Friday, July 31, 2015

Blog Tour: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Author: Lissa Evans
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: July 28, 2015

Paper Moon meets the Blitz in this original black comedy set in World War II England, chronicling an unlikely alliance between a small-time con artist and a young orphan evacuee.

When Noel Bostock—aged ten, no family—is evacuated from London to escape the Nazi bombardment, he lands in a suburb northwest of the city with Vera Sedge—a thirty-six-year-old widow drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.

Noel’s mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Wise beyond his years and raised with a disdain for authority and an eclectic attitude toward education, he has little in common with other children, and even less with the impulsive Vee, who hurtles from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s provided unprecedented opportunities for making money, but what Vee needs—and what she’s never had—is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.

Together they cook up a scheme. Crisscrossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to turn a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life. But there are plenty of other people making money off the war—and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all.

Crooked Heart is a story set in war-time England during a time when Londoners were sending their children out of the city to the country in order to save them from the bombings.  After his godmother dies, Noel is shipped off to the country.  There he is fostered by Vee, a widowed con artist living with her mother and loser son.

I really wanted to like this book.  I find myself in the minority when I say that it was a DNF for me.  I was so bored.  It just didn't grab me and I gave up about 35% of the way in. Noel was a puzzling character and Vee just wasn't likable.  She is one of those people who always has a scheme up her sleeves and I didn't find anything about that aspect of her character appealing.

As I said, I am in the minority in this instance.  Check out the tour list below as well as the Goodreads review page to see what others who  think.

About Lissa Evans

Lissa Evans, a former radio and television producer, is the author of three previous novels, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family. 

Find out more about Evans at her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links

Lissa’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, July 29th: BookNAround
Thursday, July 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 3rd: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, August 4th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, August 5th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, August 6th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, August 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 12th: Cold Read
Thursday, August 13th: The Book Binder’s Daughter
Monday, August 17th: Doing Dewey
Tuesday, August 18th: Kissin Blue Karen
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Thursday, August 20th: Bilbiophiliac
Friday, August 21st: For the Love of Words

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Loving Jack by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Roberts
First published in 1989 by Silhouette

Author Jackie “Jack” MacNamara is a little in love with her own hero: a brooding Old West cowboy who lives by the gun. That’s why she can’t understand her reaction to buttoned-down, real-life architect Nathan Powell. Thrown together under the same roof, they vow to respect each other’s privacy, which should be easy for the mismatched couple. Only fate is writing the plot to this story—and throwing in all kinds of unpredictable twists and turns… 

It isn't often that this author writes an annoying character, but in this early work , she has created a big one in Jackie (Jack).  Loving Jack is the first in a duology.  Jackie, a.k.a Jack, is an aspiring writer who is duped into subletting a house by her con artist cousin.  The problem comes when the owner, Nathan, comes home early.  He definitely doesn't want a house guest.

The thing about this book that bugged me was Jack. She was just really annoyingly optimistic and a bit of a con artist herself.  She didn't have a legal sublease and should have moved out when Nathan came home, but she instead worms her way in and talks Nathan into letting her stay.  Then she decides she loves him and they should be together forever.  Nathan keeps telling her he doesn't want to get involved at all.  Take a hint!  In the end, I had to wonder if he fell for her for real, or if she just wore him down. 

While this one had a cute ending, it wasn't the best early work by Ms. Roberts.  Something that should be noted is that the book Lawless by Ms. Roberts is the book that Jack was writing in this one.  That was a cool idea.  Hopefully the female lead in Lawless isn't as annoying.  Come back next week when I review Best Laid Plans, the sequel.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July Mini Musings

Once and Again: I really loved the Star Harbor series, so I was looking forward to reading this first book in a new series by this author.  Unfortunately, it was just an OK book for me.  I just didn't love the story.  I'm a sucker for second chance love stories, but I just couldn't get behind this one.  Too much time had passed and they got back together too quickly for me.  I also felt like there wasn't enough focus on the two main characters, Carolyn and Jake.  The story kept going off in other directions.  I'll probably check out the next one though because I do like this author.

Romancing the Duke:  Not much to say about this one other than it was just OK.  I did like the two main characters. But the story got a little silly in places with the addition of the Moranglians fan club scenario.  It just made it a little weird. I also found myself skimming a lot to get to the end.

The Whispers: This was a random pick from my library.  It's the first in a series of novellas about psychic Eloise Montgomery.  She appears in a few book by Lisa Unger.  I haven't read any of the books this character shows up in. This story is about how she became psychic.  IT was really short and just OK.  Maybe it would have been more enjoyable if I had read some of the full novels.

Eight Hundred Grapes:  This was a cute chick lit kinda book.  Georgia runs away right before her wedding to her family's vineyard only to discover everything she thought she knew about her family was falling apart.  She desperately tries to put it
all back together while her own wedding plans are going awry.  I would recommend this book for those looking for a sweet, light read.

Kissing in America:  This is a fun YA book about a girl that falls in love with a boy that moves across the country.  She convinces her best friend to go on a game show so she can see him and they embark on a cross country bus ride to get there.  It was a funny story that gave me a better appreciation of romance novels.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

From Bruges with Love by Pieter Aspe

Author: Pieter Aspe
Publisher: Open Road Media
Date of publication: July 2015

Behind the glamorous facade of elite Belgian society lies a seedy world unseen by the public eye—but nothing stays hidden forever 

Inspector Pieter Van In is begrudgingly finishing up a healthy lunch when he hears the news: While restoring their farmhouse, the Vermasts have found a skeleton in the backyard. Van In, who happens to be married to the deputy public prosecutor, is determined to solve the case in double-quick time and squeeze in one last vacation before the birth of his first child.

But this murder is trickier than it looks, and Van In soon finds himself in murky waters. The Vermasts' land belonged to the most prominent businessman in West Flanders before it was suddenly handed over to a right-wing charity. The heavily endowed foundation appears to have no expenditures or investments. So who's financing it—and why?

Before he knows it, Van In finds himself in the middle of a complex web—one that involves high-level officials, local law enforcement, and common thugs. The harder he tries to unravel the thread, the more difficult it becomes to uncover the secrets that the charity's benefactors are trying to hide. This time Van In will have to risk lives to find out the truth.

From Bruges with Love is number 33 in this series with Inspector Pieter Van In, but only the third (I believe) released in the US to date.  I wasn't aware of that going into the book.  Had I known, I probably would have skipped it. I can sometimes read a series out of order if it only has 2 or three books in it, but not 33! It ended up being a DNF for me.  I was hoping for a good mystery, but I kept getting lost in the story.  I felt like I was missing valuable back story between the main characters.  I would have gotten all of that had I started from book one.  I'm not sure why the foreign books end up getting published in the US like this.  I also felt like a lot of the names were very similar, so I had a hard time keeping track of characters. It  just wasn't my kind of book.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

by:  Jessica Knoll
published by:  Simon & Schuster
publish date:  May 12, 2015

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

This book surprised me.  It wasn't anything about what I thought it was going to be about.  I was expecting some kind of deep, dark psychological thriller.  I didn't really get that from this book.  Instead, it was an interesting insider perspective of surviving a school shooting and the publicity that it spurs even many years later.

Tiffani FaNelli came from the wrong side of town.  Her mother gets her into the elite Bradley School hoping to clean up her image.  However, she suffers terrible humiliation at the hands of the popular boys.  She becomes friends with a boy who will eventually become one of the school shooters.  Years later, she has put the past behind her and carefully built a life of which anyone would be envious.  She is desperate for this image to show in the documentary that is being made about the Bradley Shooting since she will be at the center of the interviews.

This book was so different than what I was expecting.  I ended up hanging on to every word wondering what was going to happen next.  The audiobook was excellent.  I would highly recommend it.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

by:  Jo Nesbo
published by:  Knopf
publish date:  April 7, 2015

This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented “fixer” for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer. He has a capacity for love that is as far-reaching as is his gift for murder. He is our straightforward, calm-in-the-face-of-crisis narrator with a storyteller’s hypnotic knack for fantasy. He has an “innate talent for subordination” but running through his veins is a “virus” born of the power over life and death. And while his latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, it may be mutating into his greatest mistake. . . .

This book made me sad and aggravated.  Firstly, it was billed as a stand alone novel.  Yay!!  I love stand alone novels.  Then I get on Goodreads and find out it's not a stand alone.  It's the start of a new series.  Seriously??  Secondly, I listened to the audiobook.  The story is narrated by the male main character.  The audiobook was read by a woman.  Does that make sense?  I found it very off putting.

Olav can't do math so he can't be a drug dealer.  He's too tenderhearted to be a pimp.  He's dyslexic so he can't be trusted with anything too complicated.  He is a fixer for the crime bosses.  Basically, he's a contract killer.  He completely screws up one of his jobs and that puts him in the crosshairs of his boss.  Now it's either kill or be killed.

This is a Jo Nesbo series I will not be following.  I didn't care for the story.  I'm irritated by the fact that everything has to be a series.  Why can't anything just be a simple story and that's it, it's over?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

Author: Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira (HQN)
Date of pubication: June 2015

After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, and with the help of her cousin Ray Anne, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to start her first big assignment, assisting with the Lacoumette wedding. 

In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger finds herself swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own recent divorce, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself and Ginger when he tries to make a pass at her, forcing Ginger to flee the scene in embarrassment. 

But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Discovering they have a lot in common, they form a solid friendship, though everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.

After eight books about Thunder Point, I didn't think that Ms. Carr could top herself.  Well, I was wrong.  I absolutely loved A New Hope. Ginger and Matt's story was heartbreaking, yet so sweet that I just had to sigh at the end. Their story is one of the reasons that I love to read romance.  The HEA always makes me smile in the end.  Ginger has come in Thunder Point to stay with her cousin Ray Anne to recover from the loss of her baby.  She has begun to find some peace and the way back to herself while working in Grace's flower shop.  Matt has been a mess since his bitter divorce, a mess that stems from deeper problems than he has told anyone.

What I loved about this relationship is the friendship that came before the love affair.  Ginger and Matt spend hours talking on the phone and just hanging out as friends.  I really felt like that deepened their relationship and made it more believable.  They just fit so well together.  They are a couple you want to fall in love with and you just want to root for.  The relationship isn't without conflict, but that just makes their story better.

It wouldn't be a Thunder Point story without visiting with other characters in the town.  The book also involves Grace and her mother, Winnie.  I really liked how their relationship was improving.  We are also introduced to Lin Su, Winnie's nurse, and her son Charlie.  They are the focus of the next book, Wildest Dreams, which comes out in August.  I can't wait to visit Thunder Point again!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blog Tour: CLOWNFELLAS by Carlton Mellick III

Author: Carlton Mellick III
Publisher: Hydra (Random House)
Date of publication: July 2015

In a topsy-turvy world where clowns are killers and crooks, Little Bigtop is a three-ring circus of crime, and no syndicate is more dangerous than the Bozo family. From the wildly original mind of Carlton Mellick III comes the short-story collection ClownFellas—an epic mob saga where life is cheap and the gags will slay you.

For years, the hard-boiled capos of the Bozo family have run all of the funny business in Little Bigtop, from the clown brothels to the illegal comedy trade. But hard times have befallen the Bozos now that Le Mystère, the French clown Mafia, has started moving in and trying to take over the city. If that weren’t enough, they’ve got to deal with the cops, the Feds, the snitches, the carnies, the mysterious hit man Mr. Pogo, and the mutant clowns over in the Sideshow district. With the odds stacked against them, the Bozos must fight to survive . . . or die laughing.

So, when I was asked to read Clownfellas for this tour, I had never heard of the term "Bizarro Fiction".  Wikipedia defines this genre as "a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdismsatire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird, and entertaining works."  It sounds cool and it seems like a lot of people are into this genre.  I knew when I got about 4 pages into Clownfellas, I wasn't going to like it. I tried to get a little further, but I just didn't like the story.  

Honestly, it's nothing against the book, author, or genre.  It's just not for me.  There are a lot of great reviews from fans of this type of book, so if you are interested in the genre, check this book out.  In fact, check out the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:

Carlton Mellick III is an oafish gentleman with the stylishest of sideburns. He is one of the leading authors in the bizarro fiction genre—a booming underground movement that strives to bring weird, crazy, entertaining literature to the masses. Imagine a mixture of David Lynch, Dr. Seuss, South Park, and Troma movies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Carlton Mellick III’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, July 15th:
Wednesday, July 15th: Wildfire Books
Monday, July 20th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, July 21st: Wag the Fox – author interview
Wednesday, July 22nd: Kari J. Wolfe
Thursday, July 23rd: The Qwillery
Friday, July 24th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, July 28th: The Horror Honeys
Wednesday, July 29th: Mallory Heart Reviews
Thursday, July 30th: Bibliotica
Monday, August 3rd: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, August 5th: It’s a Mad Mad World
Friday, August 7th: Life is Story

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Blog Tour: The Naked Eye by Iris and Roy Johansen

Authors: Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date of publication: July 2015

Kendra Michaels was instrumental in bringing serial killer Eric Colby to justice. And yet, despite his apparent execution at San Quentin, Kendra is convinced that Colby is still alive. The problem is that she can’t prove it. Even her razor-sharp powers of observation-developed to an amazing capacity during the twenty years she spent blind and now in constant demand by law enforcement agencies-have gotten her nowhere.

But then a reporter who very publicly humiliated Kendra is murdered. Visiting the crime scene in search of anything that might link the brutal homicide to Colby, Kendra instead finds evidence that points to her. Finally Colby’s master plan becomes clear to her: he is framing Kendra for murder.

Suspicions mount and Kendra is thrust into deadly pursuit to clear her name and catch the killer no one believes exists anymore. A killer who is always nearby, watching, waiting to make his next move, even as everyone believes him to be dead. A killer whose trail of destruction is invisible to the naked eye, despite the carnage he leaves in his wake. It will take everything Kendra has to find and stop Colby-and save her own life one more time.

I'll start by saying that I went into this book not having read any of the books prior to this one.  It's the third in a series featuring Kendra Michaels.  For the most part, I thought it did a pretty good job as a stand alone, but there were times that I wished I had read the first couple to get more of a feel for the characters. Still, I really enjoyed The Naked Eye.  I felt like the story took off running and didn't let go until the end.

I loved Kendra.  I thought her to be a unique character as she had spent most of her early years blind. After groundbreaking surgery, she has gained her sight.  This has given her a cool ability to be extremely observant, which comes in handy in at crime scenes.  I loved how she could look at a scene and solve a crime in minutes.  That was pretty cool.  I also really liked the peripheral characters, especially Beth and Sam. I love me a geeky computer guy and a tough kick-ass woman! I will confess, I haven't read any of the Eve Duncan books, so I don't know the background on Beth and Eve, but this book has intrigued me enough to hunt them down.

The story involves Kendra's insistence that a serial killer she helped catch and have executed is still alive.  No one believes her.  This is where I kind of wished I had read the first books.  But the hunt for Colby was exciting and surprising, so I was able to let go of that regret.  I have read this mother/son team before in a stand alone before.  They make a great team!  I look forward to the Kendra's next case!

About the authors

IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing EveHunting EveTaking EveSleep No MoreWhat Doesn’t Kill YouBonnieQuinnEveChasing The NightEight Days to LiveBlood GameDeadlock, Dark SummerPandora’s DaughterQuicksandKiller DreamsOn The RunCountdownFirestormFatal TideDead AimNo One To Trust and more.

ROY JOHANSEN is an Edgar Award winning author and the son of Iris Johansen. He has written many acclaimed mysteries, including Deadly Visions, Beyond Belief and The Answer Man.
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen have together written Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.

Connect with Iris and Roy

TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for The Naked Eye:
Tuesday, July 14th: Books that Hook
Wednesday, July 15th: BookBub – author guest post
Monday, July 20th: Kimberly’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, July 22nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, July 23rd: From the TBR Pile
Monday, July 27th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, July 28th: Life is Story
Monday, August 3rd: Vic’s Media Room
Monday, August 3rd: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Wednesday, August 5th: Mallory Heart Reviews
Monday, August 10th: Lilac Reviews – mini reviews of Books 1 & 2
Friday, August 14th: FictionZeal
Friday, August 14th: Luxury Reading
Monday, August 17th: Lilac Reviews
Tuesday, August 18th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 20th: Kay’s Reading Life

Throwback Thursday: Having Her Boss's Baby by Susan Mallery

Author: Susan Mallery
First published in 2006 by Silhouette Books

When Noelle Stevenson saw the positive results of her pregnancy test, she didn't know what to do. The baby's father was gone, killed serving his country in Iraq. And nineteen-year-old Noelle was barely making ends meet putting herself through college and working part-time. So when her take-charge boss, Devlin Hunter, offered to marry her--in a purely temporary business arrangement--how could she possibly refuse?

Dev wanted to do the right thing for a woman in need. But he didn't anticipate that his beautiful bride, wed in a marriage of convenience, would stir his hardened heart. This platonic partnership was rapidly headed down the road to romance....

When you read this book, you have to let go of reality a little bit to fully enjoy the story. The title is a little deceiving because in Having Her Boss's Baby, Noelle finds out she is pregnant with her boss's BROTHER'S baby.  The problem is that he died in Iraq.  When Dev finds out, he immediately proposes to Noelle so that the baby can be taken care of and have the family name.  He proposes a 2 year marriage of convenience.  You know how that will turn out because marriage of convenience stories always end with a HEA.

The problem that I had with the story was the lack of confirmation that 1) Noelle was actually pregnant and 2) that it was in fact Jimmy's baby.  I just found it pretty unlikely that any guy would do something like this without confirming paternity and an actual pregnancy.  But, once I got over that, I ended up finding the story very sweet.   Noelle and Dev end up falling for each other despite trying to keep things platonic. Noelle was good for Dev and helped him realize that taking a chance on love was the best thing for him to do.  

If you are a fan of this author, I think you will like this early work by her.  It's the first in a trilogy, so I'm on the hunt for the next book,  The Ladies' Man.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blog Tour: Olivay by Deborah Reed

Author: Deborah Reed
Publisher:b Lake Union Publishing
Date of pubication: July 2015

We don’t believe that our lives can change in an instant—until they do.
Olivay, widowed for a year and sleepwalking through life, meets Henry by chance. She takes him to her Los Angeles loft, thinking it will just be for the night. But the following morning, bombs detonate across the city; mayhem and carnage fill the streets; and her loft is covered in broken glass and her own blood. Henry is skittish, solicitous, and strangely distracted. Who is this man she’s marooned with as the city goes on lockdown? Why is she catching him in lie after lie? Is he somehow connected to her husband’s death and the terrorist attacks outside?

With eloquent and suspenseful prose, Olivay explores the wreckage of loss and the collision of grief, desire, and terror in its aftermath. As the characters get pushed outside their comfort zones, forced to walk the thin line between destruction and salvation, Olivay keeps readers guessing what will become of Olivay and Henry until the very end.

Olivay seemed like a good premise, but ultimately in the end, I didn't end up finishing the book. I did feel like the author did a good job of portraying the grief and loss that someone feels when losing a loved one. Olivay's struggle to work through tragically losing her husband  was heartbreaking. But, the pace of the book was kind of rambling and a bit slow for me.  I got about halfway and didn't really feel like it was very suspenseful.

But my main reason for not pushing through was the following.  In the story, the two bombings occur during the LA marathon at the finish line.  Sound familiar? I could see parallels with the Boston Marathon bombings and for some reason that just really turned me off of the story.  I am from the area and work in Boston and can still remember that day as well as that week in the city after.  It's nothing against the book, the author or how it was written.  I know Olivay has received good reviews.  It just wasn't for me.  

About the author:

Deborah Reed’s novel Things We Set on Fire sold more than one hundred thousand copies in its first six months, while Carry Yourself Back to Me was a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors’ Pick. She wrote the bestselling thriller A Small Fortune and its sequel, Fortune’s Deadly Descent, under her pen name Audrey Braun. Several of her novels have been translated or are forthcoming in German. Her nonfiction has appeared in publications such as the LiterarianMORE, and Poets & Writers. She holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing, and teaches at the UCLA Extension Writing Program. She is also codirector of the Black Forest Writing Seminar at the University of Freiburg in Germany. She resides in Los Angeles.

Deborah Reed’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, July 6th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, July 8th: 5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, July 9th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, July 14th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, July 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, July 15th: Staircase Wit
Friday, July 17th: Many Hats
Monday, July 20th: Kissin’ Blue Karen
Tuesday, July 21st: FictionZeal
Wednesday, July 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, July 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, July 24th: Bell, Book & Candle
Monday, July 27th: The Bookish Universe
Tuesday, July 28th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Wednesday, July 29th: Book Lovin’ Hippo

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blog Tour: Orphan #8 by Kim Van Alkemade

Author: Kim Van Alkemade
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: August 4, 2015

A stunning debut novel of historical fiction set in the forgotten world of New York City’s Jewish orphanages

In 1919, four-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz is placed in the Hebrew Infant Home where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research on the children. Dr. Solomon subjects Rachel to an experimental course of X-ray treatments that establish the doctor’s reputation while risking the little girl’s health. Now it’s 1954, and Rachel is a nurse in the hospice wing of the Old Hebrews Home when elderly Dr. Solomon becomes her patient. Realizing the power she holds over the helpless doctor, Rachel embarks on a dangerous experiment of her own design. Before the night shift ends, Rachel will be forced to choose between forgiveness and revenge.

Inspired by true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful novel about the human capacity to harm—and to love.

I'll start by saying that Orphan #8 is not a feel good story, so don't expect to get that.  For me, it's one of those books that I had a hard time trying to decide if I liked the book.  In a way, I had a hard time figuring out what the purpose of the book was supposed to be, especially because the end left me wanting more. At the heart, it is the story of Rachel's life as an orphan in 1920s New York.  She is separated from her brother, subjected to extensive X-Ray exposure in the name of research.  After the age of 6, she is sent to live and grow up in a Jewish orphanage.  The book waffles between flash backs about her childhood and the present as a 40something nurse working in a hospice wing of a hospital.

The early story of her life wasn't pretty.  For me, I found that part both fascinating and horrifying.  I could only hope that nothing like that truly happened, but I know the reality of it is very different.  It was not easy to read.  The rest of her life was interesting as she goes through life with alopecia and as she discovers her love for another woman.  I enjoyed that part of the book more.  What I had a hard time reconciling was the present Rachel and how coming face to face with the doctor who experimented on her changed her outlook. Throughout her life, I never felt like Rachel was a cruel person or let her anger get away from her; no matter what happened.  And in reality, despite what happened to her when she was younger, she was taken care of better than most orphans and her adult life was pretty good.  She had some decent breaks.  So, her anger and cruelty seemed out of character.  And in the end it changed nothing, really.  The ending for me was disappointing as I felt no closure and was left hanging.  

The notes at the end of the book made for an interesting read.  The reader is given a glimpse into what inspired Rachel's story.  They also made me want to research more about that part of American history. The book definitely draws you in, but in the end was just an OK read for me.

About Kim Van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly ReviewSo to Speak, and CutBank. She teaches writing at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Find out more about Kim at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Kim’s Tour Stops
Thursday, July 9th: Raven Haired Girl
Tuesday, July 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 20th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 21st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 22nd: Novel Escapes
Thursday, July 23rd: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, July 24th: As I turn the pages
Friday, July 24th: A Literary Vacation
Monday, July 27th: The Reader’s Hollow
Tuesday, July 28th: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, July 29th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, July 30th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, July 30th: Time 2 Read
Friday, July 31st: FictionZeal
Monday, August 3rd: Cold Read
Thursday, August 6th: Books on the Table

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blog Tour: Excerpt from Untamed by Diana Palmer

Author: Diana Palmer
Publisher: Harelquin
Date of publication: June 2015

Stanton Rourke lives life on the edge. The steely mercenary is dangerous in every way…especially to Clarisse Carrington’s heart. She and Rourke were playmates as children, but she’s not the innocent girl he once knew. When tragedy robbed Clarisse of her entire family, her life was changed forever. Besides, she’s a grown woman now, and there are secrets that hold her back from succumbing to her pursuer. As she struggles to keep her distance, sparks as hot as a Texas summer fly between them. But danger is following Clarisse, leaving her no choice but to rely on Rourke, even as the old wounds lying dormant between them flare up again…

“Palmer…is the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love.” -Publishers Weekly

“The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense.”–Booklist on Lawman

“Diana Palmer is a mesmerizing storyteller who captures the essence of what a romance should be.”–Affaire de Coeur


He took the invitation back to bed with him, scanning it once more. Tat would be in Medina. He put the invitation on the bedside table and stretched out, his hands behind his head, his body arching softly as it relived the exquisite mem­ory of Tat half-naked in his arms, so many years ago, moan­ing as he touched her soft breasts and made the pretty pink nipples go hard as little rocks.
The memories aroused him and he moaned. Tat in his arms  again. He could hold her, kiss her, touch her, have her. He shuddered. It would take time and patience, much patience, but he had a reason to live now. It was the first time in years that he felt happy.
Not that she was going to welcome him with open arms. And there was the matter of her lovers, and there had to have been many.
But that didn’t matter, he told himself firmly, as long as he was her last lover. He’d bring her here, to the game park. They could live together…
No. His expression was grim. Despite her diversions, Tat was still religious. She would never consent to live with him unless he made a commitment. A real one.
He got up from the bed and went to the wall safe. He opened it and took out a small gray box. He opened it. His hand touched the ring with tenderness. It had belonged to his mother. It was a square-cut emerald, surrounded by small diamonds, in a yellow gold setting. Tat loved yellow gold. It was all she wore.
He closed the case, relocked the safe and tucked the ring into the pocket of a suit in the closet. He would take it with him. Tat wasn’t getting away this time, he promised himself. He was going to do whatever it took to get her back into his life.
He lay back down and turned out the lights. For the first time in years, he slept through the night.
Three days later, K.C. came into the living room, where Rourke was making airline reservations on a laptop computer.
“You’re going to Barrera, then?” K.C. asked.
Rourke grinned. “You’d better believe it,” he chuckled. “I’ve got my mother’s engagement ring packed. This time, Tat’s not getting away.”
K.C. sighed and smiled tenderly. “I can’t think of any woman in the world I’d rather have for a daughter-in-law, Stanton.”
Something in the way he said it caught Rourke’s attention. He finished the ticket purchase, printed out the ticket and turned toward the other man.
“Something up?” he asked.
K.C. moved closer. He was looking at the younger man with pride. He smiled. “I knew all along. But the doctor just phoned.”
Rourke’s heart skipped. “And…?”
K.C. looked proud, embarrassed, happy. “You really are my son.”
“Damn!” Rourke started laughing. The joy in his eyes matched the happiness in his father’s.
K.C. just stared at him for a minute. Then he jerked the other man into his arms and hugged him. Rourke hugged him back.
“I’m sorry…about the way it happened,” K.C. said heavily, drawing back. “But not about the result.” He searched Rourke’s face. “My son.” He bit down on a surge of emotion. “I’ve got a son.”
Rourke was fighting the same emotion. He managed a smile. “Ya.”
K.C. put a hand on Rourke’s shoulder. “Listen, it’s your decision. I’ll do whatever you want. I was your legal guard­ian when you were underage. But I would like to formally adopt you. I would like you to have my name.”
Rourke thought about the man who’d been his father, who’d raised him. Bill Rourke had loved him, although he must have certainly thought that Rourke didn’t favor him. Bill had been dark-haired and dark-eyed. The man he’d called his real father had been good to him, even if there hadn’t been the sort of easy affection he’d always felt for K.C.
“It was just a thought,” K.C. said, hesitating now.

Purchase Links

About Diana Palmer

An icon in western romance, Diana Palmer has been writing with Harlequin since 1980 and has published over 180 titles, with over 61 million books sold! When not writing, Susan’s hobbies are gardening, knitting, crocheting, astronomy, archaeology and animals. She also has dogs, cats, birds and lizards.
EXCERPT TOUR for Untamed by Diana Palmer:
Monday, June 22nd: Book Mama Blog
Tuesday, June 23rd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, June 24th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, June 25th: Urban Girl Reader
Friday, June 26th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Monday, June 29th: Read Love Blog
Tuesday, June 30th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, July 1st: The Sassy Bookster
Thursday, July 2nd: Bibliophilia, Please
Friday, July 3rd: Books and Spoons
Tuesday, July 7th: Let Them Read Books
Thursday, July 9th: Romance Novels for the Beach
Friday, July 10th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, July 13th: A Night’s Dream of Books

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: March 2015

Just released from prison, Jase Hollister has a dark and twisted past. And now, he has only one goal: stay out of trouble. Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, sounds like the perfect place for him and his two brothers-by-circumstance to settle down and live a nice, simple life. But model citizen isn’t exactly this rugged bachelor’s default setting—especially when it comes to a certain hot-blooded Southern beauty…

Brook Lynn Dillon has always been responsible. Not that it’s done her much good. The down-on-her-luck waitress is broke, single and fun-deprived. Until Jase comes along. He is dangerous, stunningly protective, breathtakingly sexy and as tempting as sin, and the passion sizzling between them is undeniable. But can it melt her resistance? After all, the right kind of trouble might be just what they both need.

The Closer You Come is a new non-paranormal romance series by Gena Showalter featuring three rich bad boys who have moved to Strawberry Valley for a new life.  The first book, focuses on Jase and Brook Lynn. For the most part, I liked this story.  Jase and Brook Lynn both carry some heavy baggage.  They are really good for each other.  Having been in prison, Jase has some major PTSD as a result of his experience.  He is reluctant to tell Brook Lynn the truth about where he was for 9 years.  Brook Lynn has her hands full trying to make ends meet and keeping her sister in check.  Not and easy task.  Watching them fall for each other was really fun.

The one thing that really kind of skeeved me out and made me almost make it a DNF, was the way the two of them met.  It was a very awkward and kind of icky scenario that had me questioning what the author was thinking with that.  But, if I ignored that first scene, the rest of the book was great.

I did also love the relationship between Jase and his two friends.  Having grown up in the system together, their bond is strong and they are as close as brothers.  I look forward to reading their stories in the upcoming books!