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


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, 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.




TLC Book Tour Review & Giveaway: Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad


Publication Date: March 4th 2014
Source: Publisher/ TLC Book Tours
Format: E-book
Pages:  240
Genre:  Memoir
“Everyone who struggles with a mental illness, or who knows anyone with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, must read this engrossing true story of courage in the face of heartbreaking adversity.”
—Dilip V. Jeste, MD, president, American Psychiatric Association

As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her idyllic kingdom—with the scariest creatures lurking within her.

The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. “I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears.” Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Indian culture had no concept of depression as an illness, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious malady.

This memoir traces Gayathri’s courageous battle with the depression that consumed her from adolescence through marriage and a move to the United States. It was only after the birth of her first child, when her husband discovered her in the backyard “clawing the earth furiously with my bare hands, intent on digging a grave so that I could bury myself alive” that she finally found help. After a stay in a psych ward she eventually found “the light within,” an emotional and spiritual awakening from the darkness of her tortured mind.

Gayathri’s inspiring story provides a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural view of mental illness—how it is regarded in India and in America, and how she drew on both her rich Hindu heritage and Western medicine to find healing.

My Review:
This was an interesting read, as Gayathri writes about the challenges of acclimating to America, from India, where her faith, family, and teachings are deeply rooted.  It is learning opportunity for those not familiar with the Hindu faith and for those who are familiar, it’s a great homage. With a glossary at the end of the book, any reader will be able to understand the terminology used throughout the book.
I was most interested in the Indian culture and how the arranged marriage impacted Gayathri.  It was also quite shocking that in a country where women dress so beautifully and are educated, men still have an upper hand, as one man actually paid the college professor for Gayathri to fail-which was her first remembered descent into a deep depression.  Using their Hindu faith and traditional medicines, Gayathri’s parents try different ways to help her escape the traps of her mind.  However, she is unable to and hides her illness from everyone, feeling even more isolated.  In the midst of it all, Gayathri is at the expected age of arranged marriage, and she does her best to hide the depression that has truly affected every part of her life.
The most interesting part of the story is reading how Gayathri moves to America and the cultural differences she experiences and the ways she tries to integrate her faith and beliefs into an American lifestyle.  Married to a supportive husband, Gayathri continues to feel isolated, becomes quite thin (not by choice or anorexia), and describes the post-partum depression she experiences, the treatments she receives and how she not only improves, but vows to help others, too.
I would have liked the book to have focused more on the cultural assimilation to America, and to have had more pages to truly feel the author’s struggles.  However, it was also understandable there were times she was writing from second hand knowledge, as she had memory gaps-so there were times the writing did seem to gloss over  the demise she experienced.  Nonetheless, it is a great book to help break the silence people experience and the stigma depression has.  She breaks down many myths about depression: isn’t because one is weak minded (she is very educated), without family support (she has tremendous family support), isn’t because one is “wanting” attention (she would have done anything to remove depression from her life), and especially that depression isn’t a death sentence (she overcomes her mental illness, has a beautiful family, and is the founder of a wonderful organization).  This book provides hope to many and is a great tool for helping others understand the impact of depression.
great cupcake 4
About the Author:
Gayathri Ramprasad is the founder and president of ASHA International (, a nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational, and community wellness. Gayathri received her first undergraduate degree in science from Bangalore University in India. At George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, she earned a second undergraduate degree in management and information systems and a master’s in business administration. She is a member of the Global Speakers Federation and winner of the prestigious Eli Lilly Welcome Back Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Voice Award for Consumer Leadership sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

For more information, visit the website for ASHA International, Gayathri’s nonprofit organization promoting personal, organizational, and community wellness HERE.

Gayathri Ramprasad’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 3rd:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, March 4th:  Bookfoolery

Tuesday, March 11th:  A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, March 12th:  The Whimsical Cottage

Thursday, March 13th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, March 18th:  Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, March 19th:  Sarah’s Book Shelves

Monday, March 24th:  The Best Books Ever

Monday, March 24th:  Literally Jen

Tuesday, March 25th:  Bookish Ardour

Thursday, March 27th:  Books in the Burbs 

Friday, March 28th:  Good Girl Gone Redneck

TBD:  Booksellers Without Borders


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Win a copy of the book, courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours!

One random winner will be selected on April 10, 2014.

Open to US/Canada.

In the comments section:



Answer Question:  What most interests you about this book?

Fiction Addiction Book Tours Review: Mary Bennet by Kate Allan

No one who has ever seen me would suppose me a heroine. My situation in life, the character of my father and mother, indeed my own person and disposition are all against me.


Mrs Bennet is determined that all five of her daughters must marry. Mary overhears a conversation between her parents that shatters her already fragile sense of self-worth. She knows she is the least attractive of the sisters but to hear that her attempts to overcome this by being intelligent and accomplished are laughable sends her into a deep depression.

Mary and her her sister Kitty are sent to Derbyshire so that their elder sister, Mrs Darcy, can introduce them to suitable young gentlemen. Mary is satisfied to remain a spinster and is shy with gentleman. But she does decide she should try and improve herself.On the way to Derbyshire she meets a strange gentleman who she considers ill mannered. However she is intrigued by his knowledgeable conversation about old buildings.

On arrival at Pemberley, the home of the Darcy’s, Mary discovers that the stranger is a Mr Sharnbrook of Kent and also a house guest. Mr Sharnbrook is an amateur archaeologist and has come to Pemberley to excavate possible burial mounds as part of his studies. Mary is interested in his work and offers to help him sort out his notes. Engrossed in the work, her spirits begin to lift.

A continuation of Pride and Prejudice beginning eight months after the end of Jane Austen’s novel, Mary Bennet tells the story of how the Bennet’s neglected middle daughter tries to overcome the disadvantages of her character and find happiness.

My Review:

I have read, and re-read, Pride and Prejudice, many times. It is my favorite book that Jane Austen wrote, although I am a huge fan of all of her work.  In this book, Mary Bennet, Kate Allan uses much of the same pattern, experiences, and characters that Jane Austen created in Pride and Prejudice.  It helped create a natural extension of Jane Austen’s book, and was crafted in a way, that the characters in Mary Bennet stayed true to their characters, first revealed in P&P.

Mary is the middle child, the forgotten one (so it seems), and she is quite content to be so.  Why? Because she has already decided that fate has determined she will be a spinster and will not marry.  While it is difficult for her parents to accept, Mary is content reading, singing, and enjoying the activities that are limited to her male counterparts.  However, rather than feel comfortable doing so, her parents and family want her to “change” and be more “girl-like” with dancing and entertaining, so that she may find someone to marry.  Kitty is quite different- not only in her personality, but she has a strong desire to marry.  While she wants love, more than anything, she wants security, wrapped up in a very handsome man.

I loved the storyline, especially the relationship between Mary and Mr. Nick Sharnbrook.  As in P&P, Mary also is in a bit of a triangle with Mr. Sharnbrook and Mr. Collins, and Kitty quickly becomes a little like Lydia, in attitude and choices-although not quite ( I won’t divulge).  I enjoyed reading about the research that Nick and Mary collaborate on together.  It was amazing to be reminded again, how limited resources were back in those days, and how they excavated and recorded their findings.  Those little tidbits were what made this book fascinating.  It was also quite natural how the relationship between Mary and Nick (Mr. Sharnbrook) evolves over time.

Fans of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth will absolutely love how their relationship evolves and the new adventures they embark on.  With so many cameos from the P&P cast, readers will enjoy learning more about their journey, relationships, and little adventures along the way.  More than anything, I appreciated Kate’s desire to show how Mary is accepted for who she is, and is able to find love with someone who appreciates those qualities in her.

About the Author

Kate lives in the Bedfordshire countryside, England, close to the Chiltern Hills. She developed plans to be a novelist at the age of seven after reading about the career of prolific children’s author Enid Blyton, whose adventure and mystery story books she read avidly. She taught herself to use her mother’s typewriter to try and make her stories look like “proper books”. Endlessly fascinated by “the past”, Kate took a degree in History before starting a commercial career.

She began seriously writing in 2001, taking a notebook with her on the train to make best use of her commute to work. She wrote two historical novel manuscripts before receiving an offer of publication for the second – a short novel – in 2004 from DC Thomson. Fateful Deception is a romantic adventure set in the early 19th century and was shortlisted for the 2005 RNA New Writers Award.

2006 saw the publication of Perfidy and Perfection, Kate’s romantic comedy set in Jane Austen’s England, and the publication of two short novels: Fateful Deception and The Restless Heart.

Kate also writes in partnership with author Michelle Styles under the name Jennifer Lindsay. Jennifer Lindsay’s first novel, The Lady Soldier, is a romantic adventure about a lady who disguises herself as a man in order to join Wellington’s army. It was published in 2005.

The kind of stories Kate writes are those that she would like to read, and she hopes that others will find them enjoyable and entertaining too.

Kate is member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.

Author Links



Twitter @kate_allan


Follow the Tour Here!


Tour Information

17th March Books in the Burbs
18th March The Most Happy Reader
19th March Cosmochicklitan
20th March Review hosted on Shaz’s Book Blog @jaustenrulesok
21st March A Novel Thought
24th March Books with Bree
25th March Book Hoarder
26th March Rachel Brimble Romance
27th March Compelling Reads
28th March Deal Sharing Aunt
31st March Bookish
1st April DizzyC’s Little Book Blog
2nd April Bookalicious Travel Addict
3rd April BleachHouseLibrary
4th April Brook Cottage Books

Quick Reads-Short Reviews!

Don’t you just love reading books that are so easy to read, quite engaging, and is the kind of book that you can get lost in?  These are those kind of books!  So good, that you are finished before you know it, and miss the characters once you’ve turned to the last page.

Release Date: January 21, 2014
Pages: 320
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: NetGalley

Synopsis: from Goodreads:

Molly is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business.  For the past four years Molly’s been on staff at Eye Spy, covering all the wacky assignments.  She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor.  He’s comfortable, but safe.  When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big time.  Clearly she can’t recognize romance.  And in her own life, she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man whogets her.  Mainly because he’s a well-known player.

But, with help from Nora Ephron’s movies, Molly learns to open her heart, suppress her cynicism, and find her very own fairytale ending.  Linda Yellin’s “What Nora Knew” will captivate readers with its charm and humor.

My Review:

I must admit, I’ve not read any Nora Roberts’ books, but have seen her books-turned-movies:  When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.  While I don’t know Nora’s writing (other than in movies), I absolutely loved Linda’s book!  It has everything a great book should have:  romance, crazy job, great friends, and moments of self-reflection for the characters.

Molly has a great job (even though she has quite a bit of Bridget Jones’ Diary moments), and a boyfriend, who is a little too eager to hand out his business card.  Molly goes to the Hamptons for her yearly vacation getaway at her friend’s house.  While there, she meets Cameron, who is quite the player and has an eye for her.  While the book is predictable, it is entertaining, fun, a feel-good kind of book, that everyone needs from time to time!  Even if you aren’t a Nora Ephron fan or read her books, like me, you will love it!  If you are a Nora Ephron fan and have read her books- you will love all the references made to her books and characters!It’s a book that had me smiling as I read certain scenes and was a story that I am sure many readers will enjoy talking about!



Release Date:  February 4, 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers

Pages: 384

Genre:  Christian Romance, Mystery fiction

Source:  NetGalley

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Allie Kirkland has never been one to take wild risks. But when she’s offered a costuming assistant’s job on a docudrama in the hills near Moses Lake, she jumps at the chance. She’s always dreamed of following in her director-father’s footsteps, and the reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step. The family expectations will have to wait.

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delevan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the folk songs of Chinquapin Peaks. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, everyone in Wildwood, including Allie’s handsome neighbor on the film set, Blake Fulton, seems to be hiding secrets, and Allie doesn’t know who she can trust. If she can’t find the answers in time, history may repeat itself . . . with the most unthinkable results.
My Review:
This is a book that anyone could read, not just those who love Christian fiction, but mystery novels in general.  I was quite fascinated with Bonnie Rose and her sister, even though her big secret is never shared, it seems like it was some form of sexual abuse.  Told in alternating viewpoints: past/present, Allie/Bonnie Rose, the story goes pretty smoothly.  It was interesting to have a book set along the phase reality tv has in today’s world, and how much can be learned from living in the old days.  As Allie shared her stories of becoming acclimated to living in old Texas, where women had to cook, make their clothes, heat the stove, and learn to be independent in a male dominated world, she also begins to feel that she is being watched and starts to feel the same way Bonnie Rose did: unsafe.  The storyline moves slow in the beginning, as we read Allie preparing for moving to the makeshift old Texas site: Woodland Creek, and as Bonnie Rose tries to adjust to her life with her little sister.  It starts to move quite quickly and become rather interesting when Allie finds herself underground and time starts to tick away, as she realizes her life is really threatened!  The epilogue was interesting, a little too nicely wrapped, but overall was a great book!
*A HUGE thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers!

TLC Book Tour Review: The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

Pages : 304

Genre :  Mystery, Noir

Publisher: William Morrow, February 2014

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher


An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears

George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of everyday life, and obsessing over a lost love from his college days who vanished twenty years earlier. Until she reappears.

George has both dreamed of and dreaded seeing Liana Decter again. She isn’t just an ex-girlfriend or the first love George could never forget. She’s also an enigma and quite possibly someone who was involved in a murder years ago, a woman whose transgressions are more in line with Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. But suddenly, she’s back—and she needs his help. She says that some men are after her and that they believe she’s stolen money from them. And now they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—and soon his quiet life is gone as he is pulled into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Bold and masterful, full of malevolent foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop reading experience—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that will hold you in its grip right up to its electrifying end.

My Review:

This is a story that you will either love or hate.  It is that black and white and the story actually reads like a black and white, old mystery movie.  I was immediately drawn into the weird life of George and his odd relationship with Liana.  Told in alternating time periods: past/present, we get to know a little bit more about George and get a lot confused by Liana.  George is a character that most people will sympathize with, because he is just so “normal” and quite traditional.  Who George was 20 years ago, is who he is now…only, he has given up on life a bit.  Enters Liana into the bar, and he is rejuvenated and no matter how dangerous and destructive, he aims to help Liana-who could quite possibly be a heartless murderer.  I enjoyed the storyline and the characters were quite interesting.  It was a novel that had my attention and had me on one crazy ride, as I felt like a little fly buzzing around George and figuring out a mystery that certainly took me by surprise at the end.  It is a darker novel, and readers who enjoy a great mystery novel, should know that it is not a cozy mystery.  It’s a book that certainly gives a nod to the brilliant mind of Alfred Hitchcock.

*Thanks to TLC Book Tours for always giving me a great book to read, in exchange for an honest review!


About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson has degrees in creative writing, education, and literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. His stories and poems have appeared in the Atlantic, Mysterical-E, Vocabula Review, and Yankee Magazine. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his second novel.

Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Peter’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, February 5th: Stephany Writes

Thursday, February 6th: Drey’s Library

Monday, February 10th: The Infinite Curio

Tuesday, February 11th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 12th: Unabridged Chick

Thursday, February 13th: Joyfully Retired

Monday, February 17th: cupcake’s book cupboard

Tuesday, February 18th: A Dream Within a Dream

Wednesday, February 19th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, February 20th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Friday, February 21st: Good Girl Gone Redneck


TLC Book Tour Review: The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Author:  Sarah-Kate Lynch

Publisher:  HarperCollins (January, 2014)

Genres: Women’s Fiction

Pages: 368

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher


Sugar Wallace did not believe in love at first sight, but her bees did. . . .

Every spring Sugar Wallace coaxes her sleepy honeybee queen—presently the sixth in a long line of Queen Elizabeths—out of the hive and lets her crawl around a treasured old map. Wherever the queen stops is their next destination, and this year it’s New York City.

Sugar sets up her honeybees on the balcony of an East Village walk-up and then––as she’s done everywhere since leaving South Carolina––she gets to know her neighbors. She is, after all, a former debutante who believes that manners make the world a better place even if they seem currently lacking in the big city.

Plus, she has a knack for helping people. There’s Ruby with her scrapbook of wedding announcements; single mom Lola; reclusive chef Nate; and George, a courtly ex-doorman. They may not know what to make of her bees and her politeness, but they can’t deny the magic in her honey.

And then there’s Theo, a delightfully kind Scotsman who crosses Sugar’s path as soon as she gets into town and is quickly besotted. But love is not on the menu for Sugar. She likes the strong independent woman she’s become since leaving the South and there’s nothing a charmer like Theo can do to change her mind . . . only her bees can do that.

The Wedding Bees is a novel about finding sweetness where you least expect it and learning to love your way home.

My Review:

This was such a fun, sweet story to read.  It was a quick read for me, and had me thinking of the different characters Sugar meets on her journey to New York.  Like any good Southern woman, Sugar doesn’t let the busyness of life interfere with her getting to know people, who learn a few lessons along the way.  Sugar and her bees certainly have a quirky relationship, that is it quite magical!  It reminded me a little bit of the “Bee Movie“, but times 100 with the bees Sugar has!  One thing is for certain, I will never look at honeybees the same way again!!

Sugar is the heroine of the story, but doesn’t let herself outshine the characters she meets along the way.  It’s a whimsical, light, fun read, that women, book clubs, and anyone who loves modern fairy tales!!

   *A huge thanks to TLC Book tours and the publisher!


About Sarah-Kate LynchSarah-Kate Lynch

Sarah-Kate Lynch is the author of eight novels and travel editor of New Zealand Woman’s Day, New Zealand’s bestselling weekly magazine.

Find out more about Sarah-Kate at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Sarah-Kate’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 28th: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, January 29th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, January 30th: Sidewalk Shoes

Friday, January 31st: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, February 3rd: missris

Tuesday, February 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, February 5th: BookNAround

Thursday, February 6th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, February 10th: Reflections of a Bookaholic

Tuesday, February 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, February 12th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, February 17th: Doing Dewey

TLC Book Tour: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Published:  Reprint edition (January 21, 2014)

Genre:  Chick-lit, Women’s Fiction

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher


Holly didn’t expect to be a widow at thirty-two. She also didn’t expect to be so big. After her husband’s death, food was the one thing she could always count on. Then she meets Logan Montgomery, a personal trainer so hot that he makes her sweat in all the right (and so embarrassingly wrong!) places. Charmed by her witty wisecracks and sharp insights, he impulsively offers to help get her back in shape.

To Logan’s (and her own) surprise, Holly turns out to be a natural in the gym, slimming down into a bona fide looker with killer curves—and a new kind of hunger. Before either of them can stop it, the easy intimacy of their training sessions leads to even more steamy workouts away from the gym.

But can a man whose whole life depends on looks commit himself to a woman who doesn’t fit his ideal? Now that Holly’s turning other men’s heads, does she even need Logan anymore? Are they a couple built to last . . . or destined to fizzle?

My Review:

If you’ve read chick-lit, then you know the storyline format.  Girl meets boy.  Boy and girl can’t stand each other.  Girl falls in love with boy.  Boy is too clueless to know he loves girl, too.  Throw in a little outside characters, add some issues, so that finally: boy and girl fall in love.  Ahhhh, we all love it! Otherwise, why would we read chicklit books???

Admit it…you love a great, predictable love story….because let’s face it…life is never predictable and we all love reading about the girl, who gets the guy to fall madly in love!

Big Girl Panties-isn’t that a fantastic title???  I love the book cover, love the synopsis, and being a big girl-I’m always rooting for the overweight girl, who falls in love with a sexy hunk, who reciprocates that love back.  Holly is a girl, that any girl can appreciate or identify with.  She is an intelligent woman, disconnected from her family, has only 1 really great girlfriend, and is grieving the loss of her husband.  She meets Logan, a personal trainer to the stars, on an airplane-where she is faced with the uneasiness of not fitting in a seat next to him.  After an hour of conversation, they both agree that Logan will train her and help her overcome the challenge of losing weight.

I loved the storyline, the characters were quirky and imperfect, and it all came together really well.   The issue of weight loss and dieting can get a bit mundane- BUT- that’s what makes this book purely genius.  Why?? Because what girl hasn’t tried (or is still trying) to lose weight and reclaim who she has hidden away in oversized clothes.  I couldn’t help but love the story, Holly, and even Logan.  I also loved the side love to Logan’s friends: Chase and Amanda!

This is a quick read, a fun read, and a book that will have you rooting for Holly and Logan! This book is filled with great timing on humor ( laughed out loud quite a bit), love the romance, and is full of surprises!! Think Swan Lake;) It’s a mashup of The Biggest Loser and the final rose on The Bachelor!  So, what are you waiting for???? Go get your Big Girl Panties and start reading!

*Thanks to the publisher and TLC for giving me the opportunity to join a great book tour!

About Stephanie Evanovich

Stephanie Evanovich is a full-fledged Jersey girl who attended New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, performed with several improvisational troupes, and acted in a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had: raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

Connect with Stephanie on Facebook.

Stephanie’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 21st: Book Journey

Wednesday, January 22nd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Thursday, January 23rd: Col Reads

Monday, January 27th: Seaside Book Nook

Tuesday, January 28th: Always With a Book

Wednesday, January 29th: Dear Brighton

Thursday, January 30th: Luxury Reading

Tuesday, February 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, February 5th: Book Marks the Spot

Wednesday, February 5th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, February 6th: Savvy Verse & Wit

Monday, February 10th: Mom in Love With Fiction

Friday, February 14th: Books à la Mode

HFVBT Review: Degrees of Courage by Shari Vester


The book follows the story of three generation of women from 1900 through 1970, seven decades of wars and hardship. At the turn of the century, an era of strict moral codes, Angela falls in love with a priest who abandons her and her unborn child. She overcomes rejection and misfortunes, including losing her right hand, and brings up her daughter, exuberant, stubborn Ilonka. In spite of the stigma of her illegitimate birth, the girl finds happiness in love and marriage, raising five children, among them Sarika, independent and high-spirited, much like herself. With the outbreak of WWII, however, their lives change drastically, followed by equally hard times as the country falls under Soviet-style dictatorship. When an attempt to free the country in 1956 fails and people start to flee retributions, Sarika and her brothers join the exodus to the West. With her family torn apart Ilonka never recovers her strength.

Years of fear and political pressures hasten her descend into depression, and when she loses her husband too, she finally gives up. Alone and completely on her own, Sarika finds her way to America, and begins a new life full of opportunities and most importantly, free of fear.

My Review:

This is a story that spans many decades, and is full of rich content regarding the history of Hungary and it’s people.  Specifically, the Zachar family.  This is a 600 page book, so it is not a fast read, nor is it one that you will want to glance through pretty quick.  Filled with characters, each related in some way to one another, it can at times be difficult to figure out who they are, and how they are interrelated.  My suggestion is to read this book, don’t get bogged down with the character’s names, and who they exactly are.  While it may seem a slow read, it’s a book that has so much information, that is would be difficult take one piece of information out-as it all ties in together.

With the political tragedies that happen in Hungary and how it is impacted, Shari focuses on one family-hers.  Told in wonderful, vivid detail, there is a lot of history about Hungary, and the impact WWI and WWII had in this country.  There is a love story, that at times felt it was intruded with the wars going on, however I imagine that is how it is-when war happens, everything you do is in some way impacted by that.

Go easy with this book.  It’s a love story, wrapped up in a lot of history, with a lot of complicated family issues.  Any of the love stories/tragic romances could have been a stand alone, and the history of Hungary could have been a non-fiction.  However, Shari tosses it all in for us-and wow!  It’s an impactful book, for sure!

*A huge thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for always bringing us fantastic books to read! This one was no exception.  It was provided in exchange for an honest review.

About the AuthorS

As a young woman, author Shari Vester fled her native Hungary in 1956 after the defeat of a patriotic uprising against the country’s Soviet-dictated regime. She was granted asylum in the United States to begin a new life. After a year living in New York she moved to Los Angeles, married, and worked as an insurance account manager. Recently retired, she and her husband relocated in the Palm Spring area, where she finally found time to write. Her debut novel, Degrees of Courage, is a historical fiction drawn on her family history. It paints a sharp contrast between life as we know it in America, versus a time and place where today’s “Let it be” mentality was simply impossible.

For more information please visit Shari’s website. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, January 13 Review at Bloggin’ ’bout Books Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, January 14 Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, January 15 Guest Post & Giveaway at HF Connection

Thursday, January 16 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, January 17 Review at Closed the Cover

Monday, January 20 Guest Post & Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Tuesday, January 21 Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, January 22 Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, January 23 Review at From L.A. to LA

Friday, January 24 Review at Silver’s Reviews Review at Books in the Burbs

HFVBT Review- The God’s of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Paperback Publication: January 13, 2014

Publisher:  W.W. Norton & Company

Pages:  400

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Source:  HFVBT & Publisher


One summer night in prewar Japan, eleven-year-old Billy Reynolds  takes snapshots at his parent’s dinner party. That same evening his  father Anton–a prominent American architect–begins a torrid affair with  the wife of his master carpenter. A world away in New York, Cameron  Richards rides a Ferris Wheel with his sweetheart and dreams about  flying a plane. Though seemingly disparate moments, they will all draw  together to shape the fate of a young girl caught in the midst of one of WWII’s most horrific events–the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo.

Exquisitely-rendered, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the  stories of families on both sides of the Pacific: their loves and  infidelities, their dreams and losses–and their shared connection to one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

My Review:

This is a story that will bring to light so much that as American students, we didn’t know as much detail about: the 1945 bombing in Tokyo, the Americans who were pretty much sent on suicide missions because they didn’t have enough gas fuel to bring them to safety, and the horrible camps that the surviving pilots had to endure.

1962.  Having never been to Tokyo before, it was quite detailing and horrific, that it made me feel as if I was there alongside the author and her characters.

What I loved most, was that in the midst of such turmoil, tragedy, and destruction, that love and hope prevails.  Both sides of the war are shown: the lives of those in America (past and present day), and those in Tokyo (past and present).  The story does fluctuate between past/present, lapsed years, and the lives of Americans and Japanese characters in the storylines.  It is interesting to see how they all become connected and that hope is what brings people together, weaving through the lives of others.

It’s a very slow book, with many characters and events, but the author does this in a way that  helps the reader understand what’s going on, despite that.  It’s a great read for those who love war history, historical fiction, relationships about love and resiliency, and even to just read a story of a war, with a different point of view.

*This book was provided by HFVBT and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.



About the Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly  Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai.  She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street  Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan  and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two  daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.

Visit Jennifer Cody Epstein

website /blog /Facebook / Twitter.

The Tour Schedule:

Monday, January 6 Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 7 Review & Giveaway at Found Between the Covers

Wednesday, January 8 Review at Lit Nerd

Thursday, January 9 Review at From L.A. to LA

Friday, January 10 Review & Giveaway at Drey’s Library Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Monday, January 13 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Review at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, January 14 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, January 15 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Review at Cozy Up with a Good Read

Thursday, January 16 Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, January 17 Review at Doing Dewey Review at Reading the Ages

Monday, January 20 Review at bookramblings Review at Carpe Librum Interview & Giveaway at Doing Dewey

Tuesday, January 21 Review at Books in the Burbs

Praise for The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

“Epstein’s second novel (after The Painter from Shanghai) is bursting with characters and locales. Yet painful, authentic (Epstein has lived  and worked in Asia), and exquisite portraits emerge of the personal  impact of national conflicts—and how sometimes those conflicts can be  bridged by human connections.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a page-turner thanks to its  high-stakes adventure, torrid love affairs and characters so real they  seem to follow you around. And in the end, this gripping novel asks us  not just to consider a lost chapter of a famous war but also to explore  what it means to be lucky—and what it means to be loved.” (Amy Shearn,

“The Gods of Heavenly Punishment showcases war’s bitter ironies…as well as its romantic serendipities.” (Megan O’Grady, Vogue)

“With stunning clarity, Epstein has re-created Tokyo both before and  after the bombing in a novel that raises still-unanswered questions  about the horrors of war, the cruelty associated with it and the lasting impression it can make on a person, a people or a place.”  (

“An epic novel about a young Japanese girl during World War II  underscores the far-reaching impact that the decisions of others can  have.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Sweeping….[A] harrowing novel of destruction and creation that will  appeal to fans of historical fiction” (Library Journal—starred review)

Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway!!

TLC Book Tours: The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (January 7, 2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours & NetGalley


Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul–and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master–a man her mother would never approve of–but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village…and to her mother’s tattered heart?

My Review:

The first book I ever read from Julie Klassen was, “The Apothecary’s Daughter”.  I fell in love with the characters and loved the way in which she wrote Christian fiction with Regency romance combined.  So, I was quite excited to learn she had a new book out, which actually was released for publication on January 7, 2014.

The premise was a bit familiar, as I had flashbacks of the movie, Footloose (the original).  I kept picturing Kevin Bacon as Alec and Julia as Lori Singer.  The preacher is Julia’s mother (Amelia Midwinter), of course.

Back to the story: Alec is back with his mother and trying to establish his business. The problem: he is a dance instructor in a town that forbids dancing.  With a few clients, he begins teaching dancing, as well as fencing, in a town that is skeptical of him and his intentions.

Julie Klassen is a perfectionist when it comes to detail.  She describes the small town so vividly and the characters are so well developed, that it easy to fall in love with Alec and seem a little put off by the childish ways of Julia.  Julia is used to being the center of attention and having many suitors, however she is challenged by Alec, who refuses to become just another suitor and ruin any chances of helping his family financially.

This is a slow, simmer read.  It takes time for the story to develop, as the characters slowly reveal themselves to the reader, but it is a book worth reading. If you love Regency romance, Christian fiction, or both, then you will love this story.  In true fashion to Julie Klassen’s writing, Christianity isn’t pored through every page.  Rather, lessons are taught, and God’s grace is shown, through the trials the characters face.

*This book was provided by Bethany House, through TLC Book Tours and NetGalley.

About Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Connect with Julie:  



Julie Klassen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 6th:  A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, January 7th:  Reviews from the Heart

Wednesday, January 8th:  Books in the Burbs

Thursday, January 9th:  Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Thursday, January 9th:  Worthy 2 Read

Monday, January 13th:  Let Them Read Books – review

Tuesday, January 14th:  Let Them Read Books – interview/giveaway

Wednesday, January 15th:  Luxury Reading

Thursday, January 16th:  Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, January 20th:  Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, January 21st:  Melina’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 22nd:  Broken Teepee

Thursday, January 23rd:  Bookfoolery

Monday, January 27th:  WV Stitcher

Tuesday, January 28th:  Deb’s Book Bag

Wednesday, January 29th:  The Overweight Bookshelf

Thursday, January 30th:  Mom in Love with Fiction