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Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

[ 4 ] February 12, 2016

stars over sunset boulevard book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

When Christine finds a beautiful green hat in a box that’s been sent to her resell shop, she knows she’s found something that wasn’t supposed to be found. As she works to contact the family and return the item, she can’t help but wonder how such an item ended up buried in a box from someone’s attic…

Violet Mayfield had dreams of being a wife and mother but those dreams would never become a reality. In order to heal, and find a new life, Violet moves to Los Angeles in 1938 and finds herself as an assistant on the set of Gone With the Wind. She finds friends in Audrey (an aspiring actress) and Bert (a wardrobe assistant) and the three quickly become close. Violet develops feelings for Bert, but he only  has eyes for Audrey…and Audrey only has eyes for the film screen. One evening while together, Bert shows the girls one of the hats for the movie that is to be worn by Scarlet. The next morning the hat is gone and their friendship shifts. They all think Audrey has the hat somewhere and Violet uses that information to prove to Bert that Audrey really doesn’t care about him at all. These doubts in his mind offer the perfect opportunity for Violet to show him her own devotion.

After Violet and Bert get married Audrey realizes how different things have become. Violet and Bert try to start a family but Violet has a secret she’s never told Bert. Audrey shows up with her own secret and their lives are again intertwined, but still remain very complicated. As the years go by, they all have to deal with the long-lasting repercussions of living and maintaining these lies. What will happen when their secrets can no longer be hidden and all of it comes out?

For me, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard was a bit of a different book for Susan Meissner. As one who loves Gone With the Wind, I really enjoyed reading about the filming and “behind the scenes” aspects of the movie. But the connection to present day just didn’t feel solid. We got to see the descendants of Violet in present day, but it just wasn’t of much importance to the story. I kept waiting for some grand revelation near the end of the book and there wasn’t one. It was just a basic sub-plot. The *real* story is in the first 2/3 of the book but after that it kind of fizzles out. I still love Susan Meissner’s writing and won’t let this deter me from reading her stuff, but this just didn’t seem up to par with her past books.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

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

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Blog Tour: Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

[ 6 ] February 11, 2016

moonlight over paris book coverPlease join Jennifer Robson, author of Moonlight Over Paris, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Bethany Kelly

Freedom. That is the main word that kept going through my mind when reading Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson. This novel revolves around Helena, a woman who, after beating an illness that almost killed her, decides to leave England and travel to Paris to stay with her aunt while attending art school. However, at her parents’ request, she agrees to return home in a year.

Helena leaves England – and all of the bad memories – behind in search of freedom. The freedom from prying eyes and the rudeness of others over her broken engagement. The freedom to pursue her dream. And the freedom to enjoy her life without maids constantly around.

While in Paris, Helena makes a few close friends and is able to experience her life to the fullest. She also meets a man, Sam, whom she begins to have feelings for. However, what will happen at the end of Helena’s year in Paris? Will she return home? Or will she choose to stay in Paris permanently?

I absolutely loved this book. It was very nice to read about a strong female character who chooses to put chasing her dreams over everything else. Helena is a very well-developed character with many layers and facets. She is very true-to-life and has not only many strong personality traits, but a few flaws as well. I really liked the fact that although she was a likeable character, she did a few things that I didn’t like. Yes, I know this sounds strange, but I found it refreshing. Robson found a good balance between making Helena a likeable character, and making her a genuine and lifelike character.

The only negative thing that I will say about this book is that in the beginning, it was rushed. I felt that Robson rushed through the scenes in the first chapter or so to set up for the storyline in the middle of the novel. This is something that has always bugged me, but once I got through these parts, I forgot all about it because the book was just that good.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book, and will probably also check out Jennifer Robson’s other novels.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

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

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Life as a Full-Time Writer by Leigh Russell

[ 4 ] February 11, 2016

journey to death book coverPlease welcome Leigh Russell, author of the new book, Journey to Death!

Enter the giveaway below – open to US residents

Life as a Full-Time Writer by Leigh Russell

About five years after my first book was published, I found myself in the fortunate position of being able to give up my day job. It was just as well, as writing had all but taken over my life, leaving time for little else. Anticipating settling into a new routine, I quickly discovered that being an author is far from a nine to five job. Working with two publishers, there are frequent meetings – often over lunch or dinner – as well as literary festivals to attend, and other talks, panels, interviews and book signings. In addition to the physical world promotion, there is social media, and my somewhat sporadic blogging. I spend far too much time on Facebook, where I have met all sorts of interesting people. It is great way of connecting with my fans from around the world.

A lot of research goes into writing my police detective series, and I am gratified when reviewers comment on the authenticity of my novels. With my new series featuring Lucy Hall, research has taken me further afield than the length and breadth of England. Journey to Death, the first in this series, takes place on the beautiful island of Mahé in the Seychelles, as exotic a location as you could wish for. ‘Accustomed to the grey skies of England, he was bowled over by the beauty of the landscape and the changing colours of the Indian Ocean.’ To ensure that my descriptions were accurate, Journey to Death took me on a two week trip to the Seychelles. It would be challenging to write about the smells and sounds, and the atmosphere, of a place without experiencing it. Besides which, as my husband pointed out, it was important to research the experience of sipping cocktails on the beach at Beau Vallon Bay at sunset.

The second book in the Lucy Hall series will be out later this year. This one is set in Paris, and the following one will see Lucy going to Rome. So as well as visiting the Seychelles last year, we had a couple to trips to Paris, and a few weeks in Rome. This year we’re off to Greece and Italy again, for more research.

And in addition to all of that, there is, of course, the writing.

I have been a full-time writer for two years now, and am still waiting to settle into a routine. I don’t anticipate that happening any time soon.

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Giveaway: Baggage by S.G. Redling

[ 6 ] February 10, 2016

baggage by redling book coverI have 1 copy of Baggage by S.G. Redling to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date. A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in the fresh start of a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who’s there whenever she needs help. On the day of the dreaded anniversary, Anna and Jeannie hit the town, planning to ease the pain with an alcohol-induced stupor and then sleep. When Anna awakes the next morning, she thinks she can put one more February 17 behind her, but fate is about to intervene in the form of two gruesome murders with eerie similarities to her violent past. This time, however, she won’t be an abandoned daughter or a grieving widow. This time, she’ll be a suspect.

About the author

A fifteen-year veteran of morning radio, an avid traveler, and a so-so gardener, S.G. Redling currently lives in her beloved West Virginia.  She is the author of several novels including: Ourselves, Flowertown, Damocles, Redemption Key, The Widow File, and Braid.

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Want to be a Reviewer?

[ 1 ] February 10, 2016

I am looking for a perfect reviewer (or two) to add to the Luxury Reading team! 

Do you like to read? Do you like to discuss your favorite books with others and write reviews? Do you want to get free books in exchange for your reviews?

If you answered yes to these questions, you might just be the person I’m looking for!

Interested? Send me an e-mail and include a writing sample.

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Review: The Forgotten Soldier by Brad Taylor

[ 2 ] February 9, 2016

forgotten soldier book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Forgotten Soldier is the ninth book in the Pike Logan thriller series. This is the third one in a row that I’ve read and I liked it more than the other two–even though the start made me wonder if I’d like it at all! Great setup and finish.

A task force man, Guy George, had a brother in Afghanistan as part of a special forces op and the whole team was ambushed and killed. His belongings are shipped back and by special request, are not ‘scrubbed’. Typically, belongings would be cleaned and filtered to spare the family extra hardship. As it is, Guy receives the same package his brother had for the mission he was on. The package contains information about the mission and photos of four targets–likely the same people who caused his brother’s demise.

At first, Guy is taking everything fairly stoically and agrees to sit out his next mission in order to help research other targets. But soon enough, he identifies someone he believes to be one of his brother’s targets. This someone happens to be the son of a powerful and influential man from Qatar. He also happens to be a ‘friend’ of the Secretary of State and the Secretary is not very pleased with his ally being identified as a potential terrorist.

Once Guy learns that there will be no authorization to look into the man and his friends, he decides to take the law into his own hands. He goes extralegal, from an already extralegal organization.

When the Taskforce discovers that Guy has gone rogue, Pike is sent after him to prevent him from causing an international incident. Only Guy has disappeared and no one knows where he is or where his targets are going to be. Pike needs to find him before he can stop him and the search takes him on a race around Greece.

I was a little leary about this book with one of the ‘good guys’ going rogue and becoming his own Judge, Jury and Executioner. But the author brought the story back to a Taskforce ending and while it was sad, it was still a very good one. For those who like international thrillers this is a good series to lose yourself in. Pike a bit of a dick, but he gets the job done.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

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

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