Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Hi, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Jason Mott's latest, The Wonder of All Things.

When Stone Temple's hero pilot crashed at the Fall Festival, the local sheriff's daughter was trapped under the wreckage with her best friend, Wash. Ava was ok but Wash wasn't. Or shouldn't have been. Bystanders witnessed a miracle that day when Ava saved Wash just by touching him. Nicknamed the Miracle Child, Ava's ability draws the attention of the press and the world. But her ability comes with a dangerous side effect and the thirteen-year-old is faced with impossible decisions no one, much less a child, should ever have to face.

Ava and her father are compelling characters. On the one hand you have a thirteen-year-old whose simple wish to save her friend is rewarded in a way that is truly miraculous. And it's not the first time she's healed either. But she's greatly affected by the act. Her father is torn between protecting her and understanding that those around him (even himself, maybe) can benefit from his daughter's ability.

And ugh, it's impossible not to get emotionally involved with these characters and this story. IMPOSSIBLE. Ava is bombarded by requests that she heal this or that person. Each one has a tragic story. Each one feels they deserve her help. And no one seems to have regard for the fact that she's a child or that her ability does take a toll on her. It would be horrendous for anyone to deal with much less a kid. Even her dad doesn't step in to really guard her from this new reality.

As in his debut, The Returned, Jason Mott forces readers to consider some tough questions with The Wonder of All Things. Some of them are questions that may be a bit uncomfortable for some readers considering there's no clear cut right or wrong. Thematically The Wonder of All Things is actually quite similar to The Returned. Emotionally as well considering that with both books there were times when I was torn between tears and rage. It's not often that an author evokes that kind of response from their readers but Mott has it down, without a doubt.

The Wonder of All Things is not a light or easy read by any means, but it is a fast-paced and enthralling one. I would recommend that you come into this one prepared for a read that'll make you think. If you're craving light and fluffy save this one for another time.

Rating: 4/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Jason Mott and his work you can visit his website here. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston + a Giveaway

It's been a busy release year for Paula Brackston, readers. First we had the release of The Silver Witch back in April, then there was the US release of the first two Brothers Grimm mysteries (Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints in January and Once Upon a Crime in June. Note this series is published under Brackston's pseudonym, P.J. Brackston.), and now we have the print release of Brackston's Lamp Black, Wolf Grey hitting shelves tomorrow. If you enjoy Brackston's Witch books, you're going to love Lamp Black, Wolf Grey and if you haven't read her before, now's a great time to start. Thanks to the publisher I have two copies to offer up for you, readers. Be sure to scroll to the Rafflecopter at the end of this review to enter.

Laura and Dan have decided to pack up and leave London for a quieter life in Wales. They've found the perfect house - well, Laura has found the perfect house and Dan is warming to it - with fantastic views and enough space for Laura's studio. Best of all, it offers exactly the kind of peace and quiet Laura is looking for. She hopes that leaving behind the bustle of the big city will give the couple what they've hoped for for so long now - a chance to start a family. 

But Laura's new Welsh hideaway offers more than r&r for the artist. The house and the surrounding area are imbued with a tantalizing air of mystery. Laura feels things in the house and has seen a strange man wandering the area nearby. It's no wonder, then, when she discovers the area is steeped in legend, including a link to Merlin himself. And then there's Rhys, the nearest neighbor. With Dan in the city during the week for work, Laura finds it increasingly difficult to resist Rhys's charm. 

This latest release from Brackston is wickedly tantalizing. Who can resist the promise of Welsh mythology and Merlin, much less the promise of a forbidden temptation? Trust me when I say that Brackston delivers on all counts!

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is a dual narrative - Laura, Dan, and Rhys are just half the story. The other part is given over to Megan, nursemaid to the two sons of Lord Geraint, during Merlin's pre-Arthur days. Megan's fate is not a pleasant one, something we learn quite quickly considering the prologue is part of her story.

Both of Brackston's heroines are captivating: Laura's battle between love and desire, Megan's tentative position in her own time and her growing affection for Merlin are just a tiny smidge of their stories. But what I absolutely adored was the folklore! Merlin and any connection to Arthurian legend pretty much always win me over every time, and though there's very little of the latter (this does take place before Merlin meets Arthur, after all) there's plenty of Welsh lore woven into the story to satisfy any folklore fanatic. It's also a pretty steamy read, the kind you definitely don't want to put down!

Rating: 4/5

(Lamp Black, Wolf Grey is officially out on shelves tomorrow.)

And now for the giveaway. Again, there are two copies up for grabs this time. To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter below before August 17, easy peasy. Open US only and no PO boxes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 2, 2015

New Releases 8/4/15

Some of the titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah

The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele

Alice by Christina Henry

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Waters

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Stepdog by Nicole Galland

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur

The 3rd Woman Jonathan Freedland

Villa America by Liza Klaussman

The Bangkok Asset by John Burdett

Dawnbreaker by Jay Posey

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

Evergreen Falls by Kimberly Freeman

Let Me Tell You: New Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rome in Love by Anita Hughes

The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth

The Casualties by Nick Holdstock

All That Followed by Gabriel Urza

The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston

The Promise of Home by Darcie Chan

Deadly Assets by W. E. B. Griffin

The Girl Who Slept With God by Val Brelinski

Protocol Zero by James Abel

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

The Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante

The Twice and Future Caesar by R. M. Meluch

Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Mountain by David L. Golemon

The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Lous de Bernieres

Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews

Under Tiberious by Nick Tosches

Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre

The Nightmare Charade Mindee Arnett

As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka

Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, & Rob DeFranco

Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler

New on DVD:
The Casual Vacancy
Child 44
Adult Beginners
Burying the Ex
Insurgent
Far From the Madding Crowd
True Story
Madame Bovary
A Little Chaos
Every Secret Thing
The Salvation

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Flicker Man by Ted Kosmatka - Excerpt + a Giveaway

Hi, readers! Today's a break from my usual Saturday posts because I've got another excerpt and giveaway to share with you! Excited? I am!

I've been seeing great things about Ted Kosmatka's very recently released Flicker Men. Great things! Both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave it starred reviews and fellow blogger My Bookish Ways calls it a "...creepy masterpiece of a novel..." (seriously, Kristin has fantastic taste and her word really does carry a lot of weight for me). Considering the fact that this one was already in my reading plans, the above praise just means that I need to get to it SOON!

Before we jump into the excerpt and the giveaway, here's the book's description from Goodreads to get you started:

Out of a job and struggling with depression and alcohol abuse after a breakdown, the brilliant quantum physicist Eric Angus is given a second chance after he’s hired on a probationary basis by an old friend who runs Hansen, a prestigious Boston-area research lab. Unable to find inspiration for a project, Eric stumbles upon old equipment used for Feynman’s double-slit experiment and decides to re-create the test in order to see the results for himself.

Eric probes deeper into Feynman’s theory, with the help of fellow scientists Satish and Mi Chang. After extensive tests on frogs, dogs, chimps, working their way up every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom, Eric and his team establish a link between conscious observation and an evolutionary trait that is distinctly human: the soul. Mass chaos ensues after they publish the results of their experiment and Eric is bombarded by reporters angling for exclusive interviews and wanting to debate the varying implications. Questions arise when certain people appear to be “soulless,” and after Satish mysteriously disappears, Eric risks everything to answer them.

Sounds awesome, right?! Hopefully it's piqued your interest accordingly, 'cause I'm just going to cut straight to the excerpt:

Flicker Men
Ted Kosmatka

(Excerpt from chapter 3)

There are days I don’t drink at all. On those days, I pick up my father’s .357 and look in the mirror. I convince myself what it will cost me, today, if I take the first sip. It will cost me what it cost him.

But there are also days I do drink. Those are the days I wake up sick. I walk into the bathroom and puke into the toilet, needing a drink so bad my hands are shaking. The bile comes up—a heaving, muscular convulsion as I pour myself into the porcelain basin. My stomach empties in long spasms while my skull throbs, and my legs tremble, and the need grows into a ravening monster.

When I can stand, I look in the bathroom mirror and splash water on my face. I say nothing to myself. There is nothing I would believe.

It is vodka on these mornings. Vodka because vodka has no smell.

I pour it into an old coffee thermos.

A sip to calm the shakes. A few sips to get me moving.

It is a balancing act. Not too much, or it could be noticed. Not too little, or the shakes remain. Like a chemical reaction, I seek equilibrium. Enough to get by, to get level, as I walk through the front entrance of the lab.

I take the stairs up to my office. If Satvik knows, he says nothing. Satvik studied circuits. He bred them, in little ones and zeroes, in a Mather’s Field-gated Array. The array’s internal logic was malleable, and he allowed selective pressure to direct chip design. Like evolution in a box. The most efficient circuits were identified by automated program and worked as a template for subsequent iteration. Genetic algorithms manipulated the best codes for the task. “Nothing is ideal,” he said. “There’s lots of modeling.”

I didn’t have the slightest idea how it all worked.

Satvik was a genius who had been a farmer in India until he came to America at the age of twenty. He earned an electrical engineering degree from MIT. He’d chosen electrical engineering because he liked the math. After that, Harvard and patents and job offers. All described to me in his matter-of-fact tone, like of course it had happened that way, anybody could do it. “There is no smart,” he said. “There is only trying hard.”

And he seemed to believe it.

Myself, I wasn’t so sure.

Other researchers would come by to see the field-gated arrays set up around his workstation like some self-organizing digital art. The word elegant came up again and again—highest praise from those for whom mathematics was a first language. He stood crouching over his work, concentrating for hours. And that was part of it. His ability to focus. To just sit there and do the work.

“I am a simple farmer,” he liked to say when someone complimented his research. “I like to challenge the dirt.”

Satvik had endless expressions. When relaxed, he let himself lapse into broken English. Sometimes, after spending the morning with him, I’d fall into the pattern of his speech, talking his broken English back at him, an efficient pidgin that I came to respect for its streamlined efficiency and ability to convey nuance.

“I went to dentist yesterday,” Satvik told me. “She says I have good teeth. I tell her, ‘Forty-two years old, and it is my first time at dentist.’ And she could not believe.”

“You’ve never been to the dentist?” I said.

“No, never.”

“How is that possible?”

“Until I am in twelfth grade in my village back home, I did not know there was a special doctor for teeth. Since then, I never went because I had no need. The dentist says I have good teeth, no cavities, but I have stain on my back molars on the left side where I chew tobacco.”

“You chew.” I tried to picture Satvik hawking a plug like a baseball player, but the image wouldn’t come.

“I am ashamed. None of my brothers chew tobacco. Out of my family, I am the only one. I started years ago on the farm. Now I try to stop.” Satvik spread his hands in exasperation. “But I cannot. I told my wife I stopped two months ago, but I started again, and I have not told her.” His eyes grew sad. “I am a bad person.”

Satvik’s brow furrowed. “You are laughing,” he said. “Why are you laughing?” 



Hansen was a gravity well in the tech industry—a constantly expanding force of nature, always buying out other labs, buying equipment, absorbing the competition

Hansen labs only hired the best, without regard to national origin. It was the kind of place where you’d walk into the coffee room and find a Nigerian speaking German to an Iranian. Speaking German because they both spoke it better than English, the other language they had in common. Hansen was always hungry for talent.

The Boston lab was just one of Hansen’s locations, but we had the largest storage facility, which meant that much of the surplus lab equipment ended up shipped to us. We opened boxes. We sorted through supplies. If we needed anything for our research, we signed for it, and it was ours. It was the antithesis of most corporate bureaucracy, where red tape was the order of the day.

Most mornings I spent with Satvik. We’d stand side by side at his lab bench, talking and keeping busy. I helped him with his gate arrays. He talked of his daughter while he worked. Lunch I spent on basketball.

Sometimes after basketball, as a distraction, I’d drop by Point Machine’s lab in the North building to see what he was up to. He worked with organics, searching for chemical alternatives that wouldn’t cause birth defects in amphibians. He tested water samples for cadmium, mercury, arsenic.

Point Machine was a kind of shaman. He studied the gene expression patterns of amphioxus; he read the future in deformities. The kind of research my mother would have liked—equal parts alarm and conspiracy.

“Unless something is done,” he said, “most amphibians will go extinct.” He had aquariums filled with salamanders and frogs—frogs with too many legs, with tails, with no arms. Monsters. They hopped or swam or dragged themselves along, Chernobyl nightmares in long glass jars.

Next to his lab was the office of a woman named Joy. Like me, she was new to the lab, but it wasn’t clear when she’d started, exactly. The others only seemed to know her first name. Sometimes Joy would hear us talking, and she’d swing by, delicate hand sliding along the wall—tall and beautiful and blind. Did acoustical research of some kind. She had long hair and high cheekbones—eyes so clear and blue and perfect that I didn’t even realize at first.

“It’s okay,” she said to one researcher’s stammering apology. “I get that a lot.” She never wore dark glasses, never used a white cane. “Detached retinas,” she explained. “I was three. It’s nothing to me.”

“How do you find your room?” It was Satvik who asked it. Blunt Satvik.

“Who needs eyes when you have ears and memory? The blind are good at counting steps. Besides, you shouldn’t trust your eyes.” She smiled. “Nothing is what it seems.”

In the afternoons, back in the main building, I tried to work.

Alone in my office, I stared at the marker board. The great empty expanse of it. I picked up the marker, closed my eyes. Nothing is what it seems.

I wrote from memory, the formula spooling out of my left hand with practiced ease. A series of letters and numbers, like the archaic runes of some forgotten sorcery—a shape I could see in my head. The work from QSR. I stopped. When I looked at what I’d written, I threw the marker against the wall. The stack of notes on my desk shifted and fell to the floor.

Jeremy came by later that night.

He stood in the doorway, cup of coffee in his hand. He saw the papers scattered across the floor, the formula scrawled across the marker board.

“Math is merely metaphor,” his voice drifted from the doorway. “Isn’t that what you always used to say?”

“Ah, the self-assuredness of youth. So rich in simple declarations.” “You have nothing to declare?”

“I’ve lost the stomach.”

He patted his own stomach. “What you’ve lost, I’ve gained, eh?” 

That raised a smile from me. He wasn’t a pound overweight; he simply no longer looked like he was starving. “Isn’t that just like us,” I said, “giving ourselves primacy. Maybe we’re the metaphor.” 

He held out his coffee cup in mock salute. “You always were the smart one.”

“The crazy one, you mean.”

He shook his head. “No, Stuart was the crazy one. But you were the one to watch. We all knew it. Before you came along, I’d never seen a student get into an argument with a professor.”

“That was forever ago.”

“But you won the argument.”

“Funny, but I don’t remember it like that.”

“Oh, you won, all right, if you think about it.” He sipped his coffee. “It just took you a few years.”

Jeremy walked farther into the room, careful not to step on the papers. “Do you still talk to Stuart?”

“Not for a long time.”

“Too bad,” he said. “You partnered on some interesting work.”

Which was one way to put it. It was also Jeremy’s way of bringing up his reason for dropping in. Work. “I got a visit from one of the review board members today,” he said. “He asked about your progress.”

“Already?”

“It’s been a few weeks. The board is just staying on top of things, curious how you’re adjusting.”

“What did you say?”

“I said I’d look in on you, so here I am. Looking in.” He gestured toward the formula on the marker board. “It’s good to see you working on something.”

“It’s not work,” I said.

“These things take time.”

Honesty welled up. There was no point in lying. To myself or him. A

rising bubble in my chest, and just like that, it burst: “Time is what I’m wasting here,” I said. “Your time. This lab’s time.”

“It’s fine, Eric,” he said. “It’ll come.”

“I don’t think it will.”

“We have researchers on staff who don’t have a third of your citings. You belong here. The first few weeks can be the toughest.”

“It’s not like before. I’m not like before.”

“You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“No, I’ve accomplished nothing.” I gestured at the board. “One unfinished formula in three weeks.”

His expression shifted. “Just this?” He studied the dozen symbols laid out in a line. “Are you making progress?”

“I don’t know how to finish it,” I said. “I can’t find the solution. It’s a dead end.”

“There’s nothing else? No other research that you’re pursuing?”

I shook my head. “Nothing.”

He turned toward me. That sad look back again.

“I shouldn’t be here,” I told him. “I’m wasting your money.”

“Eric—”

“No.” I shook my head again.

He was quiet for a long while, staring at the formula like so many tea leaves. When he spoke, his voice was soft. “R&D is a tax write-off. You should at least stay and finish out your contract.”

I looked down at the mess I’d made—the papers scattered across the floor.

He continued, “That gives you another three months of salary before you face review. We can carry you that long. After that, we can write you up a letter of recommendation. There are other labs. Maybe you’ll land somewhere else.”

“Yeah, maybe,” I said, though we both knew it wasn’t true. It was the nature of last chances. Nothing came after.

He turned to go. “I’m sorry, Eric.”

It's taking everything I have not to drop everything and dive right into this as I put this post together. Alas it'll have to wait just a little bit. 

Big, big thanks to Wunderkind PR for setting up the excerpt and giveaway. 

If you like what you've read, throw your name in the hat for the giveaway copy by filling out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, August 17. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

Happy Friday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Charles Todd's Unwilling Accomplice.

While on a brief leave in London, Bess is asked to accompany a wounded soldier receiving an award at Buckingham Palace. After the ceremony, Bess and the soldier return to their hotel where they are to be met the following morning by an orderly who will accompany the soldier back to the hospital where he's being treated. 

Everything goes according to plan. The soldier has no family to celebrate his award but tells Bess some of his friends might be visiting that evening. When she checks on him before turning in, he's already asleep. Unfortunately, though, when the orderly arrives the following morning, the soldier is nowhere to be found. Bess first searches nearby hospitals fearing the soldier and his friends may have gone out drinking, but finds no evidence of the missing man and is forced to alert the War Office. Now the recently awarded soldier is considered a deserter and Bess his possible accomplice. If  she's to clear her name with both the War Office and the Sisters she'll have to find out first exactly why and when the soldier began planning his escape. Before she can even start, though, it's discovered that the soldier is the prime suspect in a murder!

Ugh, it's so unfair! The Crimson Field was cancelled after just one season over in the UK and said season has just finished airing over on PBS. The show was developed as part of the "BBC World War I centenary season," which apparently will give us programming (and by us I mean the US via whatever will come through BBC America and PBS) through 2018 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of WWI.

Why do I mention all of this? Well, not only do I quite enjoy the Bess Crawford books, but I went into this latest already craving more WWI stuff. That said, why hasn't the Bess series been considered for this program plan?

It's 1918 by the time this latest takes place and so the war is actually beginning to wind down. Soldiers, like the one she's accompanying here, are receiving awards recognizing their efforts and many are being placed on indefinite leave. (WWI's official end date is November 11, 1918.) It's curious, then, why a wounded soldier who's just been recognized by the king himself would risk so much to escape and murder another man. A man no one is quite sure how the soldier in question ever had a connection to in the first place. Bess has her work cut out for her considering her own good name and career are hanging in the balance as well!

Bess is a definite favorite of mine in terms of both general historical fiction and specifically historical based mysteries. I do love that each installment in this series can basically stand alone. Anyone who hasn't read the previous books would have no trouble at all with Unwilling Accomplice as a starting point. I might sound like a broken record pointing that out so often in series posts but I think it's important to note because so many readers, myself included, might be afraid to start midstream. I'd hate for any potential Bess fans out there to miss out simply because they aren't certain where to start!

Rating: 4/5

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Charles Todd and the Bess Crawford series, you can visit the authors' website here. You can also like them on Facebook. I'll also be taking part in the upcoming tour for the latest Bess Crawford release, A Pattern of Lies, so be sure to check that out here on September 4.


Short Fiction Friday: Two Mysteries from HarperCollins

Today's a double post day, but it fits because one of the SFF titles I'm posting today ties directly into today's tour post!

Tales by Charles Todd features four stories starring the writing duo's famous leads. In "The Kidnapping," a post WWI Ian Rutledge is on duty at the Yard in the wee hours when a man arrives claiming he's been attacked and his daughter has been kidnapped. "The Girl on the Beach," has Bess discovering the body of a girl on the beach one morning. The only clue to her identity is a newspaper clipping with the obituary of a soldier. "Cold Comfort" brings us to the front lines with Rutledge where he must find out if a soldier's claim of being targeted by allies is true or not. And finally, in "The Maharani's Pearls" we meet a young Bess in India where she plays a pivotal role in protecting both her family and the Maharani herself.

It's a small collection, each short just a sip of a tale really, but it does offer up some nice little extras including pieces of the characters' lives we've seen little of to date: Bess as a chile in India and Rutledge at the front.

Also included in the mini anthology is an excerpt from the upcoming Bess release, A Pattern of Lies.

Tales is out now (eBook) from Witness Impulse.

Rating: 3.5/5

My second short today is just a little extra prequel for the recently reviewed here Andrew Mayne title, Name of the Devil. In the book there's a wisp of an mention of a case Jessica investigated in the bayous of Louisiana - this is that story.

"Fire in the Sky" has Jessica and Nadine teamed up once again, this time to investigate an old man's claims of a fifty-year-old UFO crash. In truth, the case is little more than an attempt to placate a dying man. This time Jessica is the sceptic but Nadine isn't so sure - this far along, the man's been telling the same story in hopes that someone will listen and she thinks it's worth checking out.

To be honest, "Fire in the Sky" adds very little to the overall series. In fact, I found it a little odd that this time Jessica was really only out to prove Nadine wrong in agreeing to look into the case. The short does come with an excerpt from Name of the Devil, though, and is free. Who can complain about that, right? Especially when it gives you a sample of the fabulousness of Name.

"Fire in the Sky" is out now from Bourbon Street Books on all eBook platforms.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Lissa Evans's Crooked Heart.

Noel and his godmother lived together comfortably. She didn't agree with the war and when the first call for evacuating children from London was made she refused. But Mattie was growing increasingly more forgetful, her health declining with every passing day. When Mattie died, leaving Noel all alone, another round of evacuations proved to be the the chance Mattie's only relatives were waiting for. And so, Noel was sent away, left to be taken in by the likes of Vera Sedge. 

Vee lives in a perpetual state of poverty. Her son, spared from the war by a heart murmur, is listless and often late to his own job. Vee herself works harder than she should and still can't scrape by. But Vee has a plan, one that Noel finds he can be of great help with. Soon the two are conspiring together to take advantage of the war. But they aren't the only ones. 

Crooked Heart reminded me a little of the old Ryan and Tatum O'Neal pic, Paper Moon. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so - Nick Hornby noted the same thing. It's probably hard not to compare the two considering they're both about a "parent"/kid con artist team. (The comparison is made in the book's publicity material but once I saw this was set in WWII I admit I didn't really read anything more about the book. Yes, I'm that easy.)

It's a little sad how Noel and Vee take advantage of people. And Vee's son isn't much better. Not that any one of them has much of a choice. Given their circumstances, they're all taking advantage of their talents and situations to try and get by. Vee and Noel do manage to capture the reader's heart to some extent, though. It's hard to imagine exactly what you'd do in their situation and the way they work together and help one another is quite appealing. I quite loved Mattie and Mrs. Gifford. Neither is a main character in the least - Mattie is only present in the prologue, in fact - but both of them have such a great effect on Noel as a whole that they felt like much larger characters.

Crooked Heart is kind of a darkly comic and skewed heartwarming read - not your typical feel good book by any means. I'd definitely recommend it to any reader interested in WWII fiction and/or something just a little bit different. (Guys, seriously, everyone loves this book... Jojo Moyes?! Nick Hornby?!... I'm in good company recommending this one.)

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Lissa Evans and her work, you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.