Always With a Book

Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Everything We Give by Kerry Lonsdale (audio)

Title: Everything We Give
Author: Kerry Lonsdale
Series: Everything, #3
Narrator: Andrew Eiden, Amy Landon
Published: July 2018, Brilliance Audio
Length: 8 hours 48 minutes
Source: Publisher

From the author of Everything We Keep comes the final novel in the Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling Everything Series. Brimming with suspense, mystery, and romance, Everything We Give brings to a powerful close the gripping series of love, lies, and the secrets families keep.
Award-winning photographer Ian Collins made only one mistake in life, but it cost his mother her freedom and destroyed their family, leaving Ian to practically raise himself. For years he’s been estranged from his father, and his mother has lived off the grid. For just as long, he has searched for her.

Now, Ian seemingly has it all—national recognition for his photographs; his loving wife, Aimee; and their adoring daughter, Caty. Only two things elude him: a feature in National Geographic and finding his mother. When the prized magazine offers him his dream project on the same day that Aimee’s ex-fiancé, James, returns bearing a message for Ian but putting a strain on his marriage, Ian must make a choice: chase after a coveted assignment or reconnect with a mysterious woman who might hold the key to putting his past to rest. But the stakes are high, because Ian could lose the one thing he holds most dear: his family.

My thoughts:  This book is the finale to Kerry Lonsdale's Everything series, and I cannot stress this enough...if you have any plans of reading this series...READ IT FROM THE BEGINNING! This really is a series that you do need to read in order as there are minor spoilers in each of the subsequent books that would definitely ruin the enjoyment of the previous books. And it would also affect the emotional impact - and that is such a big part of this series. Do yourself a favor - read this series as it is meant to be will thank me for guiding you on that!

This book tells Ian's story and it is just as emotional and compelling as the other's. We also get Aimee's side, too, but for the most part, this is all Ian. I loved that it went back and forth in time from present day to different parts of Ian's childhood. There is a reason why Ian is the way he is and seeing Ian in his childhood really helps tell this.

One of the best parts of this series is just how complex the characters are that Kerry Lonsdale has created and Ian is no exception. We see that clearly here in this book - both in the present day as well as in his childhood. We also see just how much he struggles with all that has gone on in his life and when you add in what has happened with Aimee, it's quite amazing. 

I really enjoyed this series - I loved the way each of the books were set up and I loved getting to know all the different characters. While I'm sad that we never got a few of their stories - such as Thomas's or Nadia's, I think Kerry really did create a wonderful series that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

Audio thoughts: This is a tough audio review to write...I loved the story itself, but the narrators almost made me stop listening. Andrew Eidon, narrating Ian's sections did a great job...that part I had no issues with and luckily his story was the majority of the book. Amy Landon, on the other hand, was less than stellar. She narrated Aimee's parts and did ok with anything related to female voices, but when it came to male voices, it sounded very automated. If Aimee's parts had been more frequent, I probably would have switched to reading the print version of this book...and I have never abandoned an audiobook before. As I said, luckily, Aimee's parts were few and part between, so I only had to cringe every now and again, but I think this might have been a poor choice of narrators for this particular book. 

Books in this series: 
  1. Everything We Keep
  2. Everything We Left Behind
  3. Everything We Give

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: In the Vines by Shannon Kirk

Title: In the Vines
Author: Shannon Kirk
Published: July 2018, Thomas & Mercer
Format: ARC Paperback, 284 pages
Source: Publisher

Family ties so strong you can’t escape…
Mary Olivia Pentecost, known as Mop, was born into one of the wealthiest families in the country—and one of the most guarded. Now, two years after her mother’s mysterious death, Mop is seeking closure on the disquieting tragedy by returning to the New England seaside estate of her cloistered Aunty Liv—once her closest relative and confidante.

But behind the walls of the isolated estate, the shadows of the past are darker than Mop imagined. The puzzles of the family history are not to be shared, but unearthed. With each revelation comes a new, foreboding threat—and for Mop, the grave suspicion that to discover Aunty Liv’s secrets is to become a prisoner of them.

How well do we know the people we love? How well do we want to know them? The answers are as twisted as a tangle of vines in this throat-clutching novel of psychological suspense.

My thoughts: I love nothing more than a really good psychological thriller with great gothic vibes and this one absolutely has that and more. And let's not forget it's stunning totally gives off such a creepy vibe to go along with the story - this one is the total package, folks, and you do not want to miss it!

What I loved most about this book is that as addicting a read as it is, I found it to be a slow-burning kind of read. It starts off with a bang and some major confusion...but it is so intriguing at the same time that you just can't help yourself as you keep turning those pages to figure out what is going on. I loved the way Shannon Kirk ever so slowly unravels everything - she leaves you with all sorts of questions, and while they do eventually get answered, more pop up before all is finally revealed.

The story moves back and forth in time and alternates between two narrators - Mop (Mary Olivia Pentecost) and Aunty Liv - and bombards you with all sorts of goings on and you are left to piece everything together as well as keep things straight. It's such a unique way to tell the story, but at the same time, it's chilling and haunting, and just might have you questioning the sanity of some of the characters as well.

This book is filled with family secrets and delves into the world of mental instability like no other. It is crazy just how dark one's own paranoia and hysteria can be and where that can lead you. Reading Aunt Liv's stream of consciousness, and even Mop's at time's, was so eerie and yet so authentic, to each situation they found themselves in, that it just made for more compelling and realistic characters. 

This book is dark and deliciously fun. It's one twisted, at times terrifying thriller that I cannot recommend enough. 


Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage (audio)

Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Published: July 2018, Macmillan Audio / St. Martin's Press
Length: 11 hours 6 minutes / 320 pages
Source: Publisher for both

Sweetness can be deceptive.
Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

My thoughts: This debut novel is probably one of the most chilling, deliciously creepy books I've read in a long time and will definitely go down as one of my favorites. I actually listened to it - and the audio was fantastic - make sure to read my audio thoughts below.

This novel is getting some great buzz and it's well-deserved. It's such a great read. I literally could not tear myself away from it once I started it. It's a chilling look at a completely dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship - with the daughter being only seven years old. Hanna is manipulative, cunning and just about down-right evil towards her mother - oh and on top of all this, is mute! Of course, she never let's anyone else see any of this maliciousness but Suzette, most especially her father. On the flip side, Suzette's anxiety about motherhood comes out in spades. I could feel it, it was that palpable.

I loved the way this story was told, with the chapters alternating between Hanna and Suzette's points of view. It really allows you to get into their heads and see what is going on, but at the same time, it also brings up a ton of questions. My biggest question was what happened to cause Hanna to hate her mother so much? Was it just that Suzette had some of her father's affection or is there more going on here? I also liked that with the switching of narrators, while you think you know who's side you are on (#TeamHanna vs. #TeamSuzette), as you get deeper into the book, you might feel yourself flopping back and forth a few times...depending on who is narrating!

I was obsessed with this book...and whether you read it or listen to it, it will evoke strong feelings. This is certainly a book that will make you think a lot...and would even make a great book club selection. I highly recommend it!

Audio thoughts: I was fortunate to be given an early download of the audio version of this book...and WOW! This book was amazing on audio! This was the first time I've listened to Gabra Zackman narrate a book and she knocked it out of the park, especially for Hanna's voice. She really got the nuances of a little kid's voice and even made it sound a little creepy at times. I also appreciated her pronunciations of the Swedish words...I'm sure she did them better justice than I would have. As much as this book was creepy and suspenseful, it was super fun to listen to and that is definitely a tribute to the narrator!

***And don't forget: There's a #BookGiveaway going on until July 23rd for a finished copy of Baby Teeth. Be sure to enter if this is your type of read!


Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Tomorrow, July 17th, Zoje Stage's debut novel, Baby Teeth, comes out, and because I ended up with an extra copy, I'm going to give that copy away - and it's a finished copy! I've just finished reading this book - it's a deliciously creepy read!!! - and will be posting my review later on today. You can see what others have to say below and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!!! 

Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Published: July 2018, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Sweetness can be deceptive. 
Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Early Praise:

“Unnerving and unputdownable, BABY TEETH will get under your skin and keep you trapped in its chilling grip until the shocking conclusion.” ―New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

“We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Gone Girl meets The Omen. Baby Teeth is a twisty, delirious read that will constantly question your sympathies for the two characters as their bond continues to crumble.” ―

“A deliciously creepy read.” ―New York Post

“We bet that parents will find this novel particularly unsettling.” ―Bookish

“Deliciously creepy…the author keeps the suspense taut…offering a terrifying glimpse into the inner thoughts of a budding sociopath.” ―Library Journal

“Tightly plotted, expertly choreographed.... Stage palpably conveys Suzette's fear, anger, frustration, and desperation while exploring the deleterious effects that motherhood can have on one's marriage and self-worth. ...Stage fuses horror with domestic suspense to paint an unflinching portrait of childhood psychopathy and maternal regret.” ―Kirkus

"Stage’s deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can’t-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love." ―Publishers Weekly

“A totally engaging and unnerving read. Debut novelist Stage has convincingly created one of the youngest villains ever, and readers will be unable to resist the urge to meet Hanna.” ―Booklist

“Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth is cunning, sharp, and nasty, and wickedly funny until it isn’t funny anymore. This intelligent, unrelenting, layered shocker can stand proudly alongside classics like The Other and The Butcher Boy, with their ‘evil’ children uncannily reflecting our own sins.” ―Paul Tremblay, nationally bestselling author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“Every time we read the premise of Baby Teeth, all the hair on the back of our neck stands up. Simply put, it’s about a sweet little girl who wants to kill her mother. And it. Is. Bonkers. Do you have goosebumps yet?” ―HelloGiggles

“Imagine WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN only with insight into what Kevin was thinking―and if Eva had fought back. This dark, terrifying novel unfolds as a battle of wits between a struggling mother and her psychotic young daughter―and its genius is that the reader’s allegiance isn’t allowed to linger too long on either side. You’ll be desperate to discuss the ending once you’ve recovered from the shock of it. A must-read.” ―Catherine Ryan Howard, USA Today bestselling author of Distress Signals

“Baby Teeth is electrifyingly creepy. It calls to mind the great monster children of The Fifth Child or We Need to Talk About Kevin, but has a devilish tension all its own. Twisted, playful, and deeply unsettling, Zoje Stage's debut announces her as a new voice worth celebrating.”―Colin Winnette, author of The Job of the Wasp

“Baby Teeth is deeply unsettling in the best possible way. Absolutely unforgettable and unflinching, it digs right into the painful nerve of family, obligation and dependence―it's a hell of a debut.” ―Kelly Braffet, author of Save Yourself


Giveaway Details -- (US Only) 
Thanks to the publicist, one reader will win a finished copy of  Baby Teeth  by Zoje Stage. To enter the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter by July 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends July 23rd.

Good Luck!!! 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Book Spotlight & Recipe: The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe

Last February, The Freedom Broker by K.J. Howe, the first book in her Thea Paris series, was released in hardcover.  Right now, the book is only  $2.99 on Kindle - only til July 16 and  I am helping the publishers get the word out. 

I also have a recipe to share - it's Thea's favorite Greek dish...check it out below!


Title: The Freedom Broker
Author: K.J. Howe
Series: Thea Paris, #1
Published: February 2017, Quercus
Format: Kindle Edition, 400 pages 

Kidnap negotiator Thea Paris has spent her entire life with survivor's guilt, following an unspeakable childhood tragedy. At eight years old, she watched, frozen in fear, as her twelve-year-old brother, Nikos, was abducted from their home in Kanzi, Africa. Although he was recovered nine months later, he was never the same after that; worse, Thea discovers that she was supposed to have been the target.

This defining experience drives Thea to become one of the top operatives in the field of kidnap-and-ransom consultancy. Nicknamed "Liberata" because she once secured the release of a captive from the Sicilian mob without her client paying a cent, she travels the globe trying to bring hostages home--mostly through negotiation, but occasionally through more forceful means. She is very good at her job.

Twenty years after her brother's abduction, Thea's worst nightmare is revisited when her father, oil magnate Christos Paris, is taken on his sixtieth birthday. He disappears from his yacht while it is moored at Santorini, the ship's whole crew slaughtered mercilessly.

Thea immediately calls in her team at Quantum Security International, premier K&R specialists. Following protocol, they break down Christos' life, looking for leads, but the list of enemies and business competitors is endless. Not surprisingly, Christos Paris has imprinted his designer shoe on innumerable backs during his journey to the top of the oil business. And he was abducted only a few days before the biggest deal of his career.

From there, the case only gets stranger. Unlike most abductions, there are no ransom demands, no political appeals, no prisoner release requests. Instead, the kidnapper sends foreboding quotes in Latin by text from burner phones. What does the kidnapper want?

And most importantly for Thea, will she be able to prevent a second kidnapping from destroying her family for good?


Thea’s favorite Greek dish

“Dolmadakia” is the Greek term for stuffed grape leaves, and these dolmas are a traditional Mediterranean dish that can double as appetizers or a main course. Grape leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals, low in calories, and they act as the perfect low-sodium wrap—healthy and delicious, a great combination.

1 (8 oz) jar grape leaves (approximately 25 leaves)
1 lb ground round
1 lb ground lamb (feel free to substitute with pork for variety)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 box tabouli mix (4 oz) or 3Ž4 cup brown rice
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove (crushed and pressed into meat mixture)
3 cans organic low-salt chicken broth (or water)
4 lemons, squeezed
4 eggs

1.     Drain, rinse, and dry grape leaves, then place to the side.
2.     In a large bowl, mix ground round, lamb, salt, pepper, parsley, onion, garlic, and tabouli.  Mix well.
3.     Rest one grape leaf, stem up, on the counter and place one rounded teaspoon of the meat mixture near the stem.
4.     Fold the stem over meat mixture, then fold one side leaf over the mixture, fold the top over, then roll the rest.
5.     Use toothpicks to hold the stuffed leaves together.
6.     Place leaves snugly in a large pot.
7.     Cover all the leaves with chicken broth (adding water if you don’t have enough broth).
8.     Bring the broth to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer, cooking until tender (approximately 30 minutes).
9.     Remove one quart of broth from the pot and let it cool, so it is hot but not scalding.
10. In another bowl, beat four eggs until frothy, adding the juice from the lemon slowly.
11. Add the egg mixture slowly to the warm broth, a half ladle at a time, still beating the egg mixture.
12. After all the broth is mixed with the egg and lemon, slowly add it to the pot. 
13. Cover the pot and turn off the heat.
14. Let it sit for ten minutes, then serve.

If you prefer a tart, rich sauce, then use more eggs and lemon than the recipe calls for. You can also serve with lemon wedges or strained Greek yogurt.


The Freedom Broker  by K.J. Broker

February 7, 2017 


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

Title: The Subway Girls
Author: Susie Orman Schnall
Published: July 2018, St. Martin's Griffin
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte's dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.

My thoughts: I adore reading books set in NYC and this one might just be one of my favorites. I had never heard anything about the Miss Subways, an advertising campaign that ran in the subways from 1941 - 1976. This was such a fascinating, enjoyable read that I devoured in one afternoon.

I was completely captivated by this story right from the start. It's told in alternating chapters via dual narrative, switching from 1949 to 2018 and I was equally invested in both timelines. I loved that both main characters - Charlotte from 1949 and Olivia in 2018 - were incredibly strong females for their times, and were not afraid to go after what they believed in and what they wanted.

I loved the history that is infused into this story - this is why I love reading historical fiction. You learn so much about a topic, yet in such a fascinating and compelling way. And believe me when I say, as soon as I finished reading this book, I was on Google looking up more about the Miss Subways program, more to see if any of my Great-Aunts had possibly been a Miss Subways and I just didn't know it! Unfortunately not, but still, it was quite fascinating to see some of the old posters and you can be sure the NY Transit Museum in Brooklyn in now on my list of places to visit next time I head into NYC. 

I loved the way Susie intertwined the two stories. Of course, I knew that at some point these two time lines would eventually merge, but I just wasn't sure how. I think the way Susie did it felt natural, never once contrived or heavy-handed. It had a good, natural flow, and seemed to all fit. 

The characters in this book, Charlotte and Olivia, and all the others we meet just jump off the pages. They are all so well-developed and full of life. While not all of the them are based on real-life characters, I think Susie did a great job of bringing the idea of how the Miss Subways campaign was handled back in the day, as well as imparting the idea that some things certainly haven't changed for women, sad as that might seem. 

This is a well-researched, well-thought out story that will certainly hook you from the start and keep you entertained, entranced and have you learning a thing or two about a part of history of NYC along the way. It's a charming story that will leave you inspired to keep at your dreams, no matter what obstacles stand in your way. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Spotlight: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Yesterday, Sarah Morgan's latest novel, How to Keep a Secret, was published and to celebrate, I am helping the publisher get the word out. This book marks Sarah's transition from romance to multi-generational women's fiction. It sounds like it will be a great summer read - let me know if you decide to pick it up :)  I'll be listening to it on audio when I get a chance!

Title: How to Keep a Secret
Author: Sarah Morgan
Published: July 2018, HQN
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

What readers are saying:

"Jane Green meets Sophie Kinsella. Heartwarming, emotional, funny and real - I adored this book." -- Jill Shalvis

"This sweeping novel will have you questioning all the secrets you've ever kept. I loved it." --Penny Parkes, author of Practice Makes Perfect

"I laughed, I cried, I held my breath. I absolutely adored it." -- Cathy Bramley, Sunday Times bestselling author

About the author: USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy, contemporary romance and women's fiction, and her trademark humor and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. Described as "a magician with words" by RT Book Reviews, she has sold more than eleven million copies of her books. She was nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA Award from the Romance Writes of America and won the award three times: once in 2012 for Doukakis's Apprentice, in 2013 for A Night of No Return and in2017 for Miracle on 5th Avenue. She also won the RT Reviewers' Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their Top Pick slot. 

As a child, Sarah dreamed of being a writer, and although she took a few interesting detours along the way, she is now living that dream. Sarah lives near London, England, with her husband and children, and when she isn't reading or writing, she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.

Authors Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook  |   Instagram 

  HOW TO KEEP A SECRET by Sarah Morgan
HQN Books
  July 10, 2018
Paperbook ISBN: 978-1335613004
eBook ISBN: B0777M7LQM
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