The Enemies of Versailles BLOG TOUR!!

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The Enemies of Versailles will be released this Tuesday (March 21st) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and author Q&A! This was a really good read and a great conclusion to the series, I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

SUMMARY

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

4957310Sally Christie was born in England of British parents and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three languages. She has spent most of her career working in international development and is currently settled in Toronto. A life-long history buff who wishes time travel were a real possibility—she’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!—The Enemies of Versailles is her third novel. Learn more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy at www.sallychristieauthor.com

 

AUTHOR Q&A

What about the topic of the mistresses of King Louis XV captured your attention? What made you want to write about this?

I was initially drawn to the incredible tale of the five Nesle sisters, four of whom became his first mistresses. I was amazed that their story was virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, and I remembered being so excited that I had found it and that I would be the one to tell it!

I was initially only focused on the sisters, but when I discovered that his more famous mistresses – the Marquise de Pompadour and the Comtesse du Barry – also hadn’t been the subject of any English fiction, the trilogy was born.

Which mistress was your favorite? Or alternatively which character in the books was your favorite?

Hmmmm…. A hard question! I really loved all my characters – each of the five Nesle sisters has a place in my heart and I adored Jeanne du Barry – I think she was perhaps overall the kindest, most genuine woman. Pompadour was a little trickier, because she is (and was) such an enigma – she was the perfect woman that became exactly who the king wanted her to be, and trying to discover her real persona and her real motivations was fascinating.

There is a soft spot in my heart for Madame Adelaide, Louis XV’s eldest surviving daughter and the nemesis of Jeanne du Barry in The Enemies of Versailles. It was really interesting researching about the daily lives of her and her sisters, and all of the constraints and boundaries around them as unmarried royal princesses in the stultifying world of Versailles.  She became a figure of fun in her later years, and in my book I do lampoon her a bit – it’s easy to make fun of fusty old spinsters and I certainly fell into that trap. In reality I think she was an intelligent woman who no doubt suffered quite a bit in her life, both before and after the Revolution.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author and did you have another profession before this?

I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old and writing has been my constant companion and hobby throughout the years. Even though I wasn’t published, I always considered myself a writer (because that’s what I did!), and when a change in my circumstances a few years ago left me with some space and time to write full-time, I thought: “Okay, let’s test this assumption that you are a writer.” Luckily everything worked out and I did become a writer!

Between graduating from university and writing the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, I worked at a whack of other jobs, including financial services, headhunting and international development, and also got an MBA. I like having had lots of varied, real-world experiences before writing full-time; I definitely think it helps in terms of character development and motivations.

I also found working in different cultures overseas helped with writing history: in different societies you get to experience remnants of the past, for example more overt sexism than what we might deal with today in North America, or attitudes about poverty or handicapped people that might mimic some of what existed in the 18th century.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

The best piece of advice I read when I was dedicating myself to writing full time was: “Write the book you’d want to read.” And I did, and I loved the book I was writing (at that time my first book, The Sisters of Versailles) and it helped me to keep the faith during the nerve-wracking querying and selling process – if I liked it, surely someone else would too!

EXCERPT

5154lvfkqgl-_sx320_bo1204203200_“I am in the arms of an angel,” he declared, over and again. “What kind of angel are you?” he asked me, then answered himself: “A saucy, dirty, lovely, kind angel. But an angel, my dearest: never have I awoken to such delights.”

I savor his words and the memories, trying to catch every little detail before they disappear. That look of delight when I showed him the way; how he turned from a jaded old man into one filled with tenderness and energy; his doting words (I have been waiting for you all my life); the feel of his skin; the smell of verbena on the pillows; the softness of the down mattress; and his childish delight in all that I offered him.

“I have been wandering in the desert for four years,” he murmured. “Not forty, as Moses did, but four years is a long enough time. Now I have found you.”

I stayed two days and two nights nestled in a room under the eaves of the palace. Then Louis—as he says I must call him—had to prepare for the imminent death of the queen, and I was sent here to this discreet little house in town, just steps from the palace.

Barry joins me, flustered and nervous. He promised me—the king, I mean, not Barry—that he would send for me soon. “As soon as I can, my angel,” he said, holding me tighter than any man has ever held me. And now I sit, and wait, and remember. The house is small, but clean and smartly furnished. I wander through the rooms and look at the naked nymphs painted on the salon walls, smile in recognition at a gilded chair with straps, now sitting in an empty bedchamber. It is so quiet here, after all the noise and bustle of Paris—almost like being in the countryside.

I sigh in contentment. The King of France said he loved me! Me.

“He is so kind and has the nicest eyes and his voice is so soft and deep, as soft as . . . as . . . a cushion.” My eyes fasten on the sofa, then on the delicate tortoiseshell box that arrived that morning, containing a beautiful pearl necklace. “And, oh,” I continue, jumping up onto a chair and sticking my tongue out at Barry:

“Did I mention he is the king? The King of France?” Barry puffs his cheeks and watches me silently. He’s worried; it’s been three days now, and apart from the necklace, no word from the palace.

“Three days,” he says sharply. “Three days—you’re a fool to be dancing around like you own him. He’s forgotten you already.”

“Oh, la, shut up!” I cry, jumping down and going over to ruffle his hair. “The king loves me. Loves me,” I repeat. “Don’t be worried. Now,” I say, leaning down to peck Barry on the cheek, “instead of worrying, you should be planning which government post you want! Or would you like another five supply contracts? Ten?” Or maybe an ambassadorship, I think, twirling away and going to sit by the window; it might be nice to have Barry firmly gone.

“I did consult my lawyer about purchasing a house on the rue de Varennes,” he says, puffing out another long sigh. “But perhaps that was premature, two nights is a flimsy foundation for a lifetime of dreams to hang upon.”

“Oh, poof, Barry, you do talk nonsense sometimes. I’m going out for a walk.” I grab my cloak and hurry out the door, eager to get away from his sour mood. I want to walk forever and absorb the amazing turn my life has taken, but instead my footsteps lead me toward the Place d’Armes, the giant esplanade in front of the palace. All roads lead here. Ahead of me the palace sits in its golden, spreading glory, hundreds of windows glinting back their secrets, the majestic iron and gold gates hung with great black cloths for the queen’s mourning. He is in there, somewhere . . . What is he doing? Is he thinking of me?

Versailles is a fairyland, a land of mythical beings, one that spreads for miles and miles. That is the life that I want. Barry always accuses me of being lazy, and without ambition, but suddenly I feel it, a craving so intense and so sharp it stops my heart with longing.

I want that life, and all that it offers.

2017 Book #5 – The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

51g-d4qusfl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Wicked City
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 1/18/17
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: First in series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings together two generations of women inside a Greenwich Village apartment—a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manhattanite forced to start her life anew.
When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes their sleek SoHo loft for a studio in a quaint building in Greenwich Village. But her new refuge isn’t quite what it seems. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though it’s stood empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the building hosted one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.
Sired by a wealthy New York scion who abandoned her showgirl mother, Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, even though her on-again, off-again Princeton beau, Billy Marshall, wants to make an honest woman of her and heal the legacy of her hardscrabble childhood. Gin’s alliance with Anson rattles Manhattan society, exposing sins that shock even this free-spirited redhead—sins that echo from the canyons of Wall Street to the mountain hollers of her hometown.
As Ella unravels the strange history of the building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her incandescent predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her life in the wicked city. . .

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of two women separated by 74 years of time but living in the same apartment building. With Ginger we find ourselves in the year 1924 during the Prohibition. Ginger likes to frequent a speakeasy next door to the apartment building, and it is here that she’s approached by a Revenue Agent who’s looking to takedown her stepfather’s booze Empire. If there’s one person that Ginger would like to avoid for the rest of her life it’s Duke Kelly, but she agrees to help Oliver Anson in order to extract her own form of revenge on an evil man. Thrown together and dangerous circumstances, Oliver and Ginger’s relationship becomes a dizzying circle of passion and protection. But Oliver isn’t quite who he claims to be engine has to decide who she can trust. Meanwhile, Ella Gilbert has just moved into the apartment on Christopher Street after she finds her husband cheating on her. It’s currently 1998 and Ella works as a forensic accountant for a large firm in New York City. At this apartment building she meets Hector, the landlord’s son and a talented musician. Hector has a girlfriend, but he and Ella spend more and more time together and neither can deny the attraction that develops.
Overall I really just love this book. I loved the two different storylines and I love both the heroine characters. I cannot wait to find out what happens, I have so many questions. The book does leave things off in something of a cliffhanger with many open issues unresolved. This is different from some of Williams’s other books, but I can’t wait to see where she takes us in the next installment in the series. There is a bit of a dark side to this novel, just to warn the reader, including torture, brass knuckles, murder, and sexual abuse. Actually all of these things happened during Ginger’s storyline, although Ella has to overcome obstacles of her own. We learn at the end of the book that the two story lines are connected in a small way. I have to admit I expected a larger connection but I’m interested to see what other revelations the new book brings. This book has something for everyone including action, adventure, romance, heartbreak and revenge. I would highly recommend everyone check this one out!!

The bottom line: I loved this book, the characters were so engaging and the story line was so interesting, I didn’t want to put it down! I can’t wait until the next book comes out so I can find out what happens! Great read and I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #104 – The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

51ydafazecl-_sx303_bo1204203200_Title: The Legendary Lord
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 11/3/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Playful Brides series #6
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND…
When Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, flees the stuffy ballrooms of London for his Scottish hunting lodge, the last thing he expects to find ensconced before his fire is an incredibly beautiful woman. But the plight of lovely young Sarah Highgate, who has run away from an unwanted betrothal, inspires an eminently practical exchange. He’ll safeguard her reputation with the ton while she advises him how to best attract a proper bride…
As the undisputed belle of the season, Sarah has enchanted plenty of suitors. Still, she isn’t interested in marriage, especially not to the pompous bore her father has chosen for her. But her hasty escape seems reckless now that she’s estranged from her family and has no one to count on besides Christian. Turning the luckless lord into such a catch has another unplanned consequence for Sarah: Has he run away with her heart?
The Legendary Lord is the sixth installment of Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book here. This book is about a Miss Sarah Highgate, daughter of an Earl, and a Mister Christian Berkeley, a viscount. Sarah has been raised to be obedient but she somehow retains a rebellious nature, and so when her parents arrange for her to marry the Marquess of Branford, Sarah runs away. Aiming for her father’s hunting lodge in Scotland, she gets lost but makes it to a neighboring lodge (Christian’s) before a big now storm hits. Stuck together for a few days during the storm, Sarah and Christian develop a comfortable friendship (tinged with their underlying passion) over the course of these few days. Christian promises to keep Sarah’s secret and in return Sarah gives Christian a few tips on how to court women of the ton so he can find a wife. Upon returning to London, Sarah resolves to marry Branford and Christian becomes the most sought out/eligible bachelor of the season. Only problem is that Sarah can’t stop thinking about Christian, and Christian can’t stop wishing all the women he had interested in him were Sarah instead.
Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read for me and was a sweet story. This was the sixth book in the series and I would be interested to read some of the other books in the series, especially since many of those characters were mentioned in this story. The story line for this book was sweet and reminded me a bit of those back-in-the-day romantic comedy movies I used to watch. Unfortunately there were a few holes in the story for me, the main one being how the ending was resolved. Without giving too much away Christian basically pulls a dick move without talking to Sarah and basically forces her hand. I didn’t care for that, I thought it was a little heavy-handed. Also there were a couple passionate scenes later on in the book and for me they kind of came out of nowhere. I hadn’t felt like there was lot of overwhelming passion from the characters before that point. I still really liked the book and the story, it was just a couple parts felt off for me. Very sweet story though and a quick read, I would recommend!

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this book, it was a sweet story and I liked the characters and the characters that made an appearance from the other books in the series.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Legendary Lord BLOG TOUR

blog-tour-banner

The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman was released this past Tuesday (November 1st) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, and a short author bio. This was a very good read, I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

SUMMARY

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND…
When Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, flees the stuffy ballrooms of London for his Scottish hunting lodge, the last thing he expects to find ensconced before his fire is an incredibly beautiful woman. But the plight of lovely young Sarah Highgate, who has run away from an unwanted betrothal, inspires an eminently practical exchange. He’ll safeguard her reputation with the ton while she advises him how to best attract a proper bride…
As the undisputed belle of the season, Sarah has enchanted plenty of suitors. Still, she isn’t interested in marriage, especially not to the pompous bore her father has chosen for her. But her hasty escape seems reckless now that she’s estranged from her family and has no one to count on besides Christian. Turning the luckless lord into such a catch has another unplanned consequence for Sarah: Has he run away with her heart?
The Legendary Lord is the sixth installment of Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series.

EXCERPT

the-legendary-lord-whim-1CHAPTER ONE

Scotland, November 1816

Someone was inside his house. Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, stood outside the small hunting lodge and watched as a plume of smoke from the chimney billowed into the darkening sky. He made his way slowly toward the front door, pushed it open with his boot, and tightened his fist around the pistol he kept inside his coat pocket whenever he traveled. He’d spent the last sennight on the road from Bath. He was tired. He was dirty. He hadn’t shaved. And he was in as foul a mood as he ever got. It was bitter cold. The wind was picking up. And from the looks of things, the sky was about to open up and dump an unholy amount of snow on this place. All Christian wanted was a warm fire and some food. Instead, it looked as though he would first be forced to dispatch a thief. He took a deep, calming breath and slowly pulled the pistol from his inside coat pocket.

He pushed farther with his boot and the front door creaked open, revealing the great room. The empty great room. Christian glanced around the space. There was a fire in the grate, a pleasant woven rug he didn’t recognize set in front of the door on the wooden planks, and a boiling pot of what smelled suspiciously like stew bubbling over a fire in the kitchen. Christian stepped inside. Yes. It was obvious. Someone was here. Someone other than Mr. Fergus, the caretaker, and his little black Scottish dog with black pointy ears who also happened to be named Fergus. The odd man once explained to Christian that if men could name their sons after themselves, then by God, he could do the same with his dog. Christian had always thought that sounded about right. But no, Fergus I and II (human and canine) weren’t here now. In addition to the stew, the room smelled vaguely of flowers. Lilies, to be precise. There were no flowers in the Scottish Highlands at this time of year. He’d made it up here just ahead of the looming storm that was already blowing freezing gusts up the mountaintop behind him. The smell of lilies meant one thing: perfume. A woman was here. An uninvited, unknown, unwanted woman. And he’d left London to get away from women.

He shut the door behind him, stomped his boots on the rug, and cleared his throat. Perhaps she would show herself, introduce herself. Oh, and explain what the bloody hell she was doing here.

There was no movement. No sound. Nothing. He swung his heavy wool overcoat from his shoulders and placed it on the rough wooden coatrack he’d made himself out of a felled oak tree one summer here. He might be Viscount Berkeley in both London and Northumbria, but here in Scotland he was just Christian. Or Master Christian, according to Mr. Fergus. There was no pomp and circumstance at the hunting lodge, which was why Christian liked it so much. One of many reasons.

the-legendary-lord-hh-300x250-1A small opening in the bottom of the door at the back of the house flapped to and fro for a moment and Fergus II, the canine variety, came rushing into the room like a black dart. He had the manners to stop and shake the snow from his back and paws as Fergus I had taught him when he’d created the little door for him. Fergus II came rushing up to Christian, wagging his tiny tail furiously and hopping about on all four paws. Christian put his hands on his hips and stared down at the handsome little pup. What in the—? Christian nearly rubbed his eyes. Was it his imagination or was Fergus II wearing a small red woolen coat?

“Well, what are you doing?” Was Christian mistaken? Was his caretaker here after all? Had Fergus I begun to do things like cook stew, place homey rugs near the door, and wear perfume? Or had he taken to entertaining a companion? A female companion? Perhaps she had made the stew. Yes, that surely made more sense than Fergus I wandering around smelling like lilies and dressing his dog in sweaters. But knowing the irascible man, Christian decided that scenario was equally implausible. No. More likely a vagrant had happened by the dwelling and, finding no one home, had decided to take up residence. It wasn’t uncommon in these parts. But Christian wanted to get to the business of dispatching the drifter (male or female) posthaste.

After sliding his pistol back into his pocket, he leaned down and scooped up the little pooch. Fergus II licked him squarely upon the nose. “Thank you,” Christian said, wiping off the slobber with the back of his gloved hand. “I don’t suppose you’d be so kind as to tell me who’s here?”

The dog blinked at him and cocked his stout head to the side.

“No?” Christian rubbed the back of his neck. “Very well, then. I’ll follow you. Lead on.”

He set the short, solid dog back down and motioned for him to precede him down the corridor. The entire lodge consisted of a great room with the kitchen instruments in one corner and a sofa and two aged leather chairs near the fireplace in the other corner. A plump cushion for Fergus II sat near the sofa. There was a wooden table and four matching chairs (also made by Christian one long-ago summer) near the kitchen area. A corridor led to two small bedchambers, each populated with a feather bed, a chair, some books, and a rug. If Mr. Fergus was here, he was either outside in the snowy forest or in one of the bedchambers. The man usually slept in the small room at the back of the barn, but Christian had just come from there after seeing to his horse. That room had been empty and Fergus’s mount was gone.

“Go on, mate, show me,” Christian said. He followed the dog’s determined little trot down the corridor to Christian’s own bedchamber door. Mr. Fergus wouldn’t have any business in that room. Christian frowned. The dog placed his paw on the door and whined.

“Go on, then,” Christian prodded, his chin in his hand. Fergus II glanced back at him as if confirming his permission, then he pushed open the door slightly with his paw and trotted inside the dark room. A few moments of silence passed. The only sound was the dog’s toenails clicking against the wooden floor. A moment later, a distinctly female voice floated out into the corridor. “Why, there you are. Are you here to wake me from my nap?”

Christian’s eyes widened and his hand fell away from his chin. By God, there was a woman in his bed!

Copyright © 2016 by Valerie Bowman

AUTHOR BIO

valerie-bowman

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her two rascally dogs. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is also the author of the Secret Brides series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

 

Buy Links:

Macmillan

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Social Links:

Author Website

Facebook

Twitter: @ValerieGBowman

2016 Book #102 – Faithful by Alice Hoffman

51ol8tqfs5l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/29/16
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about a girl named Shelby Richmond. The book begins when Shelby has just graduated from high school and follows her life over the next few years. Shelby was driving the car when she and her best friend Helene were involved in an accident and although Helene survived she was irreparably damaged and is now living in a hospital bed at her parents’ house. Shelby blames herself and falls into a deep and violent depression, never wanting to leave her parents’ basement and wishing only to escape from the world. Eventually though she moves to New York City with her boyfriend/drug dealer Ben Kink. From here her life twists down some unexpected paths and somehow she ends up with a comfortable life even though she still feels like she doesn’t deserve happiness.
Overall I just loved this book. I have to be honest though, this one was a hard story for me to get into at first. When the book starts Shelby is so lost in her own grief that it is hard to see past her prickly character. But as the story evolves, the reader becomes connected to Shelby in a deep and intense way. Shelby feels so deeply and is so wounded but as her story progresses and she begins to heal, we fall in love with Shelby and the human being cracking through the shell of her former self. Shelby is so lucky in that there are so many people who care for her, somehow she is able to take her broken life and make something wonderful out of it. I loved her continual dog-napping activities and I loved her relationship with Marvelle and her kids. Shelby may have been a damaged individual but she loved fiercely and was unceasingly loyal. The progression of her character through the story really was just astounding and Hoffman does such a great job of creating a well-rounded character who is nothing if not a survivor. Be warned, this will rip your heart out of your chest, chew it up, and give you back the pieces when its done. I cried the last 1/3 of the book, but it was such a powerful and wonderful story, it was so worth the read! I would definitely recommend this one.

The bottom line: I just loved this book, Shelby as a character was so engaging and it was great to see her character evolve through the story. This was an extremely moving story, definitely keep a box of tissues handy for this one!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #96 – The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper

51lfjgkxu-l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin
Author: Stephanie Knipper
Date finished: 10/9/16
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Stand-alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Sisters Rose and Lily Martin were inseparable when growing up on their family’s Kentucky flower farm yet became distant as adults when Lily found herself unable to deal with the demands of Rose’s unusual daughter. But when Rose becomes ill, Lily is forced to return to the farm and to confront the fears that had driven her away.
Rose’s daughter, ten-year-old Antoinette, has a form of autism that requires constant care and attention. She has never spoken a word, but she has a powerful gift that others would give anything to harness–she can heal with her touch. She brings wilted flowers back to life, makes a neighbor’s tremors disappear, and even changes the course of nature on the flower farm.
Antoinette’s gift, though, comes at a price, since each healing puts her own life in jeopardy. As Rose–the center of her daughter’s life–struggles with her own failing health and Lily confronts her anguished past, the sisters, and the men who love them, come to realize the sacrifices that must be made to keep this very special child safe.
Written with great heart and a deep understanding of what it feels like to be different, The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin is a novel about what it means to be family and about the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Rose and Lily Martin and Rose’s daughter Antoinette. Rose and Lily have always had a special bond, even for sisters. And when Rose has Antoinette, Lily loves the little girl more than anything. But Lily sees a lot of herself in Antoinette and she is afraid of trying to help her sister care for a girl with special needs. So Lily leaves home and starts a life on her own. When Rose calls six years later though, its to ask once again for Lily to come home. Rose needs help more desperately than before, she’s dying and she’s not sure how much time she has left. But can Lily really come home that easily? And can she be responsible for such an extraordinary girl like Antoinette?
Overall I liked this book ok, though I will admit it wasn’t one of my favorites. I liked Antoinette’s character and I loved being able to hear her thoughts and her perspective even though she couldn’t speak, I thought that was an interesting part of the story. The story line of this book reminded me a lot of The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott, so if you’ve read that one and enjoyed it then I would definitely recommend reading this one. And if you like magical realism this is a great one to read.

The bottom line: I liked this book but I don’t think it thrilled me or anything. It was a good book though. If you liked The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott then I would definitely read this one!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #95 – Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

51ms72awqil-_sx328_bo1204203200_Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Date finished: 10/7/16
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand-alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.
Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.
Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about Grace Angel, who is married to Jack Angel while she’s in her thirties. Grace’s sister Millie has Down Syndrome and after Millie graduates from her current school Grace will be responsible for her care and Millie will live with her. This is one of the main reasons why Grace hasn’t married yet, her previous boyfriends did not want to be responsible for Millie’s care. But Jack is different than all the other men, he really wants Millie to be a part of their lives. As the story unfolds, we are told parts alternating between the past and present, and towards the end of the book the past and present sort of overlap. Even from the first chapter the reader realizes there is something not quite right with the idyllic scene presented to us, though it takes a few minutes for us to put a finger on what’s wrong. As the chapters unfold though, our horror grows at what has happened to Grace’s life, and what may soon happen to Millie’s life as well.
Overall I really liked this book. I have to warn readers though, this book will turn your stomach. The abuse that Grace endures is not for the light of heart. This is definitely a book you will not be able to put down, and the ending will have you jumping and screaming at the suspense. Your mind may need a shower after this one though, the villain of the story is devious and undeniably evil. I was utterly terrified at the end, and because I was finishing it at 12:30am, I was afraid to close my eyes for the next half hour after I finished it. This is a terrifying book but it was a great read with an awesome ending. I would definitely recommend!

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this book. It was hard to get some parts of the story because of the abuse but the ending really knocked my socks off. I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page