Cupcakes and Books:

Peanuts Gift Pack Giveaway!

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THE PEANUTS GANG: BOOK ‘EM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

IN CELEBRATION OF 50 YEARS ON TV FOR A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

 

Hard as it is to believe, but this year marks the 50th annual airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas!

To celebrate the occasion, ABC will air the special twice: Tuesday, December 2 at 8:30PM ET/PT and Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00PM ET/PT.  Meanwhile, Peanuts Worldwide is offering a host of great holiday books guaranteed to get you in the mood for the big television anniversary.

GIFT SET #1:

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: THE MAKING OF A TRADITION

This lushly illustrated tribute to the television classic takes readers behind-the-scenes of the Peanuts holiday special. Including the script of A Charlie Brown Christmas, more than 200 full-color pieces of original animation art, Vince Guaraldi’s original score, and a look at the making of feature from producer Lee Mendelson and original animator, the late Bill Melendez, fans of Charles M. Schulz, the Peanuts gang, and A Charlie Brown Christmas will treasure this beautiful keepsake volume for years to come.

Available at amazon.com and major book stores nationwide for $19.99.

My Review:

I grew up watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.  I especially love the cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas!  So, this is a real treat for my blog to offer you so many great books to read, buy, and possibly win!  This book is the perfect gift for someone who grew up watching the Christmas movie!  With attention to detail, skits, sketches, and dialogue from the actual movie, the Peanuts fan will love this book!  It’s very well made and gives a behind the scenes look to the movie!

BE JOYFUL BOOK

This charming little book filled with Peanuts inspirational wisdom is the perfect stocking stuffer! The book highlights the simple joys of friends, life and goodwill through a collection of heart-warming quotes and illustrations from the Peanuts classic comics.  Available at amazon.com or wherever books are sold for $7.95.

My Review:

This is definitely the perfect gift for someone who loves to read little quotes from the Peanuts gang!  It’s quite colorful with simple quotes from your favorite characters, that will definitely make you smile and feel a bit nostalgic, too!

 

GIFT SET #2:

PEANUTS: A SCANIMATION BOOK BY RUFUS BUTLER SEDER

Charlie Brown and the football, Snoopy’s happy dance, Schroeder at his toy piano—cherished characters and iconic moments come to life through the magic of Scanimation.  Created by Rufus Butler Seder, an inventor, artist, and filmmaker fascinated by antique optical toys, Scanimation is a state-of-the-art six-phase animation process that combines the “persistence of vision” principle with a striped acetate overlay to give the illusion of movement. It harkens back to the old magical days of the kinetoscope, and the effect is astonishing, like a video without a screen. It is Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts—funny and wise and beloved, forever a part of our lives—like you’ve never seen before. Available for $14.95 at workman.com, amazon.com, Powell’s Books, Barnes and Noble, and independent book stores nationwide.

My Review:

This is the kind of book that any little reader will love!  The scanimation design is pre-electronics, but still is just as entertaining.  With a little storyline, each page has the scanimation that gives movement to each character and scene.  It’s a hard book that is a great size for small hands.  It’s a book that will be a great introduction in to the Peanuts gang, which will be a childhood favorite for your own little one, too!

BEST FRIENDS PLAY-A-SOUND BOOK AND CUDDLY SNOOPY

This play-a-sound book comes with its own adorable mini-Snoopy plush—essentially making it two gifts for the price of one! Aimed at the toddler on your list, the book spotlights the topic of best friends from the Peanuts point-of-view and features three buttons that highlight a different sound from the story when you press them. Available for $11.99 at Toys R Us or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

Any little child will love this book!  With coordinating buttons to cue each page, your little reader will love to hear the sounds form the Peanuts Gang!  Along with a plush, stuffed Snoopy, this will be a great treat for little ones!  The book is small enough for little hands, hard pages to prevent bending and tearing, and the sounds really encourage the reader to look for sight words and press the button to hear the sounds.  This is an excellent book that will make a great gift for any occasion!

 

 

GIFT SET #3:

GOOD GRIEF, IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!

The Peanuts gang believes in “growing up without growing old” and that’s the message behind this hilarious book filled with famous celebrity quotes paired with artwork from the classic Peanuts comic strip. Among the celebrities quoted are George Burns, Mae West, Audrey Hepburn, and of course, Charles M. Schulz himself! Perfect for anyone on your list celebrating a birthday in December and beyond. Available at Target or wherever books are sold for $9.66.

My Review:

This book is perfect for any person, as you celebrate that special birthday! I love the quotes that correspond with each Peanuts character.  Each quote makes you smile, laugh, reminisce, and will definitely make a great birthday gift for a loved one!

CLASSIC PEANUTS PAINT-BY-NUMBER KIT

For the budding artist, The Classic Peanuts Paint-by-Number Kit provides everything you need to make five paintings of iconic Peanuts moments.  From a group shot of Charlie Brown and the gang to Snoopy as Joe Cool, bring the charm and nostalgia of the classic comic to the canvas. Inside the box, you’ll find five paint-by-number canvases and stands, 10 acrylic paints, paintbrush, and a book exploring the comic’s great moments. Available for $15.25 at Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

This is the gift that is perfect for any person that loves to paint!  I was quite impressed with the quality of the paper, which has numbers corresponding with the paints.  Of course, any artist can deviate from the suggestions!  I also love the little book enclosed!  This makes a great gift for the artist in your life!  After each page is painted, the hard back pictures can easily be framed!

Overall Thoughts:

We all love Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, especially if you are child of the 80’s/90’s.  However, this is a fantastic way to introduce your beloved cartoon characters to your own children, grandchildren, friends, students, etc.  Books in the Burbs is quite excited to introduce these fantastic gift ideas, as well as offer a few giveaways!

Giveaway Details:

US entries only.

When you fill out the form, your information doesn’t appear on my blog.  It is sent to me directly.  The 3 winners chosen will have their addresses sent directly to the publisher, who will mail the gift sets directly.

Giveaway ends December 18, 2014.

 

Book Review: Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James & Giveaway Details

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Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Publication Date: August 5, 2015
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement to Miss Elizabeth Bridges, Jane meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor, heir to the nearby estate of Bifrons–a fascinating, highly accomplished young man who is truly worthy of Jane’s affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race–and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention.

Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

My Review:

As many of you know, my all time favorite author is Jane Austen.  I absolutely love her books, love reading about her life (albeit-it’s sad), and am drawn to anything Jane.  So, this book definitely peaked my interest.  Just when I thought I had read everything there was to know about Jane’s life, Syrie James does her research and finds Jane Austen’s first love: Edward Taylor!  This story is based during a short period of Jane’s life.  She’s 15 years old, visiting her brother Edward, and celebrating his engagement.

I love that Syrie James brings to life the charisma and charm that Jane Austen exudes in all of her writings!  While this story is based on historical fact, laced with some fiction, it is rather interesting to imagine how Jane created characters, shared her stories with others, and the interactions she has with family.  We all know that Jane never marries or has children, however, her childhood certainly shapes the views she had on relationships and helped create characters for her novels.  So, it was quite a treat to see the possibility that her summer experience helped with the storylines and characters in Emma and Pride & Prejudice.  The most special relationship, even more so than Jane’s and Edward Taylor, is between Cassandra and Jane.  The secrets they share, they talks they have, and just the concern they have for each other is quite poignant and wonderful to see how it evolves and becomes even more important for them to maintain into adulthood.

Overall, this is a fantastic storyline that Jane Austen fans will love.  It’s a book that gives a glimpse inside the world of Jane Austen, as a young teenager, who experiences first love and plays matchmaker to a group of people-only to realize that sometimes what is imagined, isn’t always realistic.  However, she never gives up on the idea of love, which we experience through her writings!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to the publisher and Syrie James for the opportunity to review the book and offer a giveaway!  No forms of compensation were given.

Photo courtesy of Syrie James website.

About the Author, Syrie James:

“The queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” —Los Angeles Magazine

Syrie James is the bestselling author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including Jane Austen’s First Love, The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages, awarded the Audio Book Association Audie, designated as Editor’s Picks by Library Journal, named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association, a Discover New Writer’s Selection by Barnes and Noble, and Best Book of the Year by The Romance Reviews and Suspense Magazine.

Syrie is a member of the WGA and a life member of JASNA (the Jane Austen Society of North America). She spent many years as a screenwriter and enjoys writing both novels and screenplays. Syrie writes practically every weekday. She says, “Many people can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. It’s the opposite for me. I truly love my jam-packed weekends, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I’m back in my chair on Monday morning, I’m anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story.”

Syrie was named after a character in a radio show that her mother listened to as a girl. Today, Syrie is thrilled that her name is pronounced the same as Siri, the iPhone personal assistant–even if they spell the name incorrectly. :)

Syrie was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, and moved west at age one because her father didn’t like shoveling snow. She has lived most of her life in California, if you don’t count the two years as a child when she lived in France.

Connect with the Author:

Webpage

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Click here for giveaway details!

 

 

Review & Giveaway: Addie B. Strong: Dream Big by Alyson Flippo and Kathleen Murphy Willer

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Series: Addie B. Strong (Book 2)

Hardcover: 28 pages

Publisher: B-Strong, LLC

Publication Date:  September 1, 2014

 

Synopsis:

Join Addie B. Strong in her second adventure, Addie B. Strong – Dream Big. Little Addie has a big dream, but it is much more work than she thought it would be. Meet Addie’s cousin, Collin B. Kind, whose wisdom and kindnesshelps to remind Addie of her forgotten strength. As Addie works her way through the not-so-simple task of reaching for the stars, she discovers once again the magic of the strength that lies inside of her. Follow Addie on her quest as she continues her journey and discover that you too can Dream Big.”

My Review:

Back in October, 2014, I reviewed Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong.  I have been given the opportunity to review the second book in the series, and this book didn’t disappoint!

This is the second book in the series for Addie B. Strong.  The book is large, with glossy pages, which are perfect for small hands and their attention spans.  Each page can tell a story based on the dress and scenes that Addie finds herself in.  With messages of self-empowerment, never giving up, and reaching out to others, this a book that many children will love and identify with.  Parents and educators will love the message this book offers to young children, because it teaches children to not limit themselves, rather to always reach high for the stars.  While the story is simple, the message is clear, and the illustrations are clean and crisp, it’s a book that children up to age 7/8 will enjoy.  The rhyming words help with speech and fluctuation, as well as help kids stay interested in the storyline because it’s not overloaded with too many words or cluttered with too many images.  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

Connect with the Authors and Addie B. Strong:

Facebook

The Author, Alyson Flippo

Twitter

Giveaway

Giveaway Details:

The publisher has graciously offered both books: Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong & Dream Big!

Only 1 winner will win both books!

Giveaway ends December 22, 2014.

Winner will have 24 hours to respond to the email.  If a reply isn’t given, another winner will be chosen.  The winner’s email and address will be sent to the publisher, who will mail the gift set.

TLC Book Tour: Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

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Publication: December 2, 2014

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

This compelling thriller, from New York Times bestseller Phillip Margolin, centers on an intriguing photograph that may contain long-hidden answers to the mystery of a millionaire’s murder.

At a retrospective on the work of acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran, aspiring novelist Stacey Kim is fascinated by the exhibition’s centerpiece: the famous Woman with a Gun, which launched the artist’s career. Shot from behind, the enigmatic black-and-white image depicts a woman in a wedding dress standing on the shore at night, facing the sea. But this is no serene, romantic portrait. In her right hand, which is hidden behind her back, she holds a six-shooter.

The picture captures Stacey’s imagination and raises a host of compelling questions: Who is this woman? Is this a photograph of her on her wedding day? Does she plan to kill herself or someone else? Obsessed with finding answers, she soon discovers the identity of the woman: a suspect in a ten-year-old murder investigation. Convinced that proof of the woman’s guilt, or innocence, is somehow connected to the photograph, Stacey embarks on a relentless investigation.

Drawn deeper into the case, Stacey finds that everyone involved has a different opinion of the woman’s culpability. But the one person who may know the whole story—Kathy Moran—isn’t talking. Stacey must find a way to get to the reclusive photographer, and get her to talk, or the truth about what happened that day will stay forever hidden in the shadows.

My Review:

Phillip Margolin is an exceptional writer.  He actually did see the photo at the front of the book cover and the questions that the character, Stacy, asks herself, are the very ones that motivated him to write this novel.  Genius!

While the picture is stunning, I imagined the picture being hung on a wall at the museum-as the book cover.  The red trim isn’t my favorite, but it certainly wouldn’t deter me from picking up the novel!

The storyline starts a little slow, which helps to understand each character and their motivations.  Readers will later discover how they are somehow related-even when it doesn’t seem possible.  There are moments that I had questions: Why does Kathy turn from a hard-hitting attorney to drug user? What does Jack find so irresistable about Kathy? Why is Gary Kilbride so invincible?  Does Megan really have amnesia?  Who wants to silence Stacy?  However, these questions will slowly be answered, with some room for interpretation by the reader.

There are so many different storylines, within one great story, that it is quite fascinating how Phillip Margolin ties it all together, in the end.  Stacy leaves her job in the Midwest, moves to NY, and comes across the picture of a woman in a wedding gown, holding a gun.  As she explores more about the picture and the details surrounding it, readers are introduced to Kathy, Gary, Jack, and the murder of Jack Cahill.  Megan Cahill is suspected of murder, and is having issues remembering anything after her wedding banquet.

The story has twists and turns, with lots of anticipation building up to the final scenes.  It’s a great story, especially for those who love a great murder mystery!  The storyline switches from past to present, which helps readers get a better understanding into the reasons why people are where they are.  It is a book that will keep you guessing!  One thing is for sure-I will never just look at a picture and say, “that’s pretty or interesting”.  I may become just a little more curious, like Stacy, and want to know more about the people in that photo!  I also loved that Phillip includes court scenes that make the book even more realistic, without bombarding the reader with lingo that is unfamiliar.  It is a book that is very well rounded and is sure to please those who love great novels, with a who-dun-it theme!

great cupcake rating 4

About Phillip MargolinPhillip Margolin

Phillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.

Find out more about Phillip at his website, and connect with him on Facebook.

 

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Phillip’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, December 2nd: The Steadfast Reader

Tuesday, December 2nd: Staircase Wit

Wednesday, December 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, December 4th: Under My Apple Tree

Friday, December 5th: BoundbyWords

Monday, December 8th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, December 9th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, December 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, December 10th: Great Minds Read Alike

Thursday, December 11th: Bibliotica

Friday, December 12th: FictionZeal

Monday, December 15th: Fuelled by Fiction

Tuesday, December 16th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, December 17th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Thursday, December 18th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Friday, December 19th: Reading in Black & White

Monday, December 22nd: Ace and Hoser Blook

Tuesday, December 23rd: Living in the Kitchen

 

 

HFVBT: The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

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Publication Date: October 21, 2014

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: Spymaster Chronicles

Genre: Historical Mystery

Synopsis:

Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

My Review:

The best part about trilogies is that a reader becomes invested in the characters.  The worst part is missing them, after reading the last page of the last book!  This is how I feel about this trilogy.  C.W. is a gifted writer, who not only merges fiction with historical fact, but tells a story that resonates with people today.  Brendan Prescott is a character that readers will connect with because of his loyalty, his own personal struggles, and his braveness.  He is someone that readers will root for and want to see how his journey ends.  While this is the last book of the trilogy, it can be read without being too confused about earlier events.  However, I would definitely recommend reading the first 2 books to appreciate how the story ends.  The story is filled with mystery, race against time, and secrets being exposed.  It’s a fantastic story that readers will love!

great cupcake rating 4

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books

Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Guest Post at Bookish

Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey’s Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book

Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes

Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 5
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More

Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review at One Book at a Time

Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club

Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth’s Blog

Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast

Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Review at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway

To win a complete set of CW Gortner’s Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy (The Tudor Secret, The Tudor Conspiracy, and The Tudor Vendetta) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link above. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

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Publisher:  Soho Crime

Publication Date:  December 30, 2014

Pages:  350

Genre:  Mystery

Follow the Author:  Webpage

Synopsis:

In the predominantly Mormon city of Draper, Utah, some seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

Inspired by a chilling true crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

My Review:

I was intrigued by the synopsis and from the first couple of chapters, I really became invested in the “Bishop’s Wife”, Linda.  It was interesting to read what her role is within the ward and how she balances home life and church work.  She also is a seeker of truth and redemption, so it is no surprise that she sets off to find the truth about Carrie’s disappearance.

Linda is married to the Bishop and is a mom of 3 sons, with her daughter having been born stillborn many years prior.  So, her plate is full.  Her older 2 sons are married and living away from their family home, while her younger son is home and distant.  The relationship she has with her younger son doesn’t evolve as much as I would have liked, with some questions regarding her son’s sexuality and if her “hunch” is right.  However, the book does dive in a bit more into the lives of Carrie and that of her family.  While the police and community are searching for Carrie, Linda steps in to take care of Carrie’s younger daughter-Kelly.  Through that relationship, Linda comes to terms with her own issues surrounding grief and survivor’s guilt regarding her stillborn child.

Linda is a busy woman, but realizes that she is just that: busy.  Prior to the incidents in the book, she realizes that she has not taken the time to really get to know the women of her ward.  As she starts to take time to get to know some of the women, she finds out that things aren’t always as they appear on the outside.  With murders, a buried body in the backyard, incest, sexual abuse, abuse of power, the Mormon church and it’s leaders, there is a lot packed in this book.  While everything comes together in the end, it does raise great questions that Mormons may find themselves asking or have known others to ask.  Mettie raises significant questions and shows that people in power aren’t necessarily following the doctrine the way the should.

Even though this book is listed as Mystery, it can easily cross over to Women’s fiction.  Even though this book has a lot of history regarding the Mormon practices, it is not a book that is simply tailored to those who love LDS literature.  Overall, it was a good book that would do well to have a sequel so that some loose ends can be addressed in the 2nd book.

good cupcake 3    *This book was provided by Edelweiss and the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

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Publication Date: December 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House

Pages:  460

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

My Review:

This book is so reminiscent to the great writings of Jane Austen!  Abigail is the more mature daughter, helping her father make business decisions and worrying with him about the lifestyle that her mother and younger sister are accustomed to.  Due to some financial ventures gone wrong, the family must move to meager accommodations.  Thankfully, they receive a letter from a family member, allowing the family to move into the house at Pembrooke Park.  However, the house has not been lived in for 18 years and Abigail has agreed to oversee the cleaning, before her family moves in.

Abigail willingly goes to help clean the house, while her younger sister stays behind to prepare for her season.  Sadly, Abigail finds out that the young man she had hoped to one day marry has eyes set on her younger sister.  Brokenhearted, Abigail heads over to the new property, where her own adventures begin.

This book has mystery, charm, secrets, friendships forged with some renewed, and love.  There are so many layers to this book, with the reader not knowing what is happening alongside Abigail.  Who can she trust? Who is the man with the green cloak walking in the middle of the night? What are those noises she keeps hearing at night? Is there a treasure hidden within the home or on the property? Will Abigail find true love?

True to form, Julie Klassen shares Biblical truths sprinkled throughout the book, which was quite relevant to the storyline.  However, those truths can be applied to those today.  I loved the storyline and found myself quite immersed in what was happening.  I didn’t try to guess who had bad intentions and who was really trying to be helpful.  It helped me to just enjoy the story without trying to get ahead of myself.  Every mystery will be solved (or at least addressed), so sit back and just enjoy the way the story unfolds.  It’s definitely one of my favorite books from Julie Klassen, with The Apothecary’s Daughter being my absolute favorite!

This book won’t be available in print until December 2, 2015.   However, it is available in e-format today! This is the perfect read during the Thanksgiving break.  After all, wouldn’t you rather curl up with a great book instead of being pounced on during Black Friday?

supreme cupcake rating 6

*A huge thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.  No forms of compensation were given.

Want to win the book, plus a couple of other great historical fiction stories?  Author, Julie Klassen and a couple of other authors are hosting a giveaway!  Click here for details.

 

 

 

 

 

First to Read: The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

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Title:  The Look of Love

Author:  Sarah Jio

Published by: Penguin/Plume Books on November 25th, 2014

Pages: 320

Genres:  Women’s fiction, Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Format:  ARC

Synopsis:

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

My Review:

No lie.  I read this book in ONE day!  Perhaps it’s because I have been sick and am confined to my chair, but a bigger part of the reason is because I just couldn’t stop reading!  I absolutely love this book.  It’s charming, very magical, and the story moves along rather nicely.  The book doesn’t dive too deep into issues, but gives a nice overview of each character so that the reader can connect with each one.

Now, I need to add this bit of disclosure:  If you or anyone you know is experiencing headaches, black-outs, fuzzy views, etc…see your doctor and follow protocol!  This is just a story!! It’s not real.

Jane sees fuzzies, gets headaches, and experiences head pain.  Against her neurologist’s orders, she decides to heed the advice given to her by a woman, who also “the gift”, and has passed it on to her.  Jane has never experienced love, and in order for her to find love, she must first identify 6 different types of love and identify the couple’s matching those descriptions.  She has been given 1 year to do this task or risk never experiencing true love.

Jane is the shop owner of a local florist and loves the language of flowers.  Each flower has a meaning and sees how flowers communicate emotion to others.  Her shop assistant, Lo, has her own love challenge, as do some of Jane’s other friends and acquaintances.  Jane begins to see her gift as a powerful tool, rather than a nuisance, and sees how people love differently.  From broken marriages, broken promises, and heartache, Jane sees the power of love and how love is experienced differently.

It’s a charming book, moves rather quickly despite the many characters introduced, and will have you guessing what happens to each couple.  The only issue I have is that the book cover doesn’t fit the storyline.  I imagine Jane looking different, or perhaps it’s Elodia (the first person to have been given the gift of seeing love).  Either way, it’s a great book and will be a wonderful gift idea for the holidays!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book.  No forms of compensation were given.

TLC Book Tour: Us by David Nicholls

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Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

Synopsis:

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

My Review:

I was drawn into this book immediately. Within the first few pages, Connie tells Douglas that she feels the marriage has run its course and wants a divorce.  Bam!!  Twenty years of marriage thrown away, or so it seems from Douglas’ point of view.  Douglas goes back in time to describe how he first met Connie, what his life is like, and what he hopes to accomplish while he and his family trek across Europe. Connie wants to have this last trip as a family, to experience “firsts” with Albie and have him have the trip of his life.  Douglas wants to use this time to save his marriage and draw closer to Albie.  However, this trip has plans of its own, which helps both of them to discover important truths along the way and helps bring them closer as a family.

Douglas shares about his biochemist life and the work he does…even about a fruit fly.  The fruit fly has an interesting lifespan and purpose, which is analogous to the relationship between Douglas and Connie.  It’s interesting that when the fruit fly’s life cycle ends, it is replaced with another fruit fly.  Yet, Douglas never sees the correlation between his marriage and that of the fruit fly.  Prior to Connie’s shocking statement about wanting to move on because their relationship has run its course, Douglas never anticipates that this can happen to his own marriage, like that of the fruit fly’s lifespan.  Douglas is traditional and predictable within his marriage:  he goes to work, provides for the family, is dependable, is trustworthy, and expects to grown old and die together (he and his wife).

Connie has focused her attention on their son, Albie, through the course of their marriage.  Prior to the marriage, Connie was unpredictable and has found herself in a rut.  She has given her all to the marriage, but wants more now that Albie is graduating and moving on, too.  She wants to discover herself again, embark on adventures, and experience life in a way she feels the marriage hasn’t allowed her to.

As they all go on this trip, Connie and Douglas have different goals for this trip.  Douglas wants to save his marriage and grow closer to Albie.  Connie wants to have one last hurrah with them and give Albie a fun trip.  Connie and Douglas both gain better perspectives on themselves, their relationship, and their father/mother role with Albie.  Douglas also sees that despite marriage or divorce, the terms themselves aren’t what defines their relationships; it is their own ability to move themselves and truly seek satisfying relationships with one another and being present.  They also realize that whatever the outcome, they will forever be tied together and be a family, despite any titles they have (husband/wife, mother/father/son, etc).

This is a sad tale, while there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout.  It’s a book that many will enjoy because of the in depth look into marriage and of a couple who really are different, yet balance each other in ways they don’t even realize.  It’s a book that will challenge reader’s own views on marriage and divorce and bring greater appreciation to living in the moment, while always planning ahead.

This is a great book for book club discussions!  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

 

*This book was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

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About David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Find out more about David at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

David’s Tour Stops

Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Saturday, November 15th: BoundbyWords

Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, November 26th: missris

TBD: Reading in Black & White

TBD: …the bookworm…

TLC Book Tour: Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

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Paperback: 592 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 28, 2014)

Synopsis:

What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

My Review:

I think this is possibly the largest chick-lit book I have ever read!  It is a little under 600 pages, but it is worth every page!  Cassie is on an adventure, scheduled by her 3 closest friends:  Kelly, Suzy, and Anouk, who happen to be living in the most gorgeous places on earth-New York, Paris, and London!  It’s very Bridget Jones-esque in that while Cassie is nursing a broken heart and marriage, she has plenty of adventures to help her along the way!  Personally, I would love to drop everything and move away to let the adventures carry me (pre-marriage, of course!).

It’s a big book, but well worth it, because each place that Cassie visits is full of it’s own adventures.  In a way, it’s like having 3 books combined because of the very different, yet fun places Cassie visits.  In the end, Cassie walks away with some great nuggets of truth, some special memories (and crazy ones, too), and with a great sense of who she is!

Disclaimer:  Don’t let the name box you in.   It’s a book that can be read any time of the year, but as well know…anything with Christmas in the title has to mean that there is some magic sprinkled within the pages!

great cupcake rating 4

 

About Karen Swan: 

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

Karen’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, October 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, October 31st: Seaside Book Nook

Monday, November 3rd: Words by Webb

Wednesday, November 5th: Becca Rowan

Tuesday, November 11th: Tina Says …

Wednesday, November 12th: Spices Latte Reads

Thursday, November 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, November 17th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, November 19th: My Bookshelf

Thursday, November 20th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, November 20th: For the Love of Words

Friday, November 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

TBD: BoundbyWords