Thursday, October 19, 2017

Great Escapes Book Tours Book Review: Secrets and Pies


Secrets and Pies

by Jenny Kales
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Self Published
Release Date - October 19, 2017
Approximately 200 pages 
Book will be up on Amazon and other retail sites soon.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of Callie’s Kitchen! Greek-American restaurateur Callie Costas faces down another killer in the small waterfront town of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. Recipes included!
Summertime in Crystal Bay means tourist season for Calliope “Callie” Costas, owner of Callie’s Kitchen, a Greek-meets-Midwest from-scratch eatery. Business is booming but so is the stress. Callie can barely keep up with the demand for her famous summer fruit pies and savory Greek delicacies, plus she’s agreed to bake dozens of “pitas” for the annual Greek Fest.
When Callie is asked to deliver cast party treats for a Murder Mystery Night at the historic Harris House, it seems like a welcome break from her hot stove. That is, until she finds herself an unwilling player in yet another suspicious death. Worse yet, the victim is a family friend and graduate student working on a project involving Crystal Bay’s colorful past.
Before long, a motley crew of suspects makes things as juicy as the succulent berries strewn around Callie’s Kitchen. And that’s not all Callie’s got on her plate. Add family obligations, a deepening romance with a local detective and unexpected personnel problems to the mix. One thing’s for sure: Callie’s got the recipe for a long, hot summer!
SECRETS AND PIES is the third installment in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series.

Review:  Secrets and Pies is book three in The Callie's Kitchen mystery series.  I'm jumping head first into this series and I'm loving it.

When Callie was at the murder mystery dinner, she encountered her ex's new wife Raine, and Raine's actions reminded me of Barbara Jean on Reba.

I also love that the family is Greek, because one of my favorite cozy series, Sofie Metropolis, is about a Greek family.

When Callie finds her daughter's favorite teacher dead, while waiting for her ex to drop Olivia off.

This was a fast paced mystery, with Callie having to do an awful lot along with trying to solve the murder.

Rating: 5 flowers

About the Author
Award-winning writer Jenny Kales is the author of The Callie's Kitchen Mystery series. Though she's worked as a writer and journalist for years, fiction writing is her first love and her marriage into a Greek-American Midwestern family inspired The Callie's Kitchen mysteries, featuring Calliope Costas, food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, "Crystal Bay," is inspired by a fav
orite family vacation spot - Wisconsin's beautiful Geneva Lakes. Kales is an avid reader, cook and baker and she's addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier.

  • Purchase Link -  Amazon

  • Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    TLC Book Tours Book Review: Last Christmas In Paris

    About Last Christmas in Paris

    • Paperback: 400 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 3, 2017)

    New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

    August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

    But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

    Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

    Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Review:  Some books are destined to be tear-jerkers. I knew this was one in just the first few pages. By the time I hit page 100, tears were freely flowing.

    I love stories that stir my emotions and I can always count on Hazel Gaynor to be a writer of one. I haven't read any of Heather Webb's work, but after this book, I am sure to do so.

    Don't let the book title fool you though. This isn't a Christmas story, though a Christmas trip to Paris, that was supposed to happen before war broke out weaves its way into the fabric of the letters. The holiday itself is the subject of many of the letters sent between Evie and Tom.

    The letters written by Evie and Tom are wonderfully emotional. The other letters between friends and family just add to the brilliance of this story. These are characters that you care for and your heart aches for when bad things happen to them, and during wartime, you know that it is bound to happen.  No, you more than care for them, you love them.

    My heart hurt for both of them so many times through this book. Each suffers different kinds of losses throughout the war, a brother, a father.

    Thomas and Evie correspond continuously throughout the war and their relationship changes and as the war changes them. Evie is falling in love with Tom, though she never really gets around to telling him properly.

    Through these letters you get the day to day observations on the home front as well as the front lines. You see the war from both points of view, and as Evie takes up her pen, you see it through the column she writes for Tom's family's newspaper.

    There is a small part of the story told in Tom's point of view in 1968. He is making his "Last Christmas in Paris" shortly after Evie has died. In his last trip to Paris, you also get a sweet reveal to the mystery of Evie's brother's love affair, before he was killed in combat.

    The ending of the book is bittersweet.  I cried like a child at the end.

    This was quite possibly the most beautiful book I've read this year. This is one for my keeper shelf.

    Rating 5 flowers

    About Hazel Gaynor

    HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

    Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

    Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

    Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

    About Heather Webb

    HEATHER WEBB writes historical fiction for Penguin, including her novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover.

    As a former military brat, Heather naturally grew up obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before channeling these passions into fiction. When not writing, she flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

    Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women's Fiction Writers Association.

    Find out more about Heather at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Book Review: The Accidental Wedding

    The Accidental Wedding
    by Debra Elizabeth


    GENRE:   Contemporary Romance



    Unemployed Keira Callahan decides to try her luck at the casino before delving back into job hunting. As she walks through the casino, she bumps into the most handsome man she’s ever seen. When he asks her to dinner, she doesn’t hesitate. As she learns Cade Tyndale’s story—he needs to wed or lose his British estate, her impulsive nature rears up and she agrees to marry him and move to England for one year. What does she have to lose except her heart to the impossibly handsome Earl of Barrett?

    Review:  This book made me go Squee! This is a plot that my younger self had floating in my head when I daydreamed about marrying a handsome Brit...and if not a member of the aristocracy, at least Davy Jones from The Monkees or George Harrison...or Simon Le Bon.

    I'm a sucker for a cute accent.

    This was a wonderful quick read that gave me warm fuzzy feelings. Keira and Cade are just a perfect couple. 

    Keira is sweet and more than a little naive, but that is what made you love her. She's really a bit of a Cinderella, without the wicked stepmother/step sisters thing going on. She loves her sister and her family and she's good with children and she is looking for a new job and a place to live.

    Cade is the type of hero we all want in a sweet romance too, plus there's no sign of an alpha male to be found. That gets a two thumbs up from me. He is also a victim of a will that says he must be married for a year before he turns thirty or else he must forfeit his inheritance to his not so nice brother Edward and his wife Courtney.

    I liked that both were at crossroads in their lives and somehow through a whole lot of craziness managed to get together in an almost fairy tale sort of way, complete with some twists and turns along the way. 

    A sweet fun fairytale-ish read.

    Rating: 5 flowers

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    TLC Book Tours Book Review: Unforgivable Love

    About Unforgivable Love

    • Paperback: 528 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 26, 2017)

    A People Magazine October pick!

    "A dazzlingly dark and engaging tale full of heartbreak, treachery, and surprise.” - Kirkus

    In this vivid reimagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes, two predators stalk amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.

    Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she craves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

    Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

    But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her worst mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Review: Dangerous Liasions (Les Liasions Dangereuses) is one of my favorite classic novels and it is one of my favorite movies.

    I loved the idea of reimagining this story for modern times.

    It has been a long time since a book has blown me away, but this one did that.

    It was perfection.

    Really, it was.

    I loved the name she chose for the male lead. (You really can't call him a hero) the original book was de Valmont.


    This book was just as sexy as the original and fabulously written.

    Rating: 5 flowers (and then some)

    About Sophfronia Scott

    Sophfronia Scott hails from Lorain, Ohio. She was a writer and editor at Time and People magazines before publishing her first novel, All I Need to Get By. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard. Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.

    Find out more about Sophfronia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    Thursday, October 12, 2017

    TLC Book Tours Book Review: Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

    About Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery

    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 10, 2017)

    It's the most wonderful time of the year… and the perfect moment to escape to a charming English village! From the beloved author whose novels are "sheer indulgence from start to finish" (SOPHIE KINSELLA) comes a delightful holiday story — funny, heartfelt, romantic and packed with recipes — perfect for the winter months.

    In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

    Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.

    But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

    Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Review: I <3 bakery="" beach="" colgan.="" jenny="" love="" nbsp="" p="" series.="" st="" the="">
    More so, I love Polly and Huckle. I've followed this series from the very first book. I totally adore Neil the puffin, too. I can't forget Neil.

    I can't even begin to say how much I love these characters and when you add a Christmas setting, well that makes this book darn near perfect.

    As always, things go wrong in the days leading up to the holiday and that is what is makes these stories so heartwarming and fun. There's always some fun conflict.

    I plan to read this book over again closer to the holiday to stay in the spirit.

    Rating: 5 flowers

    About Jenny Colgan

    Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

    Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    TLC Book Tours Book Review: The Sweet Life

    About The Sweet Life

    • Print Length: 225 pages
    • Publisher: Lyrical Press (September 19, 2017)
    In Italy, the best attractions are always off the beaten path . . .

    Mamie Weber doesn’t know why she survived that terrible car accident five years ago. Physically, she has only a slight reminder—but emotionally, the pain is still fresh. Deep down she knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life again. Now she has an opportunity to do just that, spending two weeks in Tuscany reviewing a tour company for her employer’s popular travel guide series. The warmth of the sun, the centuries-old art, a villa on the Umbrian border—it could be just the adventure she needs.
    But with adventure comes the unexpected . . . like discovering that her entire tour group is made up of aging ex-hippies reminiscing about their Woodstock days. Or finding herself drawn to the guide, Julian, who is secretly haunted by a tragedy of his own, and seems to disapprove any time she tries something remotely risky—like an impromptu scooter ride with a local man.
    As they explore the hilltop towns of Tuscany, Mamie knows that when this blissful excursion is over, she’ll have to return to reality. But when you let yourself wander, life can take some interesting detours . . .
    “Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.”—Library Journal
    “The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page.”—Fresh Fiction, SHARE THE MOON
    “Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss. She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.”—Eye on Romance
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    Purchase Links

    Amazon | iBooks | Google | Kobo

    Review: This was a sweet book. Mamie is joining a group of people that went to Woodstock on a trip to Tuscany. She lost her husband and daughter 5 years previously and has pretty much given up on living.

    This trip is giving her a chance to start living again. On the trip she meets handsome tour director, Julian who has his own issues.

    This is wonderful story of second chances at life and at love with some secrets tossed in for good measure.

    Both Mamie and Julian have had some pretty horrific things happen to them in their recent past, and for Julian even back to his youth.

    They both need to start living again in different ways and they need to come to terms with the past. For Mamie, it is embracing new challenging things, that are sometimes a bit dangerous.  Julian is the exact opposite. He's had enough danger. He wants to put his past behind him

    Mamie is taking the trip to Tuscany in place of her uncle. Therein starts the drama, as the tour group wasn't informed of the switch.

    This is where Julian starts his change too. By allowing Mamie on the tour, he is starting to take risks again, just as Mamie is by simply being there. It also begins a rather unlikely and sweet romance.

    Sharon doesn't make the romance the be all and end all of the story, though it is definitely an important part of what's happening between the two characters. Its the backdrop of Italy and group of aging hippies that all went to Woodstock that are taking the tour that really bring this story to life.

    There is one scene where the tour bus stops for the group to take photos of a field of sunflowers. It is something that you can visualize perfectly and when you do, you desperately want to be there.

    Sharon makes both Mamie and Julian characters that need something the other has to offer and when they start to come together you see that they really complete each other and you know they have to find a way to be together.

    This is a simply beautiful story.

    Rating: 5 flowers

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    Wednesday, October 4, 2017

    TLC Book Tours Book Review: The Other Alcott

    About The Other Alcott

    • Paperback: 432 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 5, 2017)

    Named one of POPSUGAR's 25 Books to Read This Fall!

    Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.

    We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

    Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

    Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

    So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

    “Elise Hooper’s thoroughly modern debut gives a fresh take on one of literature’s most beloved families. To read this book is to understand why the women behind Little Women continue to cast a long shadow on our imaginations and dreams. Hooper is a writer to watch!”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens

    Purchase Links

    HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

    Review: I feel like I missed out. I love reading but I've never read the Little House books or Little Women. I'm not sure how that has happened, but I plan to rectify it sometime soon.

    This book focuses on May Alcott, Louisa's younger sister, who is also the inspiration for Amy March.

    This was a wonderful book especially for fans of Little Women.

    As a person who has never read the book, and yes, I hang my head in shame when I say that, this is a book that made me very curious about Louisa's life and that of her sister. This is a book that required me to google quite a bit as I turned the pages, and for me that's the mark of a great historical novel. If I'm intrigued enough to fact check and try to learn more, then it is a good book

    Rating: 5 flowers

    About Elise Hooper

    Though a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise Hooper lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she teaches history and literature.

    Find out more about Elise at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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