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Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty & Giveaway

Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 358 pgs.
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Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty is set during what some call the golden age of tennis during the late 1970s when John McEnroe was an up-and-coming star and Jimmy Connors was at the top of his game. Patricia Curren is a beautiful woman who looks as though she’s stepped off of a magazine cover and in a way, she did after her husband discovered her and used her in a rebranding campaign when she was younger. A man bent on building his business and maintaining the perfect facade through intimidation, Jack Curren will stop at nothing to get what he wants while expecting loyalty and acquiescence from those closest to him. It’s clear that his relationship with his wife is far from blissful, and something is about to break.

“This isn’t my story. It’s Patricia and Terry’s. But in the summer of 1978, their lives were wound around mine like strands of twine around a spool. Twine. Rope. Barbed wire by August.” (pg. 1)

The Curren’s take a trip to Kiawah, S.C., to their beach house, and when her husband returns to New York for work, she stays behind. She’s looking to change to become stronger, to break out of her melancholy and aloofness, and to be more like Jack’s assistant Lynn.  Here Patricia transforms into Tricia with the help of Terry, a summer camp teacher who wants to be a professional tennis player on the circuit.  Both are broken and both find that they can repair themselves through the uncomplicated love they have for one another, but the secrets they hold threaten to break apart everything.

Fogarty has created a set of deeply flawed, broken characters who must make peace with their own pasts in order to move forward.  The tennis matches mirror the volleying between Tricia and Jack, Tricia and Lynn, Jack and Lynn, and the volleys between Tricia and Terry, Terry and Baze (his friend), and Terry and Nona (a woman interested in sponsoring his pro career). Told from Lynn’s point of view, readers are pulled into the mystery of these relationships, and the tangled webs they’ve all created until they nearly strangle one another.  Each has to decide when the tipping point is and when to take a chance and go to the net for match point.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Judy Fogarty lives, writes, reads, and runs on the historic Isle of Hope, in her native Savannah, Georgia. She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois and has served as Director of Marketing for private golf and tennis communities in the Savannah/Hilton Head area, including The Landings on Skidaway Island, Berkeley Hall, and Callawassie Island. She is a devoted (even rowdy) tennis fan as anyone who has ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of watching a match with her will attest. Breaking and Holding is her debut novel. She is happily at work on her second, and as always, enjoys the invaluable support of her husband, Mike, and children, Colin and Sara Jane. Visit her Website, Facebook, or Twitter.

To Enter for 1 copy (US/Canada addresses only; age 18+): Leave a comment about who your favorite tennis player is and an email. Enter by March 22, 2017, at 11:59 PM EST.

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The Visitant by Megan Chance

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 339 pgs.
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The Visitant by Megan Chance is a ghost story with Gothic romance elements, reminiscent of the Brontes but not as dark.  Elena Spira arrives in Venice in the late 1900s (given the use of Bromide as a cure) with high expectations of caring for Samuel Farber in a plush palazzo, but Ca’ Basilio is rundown and falling apart, with few rooms furnished, a staff that’s very abrasive, and a family with dark secrets.   Samuel’s ailments are a secret as well, as the Basilio family believes him to be merely the victim of a robbery and beating, but there are those in the house who are aware of his true sickness.  Nero Basilio is Samuel’s best friend and when he returns from his trip to Rome, Elena captures his attention.  As he fervently pursues her, Samuel warns her against his darker nature given her virginal innocence, but it’s clear he has designs on her as well.

“When I was finished, the trunk was still half-empty.  So sad, really, that a life could be compressed to so few things.  Three or four books, a photographic portrait of my parents and me.   Should someone wish to write my biography, a paragraph would be enough.” (pg. 88 ARC)

Elena wants more from her life that the future that awaits her if she fails in her mission to return Samuel to health.  Her one mistake led her to this place of desolation, and her success can not only affect her own life, but that of her parents.  Her failure would be devastating for them all.  But even as she finds the palazzo in disrepair and the family without a fortune to repair it, she’s less curious about the house than one would expect in a ghost story, particularly one with Gothic elements.  However, given her heavy guilt, her focus remains where it should be for the most part, though she is not unaware of the oppressive spirit of the house and its former inhabitant.

Chance weaves a captivating story from beginning to end, though Elena could have been a little more perceptive about Nero than she was given her past mistakes, which are referenced a few times.  In the fall season and Halloween around the corner, The Visitant by Megan Chance is a good fit.  It provides enough ghostly elements and enough mystery to keep readers going, and the romantic elements are not over the top.  Another solid novel from this author.

Other reviews:

Inamorata

About the Author:

Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction, including Inamorata, Bone River, and City of Ash. Her novels have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices and Book Sense programs. A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.  Visit her Website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mireille by Molly Cochran

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 619 pgs
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Mireille by Molly Cochran is a sweeping novel that takes place near the end of WWII through the 1960s, and the title character is forced from her home at the same time she is forced to realize that her life must become an illusion in order for her to survive.  Mireille is an unusual beauty who finds herself caught in the web of her own lies later in life, and while she’s desperate to escape, she’s also careful to protect her family from harm, even if that means paying a heavy price.  Following the end of WWII, she makes the trek on foot to Paris and finds herself in even worse health and shape than when she ran from her home.  She learns quickly that kindness is hard to come by and that the only way she can provide for herself and survive is the become the best prostitute in all of Paris.

Cochran has dove deep into the world of Paris escorts, and the depravity Mireille finds there is something that she can only deal with by severing her actions from her true 17-year-old self.  She soon meets Oliver Jordan, a famous movie producer from Hollywood, but he’s darker than she ever could imagine.  He will remind readers of the Marquis de Sade driven by his baser instincts and clearly someone who knows nothing about love or emotional attachment.  He only understands manipulation, physical release, and ownership.

Mireille by Molly Cochran is a page turner that is neatly wrapped up by the end of the novel, and as long as readers can ignore the historical issues — such as actresses unable to earn a great deal because they were owned by their respective studios at the time in the novel and Mireille’s apparent wealth — the book will take them on a dark journey that will leave their stomachs turning.  However, as a book about perseverance, Mireille does have a will that will rival many — as she strives onward even in the most dire circumstances.  A solid read full of sex, profane events, and more.

***My apologies to Molly Cochran and TLC Book Tours for failing to review this in June.***

About the Author:

Molly Cochran is the author of more than twenty novels and nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller GrandmasterThe Forever KingThe Broken Sword, and The Temple Dogs, all cowritten with Warren Murphy. She is also the author of The Third Magic, and she cowrote the nonfiction bestseller Dressing Thin with Dale Goday. Cochran has received numerous awards, including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Romance Writers of America’s “Best Thriller” award, and an “Outstanding” classification by the New York Public Library. Recently she published a series of young adult novels, LegacyPoison, and Seduction, and two novellas, Wishes and RevelsLegacy won a 2013 Westchester Fiction Award.

 

 

 

 

Mailbox Monday #320

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff, an unexpected surprise from the author.

Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home.

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

2.  How Tiger Says, Thank You! by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts from Sterling Children’s Books for review.

Tiger’s taking a trip—and everywhere she goes, from the market in Moscow to a boat on Egypt’s Nile River, she says “thank you” to the friendly people she meets. And, as they follow her round the world, children will learn to how to say thanks in seven different languages, too: French, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese, and Spanish. Each “please” word is translated and has a pronunciation guide, and an illustrated map follows Tiger’s travels.

3.  How Penguin Says, Please! by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts from Sterling Children’s Books for review.

This adorable board book teaches preschoolers how to say “please” in seven languages! Join Penguin as she enjoys pastries in France, explores the Hermitage in Russia, sees Mount Fuji in Japan and the Pyramids in Egypt, buys fish in China, sips chai in India, visits relatives in Argentina—and remembers her manners everywhere she goes! Each “please” word is translated and has a pronunciation guide, and an illustrated map follows Penguin’s travels round the world.

4.  Ally-Saurus & the First Day of School by Richard Torrey from Sterling Children’s Books for review.

When Ally roars off to her first day at school, she hopes she’ll meet lots of other dinosaur-mad kids in class. Instead, she’s the only one chomping her food with fierce dino teeth and drawing dinosaurs on her nameplate. Even worse, a group of would-be “princesses” snubs her! Will Ally ever make new friends? With its humorous art, appealing heroine, and surprise ending, this fun picture book celebrates children’s boundless imagination.

5. Mireille by Molly Cochran from Lake Union Publishing and TLC Book Tours for review in June.

Near the end of World War II, seventeen-year-old Mireille de Jouarre flees the home of her stepfather, a Nazi collaborator and abusive drunk. She finds shelter with her childhood friend Stefan, and the two fall deeply in love. But as the fighting escalates, Mireille must escape alone to Paris, where she discovers she’s pregnant and lacking a way to provide for her child.

So begins her new life as l’Ange—the Angel. After an unlikely meeting with a wealthy aristocrat in a Parisian hotel—and her acceptance of his solicitation—Mireille becomes the most celebrated poule in all of France, eliciting huge fees and invitations to exclusive parties. At one of these events, Mireille meets Oliver Jordan, an American womanizer and film producer, and is soon launching a promising film career. As her star rises, Mireille is determined to bury her past. But her success isn’t as carefree and glittery as it seems, and when her daughter’s future is threatened, Mireille must make a deadly decision in a desperate attempt to finally choose her own path.

What did you receive?

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

Source: Lake Union Publishing and TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 174 pgs
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The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg is set in 1920s Singapore, and Agnes Hussein is a teenager living in a rundown family palace, known as Kampong Glam.  The palace is a symbol of the cooperation of among the British and her long dead ancestors, but some view the palace as symbol of bribery by the British.  She is not Singaporean only, but also part British and part Chinese.  Her family is eccentric, and to make ends meet, the family relies on her British grandfather’s pension and the small sum they earn from their equally eccentric borders.  Rosenberg has created a character in Agnes who is a bit all over the place in her thoughts and in her actions, much like real teens, and she’s the strongest part of the novel.

“Perhaps, in order to start afresh, we needed to do away with all the old structures, the old assumptions.  Would these precious old things need to be torn down in order to make way for the new? I had to admit to myself in all honesty that I did not know the answer.” (page 146 ARC)

While there are elements of the 1920s in the novel such as Agnes’ comments on her own hairstyle and clothes, there is little else to suggest the time period, other than her grandfather’s triumphs in the Great War.  Agnes is naive in many ways about men and the political workings of her home nation.  She is like most teens; she falls quickly in love, is blind to the loyalty right in front of her, and is oblivious to the plights and machinations of those around her.  While a quick and easy read, the reader could feel separate from the characters and the main action of the novel, and the novel may have been better served with a focus on the grandfather or her uncle.

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg is a coming of age novel that draws in some elements of Singapore and the 1920s, and Agnes is a typical teenager trying to make her own way in the world without offending tradition and without giving up her own dreams.  While she is naive about the larger world around her, she remains loyal to her family and her ancestry as she strives to earn money enough to help keep up their home.  With a little more background on the 1920s and the relationship between Britain and Singapore, this novel could have been fantastic, but as it is, it was just a good read about a young teen growing up.

About the Author:

Liz Rosenberg is the author of more than thirty award-winning books, including novels and nonfiction for adults, poetry collections, and books for young readers. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Paterson Prize, the Bank Street Award, the Center for the Book Award, and a Fulbright fellowship in Northern Ireland in 2014. She is a professor of English and creative writing at Binghamton University, in upstate New York, where she has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has guest-taught all over the United States and abroad, and has written a book column for the Boston Globe for the past twenty-five years. Her previous novels, Home Repair and The Laws of Gravity, have been bestsellers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island, and went to the same summer camp at ages seven and eight, respectively.

34th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

 

 

 

 

67th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

Inamorata by Megan Chance

Source: Lake Union Publishing and TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 420 pages
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Inamorata by Megan Chance is dark, mysterious, and twisted.  Odile Leon is a former courtesan turned dark muse, and if you are as talented in the arts as your ego lets you believe, she will choose you.  But the bargain could cost you your soul.  Nicholas Dale knows this too well, and he’s made it his mission to stop her.  Add to the mix mysterious twins, Joseph and Sophie Hannigan, from New York.  These twins carry their own dark secrets and they intrigue not only the entire art community in Venice, but Dale and Odile.  These twins are not torn between the struggling forces of good and evil, but something darker, more singular — desired by both sides.

“That I was not always in his shadow, that there was something in the world that could belong just to me.  To truly be as special on my own terms as Joseph said I was — sometimes my yearning for it was so strong it took me by surprise.”  (page 109)

There is talk of ghosts, succubi, murders, suicides, and more, but Chance weaves artistry so well into the narrative readers will get lost in the canals, wondering how it all will turn out.  There are points in the narrative that drag a little, perhaps there are too many points of view shared, which slows the pace a bit, but many readers would not want to trade any of those points of view because they could lose the full scope of the story.  These points of view enrich the story, making it fuller, and the characters themselves are dynamic and well developed.  These characters are trapped by their yearning and desire to be bigger, recognized, and made whole.

Chance has created a heavy, twisted novel about romantic Venice, and the artists who are struggling to gain recognition. Inamorata by Megan Chance is enveloping, and readers will fall under its spell as each page is turned and more is revealed.  Will these characters achieve their darkest desires, will they be beholden and enslaved by them, or will they find the solace they are seeking?  Another contender for the 2014 Best Reads list!

About the Author:

Megan Chance is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of historical fiction. Her novels have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices and IndieBound’s Booksense programs. A former television news photographer and graduate of Western Washington University, Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.  Connect on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her Website.

48th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.