A Good Cupcake:
Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.
Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.
After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.
As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan, so I was quite fascinated to read this book about Sam, who quotes Austen in daily conversations. She grows up in a foster home, but manages to go to college with the help of a benefactor. In exchange, she must keep a journal and write down her daily adventures.
I loved the relationship between Samantha and Kyle, who is in foster care, too. I loved how they both understood each other and learned to develop a relationship through running. Kyle’s journey is not unlike other foster children, where he is shuffled back and forth to various foster homes. He also experiences some kind of abuse and retreats back inside himself. Through the determination of Samantha, a coach, and priest, Kyle has his own happily ever after- that had me crying! I used to work with homeless youth in a foster home, so his story truly touched me.
Samantha’s journey is unusual, but she has an innocence about her that is charming. I liked how she learned to trust others and develops a sweet relationship with Alex. Although, she and Alex definitely have their issues and deal with a major crisis regarding their relationship and trust, but in Austen true form-this book has many happy endings!
*This book was provided through NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion. No forms of compensation was given.
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Follow the Author: Webpage
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.
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.
The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! They are very vibrant and my daughter loved the pictures. It was more of a question/answer format with Little Cub asking Papa Bear about angels. Each page is a question that Little Cub asks his Papa, and Papa Bear answering back. While it is a simple message, God is in control, angels guide us, the topic of angels can get overwhelming and rather difficult to answer in a children’s book. Nonetheless, the author tackles a huge question I am sure children ask, in a kid friendly, approachable and understandable way. There was a minor grammatical error in the book, however it was only one error. Another issue I have is when an author writes the way he/she perceives the child to talk. I didn’t care for some of the lingo used, but it’s readable. I found myself grammatically correcting Little Cub. I know…it’s a personal issue and has nothing to do with this particular author. Overall, a good read.
Elizabeth Zurlo is lost. She’s a wife, a mother, a teacher, a PTA volunteer—but somewhere along the way, she’s lost herself. Depression and despair can lead to desperate measures and when she is pulled back from the brink of suicide, Elizabeth slowly tries to rebuild her marriage and reclaim her life. Just as she has finally started to put herself back together, a scandalous novel rocks her small town … and costs Elizabeth her social standing, friendships and ultimately, her marriage. However, the man who seemingly destroyed Elizabeth’s life, helps her realize who she is and what she needs to do to become the woman she’s not only capable of being, but the woman she used to be.
I was drawn to this book because anything that has to do with mental illness, I naturally gravitate towards. Being a family therapist, that always piques my interest. However, this isn’t a book that dives too deep into that aspect and doesn’t go into much detail about her suicide attempt. Kathryn Biel’s writing reminded me a lot of the movie, “Desperate Housewives”, all rolled into one book.
There is suspense, intrigue, love lost/regained, self empowerment, and the storylines flows well. While this book could have easily dived into a darker side, Kathryn keeps this book to true “Chick-lit”, which balanced well.
I love the title, the storyline is really good, but I didn’t care much for the book cover. It’s a “pre” Elizabeth, and not who she eventually becomes. Otherwise, a good read!
Kathryn Biel’s Blog Tour:
May 19 – Tabby’s Tantalizing Reviews – Review
May 21 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post
May 22 – Authors to Watch – Review
May 26 – The East Village – Review
May 28 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Excerpt
May 30 – Storm Goddess Book Reviews – Guest Post
May 30 – Books in the Burbs – Review
June 2 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
June 3 – Cupcake’s Book Cupboard – Review, Guest Post Q&A & Excerpt
June 4 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
June 5 – Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Review
June 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Guest Post
June 9 – Chick Lit Plus – Review
**Everyone who leaves a comment at CLP Blog Tours will be entered to win a print copy of the book! Please note this is open to US residents only.**
Kathryn Biel hails from Upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients’ needs and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her debut novel, GOOD INTENTIONS, was released in 2013, and her second novel, HOLD HER DOWN was released in 2014. Her musings and rants can also be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather.
Connect with Kathryn!
On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.
I have always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials, because there is a plethora of information out there about the different areas, the way in which the trials occurred, and how out of control the whole issue became. I read a book about the trials in high school, saw the movie, The Crucibles (remember Winona?), and read a lot about it in history class, while in college.
I was intrigued by the book, because it is based on the story of Rebecca Eames, written from her granddaughter (9th generation). While there is not a lot of new information gathered from the trials, Penni Jo does a fantastic job of sharing the story of her grandmother, while also bringing in what happened to the townspeople, those in prison, and the family. It’s a quick read, but does give a great glimpse into the life of Rebecca Eames and how incredibly courageous and strong she was, in spite of the accusations and shunning. She is a remarkable woman and it is wonderful that Penni Jo shared this story with her readers.
Overall, it’s a good book that will certainly be a read for those who love the history of the trials and wants a deeper insight into the Eames family and those also accused.
*A huge thanks to HFVBT for giving me the opportunity to read this book for review. No forms of compensation were given.
About the Author
Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachussetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into geneology and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.
After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.
I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.
Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule
Wednesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover
Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, May 2
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Saturday, May 3
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Sunday, May 4
Book Blast at I’d Rather Be Reading
Monday, May 5
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner
Tuesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, May 8
Book Blast at Curling Up with a Good Book
Thursday, May 15
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review at Impressions in Ink
Friday, May 16
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, May 19
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, May 21
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, May 22
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Saturday, May 24
Book Blast at Book Nerd
Monday, May 26
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Wednesday, May 28
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, May 30
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 8/2014
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
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.
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.
Zoe Fishman is the author of Balancing Acts and Saving Ruth. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son.
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
Title: The Moon Sisters
Author: Therese Walsh
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours & Publisher
Synopsis from TLC Book Tours:
This mesmerizing coming-of-age novel, with its sheen of near-magical realism, is a moving tale of family and the power of stories.
After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.
Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
The story starts with a mother’s suicide and one daughter’s quest to find the place her mother always wanted to visit. Having an aloof, drunken father, and a grandmother that encourages this journey, Jazz goes after Olivia to help her reach the destination. Told with such vivid detail, it was quite interesting to read Olivia’s take on foods, emotions, objects, etc. Having synesthesia, Olivia’s point of view was quite interesting. Jazz is the level headed sister, who felt most disconnected from her mother and sees her dysfunctional family as it is…nothing flowery…just insane. Both embark on a journey that deals with train hoppers, getting sidetracked on their journey.
It was interesting for the author to break the book into the different stages of grief, based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s model. Each section also had a letter that the sisters’ mother wrote her own father (their grandfather, respectively). Even though I couldn’t make the connection with the stages of grief and the issues the sisters were faced in those particular sections of the book, it did remind the reader that the sisters were grieving and both had their ways of coping with this loss and finding meaning in that tragic circumstance.
It’s a story of sisterly love, sometimes hate or resentment, and how one can move on when someone they love lets go.
About Therese Walsh
Therese Walsh’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, March 3rd: Lit and Life
Tuesday, March 4th: Beth Fish Reads – “Today’s Read” guest post
Tuesday, March 4th: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, March 5th: Book-a-licious Mama
Thursday, March 6th: girlichef
Friday, March 7th: Books in the Burbs
Monday, March 10th: Bookchickdi
Tuesday, March 11th: Traveling with T
Wednesday, March 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, March 13th: Book Snob
Friday, March 14th: The Book Barn
Tuesday, March 18th: Fiction Addict
Tuesday, March 18th: 5 Minutes for Moms
Wednesday, March 19th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, March 20th: Bibliotica
Monday, March 24th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, March 26th: A Novel Review
Thursday, March 27th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 1st: Suko’s Notebook
Wednesday, April 2nd: A Reader of Fictions
Tuesday, April 8th: Books a la Mode
A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours!!