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Friday, April 24, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell (Psychological Thriller)


THE CARETAKERS
by
ELIZA MAXWELL

Genre:  Psychological Thriller / Gothic Fiction / Sisters Fiction 
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Number of Pages: 317


Scroll down for the giveaway!







In the isolated estate she’s found the perfect getaway. But there’s no escaping the past in this chilling novel from the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl.

Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended. She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge. A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries.

As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

“Suspense fans will be satisfied.” — Publishers Weekly

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This year is churning out some of my best reading experiences! WOW! THIS BOOK! This. book. Upon reading the last sentence of this twisted gem, my brain was left spinning, and my pulse was still pounding. My mind questioned what I had just read, while my heart screamed what are you going to read now? There is so much to unpack within a narrative that at first seems so disparate, yet the masterful storytelling packages everything up into a breathtakingly remarkable literary gift. 

While the synopsis definitely sets the stage, there really is no way to prepare yourself for the thrilling ride ahead of you. The unveiling of a tragic family saga created not just an unsettling and suspenseful read, but fashioned together a powerful character study on family dysfunction and the lasting pain of secrecy as well as an exhaustive exploration into the ramifications of choice. Oliver may have literally been locked up, but everyone is trapped inside a prison of their own making. Misunderstandings, assumptions, and a general lack of communication has a sinister way of compounding the negativity they feel about their decisions, especially when they can't be honest with themselves or others. The truth has a way of coming out no matter how much they try to deny it, and ultimately, each character is backed into a confrontational corner that finally gives complete access into their true motivations. It's an exercise of relief for both them and readers alike, creating moments that will certainly leave a lasting impact. 

 "Right and wrong. It's a nice idea, but a costly one."

Multiple perspectives, interrelated plot points, and alternating timelines are interwoven seamlessly to craft a hauntingly beautiful and multilayered tale of Gothic genius. Fallbrook stands as a decaying sentinal to unspeakable tragedy, damsels in distress demand action, a burdened protagonist seeks to find redemption, and horrific monsters in the guise of inhumanity, corruption, manipulation, and obsession haunt the lives and souls of everyone they touch. Fairy and folk tale elements sprinkle the narrative as cautionary reminders in the moral quest of good against evil.

"The weight of the truth, once given, is shockingly difficult to bear."

If you love stories that make you feel as though you are watching a movie, this will be a cinematographic treat. As a documentary filmmaker, Tessa finds herself constantly laying out the framing of scenes, which in effect, captures those visual moments for description onto the page that makes this a very meta experience. I especially enjoyed when Tessa is deliberating how to move forward after everything is said and done, hinting that she may try her hand at fiction with its "clear-cut version of good guys and bad...where you know who to root for, and you're never wrong." What an amazing way to cast doubt on the whole encounter: Fact is fiction, fiction is fact, and though the "truth" has been revealed, readers may still feel lied to. Perhaps some things really are best left buried, but I'm just not so sure that I have been convinced.

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me with a free copy of the book. This is my honest and thoughtful opinion.

As an aside, if you're looking for a well done series featuring people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes and their individual struggles to obtain freedom in the eyes of the justice system, I highly recommend THE INNOCENCE FILES on Netflix. I've been slowly making my way through the episodes since the series premiered on April 15. It was kismet that these two fell into my hands at the same time. Enjoy!





Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Shadow Writer, The Widow’s Watcher, The Unremembered Girl, The Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee.




THREE WINNERS!
ONE WINNER: Signed Copy + $25 Amazon Gift Card
TWO WINNERS: Signed Copy 
APRIL 14-25, 2020
(U.S. Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
4/14/20
Review
4/14/20
Review
4/15/20
Audio Review
4/16/20
Review
4/16/20
Review
4/17/20
Review
4/17/20
BONUS Post
4/18/20
Review
4/19/20
Review
4/20/20
Audio Review
4/20/20
Audio Review
4/21/20
Review
4/22/20
Review
4/23/20
Review
4/24/20
Review
4/24/20
Review

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BOOK REVIEW: Flight Risk by Cara Putman (Romantic Suspense)


FLIGHT RISK
by
Cara Putman

Genre:  Political/Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of Publication: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 336


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!






Bestselling author Cara Putman returns with a romantic legal thriller that will challenge the assumptions of truth tellers everywhere.

Savannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career—an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target. Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

CLICK TO PURCHASE ON 





This is an increasingly intense legal thriller filled with pulse-pounding suspense and a gentle sprinkling of romance. The author's casual writing style welcomes you into facing the tough topic of sex trafficking in a way that brings awareness to such a serious and traumatic issue without being graphic or gratuitous. The touches of faith provided the much needed calm within the sea of so much illegal activity, betrayal, and greed. Religious nuances became an encouraging beacon of hope even in the face of true evil.

The quest for the truth drives the actions of these deeply dynamic characters that readers will become highly invested in. Not only do the personal interactions between Savannah and Jett hint at their vulnerabilities, but their professional involvement demonstrates their respect and admiration for one another. A history of family dysfunction and distress adds emotional understanding to their internal conflicts, while their conversations with each other shine profound light on the blossoming relationship that they are gradually willing to open themselves up to. 

The author's legal background adds an authentic voice to a book that is compulsively readable. Multiple story-lines converge with twists and turns that were definitely hard to see coming! This fast-paced and well written plot was fascinating to read and really set some high expectations for the author's previous books that I look forward to reading soon!




The conversation flowed over the antipasti course and into the pasta della casa. Every bite of Savannah’s manicotti alla fiorentina was wonderful, the ricotta and spinach blending perfectly. Just when she knew she couldn’t take another bite and get anything done afterward, thanks to the food coma, a waiter came out with a slice of cheesecake. Her mouth watered as she took in the raspberries atop the homemade delight. She put a hand on her stomach and then smiled. “I hope you brought fresh forks for everyone.”
The handsome waiter flashed a bright smile. “Whatever the birthday donna wishes is my command.” He gave a slight bow and turned away. A moment later when he returned, a fist of forks at the ready, his demeanor had changed.
Emilie watched him a moment. “What’s wrong, Antonio?”
“There has been a horrible accident. It is on the TV in the office.”
“What kind of accident?” Savannah leaned toward him. “Does it involve someone you know?”
“No.” The man shook his head, and not one of his dark hairs moved. Yet his eyes were weighted with sadness and the shadow of something more. “It is a plane. It looks bad.”
“Oh no.” The memory of a plane careening by as she looked out a courtroom window in downtown Washington, DC, years earlier flashed through her mind. Savannah fought a shudder as she withdrew a credit card from her phone case and placed it on the bill, only for Hayden to slide it back to her and replace it with her own.
“Thank you.”
Please let this be a terrible accident and not the beginning of another 9/11.
Jaime’s head was bowed over her phone as she clicked the screen. “Looks like an isolated crash.”
All Savannah could think was that Jaime should add so far to her sentence. “That’s what we all thought on 9/11 too.”
Then a second plane careened into the Twin Towers. She saw the plane that hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one of her fellow law students. She cleared her throat and stood, motioning the gals to join her.
“Let’s get back to work and see what we can learn.”
As they left her favorite restaurant, her phone buzzed and she paused to pull it out of her pocket. She glanced at the text message on the screen and her blood froze.
911. From Addy. Their emergency code.
***
Excerpt from Flight Risk by Cara Putman. Copyright 2020 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.




Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

WEBSITE  |  GOODREADS  |  BOOKBUB  |  INSTAGRAM  |  TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK




Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman and Thomas Nelson. There will be 2 winners. Each winner will receive a set of three (3) print copies by Cara Putman. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2020 and runs through May 2, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin (Picture Book Biography)


FOR SPACIOUS SKIES
KATHARINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL"
by
Nancy Churnin 
illustrated by Olga Baumert

Genre:  Picture Book Biography / Women's Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!






As a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist.

She not only wrote “America the Beautiful" but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference.

In "America the Beautiful," her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.

PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 
“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews

"The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist

“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble    Interabang Books  ┃  Bookshop.org  









As Americans, we are all extremely familiar with the song, "America the Beautiful," learning it from a very young age to sing for our families at school musical events. We listen to it with pride all the time on Independence Day. However, many of us probably aren't so familiar with the woman behind one of the defining songs of our country. This gorgeously illustrated book will enlighten readers of all ages about Katharine Lee Bates and her story towards crafting the words of our nation's beloved song.  

From the Civil War and Reconstruction to economic strife and Women's Suffrage, Katharine Lee Bates lived during a time of extensive and overwhelming transition for the United States. As a woman, her roles in life were incredibly limiting, yet she consistently sought out ways to provide support to her fellow citizens. Having traveled extensively across the country, she began to notice the spectacular beauty of the landscapes that surrounded her. It was during a moment in Kansas on July 4, 1893 that she pondered whether "the people who sail powerful waves of water and the people who tend mighty waves of grain" could in fact be more "alike than we realize?" It's quite sad to think that even over 125 years later, that question is still being asked today, making this story an incredibly heartfelt and relevant reminder of how important it means to remain united rather than divided.

The realistic illustrations are endearing, remarkably expressive, and exude a timeless quality, providing the perfect canvas on which to share such inspirational messages within the text. The simplicity of the narrative pairs wonderfully with the vibrancy of the illustrations to capture the true meaning of Bates' heartwarming story. This is a book that you can share with a child today and happily know that generation after generation, it will be enjoyed. The picture book format will enchant older readers in a nostalgic style, while simultaneously speaking to younger readers in a comfortable manner and within a small space that will hold their attention. As a celebration of the American spirit, I can also see this making an excellent selection for a coffee table book or other conversation piece to discuss what drives our own unique abilities to make the world a better place and connect with those around us. 

A captivating addition to any library that renders a salute to a notable woman and the powerful words she penned while also creatively engaging all readers in an inspiring history lesson.



Head over to Texas Book Lover to hear more fabulous renditions of this amazing song!





Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021. 

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. 

Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master's from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats.

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THREE WINNERS
ONE WINNER receives signed copies of both For Spacious Skies and Beautiful Shades of Brown
TWO WINNERS each receive a signed copy of For Spacious Skies
April 16-26, 2020
(US only for signed copies; international winners via Book Depository)



a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
4/16/20
Notable Quotable
4/16/20
Review
4/17/20
Book Trailer
4/18/20
Review
4/18/20
Sneak Peek
4/19/20
Author Interview
4/20/20
Review
4/21/20
Playlist
4/21/20
Review
4/22/20
Author Interview
4/23/20
Guest Post
4/23/20
Review
4/24/20
Deleted Scene
4/25/20
Review
4/25/20
Review

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