Blog Tour Book Review: The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata

About The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (February 14, 2017)

Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal–the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana–has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one’s allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.

 

“A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Elise Faulkner drew me into her head and heart so subtly, yet with such force, that by the end I was cheering her on. Suzanne Kamata has woven an honest, aching coming-of-age story that will speak to women everywhere.” ?Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, author of The Art of Floating and Thirsty

“Suzanne Kamata has written a novel of great charm and depth, with a bit of magical realism laced with humor. Elise, its engaging narrator opens her arms and her heart to life’s complexity, including family secrets and escapades with a magnificent new bestie–the irrepressible Chiara. When an unlikely romance unfolds with a mysterious drifter/musician, Kamata steers us expertly into darker waters. A jewel of a novel, set on the shores of Lake Michigan with Kamata’s signature compassion for all of its characters.” — Margaret Willey, author of Summer of the Silk Moths

“The Mermaids of Lake Michigan is a luminous coming-of-age story about a teen struggling against social norms and her own family legacy to find her way. Elise’s journey is hardly the stuff of fairy tales, as she ends up far from home, and far from the self she meant to be. Raw, real and even a bit magical.” — Kristina Riggle, author of The Life You’ve Imagined and Vivian in Red

“Suzanne Kamata’s new novel, The Mermaids of Lake Michigan, is a beautiful story about a teenage girl who must learn to balance her idealism and belief in mermaids with the harsh realities of growing up and trying to find people to love and trust. A page-turner set in the unstable years of the 1970s, I devoured it in one sitting. It brought back memories of my own adolescence and took me beyond, in that way all good novels do, into the wonderings of circumstance and the choices we would make if faced with hard decisions. Suitable for teens and adults alike, this novel will teach readers to believe in magic even in the face of tragedy.” — Cassie Premo Steele, author of Beautiful Waters

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Hello all! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan is a coming of age story about a young girl named Elise. She is an introverted bookworm until she meets Chiara, someone who challenges her to be different and to push her own boundaries. When she sees a handsome stranger at a carnival and runs into him days after, it seems like fate and through her experiences with these two people, her life is never again the same.

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan and how much I liked it, was a surprise for me. It is super short in length and when I held it in my hands I was nervous for it because of the length as some shorter books feel like they should be longer but I really felt like this book and these characters accomplished so much in so short a page length.  

The writing was beautiful and gripped me from the very beginning. There were a few paragraphs and dialogue sentences that I just had to read over and over because of how beautiful they were and how they made me feel about the characters. It definitely has a “coming of age” story feel right off the bat and I really enjoyed that as well as the atmosphere of it being set in the 70s. That was really evident in the narrative and the writing made it just so easy to be transported to that time frame, I could almost see the clothes, hear the music, feel the heartbreak and the friendships.

I literally read this in a day, really enjoyed it and recommend it if you’re looking for a really short read that packs a pretty nice punch of a story. I enjoyed this so much, it was super relatable and evoked feelings from my own childhood/teenage years when you are just finding yourself and who you are going to become. If you like coming of age stories, this may be to your liking! Four stars!

About Suzanne Kamata

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Connect with Suzanne

Website | Twitter

Spotlight: The Good Dictator I – The Rise of an Empire by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow!

Hello everyone! Happy weekend!! I wanted to spotlight a deal today. I don’t know about you but I love a free book, especially ones that sound amazing. I made a deal with myself to read more Action and Science Fiction this year and I think this book will definitely help me with that. Today and tomorrow you can download The Good Dictator I – The Rise of an Empire by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias for free today and tomorrow. It is book one in a series and sounds really cool and right up my alley. 

SynopsisThe Good Dictator I: The Birth of an Empire by [Dias, Gonçalo JN]

An unidentified object parked on the moon – and no one seems to know where it came from. Gustavo, a middle-aged computer programmer with a comfortable and grey life, decides to make a list of what he would need to survive a hypothetical attack. He becomes obsessed with the list, spends a fortune, robs a drugstore: his own family thinks he is going insane. However, after the attack, it’s the insane who are well prepared for a new era in society. First book of a trilogy.

You can purchase it for free on amazon here => https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N0FTZ4O
and visit the book page on goodreads to add to your ‘to read list  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33014831-the-good-dictator

I already downloaded my copy and added it to my TBR for the near future.

Blog Tour Book Review: On the Sickle’s Edge by Neville D. Frankel

on-the-sickles-edge-coverAbout On the Sickle’s Edge

 Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dialogos (January 15, 2017)

What we cannot keep. What we cannot lose.

A sweeping masterwork of love and loss, secrets and survival, On the Sickle’s Edge is told through the voices of three characters who lay bare their family’s saga: the endearing, scrappy South-African born Lena, transported to Latvia and later trapped in the USSR; her granddaughter Darya, a true Communist whose growing disillusionment with Soviet ideology places her family at mortal risk; and Steven, a painter from Boston who inadvertently stumbles into the tangled web of his family’s past. Against the roiling backdrop of twentieth-century Russia and Eastern Europe, the novel delivers equal parts historical drama, political thriller and poignant love story.

Praise

On the Sickle’s Edge takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through some of the most tumultuous events of the 20th century. Instantly immersed in seven generations of the Shtein family, we witness their exhilarating celebrations and provocative controversies, and gain an intimate understanding of the pivotal events in South Africa, Latvia and the Soviet Union. Neville Frankel’s ability to combine historical insight and human passion is spellbinding. I couldn’t put it down. —Pamela Katz, The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink

In the hands of a masterful storyteller, On the Sickle’s Edge pits the weight of an oppressive regime against individual tenacity and profound personal courage. Inspired by Frankel’s own family history, this multi-generational epic holds up a mirror to a universal truth: all immigrants face the powerful tension between assimilation and cultural identity. We have–all of us–lived life on the edge of the sickle.’–Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, American Jewish Committee

Purchase Links

Dialogos Books |Amazon

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for On the Sickles Edge by Neville D. Frankel.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an my honest review of it.

On the Sickles Edge is a historical fiction novel based off of the authors families own experiences. This story is a family saga where we follow generations of one family as they go through things like being forced from the only home they’ve known during World War I, the loss of loved ones and the struggle to assimilate into a different culture for their own safety. 

I loved this book. I was immediately intimidated by the size because lately I’ve been reading smaller books but when I actually dived into read it, I couldn’t put it down so it ended up going really fast. 

This story was really moving, really gripping and also very sad for me. It was a lot of things. It was a story filled with grief, loss, and struggle but it was also a story of survival, Love, hope and identity. I felt like there was a little of everything in it. I didn’t expect there to be romance or humor in this book but I was surprised to find these things in the narrative as well. 

I feel like this book is an important one and I think it adds to the conversation that we are all having and will continue to have about immigration, acceptance, and overall human rights. I think something great this book does is places you in the shoes of this family and these people who are have undergone some of humanity’s unfortunate tragedies and ugliness and you can’t help but be right there with the in their struggle to survive and overcome. I didn’t really know much about the attitude and actions towards Jews in Russia at this time so I felt like I was not only feeling a lot while reading this book but I was also learning a lot. I have seen other reviewers not quite liking the cover but I actually really love it, it is initially what drew me in about this book before I had known what it was about and now that I have read it I believe it has a deep significance to the story and to my experience while reading it. 

This was beautiful and affecting. There were times when I had to put it down and take a breather, times when I was so scared for these characters that I felt so much  compassion for and times when I just couldn’t put it down.

This is a great book, very gripping and very moving. Five stars. Highly recommend. I think I am going to be looking into Third Power by this author now. 

Happy Reading everyone! 

neville-frankel-apAbout Neville D. Frankel

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Neville Frankel immigrated to Boston with his family when he was 14. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he pursued doctoral work in English literature at the University of Toronto. While in Canada, he wrote The Third Power, a well-reviewed political thriller about the transformation of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. He also received an Emmy for his work on a BBC documentary, The Mind of a Murderer: Part 1. In 2005 he returned to South Africa for the first time in 38 years. Over the next decade he went back several more times, researching what would become Bloodlines. He has recently completed work on his newest novel On the Sickle’s Edge, set in 20th-century Eastern Europe, South Africa and the United States.

Neville is a 2013 Jewish Book Council Author and has participated in speaking engagements around the country. A highlight of his Bloodlines book tour was addressing the Board of South Africa Partners and the South African Ambassador to the United States.

When he’s not writing, Frankel works as a financial planner. He also has a keen passion for painting. Frankel has three grown children and lives outside Boston with his wife Marlene.

Find out more about Neville at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

 

Blog Tour Book Review: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

About The Possessions

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: Harper (February 7, 2017)

“I was totally immersed in the strange, beautiful world of Sara Flannery Murphy’s The Possessions. A gripping, chilling read that’s part love story, part mystery, and completely original, it’s sensuous, scary, and utterly thrilling. I’ve never read anything quite like it.” —Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

“An enthralling meditation on grief and memory cloaked in suspenseful psychodrama, The Possessions dissolves the boundaries of past and present and artfully, heartbreakingly maps the consequences of transgressive desire. Sara Flannery Murphy has written the best kind of ghost story.” —Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies”, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

The Possessions is about a girl named Eurydice, or Edie, who works as a body. People discreetly hire her to channel their dead loved ones. They literally inhabit her body for a short period of time. She has been working in this industry for years and has been successful due to her being able to disconnect from her body and clients during these sessions. Until she meets the one client and his late wife that seem to continuously inhabit not just her thoughts, but her body as well. The book explores the mystery surrounding her death, Edie’s past and the death of Hopeful Doe – the moniker given to an unknown girl whose body was found in an abandoned house close to Edie’s work. 

When I read the first paragraph  of this book I was hooked and immediately thrust into this story. For me, it was immediately reminiscent of Atwood’s, A Handmaids Tale. It had a similar atmosphere, although not so much in the latter portion of the book. I fell in love with the writing in this book. I thought it was gorgeous and atmospheric – perfect for this type of story. 

The concept itself is one that I found to be wholly fascinating. I am not very familiar with mediums but I imagine this is somewhat similar although this seemed more on the possession side, hence the title. I found a lot about this book to be very compelling like the black market movement of this type of service vs the legit service given by organization like Elysian Fields, morality issues and this society’s views on death. 

This book was really fascinating to me and made me think about death in a few different ways. I was not expecting that from this book. I admit that I was immediately drawn in by the cover because it is absolutely gorgeous but it was a completely different book than I thought. I was very pleasantly surprised. I have a hard time placing this book in a particular genre as the author melded different aspects of many genres in this one story – mystery, obsessive romance and a somewhat dystopian feel. I had a few tiny issues with it that were far overshadowed by my overall experience with this book. It was a little slow  at times and I craved more detail about certain things. When I finished this book I definitely wanted more of it. I read this book with a glass of wine after a long day of work and I enjoyed it so so much. 

The story  was fascinating, shocking, interesting, provocative and eerie all in one breath. This is a debut novel and since it was so great, I can’t wait for more from Sara Flannery Murphy. 5 stars! 

About Sara Flannery Murphy

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son. The Possessions is her first novel.

Find out more about Sara at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Blog Tour Book Review: Born Speaking Lies by Rob Lenihan

born-speaking-lies-coverAbout Born Speaking Lies

 Paperback: 505 pages
 Publisher: Fomite (October 1, 2016)

Told in the raw and unforgettable voice of career criminal Billy the Kid, Born Speaking Lies is the story of a man who gets that rare second chance in life as he tries to escape the violent world of 1990s Brooklyn and a history of bad choices.

After being shot and left for dead in a Pennsylvania forest by members of his own crew, Billy tries to disappear into small town life with Lora, a local woman who finds him bleeding by the side of the road and offers him her heart and her home. But Billy’s desire for revenge and his rapidly deteriorating health drives him toward a bloody confrontation with his former friends. Infused with black humor and hard-hitting action, a well-written, literary crime novel with unforgettable, colorful characters.

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I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

Born Speaking Lies is the story of a mobster known as Billy the Kid. He is introduced into a life of crime at a young age and quickly becomes one of the most known and feared mobsters in his area and the favorite of the mob boss. But when Billy pisses off the wrong person, he ends up getting killed by two of his friends. But he doesn’t die. Instead he seizes the chance at a new life but is constantly haunted by his old one.

The writing in this book was superb, atmospheric and drew me completely in to the story. Billy the kid was a pretty complicated character and I really enjoyed getting the story from his perspective, but I also enjoyed the perspectives of some of the other characters that I think really enhanced Billy as a character like Sal, Vince and his former wife. I thought it was a really interesting exploration of how background and environment can influence the direction of a person’s life. Alot of the characters had pretty awful childhoods with both physical and mental abuse or family members that weren’t there for them and the book flashes back to the past a bit showing that everyone had demons that they were still grappling with well into adulthood.

Wow! What a story. This book was pretty great. I don’t think that I have read many books with mobsters in it  but I can tell you that I really enjoyed this one. It was a really complicated story with  a slew of complicated characters. The story is riddled with violence and brutality that it literally kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me glued to its pages. I never knew what to expect from this book and by the end of it, I was blown away. This is such a good book. 

This book was a bit larger than the books I normally read but it really read like a much shorter book just due to the fact that I couldn’t put it down. The atmosphere was really dark, gritty and unforgiving and I really loved that for this story. Five stars!

robert-lenihan-apAbout Rob Lenihan

Rob Lenihan was born in Brooklyn in the same year the Dodgers left, but he likes to think these two events are not related. Raised in Bay Ridge, he has worked at newspapers in Brooklyn, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, covering crime, business, and politics. He maintains a blog, The Luna Park Gazette, and has written three screenplays.

Find out more about Rob at his website.

Tour Stops

Monday, January 30th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Wednesday, February 1st: M. Denise Costello

Friday, February 3rd: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps

Saturday, February 4th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, February 6th: Stranded in Chaos

Tuesday, February 7th: Art Books Coffee

Friday, February 10th: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, March 8th: The Paperback Pilgrim

TBD: Man of La Book

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392Title: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Genre: YA – Contemporary
Length: 378 pages
Format: Print – Softcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date:  January 6, 2015
Rating – 5 stars

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

 

I decided to pick up All the Bright Places on a whim, not even having read the synopsis but I had seen the cover on Goodreads and I thought it was a really pretty cover. (Yes, I admit it. I like a really pretty cover.) I had no clue that this book was going to be made into a movie but now that I know, that makes me even happier that I finally read it so that I can prepare myself because I am pretty sure that movie is going to make me cry.

All the Bright Places is about Finch and Violet. It is told in their alternating perspectives which are very distinct from each other so the story is easy to follow. Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at their school. They basically talk each other off the ledge, end up getting stuck together on a school project and and find their reasons to go on living each day to its fullest in each other. Both are struggling through their own set of problems and trying to overcome them and their relationship changes both of them forever. 

I don’t even quite know what to say about this or how to quite explain my feelings about it because I have a lot of them. In short, this book wrecked me. It swallowed my heart, chewed it up and spit it out crushed into tiny little pieces. There was quite a bit of ugly crying involved. 

As sad as it made me in some parts, I am really glad that I read it. I laughed, I cried, I got angry and I swooned. 

The story was beautiful and tragic and the writing was beautiful. This is my first Jennifer Niven book and I am looking forward to more of her work because she just writes so beautifully. I loved the way she wrote these characters, Finch and Violet were everything to me of course but even the side characters have some pretty great depth to them. It really reminded me that everyone struggles with something in their life, no matter how perfect they or their life seems to be and reminds me to be mindful of that in my daily interactions with people. 

This book definitely deals with heavy but super important topics like bullying, suicide, mental illness, abuse and death but I think it is done is such a great way. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this book other than READ IT. It is so so so good and devastating and now I have a book hangover from it. 5 stars and I can’t wait to see the movie.

 

Blog Tour Book Review: The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante

About The Odds of You and Me

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 31, 2017)

In the vein of Meg Donohue and Sarah Jio, Cecilia Galante’s second novel delivers the powerful story of one young woman who’s faced with an impossible choice—one that could have her making the biggest mistake of her life.

Thirteen days. That’s all Bernadette, “Bird,” Sincavage has left to go until she’s done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother who’s constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she’s plunked down a deposit on a brand new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it. What trouble could she possibly get into in just thirteen days?

But trouble does follow in the form of James Rittenhouse—someone she worked with a few years ago. At first, Bird is stunned to see James make the evening news when he’s arrested for assaulting someone in a local bar. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she discovers James hiding out in an abandoned church choir loft. Somehow he escaped police custody, broke his leg, and got his hand on a gun, which he’s now pointing at her.

Although Bird doesn’t tell anyone she saw James, there’s no way she’s helping him. She can’t screw up her probation or her second chance for a new future. And she has her son’s welfare to think about. Still. If only she could stop thinking about the terrified look in James’ eyes and the fact that he’s hurt. If only she could forget that once, long ago, James helped her out, and she owes him a debt like no other.

Will Bird jeopardize her future for someone who helped her out in the past? A past that holds secrets she’s not quite sure she’s ready to face? Or will she turn a blind eye and learn to live with the consequences?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Tuesday!! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante. I would like to send a big thank you to TLC Book Tours, the author and the publisher Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity read this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

The Odds of You and Me follows the story of Bird who after getting caught and punished for writing bad checks, finally has a shot at creating a better, independent life for her and her five year old son. When Bird runs in to an old friend who is currently on the wrong side of the law and needs her help, she faces the decision on whether or not to let him into her life, an unknown variable thrown in her way just when all the other pieces have started to fall into place.

When I received this ARC in the mail, I had already forgotten what this book was about so I basically went into this story not knowing what to expect or prepared at all for what I found in it’s pages. Immediately upon starting to read it, I was drawn to the story and to the characters, specifically Bird. I enjoyed her development throughout the story so much and it was just interesting to see how her thought process worked as she struggled with the big decisions she needed to make and with her feelings as a person, daughter and mother wove together. Her motivations and her struggles were very real to me. I loved her as a real person who makes makes real mistakes and as a mother who has this beautiful love for her son.

I think what drew me completely into this book and held me there for the duration, was the fantastic writing. This is my first Cecilia Galante book and I definitely want to read more from her. I was drawn into the story from start to finish, I couldn’t put it down. Four stars and a recommend! 

About Cecilia Galante

Cecilia Galante, who received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Vermont, is the author of eightyoung adult novels and a children’s chapter-book series. She has been the recipient of many awards, including an NAIBA Best Book of the Year, and an Oprah’s Teen Read Selection for her first novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies. She lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania with her three children.

Find out more about Cecilia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.