Blind Spot Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway)

"It's a story about how sometimes we fail to see things that are right in front of us."

Since You've Been Gone (Review)

"fabulous, wonderful, endearing, amazing story"

Dissected by Megan Bostic (Blog Tour)

"Powerful & Thought Provoking"

In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Review)

"This is going on my favorites shelf and I will probably reread it again in the future."

Blog Tour: Hungry by H.A. Swain (Review + Giveaway)

"Hungry is a captivating and thought-provoking story set in a fascinating world."

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Review))

"All-in-all, a perfect summer read and you should totally pick up these books, if you haven't already!"

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (Review)

"The Edge of Falling is a beautifully told story, both in plot and writing."

Hexed by Michelle Krys (Review)

"Hexed was just the thing that I needed to get back into the reading world."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Learhoven (Guest Post, Review, Giveaway)



Genre:
Adult, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery
Publication.Date  April 15th 2014
Pages:256
Published By:  Pegasus Books
AuthorBob van Laerhoven

Baudelaire's Revenge on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:



It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil.

As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and seances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire's controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet's exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind's Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III.

A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.

(Goodreads)


"A mind-reading murderer. How appropriate on a night like this."
I wonder how other people look back at their younger years. Mine was filled with half-truths, painful desires, and contradictory illusions. The world around me was shrouded in mystery. A man wasn't a creature of flesh and blood but a symbol to which I would have to subject myself sooner or later. I wasn't really sure what that meant, since I had only witnessed love and hatred between women. Fancy fairytales about kings and princesses made the rounds in the monastery. They often ended in mutilation and trickery.




     I don't think I've ever read a Parisian crime novel, and if I did, well, clearly it wasn't very memorable. That being said, I do love a good murder mystery and even more so if it's set against a fascinating, rich historical background and spiced up with a healthy dose of intelligent, dark humor. 

     Baudelaire's Revenge makes for an exquisite and addictive read. The setting is fabulous, the lead character anything but dull and boring (he's a real firecracker despite his age!), and the brutality of Franco-Prussian War makes for an interesting backdrop to a blood chilling murder investigation involving a serial killer leaving lines from Charles Baudelaire's anthology Les Fleurs du Mal next to his victims' bodies. And in the recently deceased poet's own handwriting. Well, if this isn't an exciting and thrilling read then I don't know what is. 

     The man in charge of the investigation is commissioner Lafevre, a sharp and robust 53-year-old man, a lover of poetry with a strong "predilection for ladies of ill repute." When we first meet him, Lafevre is on his way to a brothel (to, um, "feed the reptile", you know), but when he arrives there, instead of a night filled with bodily pleasures, he discovers a a body - first in a series of bodies trailing a diabolical, seemingly unstoppable killer. And, in the words of commissioner Lefevre himself, "his plans for a night snuggled up against mystifying Claire de la Lune (go) up in smoke."

     Baudelaire's Revenge explores some of the darkest corners of human soul and psyche, and it does it in an utmost flamboyant fashion. It is an astoundingly substantial and complex novel for its 256 pages, and it really shines a new light on certain (often shocking and yet mesmerizing) events and aspects of life in the 19th century France. Abundant in social metaphors and cleverly narrated, it's a novel fun to read but also one that leaves you craving more, wanting to learn more about the time period and the people. Especially Charles Baudelaire himself, whom I always thought to be completely fascinating. 

     The novel is a dark one, heavily influenced by Charles Bodelaire's controversial, brilliant persona. Van Laerhoven paints a vivid and disturbing picture of the society in 19th century France, with the enormous gap between the wealthy and the poor. Dangerous working conditions and starvation of the working class is contrasted with the decadent, perfumed and scandalous lives of the rich ones. The air is heavy with rot and despair, people are scared and desperate, and the threat of a vengeful murderer on the loose adds to the already intensely terrifying atmosphere of the time. 

     This is not a light and easy to read crime novel. It's heavy and suffocating, but it's also curious and illuminating. Thought provoking. I loved the period appropriate language, the gruesomely detailed descriptions and, most of all, the beautifully rendered world, bursting with flavor and intensity. I really hope there is more where this came from, I need this to be a series of books, I can't stand to part with this bold, deeply sensual, deliciously gothic world. I need more.


Guest Post:


THE DOVE OF PEACE


Feathered Friend. That’s the name I chose for the stray pigeon that one day walked into our stables right between the legs of our horses, cooing kwok as if to say: “Is there anything to eat in this dump?” Our two Jack Russell’s Louise and Thelma looked suspiciously at the bird and in their canine brains I saw a resolution forming: will we attack now or will we attack later?

I forbade them to come near when FF appears for her breakfast, supper and diner.

After a few days, the dove and I understood each other perfectly. Kwok means: “I’m hungry”. Kwok kwok: “I’m starving, get a move on.”

When FF has eaten her stomach close to bursting, she spends time eyeing the horses inquisitively and seems to find delight in evading their hooves at the very last moment. At their turn they study the bird, their boney heads near to the ground, their eyes full of wonder. The canines sit on their haunches, looking alternatively at the scene and at me: we understand: no attack. But still we wonder how it would taste, that creature that’s even smaller than we are.

And I watch this tableau with a sense of gratitude and blessing.

It helps me to forget the past.

For thirteen years, as a travelling writer in war-torn countries, I have witnessed how vile this world can be. In those days, I thought I could endure the violence, the tragically wounded, the misery, the suffering. It was only years afterwards that I realized how wrong I was. Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Iran, Mozambique, Burundi, Liberia, Gaza, Burma, Lebanon, (I could go on) tattooed my soul with deep cuts that took years to surface.

And when they did, they broke my will to live.

My “beautiful girls” Archimeda, a pure bred Arabian roan, Bruja, a coal black Argentine, and the reddish quarter horse Trigger are an antidote against this bleak outlook. With their sharply honed instincts, they can feel that something in me needs repair. These pure souls guard me against my sadness by just standing there, very close to me, sighing deeply now and then, shuddering from time to time as if to say: was it so sad and vicious?

In turn, I open my heart for their grief. Horses can cry. I have witnessed it. At those moments, my whole being reaches out for them. Archimeda is very sensitive, easily frightened, being elevated by a man who did not understand her delicate character. He thought she could not be handled. How wrong he was. Archimeda is the sweetest thing when being treated with kindness. She weeps for the times that she was out of control with fright and confusion. I have been frightened many times and I look into her eyes to let her know that. After this sharing Archimeda feels like newborn and we play a game of hoppa hoppa, me chasing her with Indian-like war-cries. She absolutely loves that and gets all excited, snorting and showing her strength and agility. Before we bought her, Bruja has been a horse ball steed. She was being treated very roughly with the whip and the reins. She has scars where the bit has cut into her mouth. I caress them and Bruja nuzzles me. I tell her I have seen many frightful wounds on humans and that the days of suffering for her are over, that she can rely on my love and respect. In answer, she sighs deeply, her under lip quivering, a tear in her eye. And precisely then, as if she feels her presence is warranted, young Trigger comes to us and with her reddish eyes and her funny ways she brightens us all. We had Trigger since she was a foal and she has no trauma whatsoever. The only thing she knows is love, and she returns it royally. She has a sense of humor. When Trigger is alarmed by something, she plants her hooves firmly on the ground and looks at me as if to say: will we attack now or will we attack later?

On these occasions, I softly say to Trigger, winking at Bruja and Archimeda, Feathered Friend and my two little rascals Thelma and Louise: Easy, sister, don’t forget we have the Dove of Peace in our midst…

Giveaway:

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About the Author


Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991 and has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2005. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, books for young adults, theatre pieces, biographies, poetry, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best thriller of the year with his novel De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.

For more information please visit Bob Van Laerhoven’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Tour schedule:

Monday, October 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, October 7
Review at Shelly’s Book Shelves

Saturday, October 11
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Monday, October 13
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Booklover Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 15
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Friday, October 17
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, October 18
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book

Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, October 23
Review at Bookish

Friday, October 24
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post & Giveaway at Bookish

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Feature and Follow: Please Don't Die


The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Characters, sometimes our favorites, die during books. If you'd get to choose, who would you bring back?

The very first character that pops into my head is from a book that released in July and since it's still so new I'm not going to say the book or the character. Just know that I cried and cried and cried.

I'm going to play this week safe. I don't want to inadvertently ruin/spoil a book for someone in case they haven't read it yet. And let's be honest, telling somebody of a character's death is a pretty big spoiler.

I'm going to go with an answer I have a feeling many of us are going to choose:


I'll give J.K. Rowling Sirius and Dumbledore - maybe even Dobby - as the death of those characters essentially lit fires under everybody's asses. I can see their deaths as plot enhancers, motivations for these characters to really strengthen up and fight Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

But Freddie? Fred Weasley? No. That one I'll never understand.

If you really feel like ripping your heart out, be sure to check out this BuzzFeed article: 29 Times Tumblr Made “Harry Potter” Fans Cry All Over Again. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Which characters death do wish had never happened? You can follow us however you like, just make sure to leave me a comment below with a link to your blog so I can visit! :)

  
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour: The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield (Review)



Genre:
Adult, Thriller, Mystery 
Publication.Date  October 14th 2014
Pages:384
Published By:  Gallery Books
AuthorSophie Littlefield

The Missing Place on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


Twenty-year-old Taylor Jarvis and Paul Carroll go missing in Weir, North Dakota, where they have been working on rigs owned by Oasis Energy. The boys stayed in Black Creek Lodge, a ?man camp? providing room and board. The mothers of the two boys come to Weir to find out what happened to their sons and form an uneasy alliance. Shay Jarvis, a 41-year-old single grandmother, has more grit than resources; for wealthy suburban housewife Colleen Carroll, the opposite is true. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, they question each other's methods and motivations - but there is no one else to help, and they must learn to work together if they are to have any chance of breaking through the barriers put up by their sons? employer, the indifference of an overtaxed police department, and a town of strangers with their own secrets against a backdrop of a modern day gold rush.

(Goodreads)


"Andy wanted me to wait. He said...he said we should give Paul a few more days, it was probably all a misunderstanding."
"Fuck that," Shay said before she could stop herself. "You're the mom. You know when something's wrong."
Give him back. You have to give him back to me.




     The Missing Place is equal parts tense and thrilling mystery and heartbreaking drama. This is a story of two mothers joining their forces to find their missing sons, or at least discover what happened to them. Personally, I think anyone can enjoy a well written mystery such as this one, but, undoubtedly, mom-readers will find it particularly riveting. 

     I enjoyed the mystery part - it was well constructed and satisfying, even if slightly far-fetched in some aspects - but it's the family drama, the crippling despair of not knowing where your child is and what happened to them, the grief and pain and desperate attempts at holding on to one's sanity while pushing through and fighting against - what felt like - the whole world that really hit me hard and resonated with me deeply. I can not imagine ever finding myself in a similar situation, but I know that just like Shay and Colleen I would stop at nothing to get my child back. Sophie Littlefield did an amazing job evoking all the heartbreaking feelings of fear, desperation, longing and burning need to hold your child in your arms one more time

     Both Shay and Colleen are characters I could easily relate to. They're almost polar opposites - they come from different economical backgrounds, they're personalities are far apart, they think differently and they each struggle with different things in their lives - but amazingly, right from the get go they are a team, they support each other in ways no other two human beings who only just met would ever be able to. And it was such an amazing connection to witness! The character development in The Missing Place is very thorough and well thought out, and serves to further enhance the heartbreak and the drama of this story. The contrasting lives of the two mothers sometimes get in the way, but ultimately their differences make them stronger a team, more powerful and focused. I particularly enjoyed watching them get to know each other.

     While I was aware of the North Dakota oil boom, I was not familiar with the problems surrounding it, particularly the fact that it attracted so many people hoping to make money, and how these people were often times exploited by large, greedy corporations. I really enjoyed reading about the corruption and social injustice, the cover-ups, work accidents and disappearances that either no one cared about, or someone powerful cared about too much for it to ever see the light of the day. It was fascinating and very illuminating, and it definitely added a thought-provoking and disquieting layer to the mystery and the drama

     To me, this is a character driven story, though the mystery is definitely a complex, multi-layer and often times surprising one. All that makes it a very satisfying, profoundly affecting read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys deftly plotted, captivating, emotionally powerful stories with a subtle touch of corporate greed to spice it up.


About the Author









Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Sophie's first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2009) has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree awards, and won the Anthony Award and the RTBookReviews Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her novel AFTERTIME was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Horror award.
Tour schedule:

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Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Review + Giveaway)


Series:
Standalone
Genre:
Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Publication.Date:September 20, 2014
Pages:368 (hardcover)
Published By:  Harlequin Teen
Website:Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:



In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

(Goodreads)



The adults are shaking their head. Behind me Miss Freeman mutters something to Mr. Stern about "setting back the movement."

I have to stop myself from snorting. What business is it of Miss Freeman's, or any of theirs? They weren't in that room with Paulie when it happened. They didn't get detention from the principal for trying to help their friend, like I did yesterday. They aren't getting called names all day by angry white people, like all of us are.
I thought it had to be that way. That I had no choice but to stay quiet, with only my own thoughts to keep me company. I never thought there was any other way to live.

Until I met Linda.
When I was Bobby's age, during the war, there used to be blackouts. I'm too little to really remember it, but Mama told me stories. I used to get so scared I'd cry for hours, walking around the dark house, bumping into things, thinking I saw monsters lurking in every corner.

But I'm not a little girl anymore. The monsters that lurk now are real. And I can't let them see that I'm afraid.


A couple weeks ago I watched Lee Daniels' The Butler and found myself in awe of the way blacks were treated from the 1920-2010. Not only is this an amazing movie, but to watch our history through the eyes of Cecil Gaines is simply fascinating. Not long after this, I was approached to review Lies We Tell Ourselves and knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity to read more about this subject.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is both amazing and heartbreaking. There were many times while I was reading it that Joe would comment on the concerned looks on my face. I couldn't believe some of the things that were happening to these students.

Sarah and nine other students from Johns High School had volunteered to be the first to integrate into Jefferson High School. The school is starting late as the governor closed all the schools that were court ordered to integrate. If that isn't sickening enough, from the very first day these ten students have to face racism and injustice from not only their peers but also some of the teachers.

Paper is thrown at them. Awful words said their way. They are followed and harassed from class to class and once they're in class, all the white students move away from them due to their "smell." They're aren't just treated as lower human beings, they're treated as lower lifeforms. 

While I know that Sarah and Linda are fictional, they're strength is something I cannot but help admire. Sarah goes to Jefferson High everyday, attempting to block out the negative things said and done to her, with her head held high. She is going through what may be the most difficult and horrifying part of her life but she remains strong and knows that what she is doing will change the country for future generations. And despite her daily fear, she continues to fight.

Linda begins the story insisting that the students integrating are instigators and they're the ones at fault for everything. She is a popular white girl whose father runs the local newspaper and promotes segregation with every breath in his body. Slowly, through her interaction with Sarah, Linda begins to show her doubt and uncertainty regarding segregation. It's amazing to see Linda's transformation from somebody who believes "separate but equal" to an individual who learns that skin color has nothing to do with personality. That her black classmates are not lesser than her and her friends, but just as capable and in some cases better than those surrounding her.

The lesbian angle is interesting as well. Not only are these two young girls going against the social norms of blacks and whites, but they are going against their moral/religious ones as well. They acknowledge to themselves that they have feelings for one another, but worry about God's view on their feelings.

While I understand that there are unfortunately still cases of racism and bigotry in today's world, reading about it during a time when the behavior was "normal" and "accepted" really opens your eyes to the fight this group of people went through just to obtain the same rights as white individuals. To see the things people believed in - their black will get on you if you touch them, they're brains don't work the same, they're of lower class and moral fiber - is sickening.

I love Lies We Tell Ourselves. The story is incredibly moving. The characters strong, smart, and real. This isn't just a book about growing up black and white or going to school in a newly integrated school in Virginia, or about being gay in the late 1950s. Lies We Tell Ourselves is about growing up and learning to think for ourselves and not what everybody around us is telling us to think. It's about finding our voice when other try to squash it. It's about standing up for what we believe in, for what is right. It's about friendship and love. And it's something you definitely shouldn't miss out on reading.





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