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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grimm Woods by D. Melhoff (Review & Giveaway)


Although I like thrillers, Grimm Woods is one of those books I wouldn't read because I don't like gory details in books. But Fil on my review team thought it would make for an interesting read because of the original plot and storyline, so he gave it a go. See his review below.

Book Details:

Book Title: Grimm Woods by D. Melhoff
Category: Adult Fiction, 384 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Bellwoods Publishing
Release date: December 2016
Tour dates: Feb 6 to March 3, 2017
Content Rating: R - The book is rated R for a few sex scenes (not explicit), mild drug use, cursing, and violence. The violence, while graphic and creative at times, is a core part of the story.

Book Description:

A remote summer camp becomes a lurid crime scene when the bodies of two teenagers are found in a bloody, real-life rendering of a classic Grimm's fairy tale. Trapped in the wilderness, the remaining counselors must follow a trail of dark children's fables in order to outwit a psychopath and save the dwindling survivors before falling prey to their own gruesome endings.

Drawing on the grisly, uncensored details of history’s most famous fairy tales, Grimm Woods is a heart-pounding thriller about a deranged killer who uses traditional children’s stories as tropes in elaborate murders. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Michigan, it’s a journey through the mind of a dangerous zealot and a shocking glimpse into the bedtime stories you thought you knew.

Buy the Book: Amazon


My Review:
Reviewed by Fil Piccolo

Melhoff writes a well-written thriller in this macabre novel titled Grimm Woods. A summer camp is the setting used by a killer to murder young counselors using original Grimm’s fairy-tale methods.

Fans of thrillers will find it appealing how Grimm's gruesome fairy tales are incorporated in the book for an entertaining read. And Melhoff’s well researched details of these fairy tales build heightened tension of every suspense scene making the book an easy page turner. The book flows from scene to scene without loss of the suspense. The addition of a run down 14th century-style summer camp made for an excellent scenic backdrop to the murders that take place.

The characters were well developed, with the hunted counselors facing the dilemma and tension among themselves of whether to save themselves or stay to protect the children they were responsible for. They had to find a way to outwit the killer in order to survive.

The story is definitely not for young teens (it's rated R) and I say, unless you like horror books, you may want to skip this one. However, for those looking for a good tale that incorporates dark details of the original fairy tales this might be what you are looking for.

To read more reviews, please visit D. Melhoff's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure from Fil Piccolo: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:

D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town that few people have heard of and even fewer have visited. While most of his stories are for adults, he also enjoys terrifying younger audiences from time to time, as seen in his series of twisted picture books for children. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Stoker, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror. For more information, visit www.dmelhoff.com.

Connect with the author: Book Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Enter the Giveaway!

Prizes: ​ Win a copy of GRIMM WOODS by D. Melhoff or a $20 Amazon GC (4 print copies for USA & Can, 20 ebook copies for international winners, GC open int’l) 25 winners total
Ends March 11


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art by Melissa Muldoon (Book Spotlight & Giveaway!)


Today I'm highlighting this dreamy novel! If you love books set in Italy and need to escape for a few hours then pick up Dreaming Sophia by Melissa Muldoon. You can read my review here and see why I liked this novel so much. And scroll down to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy!

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
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: 




Watch the Trailer:





Melissa meets Sophia Loren in March 2016!


About 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


Enter the Giveaway!

Prizes:

Win a copy of Dreaming Sophia (print open to USA & Can, ebook int’l) One winner will also get a $10 Amazon gift card (3 winners total)

Ends March 18

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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger



With that gorgeous book cover, title and book description, I just couldn't wait to read this book. But it was not what I expected, and I struggled for the first half of the book.

Book Details:

Title: The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Category: Adult Fiction,  384 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction / Historical
Published: February 7, 2017
Content Rating: PG+13 (This book deals with mature subjects. There is parental abandonment and abuse. There are a few vulgar words and one f-word. There is also one explicit sex scene.)

Book Description:

For readers of Lucinda Riley, Sarah Jio, or Susan Meissner, this gripping historical debut novel tells the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways.

An exquisite ring, passed down through generations, connects two women who learn that love is a choice, and forgiveness is the key to freedom...

San Francisco: 1876

Immigrant dressmakers Hannelore Schaeffer and Margaret O'Brien struggle to provide food for their siblings, while mending delicate clothing for the city's most affluent ladies. When wealthy Lucas Havensworth enters the shop, Hanna's future is altered forever. With Margaret's encouragement and the power of a borrowed green dress, Hanna dares to see herself as worthy of him. Then Margaret disappears, and Hanna turns to Lucas. Braving the gritty streets of the Barbary Coast and daring to enter the mansions of Nob Hill, Hanna stumbles upon Margaret’s fate, forcing her to make a devastating decision...one that will echo through the generations.

San Francisco: Present Day

In her elegant Marina apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Sarah Havensworth struggles to complete the novel she quit her job for. Afraid to tell her husband of her writer’s block, Sarah is also hiding a darker secret—one that has haunted her for 14 years. Then a news headline from 1876 sparks inspiration: Missing Dressmakers Believed to be Murdered. Compelled to discover what happened to Hannelore and Margaret, Sarah returns to her roots as a journalist. Will her beautiful heirloom engagement ring uncover a connection to Hanna Schaeffer?


Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

With that gorgeous book cover, title and book description, I just couldn't wait to read this book. But it was not what I expected, and I struggled for the first half of the book. I persisted and did enjoy the rest of it, mainly because of the historical part of the story. I usually like books with dual timelines, but in this case, I think that if the present day story had been eliminated and only the historical part was written and better developed, this would have made for a more substantial novel.

In the present day we have Sarah, a journalist turned novel writer who is hiding a major secret from her past. She stumbles upon a news headline from 1876 about two dressmakers believed to be murdered and decides to pursue it, making a stunning discovery linked to her husband's family. In the historical storyline, we have Hannelore (Hanna) and Margaret, two immigrant friends who work together as dressmakers. They both have severely abusive parents and struggle to take care of their siblings. Then Margaret disappears and Hanna enlists the help of a rich gentleman named Lucas Havensworth, with whom she develops a mutual attachment.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel is the setting. The author is very familiar with her city and she brings the 19th century San Francisco to life. The Barbary Coast with its gritty streets, poor immigrants, opium-drugged prostitutes and hard working class thrives in this novel. I liked Hanna's character and felt she was the most developed of any of the other characters, who unfortunately were under-developed. I also liked the attention that was given to the plight of women and the less fortunate, the societal injustices and hard life of the immigrants, although both Hanna and Margaret's immigrant families were shown to be cruel.

From a historical perspective, the whole romance between Hanna and Lucas was very unlikely, she being a seamstress from a poor immigrant family and he from high society. It also developed way too quickly, within the span of a few days. The ending was wrapped up quickly too, but was realistic, thanks to Hanna's good judgement.

Sarah's story in the present day...was not very engaging. There wasn't much depth to her and her relationship with her husband and I was frustrated with her most of the time. She had major issues with a traumatic event in her teen life (rightly so, mind you), causing her to have panic attacks and not wanting to have a child, although this was a decision she made before getting married and did not share with her husband. Her husband never questions her behaviour when it's clear she needs to see a therapist. I just found the whole thing was poorly dealt with in terms of the psychological implications and how it was resolved between the two of them once he finds out what her devastating secret is, and not from her. Too quickly and conveniently, without much communication. Everything is tied up neatly, which is not the reality of PTSD.

Overall, this was an okay read. I wasn't emotionally invested as I thought I would have been. The title was misleading (what dowry?) I kept asking myself as the story progressed. However, if you are looking for a light read and love the setting of historical San Francisco, you may enjoy this one.

To read more reviews, visit Meredith Jaeger's page on TLC Book Tours.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

About the Author:


Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

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


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Feb 20 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

After all the snow that's been dumped our way, the weather has turned to spring, which I know won't last long. But I'm loving the sunshine! And making plans for spring which is just around the corner. Two big things on the agenda: renovate our basement and finalize plans to attend BookExpo. Is anyone going?


Mailbox Monday



Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

I received these goodies in my mailbox:










It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Diary of a Prodigal by Roy T. Humphreys (Review and Giveaway)



Follow the story of a free-born colonial in 1800's Australia.

Book Details:

Title: Diary of a Prodigal: Early Australian Settler's Tale (The Rourke Saga Book 2)
Author: Roy T. Humphreys
ISBN: 9780994193926
Published: January 16, 2017
Published by: Amazon Digital
Content rating: G


Book Description:

Most major changes are only achieved with a significant amount of pain - and so it was in the early part of the nineteenth century for the British settlement in New South Wales as it evolved from penal colony origins to begin the transition to nationhood. Conflicts abounded between settlers and natives, freemen and those from convict stock, English and Irish as each sought to retain their identity and secure a future in the developing nation. 

Within these turbulent times a young Tom Rourke fights his own personal battles as he too struggles with change as he moves from teenager to adult. As the son of a former Irish convict whose closest friend is a young warrior of the local Dharawal tribe, Tom quickly learns about prejudice and acceptance while the bonds established during his idyllic boyhood are severely tested. Tom's natural athleticism wins him admirers and acclaim in the illegal prize fights organised by Sydney's military, however, there are bitter lessons to be learned about love, family and his own values once he moves beyond the confines of his insular existence into the world beyond.

Set in the period 1819 to 1824 'Diary of a Prodigal' follows the life of a free born colonial from his rebellious teenage years in Sydney to an awakening of his true self in Ireland and his return to establish his own destiny as a pioneer settler in the new nation of Australia.

Buy the Book:  Amazon


My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

This exceedingly well-written historical novel is set in Australia in the early 1800's. It follows the life and times of young Tom Rourke, son of Patrick Rourke that we first encountered in "Patrick's Journey" a couple of years ago. Twenty years have since passed. This book focuses on Tom, who is given a diary and begins writing in it. So the reader witnesses his story as well as historical developments in the emerging nation. I love the idea of a narrative via a diary as I am also inclined to write down thoughts and events in my life. Tom says "tis good for a man's soul to look back and acknowledge what state his mind was at during his life's journey."

From a historical viewpoint, the author successfully captures the racial tensions existing at the time. Native peoples are considered "barbarians of the most unenlightened kind." Moreover, conflicts bristle between English and Irish, as well as between those whose ancestors were prisoners and those free born. All are struggling to find their place in the new nation.

The epilogue is instructive and educational, informing the reader that among other items, Sydney is the oldest city in Australia, about the protracted Aboriginal wars, as well as documented facts about parts of Thomas' life. History buffs will enjoy the description of "real" money versus the colonial dollar. The first Female Factory for women prisoners was built in 1804, followed by a new one in 1821 that housed over 1200 women who were put to work including breaking rocks and untwisting old rope under harsh conditions. A sort of marriage bureau even operated within the factory where bachelors with appropriate certification could choose from a line-up of female convicts, and a marriage might be formalized.

The author's disclaimer is that "while the story should only ever be viewed as fiction, the concept for this book was inspired by the life and times of my great grandfather, Thomas Humphreys." I "heard" pride in the voice of the author. Congratulations on this excellent historical fiction, Mr. Humphreys.

Sandra Olshaski's disclaimer: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:



Roy Humphreys is a former I.T. professional who is now retired and living in the southern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. A keen trail runner and fisherman, Roy enjoys the simple lifestyle that close proximity to the joys of the Royal National Park and Sydney coastal regions provide. However, as any family man with ten grandchildren would know, free time to pursue personal pleasures is not always easy to come by. A chance discussion at a family reunion years ago revealed that he was blessed with paternal ancestors who lived extraordinary lives. Research revealed stories of Irish rebellion against British rule, convict ship mutiny and pioneer settlement in early colonial Sydney. The stories and folklore provided him with a rich source of material for historical fiction books which capture the essence of his forebear's history while providing readers with easy-to-read, fast-paced action/adventure stories.

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends March 3

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene (Review)


The Sky Between You and Me is a captivating and enlightening read. It can help teens, adults and parents become more aware of what it's like for a young person to live with an eating disorder.

Book Details:

Title: The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene
Category: YA Fiction, 496 pages
Genre: Mental Illness / Social & Family Issues
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: Feb 7, 2017
Content rating: PG-13 + M for mature subject and a few f-words

Book Description:

An emotional and heart wrenching novel about grief and striving for perfection.

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

Raesha will to do whatever it takes to win Nationals. For her, competing isn't just about the speed of her horse or the thrill of the win. It's about honoring her mother's memory and holding onto a dream they once shared.

Lighter. Leaner. Faster.

For an athlete, every second counts. Raesha knows minus five on the scale will let her sit deeper in her saddle, make her horse lighter on his feet. And lighter, leaner, faster gives her the edge she needs over the new girl on the team, a girl who keeps flirting with Raesha's boyfriend and making plans with her best friend.

So she focuses on minus five. But if she isn't careful, she's going to lose more than just the people she loves, she's going to lose herself to lighter, leaner, faster...



My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

The Sky Between You and Me caught my interest because it deals with mental illness as well as the struggles of a teen girl dealing with friendship issues and the loss of her mother. This is the second book that I read in verse and once again I enjoyed it. It's like a heady mix of poetry and narrative. I was so caught up in the writing and the story that I raced through it.

The Sky Between You and Me is the story of Raesha, a teen cowgirl who is on a Rodeo team and wants to compete at Nationals. Her mother died of cancer a few years back and she lives on her farm with her dad who is away a lot of the time purchasing cattle and taking care of their farm business. Dealing with her mother's absence, her desire to win so that she can honor her mother's memory, and the new girl in town Kierra who befriends both her best friend Asia and her boyfriend Cody, Raesha begins to eat less and less. She struggles with anorexia nervosa and loses respect for herself and blames herself for everything that is happening around her.

As a mother of a teen girl, I truly felt for Raesha. She misses her mom and although she has a good relationship with her dad, he is away a lot and also dealing with the loss of his wife. It was heartbreaking to see her go into this downward spiral alone. Raesha is a teen girl in a lot of pain. The author captures the struggles and inner turmoil of Raesha so well, especially since the story is written from Raesha's point of view and by an author who has fought hard to recover from this eating disorder. 

At the beginning of the book we see a confident Raesha who loves the farm life, which is well described in this book (I'm a city girl through and through) and who loves her best-friend-since-childhood Asia and her strapping cowboy boyfriend Cody. But with the introduction of a new girl who seems perfect in every way, in looks and in cowgirl skill, Raesha's self-worth slips away and she becomes obsessed with losing weight so she can be lighter on her horse for the competition.

As she becomes more sick, it seems that both Asia and Cody are too busy with their own stuff to really notice. I was so frustrated by their lack of caring. These were the two people closest to her and they didn't do anything! None of the adults seemed to notice either. Asia and Cody actually were not pleased with her for not liking Kierra, and their standoffish behaviour only served to make Raesha feel like it was her fault they were distant, which just spiralled her deeper into her illness. Cody wasn't much of a boyfriend. He treated her more like a brother at times, showing some signs of affection, but that's pretty much it. There wasn't much substance to their relationship except that they shared the love of rodeo sports.

I would have liked for some acknowledgement from Asia and Cody that they could have done more to help Raesha. That they were sorry for not truly recognizing Raesha was ill. (Even though she was sickly thin, bruised easily, and fainted in school. Hello? Didn't it occur to them she could have had cancer? Or some other disease that was making her lose her appetite?) Yes, I get that teens can be selfish thinking mainly of themselves and perhaps not knowing enough about mental illness. But what about after learning that Reasha saw a doctor and was now in therapy? I don't want teens reading stories about mental illness thinking that it's okay to ignore blaring signs that their friend is ill. Even talking to a counsellor at school or an adult they trust about their concern for a friend would have been a start. This message has to come out in stories such as this one.

The Sky Between You and Me is a captivating and enlightening read. It can help teens, adults and parents become more aware of what it's like for a young person to live with an eating disorder. As a parent, it reminded me how important it is for me to keep telling my teen girl she is beautiful and worthy.

Disclosure: Thanks to Raincoast Books for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:



Catherine Alene has an MA in teaching, and earned her MFA in writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Like the protago­nist in The Sky Between You and Me, Catherine battled anorexia nervosa. Now in recovery, she is actively involved with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and regularly serves as a recovery speaker, talking to college students and professional groups about her experience living with, and finally recovering from, the disease. Catherine teaches language arts at an alternative high school in central Oregon, where she currently lives with her daughter, horse, cat, and black lab, Herman.

Connect with the Author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Control Girl by Shannon Popkin (Review and Prize Pack Giveaway!)


I dug into this book with no expectations. I just wanted to see what I could learn. And as someone with a background in both Bible study and psychology, I was also curious how the author was going to tackle this subject.

Book Details:

Title: Control Girl by Shannon Popkin
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 216 pages
Genre: Christian Living  / Women's Issues
Published: January 27, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Tension, anger, fear, anxiety-it all begins with a heart that craves control.

Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don't match your version of perfect. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God's, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve's desire to know instead of trust, Sarah's inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah's controlling hand on her family's future, each of these women's stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.

Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

I decided to read this book because as a perfectionist, I know that at times I have control issues. I've learned through the years to work through them, which helps, now that I have teenagers to parent, but there's always room for improvement. So I dug into this book with no expectations. I just wanted to see what I could learn. And as someone with a background in both Bible study and psychology, I was also curious how the author was going to tackle this subject.

Well, I found this book to be a gem. First, I found that I was able to relate to the author herself. She was brutally honest and included descriptions of what she calls "ugly scenes" of controlling behaviour, which she admitted were very hard for her to write. But these anecdotes drove the point home in many instances. As a reader we want to know that the author understands well the topic she is writing about. So I appreciated her honesty.

I liked the book's layout. It was easy to read, formatted as a Bible study aid with questions and scriptures at the end of each lesson to read and meditate upon, many of which were my favorite ones. This is the kind of book you need to take the time to read with pen and highlighter in hand. I looked up and wrote out many of the scriptures directly in the book so that in future I could easily refer to them when looking through the book again.

But best of all is that the author used God's Word to make her point. Having studied the Bible for the last 27 years, I knew all the scriptures she referred to and was pleased with their application. And even though I was familiar with them, I truly appreciated re-reading and meditating on them with the goal to applying the Bible's counsel in regards to being controlling. One can read the same scripture at different times in one's life and see it in a different light in view of one's life experience.

Finally, using the example of Biblical women who displayed controlling issues as lessons for us to learn from was brilliant. After all the Bible itself says in Romans 15:4: "For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction..." and in 1 Cor 10:11: "Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us..."

Often women who like to control equate that with running an organized and efficient household with each member doing exactly what they's supposed to be doing. That's what I thought for the longest time. But it's not true. Doing this requires skill and insight, not control over what others do and how they do them.

If you are a Christian woman who struggles with control or someone who is willing to humbly look into Bible scripture for help with control issues, this book is just what you need. If you have an open mind, a willingness to make changes and the understanding that God knows us more than we will ever know ourselves, then you will greatly benefit from reading this book. The author's ultimate message that true family happiness and peace comes from following God's advice rather than being a control freak is right on.

To read more reviews, please visit Shannon Popkin's page on Litfuse.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and Lifuse for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

About the Author:


Shannon Popkin is a wife and mom, a speaker and teacher, and a leader of small group studies. She's been published by "Family Fun," "MOMsense," "Focus on the Family Magazine," and other outlets. She is a contributing blogger for True Woman.com and has blogged for several years at shannonpopkin.com. "Control Girl" is her first book.

Find out more about Shannon at shannonpopkin.com.


Enter the Giveaway!

Are you trying to stay in control of your quest for peace, joy, and security . . . and you're exhausted? Shannon Popkin's debut book, Control Girl, is a must-read for anyone with a heart that craves control. Enter to win a prize pack that will help you give up your Control Girl tendencies.



One grand prize winner will receive: A copy of Control Girl


Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on February 21. The winner will be announced February 22 on Shannon's blog.





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kitty Hawk & the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series Book 4) by Iain Reading


Kitty goes to London where she quickly becomes involved in a l00-year-old mystery.

Book Details:

Title: Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the R.M.S. Titanic (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series Book 4) by Iain Reading
ISBN: 9781502598205
Published: February 16, 2014
Published by: CreateSpace
Trade paperback, 234 pages
Content rating: G

Book Description:

Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic is the thrillingly cryptic fourth installment of the exciting Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series featuring the intrepid teenage seaplane pilot Kitty Hawk and her various adventures of mystery and intrigue as she follows in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart on an epic flight around the world.

This fourth book in the series brings Kitty to the emerald hills of Ireland where she meets a handsome stranger and is quickly swept up in a perplexing hundred-year-old family treasure hunt involving secret codes and puzzling clues that lead her on a fast-paced adventure that carries her from Dublin to London - from the decks of the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic to the temples of ancient Egypt and the streets of Jack the Ripper - until she finally unlocks the mystery and discovers the long-hidden treasure.

Buy the Book:  Amazon


My Review:
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski

Reading a Kitty Hawk book has quickly become one of my favourite pastimes. "And then there was silence. A silence so complete that not a single one of us dared to breathe. For a moment, I was a lost soul again, set adrift in the universe, and floating on the memory of the adventures that had led me to this place so many months before."

In this book, Kitty is continuing her round-the-world flight, following in the footsteps of her heroine Amelia Earhart. Kitty is in Ireland on a publicity gig, when she is approached by a tall, dark, handsome young man who wants to hire her to solve a mystery involving his family and the ill-fated Titanic. The clues include an old newspaper clipping, a crossword puzzle and a postcard with strange markings. Kitty is off to London to the British Museum to learn about hieroglyphics, and includes a trip to Abbey Lane of the Beatles fame, as well as taking a tour of Jack the Ripper's domain.

Kitty continues to be an independent, smart young woman, but I was somewhat disappointed in her this time around. Stealing, Kitty? Really? And, I think the author didn’t need to go into details about Jack the Ripper's escapades. This is, after all, a YA novel – too much unnecessary, gory information.

The 100-year-old story of the Titanic never seems to lose its appeal. As usual, the author has deftly created an intriguing mystery surrounding it and 2 real-life people who were on that voyage so long ago. Mr. Reading's books are always educational. I loved the slew of information about the Titanic. For example, I didn't know that it was a royal mail ship, hence the letters R.M.S. attached to the name. I'm impressed with Mr. Reading's erudition regarding the Titanic, the Rosetta stone and hieroglyphics. He is able to convey this to the reader in a simple, understandable way.

The novel is a page-turner. The chapters are short and there is a lovely section "Some Further Reading (if you're interested)" - the author's words - following the 2 epilogues!

History buffs will enjoy the references to the Beatles, Sherlock Holmes, Marconi, Jack the Ripper, and much more. People of all ages will like the hidden treasure incorporated in the mystery.

Congratulations, once again, Mr. Reading!

Sandra Olshaski's disclaimer: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:


Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently lives in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Ian is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Water and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to his Amazon page.

Connect with Iain on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Post, Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Feb 13 Edition


Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

So we're deep into winter and we're supposed to get 15-20 cm of snow today in Montreal, but lately every time they forecast snow it fizzles out into ice pellets. Not fun!

I'm enjoying my reading these days. I've been reading one great book after another. I read the article 8 Ways to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year by Neil Pasricha and this motivated me even more, not that I need motivation to read, mind you, but I love when someone else shares their love of reading. I feel a kinship. That's why book bloggers buy books recommended by other book bloggers. Heaven forbid, we miss out!


Mailbox Monday



Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

I received these goodies for review in my mailbox:







Bought this one on Kindle for $0.99:

This one is an Italian classic. The author received The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1926 for this novel.
She was the first Italian woman to receive this honor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams (Review)



The Wicked City was such an absorbing tale that I fairly raced through it to see how it would all come to an end.

Book Details:

Title: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
Publisher: William Morrow
Category: Adult Fiction, 384 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction / Historical
Published: January 17, 2017
Content Rating: PG+13 (This book deals with mature subjects. There is sexual abuse, adultery and a partial rape scene. There are f-words, profanity and explicit sexual content.)

Book Description:

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . .


Purchase Links:  HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

This is the third book I read by Beatriz Williams. The first one was Overseas which had a rocky start for me, and the second was A Hundred Summers, which I really liked. It seems that Williams' writing gets better and better. The Wicked City was such an absorbing tale that I fairly raced through it to see how it would all come to an end.

Beatriz Williams has the talent for weaving alternating stories from the past to the present so that the reader is trying to figure it all out as the clues unfold the story before us. I love this technique because it builds suspense, mystery and intrigue. In The Wicked City, we begin with Ella's story in 1998, a forensic accountant who catches her husband cheating on her. She leaves him and moves into a building she later discovers used to have a speakeasy in its basement. A speakeasy is a saloon or nightclub that used to sell alcoholic beverages illegally, especially during Prohibition.

Then we move on to Geneva "Gin" Kelly's story in 1924, a flapper who frequents the said speakeasy until it's raided. She ends up in jail and then takes up the offer from the straight-arrow Revenue agent Oliver Anson to catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, who just happens to be the man she ran away from and who is known to be a notorious bootlegger.

I liked Gin's story because she is such a great and complex character. She tells her story from her point of view, talking straight to the reader with her wry sense of humor and witty observations. She's a survivor and one can easily overlook her faults because she is also vulnerable and there's a softness to her hard edge. I loved the setting of course, during the Roaring Twenties, such a dynamic time in history. And the clever dialogue and repartees! Think Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Gin is a smart-mouthed, independent and modern 1920s woman.

I like stories with dual timelines, and this was no exception. I liked both Ella and Gin's story, although this time, the connection between the past and the present was tenuous. I was waiting for it, the connection that would tie it all together but there wasn't much. As a matter of fact, if the present story had been left out, it would not have made a difference to that of the past.

So the ending...well, it left me wanting more. It left me with questions. I felt that there were some unresolved issues, some plot threads left hanging. I don't know.

Despite all this, I really enjoyed this novel. The author kept me engaged throughout and I was so into Gin's story that I was disappointed when it ended. I look forward to seeing if Williams will write another period piece with a dual timeline, as I am eager to read more.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


About the Author:


A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore. 

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


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman (Audiobook Review)


After listening to The Velvet Hours and loving it, I was thrilled to discover The Garden of Letters by the same author. And even more happy that it was set in Northern Italy, during the latter part of WWII with a cast of characters involved in the Italian Resistance, of which I know little.

AudioBook Details:

Title: The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman
Genre: Historical / Romance / WWII
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Released: 09-02-14
Narrator: Elizabeth Sastre
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Unabridged
Content rating: PG-13 + M for mature themes and tasteful sex scenes

Book Description:

Set against the rich backdrop of World War II Italy, The Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.

Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she's never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Only months before, Elodie Bertolotti was a cello prodigy in Verona, unconcerned with world events. But when Mussolini's Fascist regime strikes her family, Elodie is drawn into the burgeoning resistance movement by Luca, a young and impassioned bookseller. As the occupation looms, she discovers that her unique musical talents, and her courage, have the power to save lives.

In Portofino, young doctor Angelo Rosselli gives the frightened and exhausted girl sanctuary. He is a man with painful secrets of his own, haunted by guilt and remorse. But Elodie's arrival has the power to awaken a sense of hope and joy that Angelo thought was lost to him forever.

Buy the book: Amazon ~ eStories ~ Add to Goodreads


My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

After listening to The Velvet Hours and loving it, I was thrilled to discover The Garden of Letters by the same author. And even more happy that it was set in Northern Italy, during the latter part of WWII with a cast of characters involved in the Italian Resistance, of which I know little.

This is the story of two people, Elodie Bertolotti and Angelo Roselli, who meet under duress and hard circumstances during the invasion of the Germans in Italy. They are two broken individuals who form a fragile friendship and eventually find healing. The two stories alternate in the past of each of these main characters and we slowly get to know what led them to each other.

Elodie is a cello prodigy in Verona, who falls in love with Luca and joins him in the resistance movement. She is a brilliant musician with an outstanding memory and will use her talents to help the resistance. But she suffers heartache as the war ravages all that she loves. Angelo, a kindhearted soul, is a doctor who fought in the war years earlier and returns home wounded and heartbroken at the losses that await him there.

I loved both of their stories, how they were slowly revealed to us, each layer peeled away to uncover the mysteries that brought Elodie and Angelo together. Alyson has a beautiful way of writing about art; in this book it's the art of music. Music itself is like a character in this novel, making this an emotional, atmospheric and evocative novel. I was mesmerized as I listened to the audiobook. Richman also knows how to create distinct characters that stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

The narrator Elizabeth Sastre does an excellent job. Her voice captures well all the different characters and her pronunciation of Italian words, names or expressions was good. Her voice and intonation conveyed well the character, setting or mood of the story. I will look for more audiobooks narrated by Elizabeth Sastre.

Once again, as with The Velvet Hours, this book was well-written, rich with unforgettable characters, romance and heartbreak. Another entrancing story perfect for lovers of historical fiction and the Italian setting. I am now an avid fan of Alyson Richman and will read all her books. This one too has made it to my list of Best Reads of 2017.

Disclosure: Thanks to eStories for giving me a complimentary copy of this audiobook. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

A Quick Word about eStories:

My listening experience with eStories was very good. I downloaded the app on my iPhone and found it super easy to use. The app also indicated to me how much of the book I had listened to and how much time was left. It allows for streaming playback, downloading over wifi, a 30-second fast forward or rewind and bookmarking. I can also upload my own audiobooks (MP3 and M4B audio files) to my eStories Cloud. Visit eStories to learn more.

About the Author:



Alyson Richman is the #1 internationally bestselling author of five novels, inlcuding "The Lost Wife" and "The Garden of Letters"and “The Velvet Hours”.

She is the daughter of an abstract artist and an electrical engineer, and graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She herself is an accomplished painter, and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel.

Connect with the author:  Website  

I will count the reading of this book toward these challenges:


         

Love audiobooks?

Wrote a Book Set in Italy?

 
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