Friday, November 17, 2017

VENETIAN BLOOD: MURDER IN A SENSUOUS CITY BY CHRISTINE EVELYN VOLKER

Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker has all the makings of a juicy mystery: murder, theft, money-laundering, jilted lovers, and lost loves all on the backdrop of one of Italy's most beautiful cities — Venice.

The book starts off with a bang, well a stabbing, — the murder of financier and art investor, Sergio. The reader also quickly meets, Anna, the book's protagonist. Through Anna, the reader learns that Sergio is a murder victim, but not an innocent person by any stretch of the imagination. Anna, who is from California, is on vacation in Italy attempting to settle a score with Sergio after a brief love affair for which he is blackmailing her, healing from her failed marriage, and coming to terms with her infertility. In short, she's got a lot going on, folks. The author also introduces a large cast of characters spanning from the United States to Europe, thus crafting an international whodunnit.

I enjoyed the format of the book. Volker integrated quite a bit of the Italian culture including the language. I found it quite interesting how she included Italian phrases then followed up with the English translation for us non-speakers. As for the mystery, she reveals bit-by-bit through easily digestible chapters that move at an engaging pace. My only criticism is that, at times, the author overdid it with some of the descriptions that proved distracting for this reader. Nonetheless, the overall story was solid, and it was truly a challenge to discern who the real killer was. I was unable to figure it out until I neared the end, which is the sign of a great murder mystery, in my opinion. At one point, Anna seems a bit unstable and so shaken by her past that I began to believe she was the killer. But can a novel make the protagonist the villain as well? You'll have to read for yourself to find out!

Recommendation: I think this would be a good book for someone who is interested in the financial and money-laundering industries as well as Italian history and culture. A must read for mystery-lovers!

Until next time ... Read on!

Connect with Christine Evelyn Volker: Goodreads | Facebook

TO MARRY A TEXAS OUTLAW BY LINDA BRODAY


Genre: Western / Historical / Romance
Date of Publication: November 7, 2017
Pages: 384


Synopsis: 

Hunted by lawmen, those seeking the bounty, and other outlaws hoping to become famous for killing him, Luke Weston survives by little more than his wits. He expects the bullet that will end his life to come any day. He’s cheated death too often. Over the last two years, Luke has been working to right his wrongs and claim his birthright. Only one thing stands in the way of atonement—the murder of a federal judge. Only he didn’t do that. Armed with nothing more than the alias Ned Sweeney, Luke searches for the man who framed him. He’s only an hour away from catching him when he spies a woman bound and gagged in the middle of the prairie.

She looks dead but her eyes fly open at the sound of his footsteps. Worse, he discovers she has amnesia. He can’t just leave her so he tamps down his frustration over missing Sweeney again and loads her into a nearby wagon that bears all the markings of his family’s ranch.

In the weeks of trying to help the woman he calls Rose learn her identity, Luke finds himself falling in love with her. She’s sweet and funny and makes him dream of impossible things. Then they meet a boy and learn her name is Josie.

As her lost memories tumble back, Luke faces his greatest fear. Can he make Josie his wife before he loses everything?

Buy Now: 


Praise for To Marry a Texas Outlaw
“A gunslinger who’s better than he thinks he is; a lovely amnesiac; a young, wannabe gunslinger; an abused boy; a scruffy dog; and a sadistic killer make the third book in Broday’s outstanding family saga an unforgettable journey through the Old West.” ~Booklist Starred Review
“This is one author that knows how to tie you in knots keeping you on the edge and making your smile through it all. She gives you death and heartbreak as the west is known for with plot that pulls you in. I couldn’t put this down and had to know what was going to happen next.” ~Cyn’s Reviews
“This densely plotted historical continues Broday’s tradition of well-realized, emotionally rich novels.” ~Publisher’s Weekly
“Broday’s gritty depiction of the Texas frontier will strike a chord in the hearts of fans who long for proud, rugged cowboys and strong-willed women.” ~Romantic Times 4 Stars
“Whew! What a story! Good thing Linda Broday didn't struggle to find words for her story the same way I'm attempting to find words to express just how much I love not only this book, but this entire series as a whole. To Marry a Texas Outlaw is a thrilling conclusion to a delightful and much-loved story of the Legend family that delivered so many emotions.” ~Michelle, Goodreads Reviewer
“There is one guarantee, with a Linda Broday book, you're going to experience a true heartwarming-Broday story with so much action that it's impossible to put down. With her books you are always in for the ride of your life.” ~Tonya Lucas, Goodreads Reviewer
Top Ten List: 

My Top Ten List of Movies
By Linda Broday

When I want to relax and forget everything, I go to the movies. There’s something about sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic on the screen as the story unfolds and totally losing myself. And I also watch TV movies when I can’t get to the theater. The story medium doesn’t make too much difference—as long as it’s satisfying. I do require a happy ending.

Here are my top ten movies:

The Longest Ride – In this movie, a bull rider falls I love with college girl and he has to decide which he wants more. This is adapted from the book by Nicolas Sparks. Oh man, I love this movie so much I bought it. It stars Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson. Can never watch enough.

Hidden Figures – This movie is about a group of black mathematicians who work for NASA and provide vital help on the space program. Such a really good movie with Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Another adaptation from a book, this time by Harper Lee. It examines racial injustice in the old South and is one of Gregory Peck’s finest performances.

Lonesome Dove – A western adapted from the book by Larry McMurtry.  I can’t tell you how many I’ve watched this. I’m a huge Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones fan.

The Cowboys – A western starring John Wayne. When he can find no men to hire for drovers on a cattle drive, he hires a group of boys. I always cry in this movie. Those boys are so little and scared, but they saddle up and leave their home and parents behind. One of the best.

Unforgiven – This stars Clint Eastwood, an aging gunslinger who tries to fight injustice in a small town. I loved his need to help a soiled dove whose face was horribly slashed by a mean customer. He was ready to die to avenge her.

I Saw the Light – A movie of the life of Hank Williams. Tom Hiddleston does a magnificent job portraying this country music icon. It brings back memories when I was a little girl and sneaking into my grandpa’s room and listening to this song on his old radio.

Desperado – This western stars Alex McArthur who plays Duell McCall, a drifter who’s quick with a gun. I think he made six of these TV movies. I named my character Duel McClain who’s in Knight on the Texas Plains after Duell McCall. Loved him!

Open Range – A western with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall.  They fight against a corrupt sheriff and a cattle baron who try to control the land. These two are great together.

Beauty and the Beast – A timeless classic with great songs. This 2017 rerelease was exceptional with Emma Watson. She is indeed a beautiful lady.

Sadly, there are lots more that I didn’t have room to list. The common denominator of the these is that they all tell wonderful stories. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Maybe you’ll check some out. And my Men of Legend series.


About the Author: 
Linda Broday
Historical Western
Romance Author
I'm a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 8 full length historical western romance novels, with another set to release 2017, and 10 short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. At times, I can feel their ghosts lurking around every corner. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here. I love research and looking for little known tidbits to add realism to my stories. When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I confess to being a rock hound. I’ve been accused (and quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic on the screen. As long as I’m confessing … chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul. 

Connect with Linda: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | LinkedIn

Giveaway:
Three Signed Coipies! 
(U.S. Only)
November 10-19, 2017

More Blogs on this Tour:
10-Nov Author Video Books in the Garden
11-Nov Review Texan Girl Reads  
12-Nov Excerpt Margie's Must Reads
13-Nov Review Tangled in Text
14-Nov Character Interview The Page Unbound
15-Nov Guest Post Storeybook Reviews
16-Nov Review Books and Broomsticks
18-Nov Review Chapter Break Book Blog
19-Nov Scrapbook Page Reading by Moonlight

Monday, November 13, 2017

ONE NIGHT IN SIXES BY TEX THOMPSON

 Genre: Epic Western Fantasy
Publisher: Solaris
Date of Publication: July 29, 2014
Pages: 464


Synopsis:

Appaloosa Elim is a man who knows his place.  On a good day, he’s content with it. 

Today is not a good day. 

Today, his so-called “partner” – that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has ridden off west for the border, hell-bent on making a name for himself in native territory.  And Elim, whose place is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn’t dare show up home again without him.

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but Elim's heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight. 

If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner fast. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth in his own flesh - and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.
The first book in an epic fantasy Western series, One Night in Sixes tells the story of the fragile peace between the industrialized east and the indigenous west – and how it threatens to fall to pieces when two strangers cause a terrible accident. Recommended for fans of the Western mythos of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, the post-war frontier dynamics of Firefly and Deep Space Nine, and the multicultural fantasy realms of Ursula K. LeGuin. 

Praise for One Night in Sixes:
"Clearly written and engaging" ~Publishers Weekly
 “This author can really write. If you loved Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – or even if you’re a hardened Cormac McCarthy fan – you will find this book right inside your wheelhouse. Living, witty dialogue, and a familiar-yet-strange world inhabited by vivid characters. I loved it.” ~Paul Kearney, author of The Ten Thousand, Hawkwood and the Kings, and A Different Kingdom
"Sixes is a tinderbox of a town with tensions just waiting to go off - and Sil and Elim provide the match to set the volatile town ablaze." ~GCE 
"One Night in Sixes tears the covers off the Western and Fantasy genres and turns them into something that will grip you from the first page to the last." ~Rebellion

Buy Now: 

Sneak Peek: 
Sneak Peek into the rest of the Children of the Drought Series!

Medicine for the Dead
(Children of the Drought, Book 2)

Two years ago, the crow-god Marhuk sent his grandson to Sixes. 

Two nights ago, a stranger picked up his gun and shot him. 

Two hours ago, the funeral party set out for the holy city of Atali'Krah, braving the wastelands to bring home the body of Dulei Marhuk.

Out in the wastes, one more corpse should hardly make a difference. But the blighted landscape has been ravaged by drought, twisted by violence, and warped by magic - and no-one is immune. Vuchak struggles to keep the party safe from monsters, marauders, and his own troubled mind. Weisei is being eaten alive by a strange illness. And fearful, guilt-wracked Elim hopes he's only imagining the sounds coming from Dulei's coffin.

As their supplies dwindle and tensions mount, the desert exacts a terrible price from its pilgrims - one that will be paid with the blood of the living, and the peace of the dead.



Dreams of the Eaten
(Children of the Drought, Book 3)

After trials by fire and thirst, Appaloosa Elim's quest to bring home the body of the crow prince is finally nearing its end.

But the coffin is missing, the funeral party is hopelessly scattered, and the fishmen are hell-bent on revenge. Worse yet, the pilgrimage has disturbed an ancient power – and the earth is crumbling in its grip.

As the ground shakes and the crows gather, the final reckoning promises to unite the living and the dead in a battle for the land itself. One way or another, blood debts will come due, Elim will face his judgment, and the World That Is will be forever changed.


About the Author: 

Arianne "Tex" Thompson is a home-grown Texas success story. After earning a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in literature, she channeled her passion for exciting, innovative, and inclusive fiction into the Children of the Drought – an internationally-published epic fantasy Western series from Solaris. Now a professional speaker and instructor for the Writers Path at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex is blazing a trail through writers’ conferences, workshops, and fan conventions around the country – as an endlessly energetic, relentlessly enthusiastic one-woman stampede.
Connect with Tex: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway:  

THREE WINNERS RECEIVE A SIGNED COPY OF ONE NIGHT IN SIXES
PLUS EXCLUSIVE BONUS! CHAPTER ONE SNEAK PEEK AT TEX'S NEXT FANTASY WESTERN!
November 5-14, 2017
(U.S. Only)




More Blogs on this Tour: 

05-Nov Promo Hall Ways Blog
06-Nov Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
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08-Nov Scrapbook Texan Girl Reads
09-Nov Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
10-Nov Guest Post Tangled in Text
11-Nov Review Syd Savvy
12-Nov Review The Librarian Talks
14-Nov Review Forgotten Winds

Saturday, November 11, 2017

CHICANO SOUL BY RUBEN MOLINA

 Genre: Music / Chicano History
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Date of Publication: September 15, 2017
Pages: 160


Synopsis:

In 2007, Ruben Molina published the first-ever history of Mexican-American soul and R&B music in his book, Chicano Soul: Recordings and History of an American Culture. Ten years later, Chicano Soul remains an important and oft-referenced study of this vital but often overlooked chapter of the greater American musical experience. Chicano soul music of the 1950s and 1960s still reverberates today, both within Chicano communities and throughout many musical genres. Molina tells the story of the roots of Chicano soul, its evolution, and its enduring cultural influence.

"Brown-eyed soul" music draws on 1950s era jazz, blues, jump blues, rock `n' roll, Latin jazz, and traditional Mexican music such as ranchera, norteño, and conjunto music. With its rare and gorgeous photos, record scans, concert bills, and impressive discography (to say nothing of its rich oral histories/interviews), it is one of those rare works that speaks to both general and academic audiences.

As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loves. Much of Chicano soul music's recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.

Praise for Chicano Soul: 
“[Chicano Soul} is nada if not revelatory… Molina seeks acknowledgement of this under-the-radar genre. With this book, he’ll get it. By linking the trail of Chicano soul bands to the route of the Mexican-American migrant workers across the United States as well as the migration of south-of-the-border families into Texas after the Mexican Revolution, the author presents a compelling account of rock and roll heroes literally unsung. Molina makes a case for teenagers who took their parents’ musical traditions, the trappings of black R&B bands with pop sensibilities, and channeled them into a vibrant sound that helped define the culture it sprang from.” ~Austin Chronicle
My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I've always believed that music is what ties us together as people and enhances the human spirit. I remember being at a Canadian dance club many years ago and realizing how powerfully binding music can be. There I was an American black girl in the midst of Canadians, Americans, young people, older people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people, (even, Emmanuel Lewis was there!) and we were all experiencing the joy of the music ... together. Good music transcends cultural, generational, gender, and socioeconomic boundaries. What Ruben Molina did in crafting this anthology of stories about many of the key players in the Chicano Soul (aka brown eyed soul) genre provides a more holistic review of a genre of music that has been historically overlooked.

In this work, Molina provides a plethora of personal narratives and interviews of the musicians. This structure gave the stories more life by providing authentic voices that permeated throughout the anthology. Additionally, there are many color photos that supplement the narratives. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, this book has quite a bit to say! The most interesting (and sad) fact I learned in reading this book is so many of the artists were rather young when they started off in their careers. Many of them dropped out of school to pursue a career in entertainment. I suppose this is common in the industry, but as a proponent of education, I found it to be disappointing (and maybe naive) that they couldn't have both. The most troubling part, but not surprising, is not all the musicians were able to reach their full potential because of the ignorance of others. Radio stations and disc jockeys, getting in their own way, by not playing songs because the musicians weren't black (and it was a "black" radio station) or bands not being able to get a gig because the music had too much of an R&B influence (and the venue was targeted more to Latinos). It's tough when people are hindered because they are stuck between two (or more) worlds.

While the overall premise of the book is compelling, there were some observations I made that, I believe, could have made the book even better had they been implemented. The author provides the audience with a lot of names - individual musicians, bands, producers, etc. And because the height of this Chicano soul movement was during the 60s and 70s, we learn that band member turnover was high due to the disproportionate rate of Latinos and Blacks being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. So, there was a large cast of "characters" being shuffled around, making it difficult for discern who was who and who was with which band group. Couple that with the mainstream names of James Brown, Little Richard, Elvis, Ritchie Valens, and the like, it was quite a bit of information to digest. I think a family tree-type chart to accompany the discography of recordings in the appendix section would have been helpful in providing more clarity. Additionally, I would have liked for the author to include more historical context to help clarify how what was going on in the world at the time affected Chicano Soul. The book is not without this. There are some mainstream ideas and events noted; however, I would have liked to see more of this.

In our current divisive and contentious times, Molina's book, Chicano Soul: Recordings & History of an American Culture, is an important piece of non-fiction that clearly illustrates we are better when we bring our unique perspectives and talents together under this melting pot of diversity we call the United States of America. Even when it seems we are losing our hope and unity, music will, in part, save us. Molina's book shows us that.

Recommendation: I think this book would be a good read for someone, who lived during this time period, and would like to reminisce as well as for a younger music lover looking to broaden his or her scope of music history. In short, this book is a coming of age story about a special genre of music that touched a broad audience of Americans all across the country.


Until next time ... Read on! 


Buy Now:

About the Author:
As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loved. Much of Chicano soul music’s recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.




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09-Nov Promo The Page Unbound
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12-Nov Promo Books and Broomsticks
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15-Nov Review Missus Gonzo
16-Nov Promo Syd Savvy
17-Nov Promo Tangled in Text
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Sunday, October 29, 2017

DEATH IN D MINOR BY ALEXIA GORDON

Genre: Paranormal Mystery / African American Sleuth
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Pages: 236


Synopsis: 

Gethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord's about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law's come to visit. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with an investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the woman's help clearing him. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

Praise for Death in D Minor: 
Gethsemane Brown is everything an amateur sleuth should be: smart, sassy, talented, and witty even when her back is against the wall. In her latest adventure, she's surrounded by a delightful cast, some of whom readers will remember from Gordon's award-winning debut and all of whom they won't forget. Gordon writes characters we want resurrected. ~​Cate Holahan, author of The Widower's Wife and Lies She Told
Erstwhile ghost conjurer and gifted concert violinist Gethsemane Brown returns in this thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Murder in G Major. Facing eviction from the historic seaside cottage she calls home, Gethsemane must clear her brother-in-law’s name - as well as her own - when a priceless artifact goes missing and the wealthy dowager to whom it belonged is “helped” over a high balcony railing.  With the help of a spectral sea captain she accidentally summoned, Gethsemane tries to unravel the mystery as the murderer places her squarely in the crosshairs. ~​Daniel J. Hale, Agatha Award-winning author
Buy Now: 

Excerpt: 

Death in D Minor by Alexia Gordon

***

“This is ridiculous.”

They stood in the doorway of Walsh and Sons Men’s Tailor and Haberdashery. Frankie crossed his arms and mimicked the expression of a schoolboy told there’d be a pop quiz.

“It’s not.” Gethsemane tugged at his arm. “Tailors keep records. My grandfather kept a record of every detail about every suit and dress he ever made. Color, cut, size, fabric, price. He even kept fabric swatches and sketches of the finished piece.”

“So you’re just going to walk in there, hand the proprietor your ‘appropriated’ button, and ask him who he made it for. If he made it. It could’ve come from anywhere.”

“Not anywhere. Custom-made sterling silver buttons engraved with coats of arms don’t come from the local superstore.”

“Walsh and his sons aren’t the only tailors around.”

“They’re the only ones in Ballytuam.” She pulled him into the shop. “Come on.”

“If it is his button, he’s not going to volunteer the name of the person he sold it to. Don’t high-end shops pride themselves on keeping their clients’ details confidential?”

“Yes, they do. Which is why you’re going to distract the Messrs. Walsh while I have a peek in the office.”

***

About the Author: 

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU's Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, released July 11, 2017.

Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine's Best Debuts. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at www.missdemeanors.com, voted one of Writers' Digest magazine's 101 best websites for writers, and featured on Femmes Fatales.


Giveaway: 

Grand Prize: Signed copy of Death in D Minor + Whisky Field Guide, Sea Salt & Bay Rum soy candle, Notepad, $20 Starbucks Gift Card
2nd Prize: Signed copy of Death in D Minor, Ceramic Skull Coffee Mug, $20 Amazon Gift Card
October 25-November 3, 2017
​(U.S. Only) ​


More Blogs on this Tour: 

25-Oct Review Hall Ways Blog
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28-Oct Review Chapter Break Book Blog
30-Oct Author Interview The Librarian Talks
30-Oct Review Forgotten Winds
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1-Nov Review Tangled in Text
1-Nov Top 5 List Bibliotica
2-Nov Notable Quotable Missus Gonzo
2-Nov Notable Quotable StoreyBook Reviews
3-Nov Review Reading by Moonlight



Thursday, October 26, 2017

LOVE ANTHONY BY LISA GENOVA

Rating: 3 of 5 stars 

My book club decided to read Lisa Genova's book, Love Anthony, for our upcoming meeting in November. I am probably part of a small minority of readers who has not read Still Alice (nor seen the movie), but I did read Left Neglected and enjoyed it immensely. I had hoped I would enjoy Love Anthony just as much, but it kind of fell flat for me.

The story is starts off rather depressing and doesn't offer much hope throughout. There's a slight glimmer at the end, but I finished the book just feeling, eh. It wasn't a horrible book, but it didn't wow me. I was quite ready to move on to the next story in my ever-growing to be read pile.

The book features two main characters, Olivia, who had a son with autism who died at age 8, and Beth, who is recently separated from her philandering husband. To reclaim her identity, Beth begins voraciously writing. The outcome of her efforts is a story about a young boy who has autism. As a reader (or even if you aren't a reader), you can tell where this story is going, right? Both women cross paths and are drawn together by the account of a fictional and real boy with autism who is used as a vehicle to help them both manage their grief and loss.

The story is promising, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. I found the parts where the little boy, in the book within the book, narrated to be mundane. I get that Genova was trying to give the reader a fuller picture of what having autism is like, but it was a little much for me. Similarly, there were parts where Olivia re-read her journal during the time that she cared for Anthony. It seemed that the book was comprised more of the characters reading and re-telling events than it included actual substance of what was going on in present time.

Recommendation: Genova is a detailed storyteller. Her background, as a neuroscientist, provides another dimension of depth to stories like this. If you're looking to gather another perspective on autism, this might be a good choice. However, I would recommend reading it when you're in good spirits because it is quite sobering.

Until next time ... Read on!

Monday, October 23, 2017

THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK BY BETHANY TURNER


Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Publisher: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Page: 304

Synopsis | Praise | My Review | Buy Now | About the Author | Giveaway | More Blogs

Synopsis:

Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.


Praise: 
“The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a rare treat packed with humor, hope, and heart. Sarah’s struggles are real and nearly tangible, and she feels like a friend we’ve all had. I laughed with her and fell in love alongside her and couldn’t wait to hear her whole story. What a charming, delightful book!”  ~Liz Johnson, bestselling author of The Red Door Inn

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I've always had a love for reading, but as I get older I find myself reading more books and consuming television and movies a lot less. Having said that, I do enjoy a good book that flows like it's made for live entertainment. In reading Bethany Turner's debut novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, the story read very much like a picture perfect movie that might appear on the Hallmark Channel.

In this romantic, Christian comedy, we meet the titular character who is grieving her recent divorce. In an effort to re-discover who she is, Sarah joins a book club. One thing leads to another and she ends up a wealthy author of some very steamy romance novels (think 50 Shades of Grey steamy). In the midst of her success and with the help of her BFF, Piper, Sarah becomes a born-again Christian and decides to once again re-invent herself. If that wasn't enough, she finds herself in love (at first sight) with the pastor of her new church. Chaos ensues, but everything is tied up nicely in the end.

While this brief synopsis might make the book sound rather superficial, make no mistake, Bethany Turner does an excellent job of presenting realistic and complex situations any of us could find ourselves in. The author's gift as a writer is that she takes those situations and offers a fresh perspective with a bit of hope and a dash of humor. It's often said that comedy helps us digest difficult circumstances with a bit of sugar. Turner certainly has mastered this craft. Additionally, she offers wonderful insight into common issues that all couples face, but specifically she creatively demonstrates how Christians can approach these issues while remaining true to the faith.

I also enjoyed the construction of this book. Many of the books I've read as of late simply number the chapters in chronological order. I liked that Turner included descriptive headings for each of her chapters. It makes the reader anticipate what's to come in the secret-turned-very public life of Sarah Hollenbeck. What's more is all of the characters seem so genuine. They're relatable and broken, but not beyond repair and redemption. And most importantly, not beyond the grasp of God's grace and mercy. This is what gives the book an overarching theme of hope. (As an aside, I really want Piper to be my best friend!)

My only criticism of this novel, albeit a personal one, is that I found some things in the book a bit unrealistic. For example, I don't believe in "love at first sight." You can disagree though. Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, I would have liked the book to include a little more breadth in terms of ethnic diversity.

Recommendation: I found this story to be a delight, containing nuggets of truth that convicted but also inspired me. It is a story about overcoming grief, releasing guilt, forging friendships, and reading and writing books. What's not to love? I think it would make for a great book club discussion as well as an individual read. Pick up a copy and see for yourself. Or check out the giveaway further down this page and enter for a chance to win your own copy plus some other sweet prizes!

Until next time ... Read on!

About the Author:

Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
Connect with Bethany | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway:

Grand Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter tote bag + a typewriter notebook + Columbia Jo's coffee + Novel Teas teabags
2nd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter hardcover journal + typewriter enamel lapel pin
3rd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
October 19-October 28, 2017
(U.S. Only)

More Blogs on this Tour:

19-Oct Author Interview Forgotten Winds
20-Oct Guest Post #1 Margie's Must Reads
21-Oct Review Texan Girl Reads
22-Oct Deleted Scene Reading by Moonlight
24-Oct Guest Post #2 Texas Book Lover
25-Oct Review Tangled in Text
26-Oct Playlist Books in the Garden
27-Oct Review StoreyBook Reviews
28-Oct Character Interview Books and Broomsticks






About Melyssa

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Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog. I am an avid reader who enjoys reading fiction. I also read biographies as well as fiction and non-fiction books about the Holocaust and Civil Rights period ... and I've been known to read a blog or two! If you'd like me to review a book, please complete the contact form below my bio. I'll be in touch!

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