The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

34964944

When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate, and love to a new kind of complicated truth. Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.

Review

How would you feel if you were newlywed in the 1950s and having to move to a foreign country, more specifically, Italy? That is how the Italian Party begins. You don’t know much about Michael and Scottie at first, but you get a sense that they are both not quite who they make themselves to be. Michael is a first-generation Italian-American, who moves to his family’s homeland on the pretense that he works for Ford. Scottie is the cute all-American blonde who has a secret of her own. On the surface, they look like the perfect couple, but when Scottie’s Italian teacher goes missing we embark on a series of events that take place in the 50s, in the middle of the Cold War, and the fight against communism.

This book was not quite what I was expecting. Just like Lynch’s characters in this book, the novel gives you an erroneous idea that this is another beautiful love story set against a beautiful backdrop of romantic Italy in the 1950s. As you get more and more involved in the book, you realize that nothing about this book is what it seems to be on the surface.

I really enjoyed being transported to this beautiful, and rather, innocent time. I loved all the descriptions of Italy, the Italian way of life, and all the wonderful food. This was a great read and a little history refresher for me. I highly recommend it.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake by Sue Watson

love,lies,and wedding cake

Since Faye met her gorgeous Aussie boyfriend Dan, they’ve traveled all over the world to meet in amazing, crazy and romantic locations. They’ve eaten gateaux in a chateau, chocolate torte in a moonlit port, and even had stöllen kisses in a sparkling Christmas market. Neither of them wanted to settle down… until now. When Dan asks Faye to marry him and to move to Australia it throws a real spanner in the works. Faye’s daughter Emma needs her here, so moving to the other side of the world – even for a hunk like Dan – simply isn’t an option. Is it? 

Review

Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake is a sequel to Love, Lies, and Lemon Cake, which I haven’t read, but also didn’t feel it was necessary in order to understand this story. The book starts with Faye and her hunk Australian boyfriend Dan enjoying themselves on a beautiful beach. Faye is a 46-year-old divorced grandma and Dan is a carefree, single guy in his 30’s. Life seems absolutely perfect to this middle-age grandma and her wonderful boyfriend until tragedy hits home and Dan has to move back to Australia leaving Faye all alone and wondering if their relationship can endure the long-distance.

I really enjoyed Sue Watson’s writing. I’m not sure I would call it hilariously funny, but I found myself laughing out loud several times. I loved Faye and her attitude towards life. The characters were well developed and this was an overall easy read. The only thing I didn’t care for was how Dan and Faye ended up. I’m not sure I would have been as forgiving, but Watson did a good job exploring that drama.

This is a delightful romantic comedy, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

Blog Tour: Boy of Blood by Megan O’Russell #giveaway

Boy of Blood Banner (2)

37559613

Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

Series: Girl of Glass

Genre: YA Dystopia

Release Date: April 10, 2018

After Nightland’s vicious attack on the domes, the safety and perfection of the world within the glass has been contaminated. Desperate to rebuild, outsiders are allowed into the domes to help, breaking the cardinal rule: outsiders and Domers must always be separated. But the city is in shambles, crumbling into chaos without the Vampers of Nightland to keep order, and one name is carried on the wind: Nola. Clinging to Jeremy, Nola struggles to find a way to exist in the domes, turning her back on all she learned in the city. But when one of the outsiders brings the dark secrets of the domes to light, the line between survival and murder blurs against the specter of the dying world. Can Nola follow the dark path laid out by the Domes? Will the dangers of the night become her new sanctuary?

Review 

Boy of Blood starts where book one, Girl of Glass, left off. This is not a standalone story. You do need to read the first book in the series to truly appreciate this installment.

The book starts with Nola waking up after the attack on the domes, a perfect world inside glass walls created for chosen humans. The other half of the population is relegated to living on the outside of the dome to suffer and die.

In this dystopian sequel, we follow Nola as she tries to move on from the attacks on the domes and the heartbreak from Kieran’s betrayal. This book really takes the time to explain and develop Nola’s character and her relationship with Jeremy. I didn’t see this book as just another dystopian book. I’m actually tired of reading most of the dystopian YA novels out there because many of those books are so similar. What I liked about Boy of Blood is that this story mixes a little romance, a little paranormal fantasy with vampires and werewolves, and it all works really well.

This is a fast-paced book with a cliffhanger ending that leaves you wanting more. I highly recommend it.

I would like to thank the author and Fiery Seas Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

Megan O'Russell

Megan O’Russell is the author of the young adult fantasy series The Tethering, and Nuttycracker Sweet, a Christmas novella. Megan’s short stories can also be found in several anthologies, including Athena’s Daughters 2, featuring women in speculative fiction. Megan is a professional performer who has spent time on stages across the country and is the lyrist for Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical, which received its world premiere in 2015. When not on stage or behind a computer, Megan can usually be found playing her ukulele or climbing a mountain with her fantastic husband.

website | twitter | facebook | blog


PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon | Barnes&Noble | KoboiTunes


Click here for Giveaway

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

9780451490803

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan.

Review

Stella loves math, she works as an econometrician (someone who uses statistics and calculus to help formulate recommendations to customers after they make a purchase online) has Asperger’s, is thirty years old, hates french kissing, and hates sex. It doesn’t help that her family is pressuring her to settle down and start having kids. So, in the most rational way she decides that in order for her to find the right person and settle down she needs to be good at sex and kissing. And just like that, she decides to hire a professional.

The Kiss Quotient is a delightful story that reads very much like a male version of “Pretty Woman”. What is really appealing about this book is the fact that the author, Helen Huong, also suffers from Asperger’s and has a real insight into the mind of people, especially adult women, who suffer from this syndrome. The result is that Stella is a character that never seems fake or impossible. Huong gives us a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of someone who suffers from Asperger’s, and by doing that she creates a character that jumps out of the page–someone you can relate to even if you don’t have the same condition.

This is really a delightful book and a pleasant read packed with lots of romance, humor and great sex. This is a sizzling romance that won’t disappoint fans of the genre.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

37854421

It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras. Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. 

Review

The story starts with a body that turns up behind the Crozat Plantation B&B at the same time that the town is preparing for their Mardi Gras celebrations and beauty pageant. Maggie Crozat’s grandmother usually deals with the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant, but now she is sick in the hospital and left it to Maggie to coordinate the event.

Maggie feels overwhelmed. She is not really a fan of beauty pageants and is determined to find out the identity of the body that turned up behind her family’s plantation. So, she starts a little investigation of her own. Her relationship with Bo, the official cop in Pelican, is rocky, her father is busy trying to win the Gumbo cookoff and when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, one of the judges at the beauty pageant is also found dead. Now Maggie and Bo have to rush against time to find out if these two murders are connected.

What I think worked well in this novel was Byron’s wonderful characterization of the South. The descriptions of the people, the foods, the preparations for celebration–everything was so on point that it transported me back to Louisiana. I love New Orleans, and I really enjoyed learning more about that culture and the fact that although most people are familiar with the more over-the-top Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, smaller towns in Louisiana celebrate what’s called Courir de Mardi Gras–which translates to “Fat Tuesday Run.” I really appreciated all the research she put in writing this story and all the bonus recipes at the end of the book.

Mardi Gras Murder is book four of the Cajun Country Mystery series, but I was able to follow along fine–even though I haven’t read the other books in the series. This is a great cozy mystery! I read the entire book in one sitting, and I really enjoyed the ending.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

Dead Pretty by David Mark

36652030

One girl missing. One girl dead. A stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers, Dead Pretty finds Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh grappling with vigilantes, unsolved murders, and a killer far too close to home.

Review

This book was initially a little confusing to me. It took me some time to get used to David Mark’s writing, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is book five of Detective Sargeant Aector McAvoy and not having read any of the previous books in the series might have contributed to my initial confusion. Once I got into the book, I just couldn’t put it down.

I love a good crime story, and this is a great one. The story is a bit disturbing with some pretty descriptive scenes, but overall this is a gritty and riveting story that would’ve probably received 5-stars had I read the other books. I highly recommend this one. David Mark got me hooked, and his other books just made it to my TBR list.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

 

The Burning by S.O. Esposito

TheBurning_Kobo_cover (1)

Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She’s happily married, has two beautiful children, a close-knit group of friends, and a cause she cares deeply about. But beneath the surface, her world of safety and comfort is unraveling. The periods of lost time she’s kept secret—even from her husband—are happening more frequently. She certainly doesn’t remember leaving her Sarasota home at three-thirty in the morning to burn someone alive. Now she sits in a Florida state mental institution, awaiting judgment on whether she’s fit to stand trial on charges of murder and arson. While a psychologist works to help Alice face her past, her future depends on the answer to one question: How far did she go for justice?

Review

I really liked what Esposito has done with this novel. This is her first take at writing a psychological thriller, and she did not disappoint. Alice Leininger seems to have the perfect life. She is married to a loving husband, has two adorable kids, and volunteers with her friends at Project Freedom–a project determined to help women leave a life of prostitution and sex-trafficking behind to rejoin society.

The narrative is fairly fast-paced and suspenseful. Alice is a great and likable character. It’s not so easy to figure out if she is a victim or a villain, and Esposito keeps you guessing until the end. I liked how she handled such sensitive topic, and I enjoyed the almost feminist flavor of this book.

I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About The Author

17878417

S.O. Esposito began her writing career as a cozy mystery author under her full name, Shannon Esposito. She has four books in the PET PSYCHIC SERIES (misterio press) & two books in the PAWS & POSE SERIES (Severn House). But to keep her muse happy, she’s ventured into darker territory with her suspense debut THE BURNING.

Website

Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

cover135402-medium

Romaine Wilder, a big city medical examiner with a small-town past, has been downsized and evicted. With few other options, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Robel in East Texas, leaving behind the man she’s dating and the life she’s worked hard to build. Suzanne Babet Derbinay, Romaine’s Auntie Zanne and proprietor of the Ball Funeral Home, has long since traded her French Creole upbringing for Big Texas attitude… But her plans are derailed when the Ball Funeral Home, bursting at the seams with dead bodies, has a squatter stiff.

Review 

Romaine Wilder is a medical examiner living in Chicago who seems to have the perfect life until she is evicted and has to move back to her hometown in Texas. Romaine moves in with her Auntie Zanne “Babet” who owns and runs a funeral home. Death is no stranger to this medical examiner who comes from a line of morticians, but when a body is found at her family’s funeral home, Romaine, cousin Sheriff Pogue, and Auntie Zanne join forces to try to solve the mystery in time for the Tri-County Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival.

This is book one of the Romaine Wilder Mystery series. Although Romaine is the main character, I have to say that Auntie Zanne is the star of this story. She is absolutely hilarious. This book has several out loud laughing moments, and I honestly enjoyed reading about French Creole traditions and Southern life.

I loved this fun cozy mystery, and I look forward to reading more books in this series. This book is scheduled to be published June 12th, 2018.

I would like to thank Henery Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

The Circle Game by Tanya Nichols

39024213

Bernadette “Bernie” Sheridan, has the Carlos Luna case in the bag. She’s smart, confident, and fueled by personal tragedy. She knows all too well what’s at stake for the five-year-old, Mexican-American boy, who lost his parents to a negligent driver. After all, her own mother and father—her adopted parents—died tragically when she was only thirteen, and she’s been struggling with the emotional loss ever since. Now, nearing forty and jaded as ever, she’s adamant about saving Carlos from a fate similar to her own, even if only by winning him a healthy monetary settlement. 

Review

Bernie is a successful, yet idealistic attorney who takes on the Carlos Luna case. Carlos is a little five-year-old boy whose parents were killed by a reckless driver. This case is very close to Bernie’s heart since she also lost her adoptive parents when she was just thirteen years old, and because of the struggles she went through as a child, Bernie is determined to win Carlos a fair settlement for his loss.

Bernie’s only family is her beloved grandmother Noni. And although Bernie has always longed to know more about her biological parents, grandma Noni has never encouraged Bernie to seek out her biological mother. Now, thirty-seven years later Bernie’s biological mother Julie threatens to re-enter her life and everything she thought she knew about herself is about to change.

The narrative is told from two viewpoints. One is Bernie’s account of the present day and the other is Julie’s account of decades ago. The Circle Game is a beautiful novel with well-developed characters and a heartwarming plot about the power of forgiveness.

I would like to thank Alternative Book Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


A Brush With Death by Ali Carter

9781786072764_ab2d2

In the village of Spire, murder is afoot. Wealthy landowner Alexander, Earl of Greengrass is caught with his trousers down in the village graveyard before meeting a gruesome end. Luckily Susie Mahl happens to be on hand. With her artist’s eye for detail and her curious nature, she is soon on the scent of the murderer…

Review

Susie Mahl is an artist who specializes in pet portraits. While staying with friends, the Earl and Countess of Greengrass at their beautiful house in the village of Spire, the Earl is found dead and Susie with her witty and inquisitive nature quickly starts her own investigation into the murder.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted cozy mystery. Susie Mahl is a great detective. She is funny and witty and I loved how Carter combined a little bit of a country house murder as well as giving us some insight into the life of an artist. This is a great read for fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple with a dash of Downton Abbey.

This is Ali Carter’s first novel and the first book in the new series about pet portraitist and super-sleuth Susie Mahl.

I would like to thank the author and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 


About The Author

Small-Author-Photograph-1-150x150

Ali Carter was born in Scotland in 1983. She read art history at St Andrew’s, followed by an eclectic career before settling in for the long run as a fine artist. She specializes in oil paintings from life with an emphasis on color. Writing, walking and cooking all accompany her painting. Ali lives in East Sussex with her husband Sam. Ali’s first novel, A Brush with Death comes out 7th June 2018.

Website


2F75E86AAE798551FE5434B18DF179AF

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter