Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop is a middle aged librarian/historian studying alchemy.  She has spent her entire life pretending not to be a witch, despite a long line of renown witches in the Bishop family.  While studying at Oxford, Diana accidentally uncovers a long lost manuscript that holds some sort of secret desired by all those in the supernatural community (witches, daemons, and vampires).  Not knowing its value, Diana sends it back into the stacks only to soon find the Oxford library packed with supernatural creatures wanting to get their hands on it.  Diana notices one vampire in particular, Matthew Claremont, who has begun to consistently lurk around her area of study.  After a few more intimate encounters (yoga and a couple of breakfast and dinner dates), Diana finds that Matthew is the only one she can trust to help her discover the secrets of the ancient manuscript.  

My Thoughts:
This book has been on my radar for quite some time.  I finally picked it up a few weeks ago and was not disappointed.  I was instantly drawn in by the characters and setting.  Diana is a woman who has tried desperately to avoid her magical abilities, but they just seem to seep out of her.  She is also a historian studying at a famous library in Oxford, which makes the story all the more interesting.  As I read this book, I often thought of it as an adult version of Harry Potter (and when I say adult, I mean it has adult characters not that it is X-rated).   The fantastical world in this novel is beautifully crafted and left me pining for the next book in the series.  

Note: A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second in the series, Shadow of Night, has recently been released.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

One seemingly normal day, Emily Coleman walked away from her life. She left her little family and her lovely home behind and created a new identity and a new life. What could drive a person to do this? Could you really completely reinvent yourself? Is running away ever the right answer? What is the mysterious date that looms before her and will force her to face her past? No one can guess Emily's secret. Will you?

One Step Too Far is a brilliantly crafted book. I never guess Emily's secret. It's rare that a book catches me off guard, but this one did it! I had to reread the ending twice just to make sure I read it right, then I went back through the story looking for the clues I missed.  The book is so well-paced, you will keep turning the pages to see where Emily will take you next. The most interesting part of the book was unraveling the secret, but the book poses other underlying questions. Is there anything that could justify simply walking away from your life? Is Emily broken or just selfish? Is it possible to leave yourself behind and become someone new? 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

White Trash by Alexandra Allred (Blog Tour!)

Set in the small rural town of Granby Texas, White Trash follows multiple characters whose lives are all somehow connected.  The story begins when Thia Franks returns to Granby after having sworn to never return to the small southern town.  After finishing her undergrad at Duke, Thia follows in the footsteps of many Granby young women and gets knocked up.  Not knowing what else to do, Thia brings her daughter Ella back to her hometown to live with her mother.  As Granby's top newspaper reporter, Thia hears about everything that goes on in her town including racism, ignorance, abuse, and affairs.  Alexandra Allred elaborately describes the inhabitants of Granby including characters like Chester Kennedy, whose fainting goats constantly wreak havoc on the small town.  Things spin out of control even more when James Otis, a young black man, is brutally murdered.  The town cops have few leads and racial tensions continue to rise.  

Erienne's Review:  
I throughly enjoyed this novel.  Having grown up in a small southern town myself, I could relate to many of the happenings within the book.  Allred paints an accurate picture of life in small southern towns and is able to exemplify the complexities within.  While many of the character's actions are looked down upon, Allred also presents characters who are hard working, caring, and honest.  I at times had trouble keeping up with all of the characters, but found myself wanting to know more about each of them.  I especially liked how Allred created a mystery that tied so many of the characters together in the end.  

Sarah's Review: 
White Trash does an excellent job of reaching into the heart of a small southern town. I really enjoyed the descriptions of all the characters and found myself wrapped up in the mystery of James Otis' murder. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out "whodunnit," but I could not guess this one! There were so many crazy characters that I could imagine any of them being capable of anything, even murder. The book was very funny in parts and serious in others. Alexandra Allred spins a good tale while exposing prejudices, and showing the underside of life in a small town.

Note:  We received an advance copy of this title to review.  The actual publication of the book is scheduled for June 6, 2013.  To connect with the author visit:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Interview: Maggi Myers (author of The Final Piece)

A big thanks to Maggi Myers for doing this interview with us!! Be sure to pick up a copy of her book, The Final Piece.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Des Moines, IA and raised in Miami, FL. I currently live in Greensboro, NC with my husband and our 2 monkeys - CJ and Cameron. Most people are fairly shocked to find out I laugh a myself mostly. Seriously, my personality doesn’t reflect the tone of my writing. In fact, I’m rather smiley. How annoying, right? I’m a realist, an Incredible Hulk enthusiast, a mother, an advocate, a calamity, a nerd (and proud of it), and I am a survivor.

What inspired you to write this first book?
I’ve always found writing to be the best way to express myself. It’s served as therapist, lifeline and anchor growing up. In 2004, I lost the person who embodied those same attributes. He passed away never knowing what he meant to me, so I started to write a character that reflected who he was and what he did for me - Tommy. So, Tommy’s existed for a very long time. Beth, Ryan, and the rest of the menagerie, took shape years later.

Last May, I read a book called The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher that blew me away. The characters in this book didn’t follow the typical “rules” of literary fiction. Ms. Fisher was unapologetic and bold in her storytelling. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, and I loved it. It made me brave enough to revisit Tommy and finish writing the story he belonged in.

How long did you work on The Final Piece?
I began outlining in June of 2012 and completed the first draft in October 2012.

How did your interest in writing originate?
When I was a little girl, I had a hard time finding “my voice.” I was a painfully shy and sensitive child who spent a lot of time alone or with adults. It was intimidating!  Writing gave me a means to map out what I wanted to say and perfect it, first. It allowed me to connect with feelings that scared me, help me process them and let them go. Storytelling was my escapism, and my refuge from being lonely.

Are experiences in The Final Piece based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, but Beth’s story is her own. I wove certain feelings and experiences into the storyline in order for Tommy to shine as Beth’s hero, just like Bobby did for me. That is the biggest parallel to real life, right there. Tommy was Beth’s champion, and Bobby was mine. I also wanted to give Beth the one thing that helped me survive my own story - a great family. So, those are some of the things that are based on me.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Tommy. He is my favorite character, because he never doubted Beth for one second.

What books have influenced your life most?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expurey
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher
How to Kill a Rockstar by Tiffanie DeBartolo
If I Stay/ Where She Went by Gayle Forman

*There are so many books that have shaped me & my writing. These are a few that came to mind*

What book are you reading now?
Picturing Perfect by Melissa Brown.

What are your current projects?  Can we expect another book?
I just signed with Amazon Publishing, so things have slowed down a little bit. Traditional publishing works much slower than self publishing! I am working on a book called An Enigma Project and there is an excerpt on my blog at It is scheduled for a February 2014 release.

Anything else you would like to add?
Never let someone else dictate what you are capable of.
Have Faith.
Cherish Love.
Never give up Hope.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Teddi Overman is the owner of a successful antique shop in Charleston, SC. She has an eye for what can be made beautiful, and maybe that is why she has so much trouble letting go. Teddi's charming southern life is haunted by a family she has disconnected with and the disappearance of her beloved brother. When signs begin to appear that he may still be alive, Teddi begins a journey that will return her to her past in rural Kentucky where she finds more to her family's story and ultimately herself.

Looking for Me is a lovely book. The characters are real and lovable, from the quirky old lady that habitually steals from her shop to her dear best friend that collects Pez dispensers. Teddi's relationship to her mother is fragile and heartbreaking. It is a story of loss, rebirth, searching, and finally hope. The mystery of her missing brother is what will keep you turning the pages, but there is so much more to this book.