Archives for July 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: So Close by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus (spotlight, giveaway)

 

Summer Reading Challenge

 

So CloseSo Close
written by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
published by Sparkpress, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Amanda Beth Luker has always wanted more than life in her trailer park town. She has no degree, and no plan, but when she meets Tom Davis, a powerful lawyer with aspirations of making a difference, she knows her only chance for success is to do whatever it takes, whatever he asks of her—even as it threatens the one person she has ever let herself love, the smoldering and troubled Pax Westerbrook. She suspects one man will make her and one will destroy her—but can she figure out which in time?

 

July-Close

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Spotlight: Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

Mata Hari's Last DanceMata Hari’s Last Dance
written by Michelle Moran
published by Touchstone, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

 

PRAISE

LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW: “Readers of historical fiction will note the author’s signature attention to detail….The flawed Hari makes this engrossing reading.”

BOOKLIST: “[A] memorizing tale….Moran breathes new life into another atrophied legend of a remarkable woman who left an indelible mark upon her time and place in history.”

ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY: “Beautifully written and researched, MATA HARI’S LAST DANCE is a fascinating account of what probably led to Mata Hari’s eventual downfall…Her fictional account of her life left many wondering, but her true story was nearly as amazing as the life she conjured for herself.”

NJ.com: “Moran weaves the sympathetic tale of a naive woman incapable of imagining where her behavior will lead.”

 

 

 

 

Happy 2

 

Summer Reading Challenge: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (spotlight, giveaway)

Summer Reading Challenge
All Is Not Forgotten

All is Not Forgotten
written by Wendy Walker
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

July-forgotten

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In the Kitchen: Home Chef: Whole Wheat Lemon-Cream Spaghetti

efckitchen

Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Whole Wheat Lemon-Cream Spaghetti with pine nuts and raspberry vinaigrette salad

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This recipe rolled in at 768 calories per serving, which is just a *bit* too hefty for an everyday meal for us, so I decided to make a few changes. First, and most easily, I fed the whole family instead of just Husband and me. Easy Peasy!

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Yeah. My counters are a mess. Don’t judge . . . I know yours are too.

I also swapped out the cooking cream, which I’m assuming was heavy cream, with some fat-free creamer. I have no idea what the difference was calorically, but it made me feel a little better about the state of my arteries.

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Toasted pine nuts make everything better, don’t they?

. . . And for the first time EVER, a Home Chef salad recipe actually CALLED FOR tomatoes! Wheeeee!

Yeah, OK. They were boring old Roma tomatoes, but it’s better than nothing, right?

If I make it again: You can bet I’m going to get some tastier tomatoes. I mean, Roma? Come on. I need me some meaty tomatoey noms . . . maybe some little brown ones? Hmm . . . What do you think?

I’d also skip the gluten-free fat-free taste-free raspberry vinaigrette. The raspberry flavor DID complement the lemon nicely, but I’d rather just make a light balsamic vinaigrette myself. I’m not a fan of pre-bottled salad dressings.

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ZOMG YUM.

 

 

 

Did my kids eat it: Yes. Yes they did. They’re smart like that.

melissakitchensig

 

Summer Reading Challenge: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbot (spotlight)

You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me
written by Megan Abbot
published by Little Brown, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

I can’t wait to read this one! 

About the book – from Goodreads: Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

 

 

Happy 2

 

Melissa’s Review: Running for Water and Sky by Sandra Kring

Running for Water and Sky

Running for Water and Sky
written by Sandra Kring
published by Sparkpress, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, and I’m beginning to familiarize myself with the common plotlines. This one isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but it’s solid. I’m mildly annoyed that the girl on the cover has long hair while Bless keeps hers cut short, but I’ll get over it.

I like where Kring ends her story–right at the beginning–and I like remembering what first love feels like. I might have to read some more of this YA stuff . . . it gives me the warm been-there-and-glad-I’m-done-with-all-that fuzzies.

 

GOLDEN LINES

“. . . but that’s life, isn’t it? It gets good. Then it sucks. Then it gets good again . . . an ebb and flow, just like the tide.”

 

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Would I recommend it: It’s a fun summer read. Take it to the pool with you.

 

Melissa


About the book – from Goodreads: 
They say that right before you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. But what they don’t say is that the same thing can happen when your soul mate is dying.

After spending most of her 17 years being shuffled between families that don’t want her, Bless Adler has no intention of opening her heart to anyone. And then she falls in love with Liam Reid.

The closer Bless lets Liam get, the more fearful she becomes. Then her new friend, Maylee, convinces her to go see a local psychic and the woman’s glimpse into the future is anything but reassuring: Bless’s absent father, drunk and bitter. A frantic crowd gathered at the beach. Liam lying in a pool of blood, a gun at his side.

Now Bless has 14 blocks to reach Liam on the shores of Lake Michigan. If he’s still alive, she’ll beg for him to fight for his life. If he’s not, she’ll say good-bye to the first person who made her want to fight for her own. Edgy, intense, and emotional, Running for Water and Sky is a story of the elation and angst that comes with love, and the challenge of learning to trust when betrayal is all you’ve ever known.

 

Happy 2

Melissa’s Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank (giveaway)

One Paris Summer

One Paris Summer
written by Denise Grover Swank
published by Blink, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy it: I did. There’s no doubt it’s a teen drama, but sometimes it’s lovely to read a book where the biggest problem characters face is who pays for the macaroons and whether that means you’re a couple. I thought Ms. Swank could’ve done a little more characterization, but then perhaps the reason I liked the book so much is because it presents a simpler world than I’m used to.

everyfree4

 

Would I recommend it: If you’re interested in a light summer read, pick this one up!

 

Melissa

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

 

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Spotlight: The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay (giveaway)

The Tumbling Turner SistersThe Tumbling Turner Sisters
written by Juliette Fay
published by Gallery Books, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: For fans of Orphan Train and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their family.

In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.

Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.

 

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Julie’s Review: Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger


Ink and BoneInk and Bone

written by Lisa Unger
published by Touchstone, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Yes, as much as possible given the dark and chilling subject matter. The idea of multiple children being abducted by the same desperate couple was disturbing to me as a mother. The book had a bit of ‘I see dead people’ to it, which I normally avoid. Yet I kept turning pages and ultimately completed the protagonist’s journey alongside her.
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Would I recommend it: Yes; it’s a good read for fans of psychological thrillers.

Julie

About the book – from Goodreads: An instant page-turner (Lisa Gardner) that straddles the line between thriller and horror…sure to appeal to a wide range of readers, including Stephen King fans. (Booklist, starred) A young woman’s mysterious gift forces her into the middle of a dangerous investigation of a little girl’s disappearance.

Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

 

Happy 2

Spotlight: Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

Remember to Forget

Remember to Forget
written by Ashley Royer
published by Blink, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can’t seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

 

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