Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cover Crush: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you 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 so different than the usual cover I gravitate towards but, for reasons I can't quite put into words, I'm really digging it! I found it when doing a search of the best cover art for 2017 and I have to agree it's quite interesting. From the drawn image I'm guessing this is YA and it makes me think of a comic book or graphic novel. I love the fact that the girl standing on the bed is clearly in a room but seeing or dreaming of a beach or lake or something similar. It's very different from anything else I've seen before!


Let's see what the book is really about....



You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.



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


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



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede



Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: March 28th, 2017
Pages: 400

Genres: Mystery/Psychological Thriller/Suspense


Synopsis



THE PERFECT HUSBAND. THE PERFECT STEPSON. THE PERFECT LIE?


When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.

But then Jamie's behavior changes, and Rachel's perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother - David's previous wife. Is this Jamie's way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?

As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie's outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife's untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie's words:

"You will be dead by Christmas."


What Did I Think About the Story?



I really enjoyed S.K. Tremayne's debut novel, The Ice Twins, when I read it a few years ago and was so excited when the lovely Tiffany Sanchez from Grand Central Publishing reached out to me to see if I was interested in receiving a copy of this newest novel for review. Yes please!! From the synopsis I just knew I was going to be in for another really creepy treat. And, having finished it, I'm happy to say I was correct! The Fire Child once again presents a sinister setting by the turbulent sea and creates an atmosphere of confusion and dread that sends chills down your spine.

One of the best parts of the novel is the fact that each chapter opens up with a countdown to Christmas day. This is wonderful for building up the feeling of impending dread and urgency and helped the story from dragging towards the beginning/middle as the author sought to properly develop the characters' backstories. The story is quite long at 400 pages and there are a few points along the way that allowed the overall sense of impending doom to drop away, but overall this countdown to possible death really kept me turning the pages to see if Rachel's life was truly in danger.

The characters are pretty perfect as far as suspenseful mysteries go as well. They are all so very damaged, each and every one of them, and the full extent of that damage and the lies they tell to hide their secrets slowly unfurls as the story progresses, picking up speed right towards the end. I absolutely loved this as it kept me from guessing the outcome. There's some mental illness involved, lots of bold-faced lying, and some pretty heavy subterfuge going on so that you're never quite sure if what you are reading is really what the characters are experiencing, or if what they are saying is true or not, at least until the final shoe drops and you're able to finally see how all the pieces fall into place. 

Something else I love is the fact that Tremayne has an incredible ability to showcase beautiful yet terrifying landscapes and to make these inanimate, natural elements take on a life of their own and feel almost alive. In this novel our ramshackle and dangerous buildings are long abandoned iron mines and tunnels (as opposed to a dilapidated cottage as in The Ice Twins) and this combined with the thick forest surrounding the mansion and the vicious sea surrounding that leads to an overall feeling of isolation and suffocation. The mansion itself is amazingly detailed and it was so much fun going along with Rachel as she explored what had once been the servants areas and the old monastery ruins that the house is built around and on top of. The entire setting feels haunted, with creaks, whispers (was it the wind?), and dark shadows abounding, and this serves to push already disturbed people over the edge into hysteria. I, for one, had the best time watching that descent!

The Fire Child is wonderful, atmospheric suspense and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good gothic mystery. While there was some lagging in the middle and I didn't feel it needed to be quite as long as it was, overall it was a delightful way to spend the hours and I am still a firm fan of Tremayne's writing.  


What Did I Think About the Cover?



I think it fits the story perfectly! It evokes the stormy, sinister feeling that hangs over the whole narrative and is the exact picture I have in my head of the location and youngest character (tossing, freezing seaside with Jamie running off to the dangerous mines on the property). I love it!


My Rating: 4.0/5.0



Thank you to Tiffany Sanchez and Grand Central Publishing for a free copy of The Fire Child in exchange for an honest review! Continue below for more information about the author and where you can purchase a copy.
 
 

Praise for The Fire Child

 
 
"Tremayne...does a terrific job of building suspense until events reach their climax in the midst of a violent storm." - Library Journal       
 
 

Buy the Book

       
 
 

About the Author   

 
 
S. K. Tremayne is a bestselling novelist and award-winning travel writer, and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world. Tremayne has two daughters, and lives in London.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spotlight on Plain Jane by Barrie Levitt Knee

Publisher: XLIBRIS
Pub. Date: March 13th, 2015
Pages: 232

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


Plain Jane by Barrie Levitt Knee is the story of a forty something wife and mother who has kept a secret from her family for almost seven years.


Jane has forever considered herself to be plain. Her BFF Gaby is the exact opposite. Following a night of countless margaritas, Jane and Gaby make a secret pact because thats what friends are for. Now Jane has less than a week to tell her family what she has done. The secret is revealed over a four and a half hour time period while Jane is running a marathon. Each chapter begins with a song that Jane is listening to while running. The lyrics tie into the secret and many other stories that Jane tells about Gaby, her family and mostly herself.

“Keep moving Jane! You can do this!” This is Jane’s running mantra throughout the book. The physical and emotional journey of running a marathon is continuously felt. Plain Jane keeps the pace of a marathon with each song. The sixty-four songs playlist is at the end of the book. It is a great playlist for those that run a ten minute mile like Jane.


Praise for Plain Jane



"This book is filled with love, loss and running. It has many unexpected twists and turns. So enjoyable." - Cindy, Amazon Reader


"Great book! The race went so fast. I couldn't believe the marathon was over. Highly recommended." - Michael, Amazon Reader


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

 
 
Like Jane, Barrie Levitt Knee is also a wife and mother who enjoys running, yoga and mostly listening to classic rock music. Professionally, she spent fifteen years working in online media. She also designed and manufactured decorative covers for children’s bedrails called Kover-Ups (www.kover-ups.com). This product earned an iParenting Media award. She currently resides in New Jersey and is working on her second novel.

You can learn more about Barrie on her website and connect with her on Facebook.
 
 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cover Crush: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you 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 have to admit that I've been a big fan of every single one of Simone St. James's covers. This, combined with the alluring book descriptions, has led me to purchase every single one of her novels even when I've still not yet read any of them. That might sound weird, but I've just heard such good things about her spine-tingling stories and her covers draw me in so much that I seem to push the "buy" button before I can help myself (I told you I had a problem!). I'm sure this book will be no different!

What I love most about this particular cover is the blurry building in the background, surrounded by what looks to be broken glass and/or decaying overgrowth. It creates such an eerie feeling of dilapidation and ruin. And clearly something sinister must have happened in that building! The muted colors lead me to the same conclusions and all in all it creates a definitively creepy feelings.

So what might have happened in that building? Let's read to find out....



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…



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





Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

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

Genre: Thriller / Suspense


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


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

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

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


What Did I Think About the Story?



I have a confession to make: I have not yet read Fiona Barton's debut novel, The Widow.  I might be one of the last readers on the planet who hasn't read it, but there you are. I've read all the excellent reviews and even purchased a copy but I just haven't gotten around to finding the time to dig in. I mention this as somewhat of an explanation as to why I jumped at the chance to read this, her sophomore novel. Between this urge to get ahead of the game and read it before it comes out and the attention-grabbing synopsis above I was not going to let this one pass me by and be relegated to the  never-ending TBR pile. I'm so glad I fit this one into my reading schedule because it definitely kept me entertained and was the perfect distraction for my rainy day weekends in Florida!

The novel begins with the discovery of a baby's skeleton during the demolition of a house in London and continues for a little over a year as the police and journalist Kate Waters investigate to find out not only who the "Building Site Baby" is but why she was buried there in the first place. The story goes back and forth between four perspectives: Kate, a journalist looking to not only help uncover who the baby is but hopefully use the story to reignite her somewhat stagnant career; Emma, a woman who grew up on the street where the baby was found and who seems to begin having a resurgence of mental health issues triggered by learning about the discovery; Jude, Emma's mother who kicked her out of the house at sixteen at the prompting of her boyfriend; and Angela, a woman who's baby was kidnapped from the hospital decades ago and who never got over the loss of her newborn. The story unfolds somewhat slowly at first and these women seem to only tenuously be linked to each other by their reactions to the discovery of the baby. However, as the story begins to pick up (somewhere around 1/3 of the way in) the ties between the women become more solid, all leading to an incredibly shocking revelation.

I have to say that, whenever I start a mystery or thriller book, I always write down my initial prediction of what the outcome of the story will be and, in this case, I was pretty darn close in my prediction, although the "big reveal" and the way we got to that discovery completely threw me for a loop. I think having Kate Waters, a seasoned journalist with quite the skill at getting to the heart of a mystery and getting people to open up to her, as one of the main characters was perfect and made the revelations feel natural and realistic. While some of the smaller surprises were easy to see coming I still enjoyed seeing how we got there and learning the reasons things happened the way they did.

Possibly my favorite part of the story were the characters, especially Kate. She is such a salty yet compassionate and resourceful person and I just loved the spots of levity and shots of adrenaline she brought to the table. While the other characters weren't quite as likeable (especially Jude and some of the secondary male characters) they were all very well developed and realistic and all served a purpose in the overall development of the story. Emma and Angela provided the most sympathetic situations and while they were both put through hell in different ways I was very satisfied with how their stories tied up.

Something else I enjoyed about the story was how it developed to be so much more than just the discovery of a buried baby. It dealt with the complicated relationships between mothers and their children and the myriad of outcomes that can develop from that sort of relationship. There are few relationships more complex then between a parent and their growing children and I enjoyed watching these different scenarios play out.

The Child is wonderful summer reading and I very much enjoyed my time with it. While I wouldn't call this face-paced or necessarily "page-turning suspense" I would say it's an excellent mystery filled with interesting characters placed in some unimaginable situations. I am now very excited to make some time to read Fiona Barton's first novel!


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's okay. I'm not really sure what it has to do with the story and doesn't really reveal anything, but it's interesting enough that I would want to find out more about the book if I passed it on the shelves.



My Rating: 4.0/5.0



Thank you to Penguin Random House/Berkley for a free copy of The Child in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Continue below for more information about the book and it's author.
 


Early Praise for The Child



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

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

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

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

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

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


Buy the Book

 
 
 

About the Author

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

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



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spotlight on The Competition by Donna Russo Morin +Tour-Wide Giveaway!

Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Diversion Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages

Series: Da Vinci’s Disciples, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery



Donna Russo Morin returns with a follow-up to Portrait of a Conspiracy, called “a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition,” by C.W. Gortner.


In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal. They paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the city.

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

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

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


Praise for The Competition



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


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


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

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


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


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


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


Buy the Book




About the Author



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

Donna’s titles include The Courtier’s Secret, The Secret of the Glass, To Serve a King, The King’s Agent, Portrait of a Conspiracy, and The Competition.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


It's Giveaway Time!!



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Competition & a Key Pendant necklace! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.


Giveaway Rules


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. 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.


The Competition Blog Tour Schedule



Monday, June 26

Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, June 27

Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, June 28

Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 29

Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at A Holland Reads

Friday, June 30

Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, July 3

Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, July 5

Guest Post at Books of All Kinds

Thursday, July 6

Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Saturday, July 8

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, July 10

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, July 11

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 14

Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, July 17

Review at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 18

Guest Post at Bookfever

Thursday, July 20

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 24

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, July 26

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, July 27

Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, July 28







Friday, July 7, 2017

Spotlight on Incognito by Khaled Talib

Publisher: World Castle Publishing, LLC
Pub. Date: May 15th, 2017

Pages: 268


Genres: Thriller / Suspense


The Pope has been kidnapped. Three specialists are dispatched to Europe by a covert division of the global hacker group, Anonymous, to find him. A secret arrangement is made for specialist Ayden Tanner - who is officially dead - to meet Rafael Rabolini, the Papacy’s press secretary, in Geneva, who might be able to tell him more. But trouble unexpectedly starts from the moment Ayden arrives in the city that winter day...


Book Trailer

 
 


Praise for Incognito



"A roller coaster of intrigue, action and conspiracy." - Juan Gómez Jurado, international bestselling author of God's Spy.


Buy the Book

 
 
 
 

Check out Khaled Talib's interview with The Big Thriller Magazine! 

 
 

About the Author


 

Khaled Talib is a former journalist with local and international exposure. He has written three novels, third, Gun Kiss, will be published year end by Imajin Books in Canada. Khaled is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. He resides in Singapore.

Learn more about Khaled on his website and connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.