Friday, January 31, 2020

The Winters


For over eighty years, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca has been attracting readers with its haunting story of a young woman’s fairy tale romance—and how it’s upended by the ghosts of her husband’s past. The book has never been out of print, and has inspired countless remakes and retellings, including an upcoming Netflix movie starring Lily James and Armie Hammer. With Lisa Gabriele’s THE WINTERS (now available in paperback from Penguin Books), fans of the classic can indulge in a sharp and suspenseful tale that’s both inspired by Rebecca and a compelling page-turner all on its own.

This stylish and atmospheric novel follows a young woman swept off her feet by a wealthy politician named Max Winter. But once he whisks her off to his lavish estate in the Hamptons, our narrator begins to realize all is not as perfect as it seems. She is haunted by the memory of Max’s first wife, Rebekah, whose legacy lingers everywhere—and what’s worse, his spiteful teenage daughter is intent on making sure her new stepmom knows her place. As their dangerous cat-and-mouse game progresses, it becomes clear that no amount of glitz and glamour can keep every secret buried.

Bustle calls THE WINTERS, “Dark and richly atmospheric… A bewitching novel about love, lies, and the ghosts that never quite leave us alone,” and PopSugar says it’s “[a] suspenseful, dark tale of love, deception, and grief… from the minute you crack open THE WINTERS until you reach its riveting conclusion, you’ll be spellbound.” You can also catch author Lisa Gabriele on NPR’s Weekend Edition here.

*THE WINTERS: A Novel
*By Lisa Gabriele
*Penguin
*ISBN: 9780525559726
*Price: $17.00
*Also available as an e-book and audiobook

On an island in the Caribbean, an unnamed young woman lives a quiet simple life, working for a sailing company and trying to pay her debts. Her world is, in her own words, “unremarkable”—until a dashing older man, a recent widower and wealthy senator named Max Winter, arrives in town and sweeps her off her feet. After a whirlwind romance, she finds herself newly engaged and ensconced in a life of luxury she never could have imagined. But all is not as it seems at Asherley, Max’s opulent Long Island estate, and no amount of glitz and glamour can keep every secret buried, or every ghost quiet.

THE WINTERS is now available in paperback – and is a page-turner about the seductive trappings of wealth, the dangers of infatuation, and the impossibility of escaping the past.

THE WINTERS takes its cues from both classic manor house novels and contemporary domestic thrillers but will keep readers guessing as it builds toward an explosive and unpredictable conclusion. A decidedly modern (and unexpectedly feminist) take on a beloved genre, it is a gripping tale about money, power, and status—and the web of lies it takes to keep them.

When she first arrives at Asherley, our humble narrator—an outsider who has never known such fortune—is both impressed and bewildered by her new surroundings. But it soon becomes clear that this is no place for a fresh start, and she is right to be on edge. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s first wife, Rebekah, whose beauty, breeding, and aura of mystery feed the young woman’s uncertainties and insecurities. Rebekah’s photos adorn the walls, the rooms smell of her favorite flowers, and worst of all, her spiteful teenage daughter Dani is intent on keeping her mother’s memory alive—and torturing her soon-to-be stepmom with it.

As Max and Dani circle each other like cats, pressing buttons and pushing boundaries, their twisted family dynamic, and the hole left by Rebekah’s death, become ever more apparent. Dani refuses to be cowed, and Max’s political ambitions will not be stopped by any woman, dead or alive. Haunted by Rebekah, tormented by Dani, and growing suspicious of her fiancé, the young woman finds herself in a strange and sinister world where she cannot fit in, and may not be able to get out.

THE WINTERS is a sharp and suspenseful read that belongs on every thriller-lover’s bookshelf. Gabriele’s vivid prose brings the affluent Hamptons alive, and skillfully reveals the darkness lurking just beneath the surface and the skeletons in every walk-in closet.

Author Lisa Gabriele, Photo Credit: Vanessa Heins
About the author:
Lisa Gabriele is the author of Tempting Faith DiNapoli and The Almost Archer Sisters, and The Winters, and is an award-winning TV producer, writer and director. Her writing has appeared in Vice, Nerve, New York Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times Magazine, Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle and Glamour. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies, including The Best American Non-Required Reading. She’s also the author of the international best-selling S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy, under the pseudonym L. Marie Adeline, a series that’s been published in more than 30 countries.

She lives in Toronto, where she is an award-winning television producer.

For more on Lisa and her writing, contact with her at the following sites:
www.lisagabriele.com/ |      @lisagabrieletv  |      @lisagabrieletv    

Thanks for stopping by today. Are you a fan of Rebecca, the book and/or the movie? Doesn’t THE WINTERS sound like it will drawn you into the drama quickly and hold you captive until the end?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Finding Our Morning (+ Giveaway)


* Finding Our Morning
* By Mickie B. Ashling
* Publication date: January 28th 2020
* Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery
May 1977
Ginny Tate bides her time on the family stud farm in San Antonio, Texas, waiting to start veterinarian school in the fall. Bullied as an adolescent, she’s finally shed her old skin, but the emerging beauty still harbors insecurities and would rather hang out with horses than people.
Sponsored by his uncle, the Shah of Iran, Dariush—David—Akbari, a twenty-five-year-old NYU grad with a degree in International Law, is also a skilled polo player. He joins the royal traveling team for a tournament in Plano, Texas.
A decade in America has gradually altered David’s views on certain aspects of his culture. Torn between familial obligations and his adopted country, David resists the idea of returning to Iran so soon after graduation.
At the traditional after-party, David strikes up a conversation with Ginny, who is refreshingly honest. He receives an invitation to visit Tate Stud Farm and, on the pretext of buying another polo pony, persuades the shah to make a detour.
Great horsemanship coupled with self-effacing charm sets David apart from the entitled braggarts who normally populate the sport, and Ginny falls hard. His visit turns into a life-changing week that neither can foresee. Will they walk away unscathed or live to regret their impulsive behavior?
Inspired by events preceding the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty, Finding Our Morning is a love story that catapults us from Texas Hill Country to the epicenter of a monarchy on the brink of collapse.
EXCERPT:
So much time had elapsed since Ginny issued the invitation, she didn’t know what to expect when David called two weeks later to arrange a meeting. Was he passing through town or was this an intentional stop? Either way, the days leading up to his arrival were pure torture.
On the morning in question, Ginny took longer than necessary to get ready. She left her hair loose instead of tying it back in her usual ponytail. Her luxurious locks were the only thing she could count on to draw eyes away from her face. The dark blond strands fell in a silky curtain to her midback and had been compared to a palomino’s coat on many occasions. As for the rest of her, it was business as usual. Faded jeans, a checked cotton shirt, and her favorite red cowboy boots. Her complexion was clear this morning, thank God, and she took her time applying eye makeup. It was out of the ordinary to get dolled up during the day, and her parents noticed as soon as she sat down to breakfast.
“Going to a party?” Margery asked.
“No, but you know the Shah of Iran is about to grace our doorstep, and I thought I’d look nice for a change.”
“You always look good,” Ray commented. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is a blind fool.”
“Thanks, Dad.”
“What about your chores?” Margery inquired. “Won’t your hair get in the way?”
“I’ll get ’em done,” Ginny promised.
“See that you do,” Margery replied. “I know you want to make a good impression, sweetie, but those foreigners aren’t coming to socialize. We have to present our best, and a clean, well-organized farm is just as important as our livestock. You wouldn’t eat in a dirty kitchen.”
“For Christ’s sake, Marge. Leave the girl alone.”
“Seriously, Mom. You’re overreacting as usual.”
“Then explain why you look more like a debutante than a rancher’s daughter this morning?”
“He offered dinner and dancing the last time we were together. I don’t want him to change his mind.”
Aghast, Margery exclaimed, “The shah?”
“God no,” Ginny said. “David.”
“Which one is he again?”
“Their number-three player.”
“He was good,” Margery recalled.
“Right?”
“What are you going to wear tonight?”
“I’m not sure it’s happening, but I bought a new dress in case.”
“What color is it?”
“Black.”
“You’re too young to wear black,” Margery opined with a tsk.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Give it a rest, Mom. I’m eighteen.”
“Black is more appropriate for someone older and more experienced.”
Ginny refused to take the bait. Her mother was being overprotective, given her dating history, and was understandably worried. Nonetheless, it was too early in the morning to argue. She scooped up the last of her egg yolk on a piece of toast, swallowed it down with orange juice, and stood up to go. “I’ll catch you guys later.”
Standing on the steps outside the kitchen door, she paused and scanned the horizon. The sun was already a bright ball of pulsing heat in the cloudless blue sky, and she could tell it was going to be another scorcher. Ginny hoped the Iranians had the good sense to come early to avoid the worst of it.
As she headed toward the stable where they kept the horses for sale, she scrutinized their property and tried to see it through the eyes of a stranger. Theirs was a small operation compared to other stud farms, but they had a stellar reputation. Margery Tate was the driving force behind their prosperity. The woman was a stickler for order and quick to remind new employees that pride in ownership was as important as a good pedigree.
Margery acquired her code of ethics from her parents who’d started the stud farm with one stallion and a few mares. As their only child, she’d inherited the bulk of the estate, with small portions divided among the loyal ranch hands who had been around until her father finally passed, a year and a day after her mother died of cancer. Her gender had never been a good enough excuse to avoid the hard work necessary to ensure the success of the farm, and Margery expected her only daughter to work as tirelessly as the rest of them.
She did have a point, Ginny conceded begrudgingly, but her advice was often framed in criticism, which usually rubbed people the wrong way. Horse breeding could be a messy business when things got out of hand, and organization was key.
She made the rounds swiftly this morning, inspecting each area with a critical eye, paying particular attention to the horses for sale. This would be their first stop and she wanted the area to be in tip-top shape. She could only imagine what the royal stables must look like with dozens of helpers at the shah’s beck and call. Well, they might not have his manpower, but over the years, the stud farm had gained a well-earned reputation for their excellent stock and integrity.
By the time the shah and his entourage arrived two hours later, her nerves were frayed. The group of six, dressed in casual attire, climbed out of a gleaming limousine. Ginny wasn’t sure what to expect, given their status, but these men looked like any prospective buyer, albeit better dressed. Her parents greeted the Iranians deferentially and offered to be their guides as they toured the premises. While they concentrated on the shah, Ginny walked up to David with an outstretched hand.
“I’m glad you could make it.”
“Was there any doubt?” he asked, stepping forward and clasping her hand in his. He was so close she could smell his sweet breath, overlaid with a hint of coffee. His eyes weren’t black as she’d first thought. They were deep brown with a touch of caramel and were gazing at her appraisingly. Now that he was actually here, Ginny’s confidence faltered as she met his intense scrutiny. Had he come to buy a horse or check her out? Her heart rate sped up as nerves and anticipation made her breath falter. It was at once unexpected and exhilarating. Ginny withdrew her hand and stepped back, laughing off the moment awkwardly.


Author Bio:
Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multi-published author who resides in a suburb outside Chicago. She is a product of her upbringing in various cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West.
Since 2009, Mickie has written several dozen novels in the LGBTQ+ genre—which have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Lately, her muse has been nudging her in a different direction, and she’s learned through past experience to pay attention to creative sparks that show up unexpectedly. Her pen name is a part of her now, and will travel along on this exciting new journey, wherever it might lead. She promises to be very specific in her book blurbs and cover art to avoid any confusion.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you listen when your muse talks to you?

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Monday, January 27, 2020

This and That


It’s time for a “This and That” post, which I haven’t done in quite some time. But let’s be honest, I haven’t done a lot of any posting here lately. I say I’m going to do better (with the best of intentions) and then life gets a little crazier and I let it sidetrack me.

I think some of my problem is that at heart I’m a list maker. And for some time now I’ haven’t been making lists. Without a list I feel a bit lost. I’ve never completely finished everything on a list, but I feel better knowing I’ve done at least a few of the things that needed to be done. I’m slowly starting to make lists again so maybe that will help. For some reason you can have five planners (which I do) but they don’t help if you don’t actually plan in them (LOL).

Before I get too carried away here, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who voiced concern over my sick family member. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging about that. The sick family member is my fur baby, Traveler. For those of you who have fur babies, you understand that even though he is a cat, he is my baby and a huge part of our family.

A short version of what’s happen with Traveler. End of September he got where he wouldn’t eat anything. Go to the vet who says he could be a virus. The vet said Traveler is probably older than we think (he was a stray that adopted me) and that he could have the beginnings of kidney problems. We got medicine, he started back eating and follow up showed kidneys not as bad as first thought but still need to watch closely. Weeks go by, he’s eating but looks like he’s losing weight and not really acting like himself. Begin to notice his breathing is also changing. Back to vet who say, “he doesn’t have long” fluid is building up. Get more medicine and a week later back for another follow up. This visit the vet say, “it’s like examining a different cat.” While he gives us a good report, he cautioned the fluid could return because Traveler’s heart isn’t pumping hard enough (due to his age). We’re advised to watch and if that happens begin giving him one of the medicines again once daily (for the rest of his life). He went two full days without any medicine before the breathing started changing again. We’re back on the medicine and his breathing is still not normal. He has some difficulty at times but other times does okay. I'm thinking he probably needs the medicine twice a day like before. We'll see what the vet says. (Ingrid, I just want to let you know I’m still heartbroken for you over your loss of Ruby. I’ve thought a lot about you during Travel’s illness. Prayers continue for you.) Thanks again everyone for your concern, it means a lot to me.

On to other things, I am hoping someone has a suggestion or recommendation for me concerning moving files from one computer to another. Back before Christmas I purchased a new HP laptop. I still haven’t started using it yet. I need to move all my programs and files to the new computer. I don’t have a clue how to do that. P-L-E-A-S-E someone help.

I’ve got a number of books that I want to share my thoughts on with you. In addition, there are several new-to-me authors I want to introduce to you. Hopefully I can get on track again sharing with you (no promises this time). There are so many wonderful books out there and I am so far behind. Two books I do want to mention (and I will go into more details about each at a later date) are MURDER, JUST BECAUSE by Yvonne Renee, the fifth installment in her Detective Quaid Mysteries series, and Jemi Fraser’s debut release, DANCING WITH DEMENTIA, coming out soon. Be sure to keep those two on your radar and check them out.

How do you relieve stress? Do you do exercises to help keep your mind sharp? Are the two things the same? Over the years, as crazy as it sounds, I’ve found that Spider Solitaire helps to relax me and helps me to concentrate. Granted I only play on the medium level, but it helps. It makes me focus on something different and for those few minutes I’m playing everything else melts away. I like to think it also helps my mind to stay sharp.

I don’t normally play any other games online, but I recently came across one that I’ve downloaded on my iPad. It’s called June’s Journey and it’s set in the 1920s. It’s all about finding objects hidden in a scene so you can advance to the next level. It’s entertaining and it works my mental process. If you haven’t seen the game, but sure to check it out. Besides, there’s a fun mystery plot that goes along with the game. If you have seen it, have you tried it? What do you think of it? Is it too childish for you? Do you like games that challenge you to remember where something was or find something that is not out in plain sight?

Well, I guess I’ve rambled on for long enough. Thanks for stopping by today and especially for continuing to support this blog. Y’all are the greatest. Now, what have y’all been up to?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

What Are Friends For? (+ Giveaway)


*What Are Friends For?
*By Sarah Sutton
* Publication date: January 14th 2020
* Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
FALLING IN LOVE ISN’T COMPLICATED…UNLESS IT’S WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND.
A close, easygoing friendship can all change with just one kiss. Seventeen-year-old Remi Beaufort learns this the hard way when she plays a blindfolded kissing game at a party.
She thinks she’s kissing Jeremy, the totally hot basketball player she’s been crushing on. And the kiss…it’s amazing. Heart-stopping, world-changing, toe-curling. The kiss makes her forget about her overbearing mother, the next-door neighbor’s drama, and the probability that she’ll fail her senior year. The best kiss of her life makes all that fall away.
Until her blindfold falls off, and she realizes that instead of kissing her crush, she’s kissing Elijah, her best friend since third grade.

Though she manages to convince Elijah that he was kissing his girlfriend, Remi can’t get the thought of his lips on hers out of her head. As things between them grow more and more complicated—because it turns out her fantasizing about his mouth is more of a problem than it sounds—Remi has to make a choice: does she live the rest of her life loving her best friend in secret? Or does she tell the truth and risk ruining their friendship forever? 

Heart-melting and romantic, What Are Friends For? is a swoon-worthy best-friends-to-lovers story that will leave you crushing hard.
EXCERPT:
There were times between us that felt totally normal—like, almost the entire time we’d been cutting out snowflakes, things had felt normal. I hadn’t been staring at his mouth or imagining his body heat enveloping me into a hug. We joked like normal, laughed like normal. But the quiet moments between us had my heart aching, wanting.
“See you tomorrow,” Elijah said, and I saw from the corner of my eye the shadow of him rising to his feet. He pressed his hand once against the spot between my shoulder blades before walking off, his socks silent on the wooden floors. I counted each of my breaths as I waited for the sound of the door to open.
It took seven slow inhales and exhales and then Elijah was gone, leaving me with a torrent of thoughts and a hurting heart.


Author Bio:
Sarah Sutton is a YA Romance author, bringing you stories about teenagers falling in love (sometimes with magic). She spends her days dreaming up ideas with her two adorable puppies by her side being cheerleaders (and mega distractions).

Thanks for stopping by today. Doesn't this sound like it should be a Hallmark movie? Did you ever play spin the bottle and kiss someone you thought was someone else?

GIVEAWAY!
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Friday, January 3, 2020

Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle


This is a post that I should have shared with you early last month but due to sickness in the family (I’ll talk about that in a later post), crazy work schedules and the holidays I’m running a month behind.

*BREWED AWAKENING
*By Cleo Coyle
*Series: A Coffeehouse Mystery (Book 18)
*Hardcover: 368 pages
*Publisher: Berkley (December 3, 2019)
*Language: English
*ISBN-10: 0451488873
*ISBN-13: 978-0451488879

First, let me share a synopsis of the story:
When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she's been missing for days, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she's back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiancé. But to Mike Quinn's crushing distress, Clare doesn't remember him, or much of anything about the last fifteen years of her life.
Clare's missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare's elegant employer--and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as "The Ladies Who Brunch"--invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. After their indulgent tasting, they headed to the parking garage, where a camera captured a masked figure with a gun confronting the hotel heiress with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare's memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.
To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.

Now for my thoughts:

Tackling realistic issues and adding a dose of mystery topped off with delicious recipes is what this author does with creative writing and fascinating characters.

Just when you might think a long-running series could begin to get stale, the author takes you on an intriguing journey fraught with twists, turns and surprises. Readers get an in-depth look at the characters as they traverse through danger and mystery. The plot might also give you pause to wonder what if you were in protagonist Clare Cosi’s place.

As the story unfolds readers are drawn into the world of the protagonist who has lost her short-term memory. Told from multiple viewpoints, the story is filled with humor, intrigue, alluring characters (old and new) and a well-rounded tale of excitement. The family atmosphere of The Village Blend is felt as the group tries to help Clare each in their own unique way. The colorful and quirky characters that make up the coffeehouse add depth to the story. Whether you are a returning fan or new to the series, you can follow along as the story unfolds.

Fast-pace and entertaining, this story will hold you spellbound from beginning to end. An extra bonus to the plot’s drama is the tasty recipes and helpful tips included at the end. You don’t have to be a coffee lover to enjoy this book (and the series), just a fan of heart-pounding murder mysteries.

******

I'd like to say a special thanks to Author Cleo Coyle (the writing team of husband and wife, Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini) for the opportunity to read this delightful book. I've been a huge fan of the Coffeehouse Mysteries since the first book and have learned so much about coffee and preparing it. Thanks guys, y'all are the best!

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I hope you’ll add this to your reading list for January if you haven’t already read it. Do you enjoy books that make you stop and say, “Wow, what would I do if that happened to me”?

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Devious Resolutions (+ Giveaway)


Devious Resolutions
Publication date: January 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
GLAM yourself up and get ready for Dinner at Midnight as twelve of your favorite dark authors take you on a wild ride for New Year’s. When a Good Boy shows his Aberrant Desires for Delicious Deviance, and being a Chew Toy can fulfill a Sinner’s wild fantasy.
Step into the role of being a Muse that comes from decadent Champagne Dreams. Get enticed into being Bait as you enjoy the show of the Hung. And when all is said and done, prepare to end your night with a tempting Bang, Bang.
Devious Resolutions: A Dark M/M Anthology.

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