Wednesday, May 31, 2017

TLC Book Review: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: May 16th, 2017
Pages: 432

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

A House Without Windows is simply stunning! The writing is so eloquent that at times I found myself stopping and going back to reread whole passages to savor the author's word usage and way of expressing actions and situations that, often, are anything but beautiful. This novel was a real eye-opener for me and I'm astounded at how little I really know about this world so far removed from my own.

I think the most shocking thing for me was just how stunted (for lack of a better term) the culture that these characters live within still is. The very fact that a woman could be imprisoned or even killed for "crimes against decency" - eating lunch alone with a  man you aren't married or related to, becoming pregnant out of wedlock, running away from an abusive household and bringing shame on your family - boggles my mind. Let alone the fact that a woman such as Zeba might actually be murdered by a mob of neighbors simply because they believe, without any real proof, that she killed her husband. I just can't wrap my head around that sort of belief or justice and I'm amazed that our more modern world can still hold such archaic beliefs. It is no wonder to me, as sad as it is, that some of the women Zeba came to know within the prison prefer the life and safety they have behind bars.

I am always a big fan of good characters and all of the characters in this novel are spectacular, but my favorites have to be our two main characters, Zeba and Yusof, for their ability to show so many sides of this different world. Through Zeba we get to see much of what I would call injustice still going on within Afghanistan as well as some of the more intricate and multifaceted angles of the belief system within that world. In Yusof we get to see a different side of the culture and customs of Afghanistan as well as what it is really like for a Middle Eastern immigrant in America. Straddling those two worlds seems nearly impossible, but through Yusof we get to see how it could be done and he truly is a marvelous character.

With all of this being said, my favorite aspect of the story would have to be trying to untangle Zeba's story to figure out what really happened to her husband, as well as the many connections and actions that led to that point. So much of the story is so florid and eloquently spun that it took some time for me to piece together all the nitty gritty of what occurred. I'm not going to give anything away here, but the journey and the end result was quite interesting.

The only thing I can say at all against this story (and I can't even say it's necessarily a negative) is that the flow and the switching of character perspectives threw me off of the central story from time to time. There are a lot of perspectives thrown in to give the reader a wholly rounded view of not only Zeba's situation but this world at large and this did, at times, make the story drag a bit. But given the grand scope of the story this didn't really pull away from my enjoyment of the story overmuch.

A House Without Windows is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of both justice and injustice within a society very different from what most of us have grown up experiencing. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a truly mesmerizing read and one you can't forget quickly after turning that last page.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It is beautiful!! In person it's somewhat shimmery and just a great representation of the loneliness and isolation someone in Zeba's experience might face.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of A House Without Windows in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. Continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the rest of the blog tour.

About the Author

Photo by Christ Carter Photography


 Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Nadia made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents. She is a pediatrician and lives with her family in the Washington, DC, suburbs.

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

Buy the Book


TLC Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 16th: Book by Book
Wednesday, May 17th: Real Life Reading
Wednesday, May 17th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, May 18th: Helen’s Book Blog
Friday, May 19th: Tina Says…
Monday, May 22nd: Reading is My Super Power
Tuesday, May 23rd: Girl Who Reads
Wednesday, May 24th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Thursday, May 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, May 26th: Read Her Like an Open Book
Monday, May 29th: Based on a True Story
Tuesday, May 30th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, May 31st: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, June 1st: G. Jacks Writes
Friday, June 2nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List - Let's Go to the Beach!!

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.

This month's wish list theme came to be quite easily! I am a Floridian through and through and by this time of the year my mind is swirling with sun, sand, and beach reads. And when I can't physically get to the beach (darn full time job!) books with beachy covers tend to do the trick. So, this month I'm sharing 5 books on my wish list that have covers showcasing the beach that are sure to put anyone in the mood for summertime!


A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

In 1810, a sister and brother uncover the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs on the south coast of England. With its long snout and prominent teeth, it might be a crocodile – except that it has a huge, bulbous eye.

Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.

Working in an arena dominated by middle-class men, however, Mary finds herself out of step with her working-class background. In danger of being an outcast in her community, she takes solace in an unlikely friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a prickly London spinster with her own passion for fossils.

The strong bond between Mary and Elizabeth sees them through struggles with poverty, rivalry and ostracism, as well as the physical dangers of their chosen obsession. It reminds us that friendship can outlast storms and landslides, anger and jealousy.

The Mermaid Collector

More than a century ago, lighthouse keeper Linus Harris left his beloved wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. The mysterious Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 has become legend for the residents of Cradle Harbor, Maine, honored by the town’s Mermaid Festival every August, when wind chimes are hung from seaside porches to drown out the alluring sound of mermaid song.

For thirty-five-year-old Tess Patterson, the legend is more than folklore; it’s proof of life’s magic. A hopeless romantic who is profoundly connected to the ocean in which she lost her mother, Tess ekes out a living as a wood-carver and longs to find a love as mystical as the sea. But when she’s hired to carve the commemorative mermaid sculpture for the coming festival, a chance to win the town’s elusive acceptance might finally be in her grasp.

For Tom Grace, life’s magic was lost at eighteen, when the death of his parents left him to care for his reckless brother, Dean. Now thirty-five and the new owner of Cradle Harbor’s prized lightkeeper’s house, Tom hopes the quiet town will calm Dean’s self-destructive ways. But when Tom discovers Tess working on her sculpture, an unlikely and passionate affair ignites between them that just might be the stuff of legend itself—even as it brings to the surface a long-buried secret that could tear everything apart.

A Certain Summer

A richly evocative debut novel set in an exclusive summer colony along the east coast during the aftermath of World War II—for fans of Kate Morton and Jamie Ford.

"Nothing ever changes at Wauregan.” That mystique is the tradition of the idyllic island colony off the shore of Long Island, the comforting tradition that its summer dwellers have lived by for over half a century. But in the summer of 1948, after a world war has claimed countless men—even those who came home—the time has come to deal with history’s indelible scars.

Helen Wadsworth’s husband, Arthur, was declared missing in action during an OSS operation in France, but the official explanation was mysteriously nebulous. Now raising a teenage son who longs to know the truth about his father, Helen turns to Frank Hartman—her husband’s best friend and his partner on the mission when he disappeared. Frank, however, seems more intent on filling the void in Helen’s life that Arthur’s absence has left. As Helen’s affection for Frank grows, so does her guilt, especially when Peter Gavin, a handsome Marine who was brutally tortured by the Japanese and has returned with a faithful war dog, unexpectedly stirs new desires. With her heart pulled in multiple directions, Helen doesn’t know whom to trust—especially when a shocking discovery forever alters her perception of both love and war.

Part mystery, part love story, and part insider’s view of a very private world, A Certain Summer resonates in the heart long after the last page is turned.

The Paris Wife was only the beginning of the story . . .

Paula McLain’s New York Times–bestselling novel piqued readers’ interest about Ernest Hemingway’s romantic life. But Hadley was only one of four women married, in turn, to the legendary writer. Just as T.C. Boyle’s bestseller The Women completed the picture begun by Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, Naomi Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway tells the story of how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous and dashing writer of his generation. Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary: each Mrs. Hemingway thought their love would last forever; each one was wrong.

Told in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, Mrs. Hemingway reveals the explosive love triangles that wrecked each of Hemingway's marriages. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America, populated with members of the fabled "Lost Generation," Mrs. Hemingway is a riveting tale of passion, love, and heartbreak.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cover Crush: And Again by Jessica Chiarella

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 can honestly say that I'm not sure what exactly is going on in this picture, but I just can't look away! It's clearly a mirror image of one woman, however it kind of looks like a Rorschach test picture as well so I'm thinking this story might have a psychological spin to it. Maybe split personalities or something? No matter what the story is about the cover is definitely intriguing!

Here's the synopsis so we can find out what's going on....

In the spirit of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, this exciting literary debut novel imagines the consequences when four ordinary individuals are granted a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies.

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

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

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Blast: Candace Robb's Kate Clifford Historical Mystery Series

The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb

Paperback Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Pegasus Books
Paperback; 256 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king–Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Praise for The Service to the Dead

 “Robb’s deft hand creates a realistic political and commercial climate as King Richard II’s reign draws to a close in 1399. Comparable to Sara Poole’s Poisoner mysteries and Ariana Franklin’s Adelia Aguilar series, with its strong political setting and multiple plot strands.” (Booklist)

“A historical novel that deftly captures politics and interactions between different social interests in late medieval England…against the backdrop of social pressures and military actions, Kate’s character and world shine and draw readers into her choices and challenges.” (California Bookwatch)

“Kate Clifford is a wonderful creation, hard-nosed in some respects, compassionate and caring on the other. I look forward to the next installment of this delightful series!” (Historical Novels Review)

“The novel resonates with its compelling portrayal of an England on the brink of crisis.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Service of the Dead is a tasty brew of political intrigue, larceny, and murder set within the walls of medieval York. Candace Robb’s latest historical mystery is steeped in the atmosphere of the late fourteenth century, and in Kate Clifford she’s given us a no-nonsense heroine and sleuth who is not only smart, but fierce when those she cares about are threatened. You’re going to love her.” (Patricia Bracewell, author of the Emma of Normandy Trilogy)

“The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb is a strikingly well-crafted novel that is a compelling page-turner from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library historical fiction collections.” (Midwest Book Review)

Buy the Book


A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Pegasus Books
Hardcover; 400 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

As the fourteenth century comes to a close, York seethes on the brink of civil war―and young widow Kate Clifford, struggling to keep her businesses afloat, realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret…

1399. York is preparing for civil war, teeming with knights and their armed retainers summoned for the city’s defense. Henry of Lancaster is rumored to have landed on the northeast coast of England, not so far from York, intent on reclaiming his inheritance―an inheritance which his cousin, King Richard, has declared forfeit.

With the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy―Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. When one of the beguines is set upon in the night by an intruder, Kate knows that for the sake of her own reputation and the safety of her young wards she must investigate.

From the first, Eleanor is clearly frightened yet maintains a stubborn silence. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval? When one of her wards is frightened by a too-curious stranger, Kate is desperate to draw her mother out of her silence before tragedy strikes her own household.

Praise for A Twisted Vengeance

“Lovers of Shakespeare’s Richard II will find Robb’s intricate sequel to 2016’s The Service of the Dead a particular treat, as it charts the course of Richard’s downfall and his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke’s rise through the fears and uncertainties of the residents of the city of York in July 1399. These anxieties are worsened by a series of strange deaths connected to the extended family of Kate Clifford, a fierce young widow struggling to cope with not only her own household of jostling servants and the recently arrived illegitimate children of her late husband but also the return of her quarrelsome mother, Eleanor, from Strasbourg with religious women in tow. The character of Clifford is compelling and finely drawn, and for those readers who are patient enough to manage an unusually large number of secondary characters, the answers to a series of mysteries, starting with the reason for an intruder’s attack on a beguine (or poor sister) in the middle of the night, are highly satisfying.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

 Buy the Book


About the Author

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer. Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT).

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

For more information, please visit Candace Robb’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 9

Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 10

The Reading Queen

Thursday, May 11

Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings
The Paperback Princess

Friday, May 12

Jo’s Book Blog

Saturday, May 13

The Never Ending Book

Monday, May 15

A Book Geek

Tuesday, May 16

So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, May 17

Book Nerd

Friday, May 19

Books, Dreams, Life

Saturday, May 20

Buried Under Books

Monday, May 22

The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 23

The Lit Bitch
A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, May 24

T’s Stuff


Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

Publisher: Berkley Books
Pub. Date: March 14th, 2017
Pages: 384


Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women past and present in the latest novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life .

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I fully admit that when I see a new Susan Meissner book is coming out I get a little squeaky with joy. This is true to the point that, after having joined a "street team" to read, review, and promote her previous two books - Secrets of a Charmed Life and Stars Over Sunset Boulevard - I reached out to her this year to see if I could join the team again. While she wasn't going to do the same sort of thing this time around she did generously offer to send me a copy (and she even signed, it, which made it extra special!). It was a bit of a waiting game for me to be able to fit it into my review schedule but once I did I sat back and prepared to enjoy this newest ride back and forth through history.

In A Bridge Across the Ocean we get to experience both present day California and WWII Europe, America, and the great open ocean aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Susan Meissner's ability to fully carve out both a present and past storyline within one overarching story, tying everything together in some way by the end, has always fascinated me and continued to do so with this story. So often when I read a dual timeline book I favor one over the other (usually the historical storyline) but with Ms.  Meissner's writing I tend to really enjoy both equally, with lessons and heartache and hope found in all corners of the story no matter where or when it takes place.

For this particular novel I found Brette's journey in present day California quite unique. She's able to communicate with those she calls "Drifters" - basically people who have passed away but not moved on to their final destination and, instead, drift around as ghosts searching for some sort of assistance - but has grown up trying to stifle this ability and pretend it doesn't exist. However, when she goes aboard the RMS Queen Mary, now docked at Long Beach, she is forced to face a Drifter that desperately needs her help and whom she feels, for the first time, that she actually wants to help. This journey leads her not only into the depths of our other storyline but to the discovery that, by always letting fear and uncertainty cloud her ability to let go and experience the life she's been given to the fullest, she will never be truly happy. Beyond these lessons I absolutely love ghost stories and the descriptions of Brett's interactions with these Drifters were delicious and eerie and I only wish there had been more of them!

During the portions of the book where we travel back to WWII and directly after, the tone of the story shifts markedly. There is so much pain and loss for not only Simone and Annaliese, our two main protagonists, but for all the secondary characters we meet as well, and seeing them move past that heartache for the hope of a brighter future was inspirational. The backstories for both Simone and Annaliese were quite sad and I so enjoyed watching their interactions and trying to discover how they would arrive at the point that one of them wouldn't make it off the Queen Mary when it arrived in New York. I will mention that we learn pretty early on which woman doesn't make it off the ship in New York, which was slightly disappointing as I was hoping for more of a mystery, but learning the how's and why's of that discovery was still enjoyable.

Probably my favorite part of the novel was the time spent on the RMS Queen Mary (in both timelines). The boat sounds so beautiful and has so much history behind it that I would have enjoyed even more time spent digging into the depth of it's history. I loved learning about the daily life of a war bride traveling on the boat and really wish more time was spent getting to know those other women and their stories, especially Simone and Annaliese's roommate, Phoebe, who I felt was a little overlooked as another potential important and interesting piece to the story. And, as I said before, I loved the ghosts that Brette discovered as she moved through the labyrinthine world of the boat and tried to put together the pieces of what happened onboard so many years before.       

The only thing I didn't really enjoy about the story (other than wanting more from some of the secondary characters and more mystery regarding what happened on the boat in 1946) was the final realization as to who the Drifter was that led Brette to Simone's and Annaleise's story. For me it came off as somewhat of an odd letdown, but this in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story. I will also add that I wish there was an author's note at the end of the story that gave more facts regarding war brides and their journey to America, but I have an advanced reader's copy so that might be included in the final printing.

A Bridge Across the Ocean continued my appreciation of Susan Meissner's writing and once again brought new parts of history, as well as interesting contemporary perspectives, to my attention. While I can't say that this was my favorite of her novels I can say that it was a wonderful and entertaining read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dual timeline novels and interesting and complicated characters. 

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I love it! The last few books she's written have had similar covers, which I love, with a lovely woman front and center on the cover (if without a whole head) and some nod to the story within below her. For this book I think it's fitting to have the RMS Queen Mary and the Statue of Liberty below her and I can't think of anything else I would have preferred on the cover.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

My Reviews of Susan Meissner's Other Books

Lady in Waiting
A Sound Among the Trees
Secrets of a Charmed Life
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
A Fall of Marigolds

I received a copy of A Bridge Across the Ocean from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cover Crush: Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

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.....
Come on, with a title like that and the sad little hazy figure, how can I not love this cover and want to find out more about the story?! The figure is clearly a little girl and I'm a little nervous to find out why she's "broken". I do think it was a great idea to include the pleasant soft colors on what seems like it could be a very dark story.
So what's it all about? Let's see....
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 Basset 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 on Quinn’s doorstep 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 sister will go to protect the ones she loves.

Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week:
Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spotlight on Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Pub. Date: April 28, 2017
Publisher: Matador
Pages: 424 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.

When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

Praise for Under the Approaching Dark

“The writing is impeccable. The story has everything. Under the Approaching Dark is just perfect in every sense” – Sharon Bennett Connolly, History The Interesting Bits

Buy the Book


About the Author

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in
the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website,, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!!


To win a copy of Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Under the Approaching Dark Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 1

 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, May 2

 Interview at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, May 3

 Review at A Book Drunkard

Thursday, May 4

 Review at A Holland Reads

Friday, May 5

 Spotlight at The Reading Queen

Monday, May 8

 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, May 9

 Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 10

 Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Thursday, May 11

 Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, May 12

 Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 15

 Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Tuesday, May 16

 Review at Back Porchervations
Guest Post at Ms. Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company

Wednesday, May 17

 Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, May 18

 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, May 19

 Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Monday, May 22

 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, May 23

 Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at The Muse in the Fog Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 24

 Excerpt at Jo’s Book Blog
Spotlight at The Paperback Princess

Thursday, May 25

 Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, May 26

 Spotlight at Laura’s Interests

Sunday, May 28

 Review at Bookramblings
Review at Books and Benches

Monday, May 29

 Guest Post at Yelena Casale’s Blog

Tuesday, May 30

 Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

TLC Book Tours: I Found You by Lisa Jewell + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publisher: Atria Books
Pub. Date: April 25th, 2017
Pages: 352


A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (Daily Mail, London) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I fell in love with Lisa Jewell's writing after listening to the audiobook version of her novel The House We Grew Up In. In fact it made my top ten list of 2015. Since then I've been picking up her books whenever I find them and jumped at the chance to read and review this newest novel when the tour was announced. While I can't say that I loved it quite as much as The House We Grew Up In I can say that I Found You was still very good and had the added bonus of a mystery at the heart of its complicated cast of characters.

The big mystery at the heart of the story is who the "mystery man" Alice finds at the beach is and how he is connected to the other storylines that are interspersed with his. Told in alternating chapters we get to hear from Alice, "Frank" (the name Alice gives to the mystery man), Lily (the young wife who's husband has disappeared), and Gray (a teenager on a beach holiday with his family in 1993). I will admit that I had my guess down to two people and I'm pretty sure most people will do the same since there is a small enough group of characters to figure that out. Still, it was interesting to see the whole thing unfold and to discover just how the various pieces would finally fall into place. Not exactly a suspenseful thriller but definitely entertaining and twisty enough to keep me guessing.

My favorite aspect of the story has to be the characters. This only being the second book by Lisa Jewell I've had the pleasure of reading I'm not sure if her unique style of developing quirky and conflicted yet delightful characters is a staple of her writing or just a happy coincidence of the two books I've read, but I absolutely fall head over heals for her characters. In I Found You I particularly adored Alice and her ramshackle assortment of children and dogs. She was so free-spirited, kind, and loving - sometimes it seems to her own detriment - and even with all the mistakes she made during and before this particular story takes place it was hard not to sympathize with her and hope that all the frayed pieces of her life would come together in some semblance of steady happiness. In fact all of the characters, with the exception of the "enigmatic young man" mentioned in the synopsis that Gray and Kirsty meet in 1993 (he's horrid), are complex and troubled yet understandable and relatable. I just loved seeing them all develop as the story progressed, which made the mystery of what was really going on between the characters and their varied connections to each other that much more exciting to follow.

The other aspect of the story I found interesting was the idea of how trauma manifests itself differently in people. There's memory loss, violence and hatred, depression, running away from problems in an attempt to escape them and not deal with the issue, a refusal to look at an issue and just ignore it because it's too painful...the responses run the gamut and could represent the responses any one of us might give given the same situations. There are a lot of emotions in this story and you'll be laughing along with their antics one minute and horrified by actions the next!

I Found You was an emotional and intriguing mystery that I would definitely recommend to those that enjoy the genre. While I wouldn't compare it to Paula Hawkins type story I will say that I enjoyed trying to figure out how everything would resolve itself and actually came to really like some of the characters. This story cemented my enjoyment of Lisa Jewell's writing and she's definitely been put on my list of authors to watch.  

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I really like it! The dark, cloudy sky not only represents the atmosphere of the seaside town most of the story takes place in but does a good job of representing the overall feel of what the characters go through. The beach and sand and blowing grass are exactly how I would picture the location and I love when a design team does that!

My Rating: 4.0/5.0 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of I Found You in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Be sure to continue below for more information about the the book, the tour, and how you can enter to win a copy of your own!

Praise for I Found You

“The structure keeps the suspense level high, and Jewell manages surprising revelations all the way up to the ending. The mix of women’s fiction and suspense—plus a no-nonsense 40-something heroine at the heart of the story—makes this a good fit for fans of Liane Moriarty.” - Booklist

“Riveting…numerous twists avoid predictability, and the novel is well-paced as it weaves three narratives together. Dark and moody, this is a mystery with substance.” - Kirkus Reviews

Buy the Book

About the Author

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two
daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels, including The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.

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

It's Giveaway Time!!!

To enter to win 1 of 3 finished copies of I Found You just head on over and enter on the Rafflecopter giveaway form found HERE.

Good Luck!!!

TLC Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 24th: 5 Minutes for Books

Monday, April 24th: Reading is My Superpower – spotlight

Tuesday, April 25th: A Splendid Messy Life

Wednesday, April 26th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, April 27th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, May 1st: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Wednesday, May 3rd: Books a la Mode – author Q&A

Thursday, May 4th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, May 5th: Chick Lit Central

Monday, May 8th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Wednesday, May 10th: Books ‘n Tea

Thursday, May 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, May 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, May 15th: Write Read Life

Tuesday, May 16th: A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, May 17th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, May 18th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Blast: Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Pub. Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Pages: 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction / Historical / Literary


A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Advanced Praise for Lilli de Jong

“Lilli de Jong, discharged from her teaching job and banished from Quaker meetings because of her father’s selfish choice, finds comfort in the affections of her father’s apprentice, Johan. The night before he leaves to embark on a new life, she succumbs to his embrace with his promise that he will send for her. Soon thereafter, a pregnant Lilli finds herself shunned and alone, her only option a Philadelphia charity for wronged women. Knowing that she must relinquish her newborn, she is unprepared for the love that she feels for her daughter. Lilli quickly decides to fight to keep her, but in 1883 that means a life of hardship and deprivation. Telling Lilli’s story in diary form, debut author Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother’s love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks.” – Library Journal, Starred Review

“A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history—a heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time.” —Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“Janet Benton’s remarkable novel Lilli de Jong is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold—though reader, be warned: Lilli’s story may break your heart.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli’s fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow

“The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it’s a testament to Benton’s skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist’s struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A heartrending debut . . . Benton’s exacting research fuels Lilli’s passionate, authentic voice that is ‘as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance’ . . . Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.” —Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother’s love.” —Booklist

“I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It’s not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it’s also important . . . Lilli’s life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.” —The Millions

Pre-Order the Book 


About the Author

Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton’s website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Lilli de Jong Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 17


Tuesday, April 18

So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 19

Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 20

100 Pages a Day
The Never-Ending Book

Friday, April 21

A Book Geek
Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Saturday, April 22

History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, April 24

Creating Herstory

Tuesday, April 25

The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, April 26

SJ2B House of Books

Thursday, April 27

A Fold in the Spine
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, April 28

Just One More Chapter

Monday, May 1

Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 2

Books & Benches
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, May 3

The Lit Bitch
Unabridged Chick

Thursday, May 4

Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, May 5

 Brooke Blogs
Trisha Jenn Reads

Sunday, May 7

A Dream within a Dream

Monday, May 8

Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 9

Broken Teepee
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 10

What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 11

CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 12

A Literary Vacation

Monday, May 15

Passages to the Past