Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TLC Book Tours: The Visitant

Author: Megan Chance
Title: The Visitant
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: Sept 22, 2015
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours
Book Blurb: 
A crumbling palazzo in nineteenth-century Venice holds a buried secret.

After she nearly ruins her family with a terrible misstep, Elena Spira is sent to Venice to escape disgrace and to atone by caring for the ailing Samuel Farber. But the crumbling and decaying Ca’ Basilio palazzo, where Samuel is ensconced, holds tragic secrets, and little does Elena know how profoundly they will impact her. Soon she begins to sense that she is being watched by something. And when Samuel begins to have hallucinations that make him violent and unpredictable, she can’t deny she’s in mortal danger.

Then impoverished nobleman Nero Basilio, Samuel’s closest friend and the owner of the palazzo, arrives. Elena finds herself entangled with both men in a world where the past seeps into the present and nothing is as it seems. As Elena struggles to discover the haunting truth before it destroys her, a dark force seems to hold Samuel and the Basilio in thrall—is it madness, or something more sinister?

Review: I'm not sure what to say about this novel, except that it reminded me so much of the gothic novels that I devoured when I was in high school. (Yup I always read my mom's old Candlelight Gothic Romances and I'm not ashamed to admit it)

The plot of The Visitant is much like the plots of those old gothics that I loved, but there's nothing retro about the book.  This book leaves out the cheesiness that those books have.

Elena is acting as a nurse to Samuel who is an epileptic that just happened to get injured in Rome and needs more care as his condition worsens.

Elena has a scandal in her past that has sent her away from her family. When that secret is revealed, about midway through the book, you'll really want to bop her in the noggin, and probably her family too.

Many times while reading I had to remind myself that she couldn't just pick up a phone to consult her father on Samuel's condition, and I found myself frustrated that she didn't write for help when things started to become more strange, for a lack of a better word.

There was a lot of strangeness going on, from the Nero's family and staff, both of which are a little bit out there, to the story of the ghost, and the effect it seems to have on one of the characters.

I really loved the triangle between Nero and Samuel. A truly satisfy darker read. Highly recommeded!

Rating: 4 flowers

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Mistress Of The Court

Author: Laura Purcell
Title: Mistress of the Court
Publisher: Myrmidom Books Ltd
Publish Date: Aug 4, 2015
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours
Book Blurb: 
Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne. Henrietta's beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince's mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse? Whatever George's shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit - even if it costs her pride and her marriage. Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II's reign.

Review: Mistress Of The Court is a wonderfully written novel about the first Hanover King and his family. The focus is on Prince George and Princess Caroline and Henrietta Howard.

Henrietta is a woman that you can totally sympathize with. Her husband is very abusive. There's absolutely no way that you can feel anything but hatred for Charles Howard. And when he pits her son against her, you will hate him even more, especially as she did everything to keep her child safe when he was a little boy.

On the more royal side you have Caroline and George. They have their own family problems, when George I ascends the throne their family is torn apart in much the same way as Henrietta's life was when she came to court.

Through Caroline, Henrietta became mistress, but Henrietta isn't the typical royal mistress. Her relationship with George isn't one based on power or even greed. Their relationship seems to be more a matter of need.

All throughout the book I found myself feeling sympathetic more towards Hetty than Caroline, though both women inspire a certain amount of pity from their readers.

When George and Hetty's relationship starts to crumble you'd expect to feel elated for Caroline, who would then have her husband back, but really you feel elated for Hetty because she is finally free to live her life.

This book was a wonderful read for anyone that loves stories involving the the British monarchy.  Its always nice to get away from the Tudors and Stuarts, who seem to dominate most of the books in this genre.

I look forward to reading the other books in the Hanover series.

Rating: 5 flowers

Monday, October 5, 2015

Great Escapes Book Tour Book Review: The Sound of Murder

The Sound of Murder
An Ivy Meadows Mystery Book 2
Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press (October 6, 2015)
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1943390014

“This gut-splitting mystery is a hilarious riff on an avante-garde production of ‘the Scottish play’…Combining humor and pathos can be risky in a whodunit, but gifted author Brown makes it work.” – Mystery Scene Magazine (on Macdeath)
All Ivy Meadows wants is to be an actor. And a private investigator. Plus she’d really like a pair of clean underwear, a place to stay since her apartment burned up, and to overcome her fear of singing in public. Also, she’d really like to knock the socks off the big New York producer who’s coming to Arizona to see her in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret—featuring singing nuns and Berlin burlesque—at Desert Magic Dinner Theater.
Ivy’s cast mates come through with singing lessons, a pair of granny pants, and a housesitting gig in a retirement community. And her P.I. uncle even assigns her a real case. But all is not raindrops on roses. During her investigation, Ivy clashes with the local posse, stumbles upon a firebug and a snoring pug, and finds herself smack in the sights of a serial senior-killer.
Books in the Ivy Meadows Humorous Mystery Series:
OLIVER TWISTED (#3) February 2016
Review: The Sound of Murder is book 2 in the Ivy Meadows mystery series.  Actually its called a humorous mystery series, and from the beginning with her setting fire to the kitchen, which we find is something common for her, the laughs start coming.

When a mistaken address causes her to find a man who possibly committed suicide things start to heat up and there's a mystery to solve, along with a musical to put on. Ivy is involved in a mash up called The Sound of Cabaret. But erm, she can't sing in public, all the while she wants to be a PI. She definitely has some interesting career goals.

Ivy (her real name is Olive Ziegwart) isn't the brightest crayon in the box, and sometimes she seems a bit lazy, but she's likable. Its hard not to compare her at times to Stephanie Plum. I mean, her car is almost always on fire! But if you want to keep up with the Plum comparisons, she has some crazy friends, but she is very loyal. I have to admit there were times when I wanted to shake her and tell her to prioritize, because she can't get things done.

The musical really adds a lot of the humor to the story. I can't begin to explain the mash up of The Sound of Music and Cabaret, but when you read the lyrics, you will be hard pressed not to laugh out loud. Plus the cast are fab. I love Marge and Bitsy is well, more than a little bit obnoxious.

Watching her stumble through the musical while trying to solve her mystery is hilarious. I really need to go back and read the first book in the series, Macdeath.

Rating: 4 flowers

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Friday, October 2, 2015

ARC Book Review: Diner Knock Out

Author: Terri L Austin
Title: Diner Knock Out
Publisher: Henery Press
Publish Date: Oct 20, 2015
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Rose Strickland’s life is complicated. Besides her waitressing gig, she works part-time for Andre Thomas, a PI with no faith in Rose’s ability to investigate, her love life with Sullivan has stalled, and her BFF, Roxy, has found a new bestie, leaving Rose out in the cold.

Determined to prove herself, Rose takes a case on the sly. As she searches for a missing MMA fighter, Rose discovers an illegal fight club, a group of ruthless businessmen, dead bodies, and a trail of drugs.

Hunting down clues that lead too close to home, Rose finds herself in the fight of her life. Can she beat the killer to the punch before she gets knocked out for good?

Review: Diner Knock Out is the latest installment in the Rose Strickland mystery series. If you haven't read anything from this series, you really should get started on it now.

Rose Strickland is a rich girl who gives it all up and works in a diner and part time for a PI. Oh and her boyfriend is sort of a criminal.

Rose takes on a case that seemed simple. A missing persons case, but as she starts to investigate it becomes apparent that a lot of things are more than what they seem, and that includes her own relationship with Sullivan.

She discovers a fight club and drug dealings and some really scary businessmen. (One of which is her boyfriend)

Terri Austin does a great job combining the sleuthing with Rose's personal life. The characters in her life are so colorful and fun. Ma, the owner of the diner is one heck of fun older lady. Roxy and Sugar are beyond nuts, but in a good way.  I found myself wishing I had friends like this. There's even a new friend, who I hope we'll see in future books, Candi Carlucci. She's the daughter of one of the not so nice businessmen that figure in with the mystery.

The story was fast paced and really fun. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially at the end, as you are waiting for the reveal of the whodunit. Ms. Austin gives you so many options of who could have killed the fighter, that when all is revealed you are a little bit surprised.

This was a fun read and a great addition to this series!

Rating: 5 flowers

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TLC Book Tours Book Review A Fine Summer's Day

A Fine Summer's Day coverAbout A Fine Summer's Day
• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 29, 2015)
On a fine summer's day in June 1914, Ian Rutledge is planning to propose to a woman he deeply loves, despite hints from his family and friends that she may not be the most suitable choice for a policeman's wife. To the north, another man in love—a Scottish Highlander named Hamish MacLeod—asks his own sweetheart to marry him.
Back in England, a son grieves for his mother, dredging up a dark injustice that will trigger a series of murders that Rutledge must solve. The victims are all upstanding and well-liked. The local police have their suspicions about the culprits and are less than cooperative with the London detective.
As clouds of war gather on the horizon, Rutledge digs deeper, finding similarities and patterns between the murders. With every moment at stake, he sets out to right a terrible wrong—an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.
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Review: A Fine Summer's Day is book 17 in the Ian Rutledge series. Book 17!!! How did I miss out on this series? I love historical mysteries, especially ones set around WWI. 

I'm used to series with a female lead character, so having Ian as the central character was something different for me, and I really liked him. I've read a few of the Bess Crawford books, but I think I like this series better. 

This book takes place as Europe is about to enter the war. It is actually a prequel book to the series, which makes this a great place to start the series, and I really enjoyed getting to know the characters.

What really makes these books so wonderful are how much attention to detail that you'll find here. I highly recommend this series and any other books by the Charles Todd, mother/son duo

Rating: 5 flowers

Charles ToddAbout Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels. A mother and son writing team, they live in Delaware and North Carolina. Visit their website at Charlestodd.com and like CharlesToddNovels on Facebook.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

Author: Meg Cabot
Title: Size 14 Is Not Fat Either
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: Nov 26, 2013
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: 
Former pop star Heather Wells has settled nicely into her new life as assistant dorm director at New York College—a career that does not require her to drape her size 12 body in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. She can even cope (sort of) with her rocker ex-boyfriend's upcoming nuptials, which the press has dubbed The Celebrity Wedding of the Decade. But she's definitely having a hard time dealing with the situation in the dormitory kitchen—where a cheerleader has lost her head on the first day of the semester. (Actually, her head is accounted for—it's her torso that's AWOL.)

Surrounded by hysterical students—with her ex-con father on her doorstep and her ex-love bombarding her with unwanted phone calls—Heather welcomes the opportunity to play detective . . . again. If it gets her mind off her personal problems—and teams her up again with the gorgeous P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—it's all good. But the murder trail is leading the average-sized amateur investigator into a shadowy world. And if she doesn't watch her step, Heather will soon be singing her swan song!

Review: The Heather Wells mysteries are the books I go to when I need to read something light and funny.

In Size 14 Is Not Fat Either the murder is a little more grisly. I mean, how often do heads get found in pots in residence halls kitchen. Not often.

The cast of character in this book (and all of the Heather Wells books) will have you rolling in the aisles. You get familiar faces like her ex Jordan Cartright and his brother Cooper, who is her landlord, boss and crush, Magda the cafeteria lady and now her ex con father. Oh and my favorite reoccurring character was Gavin, and he plays a huge part in helping Heather uncover who killed Lindsey.

The whodunit was a little bit easy to figure out, but it was super fun getting there!

Meg Cabot always delivers books that are fast paced and funny. I like to categorize this series as cozy chicklit mysteries.

Nothing is realistic, but everything is hilarious and that's what makes these books so enjoyable. I do recommend reading them in order. (I read the most recent book first, so I had spoilers as I started reading the other books in the series, so that took some of the fun out of them)

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a light fluffy fun mystery that's geared toward a younger set. (Most cozy mysteries seem to focus of middle aged sleuths, sadly of which I am one)

Rating: 5 flowers

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Book Review: Living In The Shadows

Layout 1Living in the Shadows

by Judith Barlow
Publication Date: July 16, 2015
Honno Press
eBook & Paperback; 320 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Family Saga

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It's 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse - following in Mary's footsteps - and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.

At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda's darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?

There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

Sequel to the acclaimed Changing Patterns and Pattern of Shadows.


Review: Living in the Shadows is really part of a series, but it can be read as a stand alone novel. I felt I would have liked to have read the other two books before, but it didn't spoil the enjoyment of this book, it was more so I could have a complete story.

This story really read like a UK soap opera. I loved getting all the stories within the story and there were a lot of them at varying degrees of drama, and the drama didn't stop until the final page is read.

The story takes place at the tale end of the 60s and unlike most family saga type books that I've read, the characters here are really more "real" more "ordinary". They could be people you know, and that's really what I liked about it. And their struggles? Well those weren't quite so ordinary, in fact, most of the struggles were pretty extraordinary, especially the whole thing involving Richard and Karen's relationship.

Some of the characters are easier to like than others. Victoria was really hard to like and it was understandable when other characters reacted negatively towards her at the end of the book.

All the characters were so well rounded and their stories so complex. The book deals with so many issues, homosexuality, the hippie movement along with murder and complex family situations.  The characters will feel like family as the stories go on. The drama really comes to a head at the end, and it is almost impossible not to shed a tear or two or even a whole river at the end. (Yes, there's death)

This is a fabulous story and well worth the read and I definitely want to go back and read the other books.

Rating: 5 flowers

03_Judith Barrow_Author ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Judith Barrow has lived in Pembrokeshire for thirty years. She is the author of three novels, and has published poetry and short fiction, winning several poetry competitions, as well as writing three children's books and a play performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Judith grew up in the Pennines, has degrees in literature and creative writing and makes regular appearances at literary festivals.



Monday, September 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Tuesday, September 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 23
Spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading

Thursday, September 24
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Saturday, September 26
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Sunday, September 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, September 28
Review at Book Nerd
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

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