Book Review: Big Little Lies by

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Review:

I read Liane Moriarty’s book, The Husband’s Secret, which I absolutely loved and listed as one of my Best Books of 2013.  I purchased Big Little Lies last year, but only recently was able to read it.  That is the benefit of not having so many scheduled book tours!

It reminded me of a modern time Agatha Christie murder mystery, with the dissection of the events dispersed throughout the book, and different people interjecting what they saw and know.  I love that from the very beginning, the reader knows there is a murder, there is some bullying going on, and there are lots of secrets, however the pieces of the puzzle don’t come together until the very end!

As in Liane’s last book, she is able to seamlessly and flawlessly weave different stories, characters who at times seem to only 1 thing in common, and bring them all back together in the end.  In the beginning of the novel, most of the story revolves around bullying occurring at school.  Oh, how I can relate!  I am the mom of 3 children, one being in kindergarten (age 5), right now!  So, I can understand the dynamics, school structure, peer relationships, and school politics that a parent and child has to experience.  There are also many different kinds of moms: the single mom, the active mom, the rich mom that is very quiet and flawless, the divorced mom, the step-mom, and the list continues.  Each of them have two things in common: they love their child and their child attends the same school.

While there is a huge issue of bullying in the school and trying to figure out what is going on with that, Liane raises a huge issue: do children act out what they have learned or do they act out simply because that’s in their nature?  She also shows how intelligent children are (regardless of age), how in tune they are to what is happening around them, and how they act out what they don’t always understand but feel (rage).

While there is a murder and an investigation, Liane also shows the dynamics between step families, the importance of having good relationships with ex-spouses for the sake of their children, the importance of having a support group, the need for therapy when it’s necessary, and most of all-that not all battered women live in the ghetto and are uneducated and in a dead end relationship.

Domestic violence awareness is such an important topic for me, as I have worked with families impacted by abuse-especially the children who do hide, keep secrets, clean the blood soaked floors, and learn unhealthy ways to be in a relationship.  If there is anything I hope anyone walks away with: aside from this being a brilliantly written book, is that as culture-we need to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, have lost their voice, and/or don’t know what to do.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please contact the number below.

 

Click on this image for more information!

 

supreme cupcake rating 6

Ultimate Supreme Cupcake Books of 2014

supreme cupcake rating 6What makes a book an Ultimate Supreme Cupcake?

These are books that are cream of the crop! They stand out from all the rest and are books that I simply couldn’t put down, remembered long after the last page was read, and are books that I could re-read.  These books have me research more about a person,  (if it’s based on some historical fact), a place, and even has me explore more books in that particular genre.

I read a little over 70 books this past year, surpassing last year’s book total.  I am quite happy with that, considering some of the personal issues I had to deal with regarding my health, which put me a little behind on my reading schedules.

Throughout the year, I post books with a cupcake rating.  It’s a creative approach to the traditional 1-5 star rating.  However, I also give ratings to books that are not only a 5 star rating, but an all time favorite read of mine.  So, from that list, I chose the books.  This makes it harder for me because I have more books with the Ultimate Supreme Cupcake Rating for 2014, but chose the ones that even stood further above the pack.  This is why it has been so hard to choose!  How do you choose??? It’s like Sophie’s Choice!  Okay, maybe not that drastic, but if you are bibliophile like me, then you understand! It’s not easy.  So, without further delay, below is the list of books I chose to be the Best Books of 2014.  ultimate supreme cupcakes of 2014

book1I fell in love with this book. I had no idea how much this book would touch me, but it did. I love John Searles’ style of writing.  It is simple, yet deals with complex issues that many of Christian faith will relate with.  Click here for my review.

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book2One word:  Creepy!  This book had me on the edge of my seat!  This is one of those books where I couldn’t read fast enough to keep up! I found myself holding my breath, as I tried figuring out what was going on! Click here for my review.

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book3The title of this book is a mouthful.  However, don’t let that fool you.  Inside this clever little book is a story that will keep you reading, wanting more, and shedding a few tears along the way!  Click here for my review.

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book4I love anything Jane Austen, especially books about her life!  The title alone grabbed my interest and when I read it, I was absolutely intrigued and couldn’t put this book down! Click here for my review.

 

 

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book5I realize everyone is raving about Randy Susan Meyers’ latest book, Accidents of Marriage, but it would be remiss not to include this fantastic book!  It has a storyline that is emotionally charged, will definitely challenge your own belief system about infidelity, and is a book that never fully leaves your mind.  Click here for my review.

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book7This is the second book that has completely given me a different and better appreciation for a character/storyline I wasn’t much interested in before.  The first was Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, now this one.  I loved this story so much that I took my daughter to her first ballet to see The Sleeping Beauty.  Yeah, it’s safe to say, I just love this book! Also, it is very different from the movie that came out this summer: Maleficient.  Click here for my review.

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book8Julie Klassen’s writing is very similar to that of Jane Austen.  I absolutely loved this book and the murder mystery storyline.  I was sad to finish the book because I just loved reading about Abigail and the secrets she uncovers.  This is by far one of the best books Julie has written! Click here for my review.

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??????????????????This was a huge surprise for me!  I have read about Pablo Picasso and his many conquests, aside from his art, but haven’t read much about Eva Gouel.  Anne Girard is a beautiful storyteller, as she writes this fantastic novel with very little information about Eva.  However, she captures a beautiful relationship between Pablo and Eva, shares the vulnerable side to Picasso and the love that transcends his work.  Click here for my review.

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book14So, this is a book that I read for review in 2013, but re-read it this year, for personal use.  This is why I posted it as a top pick because I found the book to be so valuable and loved the information about the Amish culture, along with daily prayer and inspiration.  It’s an easy read that make it a nice way to connect with God and have prayer life.  Click here for review.

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book10 In the early part of 2014, I purchased this book online.  I had it on my reader and decided to read it, during some downtime I had between book tours.  Wow.  I was so blown away by this book that I ended up buying other Zelda books, such as the fantastic book, Z is for Zelda, and other books that were about her life and her own book, too. Click here for review.

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book6Have you ever read a book that reminded you of your teen years and first crushes? This book took me back to my youth and while I didn’t have the same life as Eleanor or Park, Rainbow Rowell beautifully paints this storyline to resonate with a reader of any age.  It is so raw, has so many layers that teens and young adults will identify with, older people (like me) will reflect on, and will have you rooting for them along the way.  I cried, I laughed, and it gave me an absolute love for YA books, again.  I don’t read too many YA books, so when I read one that is magical, it’s a book that everyone needs to read! I didn’t write a review on this one, because of time, but I will post a review on Goodreads.  In the meantime, check out this book, because you will love it!

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book15I don’t review too many children’s books, but the ones I do, I have been so happy with.  This is one of the books I wanted to include in my list because it is so important to share books with other moms and dads, aunts/uncles, and friends, who are looking for a book that isn’t blasted all over the internet or bookstore.  It’s a special book amongst many great books, and one that really deserves recognition.  I love that the reading is simple, the meaning is huge, and the pictures are fun to look at.  While the illustrations are simple, it still gives little one opportunities to talk and explore what they think is happening on each page.  Click here for my review.

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More Than 1 Book From The Same Author:

It was hard to choose between books, so I had to simply just include the names of these authors.

Ultimate supreme cupcake authors 2014

  Megan Shepherd and Sarah Addison Allen.  I read Megan’s Madman’s Daughter Trilogy and Sarah’s books: Lost Lake and First Frost. I love them all.  I think anyone that likes a Sci-fi/YA book with a female heroine will love Megan Shepherd’s books.  I read Megan’s first book in 2013, and the last 2 books in 2014.  If you read one, you will need to read all 3.  The first book can be a standalone, however the other 2 are definitely books that need to be read in order and back to back.

If you want a little magic in Women’s fiction, then pick up an Allen book. You’ll love her style!  These are easy reads, but deal with issues that aren’t so light.  However, in Sarah’s fun style, she knows when to include humor, splashes of hope and whimsy, and always ends books with you feeling good.  I love her writing!

books to look out for in 2015

I hope you have already some of these books and if you haven’t, that you will consider reading them!  I am looking forward to some great 2015 books, a couple that I read in 2014, but won’t write much about until they are published.  Two of them that I loved are: Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner and A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor.

So, which books did you love in 2014? Any on this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

simple signature best

 

Books to Add to Your List for 2015

The best part about book blogging is having an opportunity to preview books before they are published to the general public.  Below are some books I read this year, and know you will equally love them as much as I did!

This is book 2 of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.  I loved the first book and while the 2nd one is more grotesque and quite violent, I still found myself on the edge of my seat reading this one.  With random and horrible murders happening everywhere, Juliet has an idea as to who is causing the killings.  Just as Juliet leaves the island and her father behind, she realizes her past is always there to haunt her.  It’s an excellent companion to the first book, although you will immediately have to purchase the 3rd book because it leaves you hanging!

great cupcake rating 4

This is a fantastic wrap up to the trilogy.  It’s a bit long, but there are so many loose ends that Megan has to address so that it ends on a high note! I love the trilogy and how much Juliet grows through each novel.  She must choose her destiny: that of her mother, her father, or perhaps, even her own path that isn’t what her parents may want.  She learns about the family secrets, brings closure to the ghosts of her past and finds meaning that goes beyond that of her father.

great cupcake rating 4

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I absolutely loved this book.  I am always fascinated with how flowers have their own knowledge and the emotions they convey.  This is a story that will certainly be a favorite for many!

Tilly becomes an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls.  It is while she is there that she comes across a diary and reads about Florrie and Rosie. I love the historical facts weaved throughout this story and how the stories merge from past and present, to finally the present.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, but as always, this book gives hope.

excellent cupcake 5***************

 I have read almost every book written about the fabulous Coco Chanel and have watched every movie and documentary made about her life.  I am absolutely fascinated with her and truly did not know what to expect with this book.  However, I have read C.W. Gortner’s work and love his writing.  From the first chapter, I am immersed in Coco’s life!  It’s a fantastic story with tidbits in there that aren’t in too many books.  Readers will love this book and finish it, wanting more! This is by far C.W. Gortner’s best work to date and I know this will be a huge favorite for many!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*Each of these books mentioned have very little information about them.  I intentionally chose not to write a huge write-up on them because they aren’t going to be available to the public, until 2015.  However, I needed to put these books on your radar so that you can add them to your wish lists, pre-order, and buy them the minute they hit the bookstores.  The only exception is Megan Shephard’s books, however, I stayed with the same style: simple.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

 

Publication Date: December 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House

Pages:  460

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

supreme cupcake rating 6

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: If You Give a Mouse An Iphone by Ann Droyd

 

 

Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Blue Rider Press
About the Author:
ANN DROYD is the author of Goodnight iPad, and is also the pseudonym for David Milgrim, an IRA/CBC Children’s Choice winner who has written and illustrated more than twenty-five picture books for young readers, as well as Siri & Me. Milgrim, who studied graphic design at Parsons, lives with his family in Massachusetts.
Follow this Author:
My Review:
I love the illustrations in this book!  Each page is colorful, tells the story, and kept my daughter entertained the whole time.  I love the message in the book and know this is a book that any child would love, find humorous, and perhaps see that there is more to life than just what is on the smartphone.  This is a story that will entertain, definitely relates to this generation of children (and adults), and will be a favorite for years to come!!  It’s a book that would make a great gift, and is something that anyone can relate to!
supreme cupcake rating 6
*This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

My Love for Zelda & The Authors Who Have Kept Her Alive!

Picture courtesy of: Southern Literary Trail.

 

I am, as usual, late to the party.  However, I always make it; albeit fashionably late. Being an avid reader of historical fiction, and loving the great works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I had read about Zelda and the tumultuous relationship between her and Scott.  However, it wasn’t until I read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain that my interest truly peaked. While Paula McLain’s book is primarily about Hadley and her love: Ernest Hemingway, there was just enough of a snipped of Zelda and her husband, that I was instantly intrigued to learn more.

It seems that in recent years authors are looking beyond the writer, and wanting to look at their most intimate relationship: the women who stood by these amazing authors.  So, I was quite excited to see that 2 books, which peaked my interest came out around the same time.  While I was looking through my blog, I noticed that I had not written my book reviews for these two amazing books!  While both books are about Zelda Fitzgerald, make no mistake about it….they are vastly different, and exception in their own right.  So, don’t choose between the two.  Buy them both!

 

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

One word:  Co-dependent.  Yes, as much as Zelda and Scott are crazy in love, they are even more crazy with out one another.  They need each other, thrive off one another, and seem to feed off one another the more “crazy” one is.  The story starts with Zelda as a teenager, a vibrant 17 year old, who has many suitors at her feet.  However, she zones in one handsome solider: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also only has eyes for her.  It’s rather sweet to read about their courtship, leading up to marriage, and readers can’t help but root for them.

While we all know the ending, it’s what happens in between that makes the story worthwhile.  Theresa Ann Fowler, is a great storyteller, who gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Fitzgerald’s.  Zelda is given a voice, that goes beyond just being “crazy, neurotic, unstable”.  She is clear headed, strong willed, and sets trends despite her desire to do so.  She is simply herself, and that is what makes us all fall in love with her.

Zelda, never meant to be in Scott’s shadow, follows her own dreams of writing, dancing, and making being who she wants to be, all while being with an erratic husband, dealing with the media and what they chose to portray her as, and trying to be the kind of mother she desires, all while also having a mental illness (that wasn’t diagnosed until later in her life).

This is an excellent book that follows Zelda from her courtship through the Jazz age.  It ends with you wanting more Zelda! It’s an excellent book, that is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, wants to know who the woman is behind F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just loves a great love story (with a little bit of crazy).

supreme cupcake rating 6

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Click on the cover to read synopsis.

My Review:

While both books are independent and can be read in any order, it just made sense for me to read them in the order I have written the reviews.  I loved reading Erika Robuck’s book.  She leaves no stone unturned, and explores her mental illness and the way Zelda navigates through it, while being a wife and mother.  Told through the viewpoint of Zelda’s nurse, Ann, readers get an intimate glimpse into the struggles Zelda faces and how she tries to make sense of it all.

While in the hospital, Zelda writes a memoir that she lets Ann be privy to.  In those journals, Zelda shares the highlights and downfalls of her relationship with Scott, her life before and during her marriage, and how explosive it all was.  Ann also gives readers a glimpse into the relationship between Zelda and her daughter, Scotty, and how Zelda’s erratic behavior impacted her relationship as  mom and wife.  Scott needs his muse, Zelda, and to the demise of Zelda, often brings her home.  However, Ann is never far away and is the calming, strong force that helps them both through that tough period.

As a family therapist, I was absolutely intrigued to read about the way mental health was addressed, the therapies given in the psychiatric hospital, and they way Zelda flourished/caved in, different points of her treatment.  This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time, and is as heartbreaking and courageous as Zelda, herself.  I loved the balance between Ann’s story and Zelda’s and the look inside a psychiatric hospital, while also giving readers much to appreciate and adore in the person Zelda was.

After I finished this book, I downloaded most of the books about Zelda, which I hope to read at one point.   Truthfully, before these books came out: Z is for Zelda and Call Me Zelda, I had no idea how dynamic Zelda was.  She is an intriguing woman, who was more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, she was a trendsetter, a fashionista, an artist, a mother, daughter, and simply a brilliant woman!  This is an excellent read and anyone who loves anything to do with “The Jazz Age”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, curious about mental illness and the impact it has on families, and Zelda Fitzgerald, will easily want to add this book to their bookshelf.

supreme cupcake rating 6

HFVBT Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

My Review:

This is by far the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year! Anne Girard is a masterful storyteller, weaving in a beautiful storyline where there are blanks in history about the relationship between Eva Gouel and Pablo Picasso.  We all know who Pablo Picasso is, his many relationships with women (who often became his muse), and the incredible artwork he created.  However, not much is known about the one woman who helped shaped his career, taught him love and forgiveness, and who he never painted a complete portrait of.  Even that portrait was never shown to the public, until after his death, which was found amongst many of his own personal belongings.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso was working his way up the ladder to become one of the world’s best artists.  However, during that time, he was really just starting out and with a few a paintings and a huge dream, he sets off to Paris.  Eva is a young girl, pushed by her parents to marry the fellow neighbor.  Determined to have a better life and make something of herself, she also sets off to Paris.  Eva starts out as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge, where anyone that is important, will show up to see the performances.  It is there that Eva meets Picasso.

Through a test of their relationship and devotion, both Eva and Picasso set out to create their “Eden”.  Anne Girard introduces us to other fantastic artists and poets, who all seem to conjugate at Gertrude Steins home for exquisite parties.  It the place to be for artists to talk, debate, and reignite fires for their works.  While Eva wasn’t the first Madame Picasso, nor the last, she certainly is the one who left the biggest imprint on his life and art.

For the first half of the book, readers will catch a glimpse of their own personal challenges, the start of their relationship, and how they soon become partners, in every way.  The second half of the book goes very fast.  I kept sensing this impending doom, almost like a Romeo and Juliet sequence of sorts, and I kept finding myself holding my breath! I stayed up well past 3 am, because I had to know the fate of their relationship, and wept at the end of the book.  Then, like any other historical fiction fan, I googled Eva Gouel and was shocked to see that so little is known about her, which makes Anne Girard even that much more of a genius and incredible writer!

This is a phenomenal book, one that history buffs will devour in a day or two.  It’s a book that will stay with you for days afterward, and deserves the attention and merit that books like, Call Me Zelda, Z is for Zelda, and The Paris Wife received.  My only request is that someone now write a book about Gertrude Stein and her beloved partner, Alice!

If you have time, I highly recommend you visit Anne’s page.  She has an excerpt of the book, some background information on an interview she did with a friend of Pablo’s, and other interesting information! This is such an incredible book, that I even bought my own copy!

supreme cupcake rating 6

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

About the Author03_Anne Girard

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit www.dianehaeger.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

TLC Book Tour Review: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

  Paperback: 400 pages
  Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (7/15/2014)

Boston Globe Best Crime Novel of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten “Must List”
Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award
Publishers WeeklyLibrary Journal, and Booklist starred reviews

Synopsis:

Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation: helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a phone call late one snowy night, they are lured to an old church on the outskirts of town, where Sylvie falls asleep in the car and is awoken by the sound of gunshots.

Orphaned on that night, Sylvie comes under the care of her reckless, distant older sister, still living in the rambling Tudor house that guards the relics of her parents’ past. As she pursues the mystery of their deaths, Sylvie’s story weaves back and forth between the time leading up to the murders and the months following, uncovering the truth of what happened that night—and the secrets that have haunted her family for years.

my book thoughts

Wow!  That is the one word that I would use to define this incredible, fantastic story.  It is easily the Best Book of 2014 for Books in the Burbs, and will definitely be one of my all time favorite books for many years to come.

From the very first page, there is an eerie, Gothic approach, which makes the book even more creepy to read.  It’s a perfect mystery thriller for anyone that loves this genre, but even those who love books about relationships, family secrets, religious fanaticism, too.  I was determined to find out the ending as soon as possible, so I actually took this book with me everywhere to sneak in as much reading as I could.  I ended up reading this book in about 2 days, and in the end, I just cried.  My heart broke for Sylvie and I wanted to process this book with someone, who had also read it.  It’s a book that you can’t just read and move on from.  You will need to talk to someone, who has read it, just to get some closure and talk through some of the scenarios that occur in the book.

Sylvie is a young girl, still grappling with the loss of her parents and adjusting to living with her sister, Rose.  The story is told through present and past flashbacks from Sylvie’s perspective.  She is the only witness to who she says murdered her parents, and as she slowly retraces her steps and those of her family’s, the truth reveals itself to Sylvie and the reader at the same time.  So, as Sylvie is shocked…you will be, too!

Religion fanaticism, healings, demon possession…those are some of the topics that will be brought up in the book, albeit a murder mystery.  John Searles raises incredible points: How far will a family go to finding peace?  At what point does the preacher/healer use his influence and plays “God”?  How can family secrets destroy a family and keep them from truly being happy? Do you do what is right, even if it means that you lose everything? Or do you hold a secret and tell a lie to maintain the status quo?

I absolutely loved the topics John brings up and weaves it into a fantastic storyline.  This book shows how something that starts out with good intentions can go wrong, and go off course because of different factors, such as : greed, selfishness, fear of realizing everything was an illusion, and the way that one lie has the domino effect of building upon other lies that eventually tear up a family.

This would make a great book club pick, because the discussions would be endless!  I would love to hear people’s own personal stories about healing services, tent revivals, and their own personal experiences.  I would equally love to know what people think of this particular family, the lengths one person goes to shield the truth, and what happens when secrets have a stronghold on a person.  Sylvie is a beautiful, remarkable, and brave little girl, who I am sure many will love and cry for, too.  Get the book and move it to the top of your TBR pile, because it’s that good!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided through TLC Book Tours and the publisher! Many thanks to both of them!

 

Special offer for book clubs:

Book clubs that sign up to chat with John Searles about Help for the Haunted could win a tote bag of books for each member of their book club! Find out more details about John Searles’ goal to speak to a book club in each state of the United States over at Book Club Girl!

 

About John Searles:

John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC’s Today show and CBS’s The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City and can be found on Facebook and also on Twitter: @searlesbooks.

John’s Tour Stops

Thursday, July 17th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, July 21st: Great Imaginations

Tuesday, July 22nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, July 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, July 28th: missris

Tuesday, July 29th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, July 30th: Excellent Library

Friday, August 1st: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, August 4th: Books in the City

Wednesday, August 6th: Kahakai Kitchen

Quick Reviews for Books I’ve Read This Summer

 

 

It doesn’t always happen, but with the recent health issues I’ve had, being homebound has allowed me the opportunity to read more than I have in a long time.  Reading has been the silver lining, this summer.  Usually, summer is the time when I read from my TBR list, which I have yet to touch! I think most readers can relate-but it seems my TBR list is always expanding!!!  With new releases each week, it can be overwhelming to keep up with!

Below are some books I’ve read-so far!  If you click on the picture of each book, it will take you book page, so that you can read the synopsis.

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This is a story that reads almost like a mystery, because Olivia has to piece together the events that happened before the fatal death of her estranged friend, Sally.  I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Sally and Olivia (before they became adults), and could certainly relate to having that “crazy friend”-who goes off the edge.  Eleanor Moran doesn’t give all the details in order, with the story changing from past to present, which made the book even more fascinating to read!  I love a great mystery, wrapped up in a novel that has a little bit of everything: widowhood, survivor’s guilt, infidelity, friendships, lies and betrayal, and a little romance.  The reader is given one piece of the puzzle, in random order, as each piece slowly takes shape to reveal the hidden truths that were there the whole time.

I loved Madeline and felt her emotions were true to that of a child, who deals with the loss of her parent.  She is angry, distant, reluctant, and slowly opens her heart to the possibilities of loving and honoring her mother, while also accepting a new beginning.  My heart ached for her, as she struggles to balance her faithfulness to her mom, while also learning to accept someone else in her life.  It isn’t until the very end that Moran reveals to the reader and Sally’s family-the reason for Sally’s demise and “crazy behavior”, which came as a shock but then made sense!  Eleanor Moran nails the psychological issues Sally faces and the internal struggles she dealt with and the demons that she faced.

While there were times that it seemed Olivia was in a trance and did whatever William wanted, it seemed that in some cosmic weird way that Sally wanted things to evolve as they do and that in the end, she could rest in peace knowing those she loved were all together.

It’s an excellent read!  I read this one quite quickly because  I wanted to know what happens!  Most of all, I love the style of writing Eleanor Manor has in this book-as it was a puzzle that slowly connects and reveals all the hidden secrets that the characters have.  Those who love books about mental illness, family secrets/relationships, and friendships, will certainly love this book!

excellent cupcake 5  *A huge thank you to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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Let’s face it.  The book cover doesn’t scream, “READ ME!”.  But….don’t let that deter you from reading it!  Once you’ve read it, you will completely understand the cover and appreciate it that much more.  This book is a traditional thriller book.  It has mystery, electric energy that intensifies as each chapter is read, murder, possible suspects and motives, and psychological drama that will have your head spinning!  It’s definitely one of my best picks for 2014, because it the kind of book that any reader will enjoy.

You love history? Check.

You love murder mystery? Check.

You love reading about an underdog protagonist that has a secret? Check.

You want to read a book that you won’t be able to put down? Check.

You want a book that has to deal with sociopaths, psychological issues? Check.

You want a book that intensifies as each chapter is read? Check.

This book has it all.  There is so much detail, that Lisa Unger leaves no stone uncovered.  She weaves this incredible story, with two alternating voices.  Whose voice is the second? That ‘s one of the mysteries!  I absolutely loved this book, couldn’t put it down, and read this book in 1 day.  That is really unheard for me, and being sick, I actually read this book with a migraine.  I literally read with one eye closed at times because my head hurt….but I needed to know what happened! Yeah, this book is that fantastic.  Add it to your TBR list, or better yet, just stop what you are reading and grab this book!  It’s that good.

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided for review, courtesy of the publisher.

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This is a book that starts out quite intense.  Clarissa is a girl that people either can relate to because they see parts of themselves in her, or know someone who is like her.  Either way, Clarissa will be someone that will bring out strong emotions in the reader.  Clarissa is the typical victim: she is isolated, wants to have a relationship but doesn’t know how to set boundaries because she has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t know who to trust.  There are so many issues Clarissa is challenged with, because of the torment she endures from her predator (Rafe).  The reader is taken on a journey of the psychological trauma and prison a person can get entrapped in, and how it slowly strips everything from the victim, to a point of panic.  It’s an incredible book that shows that cycles repeat, until the victim takes control and makes a shift mentally.

If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, in an unsafe situation, or needs to talk to someone, please call the Crisis Hotline!

1.800.273.8255

24/7, anytime, anywhere.

great cupcake 4  *This book was provided through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

TLC Book Review: One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date:  May 6, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 480

ISBN:  0062291882

Format:  Paperback

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher

Synopsis:

The acclaimed novelist and prizewinning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore explores the consequences of forbidden love in this heartbreaking epic, inspired by a true story that unfolds in Stalin’s Russia during the bleak days after World War II.

A jubilant Moscow is celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler when gunshots ring out though the city’s crowded streets. In the shadow of the Kremlin, a teenage boy and girl are found dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy, because these are no ordinary teenagers. As the children of high-ranking Soviet officials, they inhabit a rarefied world that revolves around the exclusive Josef Stalin Commune School 801. The school, which Stalin’s own children attended, is an enclave of privilege—but, as the deaths reveal, one that hides a wealth of secrets. Were these deaths an accident, a suicide pact . . . or murder?

Certain that a deeper conspiracy is afoot, Stalin launches a ruthless investigation. In what comes to be known as the Children’s Case, youths from all over Moscow are arrested by state security services and brought to the infamous interrogation rooms of the Lubyanka, where they are forced to testify against their friends and their families. Among the casualties of these betrayals are two pairs of illicit lovers, who find themselves trapped at the center of Stalin’s witch hunt. As the Children’s Case follows its increasingly terrifying course, these couples discover that the decision to follow one’s heart comes at a terrible price.

A haunting evocation of a time and place in which the state colluded to corrupt and destroy every dream, One Night in Winter is infused with the desperate intrigue of a political thriller. The eminent historian Simon Sebag Montefiore weaves fact and fiction into a richly compelling saga of sacrifice and survival, populated by real figures from the past. But within the darkness shines a deeply human love story, one that transcends its moment as it masterfully explores our capacity for loyalty and forgiveness.

my book thoughts

I first have to mention, how fitting writing this review is, today.  Today, is Memorial Day, an important date that Americans celebrate and honor the American soldiers who have fought bravely and lost their lives doing so, for our freedom and those of others.

One Night in Winter is the sequel to Sashenka, however is a book that can stand on it’s own.  The first scene that takes place, reminded me of a couple of fateful scenes in Romeo and Juliet, all rolled into one.  It’s the end of World War II, Stalin is in control of his country, and like any narcisstic leader-still demands the loyalty of the people.

Centered around young teens, who many are children of leaders in the political party, movie stars/entertainers, and fierce supporters of Stalin’s regime.  However, what became one tragic story, turns into a twisted and demented opportunity for Stalin to use this situation to his favor: put children against parents, parents against each other, and everyone’s loyalty is questioned.

This is a profound book that will have many crying, angry, sad, and think of this book for many days and years to come.  Simon is a gifted and talented author, who can write something so tragic and yet in the midst of it, give the reader hope, show the beauty in a time when things were bleak, and teach people what can happen when too much control is given to one person.  This is a fantastic story that would be wonderful for any high school or college course studying history, world events, character analyses, and would certainly make for an awesome book club pick!! The discussions would be endless for sure!

It’s a long read, but every page is worth it.  A great book to add to any TBR list for sure!

supreme cupcake rating 6

About Simon Sebag MontefioreSimon Sebag Montefiore

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s bestselling books are published in more than forty languages. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Sashenka. As a historian, his works include Jerusalem: The Biography, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, and Young Stalin, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Prize (UK), and Le Grand Prix de Biographie Politique (France).

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

 

Simon’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, May 7th: Man of La Book

Monday, May 12th: 5 Minutes For Books

Tuesday, May 13th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Wednesday, May 14th: Dwell in Possibility

Thursday, May 15th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, May 20th: More Than Just Magic

Wednesday, May 21st: Read Lately

Thursday, May 22nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 22nd: Walking With Nora

Monday, May 26th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, May 26th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, May 27th: Bookfoolery and Babble

Wednesday, May 28th: The House of the Seven Tails

Monday, June 2nd: The Written World

Tuesday, June 3rd: Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, June 5th: Read. Write. Repeat.

TBD: Bibliophilia, Please