EXCLUSIVE/A TOUCH OF HEAVEN by Samantha Chase

January 30, 2020

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From the publisher:

Exclusive

When little-known writer Taylor Scott is granted two weeks to interview a famous reclusive author, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. So is the chance to rekindle her friendship with Mike Greene, who happens to be the author’s assistant. But as feelings deepen and time winds down, Taylor will have to choose between the story that could launch her career and an unexpected chance at love.

A Touch of Heaven

As Regan Amerson makes the emotional decision to sell their family home, her mother wins a home makeover from a reality TV show. Regan is furious, and jaded host Sawyer Bennett isn’t thrilled either. That is, until he meets Regan–and finds himself enamored by the fiercely independent beauty. She may want nothing to do with him, but Sawyer isn’t one to give up easily…


This book is a reissue of two previously published stories by Samantha Chase: Exclusive and A Touch of Heaven.  I enjoyed Chase’s Shaughnessy Brothers series and eagerly awaited each new title.  However, her other works have tended to be hit or miss with me.  Unfortunately, this collection was a miss.  Each of the stories is more of a novella length.  I find the novella to be a difficult format for romance.  The compressed nature of novella doesn’t really give enough time for the characters to develop or the story to breathe.  Both Exclusive and A Touch of Heaven shared this issue with both relationships feeling superficial.  The plots felt rushed and there was really no pay off with the couples in either story.  Both just sort of instantly fall in love and it’s a little unclear to the reader why.

Of the two stories I enjoyed Exclusive the least.  There was little tension to the plot and the mystery was very straightforward and easy to guess.  While neither Taylor nor Mike clicked with me as characters, I found Mike to be a difficult romantic lead to like.  He came across as very manipulative of Taylor and petulant when he didn’t get his way.  Taylor is passive throughout the story and one dimensional.  The story also wrapped up much too quickly with a tidy ending that did not seem earned.  A Touch of Heaven is slightly better, if only because neither lead is as unlikeable as Mike.  The premise of Regan and her mother appearing on a home makeover show had potential but again the plot felt underdeveloped and very straightforward.  Regan and Sawyer fall in love instantly, but do not seem to communicate well.  They talk about what a deep connection they have, but this is told to the reader not shown.  Like Exclusive there is a rushed and tidy ending to the story.

Overall, skip this collection as the stories lack substance or likeable characters.  Try Chase’s Shaughnessy Brothers series instead.

1/2020 Caitlin Brisson

EXCLUSIVE/A TOUCH OF HEAVEN by Samantha Chase. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978149262268. 416 p.

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HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden

January 29, 2020

HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden. Graydon House; Original edition (December 30, 2019). ISBN 978-1525805981. 304p.

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THE SECRET GUESTS by Benjamin Black

January 28, 2020

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From the publisher:

“When you’re done binge-watching The Crown, pick up this multifaceted wartime thriller.”
Kirkus Reviews

As London endures nightly German bombings, Britain’s secret service whisks the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret from England, seeking safety for the young royals on an old estate in Ireland.

Ahead of the German Blitz during World War II, English parents from every social class sent their children to the countryside for safety, displacing more than three million young offspring. In The Secret Guests, the British royal family takes this evacuation a step further, secretly moving the princesses to the estate of the Duke of Edenmore in “neutral” Ireland.

A female English secret agent, Miss Celia Nashe, and a young Irish detective, Garda Strafford, are assigned to watch over “Ellen” and “Mary” at Clonmillis Hall. But the Irish stable hand, the housemaid, the formidable housekeeper, the Duke himself, and other Irish townspeople, some of whom lost family to English gunshots during the War of Independence, go freely about their business in and around the great house. Soon suspicions about the guests’ true identities percolate, a dangerous boredom sets in for the princesses, and, within and without Clonmillis acreage, passions as well as stakes rise.

Benjamin Black, who has good information that the princesses were indeed in Ireland for a time during the Blitz, draws readers into a novel as fascinating as the nascent career of Miss Nashe, as tender as the homesickness of the sisters, as intriguing as Irish-English relations during WWII, and as suspenseful and ultimately action-packed as war itself.


A known fact about actions by British families taken during the period of the Blitz of London by Germany during World War II was the sending of their children out of the city to the country to escape those raids. Black’s book is an account, which he indicates is substantiated by the information he received, that the Royal family sent their two daughters Elizabeth later Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret out of London for the same reason.

The novel begins with the sending of the girls to Edenmore, a castle located in than neutral Ireland. They were accompanied by Celia Nashe, a British secret service agent, and Garda Strafford, a young Irish detective. In addition, they were protected by a company of soldiers that patrolled the grounds of the estate on a 24 7 basis.

Characterizations are extremely well done beginning with the young Princesses. Two young ladies that have been raised to always project a royal visage but are still girls that are away from home for the first time. They miss their family and feel hemmed in by the constant supervision they are subjected to. While at Edenmore they are to use names other than their real ones and keep their identities secret. Celia wants to do well in this, her first important assignment, but as a pretty young woman is subject to male admiration and her own interest in developing a romantic relationship. Strafford is also a young man involved in his first important assignment. While doing so he struggles with feelings or no feelings towards Celia.

The period described is relatively close to the war of Independence waged between Ireland and England and there are people described that suffered losses during that period to the British army. The author’s style and the story make the novel into one that is read with the reader’s interest kept up wanting to know how it ends.

1/2020 Paul Lane

THE SECRET GUESTS by Benjamin Black. Henry Holt and Co. (January 14, 2020). ISBN 978-1250133014. 304p.

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TO THE EDGE OF SORROW by Aharon Appelfeld

January 27, 2020

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Translated by Stuart Schoffman

From the publisher:

From “fiction’s foremost chronicler of the Holocaust” (Philip Roth), here is a haunting novel about an unforgettable group of Jewish partisans fighting the Nazis during World War II.

Battling numbing cold, ever-present hunger, and German soldiers determined to hunt them down, four dozen resistance fighters—escapees from a nearby ghetto—hide in a Ukrainian forest, determined to survive the war, sabotage the German war effort, and rescue as many Jews as they can from the trains taking them to concentration camps. Their leader is relentless in his efforts to turn his ragtag band of men and boys into a disciplined force that accomplishes its goals without losing its moral compass. And so when they’re not raiding peasants’ homes for food and supplies, or training with the weapons taken from the soldiers they have ambushed and killed, the partisans read books of faith and philosophy that they have rescued from abandoned Jewish homes, and they draw strength from the women, the elderly, and the remarkably resilient orphaned children they are protecting. When they hear about the advances being made by the Soviet Army, the partisans prepare for what they know will be a furious attack on their compound by the retreating Germans. In the heartbreaking aftermath, the survivors emerge from the forest to bury their dead, care for their wounded, and grimly confront a world that is surprised by their existence—and profoundly unwelcoming.

Narrated by seventeen-year-old Edmund—a member of the group who maintains his own inner resolve with memories of his parents and their life before the war—this powerful story of Jews who fought back is suffused with the riveting detail that Aharon Appelfeld was uniquely able to bring to his award-winning novels.


The novel is a well-done story of people forced by circumstances beyond their control into a horror beyond any one’s dreams, or probably nightmares. It is told in the first person by a young boy named Edmund, who at 17 years of age is swept mercilessly from the life of a student living peacefully with his loving parents into the role of a killer.

The story begins with Edmund and his parents being forced by their captors into boarding a train. The train is to take the family to a concentration camp and the captors are German soldiers under the orders of Adolf Hitler. Edmund is told by his parents to run away from the train and hide someplace. He does so due to the prodding by his mother and father and in his traveling away meets a group of other people, all Jews that are seeking to hide from the soldiers.

The style of the narration by Edmund and reactions of other people in the group that he meets and joins is blase and describes the horrors they live with in a manner that makes them just everyday occurrences. In traveling away from the enemy and their own city, they settle on an elevated area and convert it into a defensive position. A member of the group begins drilling them in order to convert peaceful people into a group that can use weapons and fight against soldiers hunting them. They begin raiding homes and farmhouses in the area around them in order to pick up food and clothing. They use weapons taken from the soldiers that they kill as their own and expand their fighting ability.

All the while everyone involved just dreams of a day when the enemy is defeated and they can return to a normalcy that is in a distant past. The group also begins to raid trains taking people to concentration camps until they can no longer feed and care for more people.

The question posed is can these individuals, including a young teen like Edmund, ever really return to a normal life or are they marked by their forced experiences to be perpetually haunted by what has been forced on them. I came away from this read with a feeling that I have just dealt with something that will stay with me for a long long time, whether I like it or not.

1/2020 Paul Lane

TO THE EDGE OF SORROW by Aharon Appelfeld & Stuart Schoffman. Schocken (January 14, 2020). ISBN 978-0805243420. 304p.

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REGRETTING YOU by Colleen Hoover

January 26, 2020

REGRETTING YOU by Colleen Hoover. Montlake (December 10, 2019). ISBN 978-1542016421. 365p.

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UK Book Blog Awards to return for third year

January 25, 2020

 

Awards celebrate social media influencers’ impact on the publishing industry

 

 

 

The London Book Fair is delighted to announce the return of the UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF for a third year.  

Bloggers, social media influencers, members of the publishing industry, and the general public are invited to contribute nominations for Book Podcast of the Year, Book Blogger of the Year, Bookstagrammer of the Year and Book Vlogger of the Year. 

Once the shortlist has been revealed, a panel of judges will select one winner in each category, who will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at The London Book Fair. Building on the success of the past two years, the Fair will include live podcast events, seminars and networking opportunities focused on bringing together the social media influencer community and those in publishing. 

The UK Book Blog Awards celebrate the vital contribution of social media influencers to the book industry, with last year’s winners including popular blog What’s Hot?, Bookstagrammer Abbie Walker, and YouTuber Rose Reads. The 2019 UK Book Blog Awards also featured the debut of the Book Podcaster of the Year award, which was taken home by Mostly Lit. Holly Bourne, bestselling author and last year’s Author of the Day, hosted the awards.  

Helen Clifford, Marketing Manager at The London Book Fair commented: “Social media is a key aspect of the publishing landscape and we are thrilled to once again recognise the important relationship between influencers and publishing with the UK Book Blog Awards. We are very much looking forward to celebrating the bloggers, book vloggers, bookstagrammers and podcasters who bring so much to the book world at The London Book Fair.” 

The awards are open to any UK based book blogger, YouTuber, podcaster or Instagrammer. To put forward a nomination, or to nominate your own blog/podcast/Instagram account/YouTube channel visit: www.londonbookfair.co.uk/UKBookBlogAwards

THE LONDON BOOK FAIR UK BOOK BLOG AWARDS – TERMS & CONDITIONS

  1. THE UK BOOK BLOG AWARDS 2020 are open to any blogger, YouTuber, podcaster or Instagrammer featuring books, who is based in the UK.
  2. Blogs, Instagram profiles, podcasts and YouTube channels can be entered by the brand owners, affiliates, or members of the public.
  3. The deadline for entries is Friday 14th February 2020 (the “Closing Date”).
  4. Judging: a panel of expert judges will decide a shortlist of three entries per category, one of whom will be the overall winner in each category.
  5. The Judges’ decision is final on all matters and no correspondence will be entered into.
  6. If the judging panel feels that none of the entries in a category reaches the standard outlined to them in guidance notes, The London Book Fair may (under exceptional circumstances) cancel the category.
  7. The Winners will be announced at The London Book Fair, 10-12 March 2020

LOST HILLS by Lee Goldberg

January 25, 2020

LOST HILLS by Lee Goldberg. Thomas & Mercer (January 1, 2020). ISBN 978-1542091893. 240p.

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Win THE APOLLO DECEPTION by Mitch Silver!

January 24, 2020

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About the Book

A fast-paced, highly topical conspiracy thriller involving the Apollo moon landings.

In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon . . . didn’t it?

After China announce a space mission to place their own flag next to the one US astronauts planted during the Apollo 11 mission, few people bat an eyelid. Shortly after this statement Charlie Stephens, a 74-year-old former filmmaker, is murdered. The incident is made to look like an accident, but why?

Going through his father’s effects, Gary Stephens discovers reels of 35mm celluloid showing the Apollo mission was faked – there’s no US flag on the moon, and only a handful of people know it.

For his own safety Gary is brought into Mission Dark Side, a government-sanctioned cover-up to send a crew to the moon to plant the flag before the Chinese reach it . . . but there are those out to sabotage the mission who will go to any lengths to achieve their aims.

Praise for Mitch Silver: “Readers will be impressed by Silver’s finesse in juggling endless time frames and counterplots and rewarded with an elaborate set of assassinations and double-crosses” Kirkus Reviews on The Apollo Deception

“A great thriller, worthy of Ian Fleming himself” Lee Child on In Secret Service

A smart and breezy reprise of the spy stories of the 20th century” Library Journal Reviews on In Secret Service

“The pace is agreeably fast; and the intelligent, capable Klimt makes an engaging lead character” Booklist on The Bookworm

“Silver’s high spirits are so contagious that readers will happily go along for the ride” Publishers Weekly on In Secret Service

Winner of the beach-read sweepstakes, it will have us teasing facts from fiction. For all popular collections, in multiple copies” Library Journal  on In Secret Service

The Bookworm is that very rare, almost extinct thriller: well plotted, intelligent as hell James Patterson


About the Author

Mitch Silver studied History at Yale and attended Harvard Law School before becoming a writer for several of the big New York ad agencies. He is the author of In Secret Service and The Book Worm, and lives with his wife Ellen in Greenwich, Connecticut.

To win a copy of THE APOLLO DECEPTION by Mitch Silver, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “APOLLO DECEPTION” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. or Canada street address in your email.

All entries must be received by February 13, 2020. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States or Canada only. Your book will be sent by the publisher.

More Rules:

  • One entry per email address.
  • Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest.
  • Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest.
  • Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book.
  • Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone. All entries, including names, email addresses, and mailing addresses, will be purged after the winner is notified.

 


THE PRINCESS PLAN by Julia London

January 23, 2020

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 A Royal Wedding Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

Princes have pomp and glory—not crushes on commoners

Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.


This is the introduction to a new series by the fabulous Julia London. It is set in England, but the prince is from Alucia, whatever that is. The political machinations are really what this book is all about, but it is the relationship between Eliza and Sebastian that brings the romance. Everyone loves a good scandal, so a murder in the highest echelons of society keep the gossip going. Eliza is smart, and it is her intellect that really attracts Sebastian.

The secondary characters are so well developed, especially Eliza’s family, including her father, who is blind. Eliza had been badly hurt when she was younger and is determined to never put herself in that situation again. She has declared herself a spinster and is happy with that. She is brash and outspoken and I loved her! But she also can’t help falling for Sebastian, even though she knows that can never be as he is upfront with her about his marriage prospects, which are entirely political. Of course, there has to be a happy ending, and Sebastian is smart, too, and he finagles a way to make that happen.

Lots of suspense, lots of humor and some steamy sex make for a terrific read. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

1/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE PRINCESS PLAN by Julia London. HQN; Original edition (November 19, 2019).  ISBN 978-1335041531. 400 p.

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DEEP STATE by Chris Hauty

January 22, 2020

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From the publisher:

In this white-knuckled, timely, and whip-smart debut thriller, a deadly plot against the president’s life emerges from the shadows of the Deep State.

Recently elected President Richard Monroe—populist, controversial, and divisive—is at the center of an increasingly polarized Washington, DC. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. In the midst of contentious political turf wars, the White House chief of staff is found dead in his house. A tenacious intern discovers a single, ominous clue that suggests he died from something other than natural causes, and that a wide-ranging conspiracy is running beneath the surface of everyday events: powerful government figures are scheming to undermine the rule of law—and democracy itself. Allies are exposed as enemies, once-dependable authorities fall under suspicion, and no one seems to be who they say they are. The unthinkable is happening. The Deep State is real. Who will die to keep its secrets and who will kill to uncover the truth?


As the title implies, Chris Hauty’s first novel deals with the possibility that there is a group of people operating behind the scenes that are manipulating national events in the United States. It is a situation that apparently is known to exist by many people without the means to control it. The novel is a work of fiction but based on distinct possibilities could be what is happening.

Haley Chill, a young woman from West Virginia, has just finished a tour in the army and looking for something to do. She has had a good several years, distinguished herself and had the fortune to become the woman’s boxing champion for her army group. She has gotten herself a place as an intern with the newly elected president’s staff working at the White House. Richard Monroe, the new President, is controversial and in many respects divisive. The Deep State group wants him dead due to the many problems surrounding him and his political outlook.

The action starts immediately when the White House chief of staff is found dead in his home. The only clue to who killed him is found by Haley who tells no one of her findings and attempts to launch her own investigation. She understands that it is the work of the so-called Deep State and that is the conspiracy that must be found and destroyed. Quite a mission for a young girl just out of military service but she is up to it.

There is no problem finding action in the story, and the words flow keeping the reader glued to the pages awaiting the outcome. The ending is not telegraphed at all, but is quite satisfying and will do its part in Hauty’s readers coming back for more.

1/2020 Paul Lane

DEEP STATE by Chris Hauty. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (January 7, 2020). ISBN 978-1982126582. 288p.

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