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)

Buy the Book




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 www.RockPaperMusic.com, with all other links and information available at www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.




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 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 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

Bibliotica

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






Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Mr. Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017
Publisher: Allison & Busby
Pages: 320

Genres: Fiction / Historical / Biographical / Holidays


Synopsis



Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept...


What Did I Think About the Story?



Confession time: I am a huge Christmas nerd. This is not an exaggeration....I literally make myself wait until Thanksgiving day to start watching and listening to all things Christmas and, once that day arrives, all bets are off! I watch everything I can find Christmas related and will listen to Christmas music all day long in my office and on my commute. It drives my husband crazy but there you have it. With this being said, I was over the moon when I read about this book coming out and snapped it up as soon as I could. I am so glad I did because this was the absolute perfect book to read over my holiday break!

Mr. Dickens and his Carol is a complete immersion into the world of Charles Dickens and his novels. Samantha Silva creates such a vivid world for those that love Dickens and his quintessential Christmas tale. Dickens is a frenetic, quirky, big-headed and big-hearted dandy who travels the many streets of London to not only calm his always racing mind and soul but to collect characters and worlds for his stories. All of the characters - not only Dickens but his befuddled publishers, his delightful children and wife, his kooky set of friends and colleagues, the plentiful and always interesting people of London - are brought to wonderful life. Even the streets of London themselves seem to take on a life of their own! It was so exciting getting a peek into this world filled with love, happiness, the lows of poverty and the highs of excess. And how the Dickens family loved their excess! To be honest, I think I would have really disliked Dickens given his need for all things if he wasn't so charitable and kind at the same time!

I had no idea that A Christmas Carol was written as a demand - on an incredibly tight deadline to boot - by his publishers after his newest installment of Chuzzlewit was bombing. It was remarkable watching Dickens struggle to get this story written. With an incredible case of writer's block, those closest to him abandoning him or letting him down in various forms, and an ever-shortening timeline ticking away, Dickens has to face the ghosts - both good and bad - of his own past in order to find this story within himself. The way Samantha Silva writes the narrative I can't imagine Dickens being able to write the story any other way as so much of his own experiences and interactions are intertwined with his fictional characters. This adventure also brings him into contact with a literal ghost as well, one that helps him find his way back to his writing and, in turn, himself. 

Something else I found delightful was just how varied the emotions could be throughout the story. Dickens and his motley crew of family, friends, and associates give so much for the reader to giggle about mixed in with quite a few tender and sweet moments, as well as some pretty gut-wrenchingly sad ones as well. If you've got a soft spot for A Christmas Carol and the sort of world it inhabits your emotions will run the gamut when reading Mr. Dickens and his Carol.

The book's author's note describes this story as a reimagining of how A Christmas Carol came to be, relying on real facts and people to lead the narrative. It's full of love, whimsy, heart, hope, and admiration for a man who changed so many of our views on Christmas and the spirit it evokes with his words. Highly recommended to anyone who lives for the spirit of Christas all year long as I do! 


What Did I Think About the Cover?



This cover is absolutely gorgeous, even more so in person! I bought the UK edition from the Book Depository and nearly squealed with delight when it arrived. The images are printed directly onto the hardcover backing - no dust jacket - and for me this gives it a classic, treasured feeling. The yellowed light coming through the windows nearly glow and the sprinkling of snow gives it a beautiful wintery feel. Absolutely magical cover!


My Rating: 5.0/5.0


I purchased a copy of Mr. Dickens and his Carol for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase your own copy, see Goodreads HERE.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cover Crush: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

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.....
 
 
 
 
Seriously, just look at this cover for a minute! It's gorgeous, right?! There's so much to see! Taking your eye around the tree you've got animals and hands with what I believe are quills and fireballs and a key right at the top. What could it all mean??? I have no idea and I really don't care...I just want to stare at the picture some more! And I love the black background as it really makes all of the images pop and the colors vibrant.
 
Let's read what the story is about....
 

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .

Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide.
Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding.

Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard.

And now there's a spirit inside her.

The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father's rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret.

But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death."
 
 
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 10, 2018

Book Blast: The Langsford Series by A.E. Wasserman + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

1884 No Boundaries: A Story of Espionage, and International Intrigue by A.E. Wasserman


Publication Date: April 29, 2015
Archway Publishing
382 Pages

Series: Langford Series, Book #1
Genre: Historical Fiction



Love, murder, sex, and terrorism swirl within a collapsed world economy.

No, it’s not today.

It’s London, 1884.

Recently married Langsford, born of wealth and privilege, is bound by the restrictions of Victorian society. Dynamite has been invented, but the term “homosexuality” has not and men can be arrested for either.

Langsford accompanies his visiting friend, HEINRICH, eighteen, who innocently flirts with young ANNA at London’s Leadenhall Market.

What should be the end of the story becomes the beginning, for Heinrich falls in love with her, never part of the plan. Instead it becomes the catalyst for everything that follows when he flees Germany to return to her. Events unfold that expose terrorists, espionage and international intrigue.

Langsford walks a fine line as he crosses boundaries he never imagined, rubbing elbows with spies, killers and would-be assassins to save his friend, stop an assassination, and prevent a war.


“Wasserman’s writing is atmospherically rich. Very strongly recommended.” – Historical Novel Society, London, critical review of 1884 No Boundaries
 
 

Buy the Book

 



1886 Ties That Bind: A Story of Politics, Graft, and Greed by A.E. Wasserman

 
Publication Date: November 3, 2016
Archway Publishing
320 Pages

Series: Langford Series, Book #2
Genre: Historical Fiction



It is 1886 as Englishman Lord Langsford travels by train to San Francisco. Newly widowed, Langsford is desperate to escape his grief, demons, and life in England. As Langsford completes the last leg of his transcontinental journey, his life unexpectedly changes once again when he crosses paths with Miss Sally Baxter, a beautiful rancher who packs a pistol in her purse.

Sally has made it her mission to find the men who robbed a train and killed her brother. Unfortunately, no one—not even the owners of the Southern Pacific Railroad—seem to care. Unable to resist her pleas, Langsford offers to help Sally and soon becomes entangled in a web of politics, corruption, and greed. As murder, threats, and attacks ensue that endanger both Sally and Langsford, influential men in both California and Washington, D.C. jockey for positions of power. Langsford, who finds himself oddly attracted to Sally, now must sort through criminals and politicians alike to discover the truth behind her brother’s death and prevent his own murder.


“The author has woven a complex net of intrigue and background to the murder that makes the entire book so much more than just a mystery. As the title appropriately states, this deals with issues of politics, corruption and greed in a very accomplished way. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended.” – Christoph Fischer, UK Reviewer Discovering Diamonds
 
 

Buy the Book

 
 
 

1885: Crossingsby A.E. Wasserman



Publication Date: October 5, 2017
Archway Publishing

142 Pages

Series: Langford Series, Book #3
Genre: Historical Fiction



Anna’s hand holding the letter trembled as her vision rocked, going in and out of focus. She felt as though she was falling backward and at the same time rolling forward, expecting to land face first on the floor. She put her hand on the table to brace herself. She no longer heard the song birds in the buckeye tree outside the window, or the hoof beats on the cobblestones passing the front door, or any sound at all.

The world around her ceased to exist—only the paper with Henry’s written words: his own account of what happened during the past year.

The entire time, she’d known he wasn’t telling her everything—but this—she could never have imagined any of it. The hard fact was, Henry will never escape the truth.


“1885 Crossings gives us another opportunity to return to the world of Henry, Anna, and Langsford. A.E. Wasserman’s writing is beautifully done—tense and uncomfortable. The ending gave me a chill.” -Chuck Sambuchino, Bestselling Author
 
 
Buy the Book
 
 
 

About the Author



The daughter of a newspaperman, A.E. Wasserman grew up in a household filled with books and stories. At age 14, she wrote her first novella and never stopped writing.

She is the author of a new mystery/thrillers series, the first of which takes place in London: 1884 No Boundaries, A Story of Espionage and International Intrigue. The second in the Langsford Series, 1886 Ties That Bind, A Story of Politics, Graft and Greed, has just been released.

Her work, critically acclaimed as “richly atmospheric,” is being noticed by readers and critics alike, and has garnered international attention, not only in the U.S., but Europe and the U.K. as well. She recently received top honors from Writer’s Digest for her work.

After graduating from The Ohio State University, she lived in London, then San Francisco. Currently she resides in Southern California with her family and her muse, a Border Collie named Topper.

For more information, please Visit the author’s web site at www.aewasserman.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

 

It's Giveaway Time!!

 

During the Book Blast we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
 
Good Luck!!
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Release Day Review of The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Pub. Date: January 9th, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352

Genres: Fiction / Suspense / Contemporary Fiction / Mystery


Synopsis



A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.


When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.

You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.


Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.


What Did I Think About the Story?



As you will notice in the synopsis above, not much is given away regarding this story. You are warned not to assume anything, which instantly piques your interest. You're told to "get ready for the read of your life". How can a book lover resist?! Well, if you enjoy a good, twisty mystery, then resistance is unnecessary as The Wife Between Us will give you much to enjoy when reading.

Because of the many twists and turns within this story it's nearly impossible to tell you much of anything without possibly giving away clues that could ruin some of those revelations. I will tell you that the main character is a recently divorced woman who, for reasons you will discover, cannot stop thinking about her ex-husband or his soon-to-be new wife. That's about all I can say (see, told you I couldn't say much). From that one nugget of information these two authors spin a complicated web of obsession, betrayal, pain, and revenge that would be nearly impossible to fully guess when starting. I will admit that I did guess one of the bigger revelations pretty early on, however I still enjoyed seeing how that revelation would come to pass as well as seeing how the many other surprises would unfold. There were a few instances of those awesome moments when I stopped and said "oh wow, THAT'S what was happening there!". I love when that happens and it happened quite often when reading The Wife Between Us.

Something else I quite enjoyed about the story was the fact that the writing flowed seamlessly even though there were two separate authors writing it. I cannot determine which author wrote which portions, which is great and always surprising to me in these sorts of situations. I've been a fan of Sarah Pekkanen's writing for a long time now and I'm so excited that I've discovered a new novelist to follow in Greer Hendricks!

The Wife Between Us is full of complicated characters, none of which are who they appear to be initially.  There are so many dropped clues throughout the story and hanging threads of narrative that all come together and make sense by the end. The wrap-up feels neat and ordered, which I love as I hate when there are still tons of questions left unanswered at the end of the story. While I will say that there are sections of the story that dragged somewhat, making the pacing not quite as "thrilling" as I would have liked, overall this is a great mystery that will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in complicated characters and well thought out and developed plots.


What Did I Think About the Cover?



I think it's pretty cool! If you sort of squint at the two faces they kind of look like they're melding into one, which is a great representation of how you feel when reading the book...everything seems to meld/shift/twist together.  The brighter yellow letters also make the title stand out, which I love. Nice contemporary cover.


My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I won an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of The Wife Between Us from Shelf Awareness...thank you Shelf Awareness and St. Martin's Press for my copy! All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cover Crush: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

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.....




Okay, I'm going to admit right here that I purchased a copy of this book as soon as I saw this cover. I just couldn't help myself! And, let me tell you, as gorgeous as the picture above looks, it cannot even touch how beautiful it looks in person. On top of all of the imagery drawing your eyes around the cover, tempting you into wondering how they might all fit into the story, the center keyhole showing the eye is actually a cut out! When you open the cover you get a gorgeous picture of a woman. It really is quite stunning and I can't help but keep staring at this cover. It's my new favorite!

Reading below to learn what you can expect from the story behind this alluring cover....


Inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson and Susan Hill and set in a crumbling country mansion, The Silent Companions is an unsettling gothic ghost story to send a shiver down the spine...

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. But inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself..

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 3, 2018

Guest Post by Dusk Peterson, Author of Sweet Blood

I was fifteen when I asked my father to teach me how to research history for a book.

This isn't as odd as it sounds. My earliest datable memory, from age three, is of my father, –a literary historian and later a printing historian, –describing to me the history of nearby buildings while we waited in a hospital room after my mother had surgery. By my teens, my father was talking to me nearly every evening about his research. Meanwhile, my younger brother had decided he wanted to be an archaeologist; our helpful parents took us to archaeological sites. When I became enthralled in Arthurian Britain, my mother took my brother and me to Arthurian sites when we visited England. Soon we were all watching historical documentaries and historical dramas together.

So one day in the summer of 1978, my father took me to the Library of Congress (which he had first introduced me to five years earlier, when I was at the tender age of ten). He showed me how to use the library's new electronic catalogue, and he introduced me to the National Union Catalog: 130 feet of books collecting catalogue entries from libraries around the United States.

Afterwards, he quizzed me about my chosen research topic: the Agrarian Revolution, in which the British working class clashed – sometimes violently – with the ruling class over new farming practices that favored the elite. My father suggested that I might benefit from looking up newspaper accounts written at the time of the events I wished to research. Soon I was absorbed in 1819 newspaper accounts of the Peterloo Massacre.

All this whetted my appetite for real research. In high school, I decided I was tired of reading blandly written textbooks about historical events; I wanted to work with actual historical materials. So I ended up at St. John's College in Annapolis, which had a Great Books program. We read Homer and Dante and Shakespeare and Mark Twain. We learned political theory by perusing the writings of Machiavelli, Marx, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. We learned math by studying Euclid, Isaac Newton, and Einstein. We learned science by recreating the experiments of Galileo, Lavoisier, and Faraday. We debated with fury and delight over whether Aristotle or Kant was correct about ethics. My best friend and I dressed up on Halloween as Ancient Greek parts of speech.

After college, I took a few graduate courses in history and worked in publishing and journalism, freelancing as a history writer so that I could write about everything from Renaissance calendars to American colonial churches. I also worked as a historical researcher for other writers. I spent a lot of time in the Library of Congress.

My father had given me my first computer in 1987; now the digital era was upon us, and my father introduced me to Internet research in 1994. I began surfing through some of the earliest history sites on the web. I published a news e-zine and did research for that. By 2000, I was spending up to eighteen hours a day researching online.

Then my health broke.

That health crisis, which came close to ending my career as a writer, proved to be a blessing. I found myself asking, "Am I really doing what I want to do with my life?" The answer was clearly no. I'd known what I wanted most to do since age nine: be a novelist.

So I dusted off a fantasy series I'd started in 1995, based on a story I'd written at age sixteen, which in turn was inspired by Arthurian tales of fifth-century Britain and by what I learned in my high school Latin class. I created an empire, sent it to conquer a neighboring country, and the next thing that my young protagonist knew, he was a slave in the empire and could only be rescued from destruction if he befriended the very young man he'd previously vowed to kill.

The Three Lands series was history-light: inspired by history, but without substantial research backing it. By 2002, however, I'd discovered the online fiction community. For that community, I started what turned into an eight-series cycle of alternate history stories, set in a version of America that had been settled in ancient times and therefore retained certain classical and medieval customs. The Eternal Dungeon, Dungeon Guards, Life Prison, Michael's House, Commando, Waterman, Young Toughs, Dark Light . . . Each time I started a new series, I ended up plunging into a new research topic: nineteenth-century prisons, turn-of-the-century warfare, early twentieth century lives in theater and poverty and prostitution, 1910s boarding schools, 1910s battles between fishermen, 1960s visions of the future . . . All of this set in a variety of locations in an alternative version of the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

I think that, if I'd been an academic historian who spent decades researching a single topic, I would have gone mad with boredom. What I wanted to do as a novelist of historical speculative fiction was learn about a lot of different topics of American history. My background was as a journalist and as a history writer for general audiences; I was used to immersing myself in topics that I'd previously known nothing about.

As a novelist, I researched in the Library of Congress, in university libraries, in regional studies libraries, in museums and historical sites, and – more and more – in the substantial offerings of the Internet. Worried that I was becoming overly dependent on electronic research, I checked with my father, who was now retired from his job as a university professor and was devoting his time to his research projects. He told me that eighty percent of his own research was now done online. Digital history had become that important.

I issued my stories initially on e-mail lists devoted to online fiction. Readers asked for more stories. By 2007, I was publishing my stories as e-books. My Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle was an odd blend of alternate history, adventure, suspense, romance (gay, heterosexual, and asexual), and even a few science fiction stories and young adult tales. My Three Lands series also didn't seem to fit neatly into normal genre categories. But I continued to be prodded by readers for more stories. Clearly, there was some sort of audience for what I was writing.

It was in 2016 – more than twenty years after I began researching online, and nearly forty years after my father showed me the National Union Catalog – that it occurred to me that there might be other novelists who were earlier in learning how to do historical research than I was by this point. And perhaps there were also novelists out there like the nonfiction authors I'd researched for in the 1980s and 1990s, who chose to farm out some of their research tasks.

I knew that the film industry made heavy use of historical consultants, to supplement the research done by historical scriptwriters. Curious now, I decided to see how many historical researchers worked with novelists. I figured that the number must be substantial.

To my shock, I discovered that only a handful of historical researchers specialize in working with authors, and only a small percentage of these specialize in working with novelists.

So I set up my shingle.

I recently opened my business, Historicalfic: Historical Research for Fiction Writers. I'm looking forward to being able to learn about new topics through my research for other writers. But most of all, I'm looking forward to recreating that day, long ago, when my father took me to a library and taught me a bit of what he knew. I'd like to hand on what I've learned since then to other authors, and to learn from them.
 
 
 
 
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Dusk Peterson's latest novel is Sweet Blood, from the award-winning alternate history series The Eternal Dungeon. The Eternal Dungeon has been split by a civil war, with the division clearly marked by a quarrel between two Seekers (torturers) whose faithfulness to each other has already become legendary. Into this explosive situation arrives a new Seeker, one who is determined to see that past evils do not continue in the dungeon. But can he keep control of himself when assigned a prisoner who falls in love with him?
 


"The word-building in this story is phenomenal, and the fact that it's inspired by historical events is even more exciting."Rainbow Awards 2017 judge.
 
 
Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical speculative fiction with diverse characters: historical fantasy, alternate history, and retrofuture science fiction. Friendship, romantic friendship, and romance often occur in the stories. Dusk Peterson also runs Historicalfic: Historical Research for Fiction Writers. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.
 
To learn more you can visit both their author website and research website and connect on Twitter (both author and research accounts), Facebook, and Goodreads.
 
 
 

Monday, January 1, 2018

First Book of the Year + 3rd Blogiversary!!



Wow, I can't believe it's the new year already! Happy 2018 everyone!! In preparation for this post I looked over my "First Book of the Year" post for 2017 and, once again, I find myself hoping that the world at large finds more peace and happiness in the new year than it did in the old. I'm also really excited for the next year's allotment of books...2018 seems to have quite a lot of great books on offer. And to start the year off with I'm reading a book that comes out laster this month!

I love participating in Book Journey's First Book of the Year. If you aren't familiar with this tradition here's how Sheila describes it on her website:


Here is what First Book is. The first book of the New Year should be:

A. A coveted book that you have wanted to read but have just not found the time.

B. A delicious favorite… one you have read before, but crave to read again.

C. Really whatever you want it to – it is after all YOUR First Book Of the year.

Make it AWESOME.


For my first book of the year I'm going with a favorite author's upcoming release, one that is already shaping up to be more thrilling and suspenseful than her typical books. It's also one she cowrote with a first-time novelist, something I always find interesting. I won't keep you in the dark any longer...my pick for the first book of the year is...





A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.


If you want to see what other bloggers are reading for their first book of the year be sure to check out Sheila's website


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Today is also the third (I can't even believe it!) Blogiversary of A Literary Vacation! I really have a hard time imagining I've been doing this for three years today as it feels like just yesterday I started. When this sort of anniversary comes around it makes me reassess where I've been and where I might be going. I've met some wonderful fellow readers over these few years and I'm happy and honored to call some of them friends. I'm considering starting a Master's program in 2018...although I haven't decided for sure yet since it's such a big commitment...so I might not have as many reviews as usual as the year progresses.  However, regardless of what I decide to do, I will keep blogging as much as I can as I can't really imagine not doing it now!