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

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Book Showcase: THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE by Rebecca Raisin



Little Bookshop on the Seine, Little Paris Collection #1/The Bookshop #2, by Rebecca Raisin
ISBN: 9781335012500 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488056628 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488207891 (audiobook - digital)
ISBN: 9781094097404 (audiobook - MP3 on CD)
ASIN: B07Z43QL3Q  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07QV8YWLK (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  HQN Books
Release Date: January 7, 2020


It's The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she's in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she's a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he'll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true. 





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Google Play Books  |  iBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  |  Target



Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE
October


With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window. 

All books 50% off.

If things didn't pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale. The thought alone was enough to make me shiver. The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk. 

Star-shaped leaves crunched underfoot. I forced a smile. A sale wouldn't hurt, and maybe it'd take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed. My rent had been hiked up. The owner of the building, a sharp-featured, silver-tongued, forty-something man, had put the pressure on me lately—to pay more, to declutter the shop, claiming the haphazard stacks of books were a fire risk. The additional rent stretched the budget to breaking level. Something had to change.

The phone shrilled, and a grin split my face. It could only be Ridge at this time of the morning. Even after being together almost a year his name still provoked a giggle. It suited him though, the veritable man mountain he was. I'd since met his mom, a sweet, well-spoken lady, who claimed in dulcet tones, that she chose his name well before his famous namesake in The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she was adamant about it, and said the TV character Ridge was no match for her son. I had to agree. Sure, they both had chiseled movie star cheekbones, and an intense gaze that made many a woman swoon, but my guy was more than just the sum of his parts—I loved him for his mind, as much as his clichéd six-pack, and broody hotness. And even better, he loved me for me.

He was the hero in my own real-life love story, and due back from Canada the next day. It'd been weeks since I'd seen him, and I ached for him in a way that made me blush.

I dashed inside, and answered the phone, breathlessly. "The Bookshop on the Corner."

"That's the voice I know and love," he said in his rich, husky tone. My heart fluttered, picturing him at the end of the line, his jet-black hair and flirty blue eyes. He simply had to flick me a look loaded with suggestion, and I'd be jelly-legged and lovestruck.

"What are you wearing?" he said.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" I held back a laugh, eager to drag it out. So far our relationship had been more long-distance than anticipated, as he flew around the world reporting on location. The stints apart left an ache in my heart, a numbness to my days. Luckily I had my books, and a sweeping romance or two helped keep the loneliness at bay.

"Tell me or I'll be forced to Skype you and see for myself."

Glancing down at my outfit, I grimaced: black tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pilled blue knit sweater, all as old as the hills of Ashford. Not exactly the type of answer Ridge was waiting for, or the way I wanted him to picture me, after so many weeks apart. "Those stockings you like, and…"

His voice returned with a growl. "Those stockings? With the little suspenders?"

I sat back into the chair behind the counter, fussing with my bangs. "The very same."

He groaned. "You're killing me. Take a photo…"

"There's no need. If you're good, I'll wear the red ones tomorrow night." I grinned wickedly. Our reunions were always passionate affairs; he was a hands-on type of guy. Lucky for him, because it took a certain type of man to drag me from the pages of my books. When he was home we didn't surface until one of us had to go to work. Loving Ridge had been a revelation, especially in the bedroom, where he took things achingly slow, drawing out every second. I flushed with desire for him.

There was a muffled voice and the low buzz of phones ringing. Ridge mumbled to someone before saying, "About tomorrow…" He petered out, regret in each syllable.

I closed my eyes. "You're not coming, are you?" I tried not to sigh, but it spilled out regardless. The lure of a bigger, better story was too much for him to resist, and lately the gaps between our visits grew wider. I understood his work was important, but I wanted him all to myself. A permanent fixture in the small town I lived in.

He tutted. "I'm sorry, baby. There's a story breaking in Indonesia, and I have to go. It'll only be for a week or two, and then I'll take some time off."

Outside, leaves fluttered slowly from the oak tree, swaying softly, until they fell to the ground. I wasn't the nagging girlfriend sort—times like this though, I was tempted to be. Ridge had said the very same thing the last three times he'd canceled a visit. But invariably someone would call and ask Ridge to head to the next location; any time off would be cut short.

"I understand," I said, trying to keep my voice bright. Sometimes I felt like I played a never-ending waiting game. Would it always be like this? "Just so you know, I have a very hot date this afternoon."

He gasped. "You better be talking about a fictional date." His tone was playful, but underneath there was a touch of jealousy to it. Maybe it was just as hard on him, being apart.

"One very hot book boyfriend…though not as delectable as my real boyfriend—but a stand-in, until he returns."

"Well, he better not keep you up half the night, or he'll have me to answer to," he faux threatened, and then said more seriously, "Things will slow down, Sarah. I want to be with you so much my soul hurts. But right now, while I'm freelance, I have to take whatever comes my way."

"I know. I just feel a bit lost sometimes. Like someone's hit pause, and I'm frozen on the spot." I bit my lip, trying to work out how to explain it. "It's not just missing you—I do understand about your job—it's…everything. The bookshop sales dwindling, the rent jacked up, everyone going on about their business, while I'm still the same old Sarah."

I'd been at this very crossroad when I'd met Ridge, and he'd swept me off my feet, like the ultimate romance hero. For a while that had been enough. After all, wasn't love always the answer? Romance aside, life was a little stagnant, and I knew it was because of my fear of change. It wasn't so much that I had to step from behind the covers of my books, rather plunge, perhaps. Take life by the scruff of the neck and shake it. But how?

"You've had a rough few weeks. That's all. I'll be back soon, and I'm sure there's something I can do to make you forget everything…"

My belly flip-flopped at the thought. He would make me forget everything that was outside that bedroom door, but then he'd leave and it would all tumble back.

What exactly was I searching for? My friends were getting married and having babies. Buying houses and redecorating. Starting businesses. My life had stalled. I was an introvert, happiest hiding in the shadows of my shop, reading romances to laze the day away, between serving the odd customer or two—yet, it wasn't enough. In small-town Connecticut, there wasn't a lot to do. And life here—calm, peaceful—was fine, but that's just it, fine wasn't enough anymore. I had this fear that life was passing me by because I was too timid to take the reins.

It was too hazy a notion of what I was trying to say, even to me. Instead of lumping Ridge with it, I changed tack. "I hope you know, you're not leaving the house when you get home. Phones will be switched to silent, computers forgotten, and the only time we're leaving the comfort of bed is when I need sustenance." A good romp around the bedroom would suffice until I could pinpoint what it was that I wanted.

"How about I sort out the sustenance?" he said, his voice heavy with desire. "And then we'll never have to leave."

"Promises, promises," I said, my breath hitching. I hoped this flash of longing would never wane, the sweet torture of anticipation.

"I have to go, baby. I'll call you tonight if it's not too late once I'm in."

"Definitely call tonight! Otherwise, I can't guarantee the book boyfriend won't steal your girlfriend. He's pretty hot, I'll have you know."

"Why am I jealous of a fictional character?" He laughed, a low, sexy sound. "OK, tonight. Love you."

"Love you too."

He hung up, leaving me dazed, and a touch lonely knowing that I wouldn't see him the next day as planned.

I tried to shake the image of Ridge from my mind. If anyone walked in, they'd see the warm blush of my cheeks, and know exactly what I was thinking. Damn the man for being so attractive, and so effortlessly sexy.

Shortly, the sleepy town of Ashford would wake under the gauzy light of October skies. Signs would be flipped to open, stoops swept, locals would amble down the road. Some would step into the bookshop and out of the cold, and spend their morning with hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot tea, and reading in any one of the cozy nooks around the labyrinth-like shop.

I loved having a place for customers to languish. Comfort was key, and if you had a good book and a hot drink, what else could you possibly need to make your day any brighter? Throw rugs and cushions were littered around seating areas. Coats would be swiftly hung on hooks, a chair found, knitted blankets pulled across knees, and their next hour or two spent, in the most relaxing of ways.

I wandered around the shop, feather duster in hand, tickling the covers, waking them from slumber. I'm sure as soon as my back was turned, the books wiggled and winked at one another, as if they were eager for the day to begin, for fingers of hazy sunlight to filter through and land on them like spotlights, as if saying, here's the book for you.

Imagine if I had to close up for good, like so many other shops had in recent times? It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience. Wasn't it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel? You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page. Read someone else's notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner.

Secondhand books had so much life in them. They'd lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They'd been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up a mountain where the air thinned.

Some had been held aloft tepid rose-scented baths, and thickened and warped with moisture. Others had childlike scrawls on the acknowledgment page, little fingers looking for a blank space to leave their mark. Then there were the pristine novels, ones that had been read carefully, bookmarks used, almost like their owner barely pried the pages open so loath were they to damage their treasure.

I loved them all.


Excerpt from The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin. Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Raisin. Published by HQN Books. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.



Meet the author




Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook and at www.rebeccaraisin.com



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, Instagram, and Goodreads

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Showcase: GOOD GIRLS LIE by JT Ellison



Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison
ISBN: 9780778330776 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780778309185 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488023569 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206696 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07P5FRJFR (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07L7B1P3Z (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  MIRA Books
Release Date: December 30, 2019


Goode girls don't lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison's pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Books-A-Million eBook  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  iBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  |  Target



Read an Excerpt


1
THE HANGING


The girl's body dangles from the tall iron gates guarding the school's entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she'll never see the achievement. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges. The last tendrils of dawn's fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground.

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty, wet hair, dark from the rains. 

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn't even clear she attends the school, despite wearing The Goode School robes. 

But she does. 

The fingerprints will prove it. Of course, there are a few people who know exactly who is hanging from the school's gates. Know who, and know why. But they will never tell. As word spreads of the apparent suicide, The Goode School's all-female student body begin to gather, paying silent, terrified homage to their fallen compatriot. The gates are closed and locked—as they always are overnight—buttressed on either side by an ivy-covered, ten-foot-high, redbrick wall, but it tapers off into a knee-wall near the back entrance to the school parking lot, and so is escapable by foot. The girls of Goode silently filter out from the dorms, around the end of Old West Hall and Old East Hall to Front Street—the main street of Marchburg, the small Virginia town housing the elite prep school—and take up their positions in front of the gate in a wedge of crying, scared, worried young women who glance over shoulders looking for the one who is missing from their ranks. To reassure themselves this isn't their friend, their sister, their roommate. 

Another girl joins them, but no one notices she comes from the opposite direction, from town. She was not behind the redbrick wall. 

Whispers rise from the small crowd, nothing loud enough to be overheard but forming a single question.

Who is it? Who?

A solitary siren pierces the morning air, the sound bleeding upward from the bottom of the hill, a rising crescendo. Someone has called the sheriff. 

Goode perches like a gargoyle above the city's small downtown, huddles behind its ivy-covered brick wall. The campus is flanked by two blocks of restaurants, bars, and necessary shops. The school's buildings are tied together with trolleys—enclosed glass-and-wood bridges that make it easy for the girls to move from building to building in climate-controlled comfort. It is quiet, dignified, isolated. As are the girls who attend the school; serious, studious. Good. Goode girls are always good. They go on to great things. 

The headmistress, or dean, as she prefers to call herself, Ford Julianne Westhaven, great-granddaughter several times removed from the founder of The Goode School, arrives in a flurry, her driver, Rumi, braking the family Bentley with a screech one hundred feet away from the gates. The crowd in the street blocks the car and, for a moment, the sight of the dangling girl. No one stops to think about why the dean might be off campus this early in the morning. Not yet, anyway. 

Dean Westhaven rushes out of the back of the dove-gray car and runs to the crowd, her face white, lips pressed firmly together, eyes roving. It is a look all the girls at Goode recognize and shrink from. 

The dean's irritability is legendary, outweighed only by her kindness. It is said she alone approves every application to the school, that she chooses the Goode girls by hand for their intelligence, their character. Her say is final. Absolute. But for all her goodness, her compassion, her kindness, Dean Westhaven has a temper. 

She begins to gather the girls into groups, small knots of natural blondes and brunettes and redheads, no fantastical dye allowed. Some shiver in oversize school sweatshirts and running shorts, some are still in their pajamas. The dean is looking for the chick missing from her flock. She casts occasional glances over her shoulder at the grim scene behind her. She, too, is unsure of the identity of the body, or so it seems. Perhaps she simply doesn't want to acknowledge the truth. 

The siren grows to an earsplitting shriek and dies midrange, a soprano newly castrated. The deputies from the sheriff's office have arrived, the sheriff hot on their heels. Within moments, they cordon off the gates, move the students back, away, away. One approaches the body, cataloging; another begins taking discreet photographs, a macabre paparazzi. 

They speak to Dean Westhaven, who quietly, breathlessly, admits she hasn't approached the body and has no idea who it might be. 

She is lying, though. She knows. Of course, she knows. It was inevitable. 

The sheriff, six sturdy feet of muscle and sinew, approaches the gate and takes a few shots with his iPhone. He reaches for the foot of the dead girl and slowly, slowly turns her around. 

The eerie morning silence is broken by the words, soft and gasping, murmurs moving sinuously through the crowd of girls, their feet shuffling in the morning chill, the fog's tendrils disappearing from around the posts. 

They say her name, an unbroken chain of accusation and misery. 

Ash. 

Ash.

Ash.



2
THE LIES


There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet. My truth is your lie, and my lie is your truth, and there is a vast expanse between them. 

Take, for example, Ash Carlisle. 

Six feet tall, glowing skin, a sheaf of blond hair in a ponytail. She wears black jeans with rips in the knees and a loose greenand-white plaid button-down with white Adidas Stan Smiths; casual, efficient travel clothes. A waiter delivers a fresh cup of tea to her nest in the British Airways first-class lounge, and when she smiles her thanks, he nearly drops his tray—so pure and happy is that smile. The smile of an innocent. 

Or not so innocent? You'll have to decide that for yourself. Soon. 

She's perfected that smile, by the way. Practiced it. Stood in the dingy bathroom of the flat on Broad Street and watched herself in the mirror, lips pulling back from her teeth over and over and over again until it becomes natural, until her eyes sparkle and deep dimples appear in her cheeks. It is a full-toothed smile, her teeth straight and blindingly white, and when combined with the china-blue eyes and naturally streaked blond hair, it is devastating. 

Isn't this what a sociopath does? Work on their camouflage? What better disguise is there than an open, thankful, gracious smile? It's an exceptionally dangerous tool, in the right hands. 

And how does a young sociopath end up flying first class, you might ask? You'll be assuming her family comes from money, naturally, but let me assure you, this isn't the case. Not at all. Not really. Not anymore. 

No, the dean of the school sent the ticket.

Why? 

Because Ash Carlisle leads a charmed life, and somehow managed to hoodwink the dean into not only paying her way but paying for her studies this first term, as well. A full scholarship, based on her exemplary intellect, prodigy piano playing, and sudden, extraordinary need. Such a shame she lost her parents so unexpectedly. 

Yes, Ash is smart. Smart and beautiful and talented, and capable of murder. Don't think for a moment she's not. Don't let her fool you. 

Sipping the tea, she types and thinks, stops to chew on a nail, then reads it again. The essay she is obsessing over gained her access to the prestigious, elite school she is shipping off to. The challenges ahead—transferring to a new school, especially one as impossible to get into as The Goode School—frighten her, excite her, make her more determined than ever to get away from Oxford, from her past. 

A new life. A new beginning. A new chapter for Ash. 

But can you ever escape your past? 

Ash sets down the tea, and I can tell she is worrying again about fitting in. Marchburg, Virginia—population five hundred on a normal summer day, which expands to seven hundred once the students arrive for term—is a long way from Oxford, England. She worries about fitting in with the daughters of the DC elite—daughters of senators and congressmen and ambassadors and reporters and the just plain filthy rich. She can rely on her looks—she knows how pretty she is, isn't vain about it, exactly, but knows she's more than acceptable on the looks scale—and on her intelligence, her exceptional smarts. Some would say cunning, but I think this is a disservice to her. She's both booksmart and street-smart, the rarest of combinations. Despite her concerns, if she sticks to the story, she will fit in with no issues. 

The only strike against her, of course, is me, but no one knows about me. 

No one can ever know about me.


Excerpt from Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison.  Copyright © 2019 by J.T. Ellison. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.



Meet the author

Krista Lee Photography

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville's premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.


Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, InstagramBookBub,  and Goodreads


Meet the author in person during her book tour:



Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 Book 392: SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age  by Kiley Reid 
ISBN: 9780525541905 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780525541929 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593107065 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07RLSB7QV  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07QLJ7VTN (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 31, 2019 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons


A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," the complicated reality of being a grown-up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N NOOK Book  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Books-A-Million eBook  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  



Emira Tucker is a twenty-five-year-old Black female struggling to determine what she wants from life. She has successfully completed college and has her undergraduate degree, but she's at a stage in her life where she simply can't decide what comes next other than it should be a full-time job with benefits. She's currently biding her time by babysitting for one family and typing at a political party office. Although she's able to pay her bills, she's struggling to make it from month-to-month. The one overriding joy in her life is her three-year-old charge, Briar Chamberlain. Briar is inquisitive in a very unique manner and a toddler that seems to be struggling with the notion that she's no longer the light of her mother's life since her baby sister arrived. One night while out celebrating a girlfriend's birthday, Emira receives a somewhat frantic call from Alix Chamberlain to please come over and take Briar out of the home while the police arrive to investigate an incident of vandalism. Emira takes young Briar to a local market so that Briar can spend time looking at the nuts, teas, and displays. All is well until a market security officer approaches Emira and questions her authority to be out with Briar. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on one's perspective, another shopper witnesses this so-called "intervention" and records the episode on his phone. One phone call later, Peter Chamberlain arrives at the store, confirms that Emira is their childcare provider, and yes she had permission to take Briar out of the home. Emira doesn't want the video released and presumably receives the only copy of the recording as the gentleman in the store deletes it from his phone. After a serendipitous meeting on the train a few days later, Emira reconnects with this gentleman and they begin dating. Fast forward a few months and Emira learns that her new boyfriend, Kelley Copeland, had actually dated her boss, Alix Chamberlain, back in high school. Their relationship did not end well. Kelley warns Emira about Alix. Alix warns Emira about Kelley. And then the video is released and Emira's life is forever changed. Who released the video and what was their motivation? Is Kelley as bad as Alix suggested or perhaps it's Alix that has major issues?

You know you're reading a really good book when you don't want to put it down for any reason. I began reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid early in the day and was very upset when life interrupted my reading. Okay, not life necessarily, it was a bad migraine and an asthma attack necessitating a visit to my local urgent care, but I digress. In an era when overt racism is on the rise and we hear way too many stories about people being assaulted (verbally and otherwise) because of "living while Black" (driving while Black, studying while Black, shopping while Black, reading while Black, napping while Black, eating out while Black, etc.) in the news and on social media, Such a Fun Age touched a nerve. As an older Black female, I empathized with Emira and wanted to shield her from the overwhelming notion of "I know what's best for you" advice she received from both Alix and Kelley. Alix seemed to go out of her way trying to insinuate herself into Emira's life, even spying on her via checking her text messages and emails. (Side note, just in case you couldn't tell, both Kelley and Alix are white.) This isn't a lighthearted read, although there are moments that are touching and brought a smile to this reader's face. I loved reading about Emira and Briar's interactions and those were often the most touching. I enjoyed meeting Emira's friends and support system, but wish I could have learned more about Zara, Shaunie, and Josefina. Such a Fun Age touches on so many issues that it would be impossible to discuss them all but privilege, race, racism, friendship, family and interpersonal relationships, interracial relationships, self-awareness, and self-development are some of the major themes. I found this story to be both heart-warming and thought-provoking and I highly recommend it to readers of all genres. I enjoyed Such a Fun Age and look forward to reading more from this author in the future. (Seriously, add this book to your TBR list then grab a copy ASAP!)


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy 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."

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Book 384: HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden



Husband Material  by Emily Belden 
ISBN: 9781525805981 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488028571 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206955 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07S38J7LP (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07KN7MJ42 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 30, 2019 
Publisher: Graydon House



Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she's a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she's faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte's algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband's ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband's best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she'll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  



Charlotte Rosen comes across as a strong, successful, and confident woman. A successful career woman proud of her accomplishments in the growing field of social media analytics. A woman who knows what she wants from life. These are all partial truths. Charlotte is successful in her career but she isn't overly confident with her job or social life. She comes across as aloof when she's actually somewhat of an introvert and closes herself off to protect her emotions. She has a roommate, but she doesn't really share all that much with her. She has a "bestie" at work, but only shares work-related materials with her. Charlotte is looking for love and marriage and has created an app to help her determine the compatibility of any "match" she receives from online dating services. She's confident in the app's predictability but has yet to meet someone that fulfills her requirements. Well, she had met someone years ago. She had actually married that someone, but sadly, he had died after only one year of marriage. Charlotte has been a widow for five years and the only people that know are those from before she started a new life and job, her former in-laws, and her parents. Then a bombshell is dropped on Charlotte, figuratively speaking. She unexpectedly receives the urn containing her deceased husband's cremains due to a fire at the cemetery. Charlotte's emotions are in a serious state of flux. Her roommate is shocked to learn of Charlotte's prior marriage. Charlotte's mother-in-law wants to "repossess" the urn, and her employer has given her a forced two-week break as a result of her emotional state. The only good thing to come from this disastrous situation is that Charlotte has reconnected with an old friend, actually her deceased husband's best friend, Dr. Brian Jackson. The friendship quickly develops into something a bit more and just when Charlotte thinks her life is getting back on track, she is thrown by several huge secrets. 

Husband Material is actually the first book I've read by Emily Belden (trust me, it won't be the last), and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. If anything, this was one story that I didn't want to end simply because I enjoyed the interactions between Charlotte and her roommate Casey, Charlotte and Brian, and even the interactions between Charlotte and her former mother-in-law. I found the characters, action, and settings to be highly realistic and plausible. Charlotte isn't a self-absorbed person, just someone afraid of being hurt and emotionally closed-off due to the untimely death of her husband. Yes, she wants to move on, but she has relegated everything in the present to an if this-then that scenario. She's comfortable coding and has made every attempt to live her life by that binary code without thought about the limitations or repercussions toward herself or others. The primary lesson learned is the life and love can be unpredictable, unmanageable, and wholly unexpected. Although Husband Material is a romance, there are quite a lot of things going on in this story such as self-awareness, self-growth, grief management, and more. Although Husband Material deals with some heavy themes, this isn't a dark and dour read. Okay, it's not a light and fluffy read either, but it is an intriguing look at grief, recovery, and starting anew with a decidedly romantic bent. There are parts of the story that made me smile, parts that made me laugh, and parts that made me empathize with the sadness of the main character. If you're looking for something a little different to read to wrap up your yearly reading or to begin the new year, I encourage you to grab a copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy 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."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Book Spotlight: THE REILLY THANKSGIVING INVITATIONAL STORY by Brent Parrott and Bryan Renfro

The Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational Story by Brent Parrot and Bryan Renfro Stewart
ISBN: 9781697180015 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781697180015 (ebook - PDF format)
ASIN: B07YN7HYDH (Kindle edition)
Publisher: The RTI Story
Release Date: October 14, 2019


In 1960, on the front lawn of an elementary school in North East Dallas, a tradition was born. A group of seventh-grade boys captured the free time before Thanksgiving dinner to engage in a game of touch football. It was a good day to play. So good, in fact, that the game would resume each year at the same time in the same place.

Through the ebb and flow of lives, loves, and responsibilities, the Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational (RTI) continued for five decades. With my good friend Bryan Renfro, we have collaborated to memorialize and reminisce about our lives, the times, the game, and the traditions. The story is chronicled through text, photos, videos, and links; over 200 links 200 photos and 42 invitations.

The Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational Story offers a first-hand glimpse into an era long past and captures the essence of tradition, friendship, life lessons, history, culture, the ups and downs, happiness, and sadness for those lost, over decades.  Today, Alzheimer's has touched most of the 22 members and a portion of the book proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer's research.





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  


More about this book

Thanksgiving Team Picture - Old Team
Thanksgiving Team Picture - Bryan Renfro
For more than a half-century, a group of friends from Texas assembled to play touch football each Thanksgiving Day morning on the front lawn of their old elementary school. As the men aged, their determination and love of the game stayed strong. After the final game in 2009, reporter John  Anders noted:

"They arrived on walkers and in iron lungs...Grandchildren would drop them off and perhaps stay behind to serve as stretcher-bearers following the conflict."

Team leaders Brent Parrott and Bryan Renfro collaborated to memorialize and reminisce about this incredible 50-year tradition, their lives, the times, and the game, in the book The Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational Story.


"(This Book) captures the era of growing up in the 50s and 60s with sensitivity and humor. Baby Boomers are a distinct group who experienced a large variety of social, political, and historical events and changes. We all can identify with the angst and joys of our teenage years...I recommend this fun coming-of-age read to anyone." — Neilia West (Reviewer)



Meet the authors

Brent Parrott and Bryan Renfro
BRENT PARROTT is a writer, former technology executive, and teacher, and currently serves as Board Chairman for the charter schools of Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy. With his life-long friend, Bryan Renfro, he is the co-author of The Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational Story, a memoir about a group of friends who kept an annual touch football game going for 50 straight years.

He is also the author of two new books scheduled for publication in 2020, Jackpot: The Summer of '69 and What Would You Do? What Would You Not Do? Brent and his wife Robyn (that's right, two bird names) spend as much time as possible with their daughter Brynn, son-in-law Jacob, and two amazing grandsons. He has always lived, worked, and played in Dallas, Texas.


BRYAN RENFRO graduated in 1970 from the University of Texas at Arlington and was drafted into the Army the following year during the Viet Nam war. He was the editor and sports writer for Sound Off, the base's newspaper in Fort Meade, Maryland. His work life followed an untraditional path for the times as he experienced a mix of endeavors through the years, including the furniture importing business.

For five decades, he served as the organizer and "Commissioner" of an annual Thanksgiving touch football game in Dallas, Texas. Known locally as the Turkey Bowl, Bryan chronicled his experiences in the book, The Reilly Thanksgiving Invitational Story, with co-author Brent Parrott. The 400-page memoir was published for the game's 60th anniversary in 2019. Today, Bryan lives in Dallas with his wife LaDonna and enjoys bible study, photography, his woodshop, and nurturing long-time friendships.

Connect with the authors via Facebook or their website



This spotlight brought to you by Farrow Communications

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Guest Author Post: MURDER IN MONTAGUE FALLS by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas

Murder In Montague Falls by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas Banner


Good day, my bookish peeps. I hope you all are keeping safe, warm, and dry. Today, I have an extra special treat for you all. I'm always excited when an author (or character) stops by for a visit, well today there will be not just one author stopping by, but three. Yes, you read that correctly, three authors are stopping by to visit with us today. Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas all wrote stories that appear in the noir crime read, Murder In Montague Falls. These authors will all be discussing what inspires them, namely what inspires them to write about murder. I hope you'll read along, learn more about Murder in Montague Falls, then grab a copy of the book for yourself. Happy Reading!


Inspiration for Murder

My contribution to Murder in Montague Falls, titled "Red Ink", features a paperboy in 1984 who witnesses a murder on his route and then decides, against better logic, to investigate the killer himself. So I was aiming for an intimate, intense, murder mystery.

In terms of tone, I was heavily influenced by "Apt Pupil," a short story by Stephen King, adapted into an underrated thriller film by Bryan Singer. 

Meanwhile, the protagonist of my story, Isaac, has a pretty heavy spy fixation, envisioning himself as a junior James Bond, my favorite outings being From Russia with Love, For Your Eyes Only, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale. So not only did I have the 007 theme song in my head and his various gadgets, but I recently watched the entire run of The Americans, which helped inform how I wrote the character and the story, trying to keep the action suspenseful, but grounded in reality.

Russ Colchamiro
***


For inspiration in penning my devil-worshipping teens' story "The Devil's Delinquents," I tapped into a range of classic dark writings and movies:

Books

The Satanic Bible by Anton Lavey—The central religious text for The Church of Satan. Not only do I mention the book in my story, but the title of each part of my novella is a reference to chapters from Lavey's work.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks—A celebrated example of "killer kid" literature about a psychopathic teenager living on a remote Scottish island who, as part of the shamanistic rituals of his own invention, kills a few of the local children.

Say You Love Satan—Nonfiction book chronicling the 1984 Northport, Long Island cult killing in which three teens participated in the murder of their friend. The victim was stabbed repeatedly as the main perpetrator purportedly commanded him to "Say you love Satan."

Films

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)—A documentary about the West Memphis Three, another trio of teens accused of the brutal, allegedly ritualistic murder of three young boys in May 1993.

The River's Edge (1986)—A group of teenagers in a Northern California town are forced to deal with their friend's murder of his girlfriend, and the disposal of her body. A great "killer kid" film with a fitting metal/punk soundtrack.

Deathgasm (2015)—Horror comedy from New Zealand about two heavy metal-loving teenaged boys who unwittingly unleash a demon after playing sheet music they stole for a song called "The Black Hymn." 

Sawney Hatton
***


For me, my love of noir was inspired by a lot of great authors and their series. In no particular order, they include:

Rex Stout's Nero Wolf series
Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe series
Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade series
Glen Cook's Garret PI series
Robert Parker's Spenser series

But the book that most inspired my story in Murder in Montague Falls was The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. Like A Many Splendid Thing, it's a dark noir love story where a couple tries to get rid of the woman's husband so they can live happily ever after. It doesn't work out that way in either story. Cain is a brilliant author and the novel (and the movie adaption) are both worth checking out and hold up great despite being written over 70 years ago.

I listened to a lot of Alice Cooper while writing it. And for me the penultimate noir film is Cast A Deadly Spell, with Casablanca, and The Maltese Falcon very close behind.

Patrick Thomas
***



Murder in Montague Falls

by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas

on Tour December 1-31, 2019


Synopsis:


Murder in Montague Falls by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, Patrick Thomas

WHITE HOT THRILLS! PITCH BLACK DEEDS!



3 TALES OF TEENS TACKLING THEIR DARKEST RITES OF PASSAGE



Acclaimed storytellers Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas each present an original novella brimming with enough danger, intrigue, and murder to get readers' blood pounding and hearts racing.


In Colchamiro's RED INK, a paperboy with an overactive imagination witnesses a brutal killing on his route—or has he taken his fantasy spy games a step too far?


In Hatton's THE DEVIL'S DELINQUENTS, a trio of teenage misfits in pursuit of success, power, and revenge practice amateurish occult rituals… with deadly consequences.

In Thomas's A MANY SPLENDID THING, a sultry high school teacher enrolls one of her students to get rid of her husband. But will the young man really graduate to murder?



Book Details:


Genre: Crime
Published by: Crazy 8 Press
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 0998364185 (ISBN13: 9780998364186)
ASIN: B07X5GLPGD Kindle edition
Purchase Links:   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble  |  BookDepository  |  Books-a-Million  |  Goodreads



The Turnback - You Kill Me:



"You Kill Me" is the official soundtrack to the book MURDER IN MONTAGUE FALLS (Noir-Inspired Novellas by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas). Russ Colchamiro (a long-time friend and fellow creator) asked the band to write what would be considered a closing credit tune for the book. We were happy to do so!




Meet the authors

Russ Colchamiro:


Russ Colchamiro
RUSS COLCHAMIRO is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany sci-fi backpacking series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the sci-fi mystery anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, and contributing author for his newest project, Murder in Montague Falls, a noir novella collection, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ has contributed to several other anthologies including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, They Keep Killing Glenn, Altered States of the Union, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Brave New Girls vols. 3 & 4, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, and Footprints in the Stars.

He is now finalizing the first in an ongoing SFF mystery series featuring his hard-boiled private eye Angela Hardwicke and has several other SFF, crime fiction, and children's book projects in the works.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, their twin ninjas, and their crazy dog, Simon.

For more on Russ's works, visit:


russcolchamiro.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!


Sawney Hatton:


Sawney Hatton
SAWNEY HATTON is an author, editor, and screenwriter who has long loved playing in the dark. His published works include the Dark Comedy novel Dead Size, the YA Noir novella Uglyville, and the Dark Fiction short story collection Everyone Is a Moon. He also edited the Sci-Fi Horror anthology What Has Two Heads, Ten Eyes, and Terrifying Table Manners?

Other incarnations of Sawney have produced marketing videos, attended chili cook-offs, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). As of this writing, he is still very much alive.

For more semi-unseemly insights into Sawney, visit:


sawneyhatton.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!


Patrick Thomas:


Patrick Thomas

PATRICK THOMAS is the award-winning author of the beloved Murphy's Lore series and the darkly hilarious Dear Cthulhu advice empire.

His 40+ books include Fairy with a Gun, By Darkness Cursed, Lore & Dysorder, Dead to Rites, Startenders, As the Gears Turn, Cthulhu Explains It All, and Exile and Entrance. His is the co-author of the Mystic Investigators series, The Santa Heist, and the Jack Gardner mysteries.

Patrick is the co-editor of Camelot 13 (with John French), New Blood (with Diane Raetz), and Hear Them Roar (with CJ Henderson), co-created The Wildsidhe Chronicles YA series and is the creator of the Agents of the Abyss series.

He has had more than 150 short stories published in magazines and anthologies, with his work for YA and children including the Ughabooz books, the Undead Kid Diaries, the Joy Reaper books, and the Babe B. Bear Mysteries as Patrick T. Fibbs.

Visit him online at:


patthomas.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!




Tour Participants:



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






Enter To Win!!:



This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton, and Patrick Thomas. There will be one (1) winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2019, and runs through January 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway