Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Blog Tour: Excerpt of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

We are excited to be a part of the excerpt tour for THE BLACK WITCH leading up to the release of the next book in the series,  The Iron Flower!   Follow along by visiting the links below.

Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date of publication:  May 2017
Age Range: 14+ years
Grade Level: 7 and up

A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.
A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

Purchase Links

Excerpt #2:

Excerpted from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, copyright 2017 by Laurie Forest. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins Publishers.

* * *
As I round the corner of our cottage, I hear the sound of my name through the kitchen window and skid to a stop.
“Elloren is not a child anymore, Edwin.” My aunt’s voice drifts out.
I set my basket of vegetables and herbs on the ground and crouch low.
“She is too young for wandfasting,” comes my uncle’s attempt at a firm reply, a tremor of nervousness in his voice.
Wandfasting? My heart speeds up. I know that most Gardnerian girls my age are already wandfasted—magically bound to young men for life. But we’re so isolated here, surrounded by the mountains. The only girl I know who’s been fasted is Sage, and she’s up and disappeared.
“Seventeen is the traditional age.” My aunt sounds slightly exasperated.
“I don’t care if it’s the traditional age,” my uncle persists, his tone gaining confidence. “It’s still too young. She can’t possibly know what she wants at this age. She’s seen nothing of the world…”
“Because you let her see nothing of it.”
My uncle makes a sound of protest but my aunt cuts him off. “No, Edwin. What happened to Sage Gaffney should be a wake-up call for all of us. Let me take Elloren under my wing. I’ll introduce her to all the best young men. And after she is safely fasted to one of them, I’ll apprentice her with the Mage Council. You must start to take her future seriously.”
“I do take her future seriously, Vyvian, but she is still much too young to have it decided for her.”
“Edwin.” There’s a note of challenge in my aunt’s smooth voice. “You will force me to take matters into my own hands.”
“You forget, Vyvian,” my uncle counters, “that I am the eldest male of the family, and as such, I have the final say on all matters concerning Elloren, and when I am gone, it will be Rafe, not you, who will have the final say.”
My eyebrows fly up at this. I can tell my uncle is treading on thin ice if he has decided to resort to this argument—an argument I know he doesn’t actually agree with. He’s always grousing about how unfair the Gardnerian power structure is toward women, and he’s right. Few Gardnerian women have wand magic, my powerful grandmother being a rare exception. Almost all of our powerful Mages are men, our magic passing more easily along male lines. This makes our men the rulers in the home and over the land.
But Uncle Edwin thinks our people take this all too far: no wands for women, save with Council approval; ultimate control of a family always given to the eldest male; and our highest position in government, the office of High Mage, can only be held by a man. And then there’s my uncle’s biggest issue by far—the wandfast-binding of our women at increasingly younger ages.
“You will not be able to shelter her forever,” my aunt insists. “What will happen when you are gone someday, and all the suitable men have already been wandfasted?”
“What will happen is that she will have the means to make her own way in the world.”
My aunt laughs at this. Even her laugh is graceful. It makes me think of a pretty waterfall. I wish I could laugh like that. “And how, exactly, would she ‘make her own way in the world’?”
“I’ve decided to send her to University.”
I involuntarily suck in as much air as I can and hold it there, not able to breathe, too shocked to move. The pause in their conversation tells me that my aunt is probably having the same reaction.
Verpax University. With my brothers. In another country altogether. A dream I never imagined could actually come true.
“Send her there for what?” my aunt asks, horrified.
“To learn the apothecary trade.”
A giddy, stunned joy wells up inside me. I’ve been begging Uncle Edwin for years to send me. Hungry for something more than our small library and homegrown herbs. Passionately envious of Trystan and Rafe, who get to study there.
Verpax University. In Verpacia’s bustling capital city. With its apothecary laboratories and greenhouses. The fabled Gardnerian Athenaeum overflowing with books. Apothecary materials streaming into Verpacia’s markets from East and West, the country a central trade route.
My mind spins with the exciting possibilities.
“Oh, come now, Vyvian,” my uncle reasons. “Don’t look so put out. The apothecary sciences are a respectable trade for women, and it suits Elloren’s quiet, bookish nature more than the Mage Council ever could. Elloren loves her gardens, making medicines and so forth. She’s quite good at it.”
An uncomfortable silence ensues.
“You have left me with no alternative but to take a firm stand on this,” my aunt says, her voice gone low and hard. “You realize that I cannot put one guilder toward Elloren’s University tithe while she is unfasted.”
“I expected as much,” my uncle states coolly. “Which is why I have arranged for Elloren to pay her tithe through kitchen labor.”
“This is unheard of!” my aunt exclaims. Her voice turns tight and angry. “You’ve raised these children like they’re Keltic peasants,” she snipes, “and frankly, Edwin, it’s disgraceful. You’ve forgotten who we are. I have never heard of a Gardnerian girl, especially one of Elloren’s standing, from such a distinguished family, laboring in a kitchen. That’s work for Urisk, for Kelts, not for a girl such as Elloren. Her peers at University will be shocked.”
I jump in fright as something large bumps into me. I turn as my older brother, Rafe, plops down by my side, grinning widely.
“Surprise you, sis?”
It’s beyond me how someone so tall and strapping can move as quietly as a cat. I imagine his extraordinary stealth comes from all the time he spends wandering the wilds and hunting. He’s clearly just back from a hunt, his bow and quiver slung over one shoulder, a dead goose hanging upside down over the other.
I shoot my brother a stern look and hold up a finger to shush him. Aunt Vyvian and Uncle Edwin have resumed their wandfasting argument.
Rafe raises his eyebrows in curiosity, still smiling, and tilts his head toward the window. “Ah,” he whispers, bumping his shoulder into mine in camaraderie. “They’re talking about your romantic future.”
“You missed the best part,” I whisper back. “Earlier they were talking about how you would be my lord and master when Uncle Edwin is gone.”
Rafe chuckles. “Yeah, and I’m going to start my iron-fisted rule by having you do all my chores for me. Especially dishwashing.”
I roll my eyes at him.
“And I’m going to have you wandfasted to Gareth.” He continues to bait me.
My eyes and mouth fly open. Gareth, our good friend since childhood, is like a brother to me. I have no romantic interest in him whatsoever.
“What?” Rafe laughs. “You could do a lot worse, you know.” Something just over my shoulder catches his eye, and his smile broadens. “Oh, look who’s here. Hello, Gareth, Trystan.”
Trystan and Gareth have rounded the cottage’s corner and are approaching us. I catch Gareth’s eye, and immediately he flushes scarlet and takes on a subdued, self-conscious expression.
I am mortified. He obviously heard Rafe’s teasing.
Gareth is a few years older than me at twenty, broad and sturdy with dark green eyes and black hair like the rest of us. But there’s one notable difference: Gareth’s black hair has a trace of silver highlights in it—very unusual in Gardnerians, and read by many as a sign of his less-than-pure blood. It’s been the source of relentless teasing all throughout his life. “Mongrel,” “Elfling” and “Fae blood” are just a few of the names the other children called him. The son of a ship captain, Gareth stoically endured the teasing and often found solace with his father at sea. Or here, with us.
An uncomfortable flush heats my face. I love Gareth like a brother. But I certainly don’t want to fast to him.
“What are you doing?” my younger brother, Trystan, asks, confused to see Rafe and me crouched down under the window.
“We’re eavesdropping,” Rafe whispers cheerfully.
“Ren here’s about to be fasted off,” Rafe answers.
“I am not,” I counter, grimacing at Rafe, then look back up at Trystan, giddy happiness welling up. I break out into a grin. “But I am going to University.”
Trystan cocks an eyebrow in surprise. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope,” Rafe answers jovially.
Trystan eyes me with approval. I know my quiet, studious younger brother loves the University. Trystan’s the only one of us with magical power, but he’s also a talented bow maker and fletcher. At only sixteen years of age, he’s already been pre-accepted into the Gardnerian Weapons Guild and apprenticed with the military.
“That’s great, Ren,” Trystan says. “We can eat meals together.”
Rafe shushes Trystan with mock severity and motions toward the window.
Humoring us, Trystan bends his wiry frame and crouches down. Looking ill at ease, Gareth does the same.
“You’re wrong, Edwin. You can’t possibly send her to University without wandfasting her to someone first.” My aunt’s domineering tone is beginning to fray at the edges.
“Why?” my uncle challenges her. “Her brothers are unfasted. And Elloren’s not a fool.”
“Sage Gaffney wasn’t a fool, either,” my aunt cautions, her tone dark. “You know as well as I do that they let in all manner of unsuitable types: Kelts, Elfhollen…they even have two Icarals this year. Yes, Edwin, Icarals.”
My eyes fly up at this. Icaral demons! Attending University? How could that even be possible? Keltic peasants and Elfhollen are one thing, but Icarals! Alarmed, I look to Rafe, who simply shrugs.
“It’s not surprising, really,” my aunt comments, her voice disgusted. “The Verpacian Council is full of half-breeds. As is most of the University’s hierarchy. They mandate an absurd level of integration, and, quite frankly, it’s dangerous.” She gives a frustrated sigh. “Marcus Vogel will clean up the situation once he’s named High Mage.”
“If, Vyvian,” my uncle tersely counters. “Vogel may not win.”
“Oh, he’ll win,” my aunt crows. “His support is growing.”
“I really don’t see how any of this pertains to Elloren,” my uncle cuts in, uncharacteristically severe.
“It pertains to Elloren because the potential is there for her to be drawn into a wildly unsuitable romantic alliance, one that could destroy her future and reflect badly on the entire family. Now, if she was wandfasted, like almost all Gardnerian girls her age, she could safely attend University—”
“Vyvian,” my uncle persists, “I’ve made up my mind about this. I’m not going to change it.”
“Very well.” My aunt sighs with deep disapproval. “I can see you are quite decided at present, but at least let her spend the next week or so with me. It makes perfect sense, as Valgard is on the way from here to the University.”
“All right,” he capitulates wearily.
“Well,” she says, her tone brightening, “I’m glad that’s settled. Now, if my niece and nephews would kindly stop crouching under the window and come in and join us, it would be lovely to see everyone.”
Gareth, Trystan and I give a small start.
Rafe turns to me, raises his eyebrows and grins.

Like what you read so far? Buy the book here, and don’t forget to pre-order book two in The Black Witch Chronicles, The Iron Flower, on sale next month!

About Laurie Forest

Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. THE BLACK WITCH (Out Now – Harlequin TEEN, Book One of The Black Witch Chronicles) is her first novel, and WANDFASTED (THE BLACK WITCH prequel, Out Now – Harlequin TEEN) is her first e-book novella. Coming in 2018 are THE IRON FLOWER (Sept. 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, Book Two of The Black Witch Chronicles) and LIGHT MAGE (Spring 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, e-book novella).

Connect with Laurie

Excerpt Tour:
Monday, August 13th: The Romance Dish
Tuesday, August 14th: From the TBR PIle
Wednesday, August 15th: Books a la Mode
Thursday, August 16th: A Holland Reads
Friday, August 17th: 100 Pages a Day
Monday, August 20th: Rockin’ & Reviewing
Tuesday, August 21st: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, August 22nd: Books & Bindings
Thursday, August 23rd: Girls in Books
Friday, August 24th: A Dream Within a Dream
Monday, August 27th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, August 28th: What is That Book About

Monday, August 13, 2018

Blog Tour: Spotlight of Shattered Silence by Marta Perry

Author: Marta Perry
Publisher: Harlequin
Date of publication: July 2018

A woman on the run seeks sanctuary in a peaceful Pennsylvania Dutch community—and finds a protector in the most unlikely of men…

One moment Rachel Hartline is secure in her career and community. The next, she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time—watching her ex-husband commit a crime that puts her in unfathomable danger. Fear and hurt send her home to an Amish farm and the family she’s always trusted. But a private investigator is close behind—and he may be a threat to her in more ways than one…

Cold, calculating Clint Mordan isn’t convinced Rachel is as innocent in her ex-husband’s schemes as she claims, but when her ex’s enemies target Rachel, Clint is driven to keep her safe. Maybe the terror in her beautiful eyes and the target on her back aren’t an act. But as his feelings toward her deepen, Clint realizes he’s the only one who can keep Rachel alive in a game where only the killer knows the stakes.

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About the author:

Marta Perry realized she wanted to be a writer at age eight, when she read her first Nancy Drew novel. A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta to the books she writes now about the Amish. When she’s not writing, Marta is active in the life of her church and enjoys traveling and spending time with her three children and six beautiful grandchildren.

Connect with Marta

Marta Perry’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 23rd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, July 24th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, July 25th: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Wednesday, July 25th: @girlandherbooks
Friday, July 27th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Monday, July 30th: A Holland Reads – excerpt
Tuesday, July 31st: Books & Spoons
Wednesday, August 1st: Splashes of Joy
Thursday, August 2nd: Stuck in Books – excerpt
Monday, August 6th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, August 7th: Blooming with Books 
Tuesday, August 7th: What is That Book About – excerpt
Wednesday, August 8th: Mystery Suspense Reviews
Thursday, August 9th: Mel’s Shelves
Friday, August 10th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, August 13th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 14th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review: The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy

Author: Benjamin Percy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of publication: August 2017

The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:

Twelve-year-old Hannah -- who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness-- wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.

Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.

Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.

And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.

They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.

Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.

The Dark Net is another book that I have recently read that has left me on the fence.  I honestly can't say whether I liked it or not.  The synopsis was deceiving as it's more of a possible end of the world/supernatural story than a tech one. Basically there is an evil entity that is trying to end the world using the internet to do it.

The characters were mildly interesting.  Lela was probably the one I felt I got to know the best and the one I connected with the most.  The rest were kind of forgettable. They all make really stupid mistakes.  If someone tells you not to use your computer and to destroy it or you might turn into a murdering might want to listen. The story left me with a lot of questions of logistics and the tech was a bit muddled for me to understand.  The ending was OK and while there was a lot of unanswered questions, I was OK with how it ended. 

In the end, I guess it was just an OK.  I wouldn't rush out to recommend it.  But it wasn't totally awful.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review: The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault

Author: Emily Arsenault
Publisher: Soho Teen
Date of publication: June 2017

Marnie Wells knows that she creeps people out. It’s not really her fault; her brother is always in trouble, and her grandmother, who’s been their guardian since Mom took off is…eccentric. So no one even bats an eye when Marnie finds an old book about reading tea leaves and starts telling fortunes. The ceremony and symbols are weirdly soothing, but she knows—and hopes everyone else does too—that none of it’s real.

Then basketball star Matt Cotrell asks for a reading. He’s been getting emails from someone claiming to be his best friend, Andrea Quinley, who disappeared and is presumed dead. And while they’d always denied they were romantically involved, a cloud of suspicion now hangs over Matt. But Marnie sees a kindred spirit: someone who, like her, is damaged by association.

Suddenly the readings seem real. And, despite the fact that they’re telling Marnie things about Matt that make him seem increasingly dangerous, she can’t shake her initial attraction to him. In fact, it’s getting stronger. And that could turn out to be deadly.

The Leaf Reader was another random pick from my library that I ended up being pleasantly surprised with.  There is nothing like a book that keeps you guessing until the very end.  I did not call this one at all!  I haven't read a book in a while that has had me guessing for so long.  The characters were interesting, especially Marnie.  The story was well written.  Thankfully, there was no insta-love.  

It's a hard book to talk about without giving away key plot points.   Marnie and her brother live with their grandmother, G Clara.  On a whim, Marnie picked up a book about reading tea leaves.  Ever since then, she has read tea leaves for fellow students.  Some of them swear by her. Marnie isn't convinced she can really read anything in the leaves.  When a fellow student disappears, Marnie begins to see things in the leaves that may be connected.  That's all I am going to say other than to go read it.  I highly recommend it!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

Author:A.J. Banner
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of publication:  July 2018

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

In After Nightfall, Marissa hosts a party with her new fiance so they can announce their engagement to their friends.  Later that evening, her friend Lauren falls off the cliff behind the house.  Marissa is convinced that she was murdered and didn't kill herself.  

I have very mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand, I thought the mystery was pretty well planned out.  I didn't call the solution, so that was a nice surprise.  However, I had a hard time liking any of the characters.  Especially Marissa.  I did admire her drive to figure out what happened to her friend.  But when she finds out what Nathan was doing late at night, I couldn't get behind her reaction.  I don't want to spoil it, but I was seriously disappointed in how she didn't believe him.  It seemed false and kind of made me lose respect for her.  There is a small twist at the end that didn't really fit and I felt like it was thrown in for shock value.  Especially since the book just ends.

The book is well written, I just didn't love it as much as I wanted to.  It's one of those books that you will have to read and decide for yourself.

Purchase Links

About A. J. Banner

Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous novels of psychological suspense include The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife, a USA Today bestseller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and six rescued cats.

Connect with A. J. Banner

Instagram Tour:
Monday, August 6th:
Tuesday, August 7th: @chaptershoe
Wednesday, August 8th: @ladyofthelibrary
Thursday, August 9th: @prose_and_palate
Friday, August 10th: @thats_what_she_read
Saturday, August 11th: @girlandherbooks
Sunday, August 12th: @girlsinbooks

Review Tour:
Monday, August 6th: Write Read Life
Monday, August 6th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 7th: 5 Minutes for Books
Wednesday, August 8th: Bookmark Lit
Thursday, August 9th: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, August 9th: Books & Bindings
Friday, August 10th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 13th: Jessicamap Reviews and @jessicamap
Tuesday, August 14th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Wednesday, August 15th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Thursday, August 16th: @bookenetics
Thursday, August 16th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, August 17th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, August 20th: What is That Book About – author guest post
Tuesday, August 21st: Moonlight Rendezvous
Wednesday, August 22nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, August 23rd: Girl Who Reads
Friday, August 24th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Monday, August 27th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, August 28th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, August 29th: Sweet Southern Home

Blog Tour: Review of Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

Author: Rachel McMillan
Publihser: Thomas Nelson
Date of publicaton: July 2018

“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”
Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo night club.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.

Murder at the Flamingo takes you back to the 1930s when the nightclubs were packed with glamours ladies and dashing young men.  Hamish has come to Boston to live with his cousin after being humiliated in his first court case.  He is looking for a fresh start.  Reggie is a former debutante looking to escape her parents and become an independent woman.  The didn't count on getting caught up in a murder investigation.

For me, the mystery part of the book was just OK.  It wasn't too hard to figure out what was going on so that part made the book a bit slow.  What I liked most about the book were the characters.  I loved Hamish.  It's not often that you read about a male character with anxiety.  Especially one in the 1930s.  He was such a sweet guy and interesting character. I adored his conversation with his father toward the end of the book.  Reggie was intriguing as well.  A woman willing to turn her back on her pampered life in order to find herself and become independent wasn't common back the either.  She was hilarious and a strong-willed.  They are definitely characters I would want to read about again.  

Purchase Links

About Rachel McMillan

Rachel McMillan is a history enthusiast, lifelong bibliophile, and author of the Herringford and Watts series. When not reading (or writing), Rachel can be found at the theater, traveling near and far, and watching far too many British miniseries. Rachel lives in Toronto where she works in educational publishing and is always planning her next trip to Boston. 

Facebook: RachKMc1; Twitter: @RachKMc; Instagram: RachKMc.

Connect with Rachel

Instagram tour:
Monday, July 16th: @alittlebookishlife
Tuesday, July 17th: @ladyofthelibrary
Wednesday, July 18th: @thebooksellersdaughter
Thursday, July 19th: @jennblogsbooks
Friday, July 20th: @kim_reads
Saturday, July 21st: @pnwbookworm
Saturday, July 21st: @dropandgivemenerdy
Sunday, July 22nd: @brookesbooksandbrews

Review tour:
Monday, July 23rd: Reading Reality
Tuesday, July 24th: Book by Book
Wednesday, July 25th: Jessicamap Reviews and @jessicamap
Thursday, July 26th: Fiction Aficionado
Friday, July 27th: Blooming with Books
Friday, July 27th: Broken Teepee – spotlight
Tuesday, July 31st: Running Through the Storms
Wednesday, August 1st: What is That Book About – guest post/Q&A
Wednesday, August 1st: Fiction Aficionado – author Q&A
Thursday, August 2nd: By the Book
Friday, August 3rd: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, August 6th: Reader’s Cozy Corner
Tuesday, August 7th: Reflections from my Bookshelf
Wednesday, August 8th: Write Read Life
Friday, August 10th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, August 10th: The Lit Bitch
Monday, August 13th: Books & Bindings
Tuesday, August 14th: Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Wednesday, August 15th: @ladyofthelibrary

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Spotlight: America for Beginners by Leah Franqui

Author:  Leah Franqui
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: July 2018

Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.

Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.

Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pival’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week “working” vacation traveling across America be?

Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.
A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.

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About Leah Franqui
Photo by Priyam Dhar

Leah Franqui is a graduate of Yale University and received an MFA at NYU-Tisch. She is a playwright and the recipient of the 2013 Goldberg Playwriting Award, and also wrote a web series for which she received the Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting award ( A Puerto Rican-Jewish Philadelphia native, Franqui lives with her Kolkata-born husband in Mumbai. AMERICA FOR BEGINNERS is her first novel.

Find out more about Franqui at her website, and connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of Bayside Heat by Melissa Foster

Author: Melissa Foster
Publisher: World Literary Press
Date of publication: August 8, 2018

Goodreads Link:
Goodreads Series Link

Drake Savage has always done the right thing, especially where beautiful and fiercely determined Serena Mallery is concerned—even when it means keeping his feelings for her to himself. Serena has always wanted more than what their small town of Wellfleet, Massachusetts has to offer, and Drake’s roots are so deeply entrenched in the Cape, it’s all he can do to watch her pack up her life and move away.

Serena has always had big dreams. As a teenager she dreamed of becoming an interior designer and marrying smart, musically inclined, sexy-as-sin Drake Savage. Now she’s finally landed a killer job with a top interior design firm, but though she has spent the last four years working side by side with Drake, he’s never made a move. Four years is long enough for her to accept reality, and her new job in Boston is the perfect way to move on.

A weak moment leads to sizzling, sensual kisses, opening a door through which they’ve both been aching to walk. But Serena’s determined not to give up her shot at the career she’s always dreamed of, and Drake has loved her for too many years to stand in her way. With true love at their fingertips and a world of unstoppable passion igniting between them, can the two star-crossed lovers find their way to their happily ever after?

Is there anything cuter than a friend to lovers story?  You all know it's one of my favorite tropes.  Bayside Heat features one of the cutest couples I have read abour in a while.  Drake and Serena have been best buds for years.  They have also each harbored a secret attraction for the other, but never acted on it.  When Serena accepts a job in Boston, Drake finally realizes he needs to step up or lose the most important thing in his life.  But how can he do that without holding her back from her dream job?

I really enjoyed this one.  I loved the friendship between Drake and Serena.  They know each other inside and out and it made their relationship all that much more intimate.  I loved that Drake did everything he could to make sure Serena was able to leave and see if her dream job was what she wanted.  He didn't want to hold her back.  The other thing I loved about the book was the characters and their close friendships.  Violet being my favorite.  She was hilarious.  I think her book may be next.  

I did kind of have to laugh  at the way everyone was making a big deal out of a 90 minute commute between Boston and the Cape.  I work in Boston and that is my commute most days one way.  So, I guess to me that didn't seem like a huge obstacle for their relationship.  Especially since Drake's job was more flexible. 

I definitely recommend this one.  It's cute, funny, sexy and a well written book.  It's out today, so check it out!

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Author Info

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Awakened by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

Author: James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date of publication: June 2018
After years of waiting, New York's newest subway line is finally ready, an express train that connects the city with the burgeoning communities across the Hudson River. The shining jewel of this state-of-the-art line is a breathtaking visitors’ pavilion beneath the river.  Major dignitaries, including New York City’s Mayor and the President of the United States, are in attendance for the inaugural run, as the first train slowly pulls in.
Under the station’s bright ceiling lights, the shiny silver cars gleam. But as the train comes closer into view, a far different scene becomes visible.
All the train’s cars are empty.
All the cars’ interiors are drenched in blood.
As chaos descends, all those in the pavilion scramble to get out. But the horror is only beginning. High levels of deadly methane fill the tunnels. The structure begins to flood. For those who don’t drown, choke or spark an explosion, another terrifying danger awaits—the thing that killed all those people on the train. It’s out there…and it’s coming.
There's something living beneath New York City, and it's not happy we've woken it up.
Awakened was a random library pick that I ended up being pleasantly surprised with.  The book opens with a the launch of New York's latest subway line.  It's supposed to be an express to from New York to New Jersey under the Hudson river. Reporters, The President of the US and the mayor of New York are on the New Jersey platform waiting for the train to arrive.  When it does, everyone on the train is gone and only bloody hand prints remain.  

I thought this book was a fun sci-fi horror adventure.  The authors did a great job of building tension and suspense. It's bloody and gory, but I didn't mind.  I had a hard time turning the audiobook off, I was that engrossed in the story.   I loved that no one was safe. It was hard to predict who would make it out alive.  The creatures were truly creepy and not something I would want to be caught with underground. It makes you wonder what is really lurking under the subway tracks.  

There are a few twists, since the reader can't predict who is playing for which side.  I could easily see this made into a movie (if it was done right).  My only complaint is that I want to know more about the creatures and how they were first discovered.  Maybe in the next book we will get more background.

I definitely recommend this one. These two author's have done a great job with this collaboration and I look forward to reading more from them.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Right Fit by Daphne Dubois

Author: Daphne Dubois
Publication date: April 12th 2017

She’s sworn off love, he’s sworn off sex, but together they’ll score the goal of a lifetime.

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto’s hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit.

In The Right Fit, Maxine has sworn off love after being burned by her ex-fiance.  A chance meeting with Antony, a NFL player, may mean she can have her rebound affair and move on with her life.  Antony needs some good luck to help his playing and Maxine seems to be his good luck charm.

This book was a cute romance and I enjoyed it for the most part.  The best part about the story was the characters.  I loved Maxine's family, especially Westley and his friend Stuart.  They were hilarious.  Maxine and Antony's relationship was cute, but exhausting at the same time.  I loved Antony.  He was sweet and really nice.  Maxine took me a while to warm up to.  Her constant tendency to put herself down because of her weight drove me nuts.  I was pulling for her to see that she was fine just the way she was...spanx or no spanx.  At any rate, I did find myself rooting for them.



Daphne Dubois writes contemporary romance and believes the right book at the right time can make all the difference. When she's not putting her characters in compromising positions (ahem), she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer's Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Eastern Canada, the most romantic place in the world.

You can also find her writing for teens as B.R. Myers.