Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TLC Book Review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: January 2nd, 2018
Pages: 400


Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

What Did I Think About the Story?

With historical fiction it's so hard to find an angle that doesn't feel somewhat overdone, especially when it comes to WWII.  While I would continue enjoying historical fiction regardless of how many novels I read with similar storylines, it's great to find something fresh and different. The Women in the Castle is unlike any other historical fiction novel I've read before, giving me a new perspective (or three!) from which to view this heartbreaking time in history.

Most WWII fiction I've read has been from the point of view of the Allies. This is the first novel that I can think of that I've read from the point of view of German women and resisters from varying backgrounds.  Marianne is the rich, strong-willed wife of a murdered resistance fighter who keeps true to everything they always believed in no matter what she has to face. Benita, a girl from humble beginnings who dreamed of and succeeded in marrying a rich, charming man and living a life of luxury, ends up sacrificing so much of herself, not only to survive but in her attempts to try and forget the past and grasp on to any shred of happiness she can find. Ania, the most pragmatic of the women, will do anything to protect her sons and give them the chance at a better life than they were born into, even if that means keeping secrets and lying to those she cares about. Through the heads, hearts, and eyes of each of these women we get the chance to see a wider range of German people - from resisters to collaborators, those with power and influence to those who have nothing - and it was heartbreaking to see these women stuck in the middle of a brutal and unforgiving world that they had no part in building.

I was also impressed with how well the author brought this horrible world to life. The descriptions of the bombed out villages and smoldering remains, the starving and/or bitter people trying to survive, even the happy, more prosperous moments that perfectly contrasted with the rest all did their part to drive home this singular time in history and the good and the bad that came out of it.

On top of all this the author included a great author's note and P.S. section that explains the origins of the story as well as an additional chapter not included in the hardcover version that better fills in a part of Ania's backstory, centered around the bombing of Dresden. These extra goodies are always the  icing on the cake, especially with a story such as this that is so easy to get emotionally invested in.

The Women in the Castle has already made it onto my "best of" list for 2018! It's historical fiction at it's finest, shining light on a new (for me) angle of history that not only entertains but teaches us something as well. It's about the guilt of a nation and of individuals and the complicated battle between what can be deemed as forgivable, understandable, and forever contemptible. If you enjoy historical fiction make sure to put this one on your TBR pile!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it's very pretty, with it's hazy soft focus, but it doesn't really evoke anything for me. Pretty but not very descriptive or representative of the story.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for a free copy of The Women in the Castle in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. Continue on below for more information about the book, it's author, and the rest of the blog tour!

Praise for The Women in the Castle

GoodReads Choice Awards Semifinalist

“Moving . . . a plot that surprises and devastates.”—New York Times Book Review

“A masterful epic.”—People magazine

“Mesmerizing . . . The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”—USA Today

Buy the Book

About the Author

Photo by Lesley Unruh
Jessica Shattuck is the New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle, The Hazards of Good Breeding, a New York Times Notable Book and finalist for the PEN/Winship Award, and Perfect Life. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Glamour, Mother Jones, and Wired, among other publications.

Find out more about Jessica at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

TLC Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, January 9th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, January 15th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 16th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Friday, January 19th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, January 22nd: BookNAround

Wednesday, January 31st: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.

Wednesday, January 31st: A Literary Vacation

Monday, February 5th: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_

Wednesday, February 7th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks and Novel Mom

Thursday, February 8th: Write – Read – Life

Monday, February 12th: Jessicamap Reviews

TBD: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, January 29, 2018

TLC Book Review: THE CHALK MAN by C. J. Tudor

Pub. Date: January 9th, 2018
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 288

Genres: Fiction / Contemporary Fiction / Crime / Thriller / Mystery / Suspense


The must-read thriller of 2018, this riveting and relentlessly compelling psychological suspense debut weaves a mystery about a childhood game gone dangerously awry that will keep readers guessing right up to the shocking ending

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Like so many readers I'm often skeptical when I read a book is "the next big thriller' or "the most anticipated book of the year". I get so excited yet also nervous that my expectations will be set too high and I'll end up disappointed. So, while I have to admit I was drawn to The Chalk Man based on its hype-inducing synopsis, I went into it with an open mind and tamed expectations.  I'm glad to say that the book turned out to be quite mysterious and page-turning, with an ending that completely surprised me.

The story travels back and forth between 1986, when Eddie and his friends have a topsy-turvy year full of heartache and horror, and 2016, when the past seems to be bringing up long buried secrets and truths that no one really wants to deal with. What I enjoyed most about this back and forth style of storytelling in this instance was how C.J. Tudor used it to unweave the tangled lies and half-truths that everyone in this small village seemed to be harboring, including Eddie. We also get to witness the loss of innocence these characters go through as kids and how that comes to affect the adults they become. So much of what is revealed during the story turns out to be more about these seemingly small actions - whether as revenge or a joke or something else - that end up having much bigger and far-reaching consequences than any of the characters anticipated. And as soon as we get to see the unraveling of one mystery - bam! - you're switching back to the other storyline and you have to wait to go back and see how the actual truth will affect the remaining mysteries. It's a delicious bait-and-switch situation!

The other aspect of the story I enjoyed immensely was how Tudor lolls the reader into a sense of security with something ordinary and simplistic and then throws in shocks that you can't see coming. I don't want to give anything away so I won't go into specifics, but every time I felt like I was reading some passage of the story meant to fill in information - a trip to the fair, kids meeting up at the park, a birthday party - something unexpected and, often, devastating ended up happening and I found myself having to catch my breath. All I'll say is this small village has some unbelievably screwed up secrets in its past and I loved learning about each one.

Finally, let me just tell you that the ending actually stopped me in my tracks and made me go back and read to make sure I was really reading what I thought I was reading. It was such a gut-punch shock that I literally had to put it down, wait a minute, and pick it back up again. My boss was reading it at the same time and, when I asked her if she finished, she had the same reaction as I did..."oh my god can you believe the ending!". It might be one of the best thriller endings I've read in a while and just the best surprise I could have never expected.

The Chalk Man is, in fact, a must-read thriller. While some of the narrative is understated and leads you into a false sense of a "coming of age" sweetness underlying the bad things that have happened, the horrors that are revealed in this town are much darker and lead you to the real moral of this story: do not assume anything because, if you do, you are in for an awakening. I can't wait to read what C.J. Tudor writes next!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

At first I thought it was just okay. The Chalk slashes obviously fit in with the story, but it's the fair ride in the background - which I didn't see at first - that really represents the start of all the chaos within the story. Now, knowing this, I really like the cover and think the cover artists did a great job with it.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0 

I received a copy of The Chalk Man from TLC Book Tours and Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! Continue below for more information about the book, the author, and the tour.

Praise for The Chalk Man

“Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT…[the] first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.”—Kirkus

“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.” —Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

Buy the Book

About the Author

C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Connect with C.J. on Facebook and Twitter.

TLC Book Tours Schedule

Monday, January 8th: Katy’s Library blog and @katyslibrary
Monday, January 8th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, January 9th: Bookworm Everlasting blog and @everlasting.charm
Tuesday, January 9th: Clues and Reviews and @cluesandreviews
Tuesday, January 9th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, January 10th: She Treads Softly
Wednesday, January 10th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Wednesday, January 10th: Tome Tender
Thursday, January 11th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Thursday, January 11th: Rockin’ & Reviewing
Friday, January 12th: Snowdrop Dreams
Friday, January 12th: Jathan and Heather
Monday, January 15th: BookBub Blog – author guest post “Eight Thrillers with Scary Children/Teenagers”
Tuesday, January 16th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, January 16th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, January 17th: Suzy Approved
Wednesday, January 17th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, January 18th: Lit Wit Wine Dine
Thursday, January 18th: Bibliotica
Friday, January 19th: Write Read Life
Monday, January 22nd: What is That Book About
Monday, January 22nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, January 23rd: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, January 23rd: The Book Diva’s Reads
Wednesday, January 24th: Girl Who Reads
Thursday, January 25th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Reviews
Friday, January 26th: Lovely Bookshelf
Monday, January 29th: Novel Gossip blog and @novelgossip
Monday, January 29th: A Literary Vacation
Monday, January 29th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, January 30th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, January 31st: Staircase Wit
Thursday, February 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Tip of My Wish List: 2018 Contemporary Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Novels

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.
As the first wish list of 2018 I thought it would be fun to continue the "most anticipated" theme. While I shared my most anticipated historical fiction last month this month I've decided to highlight upcoming releases in contemporary fiction that have a suspenseful or thrilling bend to them. I've really been enjoying reading  more mystery and suspense over the last year or so and all of the books below sound wonderfully exciting!

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about, because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?
The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, None of what’s going to happen is your fault. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.
The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I LET YOU GO and I SEE YOU.

Just Before I Died

Why did you do that to me Mummy, don’t you love me?

Kath lives with her husband Adam and daughter Lyla in a desolate stone longhouse deep in Dartmoor National Park. She likes her life the moors are beautiful, if bleak and she counts herself as happy, even if they struggle with money, and work, and her daughter's shyness.

But one day Kath wakes up from a coma, with a vague memory of a near-fatal car accident. She hugs her daughter close, likewise her husband Adam. But there’s something wrong. Adam seems furious with her and Lyla is acting evermore strangely. They should be delighted to see her alive, snatched from certain death. But they won't meet her gaze

Then Kath learns that the car crash wasn't an accident, and her whole life collapses into a world of panic, and danger.
A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist? Or is she? Julia Heaberlin once again swerves the serial killer genre in a new direction. With taut, captivating prose, Heaberlin deftly explores the ghosts that live in our minds—and the ones that stare back from photographs. You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.
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, January 25, 2018

Cover Crush: A Tourch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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 cover is somewhat plainer than I typically pick, but it's that starkness that really catches my eyes. The title is center stage, and the sharp lines and blue color gives it a hard, cold feel to it. Your eye then travels down to the image of two people, just coming out of what appears to be a desolate and cold environment (again, the blues and whites give you that feeling), running towards the only bright color in the whole thing, a bright orange flame. What are they running from, and what exactly is inside that more inviting cave? The image and the title bring up so many exhilarating questions for me! 
So what's the story actually about? Let's see....
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.
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, January 24, 2018

Excerpt of The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Pub. Date: February 13th, 2018
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 368

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Excerpt of The Lucky Ones

She glared at him, tight-lipped, not amused. 

“Five hundred Ben Franklins don’t take up a lot of space,” he said. “Don’t believe everything you see in movies. Even one million won’t fill a briefcase, unless it’s all in ones.” 

“And you’re giving it to me out of the goodness of your heart?” she asked. 

“I am. You should know, my lawyer tried to tell me I should get you to sign an NDA before I gave you the money. I told him to shove it.” 

“An NDA? He wanted me to sign a nondisclosure agreement for sleeping with you?” 

“I pay the man to protect me,” McQueen said. “My daughter’s ex-babysitter talking to the press about how I slept with her at the tender age of nineteen might hurt me a little. You know I want to run for governor one of these days. But I’m not making you sign anything. I trust you. I have always trusted you. The money is yours free and clear. I want you to take it. You’re only hurting yourself if you don’t.” 

“I shouldn’t accept it,” she said. “It’ll let you off the hook too easily.” 

He smiled at that. He knew his own faults, which was one of his few virtues. 

“But I’m going to take it,” she said. 

“You earned it.” 

“I did,” she said. “But not because I put up with you the past six years. I earned this much just for putting up with this conversation.” 

He lowered his head and exhaled loudly. 

“You don’t make it easy on a man,” he said. “You could say thank you. Most girlfriends don’t get severance pay after a breakup.” 

“I’m not your girlfriend, remember?” She put the money into the box. She saw her earrings. She saw the rent receipt. She saw the letter. She saw two thick envelopes. 

“What are those?” 

“One’s your mail. The other’s…they’re the pictures.” 

“Our pictures?” she asked. 

He slowly nodded. “You have any idea how much it hurt giving those pictures up?” 

“How much?” 

“A lot. I came this close to keeping them.” He held up his fingers a hairbreadth apart. 

“They’re pornographic,” she said, glaring at him. 

“They’re beautiful. And you’re beautiful in them. And I don’t look too bad myself.” 

“What about running for governor someday?” she asked. 

“That’s the only reason I gave them back to you,” he said. 

“You seem sadder about losing them than losing me.” 

“Cricket, please…” 

“Don’t call me that anymore,” she said, closing her eyes. “I did everything you asked me to do—in bed and out. Everything. I never asked for anything from you. I never complained. I never…” She never made a scene. She never cried in front of him. She did all his favorite tricks. 

“We had six good years,” he said. 

“Good for you. I was nineteen. Do you feel bad about that at all?” 

“Let me ask you this,” he said. “Do you?” 

“You want me to absolve you.” 

“I want you to be honest with me,” he said. “Did I take advantage of you? If I did, then tell me. Or did you want it as much as I did?” 

“I was nineteen,” she said again. 

“You weren’t drafted into the army. You had sex with an older man who paid your rent and your bills and gave you diamonds for Christmas. You knew what the deal was when I offered it to you. I’ve told my fair share of lies to my fair share of women,” he said. “But I never lied to you about us. Did I?” 

Allison would have argued except it was true. Of course he never lied to her. Lovers lied to protect the loved one. No love to protect meant no need for lies. 

“No, you never lied to me.” 

McQueen met her eyes for a split second before glancing away, a guilty look on his face. 

“So this is it?” she asked. “The end?” 

“I’d like to have sex with you before I leave,” he said. 

Allison stared at him, incredulous. 

“Yes, and I’d like to marry a knight-errant and raise rare-breed cats with him in our castle by the sea,” she said. 

“I’m taking that as a ‘no’ to breakup sex,” he said. 

“Safe to say that’s a ‘no.’

About the Author

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer. Learn more about Tiffany on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

TLC Book Tours Excerpt Tour

Monday, January 22nd: Books & Spoons

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, January 24th: A Literary Vacation

Thursday, January 25th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Friday, January 26th: What is That Book About

Monday, January 29th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, January 30th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Wednesday, January 31st: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 1st: Suzy Approved

Friday, February 2nd: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind

Monday, February 5th: Clues and Reviews

Tuesday, February 6th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, February 7th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 8th: Books a la Mode

Friday, February 9th: Jathan & Heather

TLC Book Tours Review Tour

Monday, February 12th: Books & Bindings

Monday, February 12th: Into the Hall of Books and @intothehallofbooks

Tuesday, February 13th: Clues and Reviews and @cluesandreviews

Tuesday, February 13th: Read Love Blog

Tuesday, February 13th: @anniabbauer and

Wednesday, February 14th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Thursday, February 15th: 5 Minutes for Books

Friday, February 16th: Bibliotica

Monday, February 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, February 20th: Books a la Mode

Tuesday, February 20th: Katy’s Library and @katyslibrary

Wednesday, February 21st: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind and @artbookscoffeee

Thursday, February 22nd: Tales of a Book Addict

Friday, February 23rd: Kritter’s Ramblings

Friday, February 23rd: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip

Monday, February 26th: Jathan & Heather

Monday, February 26th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Tuesday, February 27th: @athousandbookstoread

Tuesday, February 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, February 28th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 28th: The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 2nd: Not in Jersey

Monday, March 5th: Snowdrop Dreams

Tuesday, March 6th: Bookchickdi

Wednesday, March 7th: West Metro Mommy Reads

Thursday, March 8th: Hoser’s Blook

Friday, March 9th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Friday, March 9th: What is That Book About

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Where Do I Go? by Beverly Magid + Tour-Wide Giveaway!

Publisher: BeWrite Press
Pub. Date: October 9, 2017
Pages: 138

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Jewish


It’s 1908 and Leah and her boys have immigrated to New York’s Lower East Side to live with her brothers after surviving a pogrom in their Russian village. She is determined to find a home in America but the conditions are harsher than she expected. The garment sweat shops are brutal to work in and it’s essential that her son Benny works after school to help with expenses. Unbeknownst to her he runs errands for the local bookie/gangster. Life isn’t what Leah hoped for, but she’s a fighter and not willing to accept the awful conditions at Wollowitz’s Factory. She’s on a journey to find her own voice, to find a place for herself and her sons, to find a little beauty and romance in her life.

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About the Author

Beverly Magid, before writing her novel, was a journalist and an entertainment and celebrity PR
executive, who interviewed many luminaries, including John Lennon, Jim Croce and the Monty Python gang, and as a publicist represented clients in music, tv and film, ranging from Whoopi Goldberg, John Denver and Dolly Parton to Tom Skerritt, Martin Landau, Kathy Ireland and Jacqueline Bisset.

Beverly is a longtime west coast resident who still considers herself a New Yorker. Among the social issues she’s passionate about is literacy and she worked with KorehLA to mentor elementary children in reading. Also she has been an advocate for Jewish World Watch, an organization dedicated to working against genocide and to aid the victims of war atrocities. On a lighter side, she is also a volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo, monitoring animal behavior for their Research Department.

She is a news and political junkie who supports environmental, animal and human rights issues. She believes most passionately that “We must remain vigilant to the those who would erode the rights of people around the world and work to defeat them.”

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

It's Giveaway Time!!

During the tour we will be giving away a signed copy of WHERE DO I GO! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 2nd. 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.

HFVBT Schedule

Monday, January 15

Review at Donna’s Book Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, January 16

Guest Post at My Reading Corner

Wednesday, January 17

Excerpt at WS Momma Readers Nook

Monday, January 22

Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, January 25

Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, January 26

Review at Life of a Female Bibliophile
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Sunday, January 28

Feature at Books of a Shy Girl

Monday, January 29

Review at Back Porchervations

Tuesday, January 30

Review & Interview at Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Wednesday, January 31

Review at Cup of Sensibility
Feature at A Holland Reads

Thursday, February 1

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, February 2

Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Friday, January 19, 2018

Spotlight on the Books of B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Lorraine Devon Wilke

After the Sucker Punch

Cover design by Grace Amandes
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pub. Date: May 15th, 2014
Pages: 340

They buried her father at noon, at five she found his journals, and in the time it took to read one-and-a-half pages her world turned upside down… he thought she was a failure.

Every child, no matter what age, wants to know their father loves them, and Tessa Curzio – thirty-six, emerging writer, ex-rocker, lapsed Catholic, defected Scientologist, and fourth in a family of eight complicated people – is no exception. But just when she thought her twitchy life was finally coming together – solid relationship, creative job; a view of the ocean – the one-two punch of her father’s death and posthumous indictment proves an existential knockout.

She tries to “just let it go,” as her sister suggests, but life viewed through the filter of his damning words is suddenly skewed, shaking the foundation of everything from her solid relationship and winning job to the truth of her family, even her sense of self. From there, friendships strain, bad behavior ensues, new men entreat, and family drama spikes, all leading to her little-known aunt, a nun and counselor, who lovingly strong-arms Tessa onto a journey of discovery and reinvention. It’s a trip that’s not always pretty – or particularly wise – but somewhere in all the twists and turns, unexpected truths are found.

Author and longtime Huffington Post contributor, Lorraine Devon Wilke, takes an irreverent look at father/daughter relationships through the unique prism of Tessa’s saga and its exploration of family, faith, cults, creativity, new love and old, and the struggle to define oneself against the inexplicable perceptions of a deceased parent. Told with both sass and sensibility, it’s a story wrapped in contemporary culture but with a very classic heart.

Praise and Awards

B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree ~ IndieBRAG

"A realistic and profound journey of realization and forgiveness... a solid novel that admirably explores the fragile, fraught relationship between parent and child." ~ Publishers Weekly

"Wilke writes with razor-sharp wit and radiant flair, and the prose's high quality is the novel's principal strength. She also sensitively portrays how real love and affection can survive and even flourish in an otherwise dysfunctional family." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"A sweeping, beautifully written read; gripping from page one. A family saga with ambition and class." ~ Mark Barry, Green Wizard Publishing

"Captured the spirit of family perfectly in that there is no perfect family. Funny, warm, tense, angry, it ultimately shows us that life is to be lived and there's no point in dwelling on the past." ~ Lindley Reviews

“A keenly executed character study. The novel is tightly structured and holds its complex elements with a sure and skillful grip. The dialogue pops…a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.”—Junior Burke, author of Something Gorgeous (farfalla press/McMillan & Parrish)

“With bare-bone honesty and fiery dialogue, Wilke explores the loaded relationship between parents and their adult-children, examining the brave and lonely journey of self-discovery, reinvention, and healing…raw and brave—a great read.”—Tracy Trivas, author of The Wish Stealers (Simon & Schuster)

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Book Trailer

Hysterical Love

Cover design by Grace Amandes
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pub. Date: March 31st, 2015
Pages: 314

Dan McDowell, a thirty-three-year-old portrait photographer happily set to marry his beloved Jane, is stunned when a slip of the tongue about an “ex-girlfriend overlap” of years earlier throws their pending marriage into doubt and him onto the street. Or at least into the second bedroom of their next-door neighbor, Bob, where Dan is sure it won't be long. It's long.

His sister, Lucy, further confuses matters with her “soul mate theory” and its suggestion that Jane might not be his... soul mate, that is. But the tipping point comes when his father is struck ill, sparking a chain of events in which Dan discovers a story written by this man he doesn’t readily understand, but who, it seems, has long harbored an unrequited love from decades earlier.

Incapable of fixing his own romantic dilemma, Dan becomes fixated on finding this woman of his father’s dreams and sets off for Oakland, California, on a mission fraught with detours and semi-hilarious peril. Along the way he meets the beautiful Fiona, herbalist and flower child, who assists in his quest while quietly and erotically shaking up his world. When, against all odds, he finds the elusive woman from the past, the ultimate discovery of how she truly fit into his father's life leaves him staggered, as does the reality of what’s been stirred up with Fiona. But it’s when he returns home to yet another set of unexpected truths that he’s shaken to the core, ultimately forced to face who he is and just whom he might be able to love.

Lorraine Devon Wilke, author of the acclaimed debut novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH, brings her deft mix of humor and drama to a whip-smart narrative told from the point of view of its male protagonist. HYSTERICAL LOVE explores themes of family, commitment, balancing creativity, facing adulthood, and digging deep to understand the beating heart of true love.

Praise and Awards

2017 Solo Medallist in General Fiction, New Apple Awards

2017 Finalist in General Fiction; American Book Fest Best Book Awards

B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree ~ IndieBRAG

"Wilke is a skilled writer, able to plausibly inhabit Dan's young male perspective... a well-written, engaging, sometimes-frustrating tale of reaching adulthood a little late." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"I never found a writer who was as good as DH Lawrence, but could also get into a man's head and tell that story. Until now." ~ Barb Taub, Writing & Coffee Book Blog

“This is one of those books which exceeded all my expectations. I was expecting a romance with a couple of twists to the tale but what I got was something far deeper and more satisfying.” — A Women's Wisdom Book Blog

"Effectively told through the first person, Hysterical Love is a deftly told tale about the search for love in the 21st century." ~ Literary Fiction Book Review

"If you want a book with many layers, to be thoroughly entertained by a cracking story, this is for you." ~ Ali Levett

"If you're looking for book recommendations, these are the editor picks: Hysterical Love..." ~ WE Magazine for Women

"I loved this book! Loved, loved, loved it. Devon Wilke's writing style is witty, pointed, funny, even hilarious at times." ~ Readers' Favorite Book Reviews

Buy the Book

About the Author

Author, photographer, singer/songwriter,
Lorraine Devon Wilke, brings the sum total of her creative
experience to her compelling contemporary fiction. Pulling from every chapter of her eclectic background, she creates characters and plots that are sharply original yet reflect universal themes, with dialogue that jumps off the page. Her book covers are designed with her photography, and her debut novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH, includes a free download of one of her songs.

A longtime contributor to The Huffington Post, Devon Wilke's trademark "sass and sensibility" infuses her work with candor, provocative themes, and, whenever possible, wit and humor. But whether exploring issues of family, faith, love, or tragedy, her stories always embrace an elemental mix of heart and soul. Along with AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH, her dramatic short story, "She Tumbled Down," and her second novel, HYSTERICAL LOVE, are also available at Amazon. Her third novel, A NICE WHITE GIRL, is currently prepping for publication.

You can follow her commentary, cultural perspective, and updates on various creative adventures at, with all other links and information available at

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cover Crush: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

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 adore the bright, vibrant colors in this cover! The purple background is gorgeous and makes a stunning backdrop for the vivid pinks, greens, and blues of the flowers flowing around the title. The white title and butterfly add beautiful contrast and ends up standing out amongst the stunning bright colors. It's just so pretty!!
Let's read the synopsis to see what we can expect from the story....

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?  
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, January 17, 2018

New Release Spotlight on DIY RULES FOR A WTF WORLD by Krista Suh

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 256

From the creator of the Pussyhat Project comes a manifesto for every woman to create her own distinct and original path to joy, success, and impact.

On January 21, 2017, millions of protestors took part in the Women's March, and many of them created a "sea of pink" when they wore knitted pink "pussyhats" in record numbers. The pussyhat swiftly found its place on the cover of TIME and the New Yorker, and it ultimately came to symbolize resistance culture. Creator of the Pussyhat Project, Krista Suh, took an idea and built a worldwide movement and symbol in just two months. But like so many women, Krista spent years letting her fears stop her from learning to live by her own rules.

Now in DIY RULES FOR A WTF WORLD, Krista Suh shares the tools, tips, experiences, "rules," and knitting patterns she uses to get creative, get bold, and change the world. From learning how to use your own intuition to decide which rules are right for you to finding your inner-courage to speak up fearlessly; from finding what your passions are (this might surprise you!) to dealing with the squelchers out there, DIY RULES FOR THE WTF WORLD not only inspires you to demolish the patriarchy, but also enables you to create your own rules for living, and even a movement of your own, all with gusto, purpose, and joy.

Early Praise for DIY Rules for a WTF World

"Creativity is a key component of the resistance, and Krista Suh's singular vision launched a nationwide community of women to craft arguably the most iconic visual of the Women's March. Watching the waves of pink hats spill over Independence Avenue as women, femmes and allies came together in numbers too big to ignore was an unforgettable experience. The future is female, and it is also DIY!" -- Bob Bland, National Co-Chair of Women's March on Washington

"Krista Suh wrote your best friend in book form - this book inspires and guides you to get to know yourself better so you're empowered to take on the world." -- Ann Shen, author of Bad Girls Throughout History

"Krista Suh is pure cosmic magic. Your own inner cosmology cannot help but become wilder, bolder, limitless, more abundant, more expansive, and more joyful in seeing the world through her unconventional wisdom." -- Yumi Sakugawa, author of The Little Book of Life Hacks

"Krista Suh is in the business of unleashing the modern day women from the invisible chains of an outdated patriarchy, towards a society that values the intuition, healing, and communal vibes of the feminine divine. This book encapsulates so many of Krista's ingenious philosophies and tips to a life filled with self-care, confidence, and, eventually, global impact." -- MILCK, singer-songwriter of "I Can't Keep Quiet", the unofficial anthem of the Women's March

Buy the Book

About the Author

Krista Suh is a feminist, artist, Hollywood screenwriter, and creator of The Pussyhat Project. She's based in Los Angeles. She wants to make the world a safer place for women and to help everyone validate their own creativity, femininity, and intuition.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HFVBT Book Blast: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Pub. Date: January 30th, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union
Pages: 348

Genre: Historical Fiction

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry

Buy the Book

Available for Pre-Order: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the
Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

HFVBT Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, January 2

Passages to the Past

Friday, January 5

Creating Herstory (Fierce Femme Friday)

Monday, January 8

Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, January 9

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

Friday, January 12


Monday, January 15

Donna’s Book Blog

Tuesday, January 16

A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 19

I Heart Reading

Monday, January 22

Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, January 23

The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, January 25

Pursuing Stacie

Monday, January 29

What Cathy Read Next