Thursday, March 22, 2018

#BookReview - Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Title:  Before We Were Yours
Author:  Lisa Wingate
Genre:  Women's Fiction, Historical, Family Saga
Release Date:  June 6, 2017

About the Book:


For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a "thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal."

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family's Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge--until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents--but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility's cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals--in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country--Lisa Wingate's riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

Before We Were Yours is a heart wrenching story based on a real life scandal.  The author, Lisa Wingate takes us back and forth from the tragic abduction of the Foss children in 1939 and their horrific treatment at the hands of Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee, to the present day life of Avery Stafford, a successful federal prosecutor being groomed to take over her father's political position.  

From a chance meeting with May Crandall at a nursing home, hints of a connection to Avery's grandmother begin to surface. As the story unfolds, and Avery discover's her grandmother's secrets, Avery also discovers a few things about herself in the process.

Although there were times when I cringed and my eyes filled with tears, there were also times when I felt the warm fuzzy's. Lisa Wingate created vivid characters who told the story of a real life tragedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would heartily recommend it. Be sure to read all the way to the end, including the author's notes.

My Rating: 

About the Author:

Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 for two years running, Lisa Wingate writes novels that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of literary works. Her novels have garnered or been short-listed for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the LORIES Best Fiction Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, Family Fiction's Top 10, RT Booklover's Reviewer's Choice Award, and others. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who promote greater kindness and civility in American life. She’s been a writer since Mrs. Krackhardt’s first-grade class and still believes that stories have the power to change the world.

IN THE WRITER'S OWN WORDS: A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, made a writer out of me. That may sound unlikely, but it's true. It's possible to find a calling when you're still in pigtails and Mary Jane shoes, and to know it's your calling. I was halfway through the first grade when I landed in Mrs. Krackhardt's classroom. I was fairly convinced there wasn't anything all that special about me... and then, Mrs. Krackhardt stood over my desk and read a story I was writing. She said things like, "This is a great story! I wonder what happens next?"

It isn't every day a shy new kid gets that kind of attention. I rushed to finish the story, and when I wrote the last word, the teacher took the pages, straightened them on the desk, looked at me over the top, and said, "You are a wonderful writer!"

A dream was born. Over the years, other dreams bloomed and died tragic, untimely deaths. I planned to become an Olympic gymnast or win the National Finals Rodeo, but there was this matter of back flips on the balance beam and these parents who stubbornly refused to buy me a pony. Yet the writer dream remained. I always believed I could do it because... well... my first grade teacher told me so, and first grade teachers don't lie.

So, that is my story, and if you are a teacher, or know a teacher, or ever loved a special teacher, I salute you from afar and wish you days be filled with stories worth telling and stories worth reading.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

#BookReview - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title:  Ready Player One
Author:  Ernest Cline
Genre:  Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
Release Date:  June 5, 2012

About the Book:

The worldwide bestseller—soon to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

I'm always looking for something new to read and when my book club suggested READY PLAYER ONE I thought... why not?  When I told my daughter that I was reading this book, she looked confused.  "Why in the world are you reading THAT?"  I replied, "Why not?  It got excellent reviews."  She shook her head and said, "It is indeed a good book.  But Mom... you're not a gamer!  You won't know what they are talking about!"  To a large extent, my daughter was right.  Although I enjoyed the references to the 1980's, I had no clue as to some of the terminology used in reference to gaming techniques.

The book is well written and imaginative.  It was exciting and adventurous.  I can understand the excellent reviews, but it is probably more appealing to the younger set, or those people really into gaming.  I don't particularly like reading about teenagers.  Just my opinion.  Has nothing to do with the quality of writing.  Like I said, this is really well written.

Wade is a slightly overweight teenager living in a stackable trailer park, known as the "stacks".  A total geek living in 2024.  When the outrageously wealthy James Halliday dies, he leaves clues for the person who finds the secret to a game he has created.  The winner wins it all.  His entire fortune and control of his company.  A real online treasure hunt!

My Rating: 

About the Author:
ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film" Fanboys," much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#BookBlitz & #Giveaway - Sin With Me (Original Sin Series Book 1) by JA Huss & Johnathan McClain

Sin With Me
JA Huss & Johnathan McClain
(Original Sin Series, #1)
Publication date: March 6th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Sin with Me is the first book in a four-book contemporary romance series by New York Times bestselling author, JA Huss, and veteran actor and writer, Johnathan McClain. Each full-length novel will release three weeks apart starting on March 6, 2018.
Two broken people in a city fueled by sin.
Maddie Clayton isn’t looking to be saved. She knows the only person you can count on is yourself. Her moral compass might not point true North these days—but at least she’s still standing.
The Military taught Tyler Bell about loyalty. Being there for your brothers is the only thing that matters—but when it mattered most, he wasn’t.
She’s got a ticket straight to Hell. He’s already been there and back.
She needs to win. He just needs to stop fighting.
Some sins scar your soul so deeply, you’ll never be the same.
But this Devil in disguise might just be the angel he needs to forgive himself.
Book Trailer:

Author Bio:
Two accomplished writers come together to create unforgettable sexy romance. JA Huss is the New York Times bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today bestsellers list eighteen times. Johnathan McClain is a veteran actor and writer whose work, either performed or written, is probably airing on at least one of the channels on your television right now. You can contact them on their website or find them at their social links below.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

#BookReview - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Title:  Memoirs of a Geisha
Author:  Arthur Golden
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Release Date:  November 9, 1999

About the Book:

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. 

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

After receiving this book as a gift, I let it sit on my shelf. I didn't think it would appeal to me. When I finally picked it up, I found myself enthralled in the Japanese culture and the poetic wording of a novel that will remain with me for some time to come. While beautifully written, I still found it somewhat disturbing by todays standards. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a very old culture that had been kept alive by the standards prevalent in that day and time in Japan.

While this is Historical Fiction and not true memoirs, Arthur Golden portrays the novel as an interpretation of a series of interviews with the geisha, Sayuri, in her later years. Written in a first person narrative, we are given the illusion that this is an autobiography. The history, the research into the culture, and even the day to day happenings in the life of a geisha are beautifully and sometimes heart-wrenchingly portrayed, but the actual sex scenes did not seem to be told from the mind of a woman. They don't teach that at Harvard and Columbia University. Sorry, Mr. Golden.

The story follows the life of Chiyu, a nine year old girl and the daughter of a poor fisherman. When Chiyu's mother becomes ill and it is apparent that she will not live, Chiyu and her older sister Satsu are sold into slavery. The girls are soon seperated and Satsu is sent to become a prostitute, but because of Chiyu's striking appearance due to her unusual light colored eyes, she is taken into an okiya to be trained as a geisha. Chiyu soon becomes aware how cruel people can be when she encounters Hatsumomo, whose jealousy and greed cause her undue torment. It is not until Mameha, Hatsumomo's biggest rival, takes an interest in Chiyu, that her life begins to turn. Chiyu's name is changed to Sayuri as she begins her training to become a geisha. Japanese culture was beautifully portrayed as we followed Sayuri during her early years of training and on into her adult life, spanning the years before and after World War II.

This was beautifully written, almost lyrical at times.  Well worth reading.

My Rating: 

About the Author:

Arthur Golden was born and brought up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is a 1978 graduate of Harvard College with a degree in art history, specialising in Japanese art. In 1980 he earned an MA in Japanese history from Columbia where he also learned Mandarin Chinese. In 1988 he received an MA in English from Boston. He has lived and worked in Japan, but now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and children.

Monday, March 5, 2018

#BookBlitz & #Giveaway - Celestia (Unicorn Blessed Chronicles Book 1) by Aspen Winters & Yumoyori Wilson

Yumoyori Wilson
(Unicorn Blessed Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: March 2nd 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
What do you get when your father’s a centaur and your mother’s a powerful magician?
A unicorn shifter…
You’d think being the only known unicorn shifter in the world would have a few benefits. Like, people treating you kindly or getting special treatment from the council. Not in my case. I’d be lucky to get a piece of bread thrown at me.
My name is Celestia Rainbow, and yes, my last name is fucking Rainbow.
Shifters assume that I’m kind by nature, but trust me: I’m fierce, short-tempered and have the mouth of a sailor. Add in my stealthy fighting skills, advanced magic casting, and swift movement, I’m someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. But everyone looks at my shifter side – my ditzy, peaceful half, sprinkling magic dust, and on a mission to end world hunger.
Regardless of my dual personality, I’ve sworn to become a huntress at Aslan Academy. Now that I’m of age–my lucky twenty-fifth birthday just happens to coincide with the entrance exams–I’m ready to prove my worth.
Too bad I’m grouped up with six sinful looking men.
Time to prove to my community, classmates and this attractive bunch of weirdos that unicorns can kick ass too.
CELESTIA is a new REVERSE HAREM, paranormal series. Recommended for 18+ audiences, containing mature sexual content, violence and strong language.
“Good luck, Celestia. Work hard, make some new friends, and achieve your goals.”
“I will, Master Magnor. May you remain safe until we return,” I replied.
“Bru-REE!” Arielle agreed, fluttering her wings.
“Be off then. Keep in touch.” He stepped aside, allowing me to walk out the entrance and away from his property.
I took a few steps, before looking back to see his sad smile. One last time.
I left my luggage where it was, running back to give him a final hug. He looked pleased, giving me a tight squeeze.
“I love you,” I whispered into his white shirt.
“I love you more, Celestia. Now get going. You don’t want to be late,” he reminded.
I nodded against his shoulder, taking one last whiff of his meadow scent and pulled away. We shared a smile; both of us knew this wouldn’t be the last time we’d see each other.
“Bye,” I waved, running off to where my luggage sat.
I paused mid-stride, looking back over my shoulder to see Magnor’s glossy eyes.
“No boys,” he called out, a wide grin on his face while a tear rolled down his cheek.
I giggled, letting my tears flow freely. “No promises! I’ll make sure I bring home six of the finest men,” I called out, giving him a final wave.
He shook his head in amusement, waving back.
I took a deep breath and began to walk away. This won’t be the end. I’ll make you proud, Master Magnor. I promise.

Author Bio:
Yumoyori Wilson is from Toronto, Ontario. She loves to sleep and write her days away. She works at night as a registered nurse. She has a little addiction to bubble tea and coffee but loves to workout. She has big plans for the writing world and can't wait to share them with everyone.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

#BookReview - Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose

Title:  Edge of Darkness - Book 4 of the Cincinnati Series)
Author:  Karen Rose
Genre:  Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release Date:  February 6, 2018

About the Book:

A Cincinnati detective questions everything he knows--and everyone he trusts--in the new novel of romantic suspense from New York Times bestseller Karen Rose.

Homicide detective Adam Kimble is no stranger to battling demons. But Meredith Fallon is a different kind of weakness: one that could actually be good for him, if only he would let himself depend on her. Meredith has loved Adam for a year, and seeing how hard he's worked to deal with his PTSD makes her feelings only stronger, but she respects his needs. Her work keeps her busy anyway: she counsels sexually abused women like Mallory Martin to help them reintegrate into the world. 

But someone doesn't want Meredith helping women like Mallory, and Meredith finds herself in the crosshairs of a very determined killer. Adam would risk anything for her, but they'll soon find out she isn't the only target...
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

Okay, I have to admit it. I am a huge fan of Karen Rose's writing!  And this novel only made me love her books more. Once again I was hooked from the first few pages and could not put the book down. Actually, I was only a few chapters in when I realized that I needed to make a trip several hours away. The thought of having to  wait to  continue with the book (can't read and drive at the same time) made me purchase the Audible version of the book. I loved listening to Edge of Darkness as I drove, even when it gave me the shivers. My only problem was when I arrived at my destination and had to turn off my car. I couldn't do it. I sat there in the parking lot for another hour, listening.

This is book #4 in the Cincinnati series, but it can be read as a stand-alone. After reading it, however, I'm sure you will want to check out the other books in this series. Karen Rose creates fascinating characters that go straight to your heart... or straight to your nervous system.  Sometimes you don't know the difference until later in the book, keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Police Detective Adam Kimball has been fighting the demons inside him for almost a year, pulling him away from the woman who means the most to him, Meredith Fallon.  But when Meredith's life is threatened in a most horrific event, Adam finds himself in the middle of the ordeal, wanting nothing more than to protect Meredith, keep her safe, and find the man responsible.

I was totally caught off guard when the bad guy was revealed. That's one of the things that makes Karen Rose such a great mystery/suspense writer. And the romance between Adam and Meredith was intense and hot, which is what makes Karen Rose such a great romance writer. Perfect blend of romance, mystery and suspense!

I'm sad to see the Cincinnati Series end, but looking forward to whatever this author has for her next series. I'll be watching!

My Rating: 

About the Author:

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published fifteen more novels and two novellas. Her eighteenth novel, EVERY DARK CORNER, was released in 2017 and EDGE OF DARKNESS was released in February of 2018.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa (#1) and Australia!

Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Coastal Magic Con 2018 was a BLAST!

Hello Lovely Readers!!

If you've never attended a book convention like Coastal Magic... WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?

Coastal Magic 2018 was held in Daytona Beach at the beautiful Shores Resort and Spa right smack dab on the beach.  The weather was perfect with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's.  (Remember that this is February and people from the north are freezing their you-know-whats off)  

My room had a balcony overlooking the pool and the Atlantic ocean.  It was heaven!  Just imagine eating breakfast to the sound of the waves and the seagulls!  

Ahhhhh!  I really didn't want to leave!

Of course there were a few authors and readers who chose to eat breakfast in the dining room downstairs... and order a pitcher of mimosa's.  Yes, I said PITCHER!

And if the hotel itself wasn't enough, there were fifty fantastic authors hanging around.  Yes, I said 50!  Readers attending CMC2018 were able to meet them, chat with them, hang out with them and even get them to sign books for them.

If you hop over to the bar, be sure to see Ecko.  He will prepare the perfect drink for you, as evidenced by the smiling faces of Jamie and me. 

Every person attending CMC2018 received a fabulous insulated bag with a zippered top, filled with all kinds of goodies... several books, and every kind of swag you can think of!  Pens, chapstick, candy and other snacks, fancy bookmarks, pins, spinners, nail files, cups, jar openers, note pads, cup holders, and so much more.  Lots of fun stuff.

I want to stop here and thank all the authors who contributed to those bags and all the other bloggers and helpers who put them together.  That was quite a project!

There was so much going on and so many great activities to choose from!  We had panel discussions that left my cheeks hurting from laughing so hard... and some very informative panel discussions as well.

And then there was the beach party!  Lots of fun and dancing and really getting to know one another.  Here we have Jessica Hawke, Gayla Pickett Leath, Hildie McQueen and Eric Asher.

There were so many activities that I simply can't list them all here.  Movie night with Cinamacraptastic, Meet & Greets, Dinnertime get-togethers, and so much more.

Look who's coloring with Karen Rose and Nancy Northcott!  That's me! It was so great chattng with these fantastic authors and getting to know them.  

And they like to color!

All attendees to the convention got to have lunch with an author.  I picked Princess Alethea Kontis, because... well, she's a princess!  And I love her books and her sense of humor.  She not only signed one of her books for me, she colored on the page!  

As a bonus, Leanna Renee Hieber sat at our table for lunch as well.  I immediately went out to buy her book "Strangely Beautiful".

I missed Princess Alethea's Traveling Side Show because I was moderating another panel at that same time, but I heard it was delightful!  And after meeting some of the "actors", I know it must have been outstanding!

And then there was the book signing!  So many authors!  So many books!  I was in Bookaholic Heaven!  Just walking around the room you could feel the energy created by these amazing authors and their fans.  

Of course I came home with a suitcase full of books, but how could I not?  Some of my favorites were there, ready to personally sign their books for me.

Just stopping by and chatting with some of the authors was so much fun!  Especially when those authors included Cynthia D'Alba and Hildie McQueen.  

Cynthia D'Alba had me laughing so hard!  If you ever meet her, ask her about her parrot.

Tawdra Kandle is always delightful.  I have previously interviewed her here on The Novel Lady, but this was the first time meeting her in person.
And one of the highlights for me was 
meeting Karen Rose, the #1 International
Bestselling, RITA-award winning author.  She has killed off more than a hundred people in her murder mystery/romance novels.  I came home with a full set of her Cincinnati Series!  And a bar of soap with bloody fingerprints!  Can you imagine the look on the inspector's face if he found that in my luggage?
Last but certainly not least, I want to thank Jennifer Morris and her sister Delorianne for organizing such a fantastic convention!  I was honored to be a Featured Blogger for this wonderful group of people.  So much fun!  Jennifer, I can't wait to see what you have in store for us next year.

I will definitely be there!  


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