Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog Tour: Book Spotlight & Guest Post: Magic in Dixie by Beth Albright (with Giveaway!!!) - CLOSED

Title:  Magic in Dixie  
Author: Beth Albright    
Series: In Dixie, #1     
Published: June 2014


“ Honey, there are secrets in this town for sure but I couldn’t believe there were so many-- all buried in one family. And of all places to start digging them up—a funeral.”
~Vivi McFadden Heart

“I was born into a house full of secrets and bad behavior.”

Rhonda Cartwright Bently is having the most important moment of her life. She has finally been asked to help cater the Governor’s ball at the Emmy Awards in LA— But before the big day she has to get home to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and bury her estranged father. What she discovers in the aftermath of the funeral turns her life upside down in a matter of seconds.

A gift from her father from the grave—a dilapidated southern mansion with an old trunk full of family secrets, will transform Rhonda’s life in an instant and make her question everything she’s ever believed about her family and herself. And then there’s that list--the one she made about her dream man when she was just a teenager. Her perfect love may be right here under her nose, but for Rhonda this is one last complication she could do without. She intended to get home, bury Daddy, sell that dilapidated monstrosity and get back to LA, as fast as she could. But plans never quite work out just as we hope.

Rhonda will have to call on her old BFF’s, Blake and Vivi, to help solve the family mystery. But what those original Sassy Belles finally create out of that pile of dust could change Rhonda’s life for good, make her Hollywood dreams fade to black, and maybe even help her uncover her heart right where she left it—in Dixie. But sometimes things aren’t as they seem. And people aren’t always who we think they are.

Beth Albright is at her southern best with this new series of sexy romance, laugh out loud comedy, and edge-of-your-seat mystery—exactly what we have come to love in the Beth Albright brand! So grab your girlfriends and put on your seatbelts for this one-- an exciting, unpredictable joy ride though the Deep South that will keep you guessing until the final shocking pages.

WHY I LOVE TO WRITE ABOUT THE DEEP SOUTH: THE MAGIC OF DIXIE

The romance of the seasons, the symphony of a summer night, the damp warm summer evenings, the sound of crickets, the magic of fire-flies, or "lightening bugs" as we call them down south; these are things I love about the place I call home. Summer days are a different story: most days, the heat kisses your face like opening a dishwasher mid-cycle! I love the bright neon yellow and orange leaves of fall, the crisp cool air and the cornflower blue skies. In winter, I love waking up to the excitement of the first fresh snowfall (usually just a dusting), but on that day we all become children filled with excitement; rosy cheeks stinging in the frigid air. And I love the incredible burst of the most fragrant spring you'll find anywhere on Earth. Azaleas abound in hot reds and pinks, color bathes your eyes at every turn and magnolias fill the air with perfume. You know you're alive in the Deep South. It breathes long slow deep breaths. You feel it. And it's full of the romance of just being alive.

I love the people of the Deep South,where family comes first--where that sense of community is unique and rich and holds that tapestry of our people woven tightly together like a well-worn heirloom quilt. It's a place where people still love to sit on their front porch and shout "hey" while they wave to everyone who walks by--Where you will be invited inside for some sweet iced tea and some good story-telling at your neighbor's kitchen table any day of the week. And there's always the food, from my favorite delicacy of fried green tomatoes to cornbread and BBQ to cobblers--it's the very best food anywhere.

The women of the Deep South (and I am one) love their make-up, pearls and pageants, but underneath all that hair and make-up is a wonder-woman, the glue holding her family and friends together. They are the strongest people I have ever know. Always feminine and polite but make no mistake, we are steel magnolias. There's nothing we can't or won't do for those we love. And we'll look like beauty queens while doing it! We can hug your neck, wring your neck and bless your heart all in the same day!

And then there's college football, the religion of the Deep South. Our gods are our football players in Alabama. The University of Alabama Crimson Tide has more national championships than any other school in the nation. And weekend church is the tailgating that fills the University of Alabama quad every Saturday in the fall. We burst at the seams with Crimson Pride. The mantra "Roll Tide" in Alabama is like "Aloha" in Hawaii--it means hello, goodbye, and God bless you all at the same time.

I am so filled with pride to call Alabama and the Deep South my home! With Alabama Love Stories, in the SOUTHERN BORN series, you'll get strong, smart, funny, sexy southern women who stick together like warm peach cobbler, love their men, and never give up on anything--or anyone they love.

So, I was thrilled when this new series, IN DIXIE popped into my head.

The entire series is about each of these women, my newest Belles, discovering themselves, their passions, their hearts and souls. And then making the difficult decision to embrace that - or not. Of course part of that journey will always be finding true love and learning just who your southern sisters are when things get tough. And my novels will NEVER be without laughter and hilarious situations. It's the southern way--laughter in the face of adversity. And to simply believe in the magic of tomorrow--as our favorite southern heroine, Scarlett O'Hara always said, "I'll worry 'bout that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day."

Honestly, I have been planning this first story, MAGIC IN DIXIE, for a long time. I knew this book would have all the fun, comedy, sarcasm and romance of all of my previous books but what was tugging at me with this one was this huge secret this family has been hiding. So it's like peeling back an onion; layers upon layers, unfolding.

And I take my readers on this mysterious adventure through an old antebellum mansion that my heroine inherits from her estranged father. Secrets are so imbedded in this very crazy family with possibly the most dysfunctional mother I have ever written! I LOVE her!

The central heroines are my new Belles, and their stories, a little deeper and richer but still steeped in the ways and attitudes and language of the Deep South. Of course all will be heady sexy romance with a shot of mystery and filled with laugh-out-loud moments. The next book will be out in December, called STARDUST IN DIXIE. 

These books are so near and dear to my heart! All of these women have a story to tell. They are funny and sexy, sophisticated but very genuinely southern!

I love writing about the Deep South. My passion to write was born there and to this day, I still find there's MAGIC IN DIXIE.


Purchase the Book at:

           


GIVEAWAY DETAILS - CLOSED (US only)  
Beth is generously giving one lucky reader a signed book, chocolates and a Starbucks gift card. And three separate winners will win a $5 Starbucks gift card, too - so there will be 4 winners here!!!

 To enter… 
  • For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • Please include email address so I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends July 3rd! 


Good luck!
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Author Q&A: Wendy Wax (with Giveaway!!!) - CLOSED

Today, I am pleased to welcome Wendy Wax to Always With a Book. Her latest book, The House on Mermaid Point, is the third book in her Beach series. It will be available July 1st. You can read my review of the book here. Please enjoy this Q&A and be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The House on Mermaid Point below!


About the author: Bestselling author Wendy Wax's books have been highly praised. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says she “writes with breezy wit and keen insight into family relations.” Her contemporary women’s fiction has been featured in national publications such as USA Today, Ladies’ Home Journal and Woman’s World, and on prominent book sites. Ten Beach Road, takes place in her hometown, St. Pete Beach, and was the first book she set in Florida. It has been joined by Ocean Beach, Christmas at the Beach and THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT. Her ten novels also include While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, Magnolia Wednesdays and The Accidental Bestseller. Her work has been sold internationally and her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. 

When not writing, she spends time visiting with readers at bookstores, book clubs, book and author luncheons and book festivals or enjoying time with her family. She has lived in Atlanta for seventeen years.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   

 

 ****************************************************************************************

So many readers are delighted to have a chance to be back with Maddie, Avery and Nicole, the characters you introduced in TEN BEACH ROAD a few years ago. Was it difficult to get back into their lives? 
You know, I thought it would be. I was still so caught up in the fun of WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY and readers’ response to it, that I began to question whether I’d be feeling “at home” with the reassembled ensemble as I had when I wrote OCEAN BEACH. As it turned out, I found myself immediately at ease when I started that first chapter and looking forward to finding out how they would tackle the challenges I knew were coming. I know it helped that I had already spent time with them while writing my holiday novella, CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH.

Has a lot changed for the women of TEN BEACH ROAD since OCEAN BEACH? 

There have been some big life changes, but the characters are still friends, still taking things one renovation at a time. The cast of “regulars” has gotten bigger as characters from the first book have become more involved from one book to the next and become known to readers. Mermaid Point becomes host to the entire Do Over cast and crew—some with small roles and others central to the plot. You’ll find everyone from Kyra, Dustin and Deirdre to Chase, Joe, Troy and everybody’s favorite, charming network executive Lisa Hogan, who once again claims the element of surprise as her ace in the hole.

For those who are just now discovering the novels these characters share, will you give us some background? 

You bet. Readers first met Maddie, Nicole and Avery when the three were deeded ownership of Bella Flora, a crumbling historic home on Florida’s Pass-a-Grille Beach, in TEN BEACH ROAD. At that time, all they dared hope was that renovating and selling it would let them rebuild their lives and the bank accounts drained by a Ponzi scheme. They had no idea they’d end up living together for the next two summers, hammers in hand, starring in their own DIY reality television show, Do Over. Indeed, in their second book, OCEAN BEACH, the women—still in desperate straits financially--headed to Miami’s South Beach, with another project and cameras rolling to film their first season. In THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, the show is about to make its on air debut even as they film their second season. This time they’re in the Florida Keys where they’re expected to turn Mermaid Point, the private island of aging, down on his luck rock legend William Hightower, into a bed-and-breakfast. Against his wishes, of course.

Rock ‘n roll and renovation? How did you arrive at that combo? 

It started with again needing a character who, to begin with, could afford the sort of house that would make an interesting television setting. So I started thinking celebrity. Then, during my early research, I fell in love with the Florida Keys. I was headed to Key West when I was shown a private island in Islamorada that I just had to have. Then I needed a really high profile, extremely wealthy—at least at one time—mega star. Lots of musicians lived and partied in the Keys and before I knew it, I was thinking about some of my favorite bands and Southern rocker William “Wild Will” Hightower was born.

Who are some of your favorites? 

The Allman Brothers, Lynrd Skynrd, Wet Willie . . .
 

It was a kick revisiting those times and walking down my own memory lane helped me imagine Hightower’s music being just as magical as that of the musicians I followed and the wild ride that is part of his past.
 

I may have had a bit too much fun with the musical memories called up during the writing. I actually ended up trying my hand at a ballad, Mermaid in You, one of the songs for which my mythical Hightower became famous. As part of the release of THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, I touched base with two young musicians who are sons of a friend. Their group is the 10th Concession and they’re well known in the southeastern U.S. They looked at my lyrics and, while I was quickly demoted from writer to co-writer, they worked with me, created the music and now the song has been record-ed. It has its live performance debut along with the book on June 30th and will be available as a free download. I hope you’ll check it out. Info will be posted on authorwendywax.com as we get closer to the date.

What's next? 

I am happily up to my neck in a new book. But I’m still debating so many different ideas that I don’t want to share too much yet. Lots keeps changing. It is, however, set in Manhattan and at New York’s Lake George. More to come . . . As always, I’ll be sharing more book news on my site, on Facebook and other places. I hope everyone will visit with me in those spots. Also, appearances for and the latest about THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT will be shared online along with giveaways and other updates.


 

Thank you, Wendy. Thank you! I appreciate being able to share THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT with you and visitors to your site.



THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT
Wendy Wax
A Berkley Trade Paperback Original/Fiction
On Sale 7-1-14/$15.00 ($17.00 Canada)
978-0-425-26332-7





GIVEAWAY DETAILS - CLOSED (US/Canada only)  

Thanks to the publicist I have one copy of The House on Mermaid Point to give away to my readers. 



To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only and ends July 1st.


Good luck!
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

Title: The House on Mermaid Point   
Author: Wendy Wax    
Series: Beach #3     
Published: July 2014, Berkley Trade  
Format: ARC Paperback, 416 pages   
Source: Publicist   

In this new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . .

Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . . .

My thoughts: This is the latest book in Wendy Wax's Beach series and I just loved it! I have completely fallen in love with this motley crew of women.

This latest installment, which is set down in the Keys of Florida, has the gals working to restore a rock-n-roll legend's private island into a bed and breakfast for their reality show. Problem is, he's not really on board and once again, the network head honcho has some tricks up her sleeves to make the gals' job that much harder. 

What I love about this series is the relationships that have developed amongst the women. Not only have the mother-daughter bonds grown stronger between Maddie and Kyra, but even Avery and Deirdre have managed to rebuild their relationship. And the friendship between Maddie, Avery and Nicole is one that's quite strong - those women will be there for each other for life.

I also loved the interactions between Maddie and William. Maddie had had a crush on William many years back and so when she first sees him on the island, she's tongue-tied and shy. William notices her, not that she's glamorous or young, like the usual groupies that he typically ends up with but because she's genuine and sure of herself. As they continue to interact, Maddie becomes more confident of herself around him, going as far as standing up to him a few times - something that William definitely takes note of. I'm curious to see if anything progresses further than what happens in this book with these two...

I think this book may be my favorite of the series yet. It has a little bit of everything - funny situations, a new romance brewing, friendships strengthened, and a surprising ending that you probably won't see coming. I only hope this isn't the last we've seen of these ladies as I think their stories have only just begun!


***Be sure to stop by tomorrow when I have Wendy Wax stopping by with a Q&A about the book and series. There may also be a giveaway!!!



Books in this series:

      1.  Ten Beach Road
      2.  Ocean Beach
      2.5  Christmas At The Beach
      3.  The House on Mermaid Point 

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Sunday Post #29 (6.22.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.  

I've decided to try a new weekly meme - a place where I can do both a weekly wrap up and share what books I get all in one post, so I'm going to give The Sunday Post a try, and also link up with Sheila's It's Monday Post over at Book Journey.  

I'm off to Mexico this week and I cannot wait!!! I have some posts scheduled - a mix of reviews, guest posts and even some giveaways. I do hope you'll stop by and check them out. 


I'm still debating what books I'll be reading while sitting on the beach. While I have a ton of review books, I'm leaning towards reading some of my own books - I think I want some fun, light books that I can just read and enjoy and not have to think while reading! I'll have my iPad with me, so I'll have a ton to choose from, plus I'm bringing a few paperbacks. Now I just need to finish packing my clothes and I'm all set!

 
Have a great week everyone!!! 

*****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:           
* Review: Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
* Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
* Review: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
* Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Jun 20, 2014


 
Books Read:      
* The Fever by Megan Abbott (review audiobook)
* The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax (review book)  
* Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery (library audio book)
* Little Lies by Heather Gudenkauf (e-book)          
 
Currently Reading:            

* Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (review book)          
* One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (review book) 
 
 
Books Up Next:          
* The Promise by Robyn Carr (review e-book)  
* Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire (mine)  
* Emily & Einstein by Linda Franic Lee (mine)
* Anything But Love by Beth Ciotta (e-book)  

Recent Giveaway Winners:       
* The Bookman's Tale by Charle Lovett...Elisabeth

Current Giveaways:         
* June Monthly Giveaway - 2 audiobooks up for grabs...Ends 6/30/14 
 

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax
 
* Author Q&A: Wendy Wax (plus Giveaway!!!)
* Guest Post: Beth Albright (with prizes!!!)
 
* Review: Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery
* Review: Little Lies by Heather Gudenkauf
 

  Book Haul:      
For Review:    
* Until We Touch by Susan Mallery (Netgalley/Publicist)
Library:

* Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery (audio book)
 
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in June 20

 

I'm happy to say my back is finally feeling better!!! I was able to take longer walks with the dogs this week - still at a slower pace, but with no pain. Next week, while I'm on vacation in Mexico, I plan to walk on the beach each morning. I'm not bringing my sneakers, but walking is walking, so I'll still get in some exercise and hopefully I'll be able to increase my speed a little so that when I get back, I can resume my normal walking pace. I'm hopeful that I can still do the 1/2 marathon at the end of July that I signed up for, but that's still up in the air at this point.


***I'll be away for the next check-in, so I will post when I get back on July 2.
 

Here's how my week went:  

Jun 14:  rest
Jun 15:  rest
Jun 16: 30 minutes
Jun 17: 30 minutes

Jun 18:  30 minutes
Jun 19: 30 minutes

Jun 20: 30 minutes
 
How did your week go?
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott (audio)

Title: The Fever   
Author: Megan Abbott      
Narrator: Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heyborne, & Joe Barrett  
Published: June 2014, Little, Brown & Company  
Length: 9 hours, 12 minutes  
Source: Publisher 

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman).

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Megan Abbott and I was fortunate to have gotten an advanced copy of the audio version while at BEA this year. She was also there in person, autographing books, but since I hadn't read her before, and already had the audio, I skipped the print version (and the long line!!!). I had some trepidations about the book, being that I didn't know much about her writing and had been under the impression that she was a YA author - but, I was assured by some die-hard fans that I would enjoy this book and let me tell you, they were right!!!

Taking an idea from the headlines of the news, Megan Abbott explores the idea of mass hysteria and a pandemic sweeping through a small town. When one girl, who  is stricken with a seizure, panic ensues. Rumors start flying as to the cause, especially as there appears to be no reason for the seizure. Then it happens again. What is going on?

In today's age of social media, the news of the girls spreads like wild fire as does the speculation. What is causing the seizures? Is it the new vaccines all the girls are now required to get? Are there contaminants at the school? Is it the lake in the town? Panic ensues, not only from the teenagers but also from the parents. 

Told in alternating voices, we get the story from the perspective of one family - Tom, Eli and Deenie Nash. Tom is a teacher at the school where the girls attend and so we get that adult perspective throughout the book, which contrasts with the teenage mindset when either Eli or Deenie are narrating. It's chilling just how point-on Abbott is with the whole teenage thought process. Teenage girls can be so mean and she clearly portrays this without it feeling contrieved.

I enjoyed my first Megan Abbott book and am looking forward to picking up another. If you've read her other books, which ones would you suggest I read next?


Audio Thoughts: I enjoyed the audio production of this book. All three narrators are new to me, but did a great job with the story. They keep the story moving, adding tension when needed and brought the story to life. I'm glad that 3 different narrators were used, instead of just one. 


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Title: The Glass Kitchen   
Author: Linda Francis Lee        
Published:  June 2014, St. Martin's Press
Format: ARC paperback, 366 pages   
Source: Publisher  

With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself. A true recipe for life. 

Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream. The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Linda Francis Lee and I loved it! It's the type of the book that you can't put down but you don't want to end. It's sweet and whimsical, with a touch of magical realism thrown in.

I loved the character of Portia. Like her grandmother, she has "the knowing." Out of the blue, she will get the urge to bake something, or make a specific meal that someone needs for whatever reason. Moving to New York, she realizes that cooking is a huge part of her, and she slowly starts allowing it to come back to her.  I also loved the bond that she has with her sisters, Olivia and Cordelia. They truly act like only sisters can - they love each other, fight with each other, and are there for each other when it counts. 

I also loved Ariel, Gabriel's youngest daughter. She's smart and sassy in her own way and makes quite an interesting narrator. I love that Lee chose her as a narrator - it paired well with Portia's chapters. She's still struggling after the death of her mother and trying to not become invisible to those around her.

Between the beautiful cover, the mouth-watering recipes, the steamy relationship between Portia and Gabriel that simmers from their first meeting right until the end (he uses the fire escape ladder to visit her at night - how hot is that!!!), and the cast of fun characters, I devoured this book!   

I actually have one of Linda Francis Lee's other books on my shelf, Emily & Einstein, but just haven't gotten around to reading it. Now, I can tell you it's getting bumped up on the reading list!

Do you ever choose books based on the cover? Would this cover tempt you?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Title: Elizabeth is Missing    
Author: Emma Healey        
Published: June 2014, Harper  
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

In this darkly riveting debut novel-a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging-an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory-and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud-not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth's mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud's rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey's disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

My thoughts: This is Emma Healey's debut novel and it was quite captivating and intriguing. This is a compelling look at the aging process told in the first person narrative and I have to say, I thought it was well done!

Maud is losing her memory, suffering from dementia and so she leaves notes for herself all over the house. These notes are supposed to help her remember what she's already figured out or what she's supposed to do. What she does know is that her friend Elizabeth seems to be missing. This becomes the main focus of her days, trying to find out what happened to Elizabeth. Not helping the situation is that Maud is able to remember the fact that her sister, Sukey, went missing when Maud was a young girl. 

I loved how this story is told in the first person present tense. You get the feeling of Maud's frustration with her memory loss - how she starts to do something or go somewhere only to get there and not know why she's there. Alternating with this, we get flashbacks of the past to the time when Maud's sister went missing, right after WWII. This is shown in such clear detail which is in contrast to the unreliable present-time story. She clearly remembers much more about the past than she does the present, which shows us how her mind is working and not working.

While this is a fast read, it's not an easy read. It's very easy to relate to Maud's daughter Helen whether you've gone through this with an aging parent yet or not. You can palpably feel the tension that these characters are dealing with. Is Elizabeth really missing? Maud's unreliability as a narrator make you question this quite a bit. 

This is a book that stays with you long after you finish reading the last page. I know for sure that Maud is not going to be a character I forget anytime soon.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next from Emma Healey as this book is quite brilliant for a debut novel!



About the author: Emma Healey holds a degree in bookbinding and an MA in creative writing. Elizabeth Is Missing is her first novel. She lives in the UK.


Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   


 

 


To see who else is participating in Emma Healey's Elizabeth is Missing tour, click here


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (audio)

Title: Island Girls   
Author: Nancy Thayer      
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell  
Published: June 2013, Random House Audio   
Length: 10 hours   
Source:  Library

New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer returns to her beloved Nantucket in a highly emotional, wholly entertaining tale of three sisters forced to confront the past over one event-filled summer on the island.

Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages—that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.

To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm—Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above.

My thoughts: Nancy Thayer is quickly becoming another of my go-to authors. I just love her books and find that they are great on audio. Much like Elin Hilderbrand, she sets most of her books on Nantucket, a place that is quickly becoming my favorite book-vacation spot. As I have yet to go to this charming island, I love to live vicariously through the characters that get to live there!

This novel takes a look at the complications that often arise in a blended family. Three sisters - really half-sisters/step-sisters - who have never really had strong relationships with each other are brought together as adults after the death of their father. Stipulated in his will is that they live together in his house on Nantucket for three months in order to get their inheritance. Sounds pretty simple - take a few months off, live in a beautiful house and enjoy each other's company, right? Wrong!

Despite being 'sisters', these three women have hardly had much contact in recent years. Now forced to live together, all going in with the idea that the money at the end will be worth it, they realize this summer will be much more than what they anticipated. Each sister is also dealing with her own set of problems and issues that they end up confronting during the course of the summer. 

Having two sisters myself, I could appreciate the dynamics between these sisters. Slowly, we learn about each one and watch they let their guards down and rebuild the relationships they once had. As the summer progresses, secrets come out, a mystery is solved and the three are able to gather their mothers at the house for some hard truths. And, just as you think all is settled, another surprise pops up.

I really enjoyed this and can't wait to listen to my next Nancy Thayer book. She is another author who's books scream summer reading and is now going on my must-read list!


Audio Thoughts: Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators. I just love listening to her voice and she did a great job with this audio. Each character had their own unique voice and I felt she was able to give each sister's story just the right amount of compassion. 


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Sunday Post #28 (6.15.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.  

I've decided to try a new weekly meme - a place where I can do both a weekly wrap up and share what books I get all in one post, so I'm going to give The Sunday Post a try, and also link up with Sheila's It's Monday Post over at Book Journey.  

Well, this past week certainly didn't go as planned. I ended up going to the doctor on Tuesday because my back/tailbone was still really bothering me. The doctor put me on full bed rest for a few days and modified bed rest for a week. What a difference that made! I am still on the modified bed rest and plan on taking it easy all week just to be on the safe side. Only good thing about the few days of full bed rest is that I did get in quite a bit of reading time!
 
Have a great week everyone!!! 

*****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:           

* Review: The Tailgate by Elin Hilderbrand 
* Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett   
* Review: The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand  
* Review: Kiss Me Like This by Bella Andre  
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Jun 13, 2014
 

Books Read:      
* Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (review book) 
* The Collector by Nora Roberts (audio book)
* The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee (review book)          
 
Currently Reading:            

* The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax (review book)          
* The Fever by Megan Abbott (review audio book)  
 
Books Up Next:        
* One Plus One by Jojo Moyes (review book)
* Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (audio book)  
* The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimanf  (review book) 
   

Current Giveaways:       
* The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller...Texas Book Lover
* The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank...Anita


Current Giveaways:       
* The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett...1 copy. Ends 6/17/12

* June Monthly Giveaway - 2 audiobooks up for grabs...Ends 6/30/14 

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: Island Girls by Nancy Thayer

* Review: Emma is Missing by Emma Healey
* Review: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

* Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott
 
 

Book Haul:      
* No new books this week!
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in June 13

 

Well, this week certainly didn't go as planned...I ended up going to the doctor on Tuesday because my lower back was still bothering me from my fall a week ago. The doctor put me on full bed rest for a few days and modified bed rest for at least a week. Let me tell you - it's hard to be on bed rest when you have 2 dogs. But, I did my best and after 3 days of doing nothing but bare necessity chores - taking dogs out for quick walks, I am feeling a bit better. I plan on continuing with the modified best rest for another week and then I'm off to lay on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for 8 days...I cannot wait!!!
 

Here's how my week went:  

Jun  7:  rest
Jun  8:  walk on beach - 15 minutes
Jun  9:  15 minutes
Jun 10:  rest

Jun 11:  rest
Jun 12: rest

Jun 13: rest
 
How did your week go?



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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Kiss Me Like This by Bella Andre

Title: Kiss Me Like This   
Author: Bella Andre     
Series: The Morrisons, #1     
Published:  June 2014, Oak Press, LLC 
Format: ARC e-copy, 300 pages   
Source: Author  

Sean Morrison, one of six siblings and the top college baseball player in the country, is reeling from a heartbreakingly painful loss. Nothing seems to matter anymore...until the night Serena Britten unexpectedly ends up in his arms.

Serena is a world-famous model who has only ever wanted to be normal, even though her mother has always pushed her to become a superstar. Though it isn't easy to try to leave everyone and everything she knows behind, Serena is determined to enroll in college. More than anything, she wants to turn her love for books into a new career that she actually loves. Only, she never expected to meet someone like Sean on campus—or to be instantly consumed by their incredible chemistry and connection.

But when the pressures of her high-profile modeling career only get bigger and more demanding, will it make living a normal life as a college student—and falling in love with the hottest guy on campus—impossible?

My thoughts: I have been a fan of Bella Andre ever since stumbling across her Sullivan series. I recently had the opportunity to meet her at BEA and I was pretty excited about that! A week before BEA, Bella emailed me asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her latest book, the first in a new series. To say I was thrilled is an understatement and despite this book being categorized as "New Adult," which I don't really read, I still really enjoyed it.

Once again, Bella is treating us to a big family and each of the members of the family will be getting their own book. In the first book, we get Sean Morrison's story while also getting an introduction to the Morrison clan. What I love about Bella's books is that she writes real characters, characters that are easy to relate to. Sean is struggling with grief and thus has shut himself down to certain things, mainly his photography. Serena is dealing with an overprotective and domineering mom, who happens to be her modeling agent. All Serena wants to is live life as a normal college student.

While it took me a little while to get used to the fact that these characters are only in college, once I did, I felt that Bella really did them justice. Sean and Serena end up meeting by chance, but a beautiful friendship develops between the two and they each end up helping the other through their issues. I loved all the "dates" that Sean took Serena on - just so she could experience life as a normal college student - how incredibly sweet!

At the core of all her books, Bella shows just how important family is. Each family might have it's own dynamics, but love is always at the forefront. This was shown throughout the book, especially in Sean's case and towards the end in Serena's case. Family is always there for you, sometimes when you need them and sometimes when you don't. I think it's this dynamic that makes Bella's books so attractive to me.

I think this is a great start to what looks to be another winning series from Bella Andre. I also love that she ends each book with a glimpse into who the next book will feature, this time giving us some information on Sean's brother, Drew. I am looking forward to falling in love with another Bella-inspired family!!!


Books in this series:
  1. Kiss Me Like This
  2. Tempt Me Like This - coming soon
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