Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall

Author:Lecia Cornwall
Publisher; St. Martin Press
Date of publication: June 2016

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever.

Enjoy this excerpt from the first in Lecia Cornwall's latest series! 

How had the Sinclairs heard of Moire? She was a humble soul. She kept to herself, tended the ancient spring of the goddess, and helped only those who came to her. Fear numbed the icy blast of the wind as she stared up at Carraig Brigh’s bony tower, a crooked black finger rising from a solid fist of rock.
“Ye’ve made a mistake,” she whined as they rode under the iron teeth of the gate. “I’m naught but a simple midwife.” No one listened, and the wind carried her pleas over the edge of the cliff and drowned them in the bay below.
In the bailey, men stood in the light of gale-thrashed torches. There wasn’t a friendly face among them, or a word of welcome.
Someone hauled her off the garron, kept hold of her arm as he propelled her across the bailey. The portcullis fell with a metallic squall that ended on a human note, a wail of pure agony that floated down from the tower and made Moire’s innards curl against her backbone. The clansmen shifted uneasily, crossed themselves, and turned their eyes up to the narrow window high above them. Moire’s escort grabbed a torch from the nearest man as he opened an iron-studded door and pushed her up the steps inside.
“Do you truly have magic, old woman?” he asked. “You’d best hope you can conjure a cure.”
She stumbled. A witch. They thought they’d summoned a witch.
“A midwife, just a midwife,” she protested again, panting. The curving stone steps were steep, but he gave her no time to catch her breath. Her old legs were no match for his long, muscular ones. She scrabbled at his sleeve. “Please, there’s been a mistake.”
“There’s no mistake, Moire o’ the Spring. ’Tis you and no other we were sent to fetch. The chief would summon the devil himself if he thought it could save his son.”
“What’s wrong with him?” she found the courage to ask.
He grunted. “Have ye heard of Jean Sinclair?”
“Aye, of course. The lass they called the Holy Maid of Carraig Brigh,” Moire replied.
“That’s her. She was Alasdair Og’s cousin, the chief’s niece. Padraig wasn’t pleased when she decided to take holy orders and shut herself away in a French convent.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “’Tis a sad tale. They set sail from Sinclair Bay and put in at Berwick for the night, only to be ambushed by English soldiers. Alasdair Og thought there’d been a mistake, that they’d been taken for pirates, perhaps, or kidnapped for ransom. He imagined it would be a matter of a few days’ delay, an exchange of coin, and they’d be on their way again. But they didn’t bother themselves about ransom. They took the gold Alasdair Og was carrying right enough, and the goods, and the ship, and they murdered his crew. Then they beat Alasdair Og half to death, and threw him and Jean into the dungeon of Coldburn Keep.”

Moire put a hand to her throat, a shiver racing up her spine.
“Worst of all was what they did to poor wee Jean. They raped her, tortured her, then murdered her in front of Alasdair Og. He was chained to the wall, could do nothing to help her. She pleaded with God for help. She was just a slip of a girl. They said if she was Catholic and a Highlander, then she was no better than an idolatrous witch. ’Twas hatred—not just for the Scots, but for Alasdair Og in particular. They called him a pirate, blamed him for things that had nothing at all to do with the Sinclairs. It wasn’t wee Jeannie’s fight—Alasdair told them that, but they wouldn’t listen. He lay in his own filth for a fortnight, chained, wounded, and listened while they beat her, broke her bones, tormented her. They kept him alive to hear her screams.”
“And then?” Moire asked.
The man grimaced. “They hanged her as a heretic in the courtyard, forced Alasdair to his feet, made him stand at the window and watch.” He stared down at her from the step above. “He can’t forget any of it. That’s why they call him mad—he has nightmares, feels constant pain, and starts at shadows. Can you help him?”
She blinked. Did the holy maid haunt Alasdair Og Sinclair? Perhaps it was the devil’s work after all. Moire knew little of the Christian God, either Catholic or Covenanter. She followed the ancient goddess, tended her sacred spring . . .
Another guttural scream came from the top of the tower. Moire shrank against the cold stones of the wall and made a sign against evil.
Her companion took hold of her arm again. “Come on.” He opened a door at the top of the steps, dragged her through it. The room was nearly dark, lit by a single candle—expensive beeswax—and the dull glow of a brazier in the corner. The sweet scent of the candle mixed with the dark stink of old blood, corruption, and sweat. It was a smell Moire knew. It meant illness far beyond her ability to heal, and death.

About the author:

Lecia Cornwall lives and writes in Calgary, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next book.  Find her at: 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall

Author: Dianne Duvall
Publisher: Zebra
Date of publication: June 28, 2016
Across dimensions . . .

Born with the ability to see spirits, immortal Yuri Sokolov avoids making contact with them, because such has always yielded negative results...until lovely Cat Seddon begins haunting his home and his dreams. As a new threat rises against the Immortal Guardians, Yuri disregards all the rules so he can be with Cat, even though the consequences are substantial.

For centuries, Catherine Seddon has been alone. When her brother is forced to join the Immortal Guardians’ ranks, she haunts the primary home of the powerful warriors to keep an eye on him, and soon finds herself captivated by Yuri. The handsome Russian immortal swiftly banishes her loneliness as friendship grows between them and deepens into love.  But can two people who are unable to touch find a future together?
Previously published in On The Hunt

My thoughts:

Phantom Embrace was previously included in the anthology On the Hunt (Zebra, 2015).  On June 28th it's being released on its own. I read this one last year in On the Hunt. In fact, it's the only one I read in the book.  I got it specifically for this story. The novella takes place during and toward the end of Night Unbound.  I liked that Ms. Duvall released a short story to tell fans what happened to Yuri.  It kind of gave us some closure.  I thought it was a really sweet love story and one I highly recommend picking up.  In fact, the series as a whole is one of my favorites.  You don't want to miss it!

Enjoy this sneak peek into the novella and don't forget to check out the giveaway!


Cat leaned into the frame of a large window behind the massive desk in David’s study. The sun’s rays, almost blindingly bright and sparkling with dust motes, poured through the clean panes and passed right through her, imbuing her with warmth.
The house around her was quiet. All the immortals slept. Many of their human Seconds slept as well, having worked until noon or thereabouts, running errands and conducting whatever business they did during the day for the immortals they served and protected.
Even David slept, exhausted by the long hours he had kept of late, aiding immortals in North Carolina and surrounding states whenever emergencies arose, then spending the moments in between poring over medical textbooks in search of any information that would help him and Seth carry Ami safely through her difficult pregnancy.
Outside, Roland’s cat, Nietzsche—as cantankerous as his owner—crept toward a squirrel.
The squirrel continued to nibble on an acorn, watching the cat from the corner of its eye.
A pleasant male voice spoke, startling her. “There you are.”
Her head snapping around, Cat stared at the tall figure in the doorway.
Yuri graced her with a charming smile as he entered and closed the door behind him.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” she asked, telling her treacherous heart to stop slamming against her ribs. She had never understood why she had continued to feel that particular organ after she had breathed her last breath. She never felt hunger. Never felt thirst. But her heart seemed to thump away in her breast. One of many mysteries for which she had no explanation.
“I was looking for you,” he said, tucking his hands in his pockets as he strolled toward her. He wore the usual garb of an immortal. Black pants. Black T-shirt stretched taut over the thick muscles of his chest, shoulders, and arms. Heavy black boots.
From what she understood, immortals and their Seconds dressed thusly so blood stains would be less apparent to any looky-loos who saw them after a hunt.
She frowned. Was that the right phrase? Looky-loos? It sounded odd.
Regardless, the clothing suited Yuri, accenting his dark hair and chestnut eyes.
She straightened as he approached the desk.
“I’ve only caught the briefest glimpses of you these last few nights,” he commented.
Because she had been careful to avoid him since their talk. As soon as he had entered a room, Cat had left it. She had even resisted the temptation to follow him on his hunts.
He arched a dark brow. “Are you avoiding me?”
For a moment, Cat considered denying it. But she had told him she valued honesty. So she nodded.
“Why?” He cocked his head to one side. “Did I offend you in some way?”
Shaking her head, she glanced down. “I fear it is I who offended you.” She forced herself to meet his gaze. “I owe you an apology.”
His expression remained impassive. “For what?”
“Now that I know you can see me, that you’ve always been able to see me, I realize . . .” Mortified, she looked away and began to pleat her skirts with anxious fingers. “You said you value your privacy, and I denied you that on many an occasion, visiting your chamber and following you on hunts. I—”
She shook her head and met his gaze. “I don’t want to be like that first spirit you mentioned, the one you spoke to. I don’t want to irritate you or make you uncomfortable. I—”
“You don’t,” he interrupted with a kind smile. “You didn’t.” He sighed as he circled the desk. “I feared this might be the reason for your absence.” Stopping a few feet away, he leaned against the wall on the opposite side of the window, careful to avoid the sun’s rays. “I confess I enjoyed your presence each time you joined me in my room or on a hunt.” His smile widened. “The former more than the latter. The latter proved dangerously distracting on more than one occasion.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“I’m not,” he said and glanced out the window.

Giveaway Details:
1st Prize—$35 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize—$20 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize—Signed copies of Night Unbound and Shadows Strike+swag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pre-Order Links:
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Barnes & Noble -

About the author:

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series and The Gifted Ones series. Her books have twice been nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews. Reviewers have called Dianne's books "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "extraordinary" (Long and Short Reviews), and "wonderfully imaginative" (The Romance Reviews).

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she has created in her books.

For the latest news on upcoming releases, contests, and more, please visit You can also find Dianne online . . .

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Review and Excerpt of Dirty Sexy Cuffed by Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde

Authors: Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde
Publisher: CP Publishing
Date of publication: June 2016

As a cop, Levi Kincaid is all about discipline and control . . .in the bedroom, and out of it, and he's always been very careful about choosing women who abide by his rules.  Hot sex and intense pleasure?  No problem.  Emotional commitment and forever promises?  No way.  But he never anticipates falling for a blue eyed angel who makes him want to cuff her to his bed and do dirty, sexy things to her.  And that control of his?  It doesn't stand a chance against Sarah Robins, the one woman he can't resist . . .

I was really looking forward to Levi's story. Out of the three Kincaid brothers, he is the one that is the most reserved and private. His personality fits in nicely with his being a cop.  In Dirty Sexy Cuffed, he has been trying to get Sarah, a clerk at the convenience store on his beat, to go out with him for weeks.  After he is shot trying to protect her, he realizes he will do anything to protect her.

What I loved about this couple is that they both have similar crappy childhoods.  It made their bond that much stronger and that much more believable. Their chemistry was off the charts! I think they are my favorite couple out of the series so far.  There is a little bit of suspense in the story because Sarah is running from someone. My only complaint is that the suspense could have been built up a little more on that front.  It was a little anti-climatic for me.  Despite that, I loved the story.  The surprise ending more than made up for it. After reading it, I need the next book now!


“What about fun?” he countered easily. “Ever take time for that?”
“It’s been awhile,” she admitted softly.
He didn’t miss the quick flicker of sadness in her gaze that made him want to reach out and touch her, to use his thumb to smooth away the crease that had formed between her brows. Resisting the urge took more effort than he’d expected. “Then how about you say yes to a date with me, and I’ll remedy that for you. I’m all about having a good time with a pretty girl,” he added with a wink.
She opened her mouth to speak, and certain a denial was about to spill out, he quickly held up a hand to stop her. “Wait. Don’t say anything.” She pressed her lips back together, and even though her gaze was wary, he continued on while he still had a bit of leverage. “I want you to really think about your answer this time, instead of automatically turning me down, because one more rejection might just crush me.”

Buy links:

About the Author:

***About Carly Phillips***
Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find out more about Carly at

Website Goodreads Amazon Facebook  Twitter

***About Erika Wilde***

Erika Wilde is the author of the sexy Marriage Diaries series and The Players Club series. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two daughters, and when she's not writing you can find her exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. For more information on her upcoming releases, please visit website at

Website Goodreads  Amazon  Facebook Twitter

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bad Boys After Dark: Mick by Melissa Foster

Author:Melissa Foster
Publisher: Ever After Roamce
Date of publication: June 2016

Everything's naughtier after dark...
Amanda Jenner is done being a boring-man magnet and has finally taken control of her love life. As any smart paralegal would, she's researched the hell out of how to seduce a man. She's waxed, primped, and ready to put her newfound skills into action--and a masquerade bar crawl is the perfect venue for her solo coming-out party.

Entertainment attorney Mick Bad lives by two hard and fast rules. He never mixes business with pleasure, and he doesn't do relationships, which makes the anonymity of a masquerade bar crawl the perfect place for a onetime hookup.
Amanda thinks she's hit the jackpot when she bags a tall, dark, and sinfully delicious masked man--until she discovers the man she's made out with is her off-limits boss. Mick's already crossed a line he can never uncross, and one taste of sweet and sexy Amanda has only whet his appetite. When Mick offers to give Amanda a lesson in seduction--no strings, no regrets, and for goodness' sake, come Monday, no quitting--the tables turn, and Mick's totally unprepared for the lessons this sweet temptress provides.

Bad Boys After Dark: Mick is the first in a series about the Bad brothers.  It's a part of the LOVE IN BLOOM big family romance collection.  Each book can be read as a stand alone and for the most part, it held up fairly well.  I did however feel like I missed somethings from earlier books because there were a lot of characters that seemed to be from the other books.  Despite that, I did enjoy the story.

The story involves Mick and Amanda.  They have been coworkers for three years and both have secret longings.  When they meet by mistake at a bar crawl, They agree to have just one night together.  If you are looking for a steaming hot romance, this one is for you.  I definitely enjoyed Mick and Amanda's story.  They were so good together.  It just took Mick a little while to finally give into his feelings.  I loved their HEA.  I highly recommend this story.  It's definitely one sexy ride!

About the Author:

Melissa Foster is a New York Times USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown MagazineThe Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the  World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event. 

Blog Tour: Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Author: Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: June 2016

Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she’s now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than in the exhilarating bustle of Manhattan? But when Paige is let go from the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone.

Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother’s best friend, New York’s most in-demand date, and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige’s fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever?

Sleepless in Manhattan has one of my favorite tropes in romance.  The sister and the brother's best friend who have grown up together finally admit that they belong together.  I was really looking forward to reading Paige and Jake's story.  Unfortunately, I really didn't love this book as much as I wanted to.  

For me, the pacing of the story was kind of slow.  In the first hundred pages, not a lot happens.  I didn't really buy into Jake and Paige together.  Jake isn't into commitment.  He is a jerk to Paige through most of the book.  It got tiring after a while.  Why would she pine for someone like that?  Paige was also a bit too independent for my taste and made some really dumb decisions.

The one thing that I did like about the book was the friendship between the three women.  Their relationship was fun and endearing.  I liked Eva and Frankie the most and they almost make me want to read the other books in the series.  Hopefully, their stories will be a bit more exciting, because this one was just really wasn't.

About Sarah Morgan

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes lively, sexy contemporary stories for Harlequin.

Romantic Times has described her as ‘a magician with words’ and nominated her books for their Reviewer’s Choice Awards and their ‘Top Pick’ slot. In 2012 Sarah received the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives near London with her family.

Connect with Sarah

Sarah Morgan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Monday, June 6th: Chick Lit Central
Monday, June 6th: In Bed With Books
Wednesday, June 8th: Book Review & More by Kathy
Thursday, June 9th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, June 13th: Why Girls Are Weird
Tuesday, June 14th: Romancing the Readers
Wednesday, June 15th: Stranded in Chaos
Friday, June 17th: The Sassy Bookster
Friday, June 17th: Not In Jersey
Monday, June 20th: Just Commonly
Tuesday, June 21st: Walking with Nora
Wednesday, June 22nd: Book Mama Blog
Thursday, June 23rd: From the TBR Pile
Friday, June 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, June 27th: A Holland Reads
Tuesday, June 28th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, June 29th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, June 30th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, July 1st: A Splendid Messy Life – author Q&A and review

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spotlight: One Click Romance sale!


If you're a lover of small town romance or are looking for the perfect place to start, you do not want to miss this sale! 30 authors have come together with an incredible sale. Find out more about the books and get your hands on them here!

Here's the full list of authors participating: Melody Anne, JL Berg, Mari Carr, Samantha Chase, Virna DePaul, LP Dover, Violet Duke, Kelly Elliott, Jessie Evans, Jamie Farrell, Melissa Foster, Cathryn Fox, Kylie Gilmore, Melody Grace, Julia Kent, Erin McCarthy, SJ McCoy, Molly McLain, Heidi McLaughlin, Ava Miles, Erin Nicholas, Brenda Novak, Kate Perry, Carly Phillips, Katy Regnery, Jill Sanders, Jessica Scott, Melanie Shawn, Marquita Valentine, and Zoe York.

This sale lasts one week only, so make sure you don't miss out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blog Tour: Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of publication: May 2016

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.

With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of nature revealing human nature—the trickiest terrain. Navigating an unforgiving landscape, Ethan searches himself for the ability to forgive his father—if he finds him alive.

Leaving Blythe River is a coming of age story involving seventeen year old Ethan who decides to search for his missing father after forest rangers abandon the search for him.  Joining him are three locals who help him in the search.  After finishing and thinking about the book, I have to say while I did like some of  it, I didn't love it.  I have seen rave reviews, so I must be in the minority.  

What I did like about the book was the way the author was able to draw you into the adventure.  Her descriptions of the wilderness helped place me right into the search along with Ethan.  I also liked Ethan's character.  I enjoyed watching him grow as he searches for his father.  I also thought the side characters added some nice flavor to the book.

So while I liked those things, I felt there were other things that kept me from fully enjoying the book. I felt like there was not enough background information on Ethan and his parents as a whole.  I found it odd that his father all of a sudden goes from being a businessman (?) to moving to the mountains and running 20 miles a day.  It isn't until toward the end of the book that we find out he climbed Mount Everest when Ethan was born and likes extreme sports.  That is when we also find out his mother is into all of that stuff as well.  Also, what happened to Jennifer? I found the ending to be a bit over the top and I didn't really buy into it.  I also got kind of tired of people always questioning Ethan's age.  I think after the first couple of times I got that he was short and young looking.  

This is the first book by this author that I have read.  I never had the pleasure of reading Pay it Forward.  I feel like this book would do well with the YA crowd.  Pick it up and give it a shot.

About Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch ReviewMichigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly ReviewPloughsharesGlimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Ryan Hyde is also founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Connect with Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Tuesday, May 24th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, May 26th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, June 3rd: Write Read Life
Monday, June 6th: Just Commonly
Monday, June 13th: Puddletown Reviews
Tuesday, June 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, June 15th: The Magic All Around Us
Thursday, June 16th: Book Dilettante
Monday, June 20th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, June 21st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, June 22nd: Hoser’s Blook
Thursday, June 23rd: I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Monday, June 27th: Bibliotica

Monday, June 20, 2016

Blog Tour: Greetings From Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman

Author: Claire Hoffman
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: June 2016

When Claire Hoffman’s alcoholic father abandons his family, his struggling wife, Liz, tells five-year-old Claire and her seven-year-old brother, Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—promises world peace and Enlightenment just as their family is falling apart.

At first this secluded utopia offers warmth and support, and makes these outsiders feel calm, secure, and connected to the world. At the Maharishi School, Claire learns Maharishi’s philosophy for living and meditates with her class. With the promise of peace and Enlightenment constantly on the horizon, every day is infused with magic and meaning. But as Claire and Stacey mature, their adolescent skepticism kicks in, drawing them away from the community and into delinquency and drugs. To save herself, Claire moves to California to live with her father, breaking from Maharishi completely. After she works for a decade in journalism and academia, the challenges of adulthood propel her back to Iowa, where she reexamines her spiritual upbringing and tries to reconnect with the magic of her childhood.

Greetings from Utopia Park takes us deep into a complex, unusual world, illuminating its joys and comforts as well as its disturbing problems. While there is no utopia on earth, Hoffman finds, there are noble goals worth striving for: believing in belief itself, finding inner peace, and reaching a firm understanding that there is a larger fabric of the universe to which we all belong.

Greetings from Utopia Park is a memoir about the author's time growing up in the Transcendental Meditation Movement headed by Maharishi.  The largest headquarters in the US is centered in Iowa.  Her story is one of poverty, trying to fit in and figuring out how meditation can help her in her life.

I have read other memoirs about growing up in cults/religious organizations and I really enjoyed them.  While this one was well written, I had a hard time connecting with it.  I think I was expecting more of something along the lines of Troublemaker by Leah Remini.  I'm not sure after finishing the book that I really got a sense of the organization as a whole. The author hints several times at possible scandals but never really provides a lot of background on them.  I also got the sense, that while she questioned a lot of the teachings and rituals put forth by Marharishi, she was reluctant to really commit to saying anything bad about it.  

I am not a meditator, but I have friends who do and they fully believe that it helps calm them and focus them throughout the day.  I was glad to see that while the author doesn't live in "Utopia" anymore, she does still use mediation.  The ending was a bit fast.  I would have liked to see her life with her father in California and college to see how it contrasted with life in Iowa. But sadly, that is kind of glossed over.

I think that people who like memoirs will find this one interesting.  While it isn't the best memoir I have read, I still felt compelled to read the whole book.  

About Claire Hoffman

Claire Hoffman writes for national magazines and holds a Master’s degree in Religion from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University. She was a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times and has reported for the New York Times. She serves on the board of her family foundation, the Goldhirsh Foundation, as well as ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism School. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Find out more about Claire at her website and follow her on Twitter.

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Tour Stops
Tuesday, June 7th: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, June 9th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Monday, June 13th: Life By Kristen
Wednesday, June 15th: Tina Says…
Monday, June 20th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, June 22nd: Rambling Reviews
Thursday, June 23rd: Becklist
Monday, June 27th: I Brought a Book
Monday, June 27th: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, June 28th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Wednesday, June 29th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, June 30th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Friday, July 1st: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Tuesday, July 5th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Thursday, July 7th: Book Addiction
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Buckhorn Bachelor by Lori Foster

Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: June 2016

Adam Sommerville always thought he had it all—great family in a close-knit community, worthwhile job as a high school gym teacher, and no shortage of women eager to be on his arm. But it seems his luck has suddenly run out. Because Buckhorn’s most renowned bachelor has decided it’s time to settle down—and the one woman he wants just put him firmly in the friend zone.

Hiding her true feelings from Adam has been a full-time job for the past five years, but librarian Isabella Presley is determined not to be the latest heart he breaks. The best way to get over her attraction is to find someone else to date—even if it means asking Adam for flirting tips to help her land the perfect guy. But when Adam sets out to convince her the perfect guy is him, will she face her fears for a chance at forever?

Forever ago (OK, 5 years...), I had the pleasure of reading the original "Buckhorn Brothers" series, beginning with Sawyer (read my review).  So what a pleasure it has been to be able to  head back to Buckhorn County and check in with the next generation.  A Buckhorn Bachelor is Adam's book.  It was cool to see cute little Adam from Jordan's story all grown up and ready for love.  

I really enjoyed Adam and Issy together.  Issy has been in love with Adam for a long time but has never flirted or acted on her feelings.  With a little push from Adam's cousin Amber, Issy finally goes after what she wants.  I loved Adam's "aha" moment when he realized that Issy had been in his thoughts all along.  In fact, I just plain loved the novella.

I'm not going to tell you any more.  Just go read it.  It's sweet, sexy and funny.  It will make you want to start back at the beginning.  Now I need to go and read Back to Buckhorn and A Buckhorn Summer to catch up on Garret and Lisa's stories. I really hope that Amber and Noel get a book soon! Theirs looks to be an exciting story!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

by:  Julie Cantrell
published by:  Thomas Nelson
publish date:  January 26, 2016

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

I kinda started this book with the attitude that this was going to be another Katrina story.  Perhaps, I shouldn't have let that cloud my judgement because I kept waiting for the book to be all about Katrina and it never was really.  Yeah, it does happen, but fortunately it doesn't take over the rest of the story.

The story is about the kidnapping of Sarah.  Amanda is chaperoning a school field trip with her daughter, Ellie, and her best friend Sarah.  When it starts to rain there is a mad dash for the bus and they realize Sarah didn't make it on to the bus.  She disappears without a trace.    Months go by with no sign of her.   Amanda's life is falling apart.  Her daughter is falling into a deep depression over the loss of her best friend and the guilt that she feels as the last person to see her.  Her husband has left her for a much younger woman.  What they don't know is that Sarah is out there alive and waiting for someone to find her.

This book was pretty rough.  Emotionally, it was hard core.  I think I cried through about the quarter of the book.  It's about human trafficking so there's aspect too, but it's not really graphic.  It's just sad for that poor girl.  It was a good story and it was very well written.  I would recommend this book, with the warning that it is gut wrenching.