Monday, December 7, 2015

{Review} LOVING LOVELY by Diane Paley

ISBN #: 978-1910530900
Page Count: 198
Copyright: August 3, 2015
Publisher: Mirador Publishing

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

LOVING LOVELY is a powerful story of deep love that most people only dream about but few rarely achieve. A man who has recurring dreams of a woman falls deeply in love. In his dreams the woman never speaks nor does she have a name-so he names her LOVELY. His personal love life suffers in comparison to his deep attraction and love for a woman who doesn't exist. But in the most unlikely circumstances the man does find LOVELY-and then loses her. She's a news reporter and war correspondent. While on what was supposed to be a short assignment in the Middle East covering the widespread global barbarism, she and her cameraman disappear. Will he find LOVELY again? Will he find love? Or is fate just not that kind?

Shelley's Review:

Loving Lovely is a book that appeals to people in all walks of life.  The family relationships and ethnic diversity represented makes this a book you cannot put down.

Two families are operating delis.  One is Jewish and the other Italian, and they are across from each other.  It is a friendly competition, and the families are friends.  They are a part of each other's lives

Vince is the son of the owner of the Italian Deli and he keeps having a dream.  It is of a woman who doesn't exist but he is completely obsessed with.  It is so vivid that it interferes with his ability to form a relationship with any flesh and blood woman.  After a few tries at a relationship, one of his conquests takes it to a  level and stalks Vince. A violent showdown ensues, during which Rita, a spurned lover of Vince enters the deli waving a gun and endangering the lives of his family. In his quest to find true love, he finally meets the guise of Emily Struthers, a local reporter, who is everything he wants.  They find in each other true love and become engaged.   But before the wedding can be planned, Emily is give the assignment of her life.  She infiltrates an Isis camp, and becomes a hostage.  The horrific crimes committed against her have changed her and left her a broken, different woman. Vince has  a heartfelt chat with Emily,  during which she explains that she has been forever changed and no long the Emily he fell in love with and releases him from his commitment.   At last, Vince turns to the beautiful Veronica who has been in love with him the whole time, and he has his happy ending.

Diane Paley is a clever and refreshing writer.  She uses the current climate of the day to relate to her readers. She offers several scenarios to appeal to many readers, and I look forward to her next book.

*A physical copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

{Review} A SMALL INDISCRETION by Jan Ellison

ISBN #: 978-0812995442
Page Count: 336
Copyright: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Random House

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in a washed-out California town for a London winter of drinking and abandon. Twenty years later, she is a San Francisco lighting designer and happily married mother of three who has put her reckless youth behind her. Then a photo from that distant winter in Europe arrives inexplicably in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened.

Past and present collide, Annie’s marriage falters, and her son takes a car ride that ends with his life hanging in the balance. Now Annie must confront her own transgressions and fight for her family by untangling the mysteries of the turbulent winter that drew an invisible map of her future. Gripping, insightful, and lyrical, A Small Indiscretion announces the arrival of a major new voice in literary suspense as it unfolds a story of denial, passion, forgiveness—and the redemptive power of love.

Mandy's Review:

There are decisions made in our past that come back to haunt us in the future. When the decisions are made, we don't consider the consequences. We just live. Like a drop in a body of water, though, our decisions also form concentric circles of consequence that continue to expand the farther out it goes. This is what happens to Annie. A not-so-smart decision in her past is causing horrible consequences for her future. The worst part is that those consequences are affecting her family as well. Is this a situation that can be corrected and put back on track?

From the moment I began reading this novel, I was intrigued. The novel does flip flop between past and present so you'll need to be able to adjust your thinking while you're reading. The best thing about this story is that it does not reveal all its secrets at once. It'll keep you guessing until almost the very end. I really appreciate that in a story. I love to keep guessing as long as all the loose ends are tied up at the end.

If this is Ms. Ellison's first novel then it shows she has a promising start to her career.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

{Review} FROM THE ASHES by Shelby K. Morrison

File Size: 733 KB
Page Count: 305
Copyright: April 24, 2015

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.

When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.

Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharien. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood?

Kathy's Review:

This is the second book I’ve read by this author (Shattered was the other one), and I think I liked Shattered better. This book held my interest, but I felt like I showed up late to the party and missed some major gossip that everyone else was privy to. A key piece of the plot felt like it was missing from the get-go. The story begins with Aia on the run. Why is she on the run? Slowly we find out it is because she is a “Bender.” But I have no idea what a Bender is, nor do I understand what a “Breaker” is. I don’t know why she is sometimes called Maia. It’s never explained, so I guess people just get her name wrong? Kind of like how my music teacher called me “Kristen” from first through seventh grade, and at some point I just stopped correcting her.

Ilcina is the bad gal of this story, and she is a powerful, legendary Bender who everyone thinks is dead. In person, though, when she is with Aia, she doesn’t seem like such a horrible person. Maybe I missed that nuance, too.

There’s definitely some good to the story. I’m intrigued by the whole concept of the Benders. What kinds of powers do they have? Do they all have different powers? What is Cole’s power? Will Maia find any other relatives? What is her destiny?

Of course, those will be answered in future installments of the book. Suggestion to the author: let’s get some backstory on Benders, some backstory on Cole, etc.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

{Review} FLEETING PROMISE by Sherban Young

ISBN #: 978-15146889110
Page Count: 254
Copyright: July 27, 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


The world is changing for John Hathaway, newlywed and occasional PI.

He has a wife who is pushing to start a family, a best friend who is keeping a secret from him and a mentor who may soon be dropping the prefix on his semi-retirement. Even the number of Maltese dogs in his life has doubled.

Fortunately for Hath, there are some things that never change. Invited to a restaurant opening, he immediately lands in the midst of another zesty murder. Apparently, he’s not the only one with a taste for the past. An old foe has emerged, and everyone will need to watch their backs.

Charlene's Review:

In the latest Enescu Fleet series, we catch up with all the usual suspects, er, characters. Johnny, and new wife, Lesley; his buddy, Hutton and fiancee, Ate; and of course, the sleuth himself, Enescu Fleet. Invited to a pickle purveyors restaurant opening, Johnny, or Hath, as otherwise known, arrives to find Hutton and Fleet in attendance, although no one knows who sent the invites. Of course, where ever this gang goes, murder is sure to follow, and the madcap adventures begin.

I am a die-hard Enescu fan. Fleeting Promise is my seventh review of Mr. Youngs’ work and I am never disappointed. Hath has a self-deprecating quality, as well as a dry humor that I especially appreciate. The Enescu Fleet mysteries are characterized by a light, humorous style that focuses more on the people and their foibles than the murders.

Enescu Fleet always gets his man, and leaves the reader with an entertaining perspective. How does a semi-retired sleuth with a weird name and a bunch of well meaning misfits do it? To quote from Fleeting Promise, "He’s Eskimo effing Fleet, that’s how."

I highly recommend Fleeting Promise, and all of Mr. Youngs work to anyone that appreciates intelligent, sportive mystery stories.

*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

{Review} THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT by Helen Phillips

ISBN #: 978-1627793766
Page Count: 192
Copyright: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.


A young wife's new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in this dazzling first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as "funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it."

In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.

As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.

Charlene's Review:

Normally, this would be where I deliver a short synopsis of my own, but honestly, I can’t. I’m not entirely sure what I read. Or why. The sheer strangeness was the only constant, and while I understood the outcome, most of the surrounding details of the novel did not actually play into it. I finished it, mainly because I kept hoping it would all make sense to me. It never did.

A very short novel, but not very entertaining for me. Perhaps true sci-fi readers would get more out of it, but I just did not.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

{2015 Amazing Book Race Challenge Review} THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North

Lupe's Review:

It's not often that I am truly blown away by a book, so much so, that as I sit alone at home and close it, I still say "Wow" out loud to no one. This does that. It was closely reminiscent to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, with the whole ability to come back in another life, but in this case, Harry August comes back as himself over and over, and has to relive his past time and time again. He always sees his mother die, always finds the Chronus Club and always befriends Vincent. Their friendship (which is an immensely complicated and unhealthly codependent one) is one of true beauty. Combine this with the fact that suddenly members of the Chronus Club and, by and large, others with the ability to die and come back, are vanishing or worse, not being born at all, Harry is tasked at the deathbed of one of his lives to find out WHY the world is ending so much faster than it should. This is a fantastic work of time travel, historical fiction, mixed with some quantum physics. I wasn't sure what I expected this novel to be, but what I was given was so much better. I was given hearbreak and sadness, with a mix of awe and reverence. I am saddened that this is a library book and that I have to turn it in, since I would re-read this in a heartbeat. So I will have to make this a staple on my bookshelf instead. Really, this was a wonderful work and I feel like I need to go and think about it a bit more.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

{Review} 100 DAYS OF HAPPINESS by Fausto Brizzi

ISBN #: 978-0525427377
Page Count: 384
Copyright: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

(Taken from book flap)

Imperfect, unfaithful but lovable Lucio Battistini has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping in the stock room of his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer. And so begins the last 100 days of Lucio’s life as he sets out to right his wrongs, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and become the kind of father he’d always imagined. From helping his hopelessly romantic widowed father-in-law find love, savoring the joys of lifelong friendship and brotherhood, to rediscovering - as if for the first time - the streets of his beloved Rome, Lucio spends the next three months becoming the man he’s always meant to be. Most of all, he enjoys every last moment on earth. In 100 wistful, touching, and often hilarious chapters - one for each of his remaining days - 100 Days of Happiness is a love letter to family, romance, and life itself - reminding us all of what matters most.

Charlene's Review:

Lucio Battistini is your average husband and father. He loves his wife, but he cheated, and she summarily throws him out. As he is pondering his next step, he is diagnosed with liver cancer. Given a very short 3 month prognosis, he sets out to make every day count. He starts a journal with his intentions, the first being " Get Paola to forgive me." The remainder of the novel chronicles his remaining days as he sets out to reclaim his wife’s love, and truly live for the first time in his life.

I think we have all seen movies or heard stories about the cancer diagnosis and how the patient tries to squeeze in every last item on there bucket list. This is what I was expecting when I opened the pages of 100 Days of Happiness. In theory, I suppose that is what this is, but in a more personal, heartwarming way. This novel is about relationships, and what love really looks like in its most selfless forms. It’s about the ties that we have made and the people we have known.

The simplicity in which Lucio lives out his last days is what struck me as most beautiful. What could have been a sad, depressing tale actually caused me to wake up to the everyday things we take for granted. Lucio’s father-in-law likened it to this: "When all is said and done, Lucio my lad, the true meaning of life is nothing more than taking a bite out of a hot doughnut."

Go ahead, take a bite.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

{Review} AUNT DIMITY AND THE SUMMER KING by Nancy Atherton

ISBN #: 978-0670026708
Page Count: 240
Copyright: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Viking

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Cozy mystery lovers’ favorite paranormal sleuth is back with her twentieth otherworldly adventure

It’s June, the roses are in bloom, and the small English village of Finch may be in big trouble. Two cottages are for sale, but something—or someone—is driving buyers away. Has a developer targeted Finch? Will property values skyrocket? Will a wave of wealthy weekenders drive out the longtime locals?

Lori Shepherd has a lot on her plate—a brand-new baby daughter, her father-in-law’s impending nuptials, and a visit from her dreaded aunts-in-law—but she refuses to stand back and watch while big money destroys her beloved village. Lori suspects that a local real estate agent is illicitly lining her pockets at Finch’s expense, but before she can prove it, she’s sidetracked by a chance encounter with an eccentric inventor. Arthur Hargreaves, dubbed the Summer King by his quirky family, is as warmhearted as the summer sun. In his presence, Lori forgets her troubles—and Finch’s. Lori snaps out of her happy trance when a series of unsettling discoveries shakes her faith in Arthur Hargreaves. She stumbles across a detailed map of Finch in Hillfont Abbey. An ancient feud between Finch and the Hargreaves family comes to light. Arthur appears to be making secret deals with the shady realtor. Is the Summer King as kind as he seems?

With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help—and her new baby girl in her arms—Lori mounts a crusade to save her village from the Summer King’s scorching greed.

Mandy's Review:

What an adorable, fun novel.

Finch is a town where everyone knows everything about everyone ... and they talk about it to anyone that'll listen. It really is a well-run community where participation in annual events is expected. And, as with any small town, they're in a long-time feud with a neighboring village. Lori finds out about all of this during her dual investigations.

One of Lori's investigations concerns the empty houses cropping up in Finch. She begins to think someone is purposefully keeping people out of Finch when the empty houses are perfectly suited for living in. Speaking with Finch's real estate agent doesn't do anything to alleviate Lori's fears. Lori is determined to get to the bottom of the housing situation and get new families integrated into her little community.

The other investigation Lori is conducting involves the Summer King. During a morning walk, Lori and her baby take an overgrown path. What they find is a unique, quirky man with a wreath on his head. Arthur, the Summer King, intrigues Lori and she determines to find out more about him ... and to find out why nobody has ever mentioned him to her before.

I was a little upset to find out that this was the 20th book in this series. It wouldn't have upset me if I didn't absolutely love how this book draws you in and makes you forget how much time is passing. I want to read every single one of these novels. My absolutely favorite part is the blue book Lori pulls down off the shelf on occasion. I'm not going to tell you why. You'll have to read the book to find that out for yourself.

If you're looking for a cozy mystery that's a fun read and doesn't have any coarse language, then this is the book (and possibly series) for you.

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

{Review} PRETTY IS by Maggie Mitchell

ISBN #: 978-1627791489
Page Count: 320
Copyright: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition

(Taken from book flap)

The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still. Maggie Mitchell's Pretty Is beautifully defies ripped-from-the-headlines crime story expectations and announces the debut of a masterful new storytelling talent.

Charlene's Review:

Leading a fairly reclusive life, Lois is never far away in thought from her former life. A teacher and writer, Louis penned a novel based on her experiences as an abducted child. As the novel hits the big screen, the only person that shares the original experience, Carly May, or Chloe Savage, as she is now called, is chosen to act in the movie, bringing the girls full circle from their life-time attempt to escape the memory of the kidnapping. When a mysterious stranger appears to know a little too much about the past, Lois must confront her worst fears, in order to survive.

I found the story fascinating, as we began to learn of two girls from different backgrounds specifically "chosen" by the mysterious "Zed". In two months of captivity, we glimpse the obscure, but mostly kind, treatment of the captives, and their increasing dependency and love for their captor. We watch, through alternating accounts, the effect of Zed on the girls maturity and future. And we bear witness to the psychological trauma that haunts them throughout their adult life.

Pretty Is left me with more questions than answers. I would have loved to see more development regarding Zed, while planning his abduction; from the mysterious Sean, to explain his sinister intentions; and even from the girls, as they aged, although if they were left with no motivation from Zed, that would most definitely leave them confused as to what really did happen to them.

This was a perfectly adequate psychological thriller that I believe could have been phenomenal with a bit more information. The writing style was engaging and the premise riveting. Overall, I enjoyed it, but was left wondering what truly happened.

*A hardcopy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

{Review} GHOST CHASER: THE CURSE OF STEEL by Dedrick Frazier

ISBN #: 978-1478750741
Page Count: 248
Copyright: February 13, 2015
Publisher: Outskirts Press

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Life is a tragic comedy. And then we die.

In a world that rarely allows for second chances, Dorian Steel has found himself with just such an opportunity. Orphaned as a baby and later incarcerated as a teen, his life has been anything but happy or normal. Now, the visions have started. The nightmares of a dark presence have brought him no peace, but rather an ominous warning. The demons from a past he does not know will not die. Still, that's only the beginning of his troubles. Hell is coming with razor-sharp claws.

A loner by nature, Steel prefers to keep his head low while creating works of art as a landscaper, but he cannot escape the ugly truth that you don't always get to choose your destiny--sometimes it chooses you. The psychic abilities that have been a curse in his eyes are stronger than he realizes and more important than he could ever imagine. He is a man riddled with guilt for his past mistakes and he does not let himself forget them. As a personal punishment, Steel keeps himself from the one woman that can make him happy, but that will change when his nightmares become reality. Soon, his fears and desires will collide. An ancient evil draws near. Andras is the god of quarrels. He is a pure-bred demon that was reared from the very flesh of Lucifer, but even Hell won't have this abomination.

Banished from the lakes of fire, Andras seeks to take the land that God made for man as his own--a second Hell. Hoping to unleash his thirty legions of demonic souls upon an unsuspecting human race, nothing short of complete annihilation will satisfy him, but there is one problem. A group of hunters has exiled the son of Lucifer to a dark, mountainous terrain in another dimension using a sacred and mystical weapon known as a Keris--a small curved dagger made centuries ago in Indonesia. In order for his reign to come to fruition, Andras must escape this prison.

Shelley's Review:

Ghost Chaser: The Curse of Steel by Dedrick Frazier  was an intriguing read.  Dorian Steel, the main character, represents the type of person that everyone knows. He is a victim of unfortunate circumstances, with no permanent home as a youth, and subjected to the foster care system.  A system that unfortunately fails him and he leaves him to fall in with the criminal element.  After he has paid for his crimes, he returns to Mystic, the town he grew up in, to ask Father John for advice.    He is tortured by images and demons that seek to destroy him and all that he holds dear.

Father John has had dealings with the demons haunting Dorian; unfortunately believing they have been destroyed in the past. Dorian enlists the help of Carmen Calliente, a friend and part of his foster family.  Dorian realizes he has feelings for Carmen and she becomes his adversary. In his attempt to help Dorian and Carmen, Father John is killed by the all too familiar demon.

Dorian experiences hallucinations, premonitions and is hunted down by the images of people he believed were friends.  No one and nothing is as he has believed and he eventually comes face to face with the demons in the timeless fight of good versus evil.

Mr. Frazier has created a thought provoking work of art.  The story is fascinating and draws the reader in to the point of searching their own beliefs.  Great book; people will be waiting anxiously for his next literary quest.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


ISBN #: 978-1942255048
Page Count: 300
Copyright: May 21, 2015
Publisher: Bats in the Boathouse Press

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Bad luck and worse choices—that’s Irene. She’s been a widow half her life and now splits her time between waitressing at the Rise and Shine cafĂ© and singing in an oldies cover band. And she’s having an affair with a married man—something that even her eclectic, super liberal family can’t condone. She’d be the first one to admit she has faults, but she’s not a bigot. The genetic pool in her nuclear family spans the globe. And it’s not that she’s prejudiced against people with disabilities but that doctors and wheelchairs give her the heebie-jeebies. So when a cute guy in a chair keeps showing up in the restaurant, she’s clumsy, awkward and strangely drawn. Can Irene let go of the past or is she too emotionally broken to find a future worth the risk?

Mandy's Review:

First, I love that the Lacland novels intertwine but not so much that they can't be read as stand-alone novels. If you've not read a Lacland story before and wonder where it all begins, have no fear! Begin where you want, but if you're a little OCD like me you can begin with Releasing Gillian's Wolves.

Irene's family is very close-knit and unique. With their genetics covering quite a few minorities, Irene's family is an easy target for racist groups. Having those experiences, you'd think Irene would be cognizant of another person's differences and be sensitive to that person. Not entirely true. Meeting an attractive guy in a wheelchair throws her for a loop and Irene has a tendency to offend him time and again.

I found Irene's lack of a verbal filter, and her cluelessness when she offends, to be somewhat overdone. At times she seems to be uncaring that she's offended a disabled person. Also, she's been widowed for half her life and she's held on to anger and hurt for the entire time. We're talking about 20 years here. So much so that she couldn't talk about her dead husband to their son in present day. Maybe it's just me, and maybe I get over things quicker than others, but I think 20 years to be a bit excessive. Surely in 20 years' time she could have found several opportunities to buck up and share memories with her son about his father. I don't know ... like I said, maybe it's just me.

Despite Irene's roughness and lack of sensitivity, I really did enjoy this novel. The small-town atmosphere really does draw you in and makes you want to get to know the characters in the novel. I would love to see what happens with Irene's son in the future.

Please don't let my negative comments turn you away from reading this. It's a quick read that will keep you company on a lonely night. Give it a chance.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

{Review} STUNNED by Sarah Noffke

File Size: 643 KB
Page Count: 314
Copyright: November 20, 2014
Publisher: One-Twenty-Six Press

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Roya desperately wishes she was above ground, on a sunny patio, watching the lake lap up on the shore. Instead, she finds herself trapped with the Lucidites. Her brother is mysteriously wasting away, and at every turn she finds a new betrayal. Just when she thinks she’s finally escaping the Institute, a new danger unveils itself. A secret society of Dream Travelers has declared war on the Lucidites by abducting a head official. It’s up to Roya to figure out who’s behind it and how to save everyone she cares about most. More action packed than its predecessor, Stunned is captivating and will leave audiences squirming from the tension and also begging for more.

Kathy's Review:

I am just going to admit that I am a big ol’, unabashed fangirl of this series. I’m totally Team Roya/Aiden. You can’t help but also like George, and feel bad for him, but the true chemistry is with Roya and Aiden.

I loved this book just as much as I loved the first book (Awoken), but to me it seemed odd that the main conflict in the book was wrapped up pretty much 2/3 of the way through. I was waiting for there to be something else. Once Aiden was rescued, I thought maybe he was compromised in some way that would be revealed later. What was going on with Joseph certainly was a big reveal at the end, but I would have liked more clues both about what he was doing, and Trey’s role.

My only other qualm about this series is the underdevelopment of the other characters. Samara, Trent, etc. We got to see Trent shine a bit in this book, but I still really don’t feel like I know much about them and their skills. Perhaps in book three, which I plan on reading ASAP!

*An ecopy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{Book Spotlight} MISS EMILY by Nuala O'Connor

ISBN #: 978-0143126751
Page Count: 256
Copyright: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Description:

The American debut of an award-winning Irish writer that brings to life Emily Dickinson and will enthrall fans of Longbourn and Mrs. Poe

Nuala O’Connor’s enchanting American debut novel, Miss Emily, reimagines the private life of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most beloved poets, through her own voice and through the eyes of her family’s Irish maid.

Eighteen-year-old Ada Concannon has just been hired by the respected but eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Despite their difference in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide, Ada strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster’s life at home. But Emily’s passion for words begins to dominate her life. She will wear only white and avoids the world outside the Dickinson homestead. When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, however, Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

Book Trailer:

Q&A with Nuala O'Connor:

How did the idea for MISS EMILY develop?

I studied Emily’s poetry at school, taking her for my final exams, and always loved her stark depth. A few years ago I discovered she loved to bake. I bake (I have a cookery blog - so I tried some of her recipes (coconut cake and gingerbread) and mused to myself about how wonderful it would be if she had had Irish servants. I did a bit of research and found the Dickinsons had indeed employed several Irish domestics. Immediately the germ for a novel was sown.

You did lots of research for this novel, traveling to Emily Dickinson’s home and doing work in the Dickinson archives. Could you tell us more about this research? Did you learn anything especially surprising or interesting?

Once you fall for Emily Dickinson, everything you unearth about her becomes interesting. Specifically, I loved seeing Emily’s delicate calling card on display at the Jones Library in Amherst. In the Frost Library at Amherst College I was shown a lock of her extraordinarily bright red hair. It was wonderful to see Emily’s last surviving white dress on display in Amherst Historical Society. I also saw her original cherry-wood writing desk at Harvard (it’s tiny). It was a privilege to see all of these things.

Emily’s home is now a museum and, having spent so long in her company while I wrote the novel, it was very moving to stand in her bedroom, within walls she was so familiar with. But little things you discover also bring joy: like the time Emily got a prize for bread baking and it turned out her sister, Vinnie, had been one of the judges. Or the occasion when she smashed a plate because her father complained there was a chip in it.

Because Emily’s life is a life of gaps, theories are rife about her mental health, the reasons for her seclusion, her love interests etc. Lyndall Gordon, one of her biographers, called her ‘a lover who joked; a mystic who mocked heaven.’ She also thought Emily might be epileptic. Others feel she was disappointed in love. I am happy to read the theories and debate them but, in the end my conclusion is simple: Emily was a writer, introverted and sensitive perhaps, but also direct and articulate, and utterly unafraid of her own talent and passion for words.

It’s well-known that Emily Dickinson was reclusive and eccentric, and in this novel you give readers a glimpse into why she might have preferred to be withdrawn—but she also appears fairly engaged with the world around her, if in an unusual way. Could you talk about this dynamic?

The Dickinsons were eccentric as a family – they were singular and separate, and yet the men in the family practically ran Amherst and were important and respected there.
MISS EMILY aims to show that while Emily lived a pared-back life, at a physical remove from the town, her engagement with the inner and outer world was large, emotional and important. She delighted in writing, in the natural world and in her close group of friends, family and servants. Emily was actually wry and funny – she was not the angsty, cheerless, obsessed-with-death recluse of legend. Yes, she was intense and sometimes cryptic, but she was dearly loved by those close to her as much for her warmth as for her brilliant mind.

Your novel explores the relationship between Emily and her sister-in-law, Susan, a friendship that Dickinson scholars aren’t sure how to classify—was it a close, intense friendship, or something more? How did you determine how to depict this relationship in MISS EMILY?

Their relationship was certainly very deep and ardent, perhaps moreso from Emily’s side. Many Victorian friendships had that kind of intensity that looks to us now more like a love relationship: sweet notes and poems exchanged, a sharing of beds etc. Emily said she hoped that she and Sue would be buried together (they weren’t). I think Emily was demanding as a friend, she was passionate and enthused. She only had a small circle and she expected a lot of each of the people in it. In the novel I wanted to show that Sue, especially, captured Emily’s heart and imagination: she adored her, idolized her. I doubt if they were lovers but they definitely loved and respected one another.

Is Ada based on a real person?

No. It was more satisfying for me to invent one of the main characters as I was already dealing with fictionalizing so many real people in the book (the Dickinsons et al). The family did not have a maid in 1866 so I inserted Ada in there and made her a cousin of Maggie Maher, who subsequent to 1866, became the Dickinsons’ real-life maid. It was useful to make Ada Maggie’s cousin because I was able to draw on the realities of Maggie’s family (their migration to the USA, their home-place in Tipperary etc.)

How did your identity as an Irish writer influence the development of Ada’s character?

Ada’s home-place, Tigoora, is my home-place in County Dublin (now called Palmerstown) and my grandparents worked on the Baron’s estate where Ada works at the beginning of the story. So her language is an older version of the language of my childhood and her landscape (the river Liffey, the fields) is one I am totally familiar with. Dublin people are known for their talkativeness and Ada talks endlessly; she is also imbued with religion and superstition, which marry quite happily in the Irish personality.

Many early fans of MISS EMILY have noted that the language of the novel evokes Dickinson’s poetry. Did you set out to channel her voice? If so, how did you go about this?

Yes, I wanted to make Emily sound as playful as she often was in her letters and poetry. But the problem is, if you reproduced her speech as it really was on the page, she would sound quite odd and overblown. So I had to tone her down a bit, while still maintaining her love of words. In a sense I had to write a new language for her, one heavily influenced by her writings but with a stripped down, more modern sensibility. In writing historical literary fiction, you never want to veer into pastiche. I refashioned many of Emily’s famous sentences, which may not please some purists but was an enjoyable task for me. And it was important too – she had to be my version of Emily.

While this is your American debut, you’re known in Ireland for several novels, short story collections, and poetry. How did your experience with all these different genres inform your approach to MISS EMILY?

I think it’s very useful being a multi-genre author when it comes to writing novels, especially literary fiction. Short stories teach you to value concision; poetry makes you inventive and sprightly with language; novels make you commit yourself easily to long projects. Language is something consecrated to me – I was brought up bilingual. Most of my education was through the medium of Irish (Gaelic) –up to Masters level – and we spoke English at home. So my ear was always tuned in to two separate languages. If you’re a voracious reader, as I have always been, and you live between two languages, that makes language/sentences/words/meaning important and interesting to you. When it came to writing MISS EMILY the prose had to reflect something of the staccato style of Emily’s poetry but it also had to have a poetry of its own.

What are some of your other literary influences? If you wrote about another author, who would it be?

I count so many writers as influences, among them Edna O’Brien, Anne Enright, Annie Proulx, Ernest Hemingway, Amy Bloom, Michel Faber and on and on.

I am endlessly fascinated by the lives of authors, which feels like a rude, nosy pursuit but I can’t help myself. I devour biographies and I have written separate short stories featuring Elizabeth Bishop, Frida Kahlo and Sylvia Plath, for example. In terms of a novel, Jean Rhys springs to mind. She was variously the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, a child of Dominica, a nude model, an actress and a demimondaine. Now there was a life!

At the moment I am writing another Victorian novel, based on a real-life London dance hall girl who married an Irish Viscount. Their story is fascinating.

If you could ask Emily Dickinson three questions, what would they be?

  1. Would you have liked to travel the world, other than in your glorious mind?
  2. How did you feel when your brother Austin betrayed his wife – your beloved Susan – with Mabel Loomis Todd?
  3. Does it please you how much your poetry is loved and venerated now?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} THE LIKENESS by Tana French

Kathy's Review:
(Copied with her permission from her blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

This is the sequel to In the Woods, although it’s been so long since I read that one, that it may as well be a standalone book. I don’t think you need to read In the Woods to enjoy this one. I went back and read my review, which was pretty sparse. So that doesn’t tell me anything except that Cassie was a character in the book. In The Likeness, however, she is the main character. As a former undercover agent, Cassie is brought to the scene of a murder because the girl who has been killed not only looks exactly like Cassie, but has taken the identification of Lexie Madison, a pseudonym Maddox used when she was undercover. It’s doubly creepy.

Frank, a manipulative detective who worked with Cassie when she was undercover, convinces Cassie to assume the life of “Lexie” and see if she can uncover who murdered her. They somehow play off the fact that Lexie is dead, and invent a story about a coma. Once Cassie has studied as much as possible about the dead girl’s life, and her four housemates, she infiltrates.

The story unwinds slowly, and we are as much in the dark about Lexie’s fate as Cassie is. Bits are revealed but we don’t know what to make of them. There’s an element of fear that pervades through the book – at any moment, Cassie could be found out. And obviously the murderer knows he finished the job, so when will he reveal himself? (Or she. I guess.)

A tad disappointing in that there were a ton of red herrings and some loose ends that didn’t get tied up nicely. But a very interesting and unnverving story, written beautifully.

Another one to check off for the TBR Pile Challenge!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


ISBN #: 978-1514787267
Page Count: 314
Copyright: July 3, 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Living a secluded life in Belgium, Sei has no thoughts of returning to her former life as an assassin until a mysterious person confronts her with a contract she can’t possibly turn down. Payment isn’t monetary; instead, it’s information leading to the whereabouts of a little girl.


In a matter of seconds, Sei is pulled back into a world she left behind. She accepts the contract to chase the truth about her daughter, but what appears to be a routine mission turns into a fight for survival. If Sei is to have any hope of reuniting with her child, she must first save herself.

Charlene's Review:

Sei is first introduced to readers in Mr. Hutchinson’s Chinatown Trilogy. In Contract:Snatch, Sei has been enjoying a self-imposed hiatus from her work, until a mysterious message comes in and Sei is confronted with the possibility that the daughter she lost at childbirth is actually alive and being held in exchange for a dangerous mission.

Every time I receive a Ty Hutchinson book for review, it’s like Christmas. I am never sure what is inside but I know, without a doubt, the surprise will be delightful. Contract may be the most adrenaline fueled book yet. The protagonist is once again, an unassuming, ballsy female raised for the fight. From the very first page, the tone is set on high action, and it continues until the very last page.

Sei lacks the sarcasm of some of Mr. Hutchinson’s characters, which I missed, but her drive and acrobatics make for an interesting character study. As always, there is food, mystery and unexpected twists that accompany the storyline, and the ending leaves you breathless in anticipation. No "contract" is necessary here because waiting on Book Two is murder!

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

{Review} THOSE SECRETS WE KEEP by Emily Liebert

ISBN #: 978-0451471871
Page Count: 336
Copyright: June 2, 2015
Publisher: NAL

(Taken from Amazon)

Three women. Three lives. Three secrets.

On the surface, Sloane has the perfect life—an adoring husband, a precocious daughter, and enough financial security to be a stay-at-home mom. Still, she can’t help but feel as though something—or someone—is missing....

Hillary has a successful career and a solid marriage. The only problem is her inability to conceive. And there’s a very specific reason why....

As the wild-child daughter of old family money, Georgina has never had to accept responsibility for anything. So when she realizes an unexpected life change could tie her down forever, she does exactly what she’s always done: escape.

When these three women unite for a three-week-long summer vacation in beautiful Lake George, New York, even with the idyllic location as their backdrop, the tensions begin to mount. And they quickly discover that no secret can be kept forever....

Mandy's Review:

There comes a point in a person's life when it's thought, "Have I taken the right path?" What if I would've chosen a different spouse? What if I would've gone off to college instead of staying home? What if I would've taken the hard road instead of taking it easy all the time? Would I still end up here? I don't know if these are mid-life crisis questions or not, but I've looked at my life at times and have wondered some of these. Sloane is in the same situation. Her husband treats her like a queen. He loves her and would do anything to make her happy. When you have a spouse that does that all the time, you become used to having it and start taking him/her for advantage. That's what's happened with Sloane.

Her time at her aunt's lake house is supposed to be fore Sloane trying to figure out if she wants to stay in her marriage. Instead, Georgina crashes the "party" and creates a situation for Sloane that wasn't expected ... reuniting Sloane with her ex-flame. Spending time with her formal lover has Sloane desiring a life of luxury and ease. Will she give in to temptation and go where the grass seems greener?

Hillary, Sloane's newest best friend, seems like she's got it all together. Her marriage is one of the best Sloane has ever seen. We all have a secret we don't like to share, though, and Hillary is no exception. She's hidden hers for three long years and she's starting to feel guilty enough to share it with her husband. Will he still love her after he finds out?

Georgina is the wild-child of the group and Sloane's long-time best friend. She's never been really reliable, always skipping out when the going gets tough. Which should've given Sloane some type of clue as to why Georgina would just invite herself to come to the lake house, but it didn't. Probably because Sloane is so wrapped up in her own problems.

At first, this book seemed like a light read and, if you don't contemplate it too much, it stays that way. Me, though? I like to contemplate. The three women really showcase what I believe is inside every woman.

Georgina represents the side of us that just wants to run away when we can't take any more. Some responsibilities scare the bejeezus (sp?) out of us and we just want to go somewhere and forget about things for a while ... maybe forever. What do most of us do, though? We stick it out - have a slight panic attack every now and then - and then pick right back up where we left off. Because, deep down, we're nurturers and our sense of responsibility weighs on us heavily.

Hillary represents the side of us that enjoys being Suzy Homemaker. We're good at it, we do what we're supposed to, and we're always prepared while doing it. We always look presentable and that we have it all together.

Sloane represents the biggest part of us whether we want to admit it or not. It's the part we keep pushing down and hiding because of our sense of responsibility. We're always wondering if we chose the right path, if we're with the right person, if we should've done something different. It feels too late to do anything about it now though, right? You can always change your life, you just have to decide if you can really live with the consequences of your decisions. That's the real dilemma.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and appreciated that it was a quick read. It kept my interest throughout. I also appreciated the way it ended. It felt real and not something written just to make people happy.

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

{Review} LOVE STORY FOR A NATION by Mark W. Sasse

ISBN #: 978-1514131978
Page Count: 232
Copyright: June 30, 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

A country at a crossroads. Angry fists in the air. Night raids burn the city.

The mundane existence of Gerald Sanpatri takes a welcome and dramatic shift when Rosia walks into his life bringing laughter, joy, and unexpected love. She inspires the former revolutionary figure and writer to once again take up his pen and imagination to dream the impossible - a love story for an entire nation.

Charlene's Review:

When we first meet Gerald Sanpatri, he is celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Rosia, who has just revealed they are expecting a child. Living under a dictator, Gerald hides deep secrets to a past he thinks he’s left behind, in order to protect his new family. Unfortunately, Geralds life takes a drastic turn, and all he has left are the journals his beloved Rosia left him, and the determination to stand firm. As secrets unfold and protests reach a breaking point, Gerald uses his pen to give life to his unborn child, and a future to a country he loves.

There are numerous layers to unpack within this novel. Obviously, a love story between Gerald and Rosia, but also a story of a country under dictatorship, of personal betrayal, loss, and fear, and a story of ultimate surrender. The ending is a poignant portrayal of sacrifice.

I have enjoyed several novels by Mr. Sasse, but this story deeply affected me. Gerald, as a character, is submissive and powerful all at the same time. The oppression with which the country is faced is remarkable and Mr. Sasse’s writing reflects the fear and hopelessness of the people caught under it. The poetic justice of the story comes in the simple act of a humble man, standing firm against tyranny, without weapon or malice. Beautiful and hauntingly written.

*A physical copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

{Review} THE LOFT by Diane Paley

ISBN #: 978-1910530542
Page Count: 188
Copyright: April 24, 2015
Publisher: Mirador Publishing

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

THE LOFT is a gripping story about a young couple who rent a fifth floor residential loft and are soon witnesses to ghostly apparitions. Later, they discover that their neighbors in the loft below them are satanic devil worshipers who are members of a little known evil and deadly cult that makes human sacrifices to Satan. Although THE LOFT includes episodes of several hauntings, the story is about so much more than the paranormal events. However, as the story unfolds and the apparitions no longer appear, the spirits still affect the lives of the main characters throughout the novel. The previous residents of the fifth floor loft felt certain that the cult was responsible for the disappearance of their beloved dog, and the owners of the sixth floor were convinced that the cult was responsible for the murder of their four-year-old daughter. Those residents eventually fled their homes out of sheer fear. Unknowingly, the young couple rented the fifth floor loft and, regretfully, their lives would be confronted with eerie hauntings and later they would become victims of the brutal satanic cult. Diane Paley's previous novels, SLANTED and BACKING AWAY FORWARD, were written in completely different genres. THE LOFT is as unique and compelling as her other novels.

Shelley's Review:

The Loft by Diane Paley is a unique and interesting twist on your typical mystery/whodunit. The main character, Mara, and her husband Noah suffer through the trials and tribulations of any newly married couple.  After finding out Mara is pregnant, and with twins, the couple agree that their tiny apartment is not  big enough and they find a beautiful loft with plenty of space.   Soon, though they realize something is not right.  Strange neighbors and sightings of things not of this world start to concern Mara and Noah.  And then, Mara disappears, and all clues point to the strange neighbors.  Mara finds herself a victim of a kidnapping with horrible intentions.

Ms. Paley managed something that few have.  She has constructed a mystery without the unnecessary blood and gore overload.  There is enough to keep the reader interested without wading through a cesspool of a story.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

{Review} OF FOREIGN BUILD by Jackie Parry

File Size: 1124 KB
Page Count: 402
Copyright: October 30, 2014

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

After suffering an emotionally-brutal bereavement and against her counsellor’s advice, Jackie ran away. Suddenly within a new culture, with a new husband, and no friends, she was living in the obscure world of cruising with zero knowledge of boats.

Crashing within the first twenty-four hours, Jackie realised life would never be the same again; a floating home with no fridge or hot water, and with a dinghy instead of a car. Suffering self doubts, she became fearful of her new world.

The first off-shore voyage took Jackie into a ferocious storm, which battered her physically and mentally. Amid the raging seas, Jackie shed the fear she’d been harbouring.

Soon she was blissfully voyaging around the world, but she still carried the mixed emotions of losing one man, while falling head over heels in love with another.

Not only did Jackie deal successfully with the challenges of her new existence, she also battled with the testosterone fuelled nautical world to become both a professional captain and a qualified maritime teacher. Most importantly, Jackie found herself.

Kathy's Review:

This is a travel journal, really. It’s a history of her travels around the world, with a boat as her home. It is told in a very frank, unadorned manner; a stripped down, bare bones version of what happened. In that way, I think the writing style is a bit on the dry side. The book meanders on, kind of like the ocean itself – calm at times, then choppy, then calm again.

At each port, Jackie encounters a different culture, a different way the people either embrace or distrust them, different food, different attitudes toward women. I appreciated that part of it, because many, many places she visited I had either never heard of, or would probably never travel to myself.

And of course, Jackie’s personal journey is interwoven throughout. It’s great to see how she evolves as a person, in her marriage, and in her confidence with the seas she is sailing. Truly inspirational to anyone who’s ever considered giving up a desk job to do something unconventional. This is about as unconventional as you can get!

Thanks to Jackie, who participated in an author chat with Literary R&R several months ago. Her stories were very engaging and we all came away from that chat feeling very inspired.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 22, 2015

{Review} RIGHTEOUS RELEASE by Richard Gardner

ISBN #: 978-1501076633
Page Count: 418
Copyright: December 4, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

David Chambers was born into a strictly religious family. As members of the Eternal Fellowship, they have chosen to reject the ways of the world and have separated themselves from the rest of humanity.

As his arranged marriage to another follower - a woman he has come to dislike - looms ever closer, David decides to break off the engagement. This comes as a shock to his betrothed, his family and the wider Fellowship community.

When the beautiful Alison Johnson, a non-believer and former classmate re-enters his life, David makes a series of decisions that will change his life forever.

Righteous Release will captivate the mind of the reader as David begins a life that is beyond his comfort zone. There are a number
of difficulties to overcome as he adapts to his new existence.

Has David jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? Will he return to what he knows or embrace his new-found freedom?

Charlene's Review:

David Chambers grew up in a secluded religious sect that forbade contact with the outside world. When he unwittingly finds himself engaged to a demanding woman, and comes face to face with a girl from his past, David decides its time to move out into the world and make a new start. Unfortunately, this leaves him shunned by his family and the only life he has even known. As he struggles to navigate a world of "sin", David soon learns that the easy way out is not always the road best traveled.

I was quickly involved in this novel, as poor, innocent David, while not exactly a moral and upright man, has endearing qualities that kept my attention. I would have enjoyed more details of his acclimation to the "wordlies" but it was fascinating to see the him change as he became more accustomed to his new life. I enjoyed the characters, both quirky and down-to-earth.

Mr. Gardner threw in about as many topics into this story as he possibly could : religion, politics, murder, and love. Ultimately, it all comes down to love and the search for self.

A big majority of the book, however, focused on political elections and the war in Iraq. While it all tied together, I got a bit of the hum-drums while reading about the Torys and Labour Party and protesting the American invasion of Iraq. It almost seemed as if it should have been a separate book all together.

4 out of 5 stars

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

{2015 TBR Pile Challenge Review} 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Kathy's Review:
Copied with her permission from her personal blog, 

Whew! 1157 pages to this bad boy! The version I had was broken into three smaller paperbacks. I took a break in between each paperback, because that is a LOT to digest.

If the sheer volume of this book doesn’t scare you away, then be prepared for some weirdness. The story follows two main characters, Tengo and Aomame. They shared a moment in childhood, and then never saw each other again, but both still think of the other. Seems like a regular romance, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Aomame enters an alternate universe by trying to take a shortcut when her cab is met with highway traffic. She’s on her way to kill someone, because that’s what she does.

Still with me?

Tengo has been caught up in a fraud scheme wherein he ghostwrites a novel thought up by 17 year old Erika Fukado, also known as Fuka-Eri. This novel wins an amateur writing contest prize and becomes a bestseller. Seems like a fairly harmless deception, except the novel, “Air Chrysalis,” depicts this alternate world where there are two moons, these entities called “Little People,” and these things they weave called air chrysalises. It just so happens that this world is real, and it’s the world Aomame has unwittingly entered. Other than a few anomalies – the biggest being the whole “two moon” thing – the world seems unchanged.

Through alternating chapters, Aomame’s story and Tengo’s story start to come closer together. In the end this is a love story, though all the weirdness.

It’s not for everyone. That’s for certain. I’m not sure if was even for me. I stubbornly got through the whole thing, but there were several times I wanted to just say “screw it, this biz is too out-there for my liking.” Maybe you will feel that way, too. On the other hand, maybe you will find the writing (translated from the Japanese) to be beautiful and poetic. I don’t know you so I can’t say for sure. If this review has not daunted you from checking this out, then perhaps you’re one of the brave ones to give it a try.

By the way, this was one of my TBR Pile Reading Challenge Books! Check this one off the list!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


ISBN #: 978-0990884101
Page Count: 348
Copyright: January 2, 2015
Publisher: Boston Heritage Publishing

(Taken from back cover)

The streets and taverns of Boston before "The Bloody Massacre" were filled with brawls and scrapes, hot words and cold calculations. Firebrands like Samuel Adams claimed high revolutionary ideals for the Sons of Liberty, while John Hancock and other well-to-do merchants found smuggling very rewarding. The Tory lords stuffed their pockets with silver and scorned the rude Americans and their democratic ideas. Informers worked both sides of the street while crowds of itinerant, unemployed sailors and dockworkers ruled the streets and intimidated Customs officials with beatings and hot tar.

Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan run The Sword and Scabbard, a North End tavern which is home to both criminal and political intrigue. Each is a fugitive from a dangerous past and their relationship grows fitfully in the midst of the turmoil. They view the politics of the time with a cynical eye but are eventually caught up in the conflicts. Finally, Nicholas must choose between saving himself and crippling the march towards the Revolution.

Charlene's Review:

Set prior to what we now refer to as the "Boston Massacre", Mr. Woods introduces us to Nicholas Gray, a small crime, bar tending fugitive. Having deserted the British Navy, he has changed his name and is in hiding. He resides with bar owner, Maggie, and together, they run "the Sword and Scabbard". On the streets around them, trouble is never far away, as redcoats and the Sons of Liberty clash in a political offensive amid economic and societal issues.

I wish I could tell you that I learned a great deal about this time in history, and that is not because Mr Woods did not have the information, or the ability to tell it. Unfortunately, my historical radar has never been clear, and I glossed over quite a bit. My focus in this novel was more on the relationships and persons of Nicholas and Maggie, as well as the surrounding characters that brought a softer reality to the tale. The complexity of the characters and their flaws and weaknesses made them even more real. I even loved the secondary characters of Mouse and Julius for their quiet support working in the background.

The Sword & Scabbard is the first in a series of novels that will follow Nicholas and Maggie through the Massacre up until the Constitution. Mr. Woods took on a daunting task, retelling the days leading up to Revolution. Historical fiction may not be my genre, but there is so much more in this novel.

4 out of 5 stars

*A physical copy of this book was provided via Authoramp in exchange for an honest review.
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