Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Showcase: THE DEAD LETTER by Finley Martin












THE DEAD LETTER SYNOPSIS







It is 2001 and the police constable's girlfriend is murdered in a fit of jealous rage. When the constable realizes what he has done, he manages an elaborate cover-up. Only one person knows the truth. Flash forward to 2012. Anne Brown is still running her late uncle, Bill Darby's, detective agency after spending four or five years as his assistant. One day, the postman delivers an eleven-year-old letter. The letter is addressed to her uncle from a woman named Carolyn Jollimore. She says she has evidence about a murder and begs for help from Darby. But Bill Darby is dead. And when Anne looks up the letter's author, she finds that Jollimare too is now dead. Troubled with the evidence at hand, Anne must decide if she should investigate this eleven-year-old murder.








PURCHASE





Amazon

Barnes & Noble


Kobo

Indigo







ABOUT THE
AUTHOR





Finley's
  Website / Facebook / LinkedIn / Goodreads




Finley Martin was born in Binghamton, New York and grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. degree in English at the University of Scranton, and during the 1960's he served as an officer with the United States Marine Corps at posts in America, the Caribbean, and Asia.

After he returned to civilian life, he worked as a free-lance writer, p.r. consultant, and photographer and became public relations director at International Correspondence Schools.

In the 70's he received an M.A. from the University of Ottawa and a B.Ed. from the University of Prince Edward Island. For many years he taught English literature at high school and writing courses at university. He has also worked as a truck driver, labourer, carpenter, boat builder, and deckhand aboard commercial fishing vessels and passenger ferries.


During his writing career he published numerous magazine and newspaper articles, poetry, and short stories in Canada and the U.S. He produced a mini-series for CBC Radio and has given numerous poetry readings.




He authored three books: New Maritime Writing, Square Deal Pub., Charlottetown, PE; A View from the Bridge, Montague, PE; and The Reluctant Detective, The Acorn Press, Charlottetown, PE.








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Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Spotlight: THE CRESCENT SPY by Michael Wallace



The Crescent Spy by Michael Wallace
ISBN: 9781503949454 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781503945586 (paperback)
ASIN: B00TUOH5AK (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: November 10, 2015


Writing under a man's name, Josephine Breaux is the finest reporter at Washington's Morning Clarion. Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusations of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor.
To Josephine's surprise, she's whisked away to the White House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her past in order to secure her nation's future?


Meet the author:

Michael Wallace was born in California and raised in a small religious community in Utah, eventually heading east to live in Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition to working as a literary agent and innkeeper, he has been a software engineer for a Department of Defense contractor programming simulators for nuclear submarines. He is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Wall Street Journal bestselling Righteous series, set in a polygamist enclave in the desert.


Connect with the author:

Website     |     Blog      |     Amazon      |     Goodreads 










Enter to win a hardcover copy of The Crescent Spy by Mr. Wallace. Giveaway open to US residents only (sorry). 

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Monday, October 26, 2015

2015 Book 329: CARRYING ALBERT HOME by Homer Hickam

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
ISBN: 9780062325891 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062325914 (ebook)
ASIN: B00S58E834 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 13, 2015 
Publisher: William Morrow


Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky
Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie's dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.
Unfulfilled as a miner's wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: "Me or that alligator!" After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.
Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam's rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.


Elsie Lavender Hickam received a rather unusual wedding gift from her previous fiance Buddy Ebsen, a baby alligator. Mrs. Hickam adored that alligator and lovingly raised it in the coalfields of West Virginia. When the alligator scared her husband out of the house without his pants, Elsie had to choose between her husband and the alligator. What ensues is the hilarious tale of Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam.

Imagine the late 1920s and a young woman, Elsie Lavender, raised in the coalfields of West Virginia is now living it up in a pre-Disney Orlando, Florida. She's attending secretarial school, working as a waitress, and enjoying the company of the up-and-coming actor/dancer Buddy Ebsen. Elsie and Buddy get engaged and then he receives a job opportunity in New York city and then California. Weeks and months go by without any correspondence from her fiance, so Elsie returns to rural West Virginia and her family. She receives an unusual marriage proposal from her future husband's boss, ponders the proposal, and subsequently marries the young man, Homer Hickam. After their marriage, she receives a belated wedding present from Buddy Ebsen, a baby alligator named Albert. When forced to choose between her husband and the alligator, she chooses her husband (somewhat reluctantly it appears) with the proviso that they must return Albert to Florida. Now if the picture of an alligator being raised in the coalfields of West Virginia in the 1930s wasn't strange enough, imagine this husband, wife and alligator on the road...oops, I almost forgot the rooster that decided to travel with them.

To give you an idea of just how hilarious the travel adventures of Elsie, Homer, and Albert were, you only have to look at some of the titles for sections of the book: How Elsie Became a Radical; How Elsie Rode the Thunder Road, Homer Wrote a Poem, and Albert Transcended Reality; How Albert Flew; How Homer and Elsie Saved a Movie and Albert Played a Crocodile; and, How Homer and Elsie Survived a Hurricane - A Real One as Well as the One in Their Hearts. Elsie and Homer have some amazing adventures on their quest to return Albert home, including foiling a bank robbery, meeting John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway, participating in the illegal transportation of moonshine, and more. Elsie even becomes a millionaire for a few hours in North Carolina. The 1000 mile road trip this couple took provides some poignant and heart-touching moments along with some outrageously funny moments. 

Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator is much more than a story of returning an animal to its native habitat, it's about letting go of the past, overcoming jealousy, being happy with what you have (without giving up on your dreams), as well as finding and accepting love. Homer Hickam has taken the outlandish and fantastical tales about his parents' trip in the 1930s and made it into a fictionalized story that is a testament to fortitude and love. Carrying Albert Home was a fast-paced read for me and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. (Adding to that enjoyment was the ability to see Mr. Hickam, the author, at the recent West Virginia Book Festival.) Don't put Carrying Albert Home on a TBR list, go out, grab a copy, and then sit down and read it...you won't be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Showcase: BRYANT'S GAP by Michael Burge


Bryant's Gap


Michael E. Burge


on Tour October 12 - November 13, 2015





Synopsis:


coverIn 1947 postwar Chicago, mob related violence is commonplace. Nothing stands in the way of the "Outfit" when it comes to making money; a body here or there, who really cares as long as everyone's pockets are lined, but when a man is found dead in a small Illinois town—people take notice.

Bargetown's Chief of Police Bert Thatcher looks to a seasoned and astute railroad detective, Grady Colston, for help in solving the case. Fate has brought them together, but they soon realize just how much they have in common. A tight bond develops between the two men as they strive to uncover the identity of the man found dead on the railroad tracks—his right arm severed. As the investigation unfolds, surprising details of the man's past come to light, and the circumstances of his death pose a major dilemma for Grady and Bert.



Book Details:



Genre:  Mystery


Published by:   Michael E. Burge


Publication Date:  May 19, 2015 


Number of Pages:  306


ISBN:   9780996309806


Purchase Links: Amazon Goodreads





Read an excerpt:


Excerpted from Chapter 2


FOLLOW THE TRACKS

Bargetown, IL
Thursday—August 7, 1947
Afternoon

Bert Thatcher, Bargetown's chief of police for the last twenty years, was standing about a hundred yards down the railroad tracks when Grady Colston spotted him from the highway.

Grady slowly worked his way down the steep, moss-covered concrete embankment under the overpass. A foot in the wrong place and he would be on his ass, sliding toward the thick patch of bramble below.

When he reached level ground, he walked along the narrow, overgrown path to a small clearing where he had access to the tracks. A dozen crows were circling overhead, and from a nearby grove of pines, he could hear the annoying chatter of a host of others. He climbed the mound of ballast, stepped between the rails, and began moving from one tie to the next, carefully avoiding the pools of oil that had collected in several locations along the way. The last time he'd walked a stretch of tracks he had to scrap the pants he was wearing and use turpentine to remove the tar and oil that coated his newly polished Florsheims.

Grady had been a railroad detective for more than two decades. He had walked miles of track. Not my favorite part of the job, he thought, as he moved gingerly along, instinctively looking for anything that didn’t fit the scene.  

He could smell the diesel fuel from the exhaust vents in the corrugated-metal Quonset hut in the lot adjacent to the tracks. The mechanics were busy inside. He could hear the sound of motors and metal-to-metal hammering. The sign on the front of the building read:

WILKES DIESEL ENGINE REPAIR

As he approached, he could see patches of sweat adorning the Chief's khaki shirt. His dark green trousers were sharply creased, and there was a narrow black stripe running down the outside seam. The green matched the wide-brimmed straw campaign hat that sat high on his head. His holster was slung low around his waist to accommodate his melon-sized belly, and the .45 revolver looked a lot like the one Joel McCrea used to shoot his way through Indian Territory in a movie Grady had seen a year ago.

He'd never met Bert Thatcher, but recognized him from photographs. Bert was puffing on a cigar, studying the scene around the body that lay at his feet. Grady extended his hand. Bert grabbed it, squeezed, and pumped like he was trying to bring water up from a dry well.

"Good to finally meet you, Mr. Colston."

"It's a pleasure, please, call me Grady. I don't know why we haven't bumped into each other over the years, Chief. We've both been at this business a long time."

"I saw you around the depot a time or two. Meant to introduce myself, but wasn't quick enough on the draw. You were gone before I could get to you."

"How did you know I was in town?"

"I had my secretary call the Illinois Central office about an hour ago to get some information on the train schedules, and they told her you were here. Good thing they were able to get ahold of you before you checked out. I'm bettin' you've dealt with a lot more stiffs over the years than I have, and I've got a strong feelin' I'm going to need all the help I can get on this one."

Bert reached down, lifted the gray tarp from the body, and tossed it aside. It was a man's body, lying face down, outside and parallel to one of the track rails. The light green short-sleeved shirt and dark pants he wore were matted with dried blood that had flowed from a place below his right shoulder, where his arm had been attached.

"Where the hell is his arm?" Grady asked, scanning the area for a clue.

"Not much mystery there," Bert said, and pointed to a spot down the tracks about thirty yards. "We threw a tarp over the limb as well. Birds were feeding on it. I reckon dogs may have dragged it to where it is now. There's a pack of wild ones that cross through this patch a few times a day on their way to the dump. Some of the men who work at Wilkes' don't even like walking to their vehicles at night. A couple of those hounds looked rabid."

While the chief was talking, Grady spotted the trail of blood from the body along the track toward the severed limb.

"The way I see it, this fella was looking for a hitch to somewhere down the line and decided to let the I.C. pay for the ticket." Bert was chewing on the end of his cigar stub between words. "Looks like he may have made a slight miscalculation when he tried to grab on, got caught up somehow and was dragged a ways. Got a contusion on the side of his coconut the size of a baseball, and cuts and bruises all over his body. He probably fell under the train and it lopped off his arm, or maybe he was lyin' there and another train came along and did the job. Either way, let's hope the blow to the head knocked him silly before the arm got ripped. I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy."




Review:

Bryant's Gap is an intriguing murder mystery with much stronger character development than you see in many of today's bestsellers. ~ Kimberly @ Lazy Day Books




Author Bio:


Michael E. Burge learned to play the piano in his forties, golf in his fifties, and now, recently retired from a career in marketing, has gone on to publish his first novel—Bryant's Gap. Set in 1947, the story is peppered with childhood memories of the locations where he grew up; a small town on the Wabash River and the suburbs of Chicago.

Catch Up:
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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Michael E. Burge. There will be 1 US winner of a $20 Amazon Gift card & multiple US winners of 1 eBook copy of Bryant's Gap by Michael E. Burge. The giveaway begins on October 12th, 2015 and runs through October 13th, 2015. For US residents only.
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 Book 327: HANOVER HOUSE by Brenda Novak

Hanover House (Hanover House Chronicles #0.5) by Brenda Novak
ISBN: 9781928068723 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781928068358 (ebook)
ASIN: B013F9NVY4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 1, 2015 
Publisher: Brenda Novak, Inc.


Welcome to Hanover House….
Psychiatrist Evelyn Talbot has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the psychopathic mind. Why do psychopaths act as they do? How do they come to be? Why don't they feel any remorse for the suffering they cause? And are there better ways of spotting and stopping them?
After having been kidnapped, tortured and left for dead when she was just a teenager—by her high school boyfriend—she's determined to understand how someone she trusted so much could turn on her. So she's established a revolutionary new medical health center in the remote town of Hilltop, Alaska, where she studies the worst of the worst.
But not everyone in Hilltop is excited to have Hanover House and its many serial killers in the area. Alaskan State Trooper, Sergeant Amarok, is one of them. And yet he can't help feeling bad about what Evelyn has been through. He's even attracted to her. Which is partly why he worries.
He knows what could happen if only one little thing goes wrong…


Evelyn Talbot suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of her teenage boyfriend twenty years ago. Now she spends her time trying to understand the evil that lurks in the minds of psychopaths. Fighting for funding and a location for a new type of research facility, she's awaiting completion of Hanover House in Hilltop, Alaska. Just when it looks like things are going to go forward as planned, vandals strike Hanover House and Evelyn is attacked by an inmate in California. If that's not bad enough, Evelyn's teenage attacker has never been found and he is still obsessed with the "one that got away" in Hanover House by Brenda Novak. 

Hanover House is a fast-paced and quick read with less than 200 pages. Ms. Novak has done a wonderful job of creating characters and a setting for the Hanover House Chronicles series. Hanover House is the prequel novella to the upcoming Hanover House Chronicles series. The first full book in this series, Whiteout, is expected in 2016 from St. Martin's Press. This prequel has action that takes place in California, Massachusetts, and Alaska. The reader is introduced to Evelyn Talbot, Sergeant Benjamin Murphy aka Sergeant Amarok, Evelyn's parents, and even Evelyn's teenage attacker Jasper Moore aka Andy Smith. There's a lot of tension in the story revolving around Evelyn's work, her attraction to Amarok, and her inhibitions as a result of her attack as a teenager. There's additional tension from the residents of Hilltop concerning Hanover House and then there's the ongoing obsession for Evelyn by Jasper Moore. Obviously there's a lot more going on, but I don't want to reveal too much (read the book). I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hanover House and am greatly looking forward to reading Whiteout next year.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015 Book 326: SMOKE by Catherine McKenzie

Smoke by Catherine McKenzie
ISBN: 9781503947214 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781503945654 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781501277764 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00VOLHKJ8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 20, 2015 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing


From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.
After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.
For Elizabeth's ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation. 
As the encroaching inferno threatens the town's residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

Elizabeth Martin thought her life would get better when she became an investigator with the local prosecuting attorney's office. The slower pace, she presumed, would reduce stress and be more conducive to finally starting a family with her husband. Mindy Mitchell's family has already been through the ringer when her infant daughter had a brush with death due to an undiagnosed hole in her heart. Now both Elizabeth and Mindy must deal with unforeseen life changes and major complications after a local fire wreaks havoc in their small town in the latest Catherine McKenzie novel, Smoke.

Elizabeth and Ben have been married for ten years but together a total of sixteen years. Elizabeth has worked as a fire spotter, fighting wildfires, and an arson investigator; Ben works as a teacher at the local private school. For the past few years, she and Ben have been trying to start a family. Elizabeth presumed it was the stress of her job that was a contributing factor to their inability to get pregnant, so she took the job at the local prosecuting attorney's office. Regrettably, things haven't worked out the way she expected and she's asked Ben for a divorce. Then a local house burns down and a wildfire threatens their neighborhood and town. Will this investigation and fire be the final blow to their marriage or can it bring them closer together?

Mindy Mitchell's family relocated to the Rockies after her daughter's brush with death. Her daughter Carrie is now a healthy thirteen-year-old focused on ballet. Mindy's son, Angus, is no longer the talkative and energetic boy she once knew. He's quiet and secretive and Mindy fears the worse. After a local house fire, she's sure her son is hiding something from her but isn't sure she really wants to know the truth.

Smoke is another amazing story by Ms. McKenzie. Both Elizabeth and Mindy, along with their families, are at crossroads in their lives. Elizabeth is investigating the fire and wants nothing more than to save her home and possibly her marriage. Mindy is dealing with bullying. She knows firsthand the harmful effects of bullying in her own dealings with the town's affluent popular mothers. Now, she realizes that her son is dealing with bullying at the hands of the children of those bullying mothers. Elizabeth and Mindy are forced to face the real problems in their lives rather than running away from them. Ms. McKenzie provides characters that are realistic and action that is wholly plausible. Needless to say, there's a lot more going on in this story than I've mentioned (read it to find out for yourself). I found Smoke to be a fast-paced and engrossing read about friendship, love, loss, second chances, secrets, privilege, and bullying (without being preachy in tone). If you've read books by Ms. McKenzie in the past you'll want to add Smoke to your TBR list. If you've never read anything by Ms. McKenzie and enjoy fiction about friends and family, then Smoke may be the perfect place to start (trust me, after reading it you'll want to go back and read her other books).

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, October 19, 2015

2015 Book 324: THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton

The Lake House by Kate Morton
ISBN: 9781451649321 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781451649376 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781489019912 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00LD1S3PY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 20, 2015 
Publisher: Atria Books


From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.
Living on her family's idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer's eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo's case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather's house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

In the summer of 1933, Alice Edevane is 16-years-old with two sisters and an infant brother. The Edevanes live in Loeanneth, the lake house, in Cornwall. Alice is a burgeoning writer with a crush on a visiting gardener. The morning after the family's big Midsummer party, the youngest Edevane, Theo, is missing. A search ensues, but the mystery of Theo's disappearance is never solved. Fast forward to 2003 and disgraced police detective Sadie Sparrow visits her grandfather in Cornwall. When Sadie learns about the mystery surrounding Theo Edevane's disappearance, she launches her own investigation in The Lake House by Kate Morton.

The Edevane household consists of father - Anthony, the mother - Eleanor, eldest daughter - Deborah, middle daughter - Alice, youngest daughter - Clementine or Clemmie, infant son - Theo, Eleanor's mother - Grandmother de Shiel, the elderly Daffyd Llewellyn - an author and former physician, and a host of servants. Mr. Llewellyn was a friend of Eleanor's father and wrote a book featuring a young Eleanor. We learn that Eleanor had a tumultuous relationship with her mother after her father's death, falls in love at first sight with Anthony Edevane, and marries him. Anthony's family is wealthy, but as the third son it is presumed he'll have to work for his living. Tragically, his parents and older brothers die on the Titanic and he and Eleanor become wealthy overnight. Although Anthony studied to become a surgeon, World War I leaves him suffering from severe shell shock and unable to control tremors in his hands. The family quite happily resides at Loeanneth until Theo disappears. Loeanneth is closed and the family moves to London. The Edevane family is destroyed by the secrets kept as much as their grief over Theo's disappearance.

In 2003, Sadie Sparrow is advised to take time off from the London police department after she commits the unpardonable sin of talking to the press about a case. She decides to visit her grandfather, Bertie, in Cornwall. Sadie's professional career hangs in the balance as she awaits a decision from administration. Her personal life is also on tenterhooks as she's been contacted by the child she gave up for adoption 14 years earlier. In an effort to ignore both situations, she decides to investigate the 70-year-old cold case relating to Theo's disappearance. Sadie contacts A.C. Edevane, a renowned mystery author, seeking questions about the Edevane family and Theo's case, but is rebuffed. Is it possible she can discover the truth after all these years? Should the secrets of the past be kept in the past?

If you couldn't tell by now, I loved The Lake House. This isn't a fast or quick read, but it is a story to be savored and well worth the time invested. I enjoyed Ms. Morton's ability to weave the stories of Constance and Anthony from the early 1900s, the Edevane family in the 1930s and 1940s, and the contemporary action taking place in 2003. Yes, there's a lot of information provided, but this is essentially a story within a story within a story, namely those of Eleanor de Shiel Edevane, Alice Edevane, and Sadie Sparrow. These stories are all linked and it is necessary to know them all in order to understand what happened, what is happening, and why. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing who did what and why. As soon as it appears an answer is found, the story takes a major turn and a new theory is presented. The Lake House is a hauntingly beautiful story about secrets, promises kept, second chances, love, family, and more wrapped in a 70-year-old mystery. If you're looking for the perfect fall read (okay the perfect read for any season), then I strongly suggest you read The Lake House. Something tells me this is going to be one book I pick up to reread every now and again.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bookish Ramblings - Fall 2015

      I consider myself very fortunate to have good friends and family to support me throughout the year with my host of medical problems (chronic migraine headaches, fast-developing cataracts, and more). I treasure these people and thank them for all manner of things, especially for facilitating my continued attendance at various book festivals. Before having cataract surgery, it was close to impossible for me to drive great distances due to obvious vision issues. Add to that the fact that I have a migraine headache each and every day (yes, I do mean every day!), it becomes problematic to drive great distances simply because I have no way of knowing if the migraine headache will ratchet up from moderate to severe and thus interfere with my ability to safely travel home. As a result, I'm usually in need of a travel companion whenever I'm attempting to go more than an hour away from home.



Festival #1: 

      This year, one of my friends from a local book group, Shelley, was gracious enough to travel with me to a regional book festival in August, the Lewisburg Literary Festival. (Also met up with another book group friend, Veronica, and her husband.) I'm the type of person that's willing to drive up to four hours just to meet one of my favorite authors, so the day-trip to Lewisburg was nothing more than a scenic drive to me. Of course, getting to hear both Wiley Cash and Kathryn Stockett, as well as getting books signed by both authors was the highpoint of the day. Spending the day with two of my bookish friends, Shelley and Veronica were additional bonuses. An extra bonus was not having that day's migraine interfere with driving to and from Lewisburg or being able to enjoy the presentations by Mr. Cash and Ms. Stockett. BTW, if you ever get the opportunity to hear either of these authors speak, go!

Festival #2:

     I've spent the past few years raving about the BookMarks festival in Winston-Salem, NC to friends and family. I've had the pleasure of taking my nieces to this festival and they've enjoyed it as well. This year, one of my bookish friends from North Carolina (a fantastic romance author and former local librarian) decided to attend the festival and we talked another local librarian into attending. My youngest brother, twin diva 8-year-old nieces, and I drove down to spend the weekend in Winston-Salem and attend this year's festival. The author lineup was amazing: Garth Stein, R.L. Stine, Sandra Brown, Diane Ackerman, Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Ron Rash, Candace Bushnell, Damon Tweedy, Elizabeth Berg, Patricia Park, Kwame Alexander, Aisha Saeed, and many more. For me, the hardest decisions were which presentation to attend (I wanted to hear everyone) and which books to buy (I wanted them all). My nieces were excited to get books and have them signed by the authors. One of the twins deliberated for close to 10 minutes over what should be signed in her book (told you they were divas). This one-day festival is well worth the trip in my not-so-humble-opinion. Of course, since I didn't have to drive, I spent the trip down and back reading.

Festival #3:

     The West Virginia Book Festival returns this year, YAY! Due to budget cuts and funding issues, this festival has been on hiatus for the past two years. However, the WV Book Festival returns this weekend with a bang. Friday evening features Neil Gaiman. Yes, Neil Gaiman will be at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston, WV on Friday, October 23rd at 7:00 PM at the Charleston Civic Center. Saturday, October 24th will feature Homer Hickam, Jacqueline Woodson, Jeff Shaara, and Jodi Picoult. To say that I'm excited about this festival is a major understatement. This year's book festival is part of FestivALL Fall, so there are plenty of events happening around town for everyone. I'll be with the books and book people!


Do you attend any local or regional book festivals? 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Showcase: THE LEBRUS STONE by Miriam Khan

The Lebrus Stone by Miriam Khan
ISBN: 9781624202063 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781624200984 (ebook)
ASIN: B00QCR4C0E (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press




Eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, decides to spend the summer with her great uncle's widow and three teenaged children at Thorncrest Manor. But her second cousins have mixed reactions to her visit, other than the friendly housekeeper, she finds two possible advantages: Cray Locke, her (non-blood related) strikingly handsome cousin who seems hell bent on keeping his distance, and Jess, a local who explains that her grandmother believed all the women on Crystal's mother's side of the family died after childbirth. A psychic finally convinces Crystal to visit a coven of white witches to uncover the truth about her ancestors. When Crystal is mentally transported to the year 1856, she learns of a tragic love story, a war between two species, and the plans of an evil enemy.


Read an excerpt here. 


Watch the book trailer:








Meet the author:


Miriam is from Cheshire, England and a family of six siblings. Her love for creativity led to acting at her local theatre before being a lead vocalist in rock bands. During those years, she often found solace penning her thoughts and feelings through lyrics or poetry. She chose not to continue singing in 2006, and two years later she woke up with the idea for The Lebrus Stone and began writing and revising it for the next six years. She is now eager to see what readers will think.

Connect with the author:     Author's Blog      |     Facebook 


Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Book 318: NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 9781402258640 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781402258657 (ebook)
ASIN: B00VGY4RA8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 (Originally published in 1997)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark



SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF LEGEND LIES THE KEY TO HER TERRIFYING DREAMS
The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift - conveniently in search of an agent - is the deciding factor. On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen's baby arouses painful memories of Lyn's own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.
Who is the father of Elen's baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen's dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.


Lynette Ravenshaw is a widowed literary agent in London, presumed to still be grieving the loss of her son during childbirth. At the request of one of the authors she represents, Bridget Cooper, she decides to head to Wales for the Christmas holidays. They will be staying with an award-nominated author looking for a new agent. What she doesn't know is that Bridget is looking to seduce a local playwright and only wants Lyn to accompany her for the express purposes of keeping company with their host in Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley.

Bridget Cooper is a popular author with a reputation of being difficult. Lynette, or Lyn, has been Bridget's agent for four years, and although she finds Bridget taxing at times she actually likes her. It is primarily for this reason that she decides to forego her family's Christmas in Canada and travels to Wales for the holiday with Bridget. Unbeknownst to either of them, the next door neighbor to their host is also widowed and with an infant son. Elen Vaughan might be considered flighty or taken with flights of fancy, but she thinks she's heard the voice of Merlin and dreams that the "white dragon" from the local tower is after her son. Being exposed to an infant is difficult enough for Lyn, but her dreams seem to be mirrors of Elen's dreams. Is this the reason that Elen has latched onto Lyn as the one meant to save her son? 

Named of the Dragon is a reprint of an older title by Ms. Kearsley and I'm glad it's back in print. This particular story takes elements of Arthurian legend and Merlin's prophecies, mixed with the history of the Tudor family, specifically Henry VII, into a modern story of a fatherless son, a whimsical mother sworn to protect her child, and the mystery surrounding his paternity. Added into the mix is the friendship between Lyn and the local playwright, Bridget's quest to seduce the local playwright, and the author hosting their holiday visit plans to romance Bridget. Yes, it does sound deliciously twisted, but Ms. Kearsley takes these twists and provides a delightful story that borders on being gothic. I found this to be a fast-paced read and was only slowed down by several severe migraine headaches. (I hated putting Named of the Dragon aside, but since it was difficult to hold my head upright I allowed the migraine to override my reading preference.) I enjoyed the history, folklore, and legends provided in the story, as well as the romance and intrigue. If you've never read anything by Ms. Kearsley then Named of the Dragon is a good place to start. If you've read any of her current works, then you'll definitely want to grab a copy of Named of the Dragon. I've said it before and it bears repeating, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Kearsley in the future. 


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.
As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.
Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.
Told with Diane Chamberlain's compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   


Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she's told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain's latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in "pretend" therapy, based on the idea that "if you pretend you're the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person." He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly's "mother" or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly's birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father's book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father's death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She's told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that's not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she's been pretending to be an orphan won't make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father's death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly's story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child's life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn't lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child's love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she's been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn't possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you'll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

















Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."