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!

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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

 

 

A Discussion with Christina Baker Kline

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 I was introduced to Christina Baker Kline and her work, through Edelweiss.  I signed up for a book tour: Orphan Train, and loved the book!  It’s not very often that a book reads like a movie, and this was one of those instances, where I could picture the characters and the movie set.  Imagine my absolute excitement to know that a movie is going to be made!  Around this time last year, Christina and I emailed each other and talked about her book and writing.  It was much later that year, October 2013, that I was traveling to Tennessee to visit family.  A family member was gravely ill, so it prevented me from meeting with Christina.  I am still so bummed that we weren’t able to meet and talk!

In October, 2014, I was part of another book tour for Bird in Hand, with TLC Book Tours.  Because I enjoyed the book so much, I offered the book as a giveaway!  Katherine I. was randomly selected to win the book.  So, while I was not able to meet Christina last year, I am quite excited to have been given the opportunity to share this interview with you!  It’s about her book: Bird in Hand.  I hope you will enjoy reading it and look at the books she has written!

 

 Connect with the Author:

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Bird in Hand is about “Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship. Everything is about to change.” Where did you get the idea to explore these themes in your novel?

Christina:  Bird in Hand opens with a car accident that sets in motion a series of events that changes the (interconnected) lives of four people. It moves forward in the present day through the alternating perspectives of these four characters, and it also moves back in time through their perspectives to a specific moment in the past.

The story of Bird in Hand emerged slowly, from a number of sources, but it first began as a “What if?” question.   Just over ten years ago I moved from New York City to Montclair, New Jersey with my husband and two young boys.  After many years of relying on subway trains and taxis, suddenly I was driving on unfamiliar (and confusing) highways, with not only my own precious human cargo in the backseat but other mothers’ as well.  Late at night, I’d terrify myself with “What If” questions, such as: what if something happens to one of these children, my own or someone else’s?  What if somehow I’m responsible?  As I turned these kinds of questions over in my mind, I realized – with the writer part of my brain – that it would be a lot more useful and less neurotic to use them as material than to keep pointlessly obsessing.

At the same time, my husband, David, and I were, like many of our friends, adjusting to many life changes:  a new house, a new lifestyle, two small children, loss of autonomy for both of us, some loss of identity for me, a stressful job for him, a commute into the city.  We weathered these storms, but I wanted to write about the complexities many couples deal with at this stage of their lives, whether or not they come through intact.

In the novel, you have four characters, whose lives are intertwined. Alison and Claire, who are best friends even though Claire is having an affair with Alison’s husband, Charlie. You also write about Ben, Claire’s husband, who desires children and admires Charlie and Alison’s marriage. Was it difficult to write about four characters and keep them all straight? Do you favor any characters over the others?

Christina:  It was actually exhilarating to move from one character to another in this novel.  I loved all of them equally.  Flaubert famously said, of the vain, shallow, adulterous heroine of his most famous novel, “Madame Bovary, c’est moi” – and that’s exactly how I felt with these characters.  I found that I sided with each as I wrote from that character’s perspective.  It made perfect sense to me, writing as Claire, that she was entitled to Charlie’s love.  I understood Ben’s ironic distance and distraction.  I empathized with Charlie’s restlessness and yearning.  And though Alison’s perspective begins and ends the novel, I always thought that the other characters were equally entitled to their points of view.   I think that Alison is probably the most sympathetic character; she is sort of an Everymom.  But I appreciate Claires unapologetic ambition, her undisguised lack of a maternal instinct.  I admire Charlie’s love for Claire – in a funny way, I think of their relationship as a classic love story:  kept apart for years, they’re determined to find a way to be together.  And Ben, with his working-class background, his ongoing quest to reinvent himself, and his work ethic, is a character I just plain like.   (I will say that I don’t know if Claire will ever be truly happy.  I think the other three characters have a greater capacity for it than she does; her restless spirit, her sense of never being exactly where she wants to be, may be too deeply ingrained.)

BIRD IN HAND can be seen as a criticism of romanticizing modern marriage.  And yet the ending isn’t necessarily sad.  Do you feel that each of the characters made the right choice?  Or just made a choice, and that if Alison hadn’t gotten into the accident, nothing might have changed?

Christina:  In real life, I am something of a romantic – and happily married!  But I also know that marriage is hard, even under the best of circumstances.  In this novel I wanted to show what’s hard about marriage; I wanted to explore characters who can’t quite figure out how to communicate with each other.  I wanted to follow them to all the dark and elusive places.  Truly, I don’t think Alison and Ben had much of a choice in any of it.  But I suppose I believe that for Alison to live the rest of her married life with someone who isn’t in love with her would be sad and pathetic.  It’s better to know it now, while she’s young and has a chance for a rich, happy family life with someone else.  Charlie’s decision may have been just the impetus she needs to find out what she really wants.  And Ben?  Maybe he’ll get that baby after all.

What would you like readers to take away from the novel?

Christina:  The questions I explore in this book – about true love, marriage, ambition, dreams, and happiness – aren’t simple ones.  I want readers to identify with one character and then another; I want them to think about how the choices they make define who they are in the world.  I hope this story inspires people to think about their own lives and motivations.

Please share with us a little about your novel writing process. Do you start with characters, a theme, or a plot idea? How long does it generally take for you to work through your process?

Christina:  For me, the process of writing a novel begins months or even years before I start writing.  It evolves from pieces of my own past, stories I’ve heard, things I’m curious about, emotional journeys that interest me, unexpected ideas, unresolved questions.  Most of this development of a central idea isn’t even conscious.  Over the years I’ve learned to trust this creative process, slow and circuitous as it may be.  I’ve always thought of it as akin to sand rubbing against other detritus inside an oyster shell, eventually creating a pearl. (Though I recently learned that this theory of pearl formation is apocryphal, I still like the idea.)    Bird in Hand took much longer to write than my other novels; I left it and came back to it.  But writing a novel usually takes me two years in all, with many detours along the way.

Writers are always asked about their work habits because it’s endlessly fascinating (even to other writers). Do you write in the morning or the afternoon? Do you work on a laptop or with a ballpoint pen? Do you sit in a basement, like John Cheever, or an austere sliver of a room, like Roxana Robinson? Do you work for two hours or ten? I used to worry that I wasn’t working the “right” way.  But here’s the thing:  it doesn’t matter what anyone else’s process is. What matters is what works for me. For example – unlike most other novelists I know, I’m not a morning person. My best writing time may be mid-to-late afternoon.

Writing Bird in Hand, I often worked in a generic Panera Bread Shop in a different town, on subways, and in dentists’ offices.  I set myself the task of writing four pages a day … on a college-ruled notepad – faint blue lines on white paper, a firm pink margin with an old-fashioned micro-point Uniball pen, which few people seem to do anymore. Maybe I could train myself to write first drafts on the keyboard, but why should I? This is what works for me. And that’s my point. I’m still intrigued by how other people work, but I also know that writing is a strange alchemical business, and I need to follow my own impulses. Whatever it takes to get the words on the page is what I need to do!

Who would you recommend an aspiring writer to consult with?

Christina:  Though I know that my experience is pretty unusual, and I was lucky, I always tell my students that what’s most important is that they find someone — a mentor if possible, a friend, even a parent — who believes in their work and encourages them to move forward.

Further advice:  Avoid people who are “toxic,” to use an old self-help phrase — people who are competitive with you or otherwise sabotage your writing. Set clear goals for yourself (”I will write a draft of a novel in one year,” “I will write one short story a month”) with daily goals as well. When I’m writing a novel, as I said, I set myself the task of four pages a day. Sometimes I write more, sometimes less, but that’s always the goal.

Thank you so much, Christina!  We appreciate the time you’ve given us for this amazing interview! 

Wishing you continued success,

Lisa Salazar

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes Less is More!

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If you’ve been following this blog for the past few years, then you know how much I love e-readers.  I’ve written posts about the different readers I’ve purchased, too!

Yep, so I am an e-reader junkie, and am not ashamed to say it.

I love e-readers because:

1.  easy it is to buy a book (no more searching at stores or ordering online and waiting)

2.  easy to download with the click of a button, it’s typically cheaper (as opposed to a paperback)

3.  no book light needed (because of the lighting within the reader)

4.  no more bulky carry on bags ( I used to have 2-3 books with me anytime I went somewhere)

5.  More convenient and easier to find sales.

 

After many tablet changes and upgrading readers, I was finally at a point where the new readers just didn’t call my attention.  UNTIL, I started to get really annoyed with my 1st version Kindle Paperwhite and the lack of page numbers and/or percentage information at the bottom of each page.  Granted, it does give a location and percentage rate for books I have purchased from the Amazon bookstore.  However, I typically read books sent to me by publishers and download them through NG and Edelweiss.  Those are the books I read without any frame of reference to how many pages I have left, where I’m at in the book, and how far I should read as a way to pace myself. 

I went to Best Buy, broke down and bought the 2013 Kindle Paperwhite.  It’s 4 gb, as opposed to 2.  It does give percentage rates for books downloaded from outside sources, and runs a little faster-so the pages are smoother.  While at Best Buy, I did get to play with the other Kindle devices and even thought of purchasing a Kindle Fire 6.  The Kindle HDX 7 is too bulky for reading, so I had no interest in it.  The Kindle Fire 6 is perfect for readers because it’s about the same size as the Kindle Paperwhite, not much thicker or heavier.  I also liked that you can check your emails and use many great Amazon apps.  It even has text to speech!  How cool is that?  The reason I didn’t go for that one, even though it is only $99 is because I use my phone and ipad for pictures, checking social media, watching movies, etc.  When I read a book, I don’t want to have to continuously charge the reader because I am using it for other things, too.

I looked at the Kindle Voyage.  It’s a little lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite and does have the option to turn pages by pressing the device sides (like the older versions).  However, it doesn’t have text to speech, doesn’t have 3g wifi (unless you pay extra), it still comes with ads (unless you pay extra), and is just priced too high above the Paperwhite that I couldn’t see myself paying that much more.  I did like the landscape option to read your book, however it’s not that big of a deal to make the larger investment.

So, that is why I purchased the Kindle Paperwhite 2013 version.  I still have my Nook Glowlight, which I use to read books I’ve purchased.  I love to support small business, and in my opinion, Amazon is Goliath and Barnes and Noble is David.  So, I tend to buy Nook books more than Amazon purchases.  I also have a loyalty to Barnes and Noble because of their excellent customer service and anytime I have an issue, I can take my reader to the store and someone will help me with it.  I don’t have to deal with online customer service support or calling someone.  It’s just good ole’ fashion customer service!

While at Barnes and Noble, I did see the Samsung tablets and wasn’t impressed with them either.  Again, the 7 inch for both Nook and Kindle seem to be bulky for reading.  Since I read a lot, I need something that is light!  Again, I don’t need the extra features because I don’t plan to use them. 

I also went to the new Microsoft store in the mall and fell in love with the HP Stream 6.  It’s small, easy to handle and you can add both Nook and Kindle apps to the device.  You can read and write using Microsoft Tools (already installed), watch movies, and use it for anything really (aside from a phone).  It is also only $99!  That’s an awesome buy!  However, I also know that my eyes are sensitive to back lights and no matter how dim I put the settings, my eyes will suffer.  So, I had to pass on that one, too.

I’ve come to realize, less is more.  I like simple.  I just want a reader that I can use to read books.  I don’t want all the extra gadgets.  That’s what I have my phone for.  I remember I used the Nook HD, before I switched to the Glowlight, and hated it.  Why? Because the battery ran down quicker, my eyes hurt from the backlight (no more how dim I had it), and it was too big for me.

 

I have come to conclusion that I just like simplicity.  Perhaps if I was younger and had grown up gadgets, it would make sense to get a tablet to use as a reader.  However, I just don’t like things complicated, and tablets are complicated.  I have my ipad and use it for everything except making a phone call and reading.  I use my phone to text and take pics.  I also use it look at social media.  However, I love my e-reader because when I just want to get away and read, I can leave my phone and ipad behind and just read undisturbed!

I’m the one with multiple gadgets, but each serve important purposes.  I have accepted the fact that there isn’t a device at there that will suit all my needs, and that’s okay, too.  For now, I am the one toting devices around, rather than books and loving every minute of it!

Which device do you use and what do you love most about it?  I look forward to reading your comments!

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

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Publisher:  Soho Crime

Publication Date:  December 30, 2014

Pages:  350

Genre:  Mystery

Follow the Author:  Webpage

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

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Publication Date: December 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House

Pages:  460

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

supreme cupcake rating 6

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

First to Read: The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

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Title:  The Look of Love

Author:  Sarah Jio

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

Pages: 320

Genres:  Women’s fiction, Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Format:  ARC

Synopsis:

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

excellent cupcake 5

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