• Book Reviews

    The Glittering Hour: Blog Tour

    Welcome to my stop on The Glittering Hour blog tour!

    This book spans one of my favorite periods in time, especially for novels featuring women.

    Synopsis:

    Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

    Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

    Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

    An unforgettable historical novel about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from award winning author, Iona Grey.

    Review:

    This was a one night read – one sign of a great book for me.

    Told from multiple points of view, I was almost immediately sucked into the story. This is one of my favorite formats because you get to know each character so well.

    There was also a shifting timeline but it felt natural and necessary to tell the story. It also made me more invested – a.k.a. I couldn’t put the book down.

    I knew I would enjoy this book because of the time period but the character development was so well done that I found myself hurting for Alice, the homesick little girl left behind with her grandparents while my heart broke into a million pieces over the reason for Selina’s absence and her attempts to keep her daughter close to her through letters.

    I didn’t expect to become so emotional and my descriptions here won’t do any character any justice. All I will say is that I hope they found peace and happiness in the end.

    This book borders on a 5 star read for me – completely unexpected which is almost even better. My only negative was that the plot slowed a few times more than I would have liked but that’s a personal preference and probably just me dying to know what happened next.

    If you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Rules of Civility, you will most likely love this book. It would make a wonderful gift for the historical fiction lover in your life!

    About the Author:

    IONA GREY is the author of the award winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

    Amazon

    Barnes & Noble

    Books-a-Million

    Indie Bound

    Powell’s

    Thank you to Thomas Dunn Books for gifting me this copy to read and review. All opinions in my review are my own.

    If you would like to enter to win a copy, head over to my Instagram to enter!

     

  • Book Reviews

    An Alaskan Christmas: review & excerpt

    In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

    If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

    Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

    Review: I read this book in an evening after a long and trying day. It was fun and the multiple plot lines kept the pages turning. Having grown up skiing, I loved the skiing scenes and they were very accurate. The search & rescue adventures that Erika went on with Reed were exciting and never presented her in a light other than a capable doctor – this was not a damsel in distress story which is one of my biggest annoyances when it comes to romance novels.

    Cassie and Reed’s father disappeared years before, around the same time Erika lost her mother which added the perfect amount of mystery to the plot.

    Somewhat predictably, Reed and Erika begin a relationship when Cassie is away leading a winter camping trip – another capable female in the story – yay!

    Slowly Erika finds her old self the further she is away from her overbearing physician father/boss. Add to the mix her romance with Reed and now we have our conflict when Erika is summoned home early by her father to begin the clinical trials that have been so important to her.

    Ok, and Diva – Cassie’s dog – the dog is narcoleptic. I found this detail so amusing and it made even the dog endearing in this story.

    I found all the characters realistic with no one being irritating, or in great need of saving. That was refreshing for a romance.

    My one issue: where was Christmas? 

    Other than taking place in December and a few mentions of people working in the hospital on Christmas Eve, there really wasn’t a Christmas plot line. Not that it needed it, but if it’s in the title a Christmas romance would be nice.

    I mean, someone could have at least tied a bow around themselves or posed in front of the Christmas tree… so many options here but I’ll leave that to your imagination. My opinion of course, and thankfully the book stood on it’s own two feet without Christmas.

    If you enjoyed Things You Save in a Fire, you will most likely love this book! They were different settings but reminiscent of each other with the strong, capable female characters.

    Excerpt from An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow:

    He tossed the blanket over her quickly and stood. “Okay, so you’re all good?”

    She nodded, but her gaze was on his midsection. And her unblinking stare was full of unconcealed attraction. The same way she’d checked out his biceps in the bar.

    He glanced down to see that his T-shirt had risen slightly on the right side, exposing his stomach.

    Obviously his abs were to her liking.

    “Erika.”

    “Huh?” Still staring.

    “It’s been a while, huh?”

    She frowned, finally pulling her gaze back to his. “For what?

    “Since you’ve had sex.”

    Her mouth gaped.

    “I mean, that’s why you’re staring at my stomach like I’m a piece of chocolate.”

    “I was not,” she said, but her cheeks flushed. “And I’ll have you know, I have plenty of sex…all the time. Men beating down my door for it…” she mumbled.

    That he wouldn’t doubt, except he knew from Cassie that she was a reclusive workaholic and he was willing to bet the only penises she saw were her naked patients.

    “And anyway, even if that was the case, you’d be the last guy I’d want to break my dry spell.”

    Okay, now he was intrigued. Especially since he’d made no motion to fix his shirt and her eyes were glued on his abs again, betraying her words. He crossed his arms, making sure to flex his biceps for her viewing pleasure, as well. She wasn’t going to get him, but all of a sudden, he wanted her to want him. “Oh yeah, why’s that?”

    “Because I don’t think you’d be any good.”

    What?

    “Hot guys are rarely good in bed. They don’t think they need to be. They are selfish and rarely leave a woman satisfied.”

    She’d obviously been with the wrong dudes. “In your expert opinion?”

    She nodded. “As a doctor and woman. Yes.”

    Damn, he’d like to kiss that smug expression right off her face, but the voice in his head told him to leave her drunk ass alone. “Okay, then. Good night.”

    “What? Not even going to try to prove me wrong?”

    In two strides, he’d reached her. Pulling back the blanket, he lifted her and, seating himself on the couch, he set her down on his lap. A leg on either side, she straddled him. “You sure you want to eat your words?”

    Instead of answering, she gripped his face and kissed him. Hard. His surprise faded fast as his mouth suddenly craved hers. The taste of tequila mingled with her cherry lip gloss and he forgot he was the one teaching her a lesson. Her legs gripped his and she pressed her chest against him, the feel of her breasts beneath the soft cashmere making his heart pound against them.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Harlequin Romance for including me in their 12 Days of Christmas tour!

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and promotion.

     

  • Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: construction therapy

    …and Steve’s worst idea ever. Stay tuned!

    Want to expose every crack and weakness in your relationship all at once?

    Remodel your house.

    What started as an I’ve got this – boldly proclaimed from my mouth – quickly became a slow descent into I AM TRIGGERED.

    And I don’t use that term lightly because that’s a giant pet peeve of mine. People should be able to freely and genuinely say that their body, their emotions, and their past are all colliding at once.

    It’s very messy.

    Between tradespeople looking at me like I had two heads, insisting I had plumbing work done that I did not have done, calling me a liar, aggressively asking for money, to me throwing them out of my house – I was over it after 3 weeks of this all day, every day.

    Oh and my favorite, being asked a question, giving an answer, and them texting Steve, IN FRONT OF ME – thousands of miles away – because they didn’t like my answer.

    I’m three feet away from you and I know what I want. I also do what I want in case you’re wondering.

    We finally got most of the work done and fired the original contractor. But that didn’t fix my mental fatigue over having people in my home for three weeks treating me like an idiot.

    Oh, and I’ve failed to mention – we started all of this the day of opening night of Chaney’s two week run of Elf the Musical.

    All the jazz hands. And other hand gestures.

    We remodeled the two guest baths, all the floors, the kitchen, the fireplace and the only room we left untouched was the master bath because we have bigger plans that we want to do right the first time.

    Enter Steve’s worst idea ever.

    One night we were laying in bed commiserating over the layer of dust that now functioned as powdered foundation for me when Steve wondered aloud, “what if we took the wall and door down that separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom?”.

    Me: So you want to turn our bathroom into a prison bathroom??

    I’ll get right on putting a drain in the middle of the floor tomorrow. Easiest remodel ever. 

    We got a good laugh out of it and despite everything, we are thrilled with the results of both the remodel and the improvement in our ability to communicate. We also laugh a lot about all 5′ of me standing on the landing of the stairs to throw the tile crew out of our house – hey, higher ground is needed when you’re short.

    And now that’s being remodeled to add a podium for me to stand and regularly address the family.

    Everyone wins.

    Painting the rest of the house happens on December 16th and then we are done for awhile.

    But Steve is still getting soap-on-a-rope for Christmas.

     

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    Lake Season: a book review

    Lake essentials: Chacos sandals, a blanket, coffee & a good book

    𝑨 𝒍𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒍𝒆𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓, 𝒂 𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒍𝒅 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒌𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒔𝒖𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒍𝒖𝒆𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒍 𝑰𝒏𝒏.

    Synopsis: In a new series by Denise Hunter, when their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic Bluebell, North Carolina home back into an inn. The situation would just be temporary—three years at the most—then they would sell the inn and Molly could get back to chasing her own dreams.

    Adam Bradford (aka bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive novelist with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to the setting of his next book, a North Carolina lake town. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

    Molly and Adam strike up an instant friendship. When Molly finds a long-lost letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But Adam has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

    Review: I paused for a moment before accepting this review opportunity. I am typically not a big romance reader but there were enough other moving parts to intrigue me. By the second chapter, I was hooked because it’s not your typical romance.

    Complex grief – when there is more than one loss at the same time – is incredibly difficult in real life and the author was able to capture and write about it perfectly. I appreciated that the siblings were actually siblings – they had issues, differences in grief, and different lives yet they still managed to work together in a realistic way.

    This is the second book this year that I have read where an old house a previous post office. I don’t know why but I love this premise. Maybe because mail is falling by the wayside in favor of emails or perhaps it’s because of the art of letter writing is becoming a thing of the past.

    Without giving any spoilers, I liked the relationship between Molly and Adam much better than I expected to. Add that to the fact that Adam is a writer and you had me hooked – I enjoy a good plot involving writers written by a writer.

    Last but not least, the characters were surprisingly well-developed for the first book in a series – another typical drawback for me with a series.

    This was a pleasant book to read on a rainy afternoon and I’m looking forward to loaning out this book while waiting for the second book. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, a big sticking point for me is who I can recommend a book to and for this book – the answer is anyone who enjoys romance with complex characters and multiple storylines that don’t always revolve around romance.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and TNZ Fiction for a free copy of this book in exchange for promotion and my honest review.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Connect with Denise

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  • Book Reviews

    Body Leaping Backward: Memoir of A Delinquent Girlhood

    • Hardcover: 240 pages
    • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 16, 2019)

    The “mesmerizing . . . daring and important”* story of a risk-taking girlhood spent in a working-class prison town —Andre Dubus III

    Synopsis: For Maureen Stanton’s proper Catholic mother, the town’s maximum security prison was a way to keep her seven children in line (“If you don’t behave, I’ll put you in Walpole Prison!”).  But as the 1970s brought upheaval to America, and the lines between good and bad blurred, Stanton’s once-solid family lost its way. A promising young girl with a smart mouth, Stanton turns watchful as her parents separate and her now-single mother descends into shoplifting, then grand larceny, anything to keep a toehold in the middle class for her children. No longer scared by threats of Walpole Prison, Stanton too slips into delinquency—vandalism, breaking and entering—all while nearly erasing herself through addiction to angel dust, a homemade form of PCP that swept through her hometown in the wake of Nixon’s “total war” on drugs.

    Body Leaping Backward is the haunting and beautifully drawn story of a self-destructive girlhood, of a town and a nation overwhelmed in a time of change, and of how life-altering a glimpse of a world bigger than the one we come from can be.

    Review: For a child of the 80’s, married to a child of the late 60’s-70’s, this was a raw and emotional read. If you didn’t live through this time period, you tend to get a Forest Gump, hippie, free love idea of this time period when in reality teens growing up in the 1970’s faced tremendous amounts of upheaval, drugs, absentee parents due to their own drug and alcohol use and/or divorce and remarriage, etc.

    It’s quite honestly a miracle that a lot of them are here today and are functioning and successful members of society – like Maureen Stanton, the author of this book.

    Her writing style is unique and while her memories are interspersed throughout the book, I never got an angsty teen vibe. This book read as a mature reflection of her child and teen years and is not one I will soon forget.

    I also enjoyed the historical backdrop of Nixon’s presidency and war on drugs. I feel this is a time period many would like to forget and that I don’t read much about it in the books I read today.

    Body Leaping Backward was a quick read and memorable – especially for those of us who know and love people who grew up during this time. It would make a great gift for your adult child of the 70’s and one I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone wanting to better understand this time period in our country’s history – I know it gave me a lot of insight into the world my husband grew in.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours, the publisher, and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for my review and promotion. All thoughts are my own.

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