Wednesday, October 24, 2018

0 Review: Reach Higher: An Inspiring Photo Celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama



Reach Higher: An Inspiring Photo Celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama
by Amanda Lucidon
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers
9780525644002

Summary

A collection of striking and intimate photographs of Michelle Obama, coupled with personal reflections and behind-the-scenes stories from official White House photographer and New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Light , Amanda Lucidon, presented in a deluxe format for young readers. 

My Thoughts

I was fortunate to catch an interview with Michelle Obama a few weeks ago while she was celebrating International Day of the Girl on a news show. Listening to her speak about the Obama Foundation's launch of the Global Girls Alliance and the importance of education for girls was inspiring. So it's no wonder that Amanda Lucidon chose to honor the former First Lady by putting together this book of photographs with interesting information and facts regarding the White House and its history.

Amanda Lucidon was a photographer for the White house from 2013 to 2017. She is only one of the few female photographers to work at the White House, and, in fact, was the only one during the Obama administration. Her pictures have been honored in many platforms. Amanda will inspire many girls to follow in her footsteps after reading this book.

Reach Higher is full of beautiful photographs of Michelle Obama, but it's also much more than that. It's an informative book about First Ladies, Amanda's role as a White House photographer, and a bit of history of the White House as well. Young readers will not feel overwhelmed by it though. They'll be taken in by the intimate and colorful photos during the Obama's administration and hopefully will be inspired by such a strong woman. 


Thursday, October 18, 2018

0 Claiming My Place Book Blast and Giveaway #Holocaust #WWII #Jewish #HFVBTBlogTours


Claiming My Place: Coming of Age in the Shadow of the Holocaust
by Planaria Price with Helen Reichmann West


Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook
Genre: YA/NF/History/Holocaust/WWII


A Junior Library Guild selection

Claiming My Place is the true story of a young Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust by escaping to Nazi Germany and hiding in plain sight.

Meet Gucia Gomolinska: smart, determined, independent, and steadfast in the face of injustice. A Jew growing up in predominantly Catholic Poland during the 1920s and ’30s, Gucia studies hard, makes friends, falls in love, and dreams of a bright future. Her world is turned upside down when Nazis invade Poland and establish the first Jewish ghetto of World War II in her town of Piotrkow Trybunalski. As the war escalates, Gucia and her family, friends, and neighbors suffer starvation, disease, and worse. She knows her blond hair and fair skin give her an advantage, and eventually she faces a harrowing choice: risk either the uncertain horrors of deportation to a concentration camp, or certain death if she is caught resisting. She decides to hide her identity as a Jew and adopts the gentile name Danuta Barbara Tanska. Barbara, nicknamed Basia, leaves behind everything and everyone she has ever known in order to claim a new life for herself.

Writing in the first person, author Planaria Price brings the immediacy of Barbara’s voice to this true account of a young woman whose unlikely survival hinges upon the same determination and defiant spirit already evident in the six-year-old girl we meet as this story begins. The final portion of this narrative, written by Barbara’s daughter, Helen Reichmann West, completes Barbara’s journey from her immigration to America until her natural, timely death. Includes maps and photographs.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Praise

“Price has boldly elected to tell the story in Basia’s own first-person, present-tense voice. The result is a dramatic, suspenseful account of survival in extremis, told in collaboration with Basia’s American daughter.” ―Booklist

“Price's rendering of West’s mother’s early life reads like suspenseful historical fiction, telling a rarely heard side of the Jewish experience during WWII . . . Family, friendships, and romance give poignancy to this unique coming-of-age story, which is further enhanced by maps, a glossary, and an afterword.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A rich exploration of a Holocaust survivor’s sheltered childhood, the atrocity that failed to destroy her, and her later life as an immigrant.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“I was completely engrossed by this drama of survival. Barbara Reichmann's story is quite extraordinary. It is sad, and terrible, and yet somehow captivating. The whole story of those who survived the Shoah by passing as Christians and working in Nazi Germany is an often forgotten part of the historical record.” ―Kai Bird, Executive Director, Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

“As occurs with The Diary of Anne Frank, this book merges the dire circumstances of the Holocaust with the tenuousness of being a teenager. But Claiming My Place expands the view provided in the diary for one critical reason. Anne Frank’s story is told within an isolated cocoon. In Barbara’s story, however, the Holocaust is in full view as her experiences unfold.” ―David H. Lindquist, Ph.D., IPFW College of Education and Public Policy / Regional Museum Educator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“This frightening true story of a young Jewish girl's flight from the deadly grip of the Nazis celebrates the surprising ingenuity and raw courage found only in the depths of the human spirit. Risking what few others dared, Barbara Reichmann, née Gucia Gomolinska, speaks with wisdom and uncommon self-awareness through her detailed, colorful, and evocative recollections from earliest childhood. In the final portion of this book, her daughter, Helen West, continues Barbara’s journey in an insightful and loving overview of Barbara’s life from the family’s arrival in New Orleans in 1951 until her death in 2007. This is a great read with the suspenseful, inspiring and uplifting appeal of a novel, about a character who will capture the reader’s heart.” ―Allan Holzman, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director and editor (Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Holocaust, Old Man River, The Native Americans)

"Thanks to the detailed memories and the conversational tone, this book provides an engaging and informative reading experience with as much appeal as a fiction title. Recommended for most YA nonfiction collections." ―Magdalena Teske, West Chicago Public Library District School Library Journal

"This book was truly a celebration of the human spirit. What a gift she has for putting you in the story. Her way with words, plus her weaving of the actual events recounted to her by the unbelievably courageous Basia and her daughter Helen, was nothing short of magical. The included photographs and epilogue served to fully round out this amazing tale. I never wanted this book to end!" ―Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome

About the Author

After graduating from Berkeley and earning a Master's Degree in English Literature from UCLA, Planaria Price began her career teaching English to adult immigrants in Los Angeles. She has written several textbooks for University of Michigan Press and has lectured at over 75 conferences. In addition to her passion for teaching and writing, Planaria has worked with her husband to save and restore over 30 Victorian and Craftsman homes in her historic Los Angeles neighborhood. Claiming My Place is her first book for young adults.

For more information, please visit Planaria's website at www.planariaprice.com.

Book Blast Schedule

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed hardcover copy of Claiming My Place by Planaria Price! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Claiming My Place


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

0 Freefall Guest Post, Giveaway, and Guest Review

Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie
Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie
Publisher:  Pen-L Publishing (Oct 1, 2018)
Category: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction
Tour dates: Oct-Nov, 2018
ISBN:
Available in print & ebook, 255

Freefall

During a four-day reunion in Whistler, B.C., Tillie Bloom, a wacky installation artist, reconnects with three women she had hung out with in the late ’50s and early ’60s. While in Whistler, secrets surface and a near death experience occurs during a hike, both of which bind the women at a deeper level.

Their new intimacy prompts them to celebrate the millennium as well as their approaching sixtieth birthdays in Italy. So a few weeks later, Tillie travels to Venice to have an extended reunion with her friends. While the women assume they’re in Venice to vacation and deepen their relationships, Tillie has a hidden agenda: she intends to crash the Venice Biennale, hoping to find a larger audience for her art. Cupid’s arrows complicate her goals when she and an Italian priest fall for each other.

The reflective quality of Venice’s canals also create unexpected changes in the women, causing them to turn inward. They all end up with a fresh take on themselves and their lives. Tillie, in particular, experiences a deeper understanding of herself. But will it take her on a path she’s ready to travel, and will Venice finally give her the recognition she seeks as an artist?

Advance Praise Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie

“Hilarious, spiritual, and sensual, Freefall: A Divine Comedy takes you on a rollicking ride spanning three countries and four decades. These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life.” —Laurie Ann Doyle, author of World Gone Missing

“This is an enchanting story about old friends reuniting as they struggle with thoughts on aging, religion, motherhood, men, art, and death. A delightful trip in every respect, with plenty of surprises and laughs along the way. A Divine Comedy, indeed!” —Mark Willen, author of Hawke’s Point and Hawke’s Return

Review by Laura Lee 


Tillie is an installation artist who dropped out of high school. She is approaching her 60th birthday. She wants to see her 3 friends she used to hang out with in the 50-70’s. Her friend Daddy just gets released from jail and the two of them meet up. Daddy had plastic surgery so her nose would look like Zsa Zsa Gabor (if you’re old enough, you may remember her from the TV show Green Acres). Daddy is also a real-estate agent. The two of them take a road trip in Tallies 1960’s VW Microbus to Whistler, British Columbia in Western Canada. Now, it is a posh ski resort that caters to tourists but back when Tillie was there last, it was old beat-up houses and farms.
They arrive at their friend Sybil’s who is a chain-smoking bookkeeper and puzzle addict and seems to be tipsy on wine already. Their friend Moll is also there. She is a housewife and mother of three and loves the great outdoors. As the evening progresses they talk about their lives thus far. They also make plans to meet up in Venice where Sybil has a small property. They want to celebrate their 60th birthdays together. Tillie doesn’t revel this to her friends but she also wants to go to Venice to try to get into a famous art exhibition.
As we read on, Venice becomes another central character of the novel. Lily Iona Mackenzie really captures Venice as the backdrop and brings it to the front with the four women. This book could be categorized as women’s fiction because it will appeal mostly to women but that would be selling it short. It certainly has literary merit, full of magical realism. It is also about our own mortality and of course, art. I don’t usually enjoy magical realism, but I did enjoy it in Freefall. It was so nuanced and was needed to get the author’s point of view across. This book has great depth and well-written quirky characters. If you enjoy literary fiction you are in for a treat. I give it 5 stars.


Guest Post

Venice: The Mysterious City

I visited Venice for the first time in 1994, and it was love at first sight. It reinforced my notion that our ego consciousness is surrounded by the waters of the unconscious. I had found a city that demonstrated this perspective. Daily life goes on while the city’s structural foundations are rooted deep in the Venetian lagoon, just as our ego, our conscious perception of ourselves, floats on the collection unconscious, the inner sea that surrounds us. 
Not only do automobiles not have a role in this metropolis, but boats are the major form of transportation. And what a difference that makes! The steady hum of car motors growling and horns honking and tires squealing on concrete that permeate most aspects of city life don’t happen in Venice. It’s also very different to navigate on water instead of land. Instead of dodging cars that speed dangerously on freeways crisscrossing our American cities, Venetian inhabitants move at a much more leisurely pace, night and day. There’s something comforting about the waters’ rising and falling when we’re navigating the lagoon on boats. They create a rocking motion, not unlike what we experienced as infants in our parents’ arms or in a cradle. How could that movement not be restorative? 
But what does this have to do with how my four major female characters end up in Venice for the last two thirds of my novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy? And why does that city make a good setting for a novel? 
Venice is magical, and magical realism has played a major role in all of my published novels. The term magic implies some slight of hand, an ability to make things appear and disappear at will. In a magic show, magicians exercise their ability to draw viewers’ attention away from what the magicians are doing so they can convince those watching that a rabbit really does appear at random out of an empty hat, or that any number of equally fantastic events can occur. In this case, the magic isn’t really magical in the sense of a supernatural intervention because there’s a trick at its foundation based on perception and how skillful the magician is at keeping the audience distracted enough not to notice the hoax involved.
Something similar happens with writers. They capture our attention through assembling strings of words that become a compelling narrative we follow. Just as a viewer at a magic show sets aside his/her momentary doubts about what’s happening before his/her eyes, so too do readers enter the narrative dream. That enables the writer to convince readers that the setting, characters, and events taking place are actually happening in real time when, in truth, they aren’t. They only come to life in the readers’ imagination as readers let go of their immediate world to undertake this journey into the unknown. Put this way, reading can seem like a potentially dangerous experience, and it can be if a writer’s ideas and images shatter some preconceived notion about our world and about us.
Magic also has the ability to temporarily take people out of the constraints of everyday life and make them feel they can transcend it. Instead of being locked inside the usual routines that structure our days, we find release when something magical happens, such as when we watch a play in a theatre and suddenly our world is transformed. We’re no longer our daily selves, but we begin to identify with what’s occurring on the stage and participate in all of the characters involved, good guys and bad guys. 
Any writing, whether it’s a novel or a play, has a magical component to it. The primary storytelling goal is magic, achieved by mysterious means. Words themselves are transformative in that they can so easily metamorphose into other words: world contains word and old. Add or subtract a letter here or there and we’ve landed in a different meaning. Words in themselves are slippery and magical, calling forth images just by naming things: red chair, oak table, 2006 Honda Accord, green plaid coat, eucalyptus tree. Read the text and suddenly something appears in our mind’s eye. Amazing!
This, then, seems to be the foundation for what we call magic realism. Language by its very nature is magical, transforming our everyday reality in multiple ways, carrying us aloft on the wings of thought. The writer confronts reality and tries to untangle it, to discover what is mysterious in things, in life, in human acts. The principle thing is not the creation of imaginary beings or worlds but the discovery of the mysterious relationship between our circumstances and us. The magical realist does not try to copy the surrounding reality but to seize the mystery that breathes behind things. 
And that’s what I’ve attempted in Freefall. While the four major character’s lives are rooted in the “real,” however we may define that state, they also participate in the world of imagination where things can happen outside of our usual perspectives. This is why Venice was such an important setting for my novel. These women, all facing their sixtieth birthdays, need to be shaken out of their usual routines so they can be open to new possibilities. The dreamy quality of Venice is an ideal place for such a transformation to occur. 
Of course, it also hosts the Venice Biennale, and that major art extravaganza gives the major character Tillie, an artist, an opportunity to make her “mark” in the art world (and that has nothing to do with Venice’s St. Mark’s square!). But then you’ll need to read the book to discover for yourself the role that Venice, Italy, and Whistler, B.C., play in this book.  


Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzieAbout Lily Iona MacKenzie

A Canadian by birth, Lily Iona MacKenzie has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 155 venues. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. Fling!, her debut novel, was published in July 2015. Curva Peligrosa, another novel, was released in September 2017.

Currently, she teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning. She also blogs about writing and reading.

Website: http://lilyionamackenzie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilyionamackenzieauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lilyionamac

Buy Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie

Not Available Yet.  Expected publication date is January 1, 2019

Giveaway Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie

This giveaway is for the choice of a print copy or ebook for three winners. Print is open to Canada and the U.S. only.  ebook is open worldwide.  This giveaway ends on November 30th at midnight pacific time.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.


Follow  Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie Tour

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Freefall: Divine Comedy by Lily Iona MacKenzie

Thursday, October 11, 2018

4 A Conversation with Lisa Gabriele Author of The Winters and a Giveaway

A Conversation with Lisa Gabriele
Author of The Winters


“From the brilliant first line to the shattering conclusion, The Winters will draw you in and leave you breathless. . . . A must read.” —Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

A spellbindingly suspenseful new novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.

1.       The Winters begins like a lot of books, with a handsome man sweeping a young woman off her feet. But at its heart, this is a story about women—our unnamed heroine, plucked out of her quiet existence; Rebekah, the dead first wife who haunts her dreams; and Dani, Rebekah’s vengeful teenage daughter. Did you set out to write a story about female relationships, power, and sexuality?

Yes. I’m obsessed with female relationships, sex, and power, and how they intersect. These are my favorite things to read and write about. The genesis of this book began with me thinking about the women in Rebecca, and all the ways modern female characters and a new setting would completely change their relationship with each other. Suddenly The Winters became an exercise in demonstrating how much women have changed in contemporary times, and how some men, especially rich and powerful ones, really have not. I mean, think about all the different ways patriarchy still shapes and molds our lives as women. My narrator certainly has agency, she has a job of her own that she’s quite good at, and a potential role model of a single working woman, but despite this, she’s still deeply susceptible to the lure of a “happily ever after.” And with Max’s daughter Dani, I got to play around with some of my worst fears around young women and social media, on the difficulty of getting your new boyfriend’s kid to accept you, and about feminism’s so-called generational divide. Dani is 15 going on 40, an heiress with a chauffeur, a tutor, and thirty thousand Instagram followers. She isn’t going to make life easy for her new stepmother-to-be. And what better wedge for her to use than the memory of her dead (perfect) mother, Rebekah? The relationship between her and the narrator was explosively fun to write. But this time, the primary question that hovers over the narrator’s image of the dead Rebekah isn’t about her sexuality, but rather her role as a mother—a much more loaded question these days.


2.      The Winters is inspired in part by Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, Rebecca—an instant bestseller, first published in 1938, that has never gone out of print, reportedly selling 50,000 copies a year. And it’s obvious you’re a fan. What do you love about it, and what made you use it as the launching point for your novel?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Rebecca. My mother, who died almost twenty years ago, introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie first, and whenever I miss her I reach for it. In the fall of 2016, in the despairing days of the U.S. election, I bought some ice cream and threw in the DVD to drown out the bad news. But this time, instead of comforted, it left me feeling deeply uneasy. I had to remind myself that in Daphne du Maurier’s book Maxim de Winter killed his sexually rebellious first wife, a fact that Hitchcock, due to Production Codes at the time, erased. I suddenly felt this strong desire to avenge Rebecca and punish Maxim. So I guess you could say nostalgia inspired me to reread the book, but anger drove me to write mine.


3.      Much of The Winters is set at Asherley, Max Winter’s opulent estate in the Hamptons. Why did you choose that setting?


I’ve always been fascinated with Long Island’s moneyed elite; a couple of my favorite books are set there. I loved the storied Gold Coast of The Great Gatsby, and the deceptively serene town in The Amityville Horror. I needed a place that combined history and horror and the Hamptons seemed like a natural choice. However, to pull off the violent conclusion, I also needed a location that wasn’t only private, but remote. In the research stage, I visited the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead and read about Gardiner’s Island. It’s one of the biggest swaths of privately owned land in America, purchased by Lion Gardiner from the Montaukett Indians in the 1600s, in exchange for a large black dog and some Dutch blankets. Today it’s worth more than $125 million dollars so keeping the island in the family has driven generations of Gardiners to sometimes concoct nefarious plots. So Winter’s Island was born, as was a motive for murder. I changed some geographic details, but the rest of its history and topography, its dense forests, the old ruins, the private beach and thick, marshy shores, are the same. Then there’s the mansion. I love a looming turret, so I made Asherley a Queen Anne Victorian—spookier, in my opinion, than the typical center hall design from the Gilded Age. Entering the house, with its paneled walls, oak and marble floors and mullioned windows, the reader falls back in time. The only modern touch is a dramatic, star-shaped greenhouse, Rebekah’s pride and joy, lodged, incongruously and a little violently, against the house, a constant reminder that this was once her domain.


4.      As our narrator spends more time at Asherley and begins to discover her new family’s dark secrets, The Winters becomes a gripping slow-burn thriller. What are your tricks for building suspense and keeping the reader on the edge of their seat?   


E.L. Doctorow said, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” With The Winters I never set out to “write a thriller.” I just metaphorically made my headlights a little dimmer and the road ahead a little snakier, but kept the speed the same, (barely) avoiding smashing through the guardrails. Also the whole story is told from one POV. The narrator’s. We are only in her head. We only know what she knows. And she’s fed different versions of the same stories. So who to trust? You can also use short staccato sentences. They ratchet up the tension. Sometimes.


5.      Like many fictional politicians—from House of Cards’ Frank Underwood to the Senator in Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water—Max Winter is powerful, charismatic, and fiercely ambitious. Why did you choose politics for Max’s career, and what made you want to dip into that world? 

As I mentioned above, the 2016 U.S. election consumed me, and the subsequent presidency has upended all norms. It’s been a struggle to keep up with the controversies, the news being, for this former journalist, a constant distraction. But it’s also a source of inspiration. So I stopped fighting it. Since I couldn’t get away from the news, I folded some of my current fixations into my book. I didn’t want to date the book, or bog it down in current affairs, but divisive politics, and the corrosive effects of both social media and (questionable) Russian money on modern American life all make cameos. Presciently I finished the book at the start of the #metoo movement, which, like my book, demonstrates how important it is to believe women.


6.      You’ve been a journalist and an award-winning producer, in both radio and TV, for more than twenty years. When (and how) does your journalism background seep into your novels?


It always does, sometimes subtly and sometimes more obviously, but I am first and foremost a journalist. The books I write require research to get the settings, tone, and era right, but it’s my favorite part of the job. And for me it’s unavoidable. My characters tend to arrive almost fully formed. So when the unnamed narrator of The Winters insisted she worked on boats, and Max decided to run for reelection in Suffolk County, I had some research to do. Learning about politics at the state level and proper boat terminology was interesting and fun. But I also consult experts. I reached out to a PhD in mortuary archeology to confirm how many years it would take for a body buried in a shallow grave to completely turn to skin and bones. And, thankfully, one of my best friends is a family lawyer, so I ran by her all the details about conservatorships and inheritances. The hardest part was trying to understand the murderous lengths to which some people will go to maintain their wealth and privilege, but one need only turn on CNN these days for that kind of research.


7.      The Winters takes many of its cues from classic novels—a plain unassuming heroine; a dashing older gentleman; a lavish estate; an inconvenient first wife. But the ending is decidedly more modern—even feminist. Without giving too much away, can you speak to how you went about crafting a contemporary version of these kinds of novels?


Writing a modern book that that still pays tribute to a beloved classic is a tricky balancing act. I am a huge fan of the ones done well: Jane Smiley’s King Lear redux, A Thousand Acres, Jean Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea (which is actually a prequel to Jane Eyre, which du Maurier herself retold with Rebecca), Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (a hilarious retelling of Pride and Prejudice), and Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility. The best ones preserve the original’s landmarks, though the terrain is completely different. They’re written in a contemporary style, though a sharp-eyed reader will spot my own iambic hexameter. And while the characters feel familiar, they’re not facsimiles. No character embodies all of these ideas more than Dani Winter, a 15-year old girl with all the traits of the average Millenial, minus any disadvantages. She has everything a girl her age could want, plus total freedom and the run of the house. She plays with her mother’s clothes and makeup, and the stories she tells about her run completely counter to her father’s. This presents a very current dilemma for our narrator. Does she believe the man she loves or his bratty kid? Dani becomes, then, a reminder that we longer live in an era where stories men tell about women take primacy over the ones they tell about themselves, as the #metoo movement is proving. Women just aren’t having that anymore. I know Dani’s generation isn’t.


8.      Finally, considering the evocative setting of The Winters, where do you think is the best place to read a book like this?

You should read The Winters at one of my favorite hotels, The Chequit Inn, on Shelter Island. You should be sitting on the deep front porch that overlooks the Peconic River, sipping sweet tea. Funny enough, in a very early draft I wrote a scene where our teary, breathless narrator, running for her life, bursts into the lobby of The Chequit Inn demanding to use their phone. They let her. They get her a glass of water and calm her down. They offer her a chair. In the end, the incredible staff at even my imaginary Chequit Inn sucked the tension right out of the scene, so I had to redirect.

Giveaway

Thanks to Penguin Random House, I have a copy to give away to a lucky reader. This giveaway is for US addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Please read our giveaway policy before entering. Good luck!

Friday, October 5, 2018

0 Audiobook Review: Regrets Only


Narrated by Nan McNamara
406 pages | 11 hrs and 19 mins
Published May 8th 2018 by Harper Audio
9780062698247

Summary

Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.  

With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.

Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.

Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today, while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having.


My Thoughts


Regrets Only by Erin Duffy is a complicated but inspiring story about a woman who has everything she's ever wanted and then loses it. It's a story of love gone wrong, friendship, and forgiveness. It's an emotional roller coaster from start to finish that left me a little dizzy at times. 

Claire was blissfully happy. She has an amazing husband and beautiful baby boy. Just when she thinks life can't get any sweeter, her husband surprises her with a spa weekend to recharge her batteries. Halfway there she discovers she's forgotten her wallet, turns around, and heads back home. That's when she discovers her husband of two years has been having an affair with his realtor/ex-girlfriend. And in that moment, Claire's world shatters.

My heart broke for Claire. She left her job, moved to a new state, made her husband and family her whole life, to be betrayed in such a brutal way. And now, because of her son, she can't move back home without the father's permission, which he won't give. She's taken time off from her career to care for her family, and once you do that, it's hard to get back in to. She has to start over, rebuilding her life one block at a time with all these obstacles standing in her way. 

Claire's emotions are all over the place in this book. Her stream of consciousness seemed spot-on! Though there were times I thought Claire was a little unhinged. It's lucky Duffy gave Claire a wonderful BFF, Antonia. Antonia seems to be Claire's voice of reason when she's close to the edge. Claire also finds friendship in Lissy, a younger woman who's recently lost her mother. Claire slowly starts to build her support system to get through this awful experience.

I listened to the audiobook of Regrets Only narrated by Nan McNamara. She did an amazing job. She captured the many emotions of Claire, and did a wonderful job with the other characters. Reading the book is good, but the audio brings out so much more. It breathes so much more emotion into the story.

Erin Duffy has written a thought-provoking novel that gives you all the feels. Regrets Only is a complicated book. There are some hilarious moments in this book, some 'YES!' moments, and some heartbreaking moments. I'm not sure I would recommend it to somebody who's currently going through a divorce. It definitely makes you think about how fragile relationships are and how much can change in an instance. 

*I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my review. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

0 Review: Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness


Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Viking
9780399564512

Summary

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus's deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor—the young employee at Sotheby's whom Marcus has fallen for—is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he'd escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both—forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time's Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.

My Thoughts


It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.
It was from those words from A Discovery of Witches that begun my love affair with the All Souls Trilogy. I had always hoped that Deborah Harkness would expand on the world of the de Clermonts and Bishops. Since this book was published on my birthday, I choose to believe that Harkness granted my wish.

Time's Convert focuses on Matthew's son Marcus MacNeil and his mate Phoebe Taylor. Phoebe has chosen to become a vampire. He turns her over to Miriam and Freyja to see her through the process. Marcus has a hard time letting her go for the duration. It's in this that his past is revealed. In addition to storyline, Matthew and Diana are having some difficulties with their twins as their powers start developing.

Deborah Harkness is amazing when it comes to historical detail in her novels. I can't help but read and be in awe as she takes her readers back to the 1700s. Finding out the story behind how Marcus became a de Clermont was really interesting, but I felt as if she spent a bit too much time in the past. Especially, since there was so much going on in the present. However, it didn't deter from the story.

I love that Time's Convert brought back a lot of the characters from the All Souls Trilogy. It was like visiting old friends and catching up on details. This book came out just in time for the television show currently airing in Europe. It does make me inpatient as to when it will come Stateside. I can't wait to see how the characters are portrayed on the small screen. If you're new to the series, I would start at the beginning with A Discovery of Witches. You won't regret it!


*Thanks to Viking and NetGalley for providing an ecopy to review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.


Monday, October 1, 2018

0 Review: The Astronaut's Son by @tom_seigel

ebook, 226 pages
Published September 1st 2018 by Woodhall Press Llp
9780997543797

Summary

On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing comes a novel in which a Jewish astronaut must reassess his moral compass when forced to confront NASA's early collaboration with Nazis and the role it may have played in his father's death.

Jonathan Stein thinks only a bad heart can stop him from reaching the moon. But when he discovers his father may have been murdered to protect an appalling NASA secret, he must decide whether his moral compass still points towards the stars. Days before the Apollo 18 launch in 1974, Jonathan's father, an Israeli astronaut at NASA, died of an apparent heart attack. A year before his own launch, in 2005, Jonathan, a typically devout skeptic, becomes captivated by the tale of a mysterious online conspiracy theorist who claims that his father had been killed. Unable to keep long-buried suspicions from resurfacing, he reopens the case, digging into a past that becomes stranger and more compelling the deeper he goes.

To get to the truth he must confront Dale Lunden, his father's best friend and the last man on the moon, and his elusive childhood hero Neil Armstrong. When his relentless pursuit of the truth leads to disturbing revelations about the Nazis who worked for NASA, the hardest questions to answer are the ones he must ask himself.

The Astronaut's Son was inspired by the true story of Nazi scientists and engineers at NASA.

My Thoughts

The Astronaut's Son by Tom Seigel is inspired by real-life events about the Nazi scientists and the engineers at NASA. Jonathan Stein's father never made it to the moon. He died of a heart attack a few days before the launch. Now it's Jonathan's turn to go to the moon, and everything seems to be going well for him until an online conspiracy website makes him start to wonder if his dad was actually murdered. This new information sends Jonathan spiraling down a path to find out the truth about how his father died and to question those closest to his father.

The plot of this novel is interesting. I felt just as eager as Jonathan is to find out the truth. The fact that it's inspired by true events further piqued my interest. I have mixed feelings about Jonathan Stein, though I like that he's flawed, but his character felt static. The story held many revelations for Jonathan, but it didn't seem to affect his character very much. Despite that, I enjoyed reading this story. 

The lives of astronauts is a fascinating subject in general, and Tom Seigel has touched on a subject that not much written about. The Astronaut's Son covers many interesting theories such as the fake moon landing, cover-ups, and conspiracies. It makes you wonder what's real and what's not. And, I loved the ending. It's a great mystery for a weekend read. 

To read other reviews on this book, go to: https://www.tomseigel.com/blog-tour

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. 


THE GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of THE ASTRONAUT’S SON, a package of freeze dried astronaut ice cream and a gift card for 2 movie tickets (hopefully you will use the tickets to go and see the Neil Armstrong movie, First Man which opens on October 12).  Giveaway limited to the USA only You must be at least 13 years old. Please read our giveaway policy before entering. Here's a direct link to the form should you need it: https://goo.gl/forms/yqttwY93ehjR7evO2

 

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