Sunday, July 27, 2014

{Review} SAFE WITH ME by Amy Hatvany

ISBN #: 978-1476704418
Page Count: 352
Copyright: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. A year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, survived only because Hannah’s daughter had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him in the wake of the transplant that saved their daughter’s life. Meanwhile, Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

A masterful narrative shaped by nuanced characters whose delicate bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a riveting triumph.

Mandy's Review:

When I find a dual-themed novel, I also find that those themes tend to clash. Instead of a cohesive story, the dual themes often times battle each other to be noticed. Safe with Me is a dual-themed novel, but this is an exception to the norm. The dual themes actually work together to form a cohesive plot.

Take the first theme: the donation of a liver. You see and experience each participating person's emotional journey from this transaction. Hannah's grief over losing her daughter is palatable, but you can also feel her hesitant satisfaction about being able to do something good for another family. Olivia experiences unadulterated joy at her daughter, Maddie, finally being the recipient of a liver and escaping the clutches of death, but Olivia also feels sorrow and heartache over another mother losing her child so that Maddie could live.

Then you have the second theme: domestic abuse. There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. Perhaps they feel they have no other option. Perhaps they feel as if they couldn't get far enough away from the abuser to feel safe. Perhaps they're perpetually optimistic that the abuser will change. Whatever the reason, the person is not stupid as many of us would think. And while we would say what we'd do differently, it's a completely different scenario when you're the one in the situation. I think Amy captured the emotions and drama of this relationship realistically.

The novel flowed well and each chapter was a specific character's voice, so the reader gets to know the three main characters in this novel: Hannah, Olivia, and Maddie. The only minor issue I had was with the title. When I read a novel, I look for how the title ties into the plot. It's just one of my things. I couldn't find how Safe with Me tied into this plot. Is it referring to Hannah and Olivia's friendship, Hannah and Seth's friendship, Maddie and Noah's friendship, Olivia and James' marriage ... ??? I just don't know. But, like I said, this is a minor issue and just one of my quirky things that I like to do while reading. Overall, I rather enjoyed this novel and would read it again.

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

{Review} THE FORGOTTEN ROSES by Deborah J. Doucette

ISBN #: 978-0991121106
Page Count: 250
Copyright: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Owl Canyon Press; 1st Edition

Book Description:
(Taken from back cover)

Rebecca Griffin has everything she could ever want - or so says her big-hearted, opinionated Italian-American family. But now her marriage is unraveling and her teenage daughter is hurtling toward self-destruction. While Rebecca struggles to hang onto her husband and save her daughter, she learns of the mysterious death of a young woman long ago at a local prison. As Rebecca's mother, Eva, reveals their family's connection to the girl, Rebecca is drawn into the story - it haunts her. A search for answers takes Rebecca from her small idyllic New England town, to the congested streets of East Boston and the tight-knit Italian neighborhood where most of her family still resides. As she tries to dig up the facts of the young girl's life and violent death, the puzzle pieces in Rebecca's life begin to take shape and she faces the difficult truth about her husband, Drew. Rebecca, her troubled daughter, Dana, and an enigmatic figure from the past, unknowingly embark on a collision course one desperate autumn night when the answers they seek come to light in the most forgotten of places from the most innocent of messengers.

Charlene's Review:

All Rebecca has ever truly wanted was a family. Her husband is distant and her oldest daughter is rebelling, and all Rebecca can do is try to hold on. Focusing on her real estate job, Rebecca stumbles upon a mystery involving a local family, a family member, and a local prison. As she digs deeper into the mysterious happenings, her own life spirals out of control, until one fateful night that changes everything.

There is a lot of story within these pages. Suicide, murder, familial connections, and dysfunctional relationships. I think what I appreciated the most was the way Ms. Doucette portrayed Rebecca and her family. I felt a real connection to the ebbing and flowing of the personal relationships within their home. You can feel the tender angst of a woman that is watching her family fall apart, and seemingly, having no way to stop it. You witness the impact on the youngest daughter, an innocent bystander to the family drama, and you watch as the mystery starts to unravel and Rebecca starts to find her own way out of her isolation.

My only disappointment was the ending. There is excitement and answers in the last chapters, but so much is still left unsaid. I would have loved to know more about certain aspects, but I’ll limit my commentary to avoid any spoilers. That said, the evolution of Rebecca was well worth the read, and I would heartily look forward to reading more from Ms. Doucette. She has a fluid writing style with descriptive abilities that make her pages shine.

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

{Review} Racist Man by Archer Cloud

File Size: 903 KB
Page Count: 16
Copyright: March 27, 2014

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Warning: This story’s theme revolves heavily around racism, including the beliefs and actions of the protagonist. The author does not condone racism in any way, and believes that such actions would be unacceptable in society. However, some may still find the contents of this book offensive. Please read with discretion.

Angry and bitter restaurant worker John Hu is an American minority who grew up on the dark rims of western society, and now, finally, God has coated his veins with strong bolts of superpowers. Stronger than a mammoth and faster than any car, he will turn his abilities into a funnel to distil the good from the evil…But he has a certain criteria – they must be of his kind.

John sees impurities based on the color of people’s skin, and anyone who dares to be otherwise will find themselves a corner that they cannot so easily crawl out of. He delivers a justice that no police can hand down, and he is almost free to do so.

However, there is another person more akin to John than he would like to think, someone who also shares his powers. And only she has the physical security to get close enough to John and alter his perception, not with her abilities, but with her heart (and hair) of gold.

Kathy's Review:

It’s hard to write a review for something so short, but I’ll give it a try. Racist Man would do nicely as a graphic novel rather than a written one. You can even see on the cover that it is done in an Anime style. And it could do with a title change. This is a superhero who has a slight bias toward Asians. He prefers to help only those of his same racial makeup. But this a racist does not make. Never in this book’s short grasp do we hear John utter any racial slurs, spew any hatred toward those with different colored skin … nothing.

After the buildup the author gave I was ready for something ultra offensive, but this short story danced around anything that could even remotely be construed as hurtful. And the above description doesn’t exactly match what I read. There is a female protagonist but her character is extremely underdeveloped.

If this were my story, I’d expand it, and play into the visual aspect of it. There’s tons of potential here. Make us see the villain who has consumed the pharmaceuticals. Make us understand what has brought John to this point.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

{Review} SECRET SONG by A. R. Simmons

File Size: 783 KB
Page Count: 333
Copyright: November 15, 2013
Publisher: Acorn Moon Press

Book Summary:
(Taken from Goodreads)

Twenty-three years ago, two teenage drivers collided. Marie was on her way home, while Harold was fleeing from a robbery he and his cousin had just committed. When his car wouldn’t restart, he and his cousin stole the girl’s. Marie was never seen again. Inevitably, the boys were caught. His cousin, Wayne, was eventually executed. Harold got twenty-five years.

Now Harold has come home. He has been paroled. No one wants him in Hawthorn County, but he knows of nowhere else he can go.

Within days, Marie’s remains are discovered. Confrontations occur. He is released from his job because of public pressure. Then Harold becomes the target of persecution, dangerous persecution as someone tries to run him off.

Richard Carter is stuck with the investigation. He wishes as much as anyone that the ruined little man (for whom his wife feels compassion) would leave the county, but he does the job. His mind, however, turns to more serious crimes: a rash of burglaries (one ending in murder), home invasions (one involving sexual assault), and three disappearances. The vendetta against an ex-con who should have known better than to return to the scene of his crime takes a back seat for Richard—until it becomes attempted murder.

Kathy's Review:

Secret Song suffers from an ailment commonly known as Too-Many-Character-Itis. Symptoms include a multitude of characters, most of whom have no standout traits, a storyline that flip-flops from character to character, sometimes not identifying who we are following, and bouts of characters stuck in their own heads, musing on this and that.

When a book suffers from this ailment, it is tough for me, as a reader, to become invested. I’d like to sit and learn more about each character that the author wants me to care about, and then move on. Not that there’s not a time and place for a meandering plot -- the element of suspense definitely calls for it. However, I tried to tough through as best as I could, and there are some bright spots, for sure:

1. Attention to detail. Simmons paints a vivid picture, using very descriptive words around places. I wish this applied to the people, as well.

2. Mystery. I want to know what happened to the girl whose body is found at the beginning of the story and how it ties in to the current action. Like a good author, Simmons makes me wait. Once Simmons gives me the goods, the actions moves fast and furious.

3. The premise for an interesting story. I’m not saying it’s executed well but the premise is there.

I was disappointed in the way things turned out with this one. It seemed like the theme was going to be one of redemption and it didn’t turn out that way at all. Also, the Secret Song aspect of the story should have been shown in flashbacks or through the character’s own thoughts. It wasn’t fully explained what this was.

Good … not great, I’d say.

*An ecopy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Page Girls: Birthday Week Celebration! - Day 2

The Page Girls ( is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

From July 21-25, The Page Girls is celebrating its first official “birthday week,” which means a giveaway every day plus other goodies.

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

U.S. Only Giveaway

How beautiful are these customer letterpress coasters?! On one side there's The Page Girls' logo. The flip side has a recipe for a cocktail ... an essential for any girls night get-together. There is one set of these coasters up for grabs. Good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Page Girls: Birthday Week Celebration! - Day 1

About The Page Girls:

The Page Girls ( is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

From July 21-25, The Page Girls is celebrating its first official “birthday week,” which means a giveaway every day plus other goodies.

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


Amanda Nathan just lost everything – her first real boyfriend to her lifelong best friend, her half of their shared apartment in St. Louis and her first post-grad job as a receptionist. Forced back under her parents’ roof in Merit, Missouri, the gossipy town she’d spent her life trying to escape, Amanda has but one saving grace – being an anonymous moderator on HDU, the Internet’s largest celebrity gossip community. Unemployed and alone, Amanda relishes in the one thing she has control over – Hollywood gossip. Now, her idea of fun is getting lost in the glamorous lives of others and posting nasty rumors about her former bestie’s favorite actor, Liam Brody, a playboy notorious for dumping his model girlfriends on a monthly basis.

So who would’ve thought that Liam Brody would be Amanda’s answer to escaping Merit? When the controversial womanizer needs an image boost to land a new role, he turns to none other than HDU for some good press. As it turns out, Liam is as eager to shed his playboy image as Amanda is desperate to move out of Merit. The solution to both problems? Fake a romance in which Hollywood’s biggest playboy falls for an unknown, sweet and shockingly plain Jane.

With the help of Ian, a fellow HDU moderator and self-developed expert on stardom, Amanda packs her bags for her new life in New York, where the overnight fame and glamour of being a celebrity girlfriend awaits. But Amanda soon discovers that their little ploy is a lot more emotionally complicated than she imagined. And while she finds that life works a thousand times better in her Hollywood circle, so does manipulation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

{Review} SAVAGE GIRL by Jean Zimmerman

ISBN #: 978-0670014859
Page Count: 416
Copyright: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Jean Zimmerman’s new novel tells of the dramatic events that transpire when an alluring, blazingly smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, an outlandishly wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.

Bronwyn hits the highly mannered world of Edith Wharton–era Manhattan like a bomb. A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered.

Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, self-dramatizing Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative—a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable—is his confession.

Mandy's Review:

This novel was really written around one simple premise: nature versus nurture. Is it a person's genes that determines who they're going to be and how they're going to act or is a person's behavior based on how they're raised? Can you take a wild child, put them in a nurturing environment, and get them to leave their wildness behind to become civilized? There's a passage in the book that states this perfectly:

"The wild child is a blank slate. He (or she) is perfect for investigations of whether our physical inheritance influences us more than do the circumstances of our raising, or whether it might be the other way around. Nature or nurture? Can a proper, caring environment make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, in other words, or must that ear remain what its nature made it, the auricular flap of a swine?"

While this aspect of the novel appealed to me, for I love trying to figure out human nature, I realize it may not appeal to some of you. Have no fear, lovely reader! Yes, nature versus nurture is the premise of the novel, but the story is written in a narrative telling the story of several murders by a crazed killer, the sudden decline of a wealthy family, jealous loves, and ends with a surprise you won't see coming.

This novel made me think while it entertained me. I loved it ... and I think you would, too.

*A hardcopy of the novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

{Book/Author Spotlight} THE FOREVER SAGA: FLASH by Sean C. Sousa

ASIN #: B0099B2UBS
File Size: 3594 KB
Page Count: 334
Copyright: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Epical Media; 2nd Edition

Book Description:
(As provided by the author)

Long ago, the first reign of Grigori Geist nearly destroyed the Earth.

Returned from exile, Geist is secretly rebuilding his kingdom beneath Antarctica, and assembling his robotic Vaucan race to conquer mankind. Only one obstacle remains: the war hero Brian Renney.

Yet Brian is now losing a battle against his fears. Scars of heart and mind linger in the Vietnam veteran and retired coach, fueling nightmares that leave him abrasive as a husband and father. His failures embitter his youngest son, Jason – a star athlete torn between pursuing the woman he loves, and meeting the demands of a father who is far from the storied Army captain he once was.

And all the while, Geist is coming for them.

Against an ancient tyrant and his servants, Brian and Jason must face a threat that plagues the world from deep shadows…and gain an ally who, once meant for evil, will forever be a force for good.

A 5-chapter sample and further info can be found at the official website:

About the Author:

Sean C. Sousa first envisioned The Forever Saga as a video game design concept, then a screenplay, and finally a written work of fiction. His debut novel, Flash, marks the end of an eight-year writing journey, and the start of another: to bring his relatable, poignant stories to a worldwide audience.

His dream is to use fiction to inspire positive social change in the world, calling attention to issues of social justice and mobilizing his readership to meet the needs of those afflicted.

Mr. Sousa resides in Southern California with his wife, Shelley. When he is not writing, he is up to socially-acceptable mischief with his friends and family.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

{Intl Giveaway} THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Jeanne Mackin

ISBN #: 978-0451465825
Page Count: 384
Copyright: June 3, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

From Paris in the 1920s to London after the Blitz, two women find that a secret from their past reverberates through years of joy and sorrow....

As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women.

About the Author:

Jeanne Mackin is the author of several historical novels. Her most recent is The Beautiful American. She has worked as a journalist for several publications, and as a university research and science writer. She lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, with her husband, artist Steve Poleskie. Jeanne was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

For more information, visit:

Giveaway Info:

This giveaway will have multiple winners as there are 3 uncorrected proofs with full color covers available along with 2 released copies of THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN as well as e-copies available. So enter the easy form below and spread the word!

Monday, July 14, 2014


ISBN #: 978-0578138084
Page Count: 142
Copyright: March 7, 2014
Publisher: Phoenix Rising, Publishers; 1st Edition

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Forty-plus years of travel are celebrated as a former magazine editor recounts his journeys through 21cities, shedding light on their remarkable histories and reminiscing on the joys and quirks that the author encountered during his excursions. Designed to give the reader a brief sense of each city's heritage, the author hopes to show how, with a little exploration and imagination, anyone can find unique and fun experiences in any town.

Lupe's Review:

City Sketches is great for the traveler inside us all. With light history mixed with personal travels, it was a light and fun read. My only qualm would be the lack of direction or order. Each "chapter" is of a different place and different time, but in no particular order that I could discern. I thought maybe it was by year, then I thought it was in alpha order by city, but it was neither, and that made it a bit frustrating to read.

But it was fun, and, as a history major in college, factual and unbiased, which I really appreciated. I do hope Mr. Mullen has a chance to go back to those cities he didn't get a chance to thoroughly capture in his youth. I think his next City Sketches would be marvelous.

*A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 7, 2014


File Size: 954 KB
Page Count: 195
Copyright: April 9, 2014

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Outside the Magic Circle is part fiction and part fact; less fiction and more fact.

Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth on 2nd April, 1836, when he was an upcoming writer and reporter. Soon after marriage, he tasted spectacular success with The Pickwick Papers and in ten years, was the foremost writer of his time.

Catherine was the mother of his ten children, his hostess, she accompanied him on his American tour.

Yet, twenty-one years after they wed, Charles Dickens very publicly separated from her, denouncing her as an unfit mother and wife. He removed her from his home, his life, and the lives of his children. He never saw her again, not even when their son, Walter, died at the age of twenty-three in faraway India.

His allegations about his wife and his unhappy marriage were works of fiction, as successful and enduring as the rest of his works. The real cause of the separation was an eighteen-year-old actress, Ellen Ternan, who later became his mistress.

On her deathbed, Catherine gave her daughter letters Charles had written to her and said, “Give these to the British Museum, that the world may know he loved me once."

Outside the Magic Circle is a fictionalized account of Catherine’s life after she was plucked out of her familiar world and thrown to the wolves, as it were, by the exemplary Charles Dickens. It is told in her voice; sometimes reminiscing, at other times baffled, confused, hurt, angry. It has her tears, her love, and her quest for the meaning of her life, and marriage.

Lupe's Review:

Wow. This book made me despise a man that I once thought was fantastic. But at the same time, I could see why Catherine would put on that brave facade for her children. That she loved Charles so much as to not want to ruin him, the way he ruined her. She was definitely the stronger one. I think this was an interesting and vibrant take on the man behind the great classics, and his life, the real one, with his ever humble and supportive wife, even after he brought her down. Very well written and very well spoken. I enjoyed it, every page.

*An ecopy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

{Book Spotlight} LOVE STRADDLE by M. P. Knox

ISBN #: 978-0992462307
Page Count: 602
Copyright: June 4, 2014
Publisher: Martin P Knox

Book Description:

Prolific writer M.P. Knox has released Love Straddle – a novel that captures the mood of the 1960s, the era of the Cold War, the youth revolution, hippies and women’s liberation. The author has created a unique, unusual hero with flaws, quirkiness and emotions he struggles to express.

Selwyn is a sexual version of the asexual Sheldon character in the sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, not unlike Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ and Doc Martin in the BBC TV series. You can’t help but love Selwyn as he is driven by ambition, compulsion and love to find the rules for an uncommitted love life. The author has explored them with humour and insight, without being sexist. Selwyn lives by theories and over-thinking when others expect understanding, this sometimes make him appears emotionally cold; at other times charming. Readers can diagnose Selwyn’s behaviour, decades before it is labelled as a mental disorder. His behaviour leads to the question: will he ever accept the terms of love with one woman? The ending is a surprise with a twist.

About the Author:

Materially minimalist; gastronomically prefer food I cook; biologically an unattached male survivor; economically independent; sociologically a learner and teacher of science; psychologically selfaltruistic; anthropologically West Country English tenant farmer; religiously variable; ethically case by case; philosophically a skeptical Popperian.

Interview/Review Info:

If you would like to interview this articulate, philosophical and entertaining author, or want to receive a review copy of Love Straddle from a limited preliminary printing, email

See more about the book at:

Other Books by M. P. Knox: 

The Grass is Always Browner (Zeus Publications 2011) - Available on Amazon

Friday, July 4, 2014


ISBN #: 978-1771230476
Page Count: 186
Copyright: October 1, 2013
Publisher: General Store Publishing House; First Edition

(Taken from back cover)

Eight diverse characters, related by marriage and often traveling together, visit multiple locales across the globe by every means of transportation available.

The hilarious stories that arise in this romp around the world feature amateur mind control, mirrored hotel room walls, a 1957 Chevy with holes in the floor, an explosion of ladies’ lingerie, sketchy starfish, topless beaches, Bo Derek’s doppleganger, synchronized pill popping, psychological bar fights, thieving baboons, and sexy giraffes.

And the humor is perfectly balanced by Barry Finlay’s philanthropic heart, which beats strong through each journey.

Charlene's Review:

I Guess We Missed The Boat begins with the acknowledgment of being a "mostly true travel memoir." Following Mr. Finlay’s lust for travel, the characters in the story bring fun to the dysfunction of travel. Each chapter is sectioned by form of travel, such as vehicle, boat, etc. Highlighting the joys of seeing glamorous sights to the not-so-glamorous motels, there is a little bit for every level of traveler to identify with.

Every chapter is short and sweet and would be a good companion for your own travel reading pleasure. Nothing deep and meaningful within these pages, just an obvious zest for seeing the world. Insightful stories regarding the people and places visited are interspersed with humor and patience. I Guess We Missed The Boat is a delightful, light read that will leaving you yearning for your own adventure.

*A paperback copy was provided by the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


ISBN #: 978-0143125389
Page Count: 384
Copyright: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint Edition

(Taken from back cover)

Nine months after the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, Peter Byerly, a young antiquarian bookseller, relocates from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to outrun his grief and rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, he discovers a Victorian watercolor of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Amanda.

Obsessed with learning the picture's origins, Peter braves a host of dangers to follow a trail of clues back across the centuries - all the way to Shakespeare's time and a priceless literary artifact that could prove, once and for all, the truth about the Bard's real identity.

Mandy's Review:

If you're looking for a book about books that combines death, murder, mystery, and suspense then this would be the book for you.

Peter's obsession was Amanda and antique books. Since Amanda's death, though, he lost his interest in antique books and just became obsessed with Amanda. One day, while out and about in London, Peter steps into a bookshop and finds a book on forgeries. The book was picked up at random ... or was it? When he opens it, Peter finds a watercolor portrait of, whom he believes to be, Amanda, but how can that be? The portrait was painted in the 1800s and Amanda died in the 1990s. 

Through a series of fortuitous events, Peter loses interest in the watercolor portrait and becomes obsessed with finding a rare book proving Shakespeare's true identity. During this hunt, Peter learns how to deal with his grief over losing Amanda. He's also shot at, lied to, flirted with, locked in an old building, and framed for murder. Will he ever get the proof he needs to prove who Shakespeare really was?

I believe true book addicts will love this book. Not only is this novel about a bookseller who loves books, the author uses the written word as a silent character throughout the entire story. Brilliantly, I might add. I was enthralled with the plot from the very beginning. If you have the chance, add this to your collection.

*A paperback copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

{Review} THE HARDEST THING IN THIS WORLD by Nicole Eva Fraser

ISBN #: 978-1938101595
Page Count: 248
Copyright: October 11, 2013
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC

(Taken from back cover)

Sexy, smart-mouthed Melody Sawyer is an underachiever, a home health care nurse with good intentions and a chip on her shoulder. Her troubled daughter Renee recently dropped dead at age 24, but Renee's ghost keeps popping in on the family. And Melody has no clue about her married daughter, Kayla--who since age 16 has been deep in a clandestine affair with pro baseball player Baron Lee Presley. Join the Sawyer women on their offbeat, darkly funny, and sometimes tragic journey as they try to conquer the hardest thing in this world.

Charlene's Review:

On the very first page, it is obvious that Ms. Fraser has a gift for drawing you into her characters and their story. In the opening paragraph, Renee, matriarch of the Sawyer family, has just left the memorial service for her daughter, where she stole the urn of ashes, has eaten part of the cremains and washed the remainder down the sink of her kitchen. From there, we learn the history, and secrets of a very complex and troubled family.

The Hardest Thing In This World takes the reader through the struggles and devastation of senseless death, the roller coaster of mental illness, and the effects on the family that is caught in the aftermath. This is not a beautiful piece of literature, but it is an achingly raw account of the casualties of life. Dealing with death, ghosts, illness, depression, and adultery, Ms. Fraser opens the soul of her characters in a breathtaking way. Definitely not a light read, but well worth the time, as the characters were all beautiful, if broken, in their own way.

The premise can be summed up in the title, "The Hardest Thing In This World is to live in it."

Ms Fraser paints a literary picture of a family that struggles to do just that with warmth, gritty reality, and just enough lightness to make it bearable: just like life. It will haunt me for a while, but I loved its raw beauty.

*A paperback copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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