Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Spear of Summer Grass

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even among Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savanna manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming—yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders—and dangers—of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for—and what she can no longer live without.

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Downton Abbey in Africa.  To give this some reference.....I LOVE Downton Abbey.  All the stories within the story.

Favorite Character(s):  Delilah for her sassy, take charge attitude. Ryder for his demanding presence and manhood.  Gideon for his wisdom and kind heart. Tusker for her "I don't care what people think" personality!  In all honesty, all the characters are great and have their own place and purpose in the book.

Setting:  The setting was 1920's Paris (for the first few chapters) and Africa.  The focus was in Africa.  I loved everything about the setting and time period.

Fast read/slow read:  Fast, I didn't want to put it down. 

Cover:  100% perfect! I loved it.  It is exactly how I see Delilah and Africa.  I love her outfit (and hair) - so 20's!

What Others Are Saying: "With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling."
-Nora Roberts, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Absolutely, no doubt about it, YES!

Meet the Author:  A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time. Fourteen years and many, many rejections after her first novel, she signed two three-book deals with MIRA Books.

Deanna plots her books from her home in Virginia. After one too many hot Texas summers, Deanna and her husband packed up their daughter and moved to the mid-Atlantic state, where they enjoy the fall leaves but deeply miss good Tex-Mex cooking. 

Connect: You can find Deanna blogging three days a week at her blog, online at her website, on Facebook, and Twitter

Purchase it:  You can purchase A Spear of Summer Grass online at Amazon for $15.95 ($8.51 Kindle version). Right now at Amazon, you can get Far in the Wilds (ebook) for free. This is the prequel novella featuring Ryder!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The House at the End of Hope Street

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): A magical debut about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need.

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers—literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds—and maybe even save her life.

Filled with a colorful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of Jasper Fforde and especially Sarah Addison Allen

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  An amazing journey of self discovery and self worth is traveled along the side of Alba and historical women.

Favorite Character(s):  I know it should be Alba the main character but it is Stella (one of the House's ghosts).  The relationship she has with Alba is awesome.  I won't spoil it....but when we find out who Stella is....oh, it just made the story for me.

Setting:  I loved the House.  I think it would be so cool if something like that really existed.  The advice from the "women" of the House was so valuable and 

Fast read/slow read:  A good pace of a read.  Not a quick read, but not a slow read, either.

Cover:  It was okay.  It didn't do a lot for me. I like these covers I found better!


What Others Are Saying:  "Sweet, magical, bookish and romantic."
Sarah Addison Allen, bestselling author of The Peach Keeper 

“This fresh, whimsical book is as full of heart as the house at its heart is full of fascinating women. We should all have such friends and such a refuge!”
Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Falling Together and Love Walked In

“This exceptional novel enchanted me from the first beautiful page. If only I could stay a spell myself at the house at the end of Hope Street.”
Melissa Senate, bestselling author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Yes

Meet the Author: Menna van Praag is a freelance writer, journalist, and Oxford graduate. She is the author of Men, Money and Chocolate. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.

Connect: You can connect with Menna online at her Blog, on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Purchase it:  You can purchase The House at the End of Hope Street online at Amazon for $25.95 (Kindle version $11.04).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Keeping Score - Author Interview

Synopsis (from Amazon): When her 9-year-old son wanted to play summer travel baseball, Shannon had no idea the toughest competition was off the field…. When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team, divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it’ll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! 

From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it’s the crazy, competitive parents who really make Shannon’s life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn’t fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon’s best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. 

As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints. And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself. 

In this world, it’s not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game… it’s all about KEEPING SCORE.

Meet the Author: A lifelong resident of Maryland, Jami Deise recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, along with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, Keeping Score is her first novel. 

Jami is an associate reviewer at Chick Lit Central and has her own blogs. You can connect with Jami on Facebook and Twitter.

Interview with Author:  
Do you have a child that has played a travel sport?  If so, which one(s)? – He played travel baseball until high school. After that, he joined his high school team and in the summer played “showcase” baseball, the purpose of which is to play in front of college coaches.

What is one of your happiest "sports" moments?  What is one of your worst "sports" moments? – Baseball is a sport built around failure, so unfortunately there have been a lot of “worst” moments. The ultimate worst moment, fortunately, we haven’t gotten to yet – he is still playing. The best moment was a few years ago when he was a junior in high school. He pitched a complete game, 2-hit shut-out in the first game of a championship series against a team his high school had never beaten in the play-offs. It was amazing, and they did end up winning the championship.

Have you traveled to anywhere fun for tournaments/games? – We went to Disney World when he was in the 5th grade (fall 2004). Unfortunately, the tournament was cut short as a hurricane hit Orlando! All the flights were canceled too, and we ended up taking our rental car and driving all the way back to Maryland.

Can you share a story of a "crazy" parent(s)? – Most baseball parents are crazy in the same way – we all think our kid is good enough to play at the next level. Some parents turn out to be right, while others are woefully wrong. There was one dad who insisted his son – who was a great pitcher but so awkward he could barely bend down, much less field a ball – was going to be a major league third baseman. We all thought he was crazy.

What is your favorite game food and drink? – When my son is pitching, I’m too nervous to eat!

Favorite color, food, drink and animal? – pink; ice cream; Sparkling Ice flavored water; my dog Lady.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? – watching TV or going to the movies.

When/Why did you start writing? – In the 3rd grade. I had stories and I wanted to tell them!

What is your favorite writing spot? – in my current house, it’s on the living room couch, looking out into the water. But we’re moving at the end of the month, so I’m going to have to find another spot!

Do you have writing routine? – Not a routine, but I do try to give myself word count goals on a daily basis and meet them. I’m most productive when I have a specific number to shoot for.

Who are some of your favorite authors? – Stephen King is my all-time favorite, though I definitely prefer his earlier horror. I also love Sue Grafton, Jennifer Weiner, Josie Brown, Tami Hoag, Marcia Mueller, J.A. Jance… I could go on and on!

Can you read other books while writing your own? – I am a reviewer at Chick Lit Central and a generalist reader for a NYC-based literary agency, so I don’t really have a choice! It’s not really an issue for me, anyway.

What are currently (or last read) reading now? I just finished reading Jojo Moyes’ “The Girl You Left Behind;” I’ll be writing a review on it for Chick Lit Central.

What is your favorite genre? – I love mystery series with a strong female protagonist.

What is your favorite(s) song/movie/play/TV show? – My favorite song changes from week to week, but the others would be: Dirty Dancing/Wicked/Grey’s Anatomy

If you could go anywhere for vacation/holiday, where would you go? Italy.

Which would you pick:
Ocean/beach or pool – Pool; it’s cleaner
Coffee or tea – neither; I don’t like hot drinks
Fruit or candy – candy if there were no caloric consequences!
A book or e-book – e-book. It’s much easier to read on the treadmill that way.
Computer or tablet/smart phone – computer for writing; smart phone for just checking in.
Camping or Hoteling – definitely a hotel!
Driving or Flying – I like a good road trip, but if it’s more than six hours, please put me on that plane!

Purchase It:  You can purchase Keeping Score online at Amazon for $12.84 (Kindle version $3.99)/

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Unbreakable Bonds - Cover Revealed + Giveaway

Unbreakable Bonds
An Angela Panther Novel
Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

Synopsis:  When Angela's best friend Mel thinks her husband is having an affair, she turns to Angela for help.   The two come up with the perfect plan to catch him in the act but to make it work, they'll need help from Angela's mother, Fran.

There's just one teeny, little problem.  Fran's dead.

And since Angela's psychic gift is currently out of service, connecting with Fran is a little complicated.  While Angela searches for a way to fix her psychic radar Fran and a multitude of other ghosts continue to try to make a connection. And it's driving Angela crazy.  But Fran won't let her daughter's problem stop her from helping someone she loves and she sets out to catch the cheater on her own, using a few tricks and tools from the afterlife to get it done.

Blurb From Book One - Unfinished Business: Angela Panther is an ordinary stay at home mom with a satisfying, albeit slightly mundane life.

Things get a little crazy for Angela when her mother dies and comes back as a ghost.

 It seems Fran's got some unfinished business on earth and she's determined to get it done, no matter what.  But Fran's not the only ghost with unfinished business and her return opens a portal between Angela and the afterlife. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry ghost around comes knockin' on Angela's psychic door, looking for help.
 And it's a pain in the butt.

 Having her mother around is a double-edged sword for Angela. On the one hand, she's glad to still have the connection but on the other, death has given Fran some annoying abilities and she's seriously trying Angela's patience.
 When Fran tells Angela her teenage daughter Emily is in trouble, Angela decides to let her mother use her ghostly skills to keep tabs on the girl. 

 Well, not all of her ghostly skills.
 But that doesn't stop Fran from causing a little trouble - just to protect her granddaughter, of course.
 Now Angela has to find a way to keep her old life in tact and help the dead with their unfinished business, all while trying to keep her mother out of trouble.

 And it's a lot for one woman to handle. 

Meet the Author:  You can connect with Carolyn online at her webstie, on Facebook and Twitter.

Purchase: Book two of the Angela Panther series, Unbreakable Bonds, will be available November, 2013 in e-book and paperback.

Giveaway:  Go to Carolyn's website and sign up for the newsletter. She will pick a random winner from there. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Death

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis (from Amazon): IN THE ACCLAIMED MALIN FORS SERIES, EVERY SEASON IS PERFECT FOR MURDER. The tiny town that Detective Malin Fors calls home is plagued by a sweltering heat wave and resulting raging forest fires. It is the hottest summer anyone can recall, and it’s about to become the most violent and grim, too. A teenage girl is found naked and bleeding in a city park, without any recollection of what has happened to her. Next, another grisly discovery is made on a lakeside beach, and the whole town is on edge. A serial killer walks among them, and while the families of Link√∂ping withdraw to protect their young, Malin must uncover the secrets behind these crimes, potentially putting herself and her own family at risk in the process.

My Review:  

One (or more) Sentence Summary: Summer Death reminded me a lot of Kiss the Girls and The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.  The story is told in the voices of the dead girls speaking to their parents and the detective.  This was creepy! As the action builds towards an attempt to capture the lead detective’s daughter.  One thing that was compelling is that I could not figure out who the murderer was.  That revelation was totally unexpected. 

Favorite Character(s):  I would have to say the detective.  I liked her strong character. She was my hero!

Setting:  I think the setting was Sweden, as the names appear Scandinavian.  It had The Girl With a Dragoon Tattoo appeal to it.  Where ever it was, it worked for the story!

Fast read/slow read:  I felt the first half was slower and picked up significantly in the second half.

Cover:  I like it!

What Others Are Saying:  “Kallentoft writes vividly and harshly.” (The Washington Times)

“One of those books that will keep you up throughout the night. . . Make room on your shelf--and calendar--for this one.” (Bookreporter)

“Readers will look forward to the next three volumes.” (Publishers Weekly)

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: I would read more from Mons Kallentoft, but I could read them in row - this was intense!

Meet the Author: Mons Kallentoft is the author of the internationally acclaimed crime fiction series featuring Malin Fors. The series has been translated into twenty-six languages and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Purchase it:  You can purchase Summer Death online at Amazon for $25.99 (Kindle version $11.40).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Playing Tyler - A Great Read!

~ I received a copy of this book from the publisher or author to facilitate this review.  I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis: Ani is a geek girl, a legendary gamer and a 16-year-old Yale computer programming prodigy—basically she’s an outcast in her own right. 17-year-old Tyler can’t focus, even when he takes his ADHD medication. Tyler’s dad is dead, his mom has mentally checked out and his brother is in rehab again. Just when it seems Tyler’s life is on a collision course with a life sentence at McDonald’s, an exciting opportunity to test a flight simulator designed by Ani makes Tyler think his life might be turning around. Together, Tyler and Ani team up and discover that the simulator is being used for darker purposes than either originally realized.

My Review: 

One (or more) Sentence Summary:  Just as the title page asks, “when is a game not a game”?  In Playing Tyler, the title character is given a drone “simulator” from a gaming company that apparently has ties to the military industrial complex.   It gets very exciting when Tyler figures out, his gaming is really him flying missions in Afghanistan.    

Favorite Character(s):  Playing Tyler is written in 2 narratives; Tyler and his soon to be girlfriend, Ani, another gamer who actually wrote the program for the drone simulator.  They are such great characters.  The action really heats up as they figure out what is happening and try to put a stop to it. 

What Others Are Saying: "Fresh. Thrilling. Heartfelt. I'm running out of adjectives, but trust me. You will love this book."
Kristan Higgins, NYT and USA TODAY Bestseller author of THE BEST MAN

Fast Read/Slow Read:  Playing Tyler was a quick read!

Would I Read Other Books by the Author: Of course I would! Playing Tyler is a great YA read.
Meet the Author: T. L. Costa is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Masters of Teaching from Quinnipiac University who taught high school for five years before becoming a full-time mom and writer. She has lived in Texas, New York, New Jersey and Spain. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Connect: T. L. can be found on Twitter.

Purchase it:  You can purchase Playing Tyler online at Amazon for $9.99 ($5.79 Kindle version).