Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler - Book Trailer Reveal

Readers, in just a little over a month the good folks at William Morrow will be releasing Maggie Leffler's WWII fiction release, The Secrets of Flight! And today I get to be part of the book trailer reveal :)

But first, here's a little bit about the book from Goodreads to get you started:

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.

As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.

I've actually had this one in my reading plans for quite some time, so I am definitely stoked to be able to share the brand spanking new trailer with you today. I hope this will leave you as excited about The Secrets of Flight as I am!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Elizabeth Percer's latest, All Stories Are Love Stories.

It's Valentine's Day, which just so happens to be Max's birthday. A day that brings to mind all kinds of things, like lost love and the fact that he's been single for an uncomfortable amount of time. And as Max ponders these issues, the woman that got away ponders them as well. 

Vashti hasn't seen Max since she left him all those years ago. But she dreams about him. Her certainty that he can't possibly want to see her again keeps her from trying, but this year she's decided maybe it's worth just sneaking a peek at how he's doing. 

Meanwhile, Gene, an earthquake researcher at Stanford, and his partner are facing a challenge in their own relationship. It means Gene is almost constantly worried unless he's by Franklin's side. And then the city is rocked by not one but two severe earthquakes later that day. As things in the city deteriorate further, Gene, along with many others, tries frantically to return to the person he loves most.  

There's no denying Elizabeth Percer is a massively talented writer. Her characters, both here and in her debut, An Uncommon Education, are so full of depth and development that you can't help but become enthralled by their stories. But for me All Stories Are Love Stories just didn't quite hit the mark.

First, I mentioned Percer's debut, which I reviewed back in 2012. The heroine in that particular story is quite quirky and endearing. And while the characters here in All Stories Are Love Stories have their own endearing qualities, it's that quirkiness in particular that drew me to Percer's previous novel. A quirkiness that's not present in this one, sadly.

Second, I'm not a big fan of character driven stories. I love well developed characters, but I love them in the context of a much more plot focused book than All Stories Are Love Stories turned out to be.

As we all know, though, (mood readers in particular) timing can be a huge issue in reading. Sometimes a book falls prey to the particular time in which you tackle it and that's my third issue here. Through no fault at all of the book, I happen to have just recently spent some time in another San Francisco narrative that kept edging its way back into my consciousness as I was trying to read. And while that other piece was not the same story or even the same quality as Percer's, it inevitably affected my reading greatly.

Now, taking all of that into consideration I have to point out that I've seen glowing reviews of Percer's latest. Mine might actually have been one of them if I'd come to All Stories Are Love Stories at the right time. And given how much I did enjoy An Uncommon Education, I feel really guilty for not loving All Stories Are Love Stories.

This is very much the kind of book that I fully admit is a worthy read and a wonderful read for the right audience. First and foremost the audience that's drawn to more character driven tales :) So if you find that's your cup of tea, I definitely encourage you to check out other reviews of the book. Just because it wasn't for me doesn't mean it won't hit the spot for you!

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

For more on Elizabeth Percer and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tasting Rome by Katie Parla & Kristina Gill

My husband and I are understandably big food people. I'm Cajun, he's Italian, and both of our families have always celebrated big with food. Not only that, we both love trying new things and exploring food from different countries and regions.

In addition to simply being an enthusiastic eater, I've always been interested in the evolution of food culture and foodways history. Here in the States, it's generally something that comes about thanks not only to region but to the settlement history and the meeting and mixing of cultures. And while we're conscious of this here, I find we've been generally happy here to pack other countries' cuisines into broad categories without paying attention to the actual regional differences.

Which brings me to Katie Parla and Kristina Gill's Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City. The book explores not only the unique regional flavors of Rome but the history of the city as well, giving exploring home cooks a chance to delve into exactly how and why Roman cuisine is what it is and how it's different from other Italian food.

In terms of organization, the authors have taken a thematic approach - Snacks, Starters, and Street Food; Classics and Variations; Cucina Ebraica (exploring Jewish influence on the cuisine of the region); Quinto Quarto (offal); Verdure (vegetables); Bread and Pizza; Sweets; and Drinks - even offering up outtakes on things like Carbonara, Drinks with Snacks, the markets, and other varying aspects of the area's food and history.

But what about the recipes themselves? They're fabulous! And very much not what I'd expected. While I am definitely aware of regional differences in food, I have to say I had very little knowledge at all of what Roman food in particular entailed. Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe aside (both of which are in the book), I didn't have any idea what I was in for. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Picchiapò (Simmered Beef with Tomato and Onion) is similar, for example, to a dish my husband's family makes, but swapping beef for their pork was a definite experience. (One I highly recommend.) Spicy Fish with Couscous, a dish the authors trace back to Libyan Jews, was another definite favorite as was the Polpette di Pollo in Bianco (Chicken Meatballs in White Wine Sauce).

The recipes tend to lean more towards olive oil or other non-tomato bases, but there are plenty of red sauces as well. The heavy use of red pepper (peperoncino) was particularly nice considering my tendency towards spicy food. One downfall, however, is that we've recently lost our Italian deli (or at least the one I knew about) making it harder to track down a few ingredients - guanciale in particular. Thankfully, the authors allow for using pancetta instead (and to provide a recipe for making your own guanciale if you're really driven to do so). There are a few other instances, though, where key ingredients may be a little harder to track down. If you live in an area with limited shopping options, the authors have kindly provided a retailer section in the back of the book for online ordering.

All in all, if you're looking to explore Italian food in greater detail or have visited and tasted Rome's food already, Tasting Rome is a great choice!

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

New Releases 3/29/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse

The Infidel Stain by M. J. Carter

The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson

The Mortal Tally by Sam Sykes

A King Without a Kingdom by Maurice Druon

Thursday's Children by Nicci French

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

The Blood Red City by Justin Richards

The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr

Death Sits Down to Dinner by Tessa Arlen

Cold Barrel Zero by Matthew Quirk

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien

London Rain by Nicola Upson

Summerlost by Ally Condie

Dark Energy by Robison Wells

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Half Lost by Sally Green

A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

New on DVD:
The Hateful Eight
Point Break

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald

Limerick couple Kate and Mannix need a break. Their son is being bullied at school, Mannix's brother is having trouble with the local mob, and even their daughter is feeling the strain. But months of unemployment have drained their coffers making a vacation seem like a dream that will never come true. Until Kate decides to give house swapping a try and Hazel and Oscar Harvey, with their gorgeous Manhattan apartment, offer up the perfect opportunity. 

Hazel is from Limerick and hasn't been back for years. Her family is suffering its own issues at the moment and could use a trip themselves, so swapping with the O'Neils seems like the perfect plan. But her homecoming turns out to be quite different than she'd expected. And when she starts to see a stranger lurking around the O'Neil house, she has to wonder if it's her own imagination. 

Ugh, last week turned into a mess. I was sick as a dog, planted on the couch, and almost completely out of it for two days. It was miserable. But I should point out that almost - almost completely out it. The one bright spot of the whole thing was Siobhán MacDonald's debut, which somehow managed to grabbed me amidst the malaise and unwell-being. I'm not kidding. Even when nothing else could possibly hold my attention for longer than two seconds, Twisted River wormed its way in and commandeered the little bit of attention and concentration I could manage!

Any book junkie knows this is a big deal. Sick time generally means, to our brains, free reading time. And the disappointment of being literally too sick to read adds insult to injury. So when a book can get you, even at your worst, it's huge!

I have to admit that part of the appeal here was the house swapping. I'm alone amongst my group of peers in my discomfort at the idea of things like Air B&B. I've used it, and it was fine, but I still find it weird! That plus recent stories about some of the... odd happenings around these rentals made the synopsis of Twisted River overwhelmingly appealing.

And the promise of the book is delivered! Though not quite in the way you might think.

Twisted River is absolutely dripping with a sense of dread and suspicion. There's the bullying in Limerick, Mannix's brother's issues, and Mannix's own behavior. Meanwhile in Manhattan Hazel is being abused terribly and her husband is recovering from some legal trouble that's not outlined completely until further into the story. Chapters alternate between the four adults, creating a round robin story that reveals new pertinent facts with each new chapter. It's a tale of suspicion and appearances and we, the readers, are faced with exactly how deceiving those two things can be throughout the progression of the story.

MacDonald excels at building a plot that's complex and misleading. The tenet that there is more than one side to every story is one that weighs heavily here. Our perception as readers begins in one inevitable place and changes almost with each new chapter, making Twisted River a truly twisted and surprising read. And I loved every minute of it!

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reader, I Married Him edited by Tracy Chevalier + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm kicking off the TLC book tour for the Jane Eyre inspired collection, Reader, I Married Him.

Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, arguably her most famous work (though not her only work), met its first readers in 1847. Now, over a century and a half later, the story of orphaned Jane, Mr. Rochester, and Thornfield Hall is still touching readers everyday.

I didn't read Jane Eyre until I was in college. It was for a special topics course on colonialism in English literature. Throughout the semester we read Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart as a pair and then Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea (which is Rhys's story of Mr. Rochester's first wife). Jane Eyre was arguably my favorite read of the semester - the imagery and the gothic tone had me completely enthralled and Jane and her tale kept me reading well beyond the assigned chapters!

This is why, all these years later, I snatch up any and every book inspired by the classic. I can't get enough! And neither can a ton of other readers apparently (did you know today's the book birthday for another Jane Eyre inspired read as well?).

Reader, I Married Him features twenty-one authors' tales - some quite true to the original while others are more farther afield - all in homage to Jane's story. What's amazing about this particular collection is not only how many people the book has obviously impacted, but how very differently it impacts readers - as evidence by how different these tales are from one another. Patricia Park offers up a fish out of water tale about a Korean girl raised in Buenos Aires and transplanted to the Big Apple while Susan Hill offers her take on Wallis Simpson, Helen Dunmore gives readers a look inside Grace Poole's world, and Francine Prose twists Jane and Bertha into a Gaslight sort of parallel. These are just a few of the stories inside, each tantalizingly unique in topic, tone, and even setting.

Here's the full TOC (with links where available):

"My Mother's Wedding" by Tessa Hadley

"Luxury Hour" by Sarah Hall
Sarah Hall – Website | Facebook

"Grace Poole Her Testimony" by Helen Dunmore
Helen Dunmore – Website | Twitter

"Dangerous Dog" by Kirsty Gunn
Kirsty Gunn – Website | Facebook

"To Hold" by Joanna Briscoe
Joanna Briscoe – Website | Twitter

"It's a Man's Life, Ladies" by Jane Gardam

"Since I First Saw Your Face" by Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue – Website | Facebook | Twitter

"Reader, I Married Him" by Susan Hill
Susan Hill – Website | Facebook | Twitter

"The Mirror" by Francine Prose

"A Migrating Bird" by Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak – Website | Facebook | Twitter

"Behind the Mountain" by Evie Wyld
Evie Wyld – Website | Facebook | Twitter

"The China From Buenos Aires" by Patricia Park
Patricia Park – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

"Reader, She Married Me" by Salley Vickers
Salley Vickers – Website | Twitter

"Dorset Gap" by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

"Party Girl" by Nadifa Mohamed
Nadifa Mohamed – Twitter

"Transference" by Esther Freud
Esther Freud – Website

"The Mash-Up" by Linda Grant
Linda Grant – Website | Twitter

"The Self-Seeding Sycamore" by Lionel Shriver
Lionel Shriver – Facebook

"The Orphan Exchange" by Audrey Niffenegger
Audrey Niffenegger – Website | Facebook | Twitter

"Double Men" by Namwali Serpell
Namwali Serpell – Website | Twitter

"Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark" by Elizabeth McCracken
Elizabeth McCracken – Website | Facebook | Twitter

Honestly I'm still a reeling a bit from this collection. I was surprised by just how singular each story was - this shouldn't actually come as that big of a shock, to be honest. Any number of people are all going to have different reactions and revelations about any read and Brontë's is quite exceptional indeed. To have it so displayed in one collection, though, makes it just that much more obvious how different we all are as readers and how those differences affect the influences and take aways from any story!

Now because I'm sure you all love Jane as much as I do, I'm super pleased to be able to offer up not one but two copies of Reader, I Married Him today! To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, April 4. Open US only. 

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Last Girl by Joe Hart - Excerpt + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, readers! Let's start off with an excerpt AND a giveaway today.

This month, Joe Hart kicked off his Dominion Trilogy with The Last Girl, a post-viral apocalypse tale with a frightening premise. Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads to get you started:

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.

Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.

Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

Sounds intense, right?! Let's dive right in:

A knock.

“Come in,” she says. The door opens, and Simon stands there in the hallway. He wears his usual cleric uniform—a black button-up shirt, closed tight at the throat, and dark cargo pants above hiking boots. His handsome features are wrinkled by lines on his forehead as well as on either side of his thin mouth. His dark hair, always combed so carefully to the side, seems to have grayed more at the temples overnight.

He looks at her with eyes very blue against the slate concrete, though there’s a softness to them that always reassures her no matter what’s happening at the moment.

“Good morning, Zoey.”

“Good morning, Simon.”

“You rested well?”

She nods.

“Good. Are you ready for breakfast?”


He holds the door open for her, letting it coast shut when she steps into the hall, the lock hidden in the frame snapping quietly. They walk slowly down the hallway, their steps nearly matched. How many
times have we done this? She could do the math, she supposes, but what purpose would it serve? Because she knows why they do it. It’s the same reason for the calendars in all the rooms, it’s why they’re taught to read the months and days only after the rules are memorized. It’s to add another wall around them, knowing how long they’ve been here doing the same thing day after day.

They near the end of the hall and turn a corner. Zoey glances at their strange, bulbous reflections in the curved mirror mounted near the ceiling. She makes a face at herself. The stairs are ahead of them,
but she slows as she sees another Cleric standing outside one of the last doors on the left. He’s younger than Simon, but not by much. He has close-cropped blond hair that reveals his scalp beneath the fluorescent lighting. She knows him as Abbot, but most call him Abe. Zoey stops, and Simon halts as well.

“What’s wrong?” Simon asks.

“I was wondering . . .” She blinks and licks her lips. “I wanted to talk to her before she goes.”

Simon tips his head back, his mouth thinning until it’s only a bloodless line. “Zoey, you know you’re not supposed to speak with her in her room. Especially today.”

“I know. But what will it hurt? She’ll be gone this afternoon, and I won’t see her—” She starts to say ever again but corrects herself. “—for quite a while.” Abe has overheard them talking and is watching Simon, unmoving, unaffected. Simon frowns and glances down the hallway at the domed shape jutting from the ceiling. The cameras are everywhere, their opaque eyes always watching, judging.

“Please,” she says, surprising herself. Simon returns his gaze to her before looking at Abe. Abe shrugs, as if to say Fine with me.

“Only a few minutes,” Simon says.

Abe turns and knocks twice on the door. A murmured reply comes from within, and he holds his bracelet up to the reader beside the lock.

The door clacks, and he opens it for Zoey as she steps past him. The room is a duplicate of her own. There is the desk, the chair, the hateful calendar, and the room’s sole occupant sitting on the bed.

Zoey’s struck, as she always is, by how beautiful Terra can be. Her hair is long and blonde, bordering on white. It is straight and will do almost anything Terra wants it to. Now it’s pulled back from her
face, accentuating her long nose, high cheekbones, and dark eyes that Zoey has never seen shine with true surprise until now.

“Zoey, what are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be in my room.” Her voice is commanding and powerful. She stands from the bed and rises a full three inches above Zoey’s height. It’s not so much that Zoey’s short, but more that Terra is tall. Everything about her cries leader, and that’s why Zoey is so afraid.

“I needed to talk to you. Before the ceremony.”

“About what?”

Zoey hesitates, hovering on the brink of an abyss before stepping off.

“Pretend you’re sick,” she says in a low voice. Terra tips her head and squints at her as if she didn’t hear what Zoey said.

“What? Why?”

“So you don’t have to go.”

Terra sighs. “Zoey, we’ve talked about this. You know it’s what we all want. I’ve been waiting for this day for years and years. For . . .”

Terra’s voice falters, and Zoey sees a sheen appear in her eyes. “. . . for as long as I can remember. The Program isn’t something to be afraid of, it’s something to embrace. It’s for the greater good of—”

Zoey turns from her, staring down at the floor, and moves to the desk.

“Please don’t say that to me.”

“Say what?”

“‘The greater good.’ Please don’t say that.”

Terra comes up behind her, places her hands on Zoey’s shoulders. They are strong and sure, radiating strength that seems to be the only thing other than kindness that Terra can produce.

“It’s true, Zoey. Today isn’t something I’m afraid of, and you shouldn’t be afraid either. I’m going to get to see them today. I’m going to see my parents.” Terra’s voice falters again, and Zoey knows
that she’s crying behind her, but she can’t bring herself to look at her friend.

“There’s a place outside of these walls that’s safe for us, and after the waiting period I’m going to see it with them.”

Zoey turns then, gazing up at Terra’s tear-streaked face. “I don’t believe it. I think they’re lying to us.”

“How can you say that? They’ve always kept us safe here, sheltered from the plague, those that would hurt us. Why would they protect us if they were lying?”

Zoey ignores the question. “Pretend to trip, to fall down the stairs. If you’re injured even a little, they’ll send you to the infirmary, and we’ll have a few more days.” Zoey can’t stand the pleading in her voice, but there’s no straining it out.

Terra smiles, and Zoey suddenly hates the expression. It’s full of knowing, and comfort, and regal condescension. “You know I won’t do that. I can’t. Don’t worry, it will only be a little while, and we’ll be in the safe zone together. We’ll get to see Grace and Halie, and we’ll be able to meet each other’s parents.”

Zoey steps away from Terra. “It’s a lie,” she hisses, unable to contain the sudden fury that’s bloomed within her. “I don’t know what’s after induction, but it’s not what they say. It’s all a lie. I can see it on Miss Gwen’s face whenever she tells us about the safe zone. She’s lying, and so is the Director.”

Terra looks like she’s been slapped. One of her hands reaches up to cover her mouth, which has dropped partially open. “Zoey, stop. You don’t know what you’re saying. That’s heresy.”

Zoey shakes her head and realizes she’s trembling all over, like after a long run. “Please, Terra, don’t go.”

Terra draws herself up, becoming once again the leader, the keeper of order that she’s been for the last decade among the other women. Her eyes harden, and she blinks away the last of her tears.

“I love you, Zoey. You’ll see soon that everything is okay. Everything is going to be all right.” Zoey looks at her and feels something shrivel in on itself within her chest.

“Goodbye, Terra,” she says, and moves to the door without looking back.

Excerpted from THE LAST GIRL © Copyright 2016 by Joe Hart. Reprinted
with permission by Thomas & Mercer. All rights reserved.

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, April 4. Open US only and no PO boxes, please.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

New Releases 3/22/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Bob's Burgers Burger Book by Loren Bouchard

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

No One Knows by J. T. Ellison

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Shadow and Flame by Gail Z. Martin

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Reader, I Married Him ed by Tracy Chevalier

The Summer Before War by Helen Simonson

All Stories are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer

Treachery at Lancaster Gate by Anne Perry

Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman

Predator by Wilbur Smith

The Searcher by Christopher Morgan Jones

Harmony House by Nic Sheff

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

New on DVD:
Mockingjay Part 2

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Relic by Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie's America's First Daughter. I do have a copy available to give away today, so be sure to read through to the end to enter.

From the time of his wife's death through to his own, Thomas Jefferson had one woman by his side at all times - his daughter Patsy. She promised her mother, on her death bed, that she would always look after her father and she lived by her word. 

Using historical letters from Jefferson's own collection, saved and preserved by Patsy herself, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie have built a tale with Patsy herself as the narrator - beginning with the family's run from Monticello with the British hot on their heels in 1781 through her time in Paris, her doomed love and even worse marriage, to just a few years before her own death. It's amazing, too, just how much there is about Jefferson and Patsy to pull from for such a story. While there are of course embellishments, the authors note that they've very carefully stuck by the known history to give readers what appears to be an honest and unflinching look at this fascinating woman. 

The story has an interesting framework, using actual quotes from letters as the heading of each chapter and told from the perspective of Patsy as she goes through those exact correspondences in the days after her father's death - as though the letters themselves are prompting her own remembrance of the time in which they were written. Of course the Jeffersons - Patsy and her father in particular - are not without fault and the authors don't flinch from portraying the scandal of Jefferson's affair with Sally Hemmings or even Patsy's own attempts (obvious or otherwise) to cover up things that she believed would harm her father's reputation.

One downside of this kind of story, and the framework in particular, is the fact that there is obviously so much to cover. Patsy lived into her sixties and any tome about a life like hers could stretch well beyond the 500+ pages in America's First Daughter. As such, the jumps between some of the chapters and pieces of her life that are portrayed keep the book from flowing as smoothly as some readers might prefer. Instead we're given snippets of what the authors have deemed the most important chapters of Patsy's life, the most formative and informative for the story. And they've done it quite well. While the beginning felt somewhat stilted, Patsy's move to Paris in particular marked a point in the story where I felt more comfortable and more drawn in.

Patsy is, again, a fascinating figure and one I knew absolutely nothing about before the release of this book. Given the current mad popularity of Hamilton (which does some of the same historical figures, including Jefferson), I've no doubt America's First Daughter will also capture the attention of some of the same audience. Historical fiction fans of course will also want to get their hands on this one!

And that brings me to the giveaway! To enter to win your very own copy of America's First Daughter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 28. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

For more on the authors: you can find Stephanie Dray's website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And you can visit Laura Kamoie here and like her Facebook and follow her on Twitter as well.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, March 13, 2016

New Releases 3/18/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Cambodia Noir by Nicholas Seeley

The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley

Some of the Parts by Hannah Barnaby

Snakewood by Adrian Selby

Two if By Sea by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Lie in Plain Sight by Maggie Barbieri

The Midwife and the Assassin by Sam Thomas

Deep Blue by Randy Wayne White

Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham

Shelter by Jung Yun

The Watcher in the Wall by Owen Laukkanen

The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn

The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich

The Girl on the Run by Gregg Olsen

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Page

A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

New on DVD:
The Big Short

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer + a Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Kate Hamer's The Girl in the Red Coat.

Eight-year-old Carmel has a tendency to wander. This in spite of her mother's efforts otherwise. So when they attend the storytelling festival Beth is cautious and careful to hold Carmel's hand at all times and keep a close eye on her. But when a fog rolls in and Carmel gets a little too excited about the booksellers' tent, Beth loses sight of her long enough for disaster to strike. 

Carmel hides out under a table to read, vowing to come out when she catches sight of her mother's shoes. Unfortunately she loses herself in the book and emerges to find her mother is nowhere near. And then a man approaches her claiming to be the grandfather she's never met, telling her that her mother has been in a terrible accident...

Oh, wow. This is a terrifying premise and a hard book to read. Honestly, if I had kids I'm not sure I'd have been able to get through this one at all!

Kate Hamer's debut is a powerful and highly emotional read. Chapters alternate between Beth and Carmel, offering readers a look at a mother plagued by guilt and mourning the loss of her child all the while hoping beyond hope for her return, and the child herself and the life she's living alongside her abductors.

Beth and her family aren't close. Carmel has never met her grandparents and admits that during a q&a session at the festival, making it that much easier for her kidnapper to get his plan underway. But as it turns out this isn't a random kidnapping at all. That particular thread of the story was, admittedly, quite intriguing but the how and why of the kidnapping aren't the story here. Instead, the focus of The Girl in the Red Coat is the aftermath of the crime - the psychological effects in particular. That guilt Beth feels over losing Carmel in the first place, the layers and layers of lies Carmel's kidnappers add to her story, it all weighs so heavily on the characters, shaping them and changing them as more and more time passes.

I won't tell you how their story ends, that would be giving away too much. I will tell you, though, that this is another one you won't be able to put down until you get through to the end - so don't you dare make the mistake I did and crack this one open at 11 pm!

Rating: 4.5/5

As part of the tour today, I do have one copy to offer up in a giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 28. Open US/Canada only and no PO boxes please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Kate Hamer, you can follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Saints of the Lost and Found by T.M. Causey

It's been ten years since Avery ran away from home and her ex, Jack. Since then, she's allowed her ability to see and sometimes find lost things to become public knowledge, consulting on a highly publicized case with the FBI. But it's that case and a call from her father that have forced her to finally return home. 

Avery's ability isn't always reliable. She can see losses but can't always tell when or even where they are. The fact that she led the feds to the whereabouts of the Little Princess Killer's latest victim just moments after her death is a failure Avery can't face again. So she lies, claiming to have lost her ability after a particularly awful seizure. On the heels of that lie is her father's promise that Avery's brother, Latham, will die if she doesn't return to Louisiana to help him. But her return means facing Jack and the revelation that her ability has not disappeared at all. And when another girl is abducted, this time in her own backyard, Avery is drawn right back into the LPK case and the public eye. 

Avery and her brother were raised by grifter parents who were all too happy to use her ability to their benefit. The ability itself comes from Avery's father's side of the family and manifests in different ways throughout the generations. Avery's father, for example, can see a person's death. Avery's brother is plagued by visions of ghosts, an ability he's kept secret from their parents all their life.

For a while, Avery was able to control the pain of the losses that surrounded her every day. But that loss of control has meant an inundation of pain and symptoms leading up to terrible seizures. What's more, her relationship with Jack was devastating for both of them. But Jack has no clue why Avery really left him behind and why she's avoided contact with him for a decade. It's the reason, in fact, that her own brother doesn't want her back in Louisiana. But Avery isn't going to risk her own brother, even when it means not only facing Jack but having to use her ability to help when his ex-wife disappears under mysterious circumstances.

As they say, though, no good deed goes unpunished.

I have a secret - T.M. Causey is none other than Bobbie Faye author Toni McGee Causey. I feel pretty confident that fans of her previous work will love The Saints of the Lost and Found even though it is quite different from the Bobbie Faye books. But again, it is QUITE different. There are glimmers of Causey's signature humor and snark in Avery's story, but they're glimmers in the midst of a tale that's dark and heart wrenching.

Yep, Causey goes into super dark territory here. Poor Avery is tortured by her ability, torn from the man she loves, and forced to watch as her beloved brother withers away right before her eyes. As if that weren't enough, she's the FBI's only hope in catching a killer who actually ramped up his crimes in response to her involvement. To say she's caught between a rock and a hard place is a severe understatement!

The Saints of the Lost and Found may be a change of pace in terms of tone for Causey but some of my favorite aspects of her previous works is still present here. Like Bobbie Faye, Avery is another fantastic character that readers can really rally behind! And while hers definitely isn't another laugh-out-loud adventure, the mystery is fabulously plotted and utterly unputdownable.

I'm an admitted longtime fan of Causey's work but, as with Lutz last week (another similar change of pace for another favorite author of mine), I highly, highly recommend The Saints of the Lost and Found to anyone looking for a fantastic thriller!

Rating: 5/5

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fall of Poppies edited by Heather Webb + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War.

Since this is an anthology, I'm going to go ahead and use the official synopsis here for you before diving into my review:

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an unforgettable collection of short stories set in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

As you all may know we are in the midst of the 100 year anniversary of WWI, which began in the summer of 1914 and stretched through to November 11, 1918 - Armistice Day. As such, there's been a bevy of new fiction, non fiction, movies, and tv shows based around that era to satisfy even the buffest of WWI history buffs. I can't claim to be a HUGE history buff (I do have to look up dates and such), but I do absolutely love stories of love, heroism, and the people of this era, which makes this particular anthology quite perfect reading.

The book features nine tales by (as the synopsis promises) top voices in historical fiction, some of whom have been featured here on the blog before:

"The Daughter of Belgium" by Marci Jefferson (The Girl on the Golden Coin) kicks off the collection, introducing readers to a brave and formidable woman whose life in Belgium has been greatly affected by the war. A tragedy has forced her to hide away in a former clinic where one last patient tests her every resolve.

Marci Jefferson - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"The Record Set Straight" by Lauren Willig (the Pink Carnation series, That Summer, and The Other Daughter) takes readers to Kenya in 1980 where an elderly woman is faced with a reunion she's long avoided and a truth that's been buried for over sixty years.

Lauren Willig - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"All for the Love of You" by Jennifer Robson (Somewhere in France, After the War is Over, and Moonlight Over Paris) is set seven years after the war when a woman makes a discovery that brings her back to Armistice Day and a lost love.

Jennifer Robson - Website | Facebook | Twitter

In "After You've Gone" by Evangeline Holland (author of, amongst others, the Bledington Park series) a widow with nothing left to lose finds out this isn't the case at all.

Evangeline Holland - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"Something Worth Landing For" by Jessica Brockmole (Letters From Skye) is a sweet read about a pilot who comes to a stranger's rescue just one day before heading to the front.

Jessica Brockmole - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"Hour of the Bells" by Heather Webb (Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover) finds a mother stricken by loss considering a most desperate act of revenge.

Heather Webb - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"An American Airman in Paris" by Beatriz Williams (A Certain Age, Along the Infinite Sea, Tiny Little Things...) tells the story of a pilot who carries a picture that's very near and dear to him. But while everyone believes it's a picture of his sweetheart, only he knows the truth.

Beatriz Williams - Website | Facebook | Twitter

"The Photograph" by Kate Kerrigan (the Ellis Island trilogy, Recipes For a Perfect Marriage, and The Miracle of Grace) is set around the Irish uprising and war for independence and a picture of a soldier in enemy uniform. Who the man was and why his picture was held onto for so many years makes a descendant ponder exactly what that means for her own family history.

Kate Kerrigan - Website | Facebook | Twitter

And finally, in "Hush" by Hazel Gaynor (The Girl Who Came Home, A Memory of Violets, and The Girl From the Savoy) two boys fight for the lives in the same last moments of the war.

Hazel Gaynor - Website | Facebook | Twitter

As I said above, this is quite the perfect anthology for fans of WWI fiction as well as fans of the contributing authors. But do be prepared, these are some emotional stories! You may need tissues nearby (Something Worth Landing For was the one that got me!).

Rating: 4/5

As a little bonus today, I do have a copy of Fall of Poppies to give away to one of you lucky readers. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 21. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

PS: last year I was lucky enough to be able to feature the cover and an excerpt from the anthology. You can check that post out here if you'd like a little taste of what's inside (the excerpt is from Heather Webb's fabulous "The Hour of the Bells.")

Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Releases 3/8/16

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Saints of the Lost and Found by T.M. Causey

The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston

The Travelers by Chris Pavone

Hard Cold Winter by Glen Erik Hamilton

Deadly Jewels by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Far From True by Linwood Barclay

What is Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Death Descends on Saturn Villa by M.R.C. Kasasian

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

The Steel Kiss by Jeffrey Deaver

The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham

Goodbye to the Dead by Brian Freeman

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Off the Grid by C. J. Box

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon

The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari

A Tyranny of Petticoats ed by Jessica Spotswood

Map of Fates by Maggie Hall

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Shades of Darkness by A. R. Kahler

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller

New on DVD:
Victor Frankenstein
In the Heart of the Sea
The Peanuts Movie

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Bob's Burgers Burger Book by Loren Bouchard & Cole Bowden

I don't watch very many cartoons, much to my husband's dismay. He loves them and I just don't. Except for Bob's Burgers.

If you haven't seen it, it centers around a family that runs a burger joint. And that's pretty much it. They war with the neighboring Italian joint (while Tina crushes on the oldest son), they war with the landlord (who owns everything in town), and they war with each other but it's always lighthearted and funny and there's ALWAYS a new closing credits song.

Plus, I think Tina may be my spirit animal.

The main characters are voiced by Kristen Schaal, H. John Benjamin, Eugene Mirman, Dan Mintz, and John Roberts (yes, that's right even with three female characters Schaal's Louise is the only one voiced by a woman - which I find HILARIOUS!), with guest voices from the likes of Sarah Silverman, Jenny Slate, Tim Meadows, Aziz Ansari, and a ton more. (Literally a ton - the cast list is a veritable who's who of the comedy world.)

One constant in the show is the daily special. Now, quite some time ago Cole Bowden started The Bob's Burgers Experiment - a blog featuring Bowden's take on each daily special. It caught the attention of Bob's Burgers fans as well as the folks behind the show and then the publishing world. Which is why we now have the awesomely fabulous upcoming The Bob's Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers due out!!!

Here's the official description from Goodreads:

The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book gives hungry fans their best chance to eat one of Bob Belcher’s beloved specialty Burgers of the Day in seventy-five original, practical recipes. With its warm, edgy humor, outstanding vocal cast, and signature musical numbers, Bob’s Burgers has become one of the most acclaimed and popular animated series on television, winning the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and inspiring a hit ongoing comic book and original sound track album. Now fans can get the ultimate Bob’s Burgers experience at home with seventy-five straight from the show but actually edible Burgers of the Day. Recipes include the "Bleu is the Warmest Cheese Burger," the "Bruschetta-Bout-It Burger," and the "Shoot-Out at the OK-ra Corral Burger (comes with Fried Okra)." Serve the "Sweaty Palms Burger (comes with Hearts of Palm)" to your ultimate crush, just like Tina Belcher, or ponder modern American literature with the "I Know Why the Cajun Burger Sings Burger." Fully illustrated with all-new art in the series’s signature style, The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book showcases the entire Belcher family as well as beloved characters including Teddy, Jimmy Pesto Jr., and Aunt Gayle. All recipes come from the fan-created and heavily followed blog "The Bob’s Burger Experiment."

The Bob's Burgers Burger Book is due out later this month! Prepare to binge on burgers :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King + Short Stories as Slump Busters

So I mentioned recently that I'd been suffering a bit of a book slump. It's not that I haven't been reading - I have. I've had some great review stuff of late - but any non-scheduled reading time hit a bit of a road bump. You know, those times when you have plenty to choose from but nothing seems to be hitting the spot? Yeah, that. Most of the time I find that I'm able to barrel through a slump simply by sticking to a review schedule. But when I've got nothing waiting on my committed attention and a slump hits, it's never good.

I have a few absolute slump busters I can rely on, though, and one of them is Stephen King. Fortunately for me, I hadn't yet cracked open his latest collection, Bazaar of Bad Dreams. And I have to say, "Mile 81" as an opener was very much something to get excited about.

Here's the full TOC:

Mile 81
Premium Harmony
Batman and Robin Have an Altercation
The Dune
Bad Little Kid
A Death
The Bone Church
Herman Wouk is Still Alive
Under the Weather
Blockade Billy
Mister Yummy
The Little Green God of Agony
That Bus is Another World
Drunken Fireworks
Summer Thunder

As you can see, the book features twenty tales, some new and some that have appeared elsewhere. Some of them are quieter than others but, true to King fashion, all of them are highly disturbing and fun. It was exactly what I needed.

And while I loved the whole collection, I do have a few personal favorites. As I mentioned above, "Mile 81" set the tone as an absolutely fantastic and brutal opening tale. "Ur," which I missed when it released as an ebook in Kindle's early days, was a welcome return to the Dark Tower world. (Speaking of which, the Dark Tower movie adaptation is one step closer to reality!) "Under the Weather" was another one I adored. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty cringeworthy and, though I feel guilty admitting it, a little funny as well.

King kindly includes a foreword to each tale in the collection, explaining the inspiration behind the stories. As you know, this is always one of my favorite aspects of any collection and I quite appreciated it here. He's also dedicated each story to a different individual.

Now I know I've said that King in particular is a very reliable slump buster for me, but let me just take a sec to sing the praises (yet again) of the grand short story. The short story works hard, readers! And the writers behind those stories work even harder to create something short and concise that contains just as much oomph as a full novel. King often talks about the importance of short fiction in his collections and I have to admit his words were part of the reason I continued to try shorts even when the ones I read in school felt like so much torture. And granted, I'm not really reading the same kinds of shorts we all had to read throughout the school years, though Winesburg, Ohio was a college assignment and one of my first favorite non-King collections.

If you really think about it, though, when nothing is hitting the spot what better than a sampling of lots of somethings? That's what short stories give you. Whether it's an anthology of multiple authors or a collection by one author in particular, each piece is short enough that even if you aren't finding yourself fully invested or grabbed by one story, the next one might be completely different. And you might just find that one (or more than one) of the authors/stories in question is exactly what you need to force you out of that slump!

King says, in the intro to Bazaar, that he still writes short stories because writing them makes him happy. Well, I say keep 'em coming 'cause reading them certainly makes me happy!

Rating: 5/5

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Lisa Lutz has a new book out! Lisa Lutz has a new book out! Lisa Lutz has a new book out!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Tanya's husband is dead. He fell down the stairs. But the very thought that she could become the focus of an investigation prompts Tanya to hit the road, knowing that in the end it will only make her look guilty. 

See Tanya's been on the run for some time already. In fact, "Tanya" isn't even her real name. And it probably won't take that long for the police to connect Tanya to the girl she used to be, uncovering the secret she's been living with all these years. It's up to her to make sure she stays one step ahead and doesn't get caught. 

While The Passenger is definitely a far cry from the hilarious Spellman mysteries, it's still yet another example of Lutz's fabulous talent.

Tanya may seem heartless in the beginning. She's obviously married to a man she doesn't love and she doesn't mourn his death but for the fact that it means the loss of the life she's been living. A life concocted after some terrible event forced her to leave her own behind. And this loss means not only creating a new life and new persona in a new place, it means a total loss of security for Tanya as well.

At one point another character tells her she's only a shell and it's true. She's spent so much of her adult life trying to be anyone other than the person she actually is that to the average viewer she's blank. Inside (the pieces that the readers get to see) she's much more, but outside she has to be ready at a moment's notice to adopt new characteristics and adapt to a new identity making each subsequent one more and more thin and transparent.

It does take some time for us to learn exactly why Tanya is running, why she feels the need to hide, and even why she married this man. With each new piece of the mystery revealed, I warmed to Tanya a bit more. It does become clear, as her race to escape authorities becomes more desperate, that Lutz maintains "Tanya's" true nature through her interactions with the people she comes into contact with. Attempted avoidance aside, her actions speak to something deeper than the names she adopts and the traits she imagines and tries on for each one.

The Passenger is an intense read, one you'll likely want to gobble up in one sitting if you can. I did! This is more than a one-sitting read, actually, it's a lock the doors, bar the windows, and ignore everything else you have on your plate kind of read. And given that I'd meant to have this up yesterday but am late (sorry), it segues nicely into the topic of slump busting in today's other post.

Yep, Lisa Lutz - anything Lisa Lutz - is another of my handful of guaranteed slump busting reads. If you happen to be heading into one yourself or are just looking for something fabulous and fast paced to dive into, I can't recommend The Passenger highly enough. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins + a Giveaway

Sara Hill always loved the books and fairy tales her grandmother shared with her. What she didn't know was that those tales were steeped in a history and reality that stretched back to the days of Adam and Eve. And that her grandmother had been hiding a secret so dangerous it put them all at risk. 

In the earliest days of man, the angels came together with humans in a union unsanctioned by their creator. The beings that were born of that union became the creatures we know today as the Nephilim and their offspring split into varying lines of Sidhe. Many of them made their home in Ireland and the Middle Kingdom, and their presence - along with the goddess Morrigna - on the Emerald Isle kept it protected from its enemies. 

But in the late fourteenth century, a schism between the Sidhe led to a revolt against the Morrigna and the death of one of her human aspects. That death was just the start of what would become a battle between the Sidhe, the Celts, and Ireland's own enemies. It was a battle that would lead to the end of magic itself. 

Mark Tompkins's debut is an interesting blend of folklore and theology. In his world, the Sidhe are descended from the Nephilim - the offspring of angels and man. This combination is suited to the story considering much of the conflict is between the Church and those who believe in and follow magic.

The story is populated by some of the most fabulous beings in all of fairy tale lore including the well-known gnomes, brownies, and pixies and the possibly lesser known (at least by me) beings in Irish folklore like the fomorians and skeaghshee. And that's just a small taste. Tompkins has seriously combed through the plethora of magical beings and the annals of history to create one of the most unique twists on fae legend and magic I've ever come across!

That said, though, I would haver loved it if the story had been told in more of a linear timeline. The frequent time jumps (back and forth) through history made it hard to keep the various threads of the story straight at times. I found myself getting hooked on one storyline and character only to realize that they may not appear again for quite some time. This is a pretty typical fantasy tendency, switching back and forth through a handful or characters, but the gaps between some of the characters' appearances were sometimes a bit too long and I found myself losing track of their stories. (Blame it on my Swiss cheese brain at least in part.)

What is really cool about The Last Days of Magic, in addition to the beings portrayed, is the way Tompkins twists the actual history to suit his tale. The story is set in the time of Richard II who did indeed invade Ireland and while I'm almost certain that Isabella and her kin were not part of a high coven it is said that Richard's own grip on reality was slipping in his final days...

Mark Tompkins's debut is not an easy read. It's a dense tale packed with history (maybe overpacked) but if you have the patience for a bit of a slower read I think you'll find it's quite fascinating.

Thanks to the publisher I do get to offer up a super fun prize pack! One of you will win a hardcover copy of The Last Days of Magic along with a custom-made pack of tarot cards.

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 14. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more on Mark Tompkins and the world of The Last Days of Magic, you can check out his website here. While you're there, be sure to check out Mark's list of tour stops to see if he'll be in your area!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson + a Giveaway

Hi, everyone! Today I'm pleased as punch to be taking part in the blog tour for Jaleigh Johnson's latest, The Secrets of Solace.

As war rages on between the Dragonfly territories and Merrow Kingdom, the archivists inside Ortana maintain a precarious neutrality. Lina, one of the apprentice archivists, has eavesdropped on enough closed-door meetings to know that Solace will only be safe when the war comes to an end. She's been paying close attention, though, and so far nothing has hinted at an end to the fighting. What's more, her latest spying reveals the archivists have made a dangerous deal with Merrow that could threaten Ortana itself.

Lina isn't privy to exactly what this deal is until she meets Ozben, one of the refugees living in Ortana. But Ozben isn't a regular refugee. Ozben is a prince of Merrow. Lina vows to keep his secret, finding a friend in the heir and in turn shares a secret of her own. A discovery she made hidden in the tunnels of Ortana. A ship made from technology no one in Solace has ever seen.

Jaleigh Johnson first introduced readers to the fabulous world of Solace in the 2014 release, The Mark of the Dragonfly. Have no fear, though, this second in the World of Solace series is actually a stand alone sequel that can easily be read on its own.

Lina is something of an outsider. She's curious and reckless and has no real friends other than her own teacher. Ozben is exactly what Lina needs in that sense and the reverse is true for Ozben as well. For a refugee hiding out in hopes that no one discovers his real identity, Lina knowing his story comes as a a bit of a relief to the boy. Together they're able to be themselves.

Of course it helps that they have a common goal and adventure to share in. And, as it turns out, it's one that will call on the use of each of their strengths if they are to be successful.

Lina's story is an interesting one, but I think the book nerd in me was most captivated by the fabulous world of Ortana. Imagine living in a stronghold that collects and studies items and animals from different worlds! Tunnels and rooms - some of which have long been forgotten - filled with treasures like flaming cats and books that tell different stories to each different reader! What more could anyone ask for?!

The Secrets of Solace is due out March 8 and is a fun read for anyone (of pretty much any age!) who craves adventure!

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher, I get to offer up one copy of The Secrets of Solace in a giveaway. To enter simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, March 14. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more on Jaleigh Johnson you can visit her website here. You can also follow her on Twitter.