Friday, June 30, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List - Books Made Into Movies

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.

You might not know this about me, but I am a huge movie buff!  However, like a lot of readers, I always try and read the book before going and seeing the movie adaptation as, in most cases, the book is better. This typically means I hold off on seeing a movie for months (sometimes years!) as I'm not the fastest reader. Regardless, I always keep the movies on a list to see once I've read the book. Below I've included five books I'm most excited to read so I can see the movie!

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

The Zoo Keeper's Wife: A War Story

In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabiński (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are—and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl). To fight back on their own terms, the Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance—and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

The Washington Post praised the book as being “simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful,” while Jonathan Safran Foer wrote, “The Zookeeper's Wife will touch every nerve you have.”


I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

The Light Between Oceans

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.


To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world.

It’s where he was born. It’s where he and Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells; the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation, and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely . . .

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cover Crush: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

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.....
 This is such an eerie cover for  me, but one that is still very eye-catching. Everything appears so fluid and almost like it's melting away, which feels both elegant and slightly creepy. The pop of color with the two dresses really draws my eye and the whole feeling is one of a world falling into disarray. I find it quite beautiful the longer I look at it!

Let's read the synopsis to see what the story is really about...

When a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

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

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


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Release Day Spotlight on The Child by Fiona Barton

Publisher: Berkley
Pub. Date: June 27th, 2017
Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

You can bury the story . . . but you can’t hide the truth

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

Early Praise for The Child

One of Publishers Weekly and Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Readers “will be rewarded with startling twists—and a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion.”—STARRED Publishers Weekly review

“Barton’s second well-plotted outing, with its sustained tension and believable characters, is an excellent addition to the popular psychological thriller genre.”—STARRED Library Journal review

“Immersive, heartbreaking, and addictive”—Crime By the Book

“Tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying … definitely one of the year’s must-reads.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Fiona Barton has outdone herself with THE CHILD. An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret and an absolutely fabulous read—I loved it!”—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

Buy the Book


About the Author

It was the allure of a hidden story that propelled Fiona Barton to her long-time career in news. A
journalist and British Press Awards “Reporter of the Year,” she has worked at the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, and brings that experience to bear in her novels.

You can discover more about Fiona on her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Publisher: Hachette Audio
Pub. Date: October 2nd, 2008
Length: 11 hours and 17 minutes

Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Police Procedural


On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever...

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound...

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency...

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls "an absolute must-read."

What Did I Think About the Story?

I've heard such good things about Kate Atkinson's books and actually own a few of her books that I just haven't had the chance to read yet, so when I saw this audiobook available on Overdrive I thought it the perfect opportunity to discover her style for myself. In retrospect, I think this might not have been the perfect format for this particular story, given the twisted and complicated relationships between the various characters and the sheer volume of bad things that happened to them, and listening to the story rather than physically reading it might have hindered my enjoyment of the book overall.

My biggest issue with the story was the way that all of the characters seemed to overlap, connecting in so many different ways that it was hard, listening to the story in spurts during my commute, to keep up and remember it all. The fact that the narrator (Steven Crossley) didn't really alternate the voices of the characters as they switched around (which I know would be very hard to do) made it even harder to keep who was speaking, and whom they were speaking to, straight. It started to feel very boggled in my mind, which didn't really make the listening experience and trying to figure out what was really going on enjoyable.

I also should note that these characters are put through the ringer and experience every conceivable (or so it seemed) bad thing that could happen to them, which doesn't make for a "happy" listening experience if that is the sort of story you prefer. The story opens with young Joanna Mason being the only survivor of a brutal attack on her mother and siblings and the rest of the characters don't get much better. Poor teenage Reggie is living on her own, as best she can, after her mother died and trying to contend with her lowlife brother who's actions seem to put Reggie in danger. Jackson Brodie finds himself severely injured after a train crash and being dragged back into the detective business when all he wants to do is go home and wait for his wife to arrive back from a work conference. And don't get me started with grownup Joanna...bad things just seem to plague these characters!

What I did enjoy about the story was trying to figure out what becomes the central mystery: what happened to grownup Joanna Mason and her baby after they seem to disappear from their home one day? Can the suspicious husband's statement that they went to visit a sick aunt be true? Or is Reggie's gut feeling that something horrible has happened closer to the truth? It's a very twisted tale and I do love trying to piece together the truth amongst all the lies, even if I can't keep straight who is actually narrating the story at any given time, or how they relate to the  multitude of other characters.

I also thought the narrator did a great job of narrating the story, even if I didn't feel he varied the voices of the characters enough to make them distinctive. He had a wonderful speaking voice so it made the physical experience of listening to the story enjoyable. He also seemed to keep it feeling as light as possible, which is appreciated given the heaviness of what the characters were going through.

Overall I can't say that I disliked the story, just that I think I would have enjoyed it more if physically reading it and not listening to it in spurts. I did enjoy Kate Atkinson's writing style and did feel for the characters she created, even if those feelings were mostly sadness and pity. I'll definitely read more from the author but will probably stay away from the audiobook versions.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I don't really think anything of it. I'm not really sure who the little girl is supposed to be. I don't remember young Joanna Mason having a dog and Reggie, who does end up taking in a friend's dog, should be older than the girl on the cover. For me, it just doesn't really fit the story (or what I grasped of it).

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

I borrowed an audiobook copy of When Will There Be Good News? from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are my own. You can find out more about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pub. Date: May 2nd, 2017
Pages: 400

Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Thriller


An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train.

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Oh my, how I've been waiting for Paula Hawkins's second book to come out! I did a buddy read of Ms. Hawkins's first novel, The Girl on the Train, last year with some blogger friends and was blown away by how much I actually enjoyed the mystery/thriller, where all of the characters were genuinely screwed up but somehow so compelling that I couldn't stop turning the pages (you can read my full review HERE). Like with anything, the more the anticipation built up for this newest book to come out the more excited I got to get it in my hot little hands and devour it. As soon as I saw it as an add-on to my Book-of-the-Month subscription for May I snatched it up. I even saved it as my special treat for the long weekend I had over Memorial Day/my birthday weekend. Now, having finished the story, I think I might have sabotaged my own reading experience since it would have been nearly impossible to live up to the expectations I had built within my own head. Did I love every page of Into the Water and feverishly turn all the pages like I did with The Girl on the Train? Was it still an enjoyable reading experience? Definitely.

My biggest "issue" with Into the Water was the pacing. As the story unfolded it tended to drag me along instead of propelling me to keep reading. We learn early on about the two most recent deaths in the river, then slowly learn about the various other drownings that have occurred there over the years through our various narrators (and there are a number of them) and the sporadic excerpts from the book Nel (the single mother mentioned in the synopsis) was writing and which the people of the town she lived in didn't want to be published. With these alternating narrators, all of which clearly have their own agendas and aren't giving the reader the whole truth, it made it somewhat hard to keep track of how everyone interacted and fit together and to keep a grasp on the forward development of the main mystery of the story - did Nel Abbott kill herself, or did someone murder her and make it look like a suicide? And, if murder, who and why?

What I did enjoy about the story (and I'm sure many people might not agree with me) were the unreliable characters. They are all unlikable in varying degrees and none are innocent or exempt from the many mistakes that have been made, and buried, in this town. However, it's this unlikability and unpredictability that makes the story so intriguing and keeps the reader guessing as to what is really happening and what these narrators are leaving out for us to eventually discover. There is quite a bit of heartache and anger and confusion for these characters to work through and I, for one, love going along on their journeys as they work through these complicated emotions and grapple with the consequences of their often impulsive actions.

All in all I did enjoy Into the Water even though it did not, for me, come even close to being as good as The Girl on the Train. I would definitely recommend anyone new to Paula Hawkins start with The Girl on the Train and, for those that have already read and enjoyed that story, to temper their expectations of this newest book. I will definitely keep this in mind when her next book comes out and go into that reading with lowered expectations.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think this cover is absolutely perfect! The colors are vibrant, the hazy, distorted image makes you wonder who is lying beneath the surface, and the very image fits the story perfectly. I think even the fluid typography is perfect. I actually selected this cover for one of my weekly Cover Crush posts and I stand by that...this is a gorgeous and alluring cover!

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

I bought a copy of Into the Water for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book and it's author, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cover Crush: The River of Kings by Taylor Brown

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.....

 It's hard to even know where to begin to describe what I love about this cover...but I'll try! The colors are so vibrant and deep and when I first glanced at the cover I thought it was just a man on a river at the perfect time of day for that glorious light. Then, as I glanced deeper, I saw the alligators in the dark blue-green water and what look like workers or possibly Indians fighting them off. I absolutely love this as it gives the feeling of another time, one possibly hidden from the man above water in the sunlight. It really is just stunning!

Let's have a peek at what the story has in store for us....

Two brothers travel a storied river’s past and present in search of the truth about their father’s death in the second novel by the acclaimed author of Fallen Land.

The Altamaha River, Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” has been named one of the 75 “Last Great Places in the World.” Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America.

Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father’s ashes toward the sea. Hunter is a college student, Lawton a Navy SEAL on leave; both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river’s mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes, leaving the fort in ruins and a few survivors fleeing for their lives.

In The River of Kings, SIBA-bestselling author Taylor Brown artfully weaves three narrative strands—the brothers’ journey, their father’s past, and the dramatic history of the river’s earliest people—to evoke a legendary place and its powerful hold on the human imagination.
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week:

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


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spotlight on Loveweaver by Tracy Ann Miller

Publication Date: June 30, 2017
eBook; ASIN: B01H7M46BC

Genre: Historical Romance

The year is 895. Slayde’s job as an top military leader of Kent is to rid England of the last of the Viking raiders. But Llyrica is no ordinary Viking. She’s a beauty with a mysterious past … and a talent for weaving song spells. Even as Slayde saves her from drowning, he knows Llyrica will be a dangerous distraction.

Llyrica is now a stranger in a strange land on a mission to fulfill a deathbed promise. But she must also find her missing brother. This man, Slayde, known as The StoneHeart in his country, seems determined to block her at every turn. And yet she can’t help but be drawn to the affectionate, loving side of him that awakens when he sleeps – The sleepwalker.

Unknown to both Llyrica and Slayde, each will use the other to accomplish their quests. Both will also fall under the song spell that she wove into the braid of his tunic.

Will her Lovespell ensure a happily ever after for them? Or condemn them to a love that was never meant to be?

Praise for Loveweaver

“When I started reading Loveweaver I never expected it to end up as one of my favorite historical romances ever. It was such a unexpected but amazing surprise. I loved everything about this book!” – Bookfever Book Blog

“Llyrica is a clever heroine who will have Slayde on her terms. Slayde, determined to resist, has not a prayer. Many secondary characters add to the story, making it a rich tapestry. And some exciting scenes will keep your heart pumping. It’s also intriguing with the spells woven into the cloth by the “songweaver”. Viking lovers will enjoy the match between a Saxon loyal to King Alfred and a Viking maiden from Denmark.” – Regan Walker, author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances

Buy the Book


About the Author

Although Tracy Ann Miller is primarily a graphic designer, (see her work at she has been writing novels for over 20 years.

She was an active member of the National Romance Writers of America with her local chapter, The Virginia Romance Writers. It was there she honed her craft by attending workshops, conferences, and by coordinating The VRW’s Fool for Love Contest.

Before being published, she entered and won numerous writing contests, including The Fool for Love Contest for Loveweaver, and the Between the Sheets best love scene contest for The Maiden Seer.

She writes to keep the hero and heroine interacting in story as much as possible (no long separations) and of course they get a spectacular happily ever after.

For more information, please visit Tracy Ann Miller’s blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

Loveweaver Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, June 12

Interview at Bookfever

Tuesday, June 13

Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, June 14

Review at Queen of All She Reads

Thursday, June 15

Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews

Friday, June 16

Spotlight at The Sassy Book Lover
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Monday, June 19

Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, June 21

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, June 23

Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, July 7

Spotlight at Passages to the Past


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Blast:Traitor’s Knot​ ​by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Endeavor Press
eBook; 394 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

Praise for Traitor's Knot

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story.” – Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” – Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife

Buy the Book

Traitor’s Knot is available in eBook from Amazon

About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

Cryssa’s debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press.

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

Traitor's Knot Book Blast Tour Schedule


Wednesday, May 31

Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 1

A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, June 2

The Writing Desk

Monday, June 5

Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, June 6

Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, June 8

 So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, June 9

I Heart Reading

Monday, June 12

What Is That Book About

Tuesday, June 13

Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, June 14

The True Book Addict

Thursday, June 15

A Holland Reads

Sunday, June 18

Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, June 19

Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots (with excerpt)

Tuesday, June 20

A Literary Vacation
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 21

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, June 22

 CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, June 23

Book Nerd


Monday, June 19, 2017

Interview with B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Pam Lecky

Please join me in welcoming B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Pam Lecky to A Literary Vacation today! Pam is an award-winning Irish historical fiction author. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was published in 2015 and was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made 'Editor's Choice' by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond Novel in February 2017.

Currently she is working on two new novels; Kashmir Velvet, a Victorian crime novel set in London and Yorkshire and The Carver Affair, a Victorian crime novel set in her native Dublin. Earlier this year she published In Three-Quarter Time, a short love story set in the WW1 era in Dublin which will also form part of a US/Irish Anthology due to be published later this year. April 2017 saw the publication of The Lighthouse Keeper, which is a contemporary short ghost story.
First off, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions for me, Pam! Historical fiction is my all-time favorite genre and I’m always amazed at the myriad perspectives authors find to highlight for us readers. How did you decide where to set your award-winning novel, The Bowes Inheritance?

Hi, and thanks for hosting me, Colleen.

There are several settings in the book, both in Ireland and the North-West of England. As an Irish writer I wanted to use settings I was familiar with so it made sense to start off in my home town of Dublin. I have been lucky for most of my working life to be located in the beautiful Georgian quarter of Dublin, around Fitzwilliam Square. In the late Victorian era, many of the fabulous houses had become lodging houses and some were even tenements. So I start the story with the two Campbell sisters, Louisa and Eleanor, in a lodging house on Herbert Street. They are the last remaining members of a once affluent and proud County Galway family and are living in genteel poverty.

To up the tension I had to transplant them to unfamiliar ground, as the original premise for the story was a young woman inheriting a property and having to fight to keep it. I have always been fascinated by the complex relationship between the Irish Ascendency and the British gentry. Although often related, the Irish were always looked down upon as second-class. So, I decided to take Louisa and transplant her into a slightly hostile environment in England. As I have a great love of the sea, I searched for a suitable coastal location. I am also a keen family historian and had discovered that my great-great grandparents had spent time in Carlisle in the 1840s, so I centred my location search in Cumbria. You can’t set a novel in Cumbria and not use the Lake District! Lake Buttermere is the setting for a wedding which takes place in the book and is also the place where my two main characters finally admit their feelings for each other. Most of the action takes place in a fictional coastal town called Newton (which is a mix of several coastal towns on the Cumbrian coast).

Is there anything in particular that draws you to write historical fiction? Are there any specific times in history you gravitate towards or do you just enjoy history in general? Do you also enjoy writing contemporary stories?

There were a lot of influences in my childhood and the earliest one I can remember was actually television. Historical dramas in particular caught my attention, even though at that young age I didn’t really understand the stories. Ah but the costumes, the architecture and the way people behaved – something clicked. My father was a great reader and encouraged me to be as well; as a child and a teen I devoured books and I mean devoured. Then Dad bought me the complete works of Jane Austen and a foundation was laid. For those familiar with the 19th century world, I think I actually became a bluestocking! I munched my way through classics, dined on crime (modern and historical - Dorothy L. Sayers and P.D. James my absolute favourites – what fantastically twisty minds those women had), and supped at the feet of Georgette Heyer’s heroes and heroines.

So I suppose it was only natural that my fascination with the 19th century would influence my writing even though my love of history encompasses many eras. The late Victorian decades have a particular draw as they were a time of rapid change. Having said that, it was a chance remark by an uncle which prompted me to write a short story, In Three-Quarter Time, which is a fictional version of my grandparents’ love affair and is set in Dublin in the WW1 period.

One of the joys of being indie is that I have the freedom to explore many eras. My latest published short story is totally different to anything I’ve written before and is a contemporary short ghost story - The Lighthouse Keeper. It is likely I will keep trying new things as it is important to try to keep your work fresh and interesting.

What sort of research do you conduct when writing? Have you ever traveled to the locations before or during the writing process?

Research is the glue that holds your plot and characters together, and in my case, it suggested sub-plots and minor characters. I’m lucky in that I love research and often have to pull myself away from it to actually write. Those who buy historical fiction tend to know their history but as an author you find yourself in the tricky position of just how much period detail to include. You don’t want to bog the story down with it and yet you need to convey a sense of time and place. Authentic detail is my obsession but I try not to overwhelm the story. Many authors in this genre fall into the trap of bombarding the reader with historical reference to the detriment of the story. Your reader wants to be entertained not lectured. If you love the period you are writing in, it will show in the subtle detail of your work – how your characters speak and act in the situations you create.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible for me to travel to Cumbria while I was writing the book so I relied heavily on maps, google, blogs and old newspapers and even photo diaries of a climber for Lake Buttermere. Last year I was lucky enough to eventually get to visit Buttermere for a few brief hours. It was a wonderful and emotional day for me and someday I will go back and spend more time there. It is such a beautiful place.

My next novel is set in Yorkshire and London, both of which I am slightly familiar with but I do believe a research trip (or trips!) will be required.
I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?

I’m afraid I’m very predictable - I read mostly historical fiction set in the 19th century predominantly and have a particular love of Victorian crime. My reading time is very limited these days as I work part-time, need to squeeze in writing and researching and the dreaded promotion and marketing. So, if a book doesn’t grab me in in the first chapter, I generally don’t go any further with it. I recently came across the Victorian crime novels of M.R.C. Kasasian and they are my new obsession. They are wonderfully written with quirky characters. I can only aspire to write like he does. By the way, he is also a really nice guy as I discovered when we connected on Twitter. His latest book goes live on 1st June. I’ll be standing by my Kindle ready to pounce!
Because I’m always fascinated to learn an author’s journey to publication, can you tell us a little bit about your journey? What made you want to become a writer?

I wrote a little as a teenager - bad poetry which was truly awful angst-ridden stuff that will never see the light of day. Then life took over - marriage, kids, and work. It was while on career break from work after my third child was born, that the idea of writing a novel popped into my head - not to publish but just to see if I could do it. I did and it felt amazing. Several more followed; again I never intended them to be seen by anyone else. But then one story seemed a bit stronger and the rest is history!
What led you to independently publish The Bowes Inheritance? What would you say are the biggest pros and cons of independently publishing versus mainstream publishing?

I sent out the manuscript to lots of agents. Unfortunately, it was unedited and had every rookie error you could imagine. As you can probably guess, no one wanted to know about it. In desperation, I turned to an author friend. She advised me to get an editor and learn about the business. A self-publishing day in the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin clinched it. I felt I had burnt my bridges with all of the agents by sending the manuscript out to soon and I liked the idea of being in control - so I decided to go for it. I found a superb editor in the UK, Hilary Johnson, who whipped it all into shape and in July 2015 I hit the publish button.

Other than experiences recounted to me by traditionally published author friends, I have no first-hand experience of the big publishing houses. Thankfully, self-publishing is a very real option for someone in my situation. I have come to it in a roundabout way, and relatively late in life, but I’m very glad I did. This is where I have to confess to like being in control and self-publishing is incredibly powerful. My experience has been positive. Ok, I will confess to one weekend of pulling my hair out trying to get to grips with a print on demand template, but I conquered it. The biggest thrill of all is getting positive feedback from readers - you cannot beat that.

The downside, of course, is the reality - you are now a business and your book is a product. You must nurture your brand. Marketing and promotion are time thieves and like most other indies, I’d much rather be writing. But I suppose there is one positive to social media and that is the incredible people you meet online. I now have many author friends and I am involved in various writing groups worldwide.

Are you working on any other books that we can look forward to reading in the future?

I am currently working on my first Victorian crime novel, Kashmir Velvet, which I am hoping to publish later this year.

Thank you so much, Pam, for sharing your answers with me today!
You can learn more about Pam's writing on her website and can read more about The Bowes Inheritance on the IndieBRAG site. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
You can purchase a copy of The Bowes Inheritance on Amazon. You can also purchase copies of Pam's other books, Three-Quarter Time and The Lighthouse Keeper, on Amazon as well.
A Message from indieBRAG:

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


Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Blast: The Fortune Painter by Gwendolyn Womack + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Paperback Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9781250099778

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery


Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred.

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him?

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Check Out the Book Trailer

Praise for The Fortune Painter

“Beginning as a clever mystery based on an ancient manuscript and evolving into a family epic spanning centuries, an international thriller, and a destined romance, The Fortune Teller has something for everyone. Offer it to fans of A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series.”―Booklist

“Womack alternates back and forth between a whirlwind history that spans thousands of years and the suspense of Semele’s search…Entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The Fortune Teller is a gripping, twisting tale that spans thousands of years, thousands of miles, and perhaps even crosses over to the ‘other side.’ A fascinating read that is that unlikely combination of unputdownable and thought-provoking.”—B.A. Shapiro, bestselling author of The Art Forger and The Muralist

“There aren’t enough words to adequately describe how much I love The Fortune Teller. It is a gripping and masterfully woven combination of history, mystery, fate, adventure, and family ties: a true page-turner that enthralls from the first sentence with unique characters, fascinating settings, and intriguing artifacts. Womack brilliantly illuminates how there is more at play in the world than logic can explain.”—Kelli Estes, USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

“The Fortune Teller takes you on an international thrill ride across centuries—with fascinating research and memorable characters—proving once again that Gwendolyn Womack is a magician, keeping readers turning pages with wonder and awe.”—M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author

“What a mesmerizing journey. The suspense increases steadily throughout the novel, as Semele realizes her identity is caught up in the mysterious manuscript and that the truth of her own abilities is a secret people will kill for. Readers who enjoy the novels of Katherine Neville, Kate Mosse and Diana Gabaldon will savor this treat.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

Buy the Book

About the Author

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video, and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.

For more information please visit Gwendolyn Womack’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterestand Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!!

During the Book Blast we will be giving away a Tarot Deck & Book Set! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Description: This deck/book set provides everything you need to understand tarot. The full-size deck is a vibrantly recolored version of the classic Rider-Waite deck, updated with subtle shading that gives depth to the familiar tarot scenes. The 272-page, user-friendly handbook with full-color illustrations is perfect for beginners as well as experienced readers who want to refresh their tarot skills.

Giveaway Rules

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

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, June 6

Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 15

The Paperback Princess

Friday, June 16

Yelena Casale’s Blog

Wednesday, June 21

Book Nerd

Monday, June 26

CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, June 27

Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, June 28

A Fold in the Spine

Thursday, June 29

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cover Crush: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

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.....
 For me, this is such a simple yet striking cover. Given the title hinting at happiness my first instinct is vibrant colors and swirly designs. The fact that this cover is so muted yet with a beautifully engraved framing (which perhaps seems slightly warn and neglected) draws my eye and makes me wonder why this "happiness" is so understated. I also love the pop of color that the flower and the author's name give to the overall effect.

Let's see what The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is really about....

A richly moving new novel-the first since the author's Booker-Prize winning, internationally celebrated debut, The God of Small Things, went on to become a beloved best seller and enduring classic.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness transports us across a subcontinent on a journey of many years. It takes us deep into the lives of its gloriously rendered characters, each of them in search of a place of safety - in search of meaning, and of love.

In a graveyard outside the walls of Old Delhi, a resident unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet. On a concrete sidewalk, a baby suddenly appears, just after midnight. In a snowy valley, a bereaved father writes a letter to his five-year-old daughter about the people who came to her funeral. In a second-floor apartment, a lone woman chain-smokes as she reads through her old notebooks. At the Jannat Guest House, two people who have known each other all their lives sleep with their arms wrapped around each other, as though they have just met.

A braided narrative of astonishing force and originality, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once a love story and a provocation-a novel as inventive as it is emotionally engaging. It is told with a whisper, in a shout, through joyous tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Its heroes, both present and departed, have been broken by the world we live in-and then mended by love. For this reason, they will never surrender.

How to tell a shattered story?
By slowly becoming everybody.
By slowly becoming everything.

Humane and sensuous, beautifully told, this extraordinary novel demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts.
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week:

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


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New Release Spotlight on Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

In the vein of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, a gripping, suspenseful, and gorgeous debut novel--told hour-by-hour over the course of a single day--in which a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.

Advanced Praise for Small Hours

"Jennifer Kitses slowly and artfully turns up the flames in her debut novel until Small Hours reaches a raging boil. Tom's and Helen's disparate twenty-four hours, wracked and ruined by a jumble of anxieties and miscues, unravel with the tension of a thriller and the gimlet-eyed observations of a novel of manners.” —Teddy Wayne, Whiting Award-winning author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Loner

"Jennifer Kitses's taut debut, SMALL HOURS, is like a time bomb whose ticking you don't notice until it's too late. I was riveted, shaken, and deeply moved by this insightful story of a marriage on the brink.” —Will Allison, New York Times bestselling author of Long Drive Home

"A brave, brilliant debut, written in prose like the edge of a razor blade, about how little it takes for any of our lives to spin out of control--and how we can struggle to put back the pieces. Gripping, haunting--and dare I say it? Life changing.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Timesbestselling author of Pictures of You, This Is Tomorrow, and Cruel Beautiful World

"The big secrets that haunt Small Hours will keep you on high alert, wondering what you don't know about your friends and neighbors.” —Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

"In her page-turner of a debut, Jennifer Kitses has captured the spirit of Tom Perrotta and Richard Russo, painting a dramatic portrait of a suburban marriage on the rocks. She shows all too well the emotional pitfalls of working parenthood and the precipice that so many of us navigate every day. A rich, searing, and unforgettable novel.” —Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth and The Gypsy Moth Summer

"The heart of this taut novel is a tinderbox waiting to explode. Kitses's surprisingly suspenseful plot finds intrigue in unexpected corners, as a married couple faces existential crises in a hothouse environment of suburban ennui, with shades of Homes's Music for Torching. A damning portrait of unexamined privilege and a radically persuasive argument for the need for communication in relationships.” —Matthew Thomas, New York Timesbestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

Over 24 increasingly suspenseful hours, a family's suburban life unravels.A tense domestic drama, Kitses' first novel alternates between the points of view of a husband and wife torn apart by what they don't tell each other...Leavened with occasional humor...the novel gradually and inexorably ratchets up its suspense...The novel succeeds as both a disquieting tale of ordinary horror and a portrait of a marriage at a tipping point. —Kirkus

"Well paced, offering heart-pounding tension...Fans of Matthew Norman, Sarah Dunn, and Emma Straub will enjoy this cautiously optimistic domestic drama full of small kindnesses and deep betrayals.” —Booklist

Buy the Book

About the Author

Jennifer Kitses grew up in Philadelphia. She graduated from the University of Virginia and received an M.Litt. in Creative Writing (the equivalent of an MFA) from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In 2000, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a reporter for Bloomberg News and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She also worked as an assistant research editor at Condé Nast Portfolio and as a managing editor at Columbia Business School. Currently she is a writer and editor for CUNY's graduate school, and contributes to the alumni magazines of Columbia Business School and the University at Buffalo. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers, including The New York Observer, and in Akashic Books' online series, Mondays Are Murder. She is a member of the Columbia Fiction Foundry writing workshop and lives in New York.

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