A Great Cupcake:

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!

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*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!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

HFVBT Book Tour: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

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Publication Date: January 22, 2014

Publisher:  Campanile Press

Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Medieval

Synopsis:

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

My Review:

This is a great story that is based on some historical fact, which absolutely fascinates me.  Mear is a single mom, raising her son in an obscure village, hoping to be away from the mainstream pubic.  She is hiding her identity, who others see as a mute man.  However, her secrets are much more interesting than just her posing as a man, which readers will learn as the story evolves.

Told with very gothic and dark tones, the book almost seemed scary at times.  Mear is with a group of men, who are all hoping to avenge the deaths of their sons.  However, there is suspicion amongst the group as to what really happened that fateful night.  Readers will get little snippets of these morsels of truths as the story unfolds, but it won’t be until the end that the readers really understand what happened and why.  It is a somber tale, as Mear has lost her only child, and she has many secrets and is trying to protect the ones she loves.  However, there are glimpses of hope, too!  Overall, this was a great book!

great cupcake rating 4

 

About the Author03_Ned Hayes Credit Linda Marus 2012

Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednote.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestBooklikes, YouTube, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Novel Review

Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 23
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Monday, October 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 29
Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, October 30
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, November 3
Interview at Triclinium
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 5
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Thursday, November 6
Review at bookramblings

Saturday, November 8
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 11
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, November 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Bookworm Babblings

Thursday, November 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 21
Review at Library Educated
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

 

 

 

TLC Book Tours: This Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

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This Dark Road to Mercy

• Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 23, 2014)

After their mother unexpectedly dies, twelve-year-old Easter Quillby and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, aren’t expecting to see their errant father, Wade, ever again. But the ex–minor league baseball player who’s been gone for years has suddenly appeared at their foster home to steal them away in the middle of the night.

Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for them, and quickly turns up unsettling information linking their father to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn’t the only hunter on the trail. Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated in alternating voices that are at once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a soulful story about the emotional pull of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

My Review:

This book is gut wrenching, difficult to read, somber, but oh, so good!  I immediately was drawn into the world of Easter and her sister, Ruby.  Interesting names, given to them by their pill-addicted mother, which was perhaps one of the most endearing things she did for them: name them.  Due to tragic circumstances, Easter and Ruby live at a foster home with other children.  Their foster mother is working with their grandparents to help transition them to Alaska, where they will be able to live with family….family they don’t know.  Easter is 12 years old, but very wise beyond her years.  She is coming into her own, with school boy crushes, but also has the reality of dealing with homelessness, not fitting in, trying to be a surrogate mom to her baby sister, and still be a kid herself.  Wade is their biological father, who had aspirations to be a professional baseball player, and signs away his parental rights.  However, on the run and wanting to be with his daughters, Wade takes them and their journey begins.

This is a tough story to read because it is rather dark, however don’t let that sway you.  This is a fantastic story that really sheds light on the love between sisters, fitting in, starting over, and trying to change despite the past trying to define someone.  It was heartbreaking at times, but there are moments of hope and definitely mercy!  From the moment I opened the book, I was in Easter and Ruby’s world.  Easter is the heroine of the story, because she is so resilient, gives hope, and in many ways represents the many children in foster care, who simply want to fit in and be loved.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4

About Wiley CashWiley Cash

Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. A native of North Carolina, he has held residency positions at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Find out more about Wiley on his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wiley’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 21st: Mom’s Small Victories

Tuesday, October 21st: Tutu’s Two Cents

Wednesday, October 22nd: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 23rd: Fourth Street Review

Friday, October 24th: Lit and Life

Tuesday, October 28th: The Steadfast Reader

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

Thursday, October 30th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, October 31st: My Book Retreat

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

Tuesday, November 4th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Thursday, November 5th: Books in the Burbs

Friday, November 6th: The Year in Books

TLC Book Tours Review: Agatha Christie-The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

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Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 9, 2014)

Synopsis:

The bestselling novelist of all time.
The world’s most famous detective.
The literary event of the year—an all-new mystery featuring
Agatha Christie’s legendary hero Hercule Poirot.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

 

My Review:

I was really excited about Sophie Hannah writing a book, based on Agatha Christie’s main characters: Hercule Poirot. He is away on vacation, taking a respite form his inspector duties. However, it’s not before long that a triple murder and an odd item found at the scene of each murder has him involved!

I was able to predict pretty quickly who had been murdered, but the motives and the roles of the others involved did throw me off a little. What I love most about the movies I have seen, which is very evident in this book, is that while the characters are trying to figure the mysteries out-the reader or viewer has a better vantage point and still clueless on some level! It’s just brilliant writing!!

The tone of the story, the different characters that all somehow interconnect, and the way the story unfolds makes for a great mystery story! It’s a classic read, with a little romantic surprise at the end. Overall, it’s a book that many Agatha Christie and mystery readers will want to read! It’s also a great book for those, like me, who love Sophie Hannah’s work and see how two great authors merge their writing together.

excellent cupcake 5

Thank you, TLC Book Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book! No forms of compensation were given.

Author, Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.

Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.

 

Sophie Hannah, author

Sophie-Hannah

Internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah breathes new life into the incomparable detective. In this thrilling tale, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London—a diabolically clever puzzle that will test his brilliant skills and baffle and delight longtime Christie fans and new generations of readers discovering him for the first time. Authorized by Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this instant Christie classic is sure to be celebrated by mystery lovers the world over.

Connect with Sophie Hannah through her website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sophie’s Tour Stops

Monday, September 15th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, September 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, September 18th: The Road to Here

Thursday, October 2nd: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, October 7th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, October 10th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, October 15th: Olduvai Reads

Wednesday, October 15th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, October 15th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, October 15th: My Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 28th: Wordsmithonia

Friday, October 31st: Books in the Burbs

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

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Click on cover for synopsis.

My Review:

The book reminds me of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg, all mixed together. Except, the main dish is Amen pie, which sounds pretty scrumptious.  The story centers around Sis, caretaker to her grandma, nephew, and sister.  Her sister has her own demons to contend with, all while raising her son, preparing for a wedding, and dealing with flashbacks to being a pregnant teen mom.  Jim, her brother, is back from Vietnam with his own PTSD and wooden leg to contend with.  Lastly, there is Beulah, caretaker and confident to Sweet Mama (Sis’s grandma).  With a wedding to prepare for, overseeing a restaurant that is the beacon of hope for a small town community, and preparing for Camille, a grade 5 hurricane, this book has all the great ingredients to a great book! Add in a dead body in the backyard, and you also have a little mystery to deal with.

The book kept my attention, had a lot of events going on, and the characters were quite interesting.  The book kept at smooth pace, and even though there was a lot happening in the story, the author does a great job of introducing different characters and connecting them in a way that keeps the storyline moving along without becoming stagnant.  I did feel the story was a bit rushed at the end, but it still ended in a great way!  While the story ends, there is much to be left to the imagination!  Nothing is truly solved, but the story ends with a great measure of hope!  Hope for new beginnings, for love, and for a family to stay together despite circumstances that can easily tear them apart.

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publishers and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

In Doubt by Drusilla Campbell

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Please click on book cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

About a month ago, Victor Marx visited our church.  He is an advocate for children and visits them often in juvenile detention centers and prisons for young men and women.  He has a great testimony about how he survived the torment, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of his step-father, the abandonment of his biological father, and how he overcame those challenges.

When I read this book, it made me think of the many children and young adults he works with.  Children don’t just wake up one day and decide to kill or hurt someone.  Something triggers inside of them, someone pressures them, but the child is the one left standing alone.

In this book, Drusilla weaves a story around the social issues of abused children, poverty and community, social injustices, and abuse of power.  Sophie is a defense attorney, who has her own internal struggles to contend with.  She has the image of her teenage years, her ex-husband (the prosecuting attorney), her family expectations, and trying to establish herself in the community.

Donnie is a young boy, who shoots the Governor, in front of many people. Donnie has his own secrets and isn’t willing to open up to Sophie, who has to establish a case to defend him.  Donnie is a quiet child, who used to be in a group home, has a narcissistic mother, and is willing to be the “fall guy” for something, someone else wanted him to do.

It’s a story that takes time to build, but after the first few chapters, it moves at a fast pace as Sophie is racing against the clock.  This is a book that has some loose ends, that will make for an awesome book club discussion! There is plenty to discuss and questions to answer!!  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4

*This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.

TLC Book Review: After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

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My Review:

This book is within the genre of Mystery/Thriller, it isn’t the typical “edge of your seat” kind of book.  Instead, it’s more of a character driven novel that pulls back different layers of the women left behind, after Felix mysteriously disappears.

While I could completely understand the emotions and personal experiences each woman shares, it really left me resenting the main character-who really never appears in the book.  Rather, Felix is described by each woman through flashbacks and present storytelling. It’s only when the disappearance and murder of Felix’s mistress happens 10 years later (after Felix disappears), the story is really shaped and pushed forward by the ever persistent detective: Sandy.  It’s his personal mission to solve this cold case, and is really the strong character in the book, who makes the novel quite unique.  While this isn’t the typical thriller/mystery book, it is definitely a book that will have you wanting to know more about the women Felix leaves behind.

*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of the tour.  No monetary compensation was given.

 

great cupcake rating 4