RABT Tours: Excerpt for The Man Who Became Frankenstein’s Monster by Robert Daicy

 

General Fiction
Date Published: 1/17/2014

Synopsis:

New York, 1926 – Anyone can make a good life for themselves if they are just willing to work hard for it. William Barker is such a man. He has a good job, a nice house, a son named James, and a marriage he is trying desperately to hold together. A tragic accident takes this life away and William finds himself alone in his house with terrible mental and physical scars that are a constant reminder of what happened. With no one willing to employ a man with such visible and disturbing scars, William is lost and has no answers for how to live his life. That is when he meets the man who will change that life forever, Roland Skelton, the owner of Skelton’s Spectacular Traveling Carnival. Where others saw a man to be shunned, Roland sees a man he may be able to help. Roland convinces William to join the Carnival as the headliner of the ten-in-one. With the name Frankenstein’s Monster, William is a hit with the paying audience and finds that being onstage is a release from his pain and guilt. In time, William realizes that those he works with understand him better than he could have hoped. While working at the carnival, William finds a new happiness, an enemy, purpose, and even love. The Man Who Became Frankenstein’s Monster is a moving novel about a man who rises above adversity set against the backdrop of the golden age of the carnival.

Robert Daicy

 

I have been writing off and on since I was eight and it has been something I have always loved to do and wanted to do for a living. I tend to write the stories I want to hear and sometimes those stories have a darkness to them on some level whether they are more suspenseful stories or drama. I like to jump around the genres because I do not want to get bored writing the same thing and because I have eclectic taste. I was born and raised in Maine and have lived there most my life and am currently residing in a Victorian house in Fairfield, Maine

 

 

March 17 - Reading Addiction Blog Tours - Meet and Greet
March 18 – Clutter Your Kindle – Excerpt
March 19 – Logikal Blog - Guest Post
March 20 – Swipe the Pages – Guest Post
March 21 – Avid Book Collector - Excerpt
March 23 – Andi’s Book Reviews – Guest Post
March 25 – Must Read Faster – Excerpt
March 26 – Mommasez - Review
March 27 – A Life Through Books - Interview
March 28 – Hooked in a Book – Review
March 29 – Mythical Books – Guest Post
 April 2 – Rythem Poets – Review
April 3 – The Readers Hollow – Excerpt
April 4 - Book Lovers Life - Excerpt
April 5 – Book Publicity Services – Interview
April 7 – My Devotional Thoughts – Review
April 8 - Books Direct - Excerpt
April 9 – D’eBook Sharing Reviews - Excerpt
April 10 – Indie Authors You Want to Read - Excerpt
April 14 – Books A to Z – Excerpt
April 15 – Books in the Burbs – Excerpt
April 16 – My Love for Reading Keeps Growing- Excerpt
April 16 – Kindle Obsessed - Review
April 17 – I’m a Voracious Reader - Review
April 17- RABT Reviews - Wrap Up

Excerpt for The Man Who Became Frankenstein’s Monster

For a seven-year-old boy, Saturday was a long time in coming, but finally, it arrived. Some of James’ schoolmates were jealous that he was going to Coney Island, lamenting the fact that their own fathers would not take them until later in the season, if at all. Although James was not usually a braggart, on this occasion, he bragged to anyone who would listen to him. James had gone to bed earlier than usual on Friday evening, reading from The Arabian Nights to keep his mind distracted until the book fell from his hands and landed with a thud on the wooden floor as his eyelids closed at last.

When he awoke Saturday morning, James immediately jumped out of bed and rushed downstairs to see what time it was. To his surprise, neither his mother nor father were in the kitchen and when he looked outside, James discovered that light was only just starting to creep over the horizon with the promise of a sunny day. When he saw the time on the clock on the mantle, he was horrified to discover in was not quite six in the morning and his parents would not be up for at least another hour.

Knowing he would be unable to fall back asleep, James decided to go into the living room and keep his mind occupied with the previous days’ newspaper – the sports section at least – until his parents came downstairs. He read up on the Yankees, but found himself skimming over the article. Maybe it was because they were losing this year or that Babe Ruth hitting the long ball wasn’t quite as thrilling to him, but whatever the reason, James found himself moving from the Yankees articles to a brief article on horse racing. When there was nothing else of note in the paper, James put it down next to him and waited for the time to pass by.

Feet descended down the stairs a while later and Helen appeared, dressed in the pink bathrobe she had worn to bed. Helen said good morning to her son before going into the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee before she started on breakfast. James acknowledged his mother, looking out the window and seeing that the light had finally won its daily battle with the darkness.

William came down while James was still staring out the window and looked curiously at his son. “What are you doing up so early? You usually sleep late on Saturdays. I hope you haven’t made any other plans,” he teased.

“I was too excited to sleep. I’ve been up for over an hour.”

William laughed. “I thought we only went through this on Christmas morning.”

James’ cheeks reddened a little. “One more day in the year can’t hurt. So when can we go?” he asked excitedly.

Stretching out his stiff muscles, William answered, “Can you let me wake up and have my breakfast first?” He realized his tone sounded grumpier than he had meant, so he spread his mouth into a wide, tooth-baring smile as he said, “We’ll go soon, I promise. We need to have breakfast and get ready first.” He ran his hand through his son’s hair and went into the kitchen.

James had to force the overcooked breakfast down that morning; his stomach was not quite cooperating with him due to his anticipation, however. He hated how long his father took to finish breakfast while seeming to read every article in the morning paper he had gone out and bought while Helen had cooked breakfast. A look of disappointment arose on William’s face when he read that the Yankees lost the previous afternoon, although the loss came as little surprise. Instead of simply sitting in the kitchen watching his father waste time with the paper, James trotted upstairs to dress and prepare for the day. He washed up, changed into a pair of blue shorts, and put on a plain white shirt. As James slid a sock over his left foot, William appeared in the doorway, awake and relaxed. “I’ll get ready so we can go,” he told his son. Looking out the window, William remarked, “It sure is a nice day to go to Coney Island isn’t it?”

The weather outside was as good as any New Yorker could hope for on a May morning. The sun was out, shining down on the street and what little grass there was in the yard, while birds fluttered about in search for food. The sky was a light baby blue, with no clouds in sight to ruin the day with a possible rain. “Yes! It’s a perfect day to go!” James cried, unable to hold back his enthusiasm.

“Well, I better get ready to go than, shouldn’t I?” James nodded his head in response and descended downstairs while his father went into his room to dress for the day.

“Now James, don’t you be any trouble to your father,” Helen cautioned her son as he came back into the kitchen.

“I won’t be, I promise.”

“Good. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. I always loved going down to Coney Island with your father before you were born,” she said as she thought back to those days, almost sad that she would not be going. Despite all the rush in the house on a Saturday morning, Helen was in a great mood, caused by the fact that she would have the entire day to herself. Saturday’s were typically hard for Helen because she went about doing the usual housework, but had William around eating all the food and trying to fix up some broken things around the house while James was running around with his friends, making a mess just after she had cleaned one up. It was going to be refreshing to have no worries about what trouble James was getting into in the neighborhood. In short, Helen despised Saturday’s, even though it was the favorite day of the week for both men in her life.

Eager to get going, James went outside to wait for William, bringing a baseball with him to toss to himself. William remained in the house for a moment and said to Helen, “I hope you enjoy your day by yourself. Do you have any plans?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I plan to relax today and I might go over to Peggy’s for some drinks later on,” she answered, obviously annoyed that he was cheating her of even another minute of peace and quiet that she felt entitled to. William could tell by looking into his wife’s face that she was done with the conversation ‒ if it could be called that ‒ and he said goodbye, leaving the house without waiting for her to reply, knowing she would not have one.

The young boy and his father walked excitedly down the street to the subway station on Atlantic Avenue, a short distance from their home. When the subway arrived – after a chorus of screeching brakes caused James to cover his ears – they waited their turn patiently in line. William handed over two nickels and boarded the crowded subway car with James following closely behind. James looked through the small window next to him the whole way, admiring the mosaic tiling along the walls as he envisioned the sights and smells he was soon to encounter. The ride was a short one as Coney Island was in the Southwestern tip of Brooklyn. The short trip suited James, who was crowded on all sides by the mass of humanity in the car.

When the subway car stopped, a struggle ensued as everyone in the car tried to get out at once, eager to be the first one to let themselves loose on Coney Island. William held his son’s hand and told him to wait for everyone else to get out, not wanting to risk getting James trampled in the mayhem. As soon as William and James walked off the subway at Stillwell Avenue into the crowded street, James’ eyes lit up as he saw the nearby Giant Racer, the screams of passengers ringing in his ears. The enticing smell of Totonno’s pizza, along with Nathan’s Famous five cent hotdogs and fried clams entered their noses and caused their stomachs to ache with pangs of hunger as they started to walk with the crowd who had gotten off the subway. Although they had eaten Helen’s breakfast, the smell in their kitchen that morning was nothing compared to the succulent smells they were now breathing in, mixed with the salty aroma of the ocean.

“Let’s just walk around for a while and see what we find,” William instructed, taking James’ hand in his own and heading straight ahead.

They had been walking for over twenty minutes when a talker was heard in front of the Dreamland Circus Sideshow. William guided James away from the man standing on a platform and toward the opposite side of the street where the Eden Musee stood. There were dozens of customers in front of the building reading the posters that listed the wax attractions within or staring in the two display windows. “What’s The World in Wax mean?” James asked, reading the words off the billboard over the display windows.

“It means that this is a wax museum. All the displays inside are of famous people or scenes done in wax.”

“How do they do that?”

“I’m not sure to be honest.”

“Can we go inside?”

William was about to say yes to his son and even had a hand in his pocket in search of the twenty cents it would cost the two of them for admittance when his eyes rested on the posters on the building, which proclaimed attractions such as: Rulers of the world, Death of an innocent victim, The eve of an execution, Assassination of Pres. McKinley, and Martyred Christians. “Um, I think we better not.” Seeing the disappointment written across James’ face, William quickly offered, “Why don’t we look around a bit more and see what else is here. Maybe we can come back later.”

This last statement cheered James up and he quickly followed his father down the street until they were in front of the Barrel of Fun, which was a long spinning tube made of wood in which people entered through one end and slowly made their way to the other end while the barrel spun around, making navigation rather difficult. James slowed down as they passed, watching some children and their parents laughing inside as they were thrown about the spinning barrel. William and James joined the group of onlookers who were laughing with mirth at the people trying to exit the ride.

“I think we’ll have to go on that later,” William said as more people climbed in the entrance of the ride. James nodded his head and the two continued on taking in all the sights of the various amusement rides and games that could be played as the sun started beating its mild-May rays on their shoulders. James was afraid to blink, afraid he would miss something spectacular in the seemingly endless park.

“Do you want to go back to Nathan’s and grab a couple of hot dogs?” William asked James, whose hand he was holding so as not to lose his son amongst the crowd. Coney Island was always busy, but ever since the five cent subway rides, it was a booming tourist attraction because more people could now afford to go. Even though it was May, there were more people than James had ever seen in his life.

“Sure!” James declared as they turned back toward Nathan’s Famous stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenue.

“They make what many consider the best hot dog in the world,” William informed his son. “I’d have to agree,” he added, feeling a distinct pull as James started to walk faster. It was not long before the sign above the open stand could be seen, proclaiming: The Original Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters with green writing and a lowercase “N” in front of Nathan’s. To the left was painted a wooden barrel with in the middle and to the right was listed: Frankfurter, Roast Beef, Hamburger with a large five and small cent sign right next to the offerings. As William led James closer, a white banner underneath the main sign read from left to right: Potato Chips 10¢, Malted Milk Milk shake 6¢, Soda 5¢, Ice Cream Soda 10¢, Pineapple – Orange – Grape – Lemon 5¢. People were flocking to Nathan’s from the subway and coming from the long boardwalk on the other side of the stand with William and James. When the line had moved up enough, William and James reached the stand, they could see about a dozen workers busy taking and filling the orders. There was no distinguishable line, just a mass of bodies pushing their way toward the front so they could get their cheap hot dogs and root beer.

William made sure he had a good grip on James’ hand before pushing toward the front of the line with everyone else. Considering how many people were trying to get hot dogs for themselves and their children, it was a surprisingly quick wait before William ordered four hot dogs, a hamburger, and two root beers – all for just thirty-five cents. He had no more than spoken the order and within forty-five seconds, the food was in front of him, steaming hot.

Food in hand, William and James pushed back through the throng of humanity and went walking back along the wooden boardwalk, which stretched two and a half miles from W. 37th Street to Ocean Parkway.The boardwalk was as mobbed as Nathan’s had been, for William could see nothing but a sea of people in front of him as he searched for a place to sit down and eat. While he was scanning the nearby area, a small commotion occurred when two policemen went chasing after a man without a shirt on in order to give him a warning that he must not have his chest exposed. The shirtless man ignored them, however, running into several people as he tried to get away. Several females looked disgustedly after the man as he ran by, followed by the policemen. After the disturbance was over, William finally found a little pavilion with a few spots to sit down a short distance away.

“Why are you looking at me like that, Dad?” James asked, seeing his father staring at him after they had sat down.

“Well, this is a special moment in your life, son.” William replied as he took one of the hot dogs out of the small box their order came in.

“What’s special about it?”

“This is your very first Nathan’s hot dog,” William told his son, handing him the hot treat.

James was about to take his very first bite then paused. “Dad, do you remember your first Nathan’s hot dog?”

“Yes, I do. The very first time I took your mother out was when I first experienced a Nathan’s hot dog. I remember closing my eyes and biting down and just letting the flavor enter my mouth.”

James held the oversized dog in front of his mouth and closed his eyes, biting off a small chunk of the hot dog and letting it rest in his mouth for a few seconds; he could even feel the steam hitting the roof of his mouth as some of the juice ran out onto his tongue. Before the saliva in his mouth increased any more than it already had, James started to slowly chew up and down, enjoying the feel of his teeth puncturing the skin of the hot dog after getting through the bun. When he swallowed the bite, his stomach craved more.

William waited for his son’s eyes to open again before asking, “So, what do you think?”

“It’s delicious! You have to eat yours now, just like when you were here with Mom.”

William nodded, closed his eyes, and started to think back to when he and Helen came here to sit down on the beach and eat sweets and go on some of the rides, but those thoughts turned as bitter as their relationship had for William, who thought of how much the girl he had married had changed. He opened his eyes and looked down at his son, who had given up watching his father and was eagerly devouring the rest of his first Nathan’s hot dog. When William closed his eyes again, he pictured that very moment – he and his son eating hot dogs on the boardwalk at Coney Island on James’ first visit – and he put the treat into his mouth and ate that first bite as he always ate them: slowly.

When their bellies were full, William decided they would spend some time laying on the beach and perhaps walking into the shallow ocean to let their food settle before going on any rides. Finding a place to sit on the beach was not an enviable task; people sat towel to towel and if you looked from above, you wouldn’t see a beach there at all, just a huge mass of people. William managed to find a spot just big enough for the two of them to lie down. From where they were, they could not even see where the ocean began.

“Hey, dad, what’s that?” James asked, looking behind them and pointing up past the boardwalk to a giant metal circular structure in the distance.

William sat up and saw what his son was pointing to. “That, James, is the Wonder Wheel!”

“What’s a Wonder Wheel?”

“Well, it’s a wheel of wonder of course,” he stammered, unable to find the words to describe the ride. “You see those little baskets hanging off of it?”

“Yes,” James answered, looking skyward at the mountainous contraption.

“Well, people get into those and when they are all full, the wheel spins around slowly in the air so when you get to the top, you can see the ocean and all of the park. You go around several times until it‘s time to get everyone out,” William explained.

James’ eyes grew wide as he tried to comprehend being able to see all of New York. “Can we ride it?” the boy asked excitedly.

“Sure, we’ll ride it later on this evening — that’s the best time because all the lights will be on in the city. It’ll be a long wait in line though.”

“It looks gigantic from here!” James declared as he marveled at the enormous ride.

“It is, just wait until you see it up close”

“How tall do you think it is?” James wondered aloud, more to himself than to his father.

“Oh, I’d say at least a hundred feet, maybe more. Bigger than I am, that’s for sure.” William lay back down on the sand and tried to rest his eyes for a few minutes and let his meal settle, but James would have none of that. He persisted in asking when they could go on the rides. Apparently, his stomach had taken the Coney Island food better than William’s had. Unable to resist his son’s constant persistence, William decided to get up to lead his son to more fun.

Walking through the giant mass of people, William and James heard an assortment of American accents and the languages of all sorts of foreign countries. There was a Chinese couple taking pictures of the ocean, while no more than ten feet away, a group of people speaking French were enjoying the wind blowing through their hair as they contentedly ate clams. While William led James through the crowd, they could not travel for more than twenty feet without hearing a talker trying to get customers to ride a ride, play a game, or see sights of the unusual variety.

William and James worked their way through the crowd toward their destination: The Giant Racer on Surf Avenue and West 10th street. The Giant Racer was a nine hundred foot long two-track roller coaster and had been one of the main attractions of the Dreamland Amusement park before a fire in 1911 burned the park down; but due to its steel structure, the Giant Racer survived the fire and continued operation.

“Wow, look at how fast the cars go!” James exclaimed as the Racer came into view. His pace picked up so that he was leading his father instead of the other way around.

William looked up at the mammoth sight before him. If nothing else, the attractions at Coney Island had the ability to make a man feel small. “They are fast,” he replied. “I hope the line isn’t too long though.”

They got in the back of the line for the coaster, which, as William feared, was substantially long. As they slowly inched their way forward, William could not help but overhear an elderly couple in front of him. “I was really hoping to ride the new roller coaster, but I‘m not waiting all afternoon,” the man said to his wife in an Irish-accented tone.

The woman shook her head and replied, “That line was hardly any longer than this one.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think this one’s too bad and it’s a fun ride. They just keep building new coasters for more money; the old ones are just fine.”

“I’m sure the new one is fun too. Maybe we should go back later and see if the line is any shorter.”

“It won’t be, but we can check,” the man retorted.

James tugged on his father’s arm and when William looked down at him, James asked, “Will it really take all afternoon to ride the Thunderbolt?”

“I don’t know, son. I suppose it might, but let’s just worry about this line for the time being.”

It was twenty-five minutes before the two found themselves at the front of the line and they were seated behind the elderly couple. As the coaster started to grind its way up the first ascent, William looked over at his son, who had a wide grin on his face as the cool ocean breeze blew his soft, dirty blond hair about. When they reached the top of the ascent, the car paused for a brief moment, letting everyone marvel at the beautiful view of the beach from such a height, forgetting they were on a roller coaster for just the briefest of moments, until suddenly the car plunged down the track. Everyone – the elderly couple included – screamed as their hair flew back away from their exulted faces. James somehow managed to yell and giggle at the same time as they went along the metal track, the wheels of the coaster the only sound besides the yells of the passengers. When the car reached a sharp curve, more yells were elicited from all aboard, for they were not sure if the car was going to turn as it should or if it was just going to careen right off the tracks. Unbeknownst to anyone currently riding on the Giant Racer, this had actually happened once in 1911, killing two women who plunged fifty feet down to the ground. That was not the fate for this group of passengers, however. They whipped around the turn, William holding on tight so he would not press all his weight into his son, as they continued along the path of the track to its inevitable end.

As soon as the ride was over and he was on solid ground once again, James realized he had fallen in love. Coney Island was better than anywhere he had ever been in his life and he had only been there a little more than an hour and a half. There were people as far as one could possibly see and they were all there for the same reasons: to be entertained by the unique sights and smells; to get away from their lives for a few hours; and most importantly, to enjoy themselves and act like children, no matter what age they really were. The sounds of people screaming on the rides, the voices of the talkers promising the chance of winning great prizes in games of luck, and the feel of the wind blowing in his face intoxicated the young boy.

And he wanted more.

Right outside the Giant Racer was a little cart selling Coca-Colas and that was where William and James headed next. The man selling the drinks looked to be in his mid-twenties, with bright red hair and matching freckles. It was obvious by his tan that he spent the entire day outside selling his soda, drinking a few himself when the heat got to him and the line was small. After William ordered the drinks, the man looked down at James and smiled, asking, “Did you ride the Giant Racer?” as he opened the Coca-Colas with a bottle opener.

“I sure did! It was fantastic!” the boy exclaimed, taking one of the sodas the man held out.

“Well, there’s plenty of rides here that are even better, my boy!” the vendor told him. “Make sure you try as many as you can!”

“I will!” James replied as William led him away from the cart so other people could order their drinks. They stood on the grass looking up at the people now on the roller coaster, taking small sips of the cold, sweet drink. When his bottle of Coca-Cola was nearly exhausted, James asked, “Can we go on the Giant Racer again?”

“We just rode that, son. Don’t you want to try something else? Besides, it took us half an hour before we got to ride it, and I’m not sure I want to wait that long to go on it again when there are so many other things to do and see,” William answered.

“Please, Dad. I really liked it, especially going around that last sharp turn. Can’t we ride it one more time and then we’ll check out the other rides?” the little boy pleaded.

Knowing there was no way to refuse his son anything, William nodded and the two finished their colas and walked back to the end of the line so they could ride the Giant Racer again.

TLC Book Tour Review: Driving Lessons by Zoe Fishman

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date:   April 8/2014

Pages:  336

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Source:  TLC Book Tours

Synopsis:

Sometimes life’s most fulfilling journeys begin without a map.

An executive at a New York cosmetics firm, Sarah has had her fill of the interminable hustle of the big city. When her husband, Josh, is offered a new job in suburban Virginia, it feels like the perfect chance to shift gears.

While Josh quickly adapts to their new life, Sarah discovers that having time on her hands is a mixed blessing. Without her everyday urban struggles, who is she? And how can she explain to Josh, who assumes they are on the same page, her ambivalence about starting a family?

It doesn’t help that the idea of getting behind the wheel—an absolute necessity of her new life—makes it hard for Sarah to breathe. It’s been almost twenty years since she’s driven, and just the thought of merging is enough to make her teeth chatter with anxiety. When she signs up for lessons, she begins to feel a bit more like her old self again, but she’s still unsure of where she wants to go.

Then a crisis involving her best friend lands Sarah back in New York—a trip to the past filled with unexpected truths about herself, her dear friend, and her seemingly perfect sister-in-law…and an astonishing surprise that will help her see the way ahead.

quick mix review

Buy/Borrow/Bargain:  Library Loaner

Quick or Long Read: Even thought it’s not a big book, it was a loooong read!

The Cover: Absolutely stunning!  However, I didn’t feel that it truly represented the storyline.  Perhaps, the cover is trying to encompass the life of a small town with hope in a jar, but that’s me stretching it.

The Title: I love the title.  The title is truly a reflection of what the book is about: learning a new life.

Audience:  Those like enjoy Women’s fiction!

Overall Thoughts: I really struggled with this book.  I loved the beginning of the book, but the storyline moved so slowly that I found myself daydreaming…and reading is my escape.  So, if I’m daydreaming, while reading, well- that’s just not a good sign.  The characters were likeable, the plot was quite realistic and ordinary to me, you, your neighbor.  I wanted a little bit more pizzazz, some bigger issues to show the strength and transformation of the characters, since the book was more character driver and not plot driven.  Overall, it was a good book.  It’s a cozy read that people will enjoy reading as a break from more heavier topic books.

good cupcake 3

About Zoe FishmanZoe Fishman

Zoe Fishman is the author of Balancing Acts and Saving Ruth. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son.

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

Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 8th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, April 9th: Bibliotica

Thursday, April 10th: cupcake’s book cupboard

Monday, April 14th: missris

Tuesday, April 15th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, April 16th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Thursday, April 17th: Seaside Book Nook

Monday, April 21st: Write Meg

Tuesday, April 22nd: Luxury Reading

Wednesday, April 23rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, April 24th: From L.A. to LA

Monday, April 28th: The Well-Read Redhead

 

 

 

Book Review: The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller

Publisher: St. Martin’s
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0-312-54270-2
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Format: E-book
Source:  NetGalley
Synopsis:
An absorbing, highly entertaining novel about family secrets, The Never Never Sisters introduces you to the strong-willed and big-hearted Reinhardt women, as they reunite one summer in New York. Gifted storyteller L. Alison Heller has written another witty and moving page-turner that will captivate readers and keep them guessing right up until the satisfying end. 

Sometimes you just need to get away….Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.

As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?

quick mix review

Buy/Borrow/Bargain:  Borrow

Themes:  family secrets, mental illness, family separation, siblings, marriage issues

Quick or Long Read:  Quick

The Cover:  Beautiful cover! Love how it shows the sisters are close, or will be close…

The Title:  Didn’t quite understand it, as it’s not their last name and not any reference made to the title.

Overall Thoughts: Paige is a very part-time therapist, who sees one patient throughout the book.  Her husband is suspended for work and Paige doesn’t know why.  Sloan is her sister, who disappeared when Paige was a little girl, and never knew why.  Their mother is quite happy when Sloan returns to their hometown, with her fiancé.  Paige has many revelations regarding her marriage, her role in her parent’s life, and how to come to terms with not having a sister for the majority of her life.  Sloan is a free spirit, bi-polar (unmedicated), and never really addresses her issues with her parents.  Paige learns family secrets, has decisions to make regarding her own marriage, and the kind of relationship she wants with her family.  Overall, it’s a good story with not much depth to the characters.  I would have liked more information on Sloan’s life (before returning home), and the issue with her husband was quite glazed over. However, the ending was a little sweet.

Audience: Women’s fiction reader, who like cozy stories.

Rating:  A Good cupcake

 

 

 

 

TLC Book Review: Vintage by Susan Gloss

 

 

Publisher:  William Morrow

Publication Date:  March 25, 2014

Pages:  320

Format:  Paperback

ISBN-10: 006227032X

Source:  TLC & Publisher

Synopsis:

At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women whose lives the store touches.

Yellow Samsonite suitcase with ivory, quilted lining, 1950s

A small-town girl with a flair for fashion, Violet Turner had always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. But while she values the personal history behind each beautiful item she sells, Violet is running from her own past. Faced with the possibility of losing the store to an unscrupulous developer, she realizes that despite her usual self-reliance she cannot save it alone.

Taffeta tea-length wedding gown with scooped neckline and cap sleeves, 1952

Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect vintage wedding dress to Violet’s shop, she discovers a world of new possibilities, and an unexpected sisterhood with women who won’t let her give up on her dreams.

Orange silk sari with gold paisley design, 1968

Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her vibrant Indian dresses, remnants of a life she’s determined to leave behind her. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears her best days are behind her . . . until she discovers an outlet for her creativity and skills with a needle and thread.

An engaging story that beautifully captures the essence of friendship and style,Vintage is a charming tale of possibility, of finding renewal, love, and hope when we least expect it.quick mix review

  •  Buy/Borrow/Bargain:  The cover is so gorgeous! If it’s a bargain, snag it!
  • Themes:  Love lost, friendships, loss/disappointment, loneliness, new beginnings, stories told through items
  • Quick or Long Read:  Quick
  • The Cover:  Gorgeous!!  The dress is everything vintage-lace, style of dress, with peek-a-boo red on the rose and belt.
  • The Title:  Love the name!! It is definitely a great fit for the book!
  • Overall Thoughts:  Violet is the owner of Hourglass Vintage, and she is faced with the possibility of losing her store.  At that time, 3 customers, who soon become close friends, start this adventure with Violet.  Vintage is everything a light read should have: adventure, love lost, friendships gained, and a little something special along the way.
  • Audience:  Anyone that loves vintage items, is a boutique shopper, women, women’s fiction readers, and those who want a great weekend read!
  • Rating:  A Great Cupcake

 

my book thoughtsI remember attending university, in a small town, and there was a street of little antique shops.  I’ve always loved books, and remember walking into a vintage shop with rare copies of books.  Of course, I couldn’t afford them, but I did find a book I could afford.  I had no idea what it was about, but I was drawn to the book cover.  It was dark brown with a gold emblem on top. It turned out to be an etiquette book from the 1920′s.  Being the non-hoarder that I am, I think I donated it to some place and wish I had kept it.

This book reminds me of that.  Well, the characters do.  Violet is a store owner of vintage items.  She is faced with the prospect of having to sell her store, and doesn’t know what to do.  Violet is running from her past, and the store is a great diversion for that.  She meets 3 women, who each have their own share of issues and together, the 4 of them become great friends-who overcome obstacles, experience new beginnings, dream bigger, and become their own little support system.

I love how Susan starts each chapter with a vintage item that somehow weaves itself into the storyline.  It was a great way to begin each chapter and had me wondering which item would be introduced next.  While Violet is the main character, Susan highlights each character’s story in different chapters, so that readers can learn more about the background to each woman.  It is such a heartwarming book, one that many will love, and gives people an appreciation for vintage!great cupcake rating 4

 

*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me an opportunity to be on this tour!

 

Tour Stops:

Tuesday, March 25th: BookNAround

Wednesday, March 26th: Book Hooked Blog

Thursday, March 27th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, March 31st: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, April 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, April 2nd: Bibliotica

Thursday, April 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, April 8th: Doing Dewey

Wednesday, April 9th: Suko’s Notebook

Thursday, April 10th: Walking With Nora

TBD: Books in the Burbs

About Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School. When she’s not writing fiction, Susan can be found working as an attorney, blogging at GlossingOverIt.com, or hunting for vintage treasures for her Etsy shop, Cleverly Curated. She lives with her family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Find out more about Susan at her website, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and see what she’s pinning on Pinterest.

 

 

 

SheReads April Book of the Month: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Publisher:  Algonquin Books

Published Date: April 1, 2014

Length:  272 pages

ISBN-10: 1616203218

Genre:  Contemporary Literature

Source:  She Reads & Publisher

Format:  Ebook

Synopsis:

The #1 Indie Next Pick and the #1 Library Reads Selection for April 2014!

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—and booksellers—that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

quick mix review

  •  Rent/Buy/Borrow:  Definitely a keeper!  Buy the book-it’s worth the price!
  • Themes:  widowhood, adoption, family secrets, community, relationships
  • Quick or Long Read:  It was a quick read!
  • The Cover:  The cover doesn’t do the story justice.  However, I absolutely love the U.K cover and it gives a great picture to the idea of what the story is about.
  • Overall Thoughts:  It’s a book about a bookstore owner, who has decided how he will live the remainder of his life.  However, fate has a different idea.  Working in the bookstore, and living above it, the story mainly takes place in the small store that becomes a community meeting place.  A.J. Fikry becomes the father to a little girl, left at his store, which is when he gets a new lease on life and love.  A true gem of a book, it’s a book that many will love!
  • Audience:  Anyone that loves contemporary fiction, a love story wrapped up in a little book, a story about the relationship between a father and his daughter, a great read for an afternoon or two.

my book thoughts

I absolutely loved this story.  From the first few pages, I was immediately hooked and wanted to know more about the quirky, “old” bookseller, A.J. Fikry.  He is an Edgar All Poe collector, and an old copy of EAP’s book, “Tamerlane”.  One night, that is book is missing and a little girl appears in his bookstore with a note attached from the girl’s mother.

The story is so cleverly written, almost like a fairy tale, because of the oddity of a little girl being left in the bookstore and the magical relationship she and A.J. have.  However, it goes far beyond a fairy tale. There is heartache, lessons learned, and love reborn.  Above all, the cranky and detached A.J. creates a family consisting of the townspeople and his little girl.

I loved Amelia’s character, too.  She is a young woman, who loves books so much, that she takes a low paying job of being a publicist rep.  She has to take the long trip to Alice Island, where she meets A.J. for the first time.  From there, a relationship grows as both her passion of books and A.J.’s gives them much in common.  Even, their commonality of feeling lonely.

With nods to some great literary works and book clubs, this book will easily become a favorite for many bibliophiles.  More than anything, it will make readers more curious when they go to their own little bookstore and wonder what magical finds are awaiting them, too!

supreme cupcake rating 6

Author Links

Website   |   Facebook   |   Pinterest   |   Tumblr

 

HFVBT Book Review: Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Released: March 18, 2014

Format: Kindle

Pages:  320

Source:  HFVBT & Publisher

Synopsis:

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

My Review:

Two words: BLOWN AWAY!  First of all, I absolutely love the book cover.  It is the perfect illustration of Mary and Queen Elizabeth’s relationship: Mary was often in her shadow, as she should be, however the heart always has another direction it wants to go!

Before I started the story, the author writes a little bit of a prologue. I am in awe of Anne’s courage, fighting spirit as she battled cancer, and that she was able to write this book in the midst of her own struggle.  Also, she is a descendent from Queen Elizabeth’s lineage, which makes this story even more fascinating for the readers, as I am sure it was for her when she researched the people in her book.

While I have read a lot of historical fiction novels about Queen Elizabeth I, and even saw the movies, this book sheds light on another side to the Queen.  In this book, readers will see a vulnerability that other books may not show.  While she is Queen of England and being courted by suitors, she manages to make time for her beloved Mary.  Queen Elizabeth also experiences the heartache of loving her “Sweet Robin”, Robert Dudley, who she can never marry.  Robin is also like a father or dear uncle to Mary, who she looks to for guidance and favor with the Queen during a moment most needed.

Mary is a young woman, who is quite similar to Queen Elizabeth.  Unlike the other maidens, she maintains her “virtue” with the other courtiers and does believe in love, rather than fortune.  She has an opportunity to marry for fortune, but chooses not to marry the Earl of Oxford, which Queen Elizabeth supports.

Throughout the story, readers see what court is like, how Queen Elizabeth handles issues with other countries, Catholics vs. Protestants, as well as the Queen Mary of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk.  It was quite interesting to see how Queen Elizabeth handled all these pressures, dealt with the people in her court, and maintain the relationships she had with her maidens.

Mary has her own challenges of falling in love with a Catholic widowed father of 5 and pleasing the Queen.  I was stunned…just stunned with the way the events unfolded at the end and saddened by Mary’s relationship with Sir John and how their story ends.

This is an incredible book, one that many will love! If you love historical fiction, Tudor history, interested in another aspect of Queen Elizabeth’s history, young love, and just want a great read-then this book is it!  Anne does a remarkable job with keeping the book focused more on the characters and their struggles, rather than just get bogged down with historical facts.  It’s a beautiful story and one that is now an absolute favorite of mine!

*A huge thanks to HFVBT for allowing me the opportunity to join this tour!

About the AuthorAnne Clinard Barnhill

Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity. She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.

For more information, please visit Anne Clinard Barnhill’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, March 10
Review at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, March 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, March 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, March 14
Review at The Lit Bitch

Monday, March 17
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 18
Spotlight & Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, March 19
Review at One Book at a Time

Thursday, March 20
Review at Book-alicious Mama

Friday, March 21
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, March 24
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Tuesday, March 25
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, March 26
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 27
Review at Book of Secrets

Friday, March 28
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, March 31
Review at HF Book Muse – News
Review & Giveaway at WTF Are You Reading?

Tuesday, April 1
Interview at HF Book Muse – News

Thursday, April 3
Review at Books in the Burbs

Friday, April 4
Review at The True Book Addict
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Monday, April 7
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 8
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, April 9
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, April 10
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Friday, April 11
Review at Silver’s Reviews
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

 

 

 

 

 

I Love Book Giveaways!

 

book giveaway winner logo

 

The second best thing about being a book blogger is offering book giveaways! The first…obviously it is me receiving free books to review :D

Two great giveaways were given during the month of March! Below each cover is the name of the winner chosen.

Winner:  Mona G.

Winner:  Laura B.

Didn’t win a book this month?  That’s okay!  Why? Well, because I have another giveaway that is open right now! Simply look to the right side bar of the main blog page and you will see the link to the book giveaway.

simple signature 1