Sunday, December 2, 2018

Florida by Lauren Groff

36098092 
The New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies returns, bringing the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

My Thoughts 
I have not read a collection of short stories before - this was a great book to introduce that type of read. A few of the stories didn't particularly interest me, but others were very riveting and attention grabbing.
I loved the attention to detail that Lauren gave each and every story.   What an amazing picture she paints as well as intricate stories she weaves.
I won't give away too many details to each story but I will list those that attracted my attention; the stories regarding the abandoned sisters, a lonely boy with snakes and a searching homeless woman.  They grabbed my attention and had me wanting to know more!
For my first set of short stories, I was intrigued and will seek out more books of this type.

Drink Selection
I would pair this read with a warm applied cider or mulled wine, perfect for this time of year.

Rating


Lauren Groff
 About Lauren
Lauren Groff was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay, and her dog, Cooper.
 

Link to Purchase

 

The World Breaks Everyone by Lauren Clark

41045538

A Gripping Cat-and-Mouse Suspense Novel

Every day, I wake up certain of only three things:

I am responsible for my mother’s death.
My father has vanished.
Someone wants me dead.

I’m on the run. It’s me against the world.
I cannot let it break me.

When sixteen-year-old Olivia Jacobs and her celebrity chef father are brutally attacked after his French Quarter restaurant opening, the shell-shocked Olivia finds herself on the run on the streets of New Orleans.

Who wants her dead? And why?

My Thoughts 
This book was a little slow to start for me and pieces were slightly confusing to figure out (characterization) but once the action get going, I couldn't put the book down.
The main character Olivia is juggling so many things on her plate - death of a parent, her father being kidnapped and someone threatening to kill her.  What 16 year old could manage that life?  Certainly not my children!
This book is high energy, high stakes, action packed and will have you guessing all the way to the end. 
For those who are looking for an action packed page turner this would be the perfect read this winter!

Drink Selection
  I would pair this story with a hot glass of mulled cider on a cold winter night!

Rating 


Laura McNeill
 About Laura 

*Laura McNeill also writes under the pen name "Lauren Clark" (The World Breaks Everyone" (August 2018 release, suspense)*

ACCLAIM FOR CENTER OF GRAVITY (July 14, 2015)

"A bold and poignant look into an imploding marriage, told in a chorus of assured voices. Center of Gravity is a compelling, fierce, and ultimately hopeful tale, and McNeill is a writer to watch."
- Josilyn Jackson, author of Someone Else's Love Story

“McNeill’s debut is a heart stopping, nail-biting suspense novel that held me captive until I read the last page."
--Colleen Coble, author of The Inn at Ocean’s Edge and the Hope Beach novels

"A breathless, gut-wrenching, satisfying page turner about the real superheroes of the world who stand up to evil and won’t back down."
--Erin Healy, author of The Baker's Wife

Laura McNeill has been a voracious reader since the age of four and would rather be stranded at the library than on a desert island. In her former life, she worked as an anchor and producer for CBS affiliates in Upstate New York and Alabama. Lauren adores her family, yoga, her new Electra bike, and flavored coffee. Center of Gravity is her first novel with Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson.

Link to Purchase

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Siegal

Based on the wildly popular Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom, Kate Siegel's essay collection about life with the woman who redefined the term "helicopter mom"

There is nothing more wonderful than a mother’s love. There is also nothing more annoying. Who else can proudly insist that you’re perfect while simultaneously making you question every career, fashion, and relationship decision you have ever made?

No one understands the delicate mother-daughter dynamic better than Kate Siegel—her own mother drove her so crazy that she decided to broadcast their hilarious conversations on Instagram. Soon, hundreds of thousands of people were following their daily text exchanges, eager to see what outrageous thing Kate’s mom would do next. Now, in Mother, Can You NOT?, Kate pays tribute to the woman who invented the concept of drone parenting.

From embarrassing moments (like crashing Kate's gynecological exams) to outrageous stories (like the time she made Kate steal a cat from the pound) to hilarious celebrations (including but not limited to parties for Kate's menstrual cycles), Mother, Can you NOT? lovingly lampoons the lengths to which our mothers will go to better our lives (even if it feels like they’re ruining them in the process).

My Thoughts
What a funny freakin' book!  I just happened to receive a copy of this in my https://www.hamptongiftbag.com/ 's bag that I purchased.  For those of you who aren't familiar - Jane Ubell-Meyer puts together these amazing bags 4 times throughout the summer and it typically has 6-8 books and other goodies that you can purchase for the cost of shipping and a donation!! 
This book happened to be in there this past summer!
Kate and her mother are probably the two funniest people I have read about, and the most brutally honest.  Kate show's texts that her and her mother send each other and you will die laughing when you read them.  Her mother actually refers to her as spawn, not daughter and it kills me every time!
They talk about a wide range of topics from work to love to dr. visits and college.  If you are looking for a book to make you laugh then grab a copy today!

Drink Selection
This is clearly a Cosmopolitan book for sure!

Rating
Kate Friedman-Siegel
About Kate
KATE FRIEDMAN - SIEGEL is the New York Times bestselling author of Mother, Can You Not? and the social media guru who started the hit Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. Kate, her debut essay collection, and her #CrazyJewishMom have been featured on The Today Show, BuzzFeed, and on Nightline. Previously, she served as an associate producer for Condé Nast Entertainment, overseeing digital video for Teen Vogue, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, and The New Yorker Festival. Prior to joining Condé Nast, Kate studied English, creative writing, and theater at Princeton University.

Link to Purchase

Monday, November 5, 2018

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away.

It's winter in the Catskills and Mitchell's Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing - maybe even romantic - weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off all electricity - and all contact with the outside world - the guests settle in and try to make the best of it.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead - it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, everyone starts to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something - or someone - is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm - and one another.
  

My Thoughts
 I loved the characters and the concept of this story.  There were a few sections that were a little slow for me but they were few and far between.
There were times when I was thinking that these people are a little too calm for having all these dead bodies just chillin' (literally) around.
Then in the last few chapters it was like it hit them all of a sudden and they all lost it.
I can honestly say that I didn't really know who did it till the very end, this book really did have me guessing.  There were so many possibilities!
All in all, I really enjoyed this read.

Drink Selection
I would pair this cold, winter read with a Hot Toddy for sure!

Rating

Shari Lapena
About Shari
Shari Lapena is a Canadian novelist. She is best known for her 2016 thriller novel The Couple Next Door, which was a bestseller both in Canada and internationally. Lapena, a lawyer and English teacher before beginning her writing career, published her debut novel Things Go Flying in 2008.

Link to Purchase


Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
  


My Thoughts
I LOVED this book!  I've been hearing so many great things and I was able to get it from the library and read it in 1 1/2 days.  Now my daughter is reading it - she's hooked!
This really is one of the first YA books I've read since I was younger and it totally sucked me in.
The characters were well written, the story line was awesome, and each chapter had me wanting more.
I had so many different thoughts of who did it by the end and I was still surprised.
Top rated thriller/suspense read by far.


Drink Selection
I didn't have time to drink, I was too invested!  LOL But if I had, I would pair this with a few glasses of yummy Red Cat wine! I love their semi-sweet blend of Catawba and Baco Noir!


Rating
Kara Thomas
About Kara
Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming April 2016 from Random House/Delacorte. She is also the author of the Prep School Confidential series from St. Martin's Griffin under the pen name Kara Taylor. Kara has written for Warner Brothers Television and currently writes full-time on Long Island, where she lives with her husband and rescue cat.


Link to Purchase
Amazon

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

My Thoughts
I have mixed feelings about this book, I liked the idea of what it was about and found the case itself VERY fascinating but I found the book very slow and I had to pick it up many times to get through it.
I'm amazed at the amount of information Michelle was able to amass on this case.  She had great ties/connections with investigators, detectives, other news media etc.
It's too bad that she was never able to see the case through to the arrest of who they think may be the GSK and his upcoming trial. 


Drink Selection
I think this book deserves a stiff drink, whiskey it is!


Rating
Michelle McNamara
About Michelle
Michelle McNamara was a screenwriter, journalist, and true crime writer. She was the founder of the blog "True Crime Diary," which covers lesser-known crimes and cold cases. In 2005, she married comedian Patton Oswalt. They had one daughter together, born in 2009.


Link to Purchase
Amazon

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher

12417705
Sometimes the best man isn't even in the wedding party...

Gavin Greene is a hopeless romantic. He's also a professional one: he writes the wedding column for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, covering spectacular parties from coast to coast. But there's a thin line between being a hotshot reporter on assignment...and being a single guy alone on a Saturday night at someone else's wedding.

Everything changes on New Year's when Gavin meets Melinda, a travel writer with enchanting dimples. A moonlit stroll across a Manhattan rooftop seals the deal. Until an Aussie with attitude swoops in and whisks her away before Gavin gets her number.

Gavin crisscrosses New York City to find her again. And he learns that there's something worse than losing the woman of his dreams: Having to write an article about her wedding.



My Thoughts
First off, I liked how this story was told from the male perspective.  9 times out of 10 it's always female perspective. 
It's slightly, ok really out of left field, that there would be a guy that had dreams about marriage, honeymoons and babies his entire life. 
One funny line in the book, because he was still single he was letting down his species, really?  HAHA  Personally I think they would praise him.
This book has all sorts of ups and downs - love at first site, hope, deceit, cheating, happiness, which will be Gavin's fate?


Drink Selection
So many weddings, have to pair it with champagne!  Delish!


Rating




Devan Sipher
About Devan
Born in LA.

I always thought that would make a good title for my autobiography. Not that I plan on writing one.

I grew up mostly in Southfield, Michigan, which sounds misleadingly bucolic for a suburb of Detroit with more than 27 million square feet of office space.

For the past eight years I've been a writer of the Vows column at The New York Times, and my first novel, The Wedding Beat, was loosely based on my experience at the Times as a single guy writing about weddings.

My second novel, The Scenic Route, comes out in June 2014.



Link to Purchase
Amazon

Monday, October 22, 2018

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel

For so many people, reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time--it's a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them.

I'd Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

My Thoughts
What a perfect book about the joy of reading.  I connected with this book on so many levels and couldn't get enough.
There were bits and pieces that really stuck with me.  The chapter regarding the "sins" that readers tell other readers in private - it makes me recall when people tell me that they DNF a book.  I giggle because I used to feel bad as well, but I finally realized I'm not going to like every book and it's really a guessing game until I get into the book.
Right book right time - I have had the joy of this as well.  Recently I read The Dinner List and it truly was the book that I needed at that very moment and I devoured it. 
The concept of book shelf organization always fascinates me.  I love the thrill of taking all of them done and reading each back and finding a fun new way to display them.  Currently they are in color "order". 
When readers are obsessed with a book, I get it, but when they tell me over and over again that I MUST read it, I tend to back further and further away in spite.  LOL  Promote/Love but don't be pushy!
The chapter on bookworm problems so true - must read!
For any of you that really know me, I would LOVE to get a job in a bookstore, even part-time!  The atmosphere, the little bookish goodies, being surrounded by book lovers = pure heaven!
This may be the only book that I can honestly say that I will re-read.  Once I know what will happen, it takes a lot of the joy out of it for me.
Lastly, book journaling is amazing!  I just recently started this joy filled activity and I can honestly say that I get so much more out of a book while journaling and I will never stop!

Drink Selection
 I totally want to cuddle up with a nice warm cup of cider, delish for this cool fall weather enveloping us.

Rating
Anne Bogel
About Anne
She is the creator of the popular blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. Known by readers, authors, and publishers as a tastemaker through her popular book lists and reading guides, books are the foundation of her site, which has been affectionately dubbed “a lifestyle blog for nerds.” Anne considers that high praise. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and four kids, yellow lab, and two thousand of her favorite books.

Link to Purchase

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?
After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.
As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun.

My Thoughts
What a good read.  I was a little slow to get into at the beginning but once I started working my way though I really enjoyed it.
Postpartum depression is so real and so hard to get through.  I had it with my first and I was thankful I didn't with my 2nd and 3rd. 
I found it a little interesting/odd that someone that is so withdrawn is so willing to open up to people she randomly sees in the waiting room? 
I don't want to give away too much of the story but you will find tragedy, heartbreak, pain, fear, hope, and love all wrapped into one story.  Will it end happily?  A real page turner, I highly recommend it!


Drink Selection
Being that it's fall, I'm going with Spiked Apple Cider. Delish!


Rating
Emily Bleeker
About Emily
Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her family. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running.


Link to Purchase
Amazon


Friday, October 12, 2018

What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

From noted ESPN commentator and journalist Kate Fagan, the heartbreaking and vital story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose death by suicide rocked the University of Pennsylvania campus and whose life reveals with haunting detail and uncommon understanding the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today.

If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried, and who was only getting started.

But when Maddy began her long-awaited college career, her parents noticed something changed. Previously indefatigable Maddy became withdrawn, and her thoughts centered on how she could change her life. In spite of thousands of hours of practice and study, she contemplated transferring from the school that had once been her dream. When Maddy's dad, Jim, dropped her off for the first day of spring semester, she held him a second longer than usual. That would be the last time Jim would see his daughter.

My Thoughts
Such a tragic story of a life cut short.  Maddy "seemed" to have the perfect life, an Instagram story fit for a teenage princess.  But the truth lies beneath the smile that she put on for everyone, for the perfect Insta life.
This story in general touched me, knowing that my daughter deals with a high level of anxiety (and takes medication) due to school, grades, dating, work, etc.  I can see the pressure that she puts on herself for perfection and this book really makes me take note of her behavior, her words, her posts that much more.
I also spoke to her regarding this issue and I plan to have her read this next, being that she is college bound next fall.
The only parts that didn't really grab me per say, were the chapters that didn't really have to do with Maddy (maybe in theory) and her life.

Drink Selection
I want to pair this read with a nice warm glass of apple cider. 

Rating
Kate Fagan
About Kate
Kate Fagan is a columnist and feature writer for espnW, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She is also an in-studio contributor for The Word, a digital video segment that examines hot topics in sports. Previously, Fagan spent three seasons covering the 76ers for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work was cited in the anthology of Best American Sports Writing 2013, and she has also been featured on Longreads, a site that curates the best in long-form journalism and fiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Link to Purchase


 


Thursday, October 11, 2018

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My Thoughts
The first thought in mind when I really got into this book, OMG what if this happened to me?  What in the world would I do? To be honest I have no idea!  Such a terrifying story that ends in love but do they always? This would be my WORST and BEST nightmare all in one.
I personally feel that once a person goes through such a tragic event of "losing" someone in such a horrible way, characteristics of a person change for good and going back isn't really an option in the future.
Jesse needs to really get his feelings out there, communicate and understand that a lot happened in the 3.5 years he was gone and Emma has grown and changed.
The interesting question that lingers, would they have stayed together if the tragedy hadn't occurred? 

Drink Selection
I'm going to pair this read with a fall favorite, hard cider sangria.  Delish :)

Rating
Taylor Jenkins Reid
About Taylor
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, and two other novels. She lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @tjenkinsreid.

Link to Purchase


 


The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle




When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.


My Thoughts
What an amazing read.  It was the read that I needed on that given day.  It struck a cord and I read it in less 24 hours. 
There were so many parts that really tugged at me - when I was younger I was always the one to "make it work", even if it wasn't healthy I was determined.
I loved the points that spoke of knowing that things will not always be at their full potential, that you must realize that true happiness is accepting that 95% pf the time life is imperfect.
Without giving too many details away, the ending really got to me and I was on the verge of all out tears which is very rare for me.  This ending (just slightly before the ending), wow. 

Drink Selection
I'm going to pair this delightful read with champagne, after all, we are celebrating Sabby's birthday.

Rating


Rebecca Serle
About Rebecca
Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love. She can be found on twitter: @RebeccaASerle

Link to Purchase


Friday, October 5, 2018

#BloomBlogWeek Giveaway!


I am doing a blog post today as part of Blogger Appreciation Week with Tall Poppy Writers.


For my regular readers and for new readers, here's a little fun info about me!




For those of you who are new here, thank you for stopping by Books and Wine are Lovely! I have this blog as well as a group/page on Facebook  and Instagram.
I first decided to establish my own blog with the helpful advice of my dear friend Hilary Grossman who's book Dangled Carat was the first book I ever reviewed and I was hooked! 
I have many authors who request to be on my blog and others that I seek out do to LOVING their books!
 I try to review at least 1 book a week, I participate in blog tour stops, host interviews and of course have giveaways like the one below!

I'm be giving away:



Here are just a few of my favorites for you to win today! 

Good Luck!

Bethany xoxoxo



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar



Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything.

Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.

But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead.
  

My Thoughts
What a crazy read, but I really enjoyed it.  In parts, it really did remind me of The Devil Wears Prada but this version has horror mixed into it.
Fashion is cut throat, literally. 
It also has a splash of mean girls as well, Sarah by far is Queen Bee and is nasty to Anya and the others and makes them bow to her every whim.  Will she get what she deserves in the end?  There are so many twists and turns to this book - it can be intense at times but not overboard.
There are fashion disasters, murder, cheating, torture, you name it, it's all inside!

Drink Selection
 I'm pairing this book with a creepy cocktail fit for this time of year - The Black Cauldron!

Rating
Amina Akhtar
About Amina
Amina Akhtar is a former fashion writer and editor. She’s worked at Vogue, Elle.com, Style.com, NYTimes.com, and NYMag.com where she was the founding editor of The Cut blog. She’s written for numerous publications, including Yahoo Style, Fashionista, xoJane, Refinery29, Billboard, and for brands like Bergdorf Goodman and H&M’s 10 Years of Style tome. After toiling in the fashion ranks for over fifteen years, she now writes full time in the desert mountains, where she’s detoxing from her once glam life. #FashionVictim is Amina’s first novel.

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Blog Tour Stop - Just the Two of Us by Michelle Scott


Starla wasn’t trying to steal her older sister’s boyfriend. In fact, she was fighting him off when Janice caught the two of them alone in the dark. Unfortunately, love-struck Janice didn’t see it that way and tried to end her life. Although she didn’t succeed, her suicide attempt left her brain damaged, and it became Starla’s responsibility to care for her. Four years later, the sisters’ peaceful lives are interrupted when Nick, a handsome, young attorney, moves in upstairs. Seeing that Janice is attracted to him, Starla keeps herself out of the picture. After all, she hurt her sister before, and she’s not about to do it again. Yet as much as Starla tries to ignore her feelings for Nick, she can’t bury them entirely. Especially not when he seems to be choosing her over her sister.  

Two Kinds of Love


This past week, I had two conversations about the same topic: falling in love.

The first conversation was more of an on-line chat with two other writers.  We were talking about a story in which two characters meet for the first time.  The first character, a young woman, had all the earmarks of a successful relationship.  Her fiancée was a decent man who had given her an enormous wedding ring (planets could have orbited around it, said the author.)  However, when she met the young hero of the story (a fairy prince who had been banished to Earth), she realized that she’d never been swept off her feet until that moment.  I’m not sure where the story is going to go after that, but I can’t wait to find out!

The other conversation was with my daughters.  We were talking about chemistry between men and women.  ‘You know,’ my younger daughter said, ‘that moment you realize a guy is hot.’  They both asked me if I’d felt that way about their dad when we first me.  Of course, I said, ‘Definitely!’  However, that was a long time ago.  I still find my husband handsome, but now our love is different.  More mellow, I guess I’d say.  But even though we don’t have that lusty, heart-pounding kind of love, what we have now is much stronger and deeper.  It’s something I’d never change.

In Just the Two of Us, Starla’s first crush was involved someone despicable who used her teenaged infatuation to hurt her.  It’s something that Starla thinks she’ll never get over, so she locks herself away emotionally from men.  That is, until Nick comes along.

Although it isn’t exactly insta-love, there are sparks.  Starla likes the fact that a playful spirit hides underneath Nick’s buttoned-up exterior.  Nick, on the other hand, loves Starla’s whimsical nature.  Sure, they argue about whether or not its proper to have a purple bathtub full of bright-yellow marigolds at the entrance to their businesses, but they come to an agreement.  And as they spend time together, their initial attraction becomes something deeper.  At long last, Starla finds a man whom she can trust.

Whether its chemistry or something slow burning, love is wonderful in all its forms.  Let us all be lucky in that aspect.
Michelle Scott
About Michelle
Maybe it's because of my Halloween birthday, but I've always been attracted to scary stories. On the other hand, I love romances as well. Once I discovered that these two genres existed side-by-side in urban fantasy novels, I was in heaven! Urban fantasy is like chocolate and peanut butter: a perfect, to-die-for combination that I can never get enough of.

I've been writing since childhood, but earned my bachelor's degree in psychology and my master's in English literature. When I'm not writing, I'm a straight-laced English teacher at a two-year college in Detroit. I've been married to Mr. Right for over twenty-five years. I also have three teenaged children: a boy and two girls, all of whom have threatened to never speak to me again if I turn them into characters and put them into my books.
  
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Blog Tour Stop - Chasing Petalouthes by Effie Kammenou






The Gift Saga concludes with the next generation coming into the forefront of the story during their tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

 

Evvie has lived through more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie vows to never let anyone into her heart. But will her determination to keep everyone out see her lose the only person who could heal her broken soul?

 

Over-achieving, focused, talented, determined to succeed. Those are the traits Stella envies in her siblings and cousins. Her insecurities and lack of confidence stunts her ability to realize her own worth. When an older, handsome young man claims her as his own, Stella believes she has finally found who she has been looking for—someone to love her enough to mold her into the best version of herself. But has she fallen in love too quickly for a man she barely knows anything about?

 

Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.

 Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character's live and histories, read Evanthia's Gift & Waiting For Aegina.



Effie’s Thoughts on Tradition
  
Even as a very young girl I was not only proud of my Greek heritage but I also enjoyed all the traditions that went along with it. To me, everything we did was just a little different from the others around me, and that made it unique and special.
          Easter seemed to be the holiday that stood out the most as it was almost always a week or more later that the “other” or American Easter. And for Greek Orthodox Christians the day didn’t simply come and go with a quick trip to church and a meal. Our lives revolved around the entire forty days of lent with dietary restrictions and frequent church services. During Holy Week, we would attend church once or twice a day as each service represented a different event in the last days of Christ’s life.
          One would think a youngster would hate this. It’s not an easy week. But I loved it. On Palm Sunday the youth group would form crosses out of palms for the priest to hand out, and on Holy Thursday we would stay up late into the night adorning the structure that represented the tomb of Christ with thousands of flowers.
          But as a child, a teen or even a young adult I truly didn’t appreciate what went into keeping those traditions alive. Everything was laid out before me, prepared and organized by someone else—my mother. She worked tirelessly to make each holiday perfect. She cooked and baked all the traditional Greek foods and pastries while trying to attend church, clean the house take care of three girls and often hold down a job. Did I mention that on Easter Eve our services start at eleven in the evening and go until about one–thirty in the morning? After that we break our fast with a traditional Greek meal. Yes! At two in the morning. That is another thing I love about our Greek traditions. That, and the beautiful resurrection service that takes place outside of the church.
          My mother passed away in 2012 and being the oldest daughter I felt it was my duty to carry on the traditions that were so important to her. Letting go of these customs would be like losing another part of her and no one in our family was willing to do that. Mom was proud of where she came from, but she loved this country too. Preparing the foods she grew up with, keeping the rituals and listening to the music, was her way to hold onto her childhood and the beautiful memories of her youth.
          Throughout The Gift Saga, holidays and traditions hold a special importance in the story. In Waiting For Aegina, the five friends come from different backgrounds, but the beauty of this is how they come together to celebrate and honor each other’s customs.
          Tradition is about history, memories and family. In your own family, it may not even be related to a heritage but simply a practice your family has been doing for generations. Never let those special moments slip away. It’s the difference between taking an ordinary day and making it extraordinary.
Effie Kammenou
About Effie

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart to change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she'd thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Member of Women's Fiction Writer's Association & Romance Writers of America

For updates on promotions and the release of Book Three in The Gift Saga

Follow Effie on Twitter @EffieKammenou
www.facebook.com/EffieKammenou
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