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

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 Book 399: A HOPE DIVIDED by Alyssa Cole

A Hope Divided (The Loyal League #2) by Alyssa Cole
ISBN: 9781496707468 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781496707475 (ebook)
ASIN: B06XFJ6224 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 28, 2017 
Publisher: Kensington Books

The Civil War has turned neighbor against neighbor—but for one scientist spy and her philosopher soldier, war could bind them together . . . 
For three years of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother's traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her—until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie's home for their new base of operations in the guerrilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.
Unbeknownst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible.
When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie's freedom on the line, she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love—and freedom—before they ever cross state lines. 

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Marlie Lynch was born as a free Black and raised by her mother, Vivienne, in eastern North Carolina for the first thirteen years of her life. Then things changed. A white woman, Sarah Lynch, came to their home, claimed Marlie as family and took her back to the Lynch's ancestral home, Lynchwood. Marlie was viewed by many as a "witch woman" simply because she was born with heterochromia or two different colored eyes, one brown and the other hazel/green. But Sarah didn't see this as anything abnormal and ensured Marlie received an education, was allowed to participate in Unionist activities (if so desired), as well as further her scientific exploration into herbalism and aromatherapy. Marlie began using the skills she learned from her mother as a natural healer and the scientific knowledge of herbalism to help neighbors, escaping slaves and Freemen, and even Union soldiers at a local prison. It is at the local prison that Marlie is able to utilize another skill as a member of the Loyal League by receiving and sending coded messages from prisoners and others. One of the prisoners that she's built up quite a rapport with is a man she refers to as Socrates or Ewan McCall. Prison life is harsh but endurable until the Confederate Home Guard takes over and the leader of the Home Guard becomes a frequent visitor then a permanent guest at Marlie's home. Then Marlie is treated with disdain and even threatened with enslavement (not just slavery but sold into prostitution). Her only option is to find refuge in her quarters. That refuge becomes all the more important when there's a prison break, Ewan is one of the few prisoners to get away, and he's hidden away in a secret space in Marlie's quarters. Then Ewan and Marlie stumble upon a secret that almost destroys Marlie. Can these two formidable former philosophical sparring partners become friends fighting a battle against a common enemy? Is it possible for Marlie's family to stand up to the Home Guard and protect her or will she need to run away? Can Ewan keep his promise and protect Marlie at all cost?

A Hope Divided is the second story in the Loyal League series by Alyssa Cole and takes place during the Civil War era. Once again, the story features a strong, educated, and independent-minded female and a strong, cocky, male. It was a fast-paced and emotionally engaging read. What makes these stories such a nice change of pace for me is that the women are often the ones to the rescue although they are periodically in need of rescuing as well. Yes, there's romance, it is an HEA, but there's also history, a strong sense of the turmoil of the time, drama, and more. I enjoy the way Ms. Cole blends the history of the time with the storyline, the Resistors, the Unionists, the inherent dangers of those involved in the Loyal League, and the way the Confederate Home Guard had little regard for its treatment of women or children, much less men be they Confederates or not. All is not happy and light in A Hope Divided even though it does end with a Happy-Ever-After. If you read An Extraordinary Union then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of A Hope Divided to read. For those of you that enjoy historical romance, especially Black historical romance, if you haven't read An Extraordinary Union, then go grab a copy, read it, then get a copy of A Hope Divided to read. I'm hoping there will be more historical romance from Ms. Cole in the future, especially in the Loyal League series as I'm hooked.

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book 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, November 26, 2017

2017 Book 397: DARK HARVEST by Chris Patchell

Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell
ISBN: 9781546428442 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781543672374 (audiobook)
ASIN: B06XK11GY4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 30, 2017 
Publisher: Kindle Press 

Becky Kincaid ventures out in the middle of a snowstorm to buy a car seat for her unborn baby and never makes it home. When a second pregnant woman disappears, Marissa Rooney and the team at the Holt Foundation fear a sinister motive lurks behind the crimes.
Lead investigator, Seth Crawford, desperately searches for the thread that binds the two cases together, knowing that if he fails, another woman will soon be gone. While Seth hunts for clues, a madman has Marissa in his sights and she carries a secret that could tear her whole world apart.
Can Seth stop the killer before he reaps his...
Dark Harvest  

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Marissa Rooney, Seth Crawford, Henry (the hacker), and Ethan Holt are the current team at the Holt Foundation. The foundation, begun by Ethan's aunt Elizabeth Holt, is charged with helping the victims of crimes and their families. The foundation's current task is to help find out what happened to Rebecca Kincaid, a missing pregnant teenager. The police presume her former boyfriend has something to do with Becky's absence, but the more Seth, the foundation's investigator, delves into the case, the more he has a hunch there's something more going on. Then a second pregnant woman goes missing within days of Becky. The police don't believe this could be serial abductions related to the women being pregnant, but Seth is beginning to have his doubts. His doubts are redoubled when he finds out that unusual blood tests were run on both women, healthy women with no red flags in their family histories. In the midst of the investigation, the Foundation seems to be floundering without a real leader at the helm, Marissa and Seth's relationship also seems to be floundering, and Marissa's daughter Brooke is having a difficult time adjusting to life after captivity. What more could possibly go wrong? (Never, ever ask that question!)

Dark Harvest is the second book in the Holt Foundation series by Chris Patchell and the first that I've read. The first book, In The Dark, apparently introduces all of the major characters and deals with Brooke's abduction and subsequent release. I found Dark Harvest to be a relatively fast-paced and engaging read, it did slow down at times when dealing with details from the previous story and the intermittent flashbacks from characters in this story. Did that detract from the story? Not at all. The story is filled with the mystery behind the abductions of the pregnant women, the suspense in wondering if someone will figure out what's going on and save the women before it's too late (no I won't tell you if it's too late or not, read the book!), the normal drama of being a single-parent attempting to have a relationship, the abnormal drama of dealing with a child post-abduction, the ups-and-downs in a relationship, the stress and drama at the workplace, and more. Yes, there's a lot going on this story with bad guys, really bad guys, and just plain evil and crazy guys not to mention the good guys fighting against bad and evil/crazy. I enjoyed reading Dark Harvest and will have to find the time to read In The Dark and hopefully any other books in the Holt Foundation series that may be coming.

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher via Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. 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, November 20, 2017

2017 book 394: THE WHISPERING ROOM by Dean Koontz

The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz
ISBN: 9780345546807 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345546814 (ebook)
ASIN: B071CJBDJL (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 21, 2017 
Publisher: Bantam

Jane Hawk—fiction's most relentless, resourceful, stunning new heroine—continues her battle against a murderous conspiracy in the riveting sequel to The Silent Corner.

"No time to delay. Do what you were born to do. Fame will be yours when you do this." 
These are the words that ring in the mind of mild-mannered, beloved schoolteacher Cora Gundersun—just before she takes her own life, and many others', in a shocking act of carnage. When the disturbing contents of her secret journal are discovered, it seems certain that she must have been insane. But Jane Hawk knows better.
In the wake of her husband's inexplicable suicide—and the equally mysterious deaths of scores of other exemplary individuals—Jane picks up the trail of a secret cabal of powerful players who think themselves above the law and beyond punishment. But these ruthless people bent on hijacking America's future for their own monstrous ends never banked on a highly trained FBI agent willing to go rogue—and become the nation's most wanted fugitive—in order to derail their insidious plans to gain absolute power with a terrifying technological breakthrough.
Driven by love for her lost husband and by fear for the five-year-old son she has sent into hiding, Jane Hawk has become an unstoppable predator. Those she is hunting will have nowhere to run when her shadow falls across them.  

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Jane Hawk, a twenty-something former FBI-agent, is still grieving the murder-by-suicide of her beloved husband Noah. Their five-year-old son, Travis, has been safely hidden away from the people behind her husband's murder. Jane doesn't know how high up in the government this group goes, but she does know it has ties to the NSA and possibly the FBI, as a result, she can't trust any of her former colleagues. She's now relying on the criminal connections to stay one step ahead of the group that wants her and thousands of others dead. After rigorously questioning a California attorney with ties to one of the leaders of the group, Jane learns that the group has ties to a small town in Kentucky. Meanwhile, in rural Minnesota, a beloved local teacher commits an action that no one understands. Cora Gundersun drives her SUV, containing numerous gasoline-filled canisters that she then sets afire, into a historic inn and restaurant killing dozens of people. Why? Because she was told to do so by the spider in her brain. The local sheriff, Luther Tillman, discovers the reason for Cora's actions and refuses to take part in the government cover-up. He also learns that Cora hasn't been quite the same since she returned from Iron Furnace Lake, Kentucky. Both Jane and Luther converge on Iron Furnace Lake and what they found is shocking (no I won't tell you what they find, read the book!). Will they join forces? Can they protect their families? Will they be able to stay one step ahead of this all-powerful group? 

Jane Hawk, star of The Silent Corner, returns to right wrongs, fight for truth, justice, and battle unseen forces of evil in The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz. I enjoyed reading The Silent Corner so much that I re-reread it before reading The Whispering Room (yes, you read that right, I've read it twice so far this year). Jane is not your typical hero, as she no longer functions in shades of black and white, keeping everything legal and aboveboard. She now has to function in the shades of gray just to stay alive. Just as the group consistently underestimates Jane, they also underestimate Luther Tillman, as he's initially written off as a simple, local sheriff with a third-tier college education and obviously no threat to these Ivy-league educated powerbrokers. There's a lot of action in The Whispering Room and just enough tech explanations to make you never want to touch a computer, tablet, or smartphone ever again. As with The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room is a story about family, friends, trust, power gone wrong, corruption, and more. There's also drama, action, and humor. Just in case you couldn't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed The Whispering Room and found it to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. For those of you that enjoy reading suspense thrillers, then I strongly recommend you grab a copy of The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room to read. For those of you that have already read The Silent Corner, I know you'll want to get a copy of The Whispering Room to read to find out what happens next. I'm looking forward to reading the next Jane Hawk installment, The Crooked Staircase, coming in the Spring of 2018 (and yes, I'll be re-reading The Silent Corner and The Whispering Room).

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book 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."

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Guest Post: Alex Gray, author of A POUND OF FLESH

A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

Good morning, my bookish peeps. I know, I've said it before and it bears repeating, I am incredibly pleased and honored when an author agrees to visit my blog. Today, the Book Diva's Reads is honored to host a visit by Alex Gray, the acclaimed author of the DCI Lorimer series, including A Pound of Flesh. Ms. Gray will be providing us with some insight into how she researches her police procedurals. Without further adieu, I give you Alex Gray.

Writing the Lorimer series: How I research my police procedurals

When I knew that I wanted to write police procedurals I had no knowledge at all of what the police did to catch criminals and so I wrote to the Chief Constable in my area to ask for help. He kindly directed me to my local police station where I was shown around but something in my professional approach must have been noticed as I was then invited to visit a Divisional Headquarters where I met my first Detective Chief Inspector, the late Ronnie Beattie, a lovely man who was definitely an influence when I was describing my own DCI, William Lorimer. Coming from a position of complete ignorance has actually been to my long-term benefit as I met up not just then but in all the following years with senior police officers that gave me great insight into their work.

Nowadays I am very lucky to have the ear of a man who is currently acting head of Police Scotland and who sees my writing as an opportunity to show what the police really do. It is, he tells me, a two-way process; I find out all the details I need in order to authenticate my stories and the reading public have a chance to learn what really happens behind the scenes of a crime. So, I have been in several Scottish prisons, have talked to many different police officers and have also been to Gartcosh, the Scottish Police Campus that is the envy of every police force in Europe, housing almost twenty different facilities including forensic labs and anti-terrorist personnel.

However, my particular stories involve more than characters that are cops. Rosie Fergusson, my fictional forensic pathologist and her husband, Solomon Brightman, a senior psychologist and criminal profiler gave me pause for thought too. As I researched my debut novel, Never Somewhere Else, it was clear that I needed to visit Glasgow City Mortuary and so I wrote and asked permission to do just that. Not only did I meet with a lady pathologist but I was asked if I wished to see a post-mortem examination take place. Did I? You bet! That day will always be imprinted on my mind as the start of a journey that led me to take a course at the University of Glasgow in Forensic Medical Science and make lifelong friends with consultant pathologist, Dr. Marjorie Turner, who continues to help with each successive book. Not long after I also took an evening class in Forensic Psychology at the University and the tutor was very helpful when I was writing the next book in the series.

Perhaps the best thing I can pass on from my experience is to go and interview real experts; armed with ten good questions I would come home with twenty answers plus lots of great anecdotes. This was particularly true when researching The Riverman. Meeting the real-life Riverman, George Parsonage, gave me lots of insight into his work, a character for the book and even the title! Best of all, George has remained a good friend and faithfully comes to every successive book launch.

As a writer of contemporary fiction, I see the need to keep abreast of all the developments in policing and science that impinge on my books. Yet it is important to sprinkle the details sparingly; just enough detail to bring a story to life.

I hope to continue finding out more and more about the sort of work Lorimer does and the people he meets. Each new book brings challenges of its own and so I will be out and about, "walking the city streets and touching the stones" as a writer friend often says.

Write about what you know, is an often-quoted phrase yet, had I followed that advice I would never have found such joy in writing police procedurals and meeting so many folk who have given me help with research along the way.

Alex Gray

A Pound of Flesh

by Alex Gray

on Tour November 6 - December 6, 2017


A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray

In the depths of a freezing winter, Glasgow finds itself at the mercy of not one, but two serial killers

This is Detective Inspector Lorimer's worst nightmare and beyond anything he's faced in his many years on the force. Can he find a link between the brutal slaying of prostitutes in the back streets of the city and the methodical killing of several unconnected businessmen?
When the latest victim turns out to be a prominent Scottish politician, the media's spotlight is shone on Lorimer's investigation. Psychologist and criminal profiler Solly Brightman is called in to help solve the cases, but his help may be futile as they realize that someone on the inside is leaking confidential police information. Meanwhile two killers haunt the snowy streets and Lorimer must act fast, before they strike again…

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659227 (ISBN13: 9780062659224)
Series: DCI Lorimer #9
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Author Bio:

Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English. Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of fourteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website  & Twitter .

Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Witness Impulse. There will be 3 winner of one (1) eBook copy of Alex Gray's Sleep Like the Dead. The giveaway begins on November 6 and runs through December 10, 2017.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Book 390: THE MISSING by C. L. Taylor

The Missing by C. L. Taylor
ISBN: 9780062673534 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062673541 (ebook)
ASIN: B01MS3CW8P (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it…?  

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Claire and Mark Wilkinson have been coping with the disappearance of their fifteen-year-old son Billy to the best of their abilities, but their ability to cope is reaching an end. Their nineteen-year-old son Jake is drinking too much. His live-in girlfriend, Kira, seems to be on edge and doesn't want to talk to anyone. Mark is on the outs with his stepbrother. Jake and Kira's relationship seems to swing from one extreme to another. And the six-month disappearance televised appeal ended in a fiasco. Claire knows that there has to be more to Billy's disappearance than the police are telling them but she can't quite figure out. Then she wakes up far from home in a hotel and can't remember how she got there. Disoriented and confused, her husband and son track her down and bring her home. Then it happens again. After seeking medical treatment, Claire is seen by a psychotherapist. Her fugue states are tentatively diagnosed as disassociative amnesia and appear to be caused by stress. Everyone within the Wilkinson household seems to be falling apart, Claire finds out that Mark lied about why he was unable to become a police officer years ago, he may or may not have cheated on her six months ago, Jake's computer is found with graphic pictures of child pornography, someone seems to have defaced a family photo album, and Kira is becoming more and more distant. If that wasn't enough to deal with, a convicted pedophile has confessed to abducting and murdering Billy. Claire doesn't know what or who to believe, but she knows she has to find the truth even if the police cannot.

Although I found The Missing to be a slow read at times, it is one that I enjoyed. It took me awhile to get into the story and for the story to pick up the pace, but when it did it took off. Ms. Taylor (no relation) has crafted a story that kept this reader on edge and never quite sure where the story was heading. One minute I thought I knew that this person was the killer, if Billy was dead, and the next I just knew that it was another person, again presuming Billy was dead. Truthfully, I didn't really figure it out until I was about three-quarters of the way through the story and I still wasn't sure until the author confirmed my guess. (No, I won't tell you who-did-it or if Billy is actually dead or just missing...read the book!) The Missing is an intriguing psychological suspense read and the first I've read by Ms. Taylor (something tells me it won't be my last read by this author). I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the settings. If you enjoy multi-layered stories that will keep you guessing until the bitter end or are a fan of psychological suspense thrillers, then I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of The Missing by C.L. Taylor to read. Might I suggest you hold off and make this your next holiday weekend read, you may not want to put it down once you get started.

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher via TLC Book Tours. 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."

Meet the author:

C. L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Bristol, England, with her partner and son.

Find out more about C. L. at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017 Book 383: THE AUSTEN ESCAPE by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
ISBN: 9780718078096 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780718077945 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781543637472 (audiobook - CD)
ASIN: B06XFKKFLQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

After years of following her best friend's lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen's Regency England paves the way towards a new future.
Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.
With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel's have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.  

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Mary Davies is a project engineer, thanks to the influence of her father, but all is not well at her small tech company. Her current project has been sidelined as too costly with little possible return on the company's investment. The consultant hired to help the company, Nathan Hillam, seems to appreciate Mary's work and tries to befriend her, but Mary is too focused on work. Now that she thinks she's about to be fired and knows that Nathan is leaving, she has regrets that she never tried to take their relationship to the next step. Enter Isobel Dwyer, Mary's best friend since childhood. Isobel is, for all intents and purposes, Mary's surrogate sister, since they were truly raised by Mary's parents. Isobel's father was an absentee parent and she latched onto the Davies family with both hands. Now she's an English doctoral student focusing on Jane Austen, Mary's mother's favorite author, and her absentee father has financed a trip for Isobel and a friend to Bath, England. Of course, Isobel can only think of taking Mary and it takes some coercing for her to agree, but agree she does. They arrive in England without any problems and hope to enjoy their stay in a refurbished Regency era home while pretending to be Austen characters and wearing Regency clothing. Unfortunately, it appears Isobel has taken pretend a bit literally and she truly becomes her chosen character, Emma, causing quite a bit of concern for Mary. Unsure of how to proceed, Mary turns to her father and finds that Isobel has suffered from this type of "disassociative state" once in their childhood. She's advised to allow nature to take its course for a few days before seeking medical assistance. Then, Nathan arrives in England and Mary is disconcerted to learn that he not only knows Isobel but dated her. Can things get any worse for Mary and this situation?

I found The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay to be a fast-paced and highly enjoyable read. (FYI, I've enjoyed all of her previous stories and The Austen Escape comes in a close second to Dear Mr. Knightley.) Ms. Reay provides believable and realistic characters with contemporary Austen-inspired situations. Yes, there's romance but that takes a backseat at times to self-discovery and a coming-of-age awareness for both Mary and Isobel. There's tons of drama (interpersonal and intrapersonal), a few misunderstandings, more drama, hints of romance, more misunderstandings, more drama, romance, and resolution. (Hey, this is a romance so it has to have a Happy-Ever-After!) If you're a Jane Austen fan or have read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, I encourage you to grab a copy of The Austen Escape to read. If you haven't read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, then start with The Austen Escape and work your way through her backlist. You can thank me later.

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. 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."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

2017 Book 386: LIES JANE AUSTEN TOLD ME by Julie Wright

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright
ISBN: 9781629723426 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629735580 (ebook)
ASIN: B075TR2TGM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017 
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she's been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally, when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.
But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she's good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake's younger brother, Lucas.
Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. He is kind and attentive and spends his time and money caring for the less fortunate.
What she can't understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake's arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him. It isn't until Lucas reveals to Emma that he was adopted into the Hampton family that she begins to understand his loyalty to Blake as well as his devotion to the child April-she is Lucas's biological niece.
Emma opens up to Lucas about the feelings of abandonment she has harbored ever since she was a child and her mother left the family. As she helps Lucas deal with his past demons, she is able to exorcise some of her own.
Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it's time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it's time for him to love her back.  

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Emma Pierce is fierce when it comes to her marketing job. She appreciates her team and is able to pull what is needed from them without hovering, which is probably why she was named chief marketing officer for her company. If only her romantic life was as easily managed as her career. Her boyfriend, Blake Hampton, had invited her to San Diego for a quiet weekend to meet his parents and she had begged off due to work. When one of her coworkers talks her into leaving work and meeting up with Blake, she arrives in San Diego only to find that Blake is entertaining a coworker...a female coworker. Emma had already decided that her hero, Jane Austen, was a liar when it came to romance and this just proves it to her. Fortunately, Blake's younger brother Lucas comes to her rescue and drives her to the train station as she storms away from the Hampton home estate. Sadly, she returns to work on Monday with her team expecting to find an engagement ring and she has to disappoint them. She's further disappointed when an East Coast consultant is brought in and it's Lucas Hampton, who begins to plead his brother's case during lunch and every spare moment they're together. A scouting trip to the East Coast with Lucas results in Emma being massively confused and torn between her attraction to Lucas and previous feelings for his brother Blake. What's a girl to do?

I'm obviously in an Austen frame of mind at the moment (trust me, it'll make sense when you see my next review), and I found Lies Janes Austen Told Me by Julie Wright to be a fast and engaging read. I liked the characters, especially Emma and Lucas. Emma Pierce is, at least to me, an amalgamation of Emma Woodhouse, Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, and Fanny Price. Lucas seems to be a little bit Edmund Bertram and Edward Ferrars with dashes of George Knightley. There aren't really any bad guys in this story (hey, it's a romance and pseudo-coming-of-age story), just lots of misunderstood situations, jumps to conclusions, preconceived prejudices, and romance. Emma is initially disillusioned with reality versus the fictional world of Jane Austen, but once she becomes more self-confident she's able to trust her feelings and decisions when it comes to romance. If you're a romance reader, then you'll definitely want to add Lies Jane Austen Told Me to your TBR list. If you're looking for something a little different to read, grab a copy of Lies Jane Austen Told Me to read. If you take today's suggestion along with tomorrow's suggestion (trust me on this one my friends), your weekend reading has been planned and you're welcome!

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. 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, November 6, 2017

Book Showcase: HAVE YOU MET NORA? by Nicole Blades

Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades
ISBN: 9781496704610 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781496704627 (ebook)
ASIN: B01MUN863E (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Dafina
Release Date: October 31, 2017

She's blossomed from a wealthy surgeon's beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York's richest, most powerful families. But her fairytale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .
What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother's employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that "passing" as a white woman could give her everything she never had. 
Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. Her machinations are turning Nora's privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.

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Read an excerpt: [Profanity alert!]

Chapter 1 

Nora opened her eyes and stared through the darkness at the ceiling. Three twenty-eight, she thought, before rolling up off her back a little and craning her neck to look just past Fisher's shoulders at the blue numbers on the clock by his nightstand. He was dead asleep, the rhythmic flow of his deep breathing like white noise. The numbers gleamed: 03:41 AM. Close enough, she thought, and returned to the ceiling. Although Nora had long been an early riser—she couldn't remember a time when she had slept later than the sun—this was different. 
She eased the covers off and slid out from under Fisher's muscled arm, moving slow and steady toward the edge of the bed. She hopped down, landing with a soft thud and then froze, shifting her eyes back to Fisher. No change. Not even a break in the beat. Nora grabbed her iPhone and padded along the hall. The moon, pushing through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the penthouse, provided more than enough light for Nora to find the handle to the mini champagne fridge that Fisher bought for her last year. Nora gave the half-drunk bottle of Armand de Brignac—a gift from a client—her deepest bow with prayer hands before grabbing it and shutting the fridge door with her foot. She pulled the orange stopper from the bottle, letting it drop to the floor, and started typing into her phone on her way to the bathroom at the far end of the penthouse. Nora waited until she was inside the empty, freestanding tub before taking her first, long swig from the bottle. She rested her phone on the ledge of the tub and pressed a button on a remote that sent the massive blinds skyward. Nora stayed there in the empty basin, soaking in the city's glow, and waited. 
Her phone buzzed and vibrated against the acrylic. She took another sip before answering it. 
"What the hell is wrong with you?" a croaky voice said.
Nora shook her head. "I'm just—"
"Nervous? You're just nervous, hon. It's pre-wedding jitters. You're fixin' to get married to that gorgeous, big-dicked, super hot bastard in twenty-two—no—twenty-one days and you're feeling anxious. That's all. No Biggie Smalls." 
"Jenna, I'm sitting in an empty tub, pounding old champagne straight from the bottle and staring out the fucking window. Do you really think it's necessary to remind me that there are twenty-two days—" 
"Technically it's twenty-one—" 
"Jesus, fine, twenty-one days. It's twenty-one days before the wedding. I'm aware. My whole entire body is aware. We're all very aware." 
"Deep breaths, sweetheart. You're freaking out. This is what freaking out looks like on all normal women," Jenna said. Her Southern twang, though soft, still tickled Nora. "You're just different. It's foreign territory for you." 
Nora stopped mid-swig, her arm wobbling and then dropping with the weight of the bottle into her lap. "What does that mean?" she said, squinting her eyes and bracing her body. 
"Nothing, just, I don't know...I mean you're always even and calm; it's preternatural," Jenna said. "No matter what's going on, you're on like perma-chill. It's automatic for you. No headless chicken stuff." A chuckle. "It's why we kept calling you I.Q. when we first met you. Ice Queen." 
Jenna's full creaky cackle made Nora move the phone away from her ear and level it on the ledge of the tub. She could still hear Jenna from that distance, but pushed speaker anyway and went back to drinking her champagne. Nora reclined, cradling the bottle into her chest. "Ice Queen? Seriously? And here I was thinking you were dazzled by my smarts." 
"Oh, we were. Totally. By your smarts, for sure, and also your long legs, your frat-boy mouth, your perky tits, them Kelly Ripa arms, and your entire wardrobe, espesh the shoes. Plus, you speak fluent French—I mean, fucking French—and you're the first white girl I've ever met who can actually dance. Like, legit, BeyoncĂ©-backup-dancer dance. Need I go on?" 
"Yes. You need. Come on, I'm practically perfect," Nora said, the beginnings of a laugh tickling her throat. 
"Practically?" Jenna said, yawning. "Okay, so we've thoroughly covered your Boss Bitch status. It's why Fish is locking you down so fast, while those eggs are still viable." Nora's expanding grin disappeared, replaced by a clenched jaw and gnashed teeth. "What I need clarity on is: Why are dry-tub drinking again?" 
"How did you know I'm in the tub?" 
"Echoes, booby. Also, I've got you pretty much figured out. You're not the QB on this play. What's the wedding planner's name again, Gloria? Glenda? Whatever. She's the quarterback. She's the one calling all the plays, and you're watching from the sidelines and it's driving you bananz" 
"First, are you talking sports at me?"
"A little," Jenna said through her teeth.
"You're still hooking up with that sports writer guy?"
"A little."
"Wait, isn't he the one who sent you the dick pic when you asked to see his new coffee table?"
"Well, it was pretty impressive...the coffee table."
"Jesus, Jenna. What needs to happen to get you out of these dating app traps? Nothing but dumpster fires on there."
"Hold up, I met Sports Guy the old school way, my dear: at a bar, not on a dating app," Jenna said. "You kidding me? My filters are tight. He would've never made the cut." 
"What about the one who called you from rehab on what was supposed to be your third date?" 
"Oh, that whole thing was about me trying to be charitable. I'm from Texas. It's how we do." 
"Father-God, you need prayer," Nora said, closing her eyes and leaning her head back in the tub. 

Excerpt from Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades. 
Copyright © 2017 by Nicole Blades. 
Reproduced with permission from Dafina Books/Kensington. 
All rights reserved.

Meet the Author:

Nicole Blades launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine, co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women's Health. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, MarieClaire.com, WashingtonPost.com, Health, SELF, and Buzzfeed. Blades can be heard co-hosting her weekly podcast, "Hey, Sis" and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.

Connect with the author at her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

This showcase and excerpt brought to you by Wunderkind-PR