TLC Book Tours

TLC Book Review: Christmas at Tiffany's

Christmas at Tiffany's
Christmas at Tiffany's

Christmas at Tiffany’s, Karen Swan

Paperback: 592 pages Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 28, 2014

About the Book:What do you do when the man you pledged your life to breaks your heart and shatters your dreams? You pack your bags and travel the big, wide world to find your destiny—and your true love . . .

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

I’ll be honest...I read about 50 pages of this book and put it aside -  but NOT for the reason you think! I put it aside because it’s SO GOOD and it’s just the kind of book I love to read during the holidays. It’s fun, it has great characters that are believable, have a good backstory, and get themselves into interesting situations. It’s fat and juicy, it has a cute cover, and I’m SAVING it for those hustle bustle holiday times when I want and need the perfect book to keep me company in my soft reading chair. This is IT.

And you know I mean it because I’m writing in all capitals- internet shouting in a very good way.

Buy yourself a copy (here!) and put it away as a little Christmas present for YOU. When the cold winds of December howl, when the holiday crowds drive you crazy, when family demands make you nuts, then go home, brew yourself some hot tea or stir up a hot toddy and grab Christmas at Tiffany’s.

I can’t wait to do just that.

About the Author: Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

Thanks, TLC Book tours, for the opportunity to enjoy this book! I’m looking forward to it.

TLC Book Tour: Prism

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PRISM, by Roland Allnach

Paperback: 282 pages

Publisher: All Things That Matter Press (July 3, 2014)

Prism presents the best of Roland Allnach’s newest stories together with his most acclaimed published short fiction. These selected stories fracture the reader’s perceptions among a dazzling array of genres and styles to illuminate the mysterious aspects of the human experience. Roland Allnach has been described as a ‘star on the rise’ (ForeWord Clarion), ‘a master storyteller with a powerful pen’ (Cynthia Brian, NY Times Bestselling author), with writing that is ‘smart, elegant, and addicting’ (San Francisco Review).

Prism collects seventeen stories into one volume, following a trail of diverse genres and narrative forms. From literary fiction to speculative fiction, from humor to horror, from tragedy to mythical poetry, Prism represents a wide ranging journey united by contemplations on the human condition. Including Allnach’s award winning published fiction (“Conquest’s End” and “The City of Never”), a Pushcart Prize nominated story (“Creep”), Prism also consists of the previously unpublished pieces “Titalis” (a tragedy along the lines of Shakespeare and Greek theatre), “Of Typhon and Aerina” (a tribute to epic verse), “Tumbleweed” (a humorous ditty), and “Dissociated”, a surreal short to cap off the collection.

I’ve been on a short story binge lately (Olive Kitteridge, Strange Love), so the timing was good for me to read/review this collection for TLC Book Tours.

There are seventeen stories in this volume, and they cover the gamut of genres and narrative forms. There’s everything from literary fiction, humor, horror, tragedy, mythical poetry. The author portrays human experience in every form, and his writing style is smart and sometimes edgy. And while the collection demonstrates a deep breadth of imagination and perception, I found it difficult reading in one sitting. Perhaps the fault is mine - having read several collections of linked stories, I had trouble staying focused with the kaleidoscopic nature of these varied stories and characters, who portray many of the dark sides of human nature.

I think readers who enjoy an eclectic mix of genres and are interested in the darker facets of humanity would likely find Prism a more satisfying book than I did.

About the Author:

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Roland Allnach, after working twenty years on the night shift in a hospital, has witnessed life from a slightly different angle. He has been working to develop his writing career, drawing creatively from literary classics, history, and mythology. His short stories, one of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, have appeared in many publications. His first anthology, Remnant, blending science fiction and speculative fiction, saw publication in 2010. Remnant was followed in 2012 by Oddities & Entities, a collection spanning horror, supernatural, paranormal, and speculative genres. Both books have received unanimous critical praise and have been honored with a combined total of twelve national book awards, including honors from National Indie Excellence, Foreword Reviews, and Readers’ Favorite. Prism marks Roland’s third stand alone publication.

When not immersed in his imagination, Roland can be found at his website, rolandallnach.com, along with a wealth of information about his stories and experiences as an author. Writing aside, his joy in life is the time he spends with his family.

You can also find Roland on Facebook.

You can find PRISM on Goodreads, and you can purchase it from Amazon and IndieBound and Barnes & Noble.

TLC Book Tours: Last Night at the Blue Angel

Last Night at the Blue Angel“My mother’s feelings are the curb I walk, trying to keep my balance, and I get tired of it, being careful, and mad at her at the same time. But then she takes my hand and smiles at me. You’re my favorite, she says. And suddenly I’m on solid footing again, struck smooth, the moment perfect, our life perfect, and me, perfectly loved.” from Last Night at the Blue Angel, by Rebecca Rotert This debut novel is an intensely moving portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, told largely from the point of view of a precocious 10 year old named Sophia, who has grown up standing in the wings of various nightclubs listening to her mother Naomi perform the jazz music she loves so much. Sophia’s voice is so endearing: she is at once needy and strong, smart and innocent, haunted and fearless. She is desperately seeking stability, love, and family, but is also afraid of it, keeping herself in the shadows of it like a feral cat.

Naomi lives for her music, for the possibility of fame, which she thinks will “solve everything.” When faced with true love, she throws it away every time, yearning for a normal life, but also afraid of it, afraid she will disappear, become powerless, dependent on a man.

This character driven novel really drew me in from the first page. Rotert’s writing is evocative and reaches the readers deepest emotions. Naomi and Sophia both "depend on the kindness of strangers,” and the supporting cast of characters (which includes a nun and a transvestite) are engaging and well drawn.

This is a novel to savor, and one that shows great promise. I look forward to reading more from this author in years to come.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this novel.

Connect with the author here: Twitter.

Buy the book here:  AmazonIndieBound, and Barnes & Noble.

The Reading Life: The In-Between Hour

 The-In-Between-Hour-194x300The In-Between Hour, by Barbara Claypole White Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (December 31, 2013)

Publisher’s Summary: Bestselling author Will Shepard is caught in the twilight of grief, after his young son dies in a car accident. But when his father’s aging mind erases the memory, Will rewrites the truth. The story he spins brings unexpected relief…until he’s forced to return to rural North Carolina, trapping himself in a lie.

Holistic veterinarian Hannah Linden is a healer who opens her heart to strays but can only watch, powerless, as her grown son struggles with inner demons. When she rents her guest cottage to Will and his dad, she finds solace in trying to mend their broken world, even while her own shatters.

As their lives connect and collide, Will and Hannah become each other’s only hope—if they can find their way into a new story, one that begins with love.

 

If it sounds like the characters of this novel have a lot on their plates -well, they do. Author Will Shephard has been dealt a double whammy, between the sudden loss of his five year old son and his aging father’s descent into dementia. In addition, Will still has unresolved feelings about his mother, whose mental instability made his youth miserable. Meanwhile, Hannah Linden is desperately trying to save her grown son from his own demons and from following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who committed suicide.

The summary of this novel pushed all my interest buttons - caring for an aging parent, adult children with mental illness, dealing with grief - and I wasn’t disappointed on any level. It was a compelling, well researched novel, with complex and believable characters.  And setting the novel in the North Carolina foothills provided the author with an opportunity to use the natural surroundings to enhance the mood. The title of the piece refers to the time of day between daylight and dusk, the time once know as “the gloaming,” and many of the characters find themselves at such a period on their lives, at a crossroads between light and dark.

The intersection of Will and Hannah’s lives was my favorite aspect of the story. Merging two disparate lifestyles as well as the very demanding needs of family members is a daunting task for any couple, but the reader is left feeling as if they will indeed be able to manage it, and provide each other with some much needed stability for the journey.

Barbara Claypole White writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina.  Her son’s battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have inspired her to write love stories about damaged people. The In-Between Hour goes a step beyond most conventional women’s fiction, with it’s authentic focus on the havoc mental illness can create within a family, and the legacy it leaves for generations to come.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this novel.

TLC Book Tours: Stargazey Point

stargazey pointEroded beaches, a non-existent tourist trade, and skyrocketing property taxes...this is what Abbie Sinclair stumbles into when she goes to Stargazey Point to recover from a traumatic event. Devastated by her own personal tragedy, Abbie thinks she has nothing left to give, but is slowly drawn into the lives of the people of Stargazey Point - the three elderly Crispin siblings and their struggle to stay in their historic beachfront home; the young, handsome architect, Cab Reynolds, who left behind a successful  career to refurbish his uncle's antique carousel; and a motley crew of children who touch Abbie's heart in a variety of ways. Before she knows it, Abbie is helping the people of Stargazey Point revitalize their dreams. In doing so, she's surprised to find her own dreams for life rekindled and even more surprised to find a place she might call home.

Author Shelly Noble's novel is an insightful, hopeful look at the way we can recover from what seems insurmountable tragedy.  I'm always impressed by the human spirit at work, and the way an ordinary group of people can achieve extraordinary things when they come together for a common goal, whatever it may be. Stargazey Point is a novel about just this kind of effort, and I was immediately drawn into the story and interested to see what would become of each character.

Stargazey Point is another perfect summer read...so grab a copy and enjoy it while there's still some summer left.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.