was prey to the pillaging of the Barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. Though the city built more interior city walls, they too fell to the Lombards, the dark period of the city’s history.

But from out of the darkness, came the light.

By the 8th century, a feudal system was established in Florence, in truth throughout Tuscany, and the city became a county of the Holy Roman Empire, changes that were both a blessing and curse. More city walls were constructed, more gates for protection and grandiosity, and over the next few centuries Florence continued to prosper and its population to grow exponential; a flurry of activity leading to one of human evolution’s greatest eras, the Renaissance.

Any great accomplishment, movement, or change in the direction of humankind, does not come about because of one circumstance or the efforts of one human, but from a conglomeration of magnificent events…the perfect storm. Such was the Renaissance and its birth in a city named Florence.

Its inception can be found, in part, in the politics of the city. A strife-ridden communal system gave way to an oligarchy, a system that would rule the city on and off for hundreds of years. The greatest of all the oligarchies belong to the Medici family (major players in the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy). Yes, these were men who had undeniable—dare I say obnoxious—certainty in their superiority, but they were also gifted with open, curious minds whose craving for knowledge and truth and beauty brought new and enlightening concepts to within the city walls. Harking back to the teachings of the Greeks and the Romans, they revived the value of the human being and within this eagerness for knowledge and enlightenment, Humanism was born. Man came to consider himself God’s greatest creation and combined with a craving for rational thought and an affirmation of the natural environment in which he existed. A distinctive characteristic of Humanism was the glory of art, of man’s ability to manipulate media into whatever form they chose.

The rise of Humanism, the profusion of churches—churches which needed pious artwork to compete with the glory of its architecture—combined with the unflattering urge of humans to outdo each other, brought together all the necessary ingredients for an artistic explosion: fertile temperament, a surplus of venues, and the need for the leading citizens to become the leading citizen, producing a plethora of patrons vying for the best artists of all sorts. It was a collision that had never happened before, one that some hope will happen once again (one that I personally believe took place in the 1960s).

But it was not only painters and sculptors that Florence and its rebirth produced, though there were those a plenty, to name a few: Giotto di Bondone, Masaccio, Domenic Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, and, of course, Leonardo da Vinci. And those are just the upper echelon of painters.
Leonardo da Vinci

Architecture reigned supreme as well under the skillful hands of Brunelleschi, Leone Alberti, Palladio, and Bramante, architecture that still lives and breathes, and is any travelers’ dream.

Their glory was all written about with equal talent by the writers of the age: Petrarch, Boccaccio, Luigi Pulci, Machiavelli, and Poliziano. In fact, so many of Italy’s greatest writers and poets were connected to Florence, its dialect came to be known as the official Italian language, beginning with the appearance of Dante’s Il Divina Commedia. The power of Florence affected almost every facet of Renaissance life. The currency of the city, the gold Florin, came to be the most valued, not only in Italian but also in all the corners of Europe, from Hungary to Britain to Bruges, and everywhere in between, and helped to develop industry across the continent.

Today, much of the Florence of the past still exists, preserved with historic tenderness and care, and it is one of the most visited cities in the world. Unbelievably (even to myself) I have not made my way to this glorious city. But in a little over a year, I’ll be celebrating my 60th birthday and I am determined to celebrate it in this glorious city that is my muse and my heritage.
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
Pub. Date: April 25th, 2017
Pages: 268
Book Series: Da Vinci's Disciples (Book 2)
In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal. They paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the city.

A commission to paint a fresco in Santo Spirito is announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage and now free to pursue her artistic passions in secret, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow female artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win.

But the church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and could put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing her joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has her own romantic life to distract her, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.

Advanced Praise for The Competition

"THE COMPETITION is a page-turning, provocative romp through a fascinating time and place―15th-century Florence. Donna Russo Morin has given us a novel for our time, a book featuring strong female characters fighting the odds to break the “glass ceiling,” and reminding us that this battle is not new: women have been waging it for centuries. ―Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”―C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de'Medici

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”―Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

“In Portrait of a Conspiracy, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”―Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”―Kate Quinn, author of The Empress of Rome Saga

 "In elegant prose, Morin paints a captivating tale of courageous women painters who battle against prejudices in Renaissance Florence. Featuring strong women characters, each with distinctive personalities, this is exactly the type of historical novel I enjoy. Exhilarating and compassionate, The Competition sings a beautiful tribute of women's talents and underscores Morin's masterful storytelling. Delightful!"―Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon

“An inspiring tale of determined women, empowered by undeniable talent, in the male-dominated art world of Renaissance Florence. In The Competition, Ms. Morin delivers a captivating story rich with historical detail and beautifully woven through with atmosphere.”―Diane Haeger, author of Courtesan

Buy the Book



About the Author

Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef.

To learn more about Donna visit her website and blog, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Publisher: Audible Studios
Pub. Date: February 22nd, 2012
Length: 14 hours, 1 minute


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 . . .

What Did I Think About the Story?

Into the Darkest Corner is one of those books that seemed to always pop up on the "because you purchased this book you might also like..." list whenever I purchased or added a psychological mystery to my wish lists and, on top of that, it seemed to be well loved by those that had read it. Because of this when the ebook/audiobook combo came up on a great sale I knew I had to purchase it. From the description I knew this was going to be a case of psychological and physical abuse and manipulation but, having now read it, I'm amazed at how well the author not only portrayed the aftermath of this kind of terror but how she slowly unwound the story and kept the tension building until the very end.

The story goes back and forth, from chapter to chapter, between Catherine's time with Lee and four year's later when she's finally starting to move on with her life. This slow, deliberate release of information, especially where it deals with the development and breakdown of her relationship with Lee, made it difficult to figure out exactly what happened to Catherine at the hands of Lee and what could possibly have caused the damage she was dealing with in the future storyline. You see things start to slowly happen - things moved around in her apartment, Lee showing up unexpectedly when she's out with friends, Lee dictating what she wears and doesn't wear - and you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and then....the story switches into the near future and you know that something absolutely horrible happened but you just don't know yet what that is. This kept me glued to my headphones in the hopes that I'd finally learn the truth. And when I was horrifying yet completely satisfying as far as thrillers go.

My absolute favorite aspect was seeing how the abuse Cathy experienced effected her psychologically. What she experienced was insidious and brutal and ended up causing her to have long term OCD and paranoia issues. I never thought about the fact that something like that could cause someone to develop severe OCD and the author did an exceptional job of detailing Cathy's rituals and showing how it not only affected her actions and feelings but those around her, especially Stuart who is a psychologist and tries so patiently to help her as a friend and, later on, potential love interest. The best parts were listening to her internally tell herself that she's being ridiculous - of course the door is locked! - but then hear her rationalize checking it one more time, then one more time again, and so on. This was just fascinating and something I was not expecting from the story.

The main narrator (Karen Cass) was great and did an excellent job of inhabiting the fun, outgoing, and promiscuous Catherine in the past as well as the withdrawn, jumpy Cathy in the present that had cut off all ties to her past and kept herself from forming any real relationships with anyone new. These are two very different personas and both came off as real and developed. Listening to this as an audiobook also made the violence and abuse, both physically and psychologically, that much more horrible and poignant and the narrator went a long way to making that the case. It should be noted that there is quite a bit of graphic violence, especially towards the end of the story, so anyone who is squeamish to that sort of this should be forewarned.

Into the Darkest Corner was a wholly entertaining if horrifying audiobook. It definitely kept me listening and made it hard to walk away as so many chapters left off on some new revelation or experience and I constantly felt the urge to try and go one more chapter. This being my first experience with this author I'm definitely interested to see what else she has to offer.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

This cover is okay but doesn't really give any feeling for the story. There's another cover that shows a door that's slightly ajar but still has the chain lock fastened that perfectly represents the OCD actions of Cathy and that always looming sense of danger.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

I purchased a copy of Into the Darkest Corner for my own audiobook library. All opinions are  my own. You can find more information on the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase it, on Goodreads.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: Death of a Ghost by M.C. Beaton

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date. February 21st, 2017
Pages: 256


Sergeant Hamish Macbeth--Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman--returns in M.C. Beaton's new mystery in her New York Timesbestselling series

When Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth hears reports of a haunted castle near Drim, he assumes the eerie noises and lights reported by the villagers are just local teenagers going there to smoke pot or, worse, inject themselves with drugs. Still, Hamish decides that he and his policeman, Charlie "Clumsy" Carson, will spend the night at the ruined castle to get to the bottom of the rumors once and for all.

There's no sign of any ghost...but then Charlie disappears through the floor. It turns out he's fallen into the cellar. And what Hamish and Charlie find there is worse than a ghost: a dead body propped against the wall. Waiting for help to arrive, Hamish and Charlie leave the castle just for a moment--to eat bacon baps--but when they return, the body is nowhere to be seen.

It's clear something strange--and deadly--is going on at the castle, and Hamish must get to the bottom of it before the "ghost" can strike again...

What Did I Think About the Story?

This is a really hard review for me to write because I have very mixed feelings about the overall story. First off, maybe it's just me but I didn't realize until I received the book and started reading it that this was part of a long standing series. Long standing to the tune of 32 books. Yes, that's right, this is the 32nd book in the Hamish Macbeth series! Needless to say, there is no way for a reader jumping into this series at book 32 to be able to know all the backstories and various connections between the characters. This doesn't mean that the story wasn't enjoyable, I just found most of the personal interactions between the characters somewhat confusing and skimmed over most of that to concentrate on the actual mystery at the heart of it.

Now, I can't help but admit that I was pretty disappointed that there wasn't more "ghost" to this story. From the title and description I assumed there would be at least some paranormal and eerie goings-on, but this aspect ended up serving as nothing more than a starting point to a multi-murder investigation that had our main characters traipsing all over the highlands in all types of weather, sampling copious amounts of food everywhere they went (I'm not was discussed more in this book then just about any I can think of save an actual cookbook or culinary-themed mystery). Hamish did have some "highland senses" that gave him pretty reliable gut feelings and intuitiveness, but other than that this was a pretty standard police procedural, even if a somewhat comical one. I can say that I didn't initially see the true identity of the killer early on, but that might have more to do with the fact that vital information was not revealed to the reader until later on in the book than the story being intricately twisty.

What I did really enjoy about the story was the eccentric and colorful characters. Each of them was very unique and I especially enjoyed Hamish and Charlie, our two main characters. Charlie was so endearing and patient - falling all over himself and breaking lots of things in the process - while Hamish was more moody and prone to yell at the local gaggle of women trying to set him up with a good woman to set his life right. From the characterizations it's clear why this is such a long standing book series.    

Death of a Ghost was a quick and entertaining read. I really think those that have already been reading the series will enjoy it as a continuation of the story while those that haven't, like myself, might find themselves feeling somewhat left out of the loop. If you like more cozy mysteries than I would still recommend giving it a try as the characters are quite enjoyable, maybe just start from the beginning of the series and work your way up to this one. 


What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it's pretty but, for the life of  me, I can't figure out what it really has to do with the story. Yes, this might be the castle where the "ghost" is initially suspected to be, however hardly any time is actually spent at that castle. And I'm not positive who the woman is supposed to be either. A somewhat odd and unrepresentative choice to me for a cover. 

My Rating: 3.0/5.0 

Thank you to Tiffany at Hachette Book Group for providing me with a free copy of Death of a Ghost in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Please continue below for more information about the book and it's author. 

Praise for Death of a Ghost

"Longing for escape? Tired of waiting for Brigadoon to materialize? Time for a trip to Lochdubh, the scenic, if somnolent, village in the Scottish Highlands where M. C. Beaton sets her beguiling whodunits featuring Constable Hamish Macbeth.” —New York Times Book Review

"Hamish Macbeth is that most unusual character, one to whom the reader returns because of his charming flaws. May he never get promoted.” —New York Journal of Books

"With residents and a constable so authentic, it won't be long before tourists will be seeking Lochdubh and believing in the reality of Hamish Macbeth as surely as they believed in Sherlock Holmes.” — Denver Rocky Mountain News

"Macbeth is the sort of character who slyly grows on you.” —Chicago Sun-Times 

 Buy the Book


About the Author

M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her New York Times bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries. The BBC has aired 24 episodes based on the series. Beaton is also the author of the
bestselling Agatha Raisin series, which is now a television show starring Ashley Jensen, available on Acorn and coming soon to PBS. She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.

Find out more about M.C. on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cover Crush: The Lost Girls by Heather Young

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.

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

Okay, so clearly from the title this isn't going to be a "feel good" story. What the cover does for me is gives me a further sense of a world torn apart (quite literally in the picture) and the inability to put that world completely back together. There's large gaps between the images and the edges are all frayed, so you get the sense that this world is forever damaged. The small, somewhat foreboding and isolated house gives me a feel for location and just makes me want to know what the heck happened in that house!
Let's see what The Lost Girls is really about:

A stunning debut novel that examines the price of loyalty, the burden of regret, the meaning of salvation, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, told in the voices of two unforgettable women linked by a decades-old family mystery at a picturesque lake house.

In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family—her father commits suicide, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability—a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives to steal her inheritance, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
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, April 19, 2017

Spotlight on The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier

Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0547491166

Genre: Historical Fiction

Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Praise for The Half Wives

“Pelletier’s second novel unfolds a complex story in the span of 24 hours… [The author] expertly fills in the back story—introspection and memories mingle smoothly with the present… Well-crafted characters struggling alone with shared grief furnishes a coursing river on which this intriguing story effortlessly flows. Tough to put down.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The Half Wives is a profoundly hypnotic and mesmerizing work. The characters do not capture you as much as claim you, as the writing—languid, heartbreaking, and hopeful—pulls you deep into their world. The backdrop of Old San Francisco comes gloriously alive, as though the mist of the city itself rose from every page.”—Kathy Hepinstall, author of Blue Asylum and others

“Stacia Pelletier’s The Half Wives is set in the past, but it is a story for any time: a poignant, sometimes heart-rending, beautifully crafted, always gripping tale of loss and love, and the human need to try to set things right. A great read.”—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

Buy the Book


About the Author

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, which was short-listed for the Townsend Prize in Fiction, and the forthcoming The Half Wives. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta. A two-time fellow of the Hambidge Center, located in the mountains of North Georgia, she currently lives in Decatur, Georgia, and works at Emory University’s School of Medicine.

For more information, please visit Stacia Pelletier’s website.

The Half Wives Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 4

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, April 5

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, April 6

Review & Giveaway at Rainy Day Reviews

Friday, April 7

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, April 11

Review at West Metro Mommy

Friday, April 14
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Tuesday, April 18

Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, April 19

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 20

Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, April 24

Interview at Author Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Friday, April 28

Review at Reviews by Room With Books

Tuesday, May 2

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, May 3

Giveaway at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, May 4

Review at Book Nerd
Review at Clarissa Reads It All
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, May 5

Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Release Day Spotlight: The Secret Room by Sandra Block

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 368

Book Series: Zoe Goldman Thrillers #3

Her patients are dying. Some are apparent suicides and others possible accidents, but rumors are flying that Dr. Zoe Goldman is an angel of death- intentionally helping hopeless cases go to a "better place"- or, worse yet, a dangerously incompetent doctor.

As a new psychiatry fellow at the local correctional facility, Zoe is still learning the ropes while watching her back to avoid some dangerous prisoners. As the deaths mount up, Zoe is wracked with horror and guilt, feverishly trying to figure out what is going wrong and even questioning her own sanity.

What Zoe doesn't realize is that someone is targeting her patients to get to her. Someone who has access to her deepest secrets and fears. Someone who will stop at nothing to take everything Zoe has, even her life.

Advanced Praise for The Secret Room

"It's absolutely impossible to put down.” —

"Block's latest is an intriguing mystery with a well-crafted plot and storytelling that is honest, with a little grit. Add steady pacing and a calculating, manipulative villain and readers will not be able to stop turning the pages.” —RT Books Reviews

"Sandra Block's heroine is smart, heartbreakingly vulnerable, and laugh-out-loud funny. I am a forever-fan of the Zoe Goldman series and will read anything Block writes. You should too.” —Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author

Buy the Book


About the Author

Sandra Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York, for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan and lives at home with her family and Delilah, her impetuous yellow lab. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals.
You can discover more about Sandra and her books on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spotlight on The Book of Air by Joe Treasure

Kitchen Surgery 

A group of people have gathered in Jason’s house in rural Wales, survivors of a virus that has wiped out most of the human population. Deirdre and Alesky have been out on a horse in scavenging tools and food from abandoned neighbouring farms. Meanwhile, with the help of Abigail and Maud, Jason has been searching for his five-year-old nephew Simon, who he last saw playing in the barn. 

We hear the cart on the drive. It’s moving faster than it should. We’re halfway across the yard when the horse comes round the side of the house, dragging the cart at a speed that tilts it on to its outer wheels at the turn. The geese scatter. The jackdaws flap from the stable roof, making their harsh noise. Deirdre pulls sharply on the reins and the horse rears up. 

Aleksy is slumped beside her. Deirdre’s shouting, ‘He’s hit, they shot him, he’s losing blood.’ We’re all over him, trying to help him down – Deirdre above him on the cart, Abigail lifting his legs, me pulling at him, taking the weight. And Aleksy’s thumping me, pummelling my shoulder. ‘Not me. The boy. See to the boy.’ I pull away and he stumbles to the ground, cursing in Polish. 

I get on the cart and fling the cardboard boxes aside. And there’s Simon in a foetal crouch. He rocks from side to side, humming to himself. 

‘What is it, Si? Where’d they get you?’ 

Abigail is beside me, straightening Simon’s legs, feeling for damage, touching his arms and fingers. 

I lift his hand gently from the side of his head. There’s a gash above the ear, muddied and bleeding – not a bullet wound. 

‘Is it your head, Si? Does it hurt anywhere else?’ 

He’s crammed with words that won’t come out. 

I carry him into the kitchen, following the trail of Aleksy’s blood. Aleksy is sideways on a kitchen chair, his good arm clinging to the back. Deirdre has cut the shirt sleeve from the injured arm. For a moment the wound is bright and open like a mouth, blood pulsing out of it. She’s knotted a tea towel above and winds it tight with a spoon. Abigail has pushed aside jars of jam to make space on the table for her sewing box. She pulls out pin cushions and reels of thread. She has a sheet over her shoulder. Maud comes up from the cellar with a bottle of brandy. They’ve got stuff stored away I don’t even know about. The kettle’s already rattling on the stove. 

I sit Simon on a chair and crouch to look at him. There’s no colour in his face. The external bleeding isn’t much but I’m worried about the knock to his skull. Behind him, Aleksy’s doing a lot of grunting. Maud and Abigail hold him still while Deirdre sews him up. Simon keeps twisting round to look, so I give up and turn his chair the other way. 

When I start cleaning the wound Simon says, ‘Ow’ and puts his hand up but he doesn’t take his eyes off the main attraction. ‘I said Ow.’ 

‘I heard you, but I’ve got to make sure it’s clean before I put a bandage on.’ 

Aleksy asks Deirdre if she’s done this before. 

‘With a horse, once, I did,’ she says. 

‘Well remember, please, that I am not a horse.’ 

I explode at them. ‘Christ, you two, what were you thinking, taking Simon?’ 

‘He was on the cart,’ Deirdre says. ‘He was playing in the boxes. We were a mile away before we knew.’ 

Aleksy grunts. ‘Stop talking and sew.’


Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Pub. Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 286

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors. 

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.

These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.

The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.

Buy the Book

About the Author

Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.

You can find out more about Joe on his website, and connect with him on Twitter.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cover Crush: Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

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.

So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
Okay, so this might be one of the creepiest covers I've seen in a long while! It's clearly a face on the right hand side, but other than that I'm not sure what we are looking the mouth made up of tree limbs? Is the left hand side dappled sunlight? Who knows! The inverted nature of the title and the tag line "Forgive Me" leads me to think someone in the story has two very distinct halves to their personality and the bad side does something terrible!
Let's learn what the story is really about:

'NEW N A M E .
S H I N Y.
ME . '

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter...
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week:
Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede