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Giveaway: Bum Rap to Paul Levine

[ 1 ] July 6, 2015

bum rap book coverI have a copy of Paul Levine’s Bum Rap to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

Trial lawyer-turned-writer Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award, has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, Shamus, and James Thurber prizes, and has written for multiple hit television shows. Jake Lassiter, star of ten of Levine’s previous novels, is also a man of many talents: an NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer who’s a “brew and burger guy in a paté and Chardonnay world.” In Levine’s newest, Bum Rap, Lassiter faces his toughest case yet: the murder trial of Steve Solomon, half of the bickering legal duo at the center of Levine’s Solomon vs. Lord series.

Disillusioned by the justice system after his own recent murder trial, Lassiter is ready to call it quits when he gets a call from Victoria Lord. Her partner, Solomon, has been arrested for murder and he needs the hardest-hitting lawyer he can find. Used to working alone, Lassiter soon finds himself teamed up with Lord to track down the only witness who can clear Solomon’s name – before the feds or the Russian Mob find her first.

A page-turning legal thriller that marks the first literary meet-up between Jake Lassiter, Steve Solomon, and Victoria Lord, Bum Rap is as hot as the city it’s set in, Miami.

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Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

[ 2 ] July 6, 2015

maybe in another life book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Fate, destiny, soul mates, what if?… These are all concepts I have thought extensively about throughout my life. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of parallel universes where another me is living a life I have only dreamed of having. Any book or movie that covers any of these topics makes it high up on my list of things to read or watch. I’ve often felt that movies are a better medium for parallel universe type stories, but Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid brilliantly handles this tricky concept.

If ever there was a book similar to Sliding Doors, this would be the one. And while Sliding Doors had one man that was inarguably superior over the other, the heroine of Maybe in Another Life, Hannah Martin, is presented with two wonderful men. At the beginning of the novel, Hannah’s life is a mess. She has just broken things off with her married boyfriend and is unsure of what she will do next. Her best friend, Gabby, takes her in, she reconnects with her first love, Ethan, and begins to plan for a career and a stable future. But her alternate path takes her in another direction, one that begins with a tragedy.

The alternate storylines branch off when Hannah makes a seemingly inconsequential decision of whether or not she should go home with Ethan, the ex she has always believed she was meant to be with, if only the timing were right. How many decisions does a person make in one day? Thousands, I’d imagine. And each one of those decisions plays a part in determining how the rest of our day plays out. In more dire situations, it can play a role in whether a person lives or dies. And, as Hannah finds out, decisions she makes also affect those closest to her, mainly her best friend, Gabby.

Maybe in Another Life is the first book I’ve read from Taylor Reid Jenkins. If her other books are as charming and thought-provoking as this one, then I will definitely have a new author to add to my must-read list.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Washington Square Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: American Wife by Taya Kyle

[ 4 ] July 3, 2015

american wife book coverPlease join Taya Kyle, author of American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Meg Massey

On February 2nd, 2013, Taya Kyle’s life changed forever. It was an unexpected turn of events, considering that her husband Chris was finally home from war, and their marriage was stronger than ever. But on that day, the man she loved, a devoted father and dedicated Navy SEAL, was killed while trying to help a struggling veteran. In mere moments, all that Taya and Chris had built together came crashing down around her, leaving her a widow and single mother to two young children.

Chris Kyle’s life and experiences as a Navy SEAL sniper are the subject of his book, American Sniper, as well as the 2014 film of the same name. American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal, is Taya’s story. She starts at the beginning, telling readers how she met Chris, their struggle to maintain their marriage while he served overseas, and his difficult adjustment back to civilian life. For the first time in this memoir, Taya shares the details of the devastating days following her husband’s tragic and untimely death.

This memoir is incredibly honest, raw, and at times, absolutely heartbreaking. Taya’s story was a reminder of all that our service men and women, as well as their families, sacrifice for the sake of our freedom. It was heartbreaking to read through Taya’s emotions, knowing that her husband had survived the war, only to be murdered while trying to help a fellow veteran on home soil. Taya admits that she experienced anger, but not with God. One passage stayed with me, even after turning the final page of this book:

“Chris’s death brings the question: If God is all-powerful, why didn’t He stop it? Why did He let someone kill Chris? The answer that keeps coming to me is as hard to accept as it is simple: God didn’t stop it because He has a plan. It’s difficult sometimes to remain optimistic about that plan, but in the end, that is what faith means: trust in the plan” (p. 183).

While Taya is honest about the emotions she experienced after her husband’s death, her faith was strengthened. She also found ways to connect to Chris in helping to tell his story in the film American Sniper, and doing what he longed to do most: helping others. While this memoir is about loss, it’s also about hope, and renewed faith. You will surely be moved by Taya’s powerful and honest storytelling, and the faith that has brought her through the darkest of times.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney

[ 4 ] July 2, 2015

two roads home book coverPlease join Deborah Raney, author of Two Roads Home, as she tours the blogosphere with Litfuse Publicity!

Reviewed by Sarah McCubbin

She should be grateful; so many women would love to trade places with her. She knew she was blessed, really and truly, but there was the temptation to give in to self-pity. Long days of chasing little kids around and feeling like a single parent were wearing Corinne thin. While her husband traveled frequently for work, she stayed home with their three little girls. An internal struggle consistently battled between dissatisfaction and the knowledge that she is truly blessed with a nice house, a healthy family and the chance to stay home with her kids. Why can’t she just feel happy and let it go?

In her book, Two Roads Home, Deborah Raney shares the struggles of Jesse and Corinne Pennington in Book 2 of the Chicory Inn Novels.  While they navigate finding a balance in their marriage, their relationship will soon be tested by an outsider with ulterior motives. Normally a fun and innocuously flirty guy, Jesse returns home from a business trip with a female co-worker, only to find that she has designs on him and is willing to do whatever it takes to come between him and Corinne. What Jesse perceived as an innocent misunderstanding, Michaela Creeve pursues relentlessly, even filing sexual harassment charges when Jesse doesn’t return her advances. When the attacks become more personal and affect their children, Jesse and Corinne know they must take action.

Struggling to find their bearings, they find themselves reevaluating their marriage, career, hopes and dreams. With the support of Corinne’s family, no stone is left unturned as they examine their lives and the consequences of Michaela’s charges on their family. Despite their initial fear over the situation, it becomes the catalyst for greater things. Hopes are revived and dreams brought back to life as they realize that they possess all they could truly imagine in each other, their family and their faith in God. Facing the giant gives them courage to change course and take their family in a new direction that previously seemed undesirable or impossible.

Not having read the first book in this series, I was unfamiliar with the previous story, but I found that all the needed details were included in this book. Initially, the story started slowly and reading about someone complaining about their marriage (especially someone living a fairly charmed one) seemed annoying. After all, most marriages have their ups and downs. But as the story wove on, the self-examination each character engaged in led to valuable transformation in each of their lives. Out of the ashes came beautiful redemption that will inspire and encourage you to look at your circumstances from a different perspective and ponder anew the plans that God has for your life.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided by Abingdon Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Circle by Mario Escobar

[ 3 ] July 2, 2015

the circle book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Solomon Lewin is a renowned psychiatrist and has recently left India to take over as chief psychiatrist at the Center for Psychological Illness in London, England. The move is a drastic one and, although his wife and children seem to have taken to the new scenery, Lewin finds himself bored and mildly unhappy in his new position.

In an attempt to spice things up, Solomon begins to look into a few of the more intriguing cases he hasn’t become acquainted with yet. He soon comes across the chart of Maryam Batool, an orphaned Pakistani woman who has been at the center for the past seven years. She came to stay at the center in 2007 after an attempted suicide following a financial crisis. Now she keeps to herself, rarely speaking, and constantly drawing one shape, a circle.

On Christmas Eve, Solomon receives an urgent phone call, insisting he come to the center immediately. Maryam has awakened from her silence and become dangerously violent. Dr Lewin heads to the center and finds himself in a bigger mess than he could have ever imagined. Now he is traipsing around the city, in the middle of the night, with a homicidal patient. The police are chasing them and a secret society seems to be keeping his family hostage.

What exactly does Maryam know that could be so very important? Is she actually suffering from amnesia or is she simply refusing to speak? Can Solomon solve the mystery before terrorists kill his family?

I had a really hard time being entertained by The Circle. It was the typical “psychological thriller” and I didn’t feel like it brought anything new to the table. It came across as very dry and textbook-like. The characters didn’t intrigue me and I had no reason to care if Solomon’s marriage was or wasn’t working out. Details were there, but they just didn’t pop out and grab me. Additionally, I felt like I could predict the storyline and had no reason to bother finishing.

Perhaps, like British comedy, this European novel doesn’t translate well to the style Americans are used to, but, on the other hand, I typically prefer Scandinavian dramas, so I’m not entirely sure. I just couldn’t get lost in the story and was almost immediately bored of the Illuminati conspiracy theory style drama before it even got started.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Mario Escobar. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

[ 11 ] July 1, 2015

remember mia book coverI have a copy of Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

New mother Estelle Paradise has never had it easy. But she finds happiness in marriage to an attorney—the strong, capable Jack—and their baby Mia should be their pride and joy. She is at least, for Jack. Estelle has a hard time adjusting to motherhood, and baby Mia cries from colic day-in and day-out. Estelle feels ragged and exasperated, and worries about the terrible thoughts she has as she falls into a devastating post-partum depression.
As Estelle falls apart, Jack grows frustrated. As Estelle sinks deeper into despair, her relationship with Jack begins to waver, and Estelle feels terribly alone, emotionally and physically.

But one day baby Mia has vanished—along with everything in her room. Her toys, books, and blankets are all gone; even her diapers have simply disappeared. All that is left is her crib and the mobile hanging above it. Estelle, plagued by her depression and psychosis, does not even report the crime or react the way a mother “should,” and therefore is blamed for Mia’s disappearance by both Jack and the media when they get hold of the story. Estelle has no answers for anyone, except what she knows: that Mia is gone. Days later Estelle is found in her car, crashed in the bottom of a ravine in upstate New York, with a gunshot wound to the head. It is miraculous she survived, and the questions surrounding Mia’s disappearance get even more suspicious. Estelle herself cannot remember anything that happened before the accident, and starts to wonder if the speculations that she may have had something to do with Mia’s vanishing are true.

Estelle is admitted to a psychiatric facility instead of being arrested, and it is there, with the help of a specialist, that she begins to uncover her memories. A mother’s true love and devotion is tested as she gets closer and closer to the truth, all buried within the confines of her brain. And with each recovered memory the reader is faced with a new twist, another piece of the terrifying puzzle.

Readers of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will love the hair-raising mystery at the center of this novel: What on earth happened to baby Mia, and what does Estelle know? And can we trust her story?

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