Book spotlight: The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall by Shannon Kirk

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall by Shannon Kirk
Category:  Adult Fiction, 295 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher:   Reputation Books
Release date:  September 6, 2016
Format available for review:  Print and ebook (mobi, ePub, NetGalley)
Will send print books to: USA & Canada
Tour dates: Jan 16 to Feb 3, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (Contains a couple of non-explicit, but rather set in impressionist tones, sex scenes.)

Book Description:

What if you could choose your heaven now? Go on a celestial shopping trip of sorts? Thirty-five-year-old Vivienne does just that, as she lies dying in the ICU; a fatal walk into the path of a truck. In her final week of life, Vivienne treks through the Heavens of a priest, a best friend, a homeless child, and a lover who never was. Vivienne’s guardian angel, Noah, who may just be her soul mate, escorts her through selections of Heavens and through the confusion Vivienne experiences as she flounders between a doubt of life and the certainty of death. Although her visits to varied afterlives provide peace and beauty, choosing proves not so easy: Vivienne’s love for her young son and her earthly father pull her from her colorful journey—and from her divine love of Noah.

The nature of love, the variety and magic of life, unending hope, and the importance of saying goodbye are central to this uplifting tale.

Buy the Book:  Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble 

Watch the Book Trailer:

Shannon Kirk

Meet the Author:

Shannon Kirk is the awarding-winning author of the international bestselling Method 15/33 (psychological thriller–bestseller in Colombia and Spain, will be lead title in Italy, 2017) and Heavens (Literary Fiction). Method 15/33 has received multiple accolades: 2015 Foreword Review Book of the Year (Suspense); Winner of 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, Best Suspense; 2015 USA Best Book Finalist; School Library Journal’s Best Adult Books for Teens (2015); and Finalist in 2013 William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (when a Novella). Method 15/33 is optioned for a major motion film and has sold to nineteen foreign rights.

When not writing, she is a practicing lawyer, residing on Massachusett’s Cape Ann with her husband and son and two cat writing accomplices, Marvin Marquez (in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Stewie Poe (Edgar Allen Poe).

Shannon enjoys writing in several genres: literary fiction, psychological thriller, young adult, and poetry. She has been honored three times by the William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Jan 16 – #redhead.with.book – book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 17 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
Jan 17 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 18 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
Jan 19 – Bound 4 Escape – review / giveaway
Jan 20 – Olio by Marilyn – review / author interview / giveaway
Jan 23 – 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy + Sissy Too! – review / giveaway
Jan 24 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
Jan 25 – Thoughts on Books – review / giveaway
Jan 26 – Books for Books – review
Jan 27 – The Autistic Gamer – review
Jan 30 – Turning the Pages – review
Jan 31 – Turning the Pages – author interview / giveaway
Jan 31 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 1   –  Shoshi Reads – review / giveaway
Feb 1   –  Jorie Loves A Story – review
Feb 2   –  Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review
Feb 3   – Jessica Cassidy – review / author interview / giveaway

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

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Book review: Lillian Boxfish takes a walk by Kathleen Rooney

  • Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
  • Date released:  January 17, 2017
  • Pages:  304
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / Women’s fiction

SYNOPSIS:

“In my reckless and undiscouraged youth,” Lillian Boxfish writes, “I worked in a walnut-paneled office thirteen floors above West Thirty-Fifth Street…”

She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”

Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It’s chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now—her son keeps warning her about a subway vigilante on the prowl—but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed—and has not.

A love letter to city life in all its guts and grandeur, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.

“Extraordinary…Hilarious…Elegantly written, Rooney creates a glorious paean to a distant literary life and time—and an unabashed celebration of human connections that bridge past and future.
Publishers Weekly

BUY THE BOOK:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   MacMillan

Meet the author:  Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. She has been recognized as one of Newcity Lit’s “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago 2016.” Her previous work includes poetry as well as both fiction and nonfiction, and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Salon, The Rumpus, and the Chicago Tribune. She works as a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at DePaul University where she teaches, among other things, a workshop on The Writer as Urban Walker. Kathleen is married to the novelist Martin Seay.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook   Twitter   goodreads   tumbler

MY REVIEW:

Eighty-five year old Lillian is going for a walk on New Year’s eve.  A very long walk.  Never the wilting violet, her walk takes her through dangerous neighbourhoods as well as old haunts. As she passes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, old memories surface as she relives her life beginning as a young career woman who rose to fame writing ads for Macy’s Department Store in the 1930s.  Her widely publicized creed that a woman doesn’t need romance or love in her life backfires when she falls completely and insanely in love with Max.  With the birth of her child, her lifestyle and aspirations change abruptly, causing her to lose her lose her sense of self.

Although this book is a work of fiction, the author’s inspiration came from the real life character of Margaret Fishback, a poet and the real highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930s.

The author, herself a poet, delivers a delightfully witty and touching story of a woman who has it all, loses it all and then comes to terms with who she has become. I smiled often at Lillian’s witticisms and feisty repartee and will buy the hardbound book just so that I can re-read this wonderful story again.

 

 

Book review: Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon

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Book Details:

Book Title:  Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon
Category:  Adult Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Literary
Publisher:  Matta Press
Release date:   August 2016
Available for review in: print and ebook (ePub, PDF, mobi)
Will send print books: USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Nov 21 to Dec 16, 2016
Content Rating:  PG (Mild profanity, and mild religious expletives, exploration Italian swear words, kissing – oh my!)

Book Description:

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Buy the Book:  

Amazon – print
Amazon / Kindle – ebook
Create Space
I-tunes – Apple Store-ebook
Barnes & Noble – ebook

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Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!

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Watch as Melissa talks about her debut novel: 

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Melissa MuldoonMeet the Author:

Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, “matta” means “crazy” or “impassioned”. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano” and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa’s first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Connect with the Author:
Website  ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube ~
Pinterest

REVIEW:
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Can you learn history through fantasy?  It certainly felt like that as I read Dreaming Sophia. I’m a history and art buff and didn’t realize how much I would enjoy reading this fantasy / novel.  Sophia’s muses really make Italian history “come to life” and their inclusion added an unusual dimension to her story. The interaction between her “dream characters” was clever. On several occasions her “muses” moved me to put down the book and do more research into their lives.  I was also interested in the different pieces of artwork mentioned in the book.
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Florence, Venice and Rome hold many fond memories for me.   I was able to recall some of these wonderful memories about these cities from the author’s descriptions of the architecture, food and museums.
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I really loved that the author used a lot of Italian expressions in the book (together with the their translation).  It gave the book such an “Italian” feel.
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The artwork on the cover was simply beautiful and immediately caught my attention.  What is even more incredible is that the author created the artwork herself!
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You can find more interesting tidbits on Melissa’s website such as:
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Her muses:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/sophias-muses/
An Italian dictionary: http://dreamingsophiabook.com/italian-dictionary/
Music videos from the book:  http://dreamingsophiabook.com/music-videos/
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Together with all the author’s multimedia, reading the book was a really fun experience!
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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

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Book review: The Other Einstein: A Novel by Marie Benedict

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  • Name:  The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
  • Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark
  • Publication date:  Oct. 18 2016
  • Pages: 304
  • Genre:  Historical fiction / literary fiction

DESCRIPTION:

In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. It is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.

Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Penquin

1280105About the author:  Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College with a focus in History and Art History, and a cum laude graduate of the Boston University School of Law.

While practicing as a lawyer, Marie dreamed of a fantastical job unearthing the hidden historical stories of women — and finally found it when she tried her hand at writing. She embarked on a new, narratively connected series of historical novels with THE OTHER EINSTEIN, which tells the tale of Albert Einstein’s first wife, a physicist herself, and the role she might have played in his theories. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook   goodreads

REVIEW:

This book recounts the fictional life of the real historical figure of Mitza Maric. Her story begins as a young gifted girl who is expected to stay at home and never marry.  Born with a limp but a brilliant mind, she travels from Zagreb, Croatia to Zurich to be the only female physics student at the Swiss Polytechnic.  Her gift in the field of mathematics and her grasp of physics attracts the attention of young Albert Einstein, a fellow student. After several years of persistent courtship,  she falls in love with him and they eventually marry.

At first all is well as they partner several projects together.  Mitza’s strength in mathematics and abstract thinking give her an edge.  As partners, she expects equal recognition on the papers they submit.  In this fictional account, Albert claims the ideas are his alone and this infuriates Mitza.  As their personal life spirals out of control, we see her frustration and malcontent as she puts her ambitions to be a physicist aside to raise their children.

The author’s description of the way educated women were viewed at the time was quite revealing. This book was a fairly light read, and did not really expound on themes of a scientific nature as much as I thought it would. Despite the the artistic license the author took to fictionalize this character and the possible inaccuracies regarding the life of Albert Einstein, I did enjoy reading this account.

 

 

Book review: The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

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  • The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain
  • Publisher:  Gallic Books
  • Published:  September 3, 2013
  • Pages:  208
  • Genre:  World literature / adult fiction

DESCRIPTION:

This prize-winning French bestseller is a charming fable about the power of a hat that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through French life during the Mitterrand years.

Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him.

After the presidential party has gone, Daniel discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind. After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow…different.

Has Daniel unwittingly discovered the secret of supreme power?

For two years the iconic item of headgear plays with the lives of the men and women who wear it, bringing them success that had previously eluded them. Antoine Laurain’s brilliantly orchestrated tour captures entertaining portraits of a rich gallery of characters.

Shot through with a delicious, wicked sense of humor, ‘The President’s Hat’ is a vivid re-creation of the everyday life of an era.

“As entertaining as it is original, this is a story to enjoy like a chocolate with a surprise centre.”- ‘Marie France’

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

author-247x300MEET THE AUTHOR:  

Novelist, journalist, screenwriter, director, collector of antique keys … Antoine Laurain was born in Paris in the early 1970s. After studying cinema, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris. The experience provided the inspiration for his first novel, Ailleurs si j’y suis, the story of a collector, which was awarded the Prix Drouot in 2007. Fume et tue, a satirical tale of addiction and murder, was published the next year, followed by Carrefour des Nostalgies, whose central character was a failed local politician.

Published on the eve of the French presidential elections of 2012, Antoine Laurain’s fourth, fairytale-like novelThe President’s Hat was acclaimed by critics, readers and booksellers, who awarded it the Prix Landerneau Découvertes. It also won the Prix Relay des Voyageurs, a prize which celebrates the enjoyment of reading. The President’s Hat has been adapted for television in France.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:   WEBSITE 

REVIEW:

The President’s Hat is another feather in the cap of author Antoine Laurain! Delightfully descriptive and entertaining. In his characters we are bound to find a bit of ourselves. It’s rare to really develop an affinity for multiple characters in a book and I loved each and every one of them.

The story is based in France, including Paris and we are allowed a peek into the lives of everyday people who come face-to-face with the same, everyday issues that we do. If you are a foodie you will be constantly hungry as Antoine’s describes with detail the typical French “repas”.

Oh, and did I mention, there is a hat in the story? If this was a movie, it would receive it’s own credit!

Wonderful storytelling!

Book review: The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath

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  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books; 1 edition (April 5, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
  • Pages:  (292 pages)
  • Genre:  Literary fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most “righteous” blow of all?

Praise

A haunting tale of family, commitment, love…and being true to yourself.  –Roslyn Carrington, author of A Thirst for Rain

The author’s voice speaks in warm and sometimes cold filmic pictures of the universal language of love, honour, commitment, belief and family. When a remote outsider, a young boy, is drawn into and under the beguiling machinations of a devout extended family, there’s disruption in their cultural fabric and hierarchy, that challenges the decisions of a determined young girl’s head and heart. –Peter Jarrette – Author ofBrighton Babylon

On a gem of an island, in a private family enclave, boy — orphaned, rough, longing for acceptance — meets girl — sophisticated, manipulative, afraid of tenderness. The Yard is a sensitive tale of romance, hurt and forgiveness skillfully spun by emergent author Aliyyah Eniath. –Barbara Bamberger Scott — Editor, A Woman’s Write

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Aliyyah-Enaith-Gary-Jordan-2014-web--480x480MEET THE AUTHOR:

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine.

Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.

She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.

She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Find out more about Aliyyah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook andTwitter.

REVIEW:

“and for the millionth time in her life, she wished to be normal.”

A deeply moving and emotional love story about a boy and a girl.  Behooz, a boy with no memory of his past or family and Maya, a girl who belongs to a large, extended Muslim family but who has yet to determine where she belongs, form an unusual friendship.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Yard although I did have a hard time comprehending why such a thoughtful and gentle boy would allow himself to be treated with such an unloving and aloof manner by a girl he truly felt a connection with.   Although as a young person Maya is selfish and willful, we see her grow and mature as time passes.

The family dynamics were well developed but I was curious how a family of such extreme differences of belief within the same religion were able to tolerate each other.  I found it hard to believe that British raised men were “instantly” converting to Islam and the “insta-love” situations were a little unbelievable.

In my humble opinion, fewer characters would have allowed more character development of the the main persons in this book.  I would have enjoyed reading more about Maya and Behrooz.

The dialogue was well written and I enjoyed the conversational quality in the book.  I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Book review: The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson

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  • The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / historical fiction / biographical
  • Published:  March 8, 2016

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of Eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this doctor and writer of growing fame.

More than a century later, in 2014, the unexpected discovery of this diary represents Katya Kendall’s last chance to save her struggling London publishing house. Zinaida’s description of a gifted young man still coming to terms with his talent offers profound insight into a literary legend, but it also raises a tantalizing question: Did Chekhov, known only as a short story writer and playwright, write a novel over the course of their friendship that has since disappeared? The answer could change history, and finding it proves an irresistible challenge for Ana Harding, the translator Katya hires. Increasingly drawn into Zinaida and Chekhov’s world, Ana is consumed by her desire to find the “lost” book. As she delves deeper into the moving account of two lives changed by a meeting on a warm May night, she discovers that the manuscript is not the only mystery contained within the diary’s pages.

Inspired by the real friendship between Chekhov and the Lintvaryov family, landowners in the Ukraine, The Summer Guest is a masterful and utterly compelling literary novel that breathes life into a vanished world, while exploring the transformative power of art and the complexity of love and friendship.

Buy the book:  Harper Collins   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

9d1d2272-3ed4-45bf-ad2f-1d6891930112Meet the author:  Alison Anderson spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator. Her translations include Europa Editions’ The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship. She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Connect with the author:   Website   

REVIEW:

please remember me…

A testament to friendship, this novel encompasses the lives of three women, a young woman doctor from the 1880’s living in the Ukraine, a Russian émigré living in modern day London and a translator living in France.

The diary of doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova captivates Ana. She  is requested by Katya of Pollyana Press  to translate Zinaida’s diary from Russian into English.  The presence of Anton Pavlovich, a renowned Russian writer and playwright in Zinaida’s diary piques Ana’s curiosity as she continues to translate conversations held between the two.

The gentle prose and Zinaida’s reflections about her own short future and her friendship with Anton Pavlovich draw you into their intimate and sometimes frustrating relationship.

Three different stories with a common thread throughout and a surprising ending will keep you turning the pages until the end of the book.  A lovely combination historical fiction, memoir and literary fiction.

Tour schedule:

Tuesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Wednesday, May 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 27th: Curling Up by the Fire
Monday, May 30th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, June 1st: Just One More Chapter
Thursday, June 2nd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Monday, June 6th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, June 7th: A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, June 8th: #redhead.with.book
Wednesday, June 8th: Emerald City Book Review
Thursday, June 9th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, June 13th: A Book Geek
Monday, June 13th: Reading to Distraction
Wednesday, June 15th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, June 16th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Friday, June 17th: I’m Shelf-ish

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Book review: In the Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Cadence of Gypsies by Barbara Casey
Category:  YA fiction,  272 pages
Genre: Literary/Mystery
Publisher:  Gauthier Publications/Hungry Goat Press
Release date:  March 2011 (Hardcopy); April 2015 (e-Book)
Format available for review: print and PDF
Will send print books: Internationally
Tour dates:  April 25 to May 6, 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (A few expletives, mild sexual innuendo)

Book Description:

On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Nobles

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Meet the Author:  

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

Connect with the author:  Website

REVIEW:
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Cadence: the rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words / the flow or rhythm of events.
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Who loves a secret?  There are plenty of secrets in the Cadence of Gypsies. Some we learn of right away and some come as complete surprises.  This book reminds me of a book that was given to me by my mother 40 years ago – the plot was different but it had the same wonderful story-like quality that will captivate both young and old alike.
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Carolina is an American girl who was adopted when she was four years old. She receives a box containing an ancient manuscript from her birth parents which mesmerizes her and she is intent on deciphering its contents.  Despite all her diligent research, she’s hit a dead end.
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She needs to return to the land of her birth to investigate other documents that will enable her to learn not only the contents of the manuscript but also the truth regarding her family and adoption.  Her companions, three feisty but highly gifted young women agree to accompany her and their camaraderie and friendship are the glue she needs to discover the manuscript’s secret.
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A good “read-aloud” book that will have you turning the pages until you discover all its secrets.
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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
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Book review: The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay

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Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher:  Atria Books
Hardcover, eBook, & AudioBook
288 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary

Book description:

Amidst the strange, silent aftermath of World War II, a widow, a poet, and a doctor search for lasting peace and fresh beginnings in this internationally acclaimed, award-winning novel.

When Anikka Lachlan’s husband, Mac, is killed in a railway accident, she is offered—and accepts—a job at the Railway Institute’s library and searches there for some solace in her unexpectedly new life. But in Thirroul, in 1948, she’s not the only person trying to chase dreams through books. There’s Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, but who has now lost his words and his hope. There’s Frank Draper, trapped by the guilt of those his medical treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle to find their own peace, and their own new story.

But along with the firming of this triangle of friendship and a sense of lives inching towards renewal come other extremities—and misunderstandings. In the end, love and freedom can have unexpected ways of expressing themselves.

The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

“Exquisitely written and deeply felt…a true book of wonders.” –Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TheSecret Chord

“An absorbing and uplifting read.” –M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans

“This is a book in which grief and love are so entwined they make a new and wonderful kind of sense.” –Fiona McFarlane, author of The Night Guest

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

f610eae8-b6a1-42d4-91c0-ffecba3fa633Meet the author:   Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of four nonfiction books, including The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, and the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman’s Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

For more information please visit Ashley Hay’s website.

REVIEW:

The Railwayman’s Wife justly deserves praise  for it’s lovely prose.  Ashley Hay’s depiction of a young family in NSW, Australia during and after the second world war is particularly touching.  The war has not left their town untouched as it has taken away many of its fathers and husbands.  Although, Annika feels for these women, it is not until her husband Mac is killed in a railway accident that she fully begins to comprehend the grief and loss of someone she loved.

Several main characters form part of this storyline.  Roy, a poet and former teacher is lost and foundering after returning home from the war and Frank, a medical doctor who deals with his feelings of inadequacy as a healer is unable to make a commitment to the woman he loves.  And there is Isabelle, Annika’s daughter who must learn to live without her father but who’s pragmatic view of the events around her teach Annika that there is life beyond grief.

As their lives intertwine, the healing that comes from finding contentment in  friendship, the joys of nature and the love of a good book help to put to rest the memories of war and grief.

 

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Book review: From Afar by Frank Scozzari

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Publisher:  Summer Solstice
Release Date:  March 5, 2015
Page count:  200
Genre:  Literary Fiction
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Synopsis:
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For centuries, poets have argued that unrequited love is love in its strongest form. From Afar is a timeless tale of Morgan Stanfield’s search for love in the far northern city of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Leaving the warm climate of Santa Barbara, he embarks on a four-day odyssey where he encounters a Russian beauty, a prostitute, a wise old babushka, an American chauvinist, intellectuals, the Russian mafia, and the ‘face’ of love, and comes to know how love from a distance can be more captivating than love close on hand.
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Buy the book:    Amazon    
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9079556_origMeet the author:   Frank Scozzari was born in Bay Shore, New York. He moved to California as a child, where he attended and graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He now resides on the California Central Coast.
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An avid adventurer, he hobo’ed his way across America at age eighteen, twice trekked the John Muir Trail, backpacked through Europe, camel-backed the ruins of Giza, jeep-trailed the length of the Baja peninsula three times, globe-trotted from China to the Pyrenees to the White Nights of northern Russia, and once climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest point in Africa.
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A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his award-winning short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines including The Emerson Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Tampa Review, War Literature & the Arts (U.S. Air Force Academy), Pacific Review, Eleven Eleven, The Bitter Oleander, South Dakota Review, Minetta Review (NYU), Hawaii Pacific Review, Ellipsis Magazine, The Nassau Review, The MacGuffin, Reed Magazine, The Broken Plate, Roanoke Review, and Short Story America, and have been featured in literary theater.
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Connect with the author:   Website    Twitter    Facebook
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REVIEW:
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Stanley Morgan is looking for love.   all.in.the.wrong.places. How does an ordinary, nice guy find his soulmate? He’s already been burned but determined to find the love of his life.You can’t help but become emotionally invested in Stanley’s quest for love. You really want him to find someone. The characters he meets both on his way to Russia and while he is there are pretty crazy. I kept groaning over his lack of discernment with women in different situations.

I’ve been wanting to go to St. Petersburg for a while and was interested in his first-time experiences in the city.

Although this was a simply written book (with plenty of spelling mistakes) I could not put the book down. I kept thinking “this would make a great movie with someone like Tom Hanks playing the lead role”).

A great vacation read, especially on the plane. Note: avoid the vodka.