Wednesday, May 28, 2014

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Return To The Beach House

Author: Georgia Bockoven
Title: Return To The Beach House
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: May 13, 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours
Book Blurb: 
Over the course of one year, in a charming cottage by the sea, eight people will discover love and remembrance, reconciliation and reunion, beginnings and endings in this unforgettable sequel to Georgia Bockoven’s The Beach House and Another Summer.

Alison arrives at the beach house in June to spend a month with her restless grandson before he leaves for his freshman year in college. Over a decade before, Alison lost her beloved husband, and has faced life alone ever since. Now she discovers a new life, and possible new love.

August brings together four college friends facing a milestone. Across summer’s final days, they share laughter, tears, and love—revealing long-held secrets and creating new and even more powerful bonds.

World-class wildlife photographer, Matthew, and award-winning war photographer, Lindsey, arrive at the beach house in January, each harboring the very real fear that it will mark the end of their decade-long love affair. Alone in the house’s warm peace, they will be forced to truly look at who they are and what they want, discovering surprising truths that will change their lives forever.

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Review:  Toss this book into your beach bag and head towards the water! If ever there was a perfect beach read, this is the one. I felt so relaxed while reading it.

What I really liked about this book was that it was 3 separate stories that all revolve around the beach house. There's a little intermingling between characters, in one or two stories, but other than that, everything is separate.

The first story is about Alison and her grandson Christopher. Both find love at the beach house in unexpected ways. I really felt that both of them deserved a bit of happiness too. Alison's husband and son (Christopher's father) died on 9/11. Of the three stories, I think I liked this one the best, because even though you had the sadness of the lost loved ones, it was the happiest of all the stories, and I'm big on happy.

The next story is about college friends. I wish I had friends that I could go off to a beach house with one summer. Ah bliss...even though these friends have secrets from one another. Some of these secrets are pretty big too. I enjoyed this story, but the nature of the lives of these for nearly 40 year old women, made it hard for me to identify with them

Lastly is a story about two lovers that are drifting apart. They are both extremely gifted photographers, one of nature and the other of wars/conflicts. I liked that Georgia gave the role of war correspondent to the woman.

It is their careers and some of the pitfalls of their work that are pushing them apart.

This was a wonderful read. I also loved the little bits of Julia's life that we saw in the book. (She's the owner of the house)

Everyone gets a happily ever after, which is a little bit difficult to fathom when they are only spending a month at a beach house, but this is summer reading, anything can happen then!

If you are going to the beach, don't forget this book. The short story format is perfect for lazy reading in teh shade.

Rating:  5 flowers

Georgia BockovenAbout Georgia Bockoven

Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in Northern California with her husband, John.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Book Review: Mrs Poe

Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour 

Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books
Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick
A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.
It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.
She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.
As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…
Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

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About the Author

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.
Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.
For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest.


Mrs Poe really blew me away. I've read some historical fiction based on Edgar Allen Poe's life before, but they were more fantasy novels. This is more a mixture of his life and fiction.

It is based on his relationship with Frances "Fanny" Osgood, a well respected poet, and the what if situation, of whether or not they were lovers. 

This is definitely a what if, but it makes for some really intriguing reading, especially when you add Edgar's wife to the mix. 

The dark twist that Lynn gave to Mrs. Poe really made the book more intriguing, as well as the fact that Victoria Poe and Frances were friends, while the affair was going on, added a little more tension.

Yes, this is fiction, it is after all a "what if" that we are dealing with, but it is one that will keep you turning the pages.

Rating:  5 flowers

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Bee Summers

Author: Melanie Dugan
Title: Bee Summers
Publisher: Upstart Press
Publish Date: May 15, 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours
Book Blurb: 
The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy's father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

Review: Melanie Dugan's Bee Summers is a beautiful and sad read. It is a story of a girl, who has lost her mother and her father, a beekeeper.

I loved Melissa, as a young girl and was frustrated with her father, when he wasn't forthcoming about the reasons her mother left. In some ways, I also understood him. Both characters were so real. You could feel each one's pain and frustration, especially as life moved on.

I also loved the  people Lissy met as she traveled that first year with her father, Earl, Chance, Opal and Les. All of these people played a huge part in her life, as well as Aunt Hetty. (I wish we would have been told who she really was in relation to her father)

I felt Lissy's pain as she came home and went back to school and had to deal with the repercussions of her mother's leaving. I wanted to choke some of the kids and their parents.

I felt her pain when her father remarries several years later, but this is where I stop liking Lissy. As things about her mother are revealed, she becomes more selfish, in my opinion, especially when she goes off to school and has a book published.

Her treatment of her father made me want to shake her and by the end of the book, when most everything comes out, I just want to slap her and tell her, "I told you so." I also hated her treatment of Opal, who did her best by her from the very beginning.

Even though my feelings for the characters fluctuated throughout the book, I loved the story. It was full of emotion and a great summer read.

Rating: 5 flowers

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review: Breath Of Spring

Author: Charlotte Hubbard
Title: Breath Of Spring
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Breath Of Spring

As a bright season brings a fresh start to Willow Ridge, Annie Mae Knepp feels she can never make peace with the past. Her disgraced ex-bishop father is furious she has taken her five siblings to live with her. She's never been truly at home in her faith. . .or believing in herself. And Annie Mae fears no man will want to take on the responsibilities she's gladly shouldered. True, her quiet neighbor Adam Wagler has been steadfast and unshakeable helping her through her trials, but he surely couldn't think of someone so lost as more than a friend. Believing she is unworthy because of her doubts, Annie Mae will find in a moment of surprising revelation that God can work impossible miracles--and that love makes all things new.

Review: I absolutely love Amish fiction. I was excited to see a new series that I thought wasn't one that you had to read from the very start a'la Beverly Lewis, and that's kind of the case here in some aspects and in others, you feel like you should have read the other 3 books before diving in. I know I would have liked to have known more of Annie Mae's situation going into this book and what had really transpired between her and her father, the former bishop.

Annie is taking care of her siblings after her father leaves to start his own Amish community in Higher Ground. It doesn't take long to see that her Dat was not a very nice man, and actually rather abusive. Then there's Adam  Wagler that she affectionately calls "Short Stack" because of his height.

I loved Adam. He wasn't really the typical Amish hero. He has his own demons and a lot of insecurities, but it is easy to see his heart belongs to Annie, even though she's not sure she should marry, what with her taking care of her siblings.

There's a lot of drama to this book. Some felt more realistic then others. I found Annie's relationships with both Luke and Yonnie hard to take. She was showing a bit more sexual awakening but there was other drama that clouded it. When her feelings for Adam started showing it was more of a sweet romance.

I felt Annie's feelings were just too all over the place at times, and though she didn't know what she wanted from any of the men in her life or from her religion, it made her actions with these guys a little difficult to deal with. Annie seems like an overall smart girl, but when she was with Yonnie or Luke, both of which were no good, her common sense seems to fly out the window.

I still enjoyed this book and I look forward to trying some of the recipes at the end (The descriptions of the food at the Sweet Season's Cafe will have your mouth watering).

I have another book from this series on my TBR pile, but will buy the first two before I tackle it, so I can really know the characters better.

Rating: 3 flowers

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review: Love Like The Movies

Author: Victoria Van Tiem
Title: Love Like The Movies
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publish Date: Feb 24, 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
In this irresistible romantic romp, movie fanatic Kensington Shaw is thrown into love—Hollywood-style—when her gorgeous ex presents a series of big screen challenges to win back her heart.

What girl wouldn’t want to experience the Pretty Woman shopping scene? It’s number two on the list. Or, try the lift from Dirty Dancing? It’s number five. One list, ten romantic movie moments, and a handful of shenanigans later, Kenzi has to wonder…should she marry the man her family loves, or risk everything for a love like the movies?

Review: If you like chicklit and romantic comedies, you absolutely must read, Love Like The Movies by Victoria Van  Tiem. The whole time I was reading this book, I felt that it absolutely must be made into a movie!

Kensington Shaw is the perfect romcom/chicklit heroine. She is engaged to a great guy that her family absolutely loves, but her sister in law Ren upstages her, by getting pregnant at the same. To make things worse her ex from college who really broke her heart is back and a client. His return turns her world upside down.

I absolutely loved Shane and felt sorry for Bradley too. There were shades of Bridget Jones to the actual story, besides the "living out rom com movie moments" for the theme restaurant/theater he is planning on opening.

It is fabulous to see some of these on screen moments come to life through other characters. She learns a bit more about the two guys in her life as well as her sister in law and one of her friends.

I can't begin to say how much fun this book was to read. I was often frustrated with Kenzi, because I was TEAM SHANE from the very beginning. I wanted to shake her mom a few times in the book. It really was good fun with lots of laughs. I guarantee that when you finally put it down, you'll want to watch all the movies on "the list" so you can see the movie moments. And yes, I want a Love Like The Movies too.

This was quite possibly the best chicklit book I've read in ages!

Rating: 5 flowers

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: The Eighth Guardian

Author: Meredith McCardle
Title: The Eight Guardian
Publish Date: May 6, 21014
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: 
Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.

It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.

But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.

Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

Review: There are some books you absolutely must read, even if you don't typically like that genre. I'm not usually a YA or NA type reader, but this book just blew me away.

It is the first book in a new series and one I'm definitely going to be following.

It has everything, time travel, action, a bit of romance...I mean...what's not to like?

Amanda/Iris is a totally kick butt heroine. And I really loved Yellow too.

Definitely a must read!

Rating: 5 flowers

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

TLC Book Tours Book Review: For Such A Time

Author: Kate Breslin
Title: For Such A Time
Publisher: Bethany House
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours
Book Blurb: In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

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For Such A Time is the kind of book that really touches your heart. It takes place during the last days of WWII, as things are winding down, and the Nazis are committing more unspeakable crimes against the Jewish people.

Every time I read a book about this time period, I feel sickened that one person could convince people to commit genocide. 

Stella has to be one of the strongest heroine's I've read about in ages. Though there was a bit of romance between her and Aric, the Kommadant, the focus of the novel was how she really helped the Jewish people at his camp. As Aric's secretary she had a certain amount of power and access to records of people being sent to Auschwitz.  She does her absolute best to keep them safe

Aric was not your typical Nazi either. He's sympathetic to the Jews and that's even before he falls in love with Stella.

This book is really an emotional roller coaster.  You felt the highs and lows of Stella and her quest to help her people, as well as her inner turmoil over her growing feelings for Aric. I think Stella's love for Anna, who died trying to protect her, and Joseph (who in some ways reminds me of Les Miz's Gavoroche) really display her ability to love unconditionally. Towards the end there's another little girl she tries to protect as well and the outcome there will leave you in tears.

You definitely could tell Kate did her homework to write this book. I also liked the ending, which thankfully had a happily ever after, but she did allude to the fact that someone would have to face up to the crimes that were committed during the war.

Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction with a touch of romance.


 Breslin_Kate1About Kate Breslin

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. Author of several travel articles, award-winning poet, and RWA Golden Heart finalist, Kate now writes inspiring stories about the healing power of God’s love. For Such a Time is her first book. She lives with her husband and cat in Seattle, WA.
Connect with Kate on her website and on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Delicious

About Delicious!

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Random House (May 6, 2014)
In her New York Times bestselling memoirs Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples, Ruth Reichl has brilliantly illuminated how food defines us. Now she celebrates this theme in her dazzling fiction debut—a novel of sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must find the courage to let go of the past in order to embrace her own true gifts.
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious!, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee” –a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries–until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.
“[Reichl] is fair-minded, brave, and a wonderful writer.” – The New York Times Book Review

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Even if you aren't a foodie you will find something to love in Delicious. This book is just fabulous. Almost from the very start, I was salivating from all the food references.

I absolutely loved Billie from the start. She quits college to take a job in a culinary magazine. When it shuts down she stays on to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee" That's when things start to get interesting. She enters the long closed library and uncovers a correspondence from a young girl to James Beard during the second world war.

I absolutely loved this book. I started reading it one afternoon and didn't stop until I had finished it.

It is a book for lovers of historical fiction as well as foodie fiction and it comes complete with Billie's gingerbread cake recipe at the very end.


Rating: 5 flowers (though I'd give it a whole bouquet) 

photo credit Fiona Aboud
photo credit Fiona Aboud

About Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl was born and raised in Greenwich Village. She wrote her first cookbook at twenty-one, and went on to be the restaurant critic of both the Los Angeles Times  and The New York Times.  She was editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She now lives with her husband in upstate New York.

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Great Escapes Book Tours Book Review: Murder In Merino

Murder in Merino: A Seaside Knitters Mystery
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (May 6, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0451415363

It’s autumn in Sea Harbor and as the tourists leave a mysterious guest arrives. When she’s implicated in a crime the Seaside Knitters must quickly table their knitting project and search out a motif for murder.
Fall is usually a relaxing time in Sea Harbor, but it’s turning out to be a busy season for Izzy Chambers Perry. Not only is she helping the Seaside Knitters make a magnificent throw to celebrate the fortieth wedding anniversary of her aunt and uncle, she and her husband are finally selling the cottage she lived in before they married and had a darling baby girl. To Izzy’s surprise, newcomer Julia Ainsley seems determined to buy the home—although she’s never set foot inside.
But on the day of the open house, things take a tragic turn. A body is uncovered in the cottage’s backyard. When the police find Julia’s name and phone number in the victim’s pocket, this slender thread of evidence makes her a person of interest. Soon the spotlight of suspicion widens to include old friends and town leaders, as a tragic happening, long buried in the sleepy seaside town, is slowly brought to the surface.
Before the Endicotts’ joyful anniversary celebration can be realized, the Seaside Knitters must work to unravel the real reason Julia Ainsley has come to their town and the tangled and tragic ties from the past that bind friends and townsfolk together.

Review: This is the first Seaside Knitters Mystery that I've read and I absolutely loved it. It is book 8 in the series, which means I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

I loved all the locals in Sea Harbor instantly.  Sally has created a wonderful town that you really wish you could visit, by the time you finish reading the book.

The murder involves a local man who is a bartender/owner of a local restaurant and the chief suspect is Julia Ainsley, a tourist/wannabee local, who you love to hate. Julia is someone that is trying to fit in, but there are things about her, that you just can't like. From the minute you know that she's part of the murder investigation, you want to know what part she played in the murder.

Then when you find out why she's in Sea Harbor..well, the story takes a whole other turn. I actually felt like the mystery in this book was more about Julia Ainsley and the reason she was there, than who killed Jeffrey.

When her mystery is solved, so is the murder, and if you don't have a hint of a tear in your eye at the end, well, you might be lacking a heart!

This is a fantastic read. Definitely a great addition to any cozy lover's mystery shelf!

Rating: 5 flowers


About The Author
Sally Goldenbaum is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Sally became more serious about knitting with the birth of her first grandchild and the creation of the Seaside Knitters mystery series. Her fictional knitting friends are teaching her the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.  [Additional bio information available on my
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: Into The Nowhere

Author: Jenny T. Colgan
Title: Into The Nowhere
Publisher: Random House UK
Publish Date: Jan 16 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Time Trips – groundbreaking Doctor Who adventures by some of the most respected writers in the Universe. Short stories that are bigger on the inside…

The Eleventh Doctor and Clara land on an unknown alien planet. To the Doctor’s delight and Clara’s astonishment, it really is unknown. It’s a planet the Doctor has never seen. It’s not on any maps, it’s not referenced on any star charts or in the TARDIS data banks. It doesn’t even have a name. What could be so terrible that its existence has been erased?

Review: Jenny Colgan definitely has The Eleventh Doctor down. I was glad that this time, she wrote a story with current companion, Clara. I liked that it was obvious that this story took place after The Day Of The Doctor. There were a lot of references to things in the past, particularly K-9 at the very beginning of the story.

I also liked how when they landed on the "Nowhere" planet...aka "Anthony" she referenced Gallifrey too. Jenny kept with canon quite a bit. Even the fez attempts to make an appearance. It wouldn't be 11 without the fez!

I was intrigued by the planet and the strange skeleton inhabitants. I will say, these Time Trips are entirely too short to get a really good story on, especially in the sci-fi genre. So the story does feel a bit rushed, but thankfully it does feel like a Doctor Who episode, which is what most people are looking for when there are several months to go before we get a new season. (Plus it is nice to have 11 even if it is only in short story form).

One of the nice things about Jenny's story is how well she brings Clara to life. Clara is one of the most undeveloped companions in New Who, and though this was just a short story, I felt like I knew her better.

Jenny also makes this story touching, as the Doctor saves the planet in a round about way, and though you never know what the planet really is, you have an idea by the time you get to the end. (What with all the apples, snakes and knowledge references) Definitely one of the best time trip stories!

Rating: 4 flowers

Guest Post: Mayra Calvani

Guest Post: “Violin, My Muse,” by Mayra Calvani

Violin… The word brings such vivid images to my mind. A slender and graceful soloist performing on stage, her eyes closed in delirious ecstasy. The mysterious, dark, gaunt figure of Paganini, his long thin fingers racing up and down the fingerboard with demonic, preternatural speed. Tartini reclining in bed while handing the violin to the devil himself. Sherlock Holmes playing a tune in his small flat at 221b Baker Street.

The sound of the violin stirs different emotions deep within my soul: sublimity, sweetness, passion, sadness, fear. Sibelius’s concerto is dark and mysterious; Beethoven’s is spiritual and noble; Brahms’s is earthly and passionate; Tchaikovsky’s is grand and dramatic. It’s curious how, unlike other instruments, the violin seems to possess a dark, sinister quality. Surely no other instrument in history has been the “victim” of such lore and legend. The violin is light and darkness. It has two faces, two personas. That is what makes it so intriguing.

At the same time, it is associated with the feminine. I’m not referring to the shape and sound of the violin, but to the feelings it evokes in its owner. I’ve read that male violinists see the violin as a female companion, while women see it as an extension of themselves. Most people have intense emotions about the violin – they either love it or hate it. Interestingly enough, for someone who hasn’t an affinity for music, the violin can be the most horrific, tortuous instrument to listen to.

The violin has stirred my imagination and unleashed my creativity in ways I never experienced before. An orphan girl who wished to become a violinist begged me to write her Christmas story (The Doll Violinist); a little mouse living in Stradivari’s workshop invited me to share his tale and at the same time teach children the parts of the violin (Frederico, the Mouse Violinist), a 16-year old violin student named Emma Braun whispered in my ear that she wished to be the protagonist of my new mystery (The Luthier’s Apprentice)… And always in the background is the violin’s music, my muse and inspiration.

About THE LUTHIER’S APPRENTICE: Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…

Buy Links:

About Mayra Calvani: Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The WriterWriter’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Book Review: The Bog Warrior

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Title: The Bog Warrior
Publisher: Random House UK
Publish Date: May 8, 2014
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: 
Arriving on the planet Cashel, the Tenth Doctor witnesses a strange masked ball. To guarantee peace, Prince Zircon has to choose a bride from the Bog People – dead men and women who have been resurrected as slaves. Or as warriors. But Zircon is in love with the enslaved Princess Ash, whose parents were deposed and executed by the current Queen. As usual, the Doctor has walked right into trouble, and it's up to him to sort it out.

Review: When there's still several months before we get any new Who, I try to devour Doctor Who stories. I've read a lot of Cecelia Ahern's novels and I was really interested in seeing how she'd do with a Doctor Who short story.

I wish I could say she did well, but the story really lacked something.

Maybe it was the Doctor. He didn't feel like he was there, and this is a story that featured The Tenth Doctor. Maybe it was because he was traveling alone, but I never felt like this was a Doctor adventure I could really get into, and it was only about 30 pages long!

I liked the Cinderella-esque nature of the story, that keeps with the Chick-lit genre that Ahern usually writes in, but the way all the events unfolded and the way 10 acted, I had to wonder if she had ever watched one of his episodes.

Then there were the characters, Princess Ash, Prince Zircon, Root. In the short duration of the story, I couldn't connect with them at all.

Not one of the better short stories I've read.

Rating: 2 flowers

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TLC Book Tours Book Review: The Dirty Book Murder

About The Dirty Book Murder: An Antiquarian Book Mystery

  • Publisher: Alibi (May 6, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
In this smart, fast-paced mystery debut, Thomas Shawver introduces a charming, unlikely hero from the rarefied world of antique books.
Book merchant Michael Bevan arrives at the Kansas City auction house hoping to uncover some hidden literary gold. Though the auction ad had mentioned erotica, Michael is amazed to find lovely Japanese Shunga scrolls and a first edition of a novel by French author Colette with an inscription by Ernest Hemingway. This one item alone could fetch a small fortune in the right market.
As Michael and fellow dealer Gareth Hughes are warming up for battle, a stranger comes out of nowhere and outbids them—to the tune of sixty grand. But Gareth is unwilling to leave the auction house empty-handed, so he steals two volumes, including the Colette novel. When Gareth is found dead the next day, Michael quickly becomes the prime suspect: Not only had the pair been tossed out of a bar mid-fistfight the night before, but there is evidence from Michael’s shop at the crime scene.
Now the attorney-turned-bookman must find out who wanted the Colette so badly that they would kill for it—and frame Michael. Desperate to stay out of police custody, Michael follows the murderer’s trail into the wealthiest echelons of the city, where power and influence meet corruption—and mystery and eroticism are perverted by pure evil. Unfortunately for Michael, one dead book dealer is only the opening chapter in a terrifying tale of high culture and lowlifes.
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The Dirty Book Murder may look like another cozy mystery, but that really isn't the case. Sure it has the elements of most cozy mysteries, a bookstore owner with a cat and some really quirky characters, but there's a real dark side to this story and as you read on, you'll definitely see that it isn't a cozy, but a good opener for a new series. But don't worry, it isn't a scary mystery that will have you fearing for our sleuth's life.

The book stolen is from an auction by one of Michael's book merchant friends lands that guy dead, but only after he and Michael had come to blows, thus making him the suspect numero uno! (As the murder weapon seems to be an item owned by Michael)

Michael knows he has to find out what's going on, or he would end up behind bars, and then another book merchant ends up dead.

There's a very seedy side to this mystery and it has to deal with the erotic novels all three merchants were looking to buy. The original owner had some interesting sexual habits and that might just be the reason someone wanted these books no matter the cost. (The owner of the books wife is quite a character, especially when he first meets her) Its a bit hilarious to try to envision an older lady that's a dominatrix!

That's when he learns there's more to these murders than just the theft of some very rare books. Some prominent people in town are part of a sex club and someone took names and pictures!

Thrown in the mix is Michael's daughter and her new boyfriend, who happens to be an old geezer, that's trying to revive his acting career.

There's a lot of drama between father and daughter and Michael's sleuthing seems to land him in more hot water with each new discovery.

This was a super fast paced read, and quite a good mystery. A wonderful start to a new series, and I look forward to the next book.

Rating:  4 flowers

About Thomas Shawver

Thomas Shawver is a former marine officer, lawyer, and journalist with American City Business Journals. An avid rugby player and international traveler, Shawver owned Bloomsday Books, an antiquarian bookstore in Kansas City.
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