A House With Special Gifts For Its Guests

The HouseTHE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET by Menna Van Praag published by Penguin Books was a delightful surprise.  Although, the cover blurb by Sarah Addison Allen (“SAA”) author of LOST LAKE, and a host of other books I love,  should have clued me in as to the magic that waited inside.  If you are a fan of SAA you should definitely put this on your acquisition list or maybe enter to win the giveaway copy.

Picture a house that only makes itself visible to those it chooses to. You can only stay at the house for ninety-nine days.  The pictures on the walls are from its inhabitants over the years and they can interact with the guests if they desire to do so.

This house has  been in the same family for decades. Its current caretaker is Peggy, she  senses things but it is the house with the true magic.  Peggy understands the ways of the house and along with this batch of guests it has a message for her as well.

The house provides shelter for its guests when things seem their darkest.  It is something different to each guest as if it knows what they need even if they don’t themselves. Notes and items appear and disappear throughout as the house directs.

It all starts with Alba finding her way to the house when she feels she feels betrayed and a failure with nowhere else to go.  Already inside are Greer and Carmen who each have their reasons for being at the house.

Wishing the house would reveal itself to more guests as I definitely did not get enough with just this one visit.  I found THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET to be interesting, intelligent and simply irresistible.  I feel so lucky to have a copy to share with one lucky visitor.

To enter leave a comment about a magical read that you have enjoyed.  All entries must be received by Midnight April 13th CST.  Only US locations only for this giveaway. Winner will be chosen at random.

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LOST LAKE Is a Magical Read Not to be Missed

lostlake-lgLOST LAKE is the latest by Sarah Addison Allen and the March Selection for the She Reads Book Club. I have been introduced to many wonderful reads by the She Reads mavens that select our reads but I needed no introduction to Allen.  I have read every book she has written this far and I look forward to many more.

The recipe is simple, she writes enchanting stories about delightful characters that come alive in the pages of her books.  And lastly and probably my favorite ingredient is the magic she sprinkles over each and every novel.

Kate Pheris has been a widow for about a year and she been in a grief fog but is about to wake up.  She knows her deceased husband Matt would not approve of the way she is being handled by his mother and especially the way their daughter Devin’s unique personality is disappearing.   Just when it seems Kate has surrendered to her bully of a mother-in-law she takes Devin to a spot that once meant the world to her LOST LAKE.

When she arrives she knows there is something right about this place.  And when her daughter returns to herself at LOST LAKE Kate knows that she and her daughter should stay a while.  Kate’s Great Aunt Eby is on the brink of selling this spot as her husband is gone and the place needs work and the guests just do not come to this retreat as they used to.

Eby’s decision brings old friends and the town to throw a party to say farewell.  Devin charms everyone including a four-legged creature that wants her to follow his direction.  LOST LAKE is a place that all should visit and it is not hard to close your eyes and imagine yourself there.

Something felt a little different about LOST LAKE than Allen’s other books maybe it it was the purpose and healing that seeped from its pages. It still has Allen’s trademark magical brushstrokes which is my very favorite part of her work.  Once I finished the book and read the acknowledgement I fell in love with LOST LAKE and Allen all the more.

She Reads LogoIf I have not caused you to drop everything and read LOST LAKE perhaps you will enjoy the insight that Allen herself shares in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zk7alPFIXSw. Oh and don’t forget to visit She Reads Book Club to see what other bloggers thought of this book and to learn what we are up to.

 

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Far Beyond Maps – A History of Faith

Mapmakers DaughterTHE MAPMAKER’S DAUGHTER
By Laurel Corona
Published by Sourcebooks

I was so not expecting the contents of what I found inside this read. The cover is beautiful and I mistakenly thought this was going to be all about maps and mapmaking. There is certainly a thread of such that was intriguing to me but this was a story of the Jews in 15th Century Spain as told through Amalia Riba’s life’s eyes from young girl, womanhood and finally old age.

Amailia’s family made a choice to live as conversos which were converted Jews suppressing their faith. Her father was a mapmaker and because he served various royal courts they were spared some of the indignities that other Jews and conversos suffered. But time and the need to find her true self lead Amalia in another direction as she reaches the age of maturity.

I had no idea of the plight of the Jewish people in Spain and it was eye-opening and often painful. But the book rarely takes a break from religious discussions, customs or persecutions during this time period and it is intense. But the sharing of the history in a novel was softened by the characters introduced by Laurel Corona. I found myself drifting back to THE DOVEKEEPER by Alice Hoffman.

When I read more about Corona I could understand her point of view and skilled hand in this novel. She is most definitely well versed in this space. If you enjoy historical and/or religious novels and were ignorant like me about this period regarding Spain and the Jewish faith this is a must read.

Thank you Sourcebooks for allowing me to join this tour for THE MAPMAKER’S DAUGHTER.

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A Novel that Bites

clp-buttonGlad to have been the next tour stop for LOVE BITES A Vampyres of Hollywood Novel, a fast and entertaining read by Hollywood insider Adrienne Barbeau.  This graphic cover lets you know that it doesn’t take itself too seriously but its contents are not for the light-hearted even thought it is playfully presented.

Barbeau creates colorful characters some human and others that are not.  Ovsanna Moore is a 400+ year old vampyre that lives in Beverly Hills.  She just happens to own and run Anticipation Studio.  The studio makes horror films so already you get the idea this is going to be campy.  Ovsanna is the leader of a vampyre clan and they consist of some famous Hollywood legends that you will catch up with during the story.

love bitesOvsanna and her hot detective Peter King just off a case where Peter is just trying wrap his head around the supernatural things he witnessed.  But one thing is for sure vampyre or not he is attracted to Ovsanna.  There are just a few complications that threaten this budding romance.

First, of course the obvious, he is a human and Ovsanna is a vampyre that cannot control her impulses to feed. Lets not forget the various parties trying to kill them for revenge.  But of course these are not the usual cast of characters one might suspect in a mystery but creatures that include: werewolves, shapeshifters and a jealous human.

As a veteran of the “business” Barbeau has probably run into her share of blood suckers and monsters but then the rest of us mere mortals do in daily life too.  I am fairly sure Barbeau has presented enough types that one will strike a chord. LOVE BITES is part playful with a dash of gruesome but definitely a highly entertaining read.

Be sure to visit CLP Tour to view the rest of the LOVE BITE Tour: http://www.clpblogtours.com/2014/02/loves-bites-by-adrienne-barbeau.html.  Of course I recommend adding both to your twitter follows: @chicklitplus  @abarbeau

Posted in ChickLit, Mystery Light, Novel, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday = Paris à la Source Books

Seeing Paris in a book title is an automatic trigger for me to wish to own it.  I won the lottery to have received and read two February releases from the Sourcebooks family. Both of these books have Paris front and center as well as the backdrop of the stories.

THE LOVELIEST CHOCOLATE SHOP IN PARIS by Jenny Colgan                     (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Loveliest-Chocolate-Shop-in-ParisAnna Trent is a young woman working in a chocolate factory in England that suffers a bizarre work accident.  She was not able to return to the only job she knows so now what? A former teacher was kind enough to make an introduction for her to work in Le Chapeau Chocolat in Paris even thought Anna is not too keen on this and is not exactly welcomed upon her arrival.

The master chocolatier Thierry Girard takes her under his wing as she was sent to him by someone once very special to him.  Little does Anna know there are short fuses and unresolved issues that surround this genius and his chocolate ways. But Anna must step up like never before to save this chocolate empire.

I have to warn you the reader that almost every time I picked up this book I was craving chocolate, it seemed to be seeping out of the pages. The good news is Colgan is willing to share and there are recipes included.

PARIS LETTERS by Janice MacLeod                                                                              (Sourcebooks)

Paris LettersEver thought about giving up your 9 to 5 and just running away, well that is what this author did.  PARIS LETTERS is her account of the lead up and journey that takes her to Paris. This reads like a series of blog entries that is woven into a novel.

MacLeod had success in her chosen field of advertising and yet something was missing.  At 34 she decides to head back to Europe to find herself.  Life was good but the money was running low.  She had to figure out a way to sustain a living in order to remain in Paris as this is what her heart told her to do.

MacLeod decided to start a letter writing business as she was trying to find a way to blend words and art. But these letters were something special as her beautiful drawings were interwoven in the letters.  We are treated to her beautiful drawings on the outside and inside covers and several sample letters within. A young lady with a dream took a chance on life and love in Paris.  I look forward to the next chapter of MacLeod’s Paris life as long as it comes with more beautifully drawn images.

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A Book Which Took Me By Surprise and Never Let Go

Now I do not want you to think that it means THE WIFE,  THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon is one of those fast paced action books as that is not the case. But it is a terrific story that is both well paced and written so that it feels like one amazing ride even though your feet don’t leave the ground. It is hard to believe that although the year is young this novel will surely rank amongst my favorites in 2014.

W,M & M

Lawhon has created memorable characters that you do not know whether to root for or against but you do want to turn the page to see what is next.  It is New York City in the 1930s and things are not easy or simple and the politics is corrupt.  I guess I could be talking about modern-day if you think about it, but I digress…

Judge Joseph Crater has disappeared and the women in his life are determined to direct their own fate in the wake of a serird of terrible events and hopefully stay alive.  Judge Crater was a real person and his disappearance is still a mystery and that is what inspired Lawhon to write this book.  What an interesting premise and I had not known anything about the Crater case.

A nuance of this book is it’s telling by the “The Wife” Stella Crater to Detective Simon tied to this case beyond just investigating the judge’s disappearance.  But that is shared throughout the books chapters and I will not spoil that here.  Stella wants to come clean finally before she dies and tonight is the night August 6, 1969 a series of secrets she has been keeping for thirty-nine years.

When I was looking for an image of this novel to include in my post I came across the USA Today review of this book and I have to most unequivocally disagree with Olivia Barker’s characterization of this book.  But that is the thing about books and opinions we all have our own and for me this was a four star winner!

She Reads LogoAriel Lawhon is a founder of the fabulous She Reads Book Club to which I am a member and this is our February selection.  Thank you to Doubleday Publishing for supplying all of us with a copy of Ariel’s book to read. See what else we have read and what is coming up it is a place to learn and share about reads, http://www.shereads.org/.

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JoJo Moyes Will Touch Your Heart X 2 Giveaway

My first JoJo Moyes Novel was THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER a few years ago.  I had not heard of this author but she definitely touched my heart.  Okay she made me weep out loud with her story and the emotions it evoked.

After that poignant read, I kept her on my list of authors to watch.  And since then I have been faithful to my pursuit of her books with:  ME BEFORE YOU and THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND.  Truth be told I came home with a few of her books from our trip across “The Pond” in the Fall of last year as that is where JoJo Moyes calls home.

Last Letter cover.med

The folks at Viking Penguin have embraced Moyes as well and to celebrate they are branding her books with these beautiful covers.  And if you have ever stopped by this blog before you know I am often influenced by what I read by the covers.  And as a reader that loves to be surprised by what is inside I am delighted with these bold and beautiful covers that do not give away what is inside.

I am so lucky to have a chance to further your love of JoJo Moyes by giving away a copy of the newly redesigned THE LAST LETTER paperback and a copy of ME BEFORE YOU too. If you have never read Moyes and look for books that are well written and touch your heart you will not want to miss this special opportunity.

Me Before You

So as my Valentine’s Day weekend gift to you is two novels from JoJo Moyes,  All you have to do to be entered in the random drawing is leave a comment about your favorite Moyes read or another author that never fails to touch your heart. This giveaway is for US addresses only and will run until next Saturday, February 22nd at midnight CST.

Posted in Bring your tissue read, Fiction, Novel, Tear your heart out | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments