Friday, January 30, 2015

Giveaway: Give Books Not Roses

Summary: Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can't be resolved with Sarah's remedies-a woman who, in Sarah's mind, would flourish anywhere other than where she lives. Meanwhile, as Sarah's relatives attempt a little matchmaking between her and a visiting Amish man, she struggles to let God show her His choice of partner and not allow her friendship with her neighbor, Henry Byler, to grow into anything more.

Henry has seen some success as a potter since a major store commissioned his work for their catalog. But the trouble is they want to market him as Amish. Though he was raised in the faith and lives in Amish country, Henry has never joined church and doesn't plan to. Which also means, despite the attraction between them, he must keep his distance from Sarah. But what will happen when Sarah and Henry are called upon to help a runaway whose Englisch family is blind to how lost their son has become? The plant Sarah calls Keys of Heaven can grow in impossible places, but it's hard for people to find their own place, which creates quite a temptation for Sarah to take matters into her own hands... -- Faith Words

Summary: Rita Jansen is living her dream as a hairstylist in Hollywood when her father calls with news that her mother has suffered a stroke. When she gets home to Chicago, Rita finds her mother is healing but facing a long recovery. Worse, without being able to run their family-owned salon, her mother could lose the business. Rita decides to help, but she only has until Valentine's Day to come up with a plan.

As Rita takes her mother's place at work, the nearby skating rink she loved as a child brings back fond memories. Rita also finds herself renewing friendships with her childhood best friend, Marley, as well as her classmate Johnny. Although they now lead such seemingly different lives, Rita is surprised by how well she and Johnny connect and how far he will go to help her. Though Rita believes Johnny is only being kind, with romance kindling in the air and on the ice, their friendship may just fall into something more. -- Center Street

I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of flowers for Valentine's Day. My husband doesn't quite get it, but I'd rather have something that lasts longer than a few days.... like books! What is more perfect than getting a set of romantic books along with a chocolate bar for Valentine's Day?

I am so excited to say that the fine folks at Hachette Books are sponsoring this Give Books Not Roses giveaway. I have copies of KEYS OF HEAVEN by Adina Senft and LOVE GENTLY FALLING by Melody Carlson along with a delicious chocolate bar by Olive & Sinclair Chocolate.

To enter, just fill our form below before February 9th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

Barnes & Noble:

Barnes & Noble:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Giveaway: An Appetite for Violets

Summary: “That’s how it is for us servants. No one pays you much heed; mostly you're invisible as furniture. Yet you overhear a conversation here, and add a little gossip there. Then you find something, something you should not have found.”

Irrepressible Biddy Leigh, under-cook at forbidding Mawton Hall, only wants to marry her childhood sweetheart and set up her own tavern. But when her elderly master marries young Lady Carinna, Biddy is unwittingly swept up in a world of scheming, secrets, and lies. Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, she documents her adventures and culinary discoveries in an old household book of recipes, The Cook’s Jewel. Biddy grows intrigued by her fellow travelers, but her secretive and unconventional mistress is the most intriguing of all.

In London, Biddy finds herself attracted to her mistress’s younger brother. In France, she discovers her mistress’s dark secret. At last in Italy, Biddy becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, knowing the secrets she holds could be a key to a better life, or her downfall.

Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes and set at the time of the invention of the first restaurants, An Appetite for Violets is a literary feast for lovers of historical fiction. Martine Bailey's novel opens a window into the fascinating lives of servants, while also delivering a suspenseful tale of obsession and betrayal. -- Thomas Dunne

Don't let the cover of AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS by Martine Bailey fool you! Initially I thought this book looked like a sweet piece of historical fiction, but upon further review, I think this sounds like one juicy novel. There are secrets, obsessions and betrayals -- I can't wait to read it!

In the meantime, I am so excited that the fine folks at St. Martin's Press are sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS. To enter, just fill out the form below before February 11th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guest Review: Busted

Summary: In the vein of Erin Brockovich, The Departed, and T. J. English's Savage City comes Busted, the shocking true story of the biggest police corruption scandal in Philadelphia history, a tale of drugs, power, and abuse involving a rogue narcotics squad, a confidential informant, and two veteran journalists whose reporting drove a full-scale FBI probe, rocked the City of Brotherly Love, and earned a Pulitzer Prize. 

In 2003, Benny Martinez became a Confidential Informant for a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's narcotics squad, helping arrest nearly 200 drug and gun dealers over seven years. But that success masked a dark and dangerous reality: the cops were as corrupt as the criminals they targeted. 

In addition to fabricating busts, the squad systematically looted mom-and-pop stores, terrorizing hardworking immigrant owners. One squad member also sexually assaulted three women during raids. Frightened for his life, Martinez turned to Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker. 

Busted chronicles how these two journalists—both middle-class working mothers—formed an unlikely bond with a convicted street dealer to uncover the secrets of ruthless kingpins and dirty cops. Professionals in an industry shrinking from severe financial cutbacks, Ruderman and Laker had few resources—besides their own grit and tenacity—to break a dangerous, complex story that would expose the rotten underbelly of a modern American city and earn them a Pulitzer Prize. A page-turning thriller based on superb reportage, illustrated with eight pages of photos, Busted is modern true crime at its finest. -- Harper

Booking Pap Pap gently reminded me that I forgot to post his review for BUSTED: A TALE OF CORRUPTION AND BETRAYAL IN THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker. I am so glad he caught my misstep because this book looks terrific. Here are his thoughts!

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, investigative reporters for the Philadelphia Daily News, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their series on a corrupt police narcotics squad. BUSTED: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love tells the story of a real newspaper investigation.

The story begins in December, 2008 when Benny Martinez entered the newsroom to talk about his activity as a police informant, a “job” that had recently put his life in danger. Martinez claimed that he worked for narcotics police officer Jeff Cujdik who often asked Martinez to provide fake information in order to get search warrants to raid homes of suspected drug dealers. Ruderman and Laker followed up on the stories Martinez told them and were able to verify the facts sufficiently to write the initial installment of their investigation called “TAINTED JUSTICE”. The reporters learned that the narcotics squad led by Cujdik also raided bodegas where they destroyed security cameras, stole cash and merchandise and intimidated owners and their families. The owners of these small corner stores were mostly immigrants and hesitated to report these actions to the police. The fact that these owners were of different nationalities and told the same story to the reporters, coupled with a recording of one raid, added the credibility necessary to write additional stories.

Ruderman and Laker also discovered that one cop, Officer Tom Tolstoy, was accused by several women of molestation during the raids. As the reporters tracked down leads they were able to publish ten installments to the series over a ten month period. The stories led to an FBI investigation and the transfer of several officers from the street to desk duty. Ruderman and Laker met with much hate mail and threats because people saw the series as a criticism of police work at a time when the city of Philadelphia police was experiencing an all-time high in policemen deaths. The reporters also faced many serious risks on the street as they tracked leads.

BUSTED gives the reader a behind the scenes look at a real newspaper investigation with both humorous and horrible stories. Adding to the drama was the Daily News’ bankruptcy filing with its associated employee and cost cutbacks. The authors also added a human aspect to the book as the reader gets a look at their personal lives and the impact of the investigation on their family and friends.

It’s kind of sad to learn that the FBI investigation led to no criminal charges and it wasn’t until 2014 that the Philadelphia Police Department took action by firing Cujdik and placing three other officers on 30 day suspensions. Tolstoy’s sexual abuse allegations are still under investigation.

If you’re interested in reading about a real old-fashioned newspaper investigation you will enjoy reading BUSTED.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Giveaway: A Very Valentine's Giveaway

Valentine's Day will be here before you know it and I have just the thing to get you "in the mood!" Thanks to the fine folks at Harlequin, I have an amazing Valentine's Giveaway! Just check out these great prizes:

o 1 finished copy of each:
o Limited edition Harlequin notebook
o $25.00 Victoria Secret gift card

To enter, just fill out the form below before February 1st at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify a winner the following day. This contest is open to US address entries only (due to gift card). Good luck!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kid Konnection: Everything I Need to Know About Love

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a fun book that's perfect for Valentine's Day!

Summary: Next in the EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW... series comes a book perfect for your valentine, your family, or YOU. Charming and witty as ever, this new treasury of insights reveals that, for all the love-related mystery and confusion we face as adults, those Little Golden Books may have had the answers all along. -- Random House BFYR

A few months ago, I shared with you a cute book called EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHRISTMAS I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK by Diane Muldrow. I loved how this book reminded me of some of my favorite childhood reads while also offering some wonderful wisdom for dealing with the holidays.

So you can imagine how excited I was to open a package containing EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK. This book is adorable and absolutely perfect for Valentine's Day. I think I had a big smile on my face the entire time I read this book. It's funny and full of wisdom, but it also has many precious illustrations from some classic Little Golden Books.

I honestly don't know what I appreciate more about this book -- the advice on love and relationships or the pictures of the classic characters. In EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK, you will see favorites including the Tawny Scrawny Lion, the Little Fat Policeman, and the Saggy Baggy Elephant.

I also really love reminiscing about so many books that I loved as a child. In EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK, you will find illustrations from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, TOOTLE, THE PAPER DOLL WEDDING, and A DAY AT THE FARM to name just a few. I even discovered books that I had long forgotten like GOOD-BYE, TONSILS. Isn't it sweet that this book allows you to share memories and pictures of your childhood books with your kids?

In addition to the special characters and illustrations, you will also receive plenty of solid advice about love -- both the good and the bad aspects. You will be warned about the "wolves" out there, but you will also be reminded to never forget your friends! I was pleasantly surprised by how many words of wisdom are packed into this cute little book.

One thing I should probably point out is that EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK is longer than the traditional Little Golden Books. It's actually 96 pages, so when I say there is a great deal of advice and some great illustrations from classic stories, I'm not kidding!

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK is a terrific book and would make a wonderful Valentine's gift for someone special in your life. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: House Broken

Summary: In this compelling and poignant debut novel, a woman skilled at caring for animals must learn to mend the broken relationships in her family.…

For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.

Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.

Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive. -- NAL Accent

If you are a regular follower of my blog, then you might have noticed that I'm in a bit of a reading slump. Initially, I blamed the holidays, but now that they are long gone, I'm realizing that it's me. I just don't have the time or even the desire some days to sit down and read. It's almost like I can't focus on books or writing right now -- hopefully it's a phase, right?

Anyway... I recently read a book titled HOUSE BROKEN by Sonja Yoerg that I did enjoy quite a bit, and it most definitely wasn't a chore for me! This novel tells the story of Geneva, a mom and veterinarian, that is finally coming to terms with her relationships with her mother and family.

Geneva began distancing herself from Helen, her mother, in her teens when it was apparent that she was not making good decisions about her life; however, after a drunk driving accident injures Helen, Geneva reluctantly decides to take her into her home while she recovers. She was concerned about the effect it would have on her family, especially her two impressionable teens, but her husband convinced her it was the right thing to do. Maybe, just maybe, it was time for Helen and Geneva to "fix" their relationship.

It's no surprise to Geneva that her mother hasn't changed and is still making some very selfish choices. But what Geneva discovers is that her mother has been covering up a lot of horrific family secrets. Geneva is forced to face the truth about her past while also trying to keep her family together.

I thought HOUSE BROKEN was both an intriguing and touching story about one very dysfunctional family... and I do appreciate stories about messed-up families. I was very impressed with Ms. Yoerg's writing, and I was surprised to learn that this is her first novel. She has a unique ability to weave a story that way always interesting, and at the same time, create some well-developed characters. I am looking forward to seeing what's next for this very promising author.

There were quite a few things that I enjoyed about HOUSE BROKEN, but what stood out to me was the way the author revealed the story. It didn't take long for me to start figuring out some of the dirty secrets from Helen's past and Geneva's childhood; however, there was so much more to their story that did catch me off-guard. I loved how complex the story was -- it was almost a mystery of sorts; and I really liked how the author decided to reveal the truth in bits and pieces.

In addition, I loved the characters in this story... and by that, I mean I appreciated how well written they were, not that I necessarily liked them. At first, I thought Helen was a stereotypical "bad" mom and alcoholic; however, I discovered that she was much more complex than I initially thought. I even began to feel bad for her and that was a stretch because I was furious with her for most of the novel.

Likewise, I thought Geneva was a fantastic character. She certainly had her fair share of quirks (many of which I share), but it was understandable why she was the way she was given her upbringing. It was interesting to see how she coped with learning about her past as well as how she was able to move forward with that information. As a mother, I definitely appreciated the portrayal of her relationship with her daughter; and I truly think Ms. Yoerg got the relationship "stuff" in this novel right!

I'm sure you can tell by the book's description that HOUSE BROKEN would make an excellent choice for book clubs. There is a reading guide included in the back of the book, but it does contain spoilers so I don't recommend checking it out until after you've read the story. Some of the themes you might want to explore include alcoholism, marriage, mother/daughter relationships, forgiveness, honestly, trust, abuse, and secrets.

HOUSE BROKEN is a terrific debut novel. It will capture your interest and your heart. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: Art & Sole

Summary: A Spectacular Selection of More Than 150 Fantasy Art Shoes from the Stuart Weitzman Collection

When Stuart Weitzman opened its first boutique on Madison Avenue, its displays of specially commissioned fantasy shoes quickly became a destination, drawing crowds form all over the world to its magical windows. The best of this carefully curated collection is on display in book form for the first time in this unique gift volume, where these imaginative creations are presented in vivid detail. With its inventive and beautifully crafted footwear in a vast range of materials—from watercolor paper to playing cards, from fresh flowers to frosting—this stunning showcase where fashion and fantasy meet will thrill shoe and art lovers alike. -- Harper Design

I know it seems like we've just finished celebrating the holidays and New Year's, but Valentine's Day will be here before we know it; and I think I've discovered a terrific gift idea for the art and/or shoe lover in your life. It's called ART & SOLE by Jane GershonWeitzman and the photography is by Lucas Zarebinski. The book is absolutely gorgeous and so much fun!

Jane Weitzman is the wife of shoe designer Stuart Weitzman. In ART & SOLE, Ms. Weitzman has presented 150 fantasy art shoes made of some pretty unusual materials like feathers, paper, metal, flowers, and even frosting. These shoes are some of the ones that were commissioned for the windows of the first Stuart Weitzman retail shop on Madison Avenue in the mid 1990s.

I adore shoes so this book is right up my alley. Each page features a very unique "shoe," and one is more gorgeous than the next. It's difficult to pick a favorite because each shoe is special in its own right. I have looked through ART & SOLE a number of times, and I find a new "favorite" each time. Some of the ones that are most memorable for me are the shoe made of playing cards and poker chips, the shoe made of yarn, and the ones representing The Wizard of Oz.

I also appreciated that in the back of the book, there are specifics about the various artists who have created these shoes. I enjoyed learning about their work, and it was even fun to check out a few of their websites.

Not only are the images inside wonderful, but this book cover is special too. It's bound in a lovely red fabric cover with gold text and even has pages with gold edges. The shoe on the front is actually raised too. I just think it's a beautiful book that would look perfect sitting out on a coffee table.

Just take a look at an excerpt from the book to see how amazing these shoes are:

ART & SOLE is a wonderful book for shoe and art lovers alike, so keep it in mind for Valentine's Day gift-giving.

Thanks to Paula Rosado Public Relations for providing a review copy of this novel.