Monday, February 8, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

by:  Hester Young
published by:  G.P. Putnam's Sons
publish date:  September 1, 2015

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.

First, I had some issues.  I listened to the audiobook.  Evangeline in Louisiana is pronounced Evange-Lynn or in some rare cases Evange-Line (with a long I).  I've never heard anyone pronouncing it Evange-LEEN.  It was aggravating me.  The author also apparently had some kind of idea that people in Louisiana/Texas are just toting around guns all willy-nilly.  It was a really frustrating bias.  However, if I didn't live here, I probably wouldn't have picked up on.

The story is about Charlie who begins to experience psychic visions after she tragically loses her son.  She is presented with an opportunity to write a true crime novel about the infamous disappearance of the son of a wealthy Louisiana couple.  She decides to take the job when she begins to have dreams about a little boy asking her for help.  She moves onto the family estate and begins investigating the family and turns up more than she bargained for.

Other than the few issues I had, I did enjoy the story.  It was a well written mystery that had me engaged until the very end.  It looks like there will be more books featuring Charlie Cates in the future.  I will be looking forward to them.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

by:  Diane Les Becquets
published by:  Berkley
publish date:  February 9, 2016

It is the last weekend of the season for Amy Raye Latour to get away. Driven to spend days alone in the wilderness, Amy Raye, mother of two, is compelled by the quiet and the rush of nature. But this time, her venture into a remote area presents a different set of dangers than Amy Raye has planned for and she finds herself on the verge of the precarious edge that she’s flirted with her entire life.
When Amy Raye doesn’t return to camp, ranger Pru Hathaway and her dog respond to the missing person’s call. After an unexpected snowfall and few leads, the operation turns into a search and recovery. Pru, though, is not resigned to that. The more she learns about the woman for whom she is searching, and about Amy Raye’s past, the more she suspects that Amy Raye might yet be alive. Pru’s own search becomes an obsession for a woman whose life is just as mysterious as the clues she has left behind.

I say it here often:  I love survival stories.  This was a great one!

Amy Raye is a hunter.  She leaves her hunting party to go on a solo hunt and she doesn't return.  As Amy Raye's story unfolds what may have happened becomes less obvious.  Her marriage was in trouble.  She was having an affair with one of the members of the hunting party.  Pru Hathaway has to deal with all these questions as she is out in the treacherous weather looking for Amy.

Breaking Wild is told from alternating view points.  Pru and Amy both tell their stories throughout the book.  Both are remarkable women.  They will leave you anticipating what will happen next.

This is an excellent book to read while it's still cold outside!  It's very atmospheric.  I highly recommend it!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveway - To Catch a Rake by Sally Orr

Author: Sally Orr
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release date: February 2, 2016

No Good Rake Goes Unpunished

When George Drexel used his vast experience with women to write and publish The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide, little did he realize the havoc it would cause. Now years later, the rumor of a second edition has London’s naughtiest widows pounding on his door, begging to be included. But George has given up his roguish ways and wants nothing more than to be left alone with his architectural pursuits…until beautiful Meta Russell tempts him from his work and leaves him contemplating an altogether different sort of plan.

The handbook may be years out of print, but it still has the power to ruin lives. Desperate to save her sister—whose inclusion has left her jilted—Meta tracks down the rake responsible, only to find a man who steals her breath and leaves her reeling.  Banding together to put things to rights, George and Meta find themselves drawn inexorably together…but can Meta truly trust her heart to a man who wrote the book on being a rake?

Message from Sally Orr

Dear Readers,

I’m deeply grateful that you have stopped by today.

If you have never read my books before, you are probably wondering what type of stories I write. Basically, you’ll discover a light-hearted story about two people falling in love. Expect some wit, a good laugh, and a joy-filled journey on the path to romance. So if you are in the mood to escape to the past and read about two people overcoming obstacles to find true love, then you have the right book in your hand.

The heroine of TO CATCH A RAKE, Meta, is a young widow who is a caregiver for her family. From her elderly father who suffers from dementia, to a young boy in need of discipline, she sacrifices her own needs for those of her family. She believes that if she ever falls in love again, she could never abandon her family, even for the man of her dreams.

Now we come to the importance of the hero—the man who will always be my favorite character. What is more exciting than a strong, masculine hero recognizing, and ultimately giving in to his passion for the heroine? I expect most of us would love to be in the heroine’s pointy-toed shoes.

Also you may discover that some of my heroes have non-typical occupations other than aristocrat. Personally, I don’t prefer heroes that are gentlemen who inherited their titles. Historically, the first person to hold the title was a man of accomplishment—a man that served his monarch well and was aptly rewarded. For me, later holders of the title are not usually as heroic as the gentlemen who combined intelligence, drive, and creativity and achieved groundbreaking discoveries. For example, the men who invented the first electric motor, or a machine that turned water power into electricity, or built an iron bridge, ship, or building that still functions in our modern world.

The hero of TO CATCH A RAKE, George, is a gentleman who spent his youth in the reckless manner of a young man about town—gaming, wenching, and sports. He used his vast expertise with women to pen the Field Guide section of the Rake’s Handbook. Now in his thirties, he finds himself jaded and pained to discover that London considers him merely a rake who wrote a vulgar book. He yearns to escape this nonsense and find an occupation that will define his life—be a man everyone will speak of differently—a man of accomplishment. He becomes an engineer working on the most famous structure of the Regency-era—the Thames Tunnel. This tunnel was the first tunnel under a navigable river. When it opened, it was considered the eighth wonder of the world, so the hero’s story intertwines with one of the greatest achievements of the era.

So I hope you take a few hours, sit back, and enjoy a little bit of history mixed with a tender love story.

Thank you and happy reading!
Sally Orr

Exclusive Snippet from TO CATCH A RAKE

“Happy then, married to a lady of science?”
His emerald eyes flashed with delight. “Never happier. Do you know what she did the other day? She organized all of my waistcoats according to the color, or rather the color in relation to what she calls ‘the visible spectrum.’ Not quite sure myself what that is, but I’m sure it’s a bang-up thing to do with a fellow’s waistcoats.”

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About the Author

Sally Orr worked for 30 years in academic research, when one day a friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, her books are by default Regency romances. She lives with her husband surrounded by books, modernist mid-century dishes, and English cars in San Diego, California.

Connect with Sally Orr

Friday, February 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Night Hawk by Lindsay McKenna

Author: Lindsay McKenna
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: December 2015


After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man’s widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief…until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she’s never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.

Night Hawk is the 10th book in the Jackson Hole series, but it's the first book that I have read.  A good sign of a successful series is when they say a book can be read as a stand alone, they really mean it. I like that I can pick up any book in the series and never feel lost. While references were made to previous books, I never felt out of the loop reading Night Hawk.  It is a good second chance story.  By coincidence, Gil and Kai end up working at the same ranch, years after Gil left Kai without a word.  Now that they are together, can Kai find forgiveness and a happy future?

For the most part, I enjoyed the story,  I think had it been a straight romance, I would have liked it a lot more.  I loved watching Gil and Kai find their way back to each other.  I also liked the peripheral characters in the book.  There was a real sense of family among them that came across as genuine.

As for the suspense part of the book, for me, it was almost like an after thought and really could have been left out. Not enough time was spent on the "suspense" part. the attack toward the end of the book was a bit out of the blue.  I was also confused as to why Gil and Talon wouldn't tell Kai the real reasons for them wanting her to stay away from the bad guy.  If they truly thought she was in danger, why keep it to themselves?  That was just silly.  I also thought that there was a little too much repetition in the book.  How many times did the characters have to speculate on whether or not Sandy and Cass were falling in love?  I would have like to see more of that fall into love instead of hearing about it.

The next book int he series, Out Rider, comes out later this year.  I look forward to checking it out.

About Lindsay McKenna

A U.S. Navy veteran, she was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition.  Her heart and focus is on honoring and showing our military men and women.  Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories. Visit her online at

Connect with Lindsay

Purchase Links

Lindsay McKenna’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, January 4th: Majorly Delicious
Monday, January 4th: The Sassy Bookster
Wednesday, January 6th: Reading Reality
Friday, January 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, January 11th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Tuesday, January 12th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January 13th: Mignon Mykel Reviews
Friday, January 15th: Read Love Blog
Monday, January 18th: Romantic Reads and Such
Wednesday, January 20th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Thursday, January 21st: Life is Story
Friday, January 22nd: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, January 25th: What I’m Reading
Wednesday, January 27th: Bibliotica
Thursday, January 28th: Books a la Mode
Friday, January 29th: Black ‘n Gold Girls Book Spot
Tuesday, February 2nd: It’s A Reading Thing – Cover breakdown
Friday, February 5th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Stealing Home by Sherryl Woods

Author: Sherryl Woods
First published on 2007 by Mira

Maddie Townsend might live in a town called Serenity, but there's been nothing calm or peaceful about her life since her marriage broke up. This stay-at-home mom has no job skills, an out-of-control sixteen-year-old son, a talkative fourteen-year-old who's suddenly gone silent, a six-year-old daughter whose heart is broken, an ex-husband whose younger girlfriend is expecting their baby and two best friends who think she's somehow qualified to help them open a fitness spa for women. But if Maddie is a tad on edge with all that on her plate, it's nothing compared to the chaos that ensues when she discovers that her son's baseball coach has feelings for her and the whole town disapproves. Maddie's faced a lot of challenges lately with strength and resolve, but Cal Maddox may turn out to be more than she can handle.

Then again, he could just be the one man in all of South Carolina who can help her find serenity.

Stealing Home is the first book in the Sweet Magnolia series.  It's months after Maddie's husband tells her that he wants a divorce and that he is having a baby with his girlfriend.  She is now trying to figure out how to move on with her life and take care of her three kids.  With a little help from her friends she may find herself and a little love along the way.

This story was just an OK read for me.  I did enjoy watching Maddie come out of her shell and start sticking up for herself.    I also thought that her budding relationship with Cal was very sweet and fun to watch.  From a romance point of view, it was pretty clean and tame.  What I had a hard time with was the ridiculousness of the town's reaction to Maddie and Cal dating.  Yes, there is a 10 year difference. But really, the guy is in his mid 30s and she is in her mid 40s.  It's not like either of them are underage.  The principal threatening to get Cal fired from his teaching position was just over the top and unbelievable.  I think that whole story line could have been left out.  It made me almost make this a DNF.

I am curious to read the next book in the series, so stay tuned.  I'm sure it will show up here at some point in the future.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler

by:  Carolyn Mackler
published by:  HarperTeen
publish date:  September 1, 2015

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

I think if you only read one YA book this year, this should be it.  It's the perfect high school book.

The story starts right before Freshman year.  Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney are five completely different people but they're grouped up for a Freshman orientation project.  They decide to write letters to their future selves and hide them away and they will open them on graduation.  The rest of the book tells their stories of how their lives intertwine over the next 4 years.

I was skeptical that 4 years of high school could fit into one book.  Especially 4 years of high school for 5 different people.  It worked though.  It was a very well written book and the stories were told in such a perfect way.  I would definitely recommend this book to all the YA lovers.  Even if you aren't a YA reader, this story just might help you find your love of YA books.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

Author: Nicholas Searle
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: February 2016

A stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling, The Good Liar unravels the past of a man who lives to deceive.

Like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, veteran con artist Roy is a born liar—and when he meets wealthy widow Betty online, he knows she’s an easy mark. In no time at all, he’s spinning his web of duplicity and betrayal around her, even moving into her lovely cottage. He’s sure his scheme will be a success: She seems ready to build a life with him, and he is ready to reel her in. He’s done this before.

But who is Roy, really? While this masterful narrative of literary suspense entwines Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also delves deeply into their pasts. As the clock turns back and the years fall away, truth will out. Before Roy can close the deal, there is a reckoning to be made.
How many lies will it take to make him finally tell the truth?

The Good Liar is a debut novel that involves lies, lies and more lies.  The story goes back and forth between the past and the present. In the present, 80 something Roy is looking for his last big con. He hopes to find it with Betty.  She seems to have her own motives as well.  The rest of the book takes you back through Roy's past in reverse order in which you find out more about him and his life as a con man.  

I'm not sure this book really worked for me. I wanted to like it more than I did. For me, the writing was a bit flat and not engaging enough to hold my interest for long periods of time. I found myself skimming parts of the book.   I had a hard time connecting with the characters, because none of them were very likable. The ending did have an interesting twist, but it just took too long to get there.  The story itself was kind of depressing.  I'm just going to have to chalk it up to not being for me. 

About Nicholas Searle

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath and the University of Göttingen, Germany. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service, in the UK  and New Zealand, before deciding in  2011 to leave and begin writing fiction. 

 The Good Liar is his first novel. Nicholas lives in Yorkshire, in the north of England.

Follow Nicholas on Twitter.

Nicholas’ Tour Stops
Tuesday, February 2nd: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, February 3rd: Priscilla and Her Books
Thursday, February 4th: I’m Shelf-ish
Monday, February 8th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, February 8th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Tuesday, February 9th: Vox Libris
Wednesday, February 10th: Curling Up by the Fire
Tuesday, February 16th: Book Journey
Wednesday, February 17th: Book by Book
Thursday, February 18th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 23rd: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, February 24th: she treads softly
Thursday, February 25th: FictionZeal
Thursday, February 25th: A Bookworm’s World
Friday, March 4th: For the Love of Words

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Trembley

Author: Paul Termbley
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: June 2015

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface--and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Honestly, I had to sit on this book for a while because I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.  This was a random audio pick from my library. In A Head Full of Ghosts, teenager Marjorie starts exhibiting signs of schizophrenia be cause she claims that voices are telling her to do things.  Her father and his priest are convinced that she is possessed.  In order to pay off bills, the family makes a deal with the devil. OK, not the devil, but a TV network to have their ordeal turned into a reality TV show.  I'm not sure there is much difference.  The story waffles between the present where Merry is being interviewed for a book about her experience and the past as Merry relates her version of events with her sister and family.

I think I'm just going to have to say this book was just OK.  I think it had the potential to be a good horror story. In fact, the beginning was really creepy.  But as the book progressed, it got more and more disappointing.  What I thought was going to be a good horror story turned into a somewhat negative commentary about reality TV, religion, and moral obligation. The blog posts that are sprinkled throughout the book were disruptive and threw off the pacing of the narrative for me. The last 1/4 was equally disappointing.  Yes, there were a couple of twists, but they weren't as shocking as I think they were meant to be.  The final scene has kind of an ambiguous ending and that was frustrating.  

I have seen a lot of rave reviews on this book. but I just can't agree.  I think if you go into the book not expecting horror or even a spooky story, you might like it more than I did.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Books We Didn't Finish January Edition

A Brief History of Seven Killings:  I usually really like any book that's on the Man Book Award list of nominees.  This one was the 2015 Winner so I figured it was going to be really good.  It was so complicated and hard to understand.  It had too many points of view and they just weren't coming together in a way I could understand.  That, and the Jamaican accent of the audiobook readers were so heavy at times I couldn't figure out a word they were saying.

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen:  I might have to chalk this one up to the audiobook narrator.  I've heard his voice in quite a lot of Middle Grade and YA audiobooks that I equate it to more juvenile books.  It wasn't working for me in this more serious type book.  The story just wasn't holding my interest like Katherine Howe books normally do. (Kari didn't like this one either!)

Sea of Tranquility: I was hoping for a good YA romance.  Instead, I got an angsty mess.  I didn't like any of the characters.  The whole things was just too depressing that I gave up.

Shriver: This was a random audio library pick.  It has great reviews and was touted to be a humorous satire. I found nothing humorous about it.  I made it to the third disc and realized I was bored. I'm not sure I laughed once.  Maybe I just don't get satire.

Whistling Past the Graveyard: I found the main character of the book annoying.  After the first couple of chapters, I was bored.

Undertow: DNF at 30%. Not only did it take 5 chapters before I had an inkling what was going on, but then I still wasn't sure after 2 more chapters. Crappy world building! I knew it was going to go downhill fast when the Lyric said she was kind of dating a guy because he was hot. Did she mention he was hot? Yes, several times. Ugh.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Mini Musings

Starting Over: I thought this was a cute second chance story.  It's a quick read and worth checking out. Cameron was too cute. Although, I was a little frustrated with Vanessa, I could understand her reluctance to date again. The epilogue made up for that frustration.

The Hidden: The latest in the Krewe of Hunters series (#17) ended up being a fairly good read.  It has a good mystery with a second chance at love story.  I didn't really buy into the love story too much as they kind of got over their issues a little fast for me. The next one comes out in May and I look forward to it.

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief : After reading Leah Remini's book, Troublemaker, I watched the HBO documentary "Going Clear" that was made after this book was written.  This book expands on that documentary.  It's an interesting insight into the crazy  and often scary world of Scientology.  I highly recommend reading it to anyone curious about the "religion".

See How They Run:  A kind of disappointing sequel to the first book.  It seems to suffer like many second books in series often do with not much in the way of furthering the story arc.  There was not a lot answers to questions left over from the first book.  In the end, I was frustrated by more questions and another big cliffhanger.  Grace was also a lot more whiny in this one.  She finds out that she is a descendant of a secret society of women, but then there is no further training  or information.  I would have liked to see some of that.  I'm hoping #3 is a lot better.