Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cover Crush: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

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.....
Oh, wow, I love this cover!! It makes me think of those toy kaleidoscopes I had as a kid and, beyond what the fractured nature of the picture might mean, it's just really pretty! Being that the book references a "resurrection" I'm going to guess that the cover image symbolizes a person who has figuratively fallen into pieces and is putting themselves back together as someone knew and different. But let's see what the synopsis tells us about the story....
I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do―work is paramount, absolutely no children―and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.

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

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

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TLC Book Review: The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 576

Genre: Historical Fiction


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

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

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

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

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

What Did I Think About the Story?

When I read and reviewed the first book in Santa Montefiore's Deverill Chronicles Trilogy, The Girl in the Castle, I knew this was a series I was going to love! Grand historic details and settings and dramatic situations made this a family saga that I couldn't get enough of. When the second book in the series, The Daughters of Ireland, came up for review I jumped at the chance to read it. What had happened to Kitty and Celia Deverill, Bridie Doyle, and Jack O'Leary since we left them? Had Jack and Kitty found a way to be together? Had Bridie found happiness? Jumping into this world was once again a delicious experience as so many secrets came to light and our beloved characters' search for personal vengeance and/or happiness lead them down some unexpected paths.

The Daughters of Ireland picks up shortly after The Girl in the Castle ended and thrusts us right back into the hearts and minds of the Deverills and the people of Ballinakelly, the small village in Ireland where so much of this story takes place. While I will of course recommend anyone new to the series read the first book first - why not, it's wonderful! - it isn't required as Montefiore does an excellent job of summarizing what happened in the previous installment for those  new to the series (or, like me, who might have forgotten some of what happened). Once again I was amazed to see how much detail and attention was given to the various storylines going on with our characters and how epic this story felt even though it only spanned about 13 years. When I was through I was amazed so much had happened within such a small amount of time!

I don't want to say too much about the plot as I might accidentally give something away, however I will say that none of these characters seem to quite get what they want, or what they believe they want anyways. There are so many emotions being battered around between them and so much anger or jealousy or pride that they end up hurting each other in some horrible ways, which doesn't end up giving them the satisfaction they thought they would have. Being the middle book of a trilogy there really isn't a huge amount of resolution of these larger issues and some of these characters come off quite badly at times, but what I enjoyed most of all were the new voices that got mixed into the already well-liked players and the promise of further development of their storylines in the third book, The Last Secret of the Deverills, which recently released in the UK and which I hope comes out in the US very soon.

Being that the historical details of historical fiction are typically my favorite parts, I'm somewhat surprised to say that my favorite part of this historical fiction novel were the supernatural elements. One of the central storylines of this series is the fact that the Deverills are living under a curse placed on the first Lord Deverill by the witch Maggie O'Leary, which dictates that no Lord Deverill will ever leave the castle until an O'Leary once again owns the land. What this means is that every single Lord Deverill that has died has been trapped within the walls of the castle. And we get to see and hear what is going on with them! We also get to see the last Lady Deverill, Kitty's grandmother Adeline, who has passed away and refuses to move on until she does what she can to influence those still alive to break the curse. I really enjoyed Adeline in the last novel (when she was very much alive for most of it) so was very happy to see her still play a part in the story development. Something else that I found fascinating were the short chapters sprinkled throughout that sent us back to the late 1600s and let us watch the events unfold that would inevitably bring about the curse on the Deverills.

Finally, as with the first novel, The Daughters of Ireland is bursting with beautiful details not only about the settings but about the customs and culture of this time period, especially when it comes to the advancements in America. Think flapper girls, speakeasies, and mobsters, which make quite the interesting foil for the more old-fashioned and traditional world the characters inhabit in Ireland.

The Daughters of Ireland is a beautifully written edition to the Deverill Chronicle series. While I didn't love it quite as much as The Girl in the Castle (it would be hard for me to love a book that more advances the story then really starts or finishes anything as much) I still did love it and enjoyed seeing how these characters moved and changed over these years. As I said above, I think I'm most excited to see where the new characters we have been introduced to will go in the final novel in the series and really can't wait to get my hands on it! Excellent historical fiction with a little bit  (or a lot) for anyone to enjoy. 

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It is so, so pretty! It's relatively simple - a woman in a pretty dress walking away from the viewer down a leaf-covered path - but what it does it does well. The colors are quite vibrant, which I love, and the sort of hazy atmosphere at the top really focuses the eyes on the woman in the center. I also think the placement and font of the writing is well done and appealing. All in all a cover that draws my attention.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for providing me with a free copy of The Daughters of Ireland in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are mine alone. Please continue on below for more information about the book, the author, and the rest of the blog tour.

Reviews of Other Santa Montefiore Novels I've Read 


About the Author


Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and studied Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written sixteen bestselling novels, which have been translated into thirty different languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide.

Find out more about Santa at her website, and connect with her Facebook. You can also join the Facebook group dedicated to her books.

Buy the Book


TLC Book Tour Schedule


Tuesday, August 15th: Book by Book
Wednesday, August 16th: Reading Reality
Thursday, August 17th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Friday, August 18th: bookchickdi
Monday, August 21st: Art @ Home
Tuesday, August 22nd: Reading is My Super Power
Wednesday, August 23rd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Thursday, August 24th: BookNAround
Monday, August 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, August 29th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, August 30th: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, August 31st: Always With a Book

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Release Day Review: Where the Sweet Bird Sings by Ella Joy Olsen

Publisher: Kensington Books
Pub. Date: August 29th, 2017
Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


In this provocative new novel, the author of Root, Petal, Thorn offers a powerful story of resilience, hope, and the secrets that, no matter how deeply hidden, can shape and ultimately unite a family. What connects us to one another? Is it shared history? Is it ancestry? Is it blood? Or is it love?

People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don't move at all. A year after her young son's death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah's suggestion that they try to have another child.

As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family's past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son's disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle. Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at--a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I really enjoyed Ella Joy Olsen's debut novel, Root, Petal, Thorn, when I reviewed it last year and, reading back over that review, I'm amazed at how similar I feel about this newest novel.  Olsen has this amazing way of pulling you in by your emotions and sensitivities and slightly battering your heart before giving it a little balm of hope and forgiveness. Where the Sweet Bird Sings once again deals with a woman facing the unthinkable and trying to find her way - with some stumbling - down the path she was meant to travel.

From page one Olsen fairly gutted me with the particular heartbreak our main character, Emma, was going through. The loss of a child is one tragedy that no one wants to even think about for fear that it will happen to them, and Olsen makes you face it and ride along as her characters try to work their way out of the devastation and destruction the tragedy naturally seems to bring about. Topping this off with the death of her beloved grandfather and, when cleaning out his home, the discovery that he might not have been who she thought he was and, therefore, that SHE might not be who she thought she was, is almost too much to think of one person facing at one time. However, face it Emma and her family must and it was quite interesting watching the mysteries and revelations unfold on Emma's quest of discovery.

My favorite aspect of the story would have to be the time given to the DNA and genetic discussion not only surrounding her son's disease - one that her and her husband carried within them and gave to their son - but that of her family history and the hidden secrets within their shared cells. When I was in college I found these topics fascinating and that appeal resurfaced when reading Where the Sweet Bird Sings. This also became the jumping off point for Emma's journey to discovery and what drove the mysteries at the heart of the story.

Something else that I very much enjoyed and which I wasn't expecting was the reappearance of some of the characters I so enjoyed in Root, Petal, Thorn. I don't want to say too much here as it's so much fun to discover surprise connections between books and I don't want to ruin that for anyone, but I will say that I didn't expect the connections between these two novels and was delighted to see one character in particular pop back up again and let us see how she was doing.

Speaking of characters, while I did enjoy the people introduced in Where the Sweet Bird Sings, I have to say that I didn't love them as much as those I found in Olsen's debut novel. I found Emma, at times, to be quite selfish, irrational, and wishy-washy, especially when it came to her trying to decide how to proceed - or not - with her husband. He, on the other hand, was so patient and caring that it made it even harder to not want to shake Emma up and demand she stop looking inside herself and look outward at what she was going to lose if she didn't work through her indecisiveness more quickly. Being someone who tends to be happy and content with what I have I just couldn't relate to Emma's tendencies to change her mind on the slightest whim.

Slightly frustrating characters aside, Where the Sweet Bird Sings in a beautiful and heartfelt novel about loss, grief, and discovery of self when it seems like that is the last thing that can ever be discovered. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a story that makes you dig into your own feelings and fears and work through those emotions as the story progresses. Ella Joy Olsen is definitely an author to enjoy!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It is very pretty! To be honest I'm not positive how the title or the matching cover art fit into the story unless I missed something, but I still think it's a very pretty picture. I'm always a sucker for flowers and greenery!

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Ella Joy Olsen and Kensington Books for providing me with a free copy of Where the Sweet Bird Sings in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. You can find more information about the book, such as early praise, reviews, and links to where you can purchase your own copy, on Goodreads HERE.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sarah's Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness by Beverly Scott + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publisher: Word Project Press
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Pages: 306 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Western

Follow the paths of Sarah and Will (or Sam) as they tell their stories of trust, secrets, and betrayal on the frontier in the old West. Their pioneer spirit helped to fuel the expansion into the Western territories of the United States. The two are historically on their separate journeys, yet they remain intimately connected. Through the fictionalized Western frontier tale of Sam and Sarah, the author, Beverly Scott, was inspired to reveal rumored secrets from her family history.

In 1878, Will is on the run after killing a man in a barroom gunfight. He escapes the Texas Rangers by joining a cattle drive as a cook headed to Dodge City. He struggles with the dilemma of saving his life or attempting to return to his pregnant wife and five children. Just when he thinks he might be able to return home, he is confronted by a bounty hunter who captures him and plans to return him to Fort Worth, Texas to be hanged.

Although Will changes his name to Sam, he remains an irresponsible, lonely and untrustworthy man on the dodge from the law who abandons the women he loves. He ultimately seeks redemption and marries Sarah.

In 1911, Sarah, a pioneer woman and widow with five children struggles to find the inner strength to overcome betrayal, loneliness, fears, and self-doubt. Her husband, Sam, thirty years her senior, died with a mysterious and defiant declaration, “I won’t answer!”. Despite poverty and a crippling illness, she draws on her pioneer spirit to hold her family together and return to Nebraska to be near her parents and siblings.

When Sarah returns to Nebraska she receives staggering news which complicates her efforts to support her children. She is shocked, angry and emotionally devastated. Since she is attempting to establish herself in the community as a teacher, she believes she must keep her secret even from her own family. Will Sarah find forgiveness in her heart and the resolve to accept her new life alone?

Praise for Sarah's Secret

“In the flash of one moment, the trajectory of a man’s life and of those who loved and depended on him changes forever. The developing plot draws the reader in as we wait to see how this one action reaches into and impacts the lives of future generations. Set against the backdrop of a post-Civil War nation, when thousands headed west to escape their past, disappear into the horizon, and remake themselves, this biography is a rich study of pioneer ethos and the risks faced every day. The women touched by this man, who kept his secrets close, are heroines of courage, steadfastness and goodness. Beverly Scott is an author who has a way of painting word pictures that make you feel like you are a part of the story as it unfolds towards the discovery of his devastating secrets.” -Patricia and Craig Neal, co-founders, Heartland Inc.

“Using the plain spoken language of the women and men who scratched out life on the hard scrabble plains in the early days of this young country Bev Scott crafts a sharp picture of the violence and the love that shaped the middle of this nation. Every river crossing, each spring planting reveals the conflicts inside the characters and their struggle to survive in contested territories.” -Jewell Gomez, Author, The Gilda Stories

Buy the Book


About the Author

Bev specialized in serving executives and managers as a leadership coach and organizational consultant for over thirty-five years. She taught organization psychology and founded The 3rd Act, a program whose mission supports positive aging. As she grew into her own third act, she started a genealogical journey to uncover the details of her grandparents’ lives. She concluded that the story needed to be told as fiction using the known facts as her framework.

“Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness,” Bev’s debut novel, is the culmination of her long-held desire tell the family story and confirm the whispered story about her grandfather.

Bev previously focused on publishing non-fiction work, including the second edition of “Consulting on the Inside,” which she co-authored with Kim Barnes, published in 2011. She has written numerous professional articles and contributed to “70 Things to Do When You Turn 70,” edited by Ronnie Sellers and Mark Chimsky. Bev blogs on several sites, including her own, “The Writing Life” on

Bev enjoys traveling, visiting with friends, reading and spending time with her grandsons. She lives with her spouse in San Francisco.

You can connect with Bev on Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and Goodreads.


It's Giveaway Time!!


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Sarah’s Secret! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

HFVBT Schedule for Sarah's Secret


Monday, August 14

 Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 15

 Guest Post at History From a Woman’s Perspective
 Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, August 16

 Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, August 17

 Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Friday, August 18

 Excerpt at What Is That Book About
 Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, August 21

 Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, August 22

 Review at A Holland Reads

Thursday, August 24

 Review & Interview at T’s Stuff
 Review & Interview at Books and Benches

Monday, August 28

 Feature at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 29

 Review at Book Nerd
 Feature at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!

Wednesday, August 30

 Review at Linda’s Book Obsession

Friday, September 1

 Review at Creating Herstory

Monday, September 4

 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views


Friday, August 25, 2017

The Tip of My Wish List: When Will It Get Here?!

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.
For my wish list theme this month I picked a topic I thought most book lovers could relate to: having to wait an eternity to get that book you're drooling over! We've all done it, seen a book we want to have in our grubby little hands instantly and then see it's not even out for months and months. Oh the torture! These five are already on my wish list but won't release for at least another five months.
Ariel Lawhon, a rising star in historical suspense, has set her sights on one of history's most beguiling mysteries: Did Anastasia Romanov survive the Russian Revolution, or was Anna Anderson, the woman who notoriously claimed her identity, an impostor?

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. The question of who this woman is and what actually happened to Anastasia creates a saga that spans fifty years and three continents. This thrilling page-turner is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.

When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
Inspired by the audacious and adventure-filled life of Varina Howell Davis, the second wife of President Jefferson Davis, Varina is the forcefully rendered, captivating fourth novel from Charles Frazier, returning to the time and place of his momentous first novel.

Moving backward and forward in time, Varina captures this crucial period in history, the moment when Varina and her children escaped from Richmond and traveled south as rootless fugitives “with bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit,” navigating a marriage in tatters and a country divided and on its knees. “Being on the wrong side of history carries consequences,” Frazier reflects as he brings vibrantly to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War and its fallout.

Lushly atmospheric and animated by a complex, completely believable set of characters, Varina is both intimate in its detailed observations of one woman’s life and epic in its scope and power, representing the work of an American master at his most entertaining, illuminating, and affecting.

The Broken Girls

A breakout suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare.

Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced. . . .


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

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cover Crush: The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin

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 think what first drew me to this cover was the gorgeous canopy road! I grew up in Tallahassee, FL and my hometown is full of these gorgeous roads, where the road becomes dappled with sunlight and everything seems to sparkle just so. I also love how the woman in the center is almost sepia-toned and that coloring seems to spread out from her until it hits the tree line. This makes me feel like the woman is more a memory from the past or somehow isn't really there in the same world as the trees saturated in green. It all combines into an exceptionally interesting cover.
Let's see what is really going on within these pages...

An archaeologist discovers her presumed-missing boyfriend is trapped more than a hundred years in the past—a love story that transcends time and place, from the author of the New York Times bestseller The Memory Thief.

Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.

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

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

Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Beautician's Notebook by Anne Barnhill + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC 
Pub. Date: April 12, 2017
Pages: 304 Pages

Genre: Mystery / Romance / Contemporary


It’s up to her ex-husband, Sheriff Tal Hicks, to investigate. Evidence points to four possible suspects: Willa Jo’s business partner; a town socialite; a preacher’s wife; and Willa Jo’s live-in lover.

Willa Jo kept a notebook containing all the secrets she’s learned while doing hair. Rumor has it Willa Jo is going to write a book, exposing everything. But now, Willa Jo is dead and the incriminating notebook is missing, leaving the sheriff with very little to go on. As he interrogates the suspects, he finds himself attracted to newcomer, Clarissa Myers. He delves into her past only to discover she has deeper ties to Summerset than anyone imagined. Before the sheriff can complete his interrogations, however, another suspect, Avenelle Young, confesses.

The sheriff is skeptical about Avenelle Young’s guilt because she refuses to discuss what happened with Willa Jo. Her statement is a terse declaration of guilt, with neither motive nor method explained. The sheriff has no choice but to incarcerate Mrs. Young.

During the investigations, as the secrets of Summerset are slowly revealed, each family touched by Willa Jo’s death must come to terms with the new information being unearthed. The repercussions are far-reaching, and forgiveness hard to come by. However, at the heart of the book is the possibility of reconciliation among the town folk as they learn the real ‘truth’ about one another.

Check Out the Teaser Trailer!


Praise for The Beautician's Notebook

“...a great who-done-it" that will keep you reading until the very last page.—Brenda Bevan Remmes, author of The Quaker Cafe and Home to Cedar Branch.

“What a treat! Anne Clinard Barnhill has penned a mystery with heart and soul. Her characters are so likeable—even lovable—that I hated to think of any of them guilty of a heinous crime . . . despite their many motives. An intriguing and heartwarming novel.”—Diane Chamberlain, NYT bestselling author of The Silent Sister.

“More red herrings than in a fishmonger’s wheelbarrow.”—Molly Weston, Mystery Writers of America Raven Award Winner.

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About the Author

Anne Clinard Barnhill is an award-winning, internationally published writer who has published two historical novels (AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN and QUEEN ELIZABETH’S DAUGHTER), a short story collection (WHAT YOU LONG FOR), a memoir (AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ: Autism, My Sister and Me) and a poetry chapbook (COAL, BABY). She has also written hundreds of articles, features, book reviews and essays published in a variety of newspapers, magazines and blogs. Ms. Barnhill has received four regional artist grants, one writer’s residency and has taught writing and creativity workshops in various places across North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Mississippi. She has three grown sons and lives on the NC coast with her husband and a very energetic dog.

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

It's Giveaway Time!!


To enter the giveaway for a copy of THE BEAUTICIAN'S NOTEBOOK, please see the GLEAM entry form HERE. Five copies are up for grabs!


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Beautician's Notebook Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, August 7

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 9

Feature at A Holland Reads

Thursday, August 10

Review & Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, August 14

Feature at Rimpy's Reads

Thursday, August 17

Guest Post at Must Read Faster

Tuesday, August 22

Feature at A Literary Vacation

Friday, August 25

Interview at I Heart Reading

Monday, August 28

Review at Book Nerd

Friday, September 1

Review at Buried Under Books

Monday, September 4

Guest Post at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, September 6

Feature at Mello & June, It's a Book Thang!

Wednesday, September 13

Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, September 20

Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, September 25

Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 27


Monday, August 21, 2017

Spotlight on the Lady Evelyn Mysteries by Malia Zaidi

Book One: A Poisonous Journey

Publisher: BookBaby
Pub. Date: August 27th, 2015
Pages: 394

The year is 1925, a time that hovers between two catastrophic wars, a time of jazz and sparkle, and a time of peace and reflection. For Lady Evelyn, struggling to outrun the ghosts of her tragic past, it is a time of transformation. Left orphaned after a fire when she was only four, Lady Evelyn Carlisle was raised in London by her stern aunt and uncle. Now, twenty years later she has grown restless and is keen to escape her chaperone's grasp. A letter from her cousin, Briony, living with her husband on Crete, comes at just the right time. Packing what she can, Lady Evelyn makes off for foreign shores. Welcoming her are not only Briony and her husband, Jeffrey, but also his handsome and mysterious friends, Caspar Ballantine and Daniel Harper. Though the latter carries with him tragic memories of the Great War, Evelyn is glad to be in their company. With the sun warming her back and the dazzling sea in her sights, this fresh start seems destined for happy days ahead. Little does she know . . . What starts off as a sunny holiday quickly turns into a sinister nightmare, when Evelyn stumbles across the corpse of one of her cousin's houseguests. Drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder, Evelyn embarks on a mission to discover the truth, forcing her to face her own past as well as a cold-hearted killer. With the help of her cousin, the handsome local police detective, and the mysterious Daniel Harper, will she uncover the truth, before another life is claimed?

Praise for A Poisonous Journey

5 Stars - "Zaidi's plot is marvelous, with lots of red herrings for the reader and Evelyn to consider, and an exhilaratingly lovely setting...A Poisonous Journey is highly recommended." -Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

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Book Two: A Darker Shore

Publisher: BookBaby
Pub. Date: December 13th, 2016
Pages: 446

1926: A year has passed since the events of "A Poisonous Journey" and Lady Evelyn has made a home for herself in Greece, living with her cousin, Briony, her husband, Jeffrey and Daniel Harper. Disturbing this island idyll is a letter, which arrives from France with troubling information about the Daniel’s long-believed-dead brother, Henry. A new journey awaits! With the shadows of the Great War reaching out, Lady Evelyn and Daniel voyage to Amiens in Northern France with the aim of discovering the truth behind the ominous letter. Upon their arrival, they are met not with clarity but rather with crime. Murder, to be precise. Is it linked to their presence in France, or even worse, to Henry himself? Evelyn and Daniel must confront their history as they try to make sense of the present before the killer can strike again, and the secrets of the past are lost forever.

Praise for A Darker Shore


5 Stars – “Lady Evelyn Carlisle is back in another thrilling Lady Evelyn Mystery!... The second book in the Lady Evelyn Mystery series, A Darker Shore by Malia Zaidi is a beautifully written historical novel with light romantic undertones.” – Alyssa Elmore for Readers’ Favorite

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About the Author

Malia Zaidi is the author of A POISONOUS JOURNEY. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, and studied English at Oxford University. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though, through her love of reading, she resides vicariously in countries throughout the world. A POISONOUS JOURNEY and A DARKER SHORE are the first two books in the Lady Evelyn mysteries series. Book three will be published early 2018. You can also find her blogging about - what else?- books at The Princess and the Pen.

You can find out more about Malia on her website and can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cover Crush: The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

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.....
Seriously, how do cover artists come up with stunning covers like this?! I'm in utter awe of their talent, I really am. This cover in particular seems very artistic. The colors are so soft and using what I believe is watercolor paint gives everything such an ethereal, delicate feel to it. The way the background seems to flow within the woman and the fact that she doesn't have a face makes her seem almost ghostly, or insubstantial in some way. And the flowers and writing within her skirt leads me to think there is something hidden within this story that we aren't meant to know yet.
I'm sure the synopsis holds some clues to what hidden depths the story might hold....
An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return -- against the laws of the day -- she will teach the slaves to read.

So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Based on historical documents, including Eliza's letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

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

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


Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with Erin Marie Bernardo, author of Scent of the Past

Please join me in welcoming Erin Marie Bernardo, author of the historical fiction novel Scent of the Past, to A Literary Vacation!

Hello, Erin, and welcome! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. To start us off, have you always been a writer?

I suppose so. I remember writing from an early age. I always kept a journal, wrote poetry, and more often than not found myself writing short stories when I was bored, or on long road trips. I can even recount a few scripted puppet shows for the neighbors. It was a means to pass the time, but ultimately I wrote because I enjoyed it. However I never intentionally set out to become an author. It never crossed my mind as an option. It just happened.
That's amazing. When do you get time to write?

After midnight when my household is asleep.
Wow, that's dedication! Can you tell us what your writing process looks like?
I have had many authors tell me to write every day, even if it is for 30 minutes. Unfortunately my brain is not wired that way. I need to immerse myself in the story every time I sit down—think about my characters, reread a few chapters, research a few things—to open the creative pathway. Once I get going I like to write continuously without interruption for two to three hours.
I know most writers are also big readers. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I had the pleasure once of planning an event for Jodi Picoult, and she was absolutely lovely. She is a huge influence in the world of fiction and cannot go unrecognized. I am also a huge fan of the Australian author Kate Morton.
Picoult and Morton are two of my favorites as well. What books have influenced your life the most?

Most of the books that I would consider influential I read as a child. These all made an impact on me in some shape or form, and I would consider them my foundation.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
My family and I live on a small hobby farm. I have chickens, goats and even a milk cow. When I am not working, or writing, or being a mom, I enjoy spending time around our property. Collecting eggs with the kids, riding 4-wheelers through the pasture or working in my [usually overgrown] vegetable garden. I am very committed to sustainable farming and an organic way of life, so if I can find time to can my own produce or source healthier food options you’ll find a happy mama in me as well.

What is your next novel about? Can you share?

Blackbird’s Bounty is another historical fiction novel that crosses planes between the past and the present. It is not a time-travel book like Scent of the Past, but rather connects present day with events that happened in the mid-1800s. The story—about a ghost— is set a few years before the start of the Civil War on a prestigious sugarcane plantation in Louisiana. If you enjoyed Scent of the Past, you will undoubtedly love Blackbird’s Bounty.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Erin! Everyone, please continue below for more information about Erin and her novel, Scent of the Past!
Publisher: Scent of the Past
Pub. Date: March 31st, 2016
Pages: 314
Genres: Historical Fiction/Dual Timeline/Time Travel

A secret diary. A forgotten past. Another time.

When people think of time travel, they think of the clichéd manufactured kind. Of giant electronic machines with flashing lights and buttons calibrated to shoot you into the past with one press. But it doesn’t work that way. You need a reason, a connection, and—most important—a link. But you can’t choose when and why you go. That would be too easy, and we’d all be snapping our fingers in hopes of seeing lost treasures of yesteryear. It must choose you.

Close cousins Addison and Elissa live in present day New York City and lead somewhat ordinary lives. When uncertain circumstances surrounding a set of antique perfume bottles sends them back to eighteenth-century France, they must uncover the truth behind their travel.

Disaster strikes when Addison finds herself in a nearly identical situation to a mishap she experienced in the present—the witnessing of a murder and release of a secret. Only this time the truth could destroy the entire French monarchy. With Addison’s head on the line, the young women search for answers before Addison suffers her unlucky fate twice. It is only when they discover the haunting connections to life in the present, that they understand why they both were sent, and why a repeating past...may not always be such a bad thing.

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About the Author

Photo Credit: MyHoney Photography

Erin Marie Bernardo is an American writer of historical fiction. She has a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is the author of the time-travel novel, Scent of the Past. A lover of historic places and days forgotten, Erin's novels connect the past with the present.

Erin is currently at work on her second novel, Blackbird's Bounty, set in the bayou of Louisiana – and is actively seeking a home for her children’s collection, Beautiful and Extraordinary Barnyard Stories, based on true events from on her farm.

Erin lives in Tennessee, but has roots in both Minnesota and Washington State. She is married with two young children.
Find out more about Erin on her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.