Book Review: The Devil’s Picture Book by Arabella Seymour

the_devil_s_picturebook__cover-188x300Title: The Devil’s Picture Book by Arabella Seymour
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Peach Publishing
Page count: 308 pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Rating – 4/5!!

Four women, friends from their school days, have grown apart with distance and time, until one of them puts in motion an ambitious plan for a reunion – at a country house health spa which – unknown to any of them – has a history of murder, intrigue and bad luck all it’s own.

There is Rhiannon, determined to find out who her real parents were; Alexa, desperate for time to herself away from her controlling husband; Alice, whose husband treats her with contempt; and tragic Sunny, whose promising new life has suddenly come crashing down in ruins when she discovers she has a terminal illness.

Across their path comes Andrea, the unhappy and neglected wife of ex SAS officer Roddy DeVille, tipped for New Year Honours glory, desperate to regain her fading beauty and his love along with it.

The women meet without realising that this reunion will change each of their lives in ways none of them could possibly have imagined.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

The Devil’s Picture Book was an interesting book with a super ambitious plot. It is about a group of women, most of whom have known each other since they were young girls, reuniting after twenty years apart. For all of them, this comes at a really critical time in their lives when they really need to reconnect with themselves and other women.

I enjoyed quite a bit about this book. I loved that the story is delivered through multiple perspectives. I am definitely a fan of stories that have multiple perspectives and a lot of different characters and this is a book that has a lot of characters that we encounter and get the story from. If you’re not used to books like this, it may get a bit confusing but I find most often that I really enjoy when a story unfolds this way. Even though I thought this book was entertaining, I also felt like it had me thinking about a few serious things like marriage, individuality and friendships.

It had been awhile since I had read the description and I am glad because I got to go into this book rather blindly and ended up really enjoying it. It did take me a little bit to get into it but once I did, I became engrossed, especially when the girls get together I feel like everything up til then is alot of “story building” leading up to the reunion and all that happens there and comes out of it. I really enjoyed piecing together all the story lines from all the different characters, one I particularly enjoyed was Rhiannon but in general I found the look at the different women’s lives and relationships fascinating. Friendship reunions and family reunions are always fun especially when coupled with a mystery and suspense story line!

I appreciated the blending of the women’s fiction genre with that of mystery/suspense and even a bit of thriller. I am giving this book a four star review!

imagesAbout the Authorarabella-seymour-1

Arabella Seymour was born and educated in London, England.  She had her first novel published in her teens and later worked in London libraries before moving to Canterbury, Kent and turning to writing full time.

After having three novels published, Arabella went to work in Glenarm Castle in Northern Ireland and followed this by joining a housekeeping agency that took her to many fascinating assignments all over the country.

She later returned to Canterbury where, between 2008 and 2012, she was a member of a local re-enactment society.  Arabella has a particular passion for family history and has contributed a short biography of her great-grandfather, Liberal Politian John Henry Bethell, to a local history project.

Arabella still lives in Canterbury, whose cathedral saw the marriage of her Huguenot ancestors during the reign of Charles II.

Blog Tour Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

the-bookshop-on-the-corner-coverAbout The Bookshop on the Corner

• Paperback: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 20, 2016)

“Losing myself in Jenny Colgan’s beautiful pages is the most delicious, comforting, satisfying treat I have had in ages.”—Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Summer Secrets

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

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Happy Monday! I hope everyone had wonderful weekend! As for me, I spent the weekend in the company of a good book!  I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

The Bookshop on the Corner is a contemporary fiction book about a librarian who gets laid off from her small library. In a rare flash of bravery and at the shock of her friends, she buys a van and moves to Scotland to open a mobile bookshop. Unsure of how and where she is going to live when she gets there, she is in for quite a ride.

My Sunday was literally spent with my nose in this book. I finished it in one sitting, I just couldn’t bear to put it down. I’m getting ready to enter my last semester of library school and I probably should have known that I would connect with this character so much by her choice of profession but it’s really ridiculous how much I loved our main character.

I pretty much loved almost everything about this book. At first I wasn’t used to the writing but as I got used to it, it just pulled me in and quite literally never let me go. The plot itself was simple and not overdone or cheesy which I think would have been easy to do here but it was perfectly done.

I loved Scotland as the setting and now I seriously want to go there. This book gave me a bunch of feels with the romance story lines in this book. I loved that there was a really good balance between the elements of this story. There was romance, self discovery, humor and even some thrilling bits. Sometimes I catch myself thinking ahead as I am reading but I was NEVER bored or trying to guess what was going to happen next, I just went with it because I was so lost in this story. I just have to say that it had everything I love in a romance, kind of the Darcy  and Elizabeth feel.

I’m giving a well deserved five stars to this book as I loved it so much. It’s one of my favorites this year and I’m going to treasure having it on my shelf and will probably reread it at some point in the future. It was charming, warm and gave me the fuzzies! I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good contemporary fiction read with a bit of romance to read this fall. It’s a perfect fall read to curl up with!



jenny-colgan-apAbout Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

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

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Blog Tour Book Review: Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser

Marrow coverAbout Marrow

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (September 20, 2016)

The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.

Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a “soul marrow transplant,” examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.

But life does not follow the storylines we plan for it. Maggie’s body is ultimately too weak to fight the relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer as their shared blood cells become a symbol of the enduring bond they share. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound. The story reveals how even our most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth. Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love—love of other, love of self, love of the world—Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of ourselves.

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Good afternoon! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser.  I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Marrow is a memoir about the author’s journey with her sister as her sister battles cancer. It is the story of love between sisters through an experience that is painful and brutal but that also brings them together in ways they never anticipated.

I always catch myself being surprised at how much I loved a memoir after I read it. I think I need to just come to terms with the fact that memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read. Especially when a memoir is written a certain way and teaches me something about life. Those are the best kinds of memoirs and books to read in general.

Marrow is exactly such a book. When I read the description of Marrow, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I am the youngest of three sisters and since this book is described as a love story between sisters, that pulled a little at my heartstrings.

This book is indeed a love story and it is a beautiful one. It’s written in this special way that I love memoirs to be written: raw, honest and deeply personal. Scattered throughout the chapters are also snippets from the authors sisters journal that chronicle her inner thoughts throughout her battle with cancer and the deepening of her relationship with her sister. It definitely made me think differently about a few things in life including my relationships , spirituality and it made me want to hug my sisters and never let them go. It was affecting and inspiring, sad and beautiful. It was truly an honor to read this book.

If you love a great memoir read or have sisters, I highly recommend giving this book a read. Five stars!


elizabeth-lesser-apAbout Elizabeth Lesser

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of The Seeker’s Guide and the New York Times bestseller Broken Open. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences that focus on holistic health, psychology, spirituality, creativity, and social change. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

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

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Blog Tour Book Review: Finding the Raven by Patty Dickson Pieczka

ftrbannerftr2kindleTitle: Finding the Raven by Patty Dickson Pieczka
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher: White Stag, an imprint of Ravenswood Publishing
Page count: 292pages
Format: Ebook
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Rating – 4/5!!

When Julia Dulac’s father is murdered onstage and her inheritance is swindled away, she must work through her grief and fear of poverty to find both the killer and a means of survival with help from the Raven, a black crystal that reveals images of past and future truths. While having the crystal appraised, Julia finds love and her life takes unexpected turns through mystery and betrayal against the backdrop of the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Through the boarding house window, Julia overhears an argument between Rose and her wealthy father over Rose’s illegitimate pregnancy. He drops Rose off, saying he will return in one year, that she must be either single and childless or respectably married. Though from completely different backgrounds, Julia and Rose become fast friends, facing lessons of survival and redemption as their fates become irrevocably entwined.


Happy Tuesday! Today I am bringing you my review of Finding the Raven by Patty Dickson Pieczka. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it.

Finding the Raven follows the story of two young women who find their world’s torn apart, one by a surprise pregnancy that causes her parents to send her away and another by the unexpected death of her father. They find themselves in the same city at the same boarding house and they fast become friends that help each other find their way in the world on their own.

I have had the good luck of reading some really good books lately and Finding the Raven is definitely among them. I thought that the cover to this book was beautiful and I was also pulled in the by the description. Having not read much historical fiction lately, it was easy for me to get wrapped up in this book from the beginning. Altogether it took me about a day to read, which is pretty fast for me because I had to read it during my breaks at work and such, so as you can tell I found it pretty difficult to put this book down.

I definitely loved the multiple perspectives used in telling the story but my favorites of course, were that of Julia and Rose. I loved seeing their friendship blossom and just really loved seeing their individual stories and the struggles they overcome. While I don’t think they are the most complex characters, I thought they were both pretty enjoyable and their struggles fit with the time period this book takes place in.

The ending fell a little flat for me and seemed a little rushed compared to the rest of the book but I did enjoy it and would definitely be up for reading more from this author! I think a second book would definitely answer some of the questions I still had about Julia and Monroe’s ending, as well as the crystal and the ravens but I’m not sure if that is a thing. Overall, this story was absorbing and enjoyable. I recommend checking it out and I am giving it four stars. I feel like it was historical fiction with a little light fantasy, I found that blend to be really interesting and it worked really well. I thought the description of the fair was intoxicating and I would have loved to see a little more of it. If you are looking for an absorbing historical fiction read with light fantasy elements, you may enjoy this story!


About the Authorpdp

Patty Dickson Pieczka’s second book, Painting the Egret’s Echo,, won the Library of Poetry Book Award from Bitter Oleander Press. Other books are Lacing through Time, and Word Paintings. Winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Contest, the I SPS contest, and the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, she’s contributed to over fifty journals and graduated from Southern Illinois University’s creative writing program.






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Book Review: Southernmost by Sarah Sadler

31080280Title: Southernmost by Sarah Sadler
Genre:  Fiction – Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Blue French Press
Page count: 338 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Rating – 5/5!!

In this engaging new novel from critically acclaimed author of southern literature Sarah Sadler, Southernmost delivers a charismatic account of one woman’s journey through the rigors of starting over in life and love. Set in the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina, Southernmost is a satisfying spin-off to Sadler’s debut novel Southern Solstice and firmly establishes the sophomore author with a stand-alone release that is sure to capture new and return readers alike.

Former Alabama beauty queen Kayla Carter is given an ultimatum by her wealthy ex-boyfriend Jackson Winslow – either move to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina with their seven-year-old daughter or support herself on a waitress’s salary. She relocates only to discover Jackson’s life is suddenly in shambles, and he has become a broke, undependable and depressed alcoholic.

Kayla hesitantly establishes herself in Charleston’s bustling culinary scene and becomes involved in a delicious fling with a free-spirited and visceral photographer. While she navigates the turbulent waters of Jackson’s new emotional state and fights feelings for him that she’s suppressed for years, Kayla’s personal success is overshadowed by an unexpected complication.

With a secret from the past threatening the chance of restoring her family, Kayla forces herself to break Jackson’s heart – and her own – once and for all, or risk everything by facing the shameful truth that has kept them apart.


Happy Monday everyone! Today I am SUPER excited to share with you my review for one of my most highly anticipated books of this year: Southernmost written by Sarah Sadler. I had the pleasure of reviewing her first novel Southern Solstice (click to see that review) back in 2015. I was really fortunate to have received a copy of Southernmost from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of it as well!

Southernmost is a contemporary fiction book about a woman named Kayla who at her ex’s request, moves to Charleston with their young daughter Avery. She has more or less  been living in the shadow of Jackson’s relationship with his ex, Larken and she immediately feels out of place in the new town. When Jackson’s bad decisions concerning Larken impact their lives in unseen ways, Kayla’s world is further thrown off kilter which may actually have been just what she needed to find her place and people in Charleston.

Since I absolutely loved Southern Solstice, I had really high expectations for Southernmost and it really delivered. Sarah Sadler has done it to me a second time. I loved this book but I am not at all surprised. It’s been a full year and a few months since I read Southern Solstice and while I remembered adoring it, I couldn’t exactly remember the specifics of why and reading Southernmost reminded me exactly why from the very first page.

This book was beautifully written. The language is gorgeous and the characters are so wonderfully fleshed out. My most favorite thing about a Sarah Sadler book is the characterization, she is an ace at characterization. All of the characters in this book made an impact on me. I cared so deeply for all of them (except Justin!) and each of them just really felt like old friends to me. Slipping back into this world was such a comfort, but it was also really thrilling to unfold Kayla’s story – her coming into her own and her romantic story line as well.

I also loved that this book, although it took place amongst the same people as Southern Solstice and in the same place, you don’t have to have read it to read this one. It can definitely stand on its own although it was definitely great to have that background on the people and certain events that had transpired in the first book to put a few things in this book into clearer perspective. This book is not more about Larken, so if you’re expecting that, you won’t get it in this book although we do see a bit of her. But don’t fret! Our main character Kayla, is every bit as wonderful of a character as Larken is. I do have to say that Jackson Winslow has impeccable taste in women.

I truly can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed my time with this book. I could have read it in one sitting but I chose to draw it out and enjoy it for as long as I could but there came a point where I just couldn’t anymore and I needed to devour it. My copy at this point looks pretty well read because I took it with me everywhere. This book will definitely give you all the feels…it certainly gave me all the feels!!

I am giving Southernmost a five star review, hands down. One of my favorite 2016 reads for sure…perfect for reading at the beach or to just curl up with at night for some good romance. If you are a fan of contemporary romances definitely pick this one up although I feel like the romance angle is just one piece of this book, there is so much more dealing with family, southern life and Kayla’s journey to really being comfortable with herself. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Southernmost, you purchase it on Amazon! (Isn’t the cover gorgeous?)

P.S. I’m still waiting for the first book to be adapted to film and now I also need a sequel. Ahhh!


img_3040About the Author

With her first song published at the age of twelve, Sarah Sadler had a pretty good notion early on that words would be her compass.  Nurtured by a wildly creative family full of Opera singers, inventors, pianists, hippies, preachers, pageant girls, master gardeners, world travelers and fellow writers, Sarah explored every gamut of where words and their possibilities could take her.

A sixth generation North Carolinian, Sarah’s family moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming when she was nine (where an insatiable love of the Wild West was born) before returning to Nashville, TN where much of her writing is influenced by the rich cultural distinction of being born a southern woman.

Sarah lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and their young son. When she’s not writing books and songs, she’s riding horses.

Blog Tour Book Review: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me PB coverAbout Be Frank With Me

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 6, 2016)

A sparkling talent makes her fiction debut with this infectious novel that combines the charming pluck ofEloise, the poignant psychological quirks of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the page-turning spirit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

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Welcome to my blog tour stop for Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson!  I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Be Frank with Me is a contemporary fiction novel about a young boy named Frank. Alice, is sent to Los Angeles by her employer to be an assistant to a famous, reclusive author thus enabling her to finish her long awaited second book. When she arrives she realizes that most of her job consists of caring for the author’s eccentric and stylish young son.

I thought that Be Frank with Me was a really good book. I fell in love with Frank right away when we first meet him in the prologue which takes place towards the middle-end of the book. I loved getting to know his character throughout the book just as Alice gets to know him. I felt bad for him throughout alot of the story because although he seems to have a pretty good relationship with his mother, it seems like alot of what he does is to get her attention and she doesn’t seem to give him as much as he needs. It seems like he has had to grow up alot because of the way that she acts. One thing I loved about all the characters in this book is that they are all flawed…they all have their past demons that still weigh on their present. This book was so good. There were fun moments, sad moments and funny moments. There were times when my heart just broke and when I broke out into a giggle.

I recently went to California for the first time so since most of this book takes place in California, it was really awesome to be able to picture the places the character’s go and I think that the author captures the smell and feel of the California air so wonderfully. It was also really interesting to see a young child talk about movies like Casablanca and Some Like Hot. It was really entertaining and a pretty short read…I read it in one day. It was charming, smart and funny. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a good, contemporary read…four stars!


Photo by Christa Parravani

Photo by Christa Parravani

About Julia Claiborne Johnson

Julia Claiborne Johnson worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines before marrying and moving to Los Angeles, where she lives with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.

Connect with Julia on Facebook and Twitter.

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51p9gavh0kl-_sx331_bo1204203200_About Autumn in Oxford


Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 30, 2016)

After being blacklisted for having communist sympathies as a student twenty years before, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Tom Wrought escapes America’s Cold War climate to teach at Oxford. There, he falls in love with Liz Spencer, a beautiful married woman. When Liz’s husband is pushed in front of a train in the London Underground, Tom is immediately arrested for the murder. Scotland Yard is convinced it has its man, as he had means, motive, and opportunity.

Certain of his innocence, Liz hires a young solicitor, Alice Silverstone, to defend Tom. But they discover that Tom’s former secret work as an American spy made him a number of powerful enemies. Russian intelligence, British counterespionage, and even the FBI all may have reason to frame him. If Liz and Alice can find out who is behind the murder, they stand a chance of freeing Tom, but doing so puts all their lives at risk.

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Autumn in Oxford by Alex Rosenberg. I received this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it. 

Autumn in Oxford is a historical fiction novel about Elizabeth and Tom, a man and a woman who began an affair in the midst of their failing marriages. When Liz’s husband is murdered right in front of Tom, they come to find themselves in the middle of an intricate conspiracy to frame the murder on Tom for reasons that will make him revisit the events of his political past.

I rather enjoyed Autumn in Oxford. The prospect of reading a book with a plot that included both espionage and romance was highly intriguing to me. In reading Autumn in Oxford, I found it to be heavy on the espionage and very light on the romance. I expected there to be a little more romance in it than there actually was so I didn’t really connect that well with Liz and Tom’s relationship although I definitely was not a fan of either of their spouses. 

That being said, I really enjoyed the espionage and intelligence aspect of this book. I found the chapters that are delivered as Tom’s handwritten confessional narrative to be highly interesting. I loved playing sleuth with Alice and Liz trying to uncover details in Toms past and current work to bring light to the predicament he finds himself in. I thought it was rather interesting to see how all the different characters and organizations fit together in their pursuit of Tom and the danger element of never knowing who could exactly be trusted was intriguing. 

This is the first book I have read so far from Alex Rosenberg and judging from this book, I would be interested in reading more of his work. His writing style definitely suited me and kept me interested in the story. I am giving this book 3.5 stars because I did find it enjoyable and think that historical fiction fans may enjoy it as well, especially those interested in the Cold War period and stories involving espionage. 



a1qm13ysfbl-_ux250_-200x300About Alex Rosenberg

Alex Rosenberg is the author of the novel The Girl from Krakow. He has lived in Britain and has taught at Oxford, where he made the acquaintance of some of the historical figures that play roles in Autumn in Oxford. Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina.

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