Tag Archives: TLC Book Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

“On the surface, Lunch with Buddha is a story about family.  Otto Ringling and his sister Cecelia could not be more different.   He’s just turned 50, an editor of food books at a prestigious New York publishing house, a man with a nice home in the suburbs, children he adores, and a sense of himself as being a mainstream, upper-middle-class American.  Cecelia is the last thing from mainstream.  For two decades she’s made a living reading palms and performing past-life regressions.  She believes firmly in our ability to communicate with those who have passed on.
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It will turn out, though, that they have more in common than just their North Dakota roots.
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In Lunch with Buddha, when Otto faces what might be the greatest of life’s difficulties, it is Cecelia who knows how to help him.   As she did years earlier in this book’s predecessor, Breakfast with Buddha, she arranges for her brother to travel with Volya Rinpoche, a famous spiritual teacher — who now also happens to be her husband.”

Sometimes a book comes along just when you need it….just what the Doctor ordered as they say. This book turned out to be one such for me. As Otto Ringling searches for meaning after his beloved wife’s death along a spiritual journey he couldn’t have possibly predicted….so have I searched for meaning since my son’s descent into autism. It’s in our very nature to try to find meaning when things happen in our lives that impact us in ways we don’t understand or cannot make sense of. Especially those events that devastate us to the very core of our beings. Some find meaning in religion…others in philosophy or even simple ideas like fate. Otto finds his in the most unlikely of places as he makes a life changing journey with his serene his brother-in-law in a beat up old pick up truck. Within the pages of this book I found more of a spiritual search that perhaps I myself truly needed…not really specific to any religion in my personal opinion but more of a look into the divine in general. It’s both simple and magical at the same time. While I have not read the first novel Breakfast with Buddha, I did not find myself at a loss. This book stands very firmly on it’s own. However I will be reading the first novel as soon as I get a chance. I also look forward to the other works of Roland Merullo in the future.

The thing I have to say that I enjoyed most was how comfortable the writing was, even the book itself just felt peaceful. It’s almost like a warm second skin to slip into during a storm. The writing is straight-forward, not flashy or overly deep and yet it still reaches you in places that only truth can. It was the perfect book for a certain time in my life and I think it would resonate with many on multiple levels.

TLC Book Tours  Book Giveaway

I’m happy to be able to share a copy of this book with one lucky reader at Stiletto Storytime. To enter just comment below and share how you reach a place of peace in hard times. It may be through religion, meditation, a favorite quote?  Giveaway will end midnight EST December, 19 2012 and is available to a US/CAN addresses only. The lucky winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower of TLC Book Tours on Twitter

Tweet and/or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

“A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman’s daughter, Atara. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila’s faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore.”

I Am Forbidden is a journey through the lives of four generations of a Samtar family, a religious sect known for its extreme insularity and un-ending desire for privacy. Personally I have never encountered their existence in fictional literature quite like what Anouk Markovits has created. Her unique view of their world shines through every page as she draws on even the most minute of details from both her childhood and young adulthood growing up within the sect and her thorough research, which is apparent throughout the novel.  She truly brings you into a community that most individuals will probably never know exists and especially never be able to experience.

The novel spans decades and yet it has a never ceasing elegant flow to it’s travel through time as she explores each generation and their lives including both their joys and sorrows including their most trying times and horrific experiences. While often heartbreaking the novel is a testament to the never-ending ebb and flow of life even among those individuals who have in many ways withdrawn from modern society for their sacred religious beliefs.

As I read in many ways it reminded me of a past read Hidden Wives by Claire Avery which introduced readers to the world of a modern day Utah polygamist community.  If you like one you may want to check out the other. Both offer fantastic insights into world’s that exist almost invisibly around us although with very unique voices and different writing styles.

TLC Book Giveaway

Ready to delve into a past and culture that is most probably completely new to you? Thanks to the folks at TLC Book Tours Stiletto Storytime is excited to  to be able to give a copy of I Am Forbidden to one reader. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on  June 23, 2012. US/Canada address only please. The winner will be chosen by random number generator and contacted by e-mail. To enter just comment below. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Be/Become a Follower of TLC Book Tours on Twitter

“Like” TLC Book Tours on Facebook

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

     ” THE GARDEN INTRIGUE is the latest novel in the nationally bestselling Pink Carnation series byRITA Award winner Lauren Willig. In this ninth installment, long-time readers and newcomers alike will be delighted to meet a character sure to become a fan favorite—a poet whose fervent ardor leads him to declare his feelings for the Pink Carnation in atrociously overwrought verse.

Lovable modern day grad student Eloise Kelly is back and on the trail of the Pink Carnation when she discovers a wretched poem among the papers of a code book. Poetry penned by the notorious fop Augustus Whittlesby for Jane Wooliston (aka the Pink Carnation)—Eloise can’t help but wonder; can anyone really be that bad of a poet? Or is something else hiding behind his putridly saccharine words? Back in 1804, New York born Paris socialite Emma Morris Delgardie doesn’t think so. She’s too busy sipping champagne to notice Whittlesby’s strange interest in a top-secret device Napoleon has commissioned. Unfortunately for Emma, she’s the poet’s entrée into the emperor’s inner circle. Fortunately for Augustus, this plucky American heroine could turn out to be his true muse.”

The Garden Intrigue is the ninth book in the Pink Carnation Series and I have to admit I have been kind of lax since about the third or fourth book so going into it I was a little nervous that I would be lost. That was not the case. This installment has no problem standing on it’s own for a reader who has read a few books in the series or one who has no introduction whatsoever to the series. Either way I think it would prove to be an enjoyable read.

The main characters within the book remain the same as we continue to follow the modern day love story of Colin and Eloise which is probably my favorite part of the series in all honesty. Within the historical side of the story we meet a former character in the poet Augustus but he is supplied with a new love interest in the American Emma. I found both time periods and relationships to be interesting and addicting. Best of all is Willig’s rendering of the historical time period since she is such a spectacular researcher and exacting historical fiction author. Love, espionage, mystery and danger combine as always to create a great storyline within this series. Add in the bad poetry of Augustus for humor and you have the perfect recipe for a great read.  I for one am looking forward to going back and re-reading the books that I have missed after finishing this book.

My only real problem with The Garden Intrigue lies within the cover choice. I find it looks a little too much like a romance novel. It’s shelf appeal is greatly diminished for that reason in my opinion for many potential readers and I fear many  may overlook it based on cover alone. Most of the former books in the series had a much different cover that I thought served them well. You can compare covers here if you’d like and tell me if you agree.

 Book Giveaway

Stiletto Storytime is excited to be able to offer a giveaway as part of this TLC Book Blog Tour Stop for The Garden Intrigue and a copy of the book will soon belong to one very lucky reader. Giveaway ends midnight EST March 31, 2012. US/Canada addresses only please for this giveaway.

To enter to win a copy simply comment below and share your favorite book series. It can be historical fiction or not…whichever series you get really excited about each time a new installment is released.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Blog Tour: Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

 “That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.

Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne’er-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom.”

The thing that kept running through my mind the entire time I was reading Irma Voth was that the book was very much like an eclectic independent film…not unlike the one being filmed in the book. This is not a book that flows along conventionally..it darts and veers, never giving any clue as to where the reader will travel next. The beginning of the book feels minimalistic as the reader searches for their bearings in a story where very little is explained. As the story progresses…and as Irma progresses the reader receives more and more detail and plot. However the storyline is always somewhat scattered and searching.

I can think of a number of people that would adore the vagueness this book often emitted, unfortunately I am not one of them. The story just never really came together for me and Irma never really grew into herself in the way that I wished. I see this book being one that a reader will either love or hate…much like many of those eclectic independent films that I mentioned. I guess sometimes you just get it or sometimes you don’t.

But don’t take my word for it….Make sure to check out the other stops on the Irma Voth Blog Tour here.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

“Shelley Gallus’ happy ending abruptly ended three years ago when her husband Max died. She has settled into life as a widow, braving Sunday mornings alone with a cup of Jasmine tea and a poor imitation of Max’s famous baked eggs and cheese, until her fragile recovery is shattered one morning when the doorbell rings. On her doorstep she finds handsome young Paolo, who bears not only an uncanny resemblance to her late husband but some unbelievable news: Max is alive!

Shelley would be overjoyed by the words she has been longing for if not for two small details. First, Max was blown to bits by a Madrid subway bomb. And second, Paolo claims to be her 32-year-old husband’s 32-year-old grandson. Still, the single spark of hope that she could be reunited with the love of her life is all Shelley needs to launch her across the globe with Paolo in search of Max.

During their journey, Shelley is preoccupied with memories of “The Slight Detour,” the budget European tour package where she met and fell in love with her tour guide husband. Reality descends as Shelley begins to realize that Max’s vivid stories of bloody Parisian rebellions, medieval Austrian monasteries, and doomed Venetian cities may not have been stories at all.

Shelley had always believed her marriage was the stuff of fairy tales. But when fantasy collides hard with reality, and she and Paolo come closer to discovering the truth about Max, Shelley faces an agonizing leap of faith before she can have her happily ever after.”

Combine part modern tragedy with two parts historical fiction and a healthy dose of realistic fantasy and you have Samantha Sotto’s ambitious debut novel Before Ever After. It’s a work of gradual advancement starting in what seems like an all to real modern day setting but taking its readers on a supernatural ride through the centuries. In the beginning I had some troube truly getting into the book, for some reason it went slowly for me. I almost put it down on multiple occasions to be perfectly honest.  However once I got into the “meat” of the novel so to say…I was hooked. Samanatha Sotto has a natural talent that is nearly impossible to deny was she weaves her tale of Max, Shelley and Paolo throughout time. She also has a meticulous eye for detail and well done research when it comes to the more historical aspects of her writing.

Sotto has created a book of both magical and realistic proportions that once truly began is perfectly paced and realized. It’s a detective trail in many ways following along the path and clues left behind by Max as he has traveled through years and lives over the centuries. What Shelley once considered stories may very well be first hand accounts and the honest truth.  As both Shelley and Paolo follow along the path the realize the man they both loved so very much was an individual so beyond their imagining but perhaps still the man of their dreams. But what will what they learn of him do to their present and their past memories?

In the end Samantha Sotto’s debut work will leave you wanting more and also craving the “Baked Eggs and Cheese” she so often mentions. When we lose a loved one it can be funny what we cling to…Sotto knows this and many other things about the human heart that come shining through in Before Ever After. This is a book of many mysteries, revelations and surprises…one which I don’t wish to spoil for readers because I believe they will enjoy it so themselves.

Book Giveaway

One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Before Ever After. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 9, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply comment below.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

     “When he was the NYPD’s top homicide investigator, Dave Gurney was never comfortable with the label the press gave him: super detective. He was simply a man who, when faced with a puzzle, wanted to know. He was called to the investigative hunt by the presumptuous arrogance of murderers – by their smug belief that they could kill without leaving a trace. There was always a trace, Gurney believed.

Except what if one day there wasn’t?

Dave Gurney, a few months past the Mellery case that pulled him out of retirement and then nearly killed him, is trying once again to adjust to his country house’s bucolic rhythms when he receives a call about a case so seductively bewildering that the thought of not looking into it seems unimaginable—even if his beloved wife, Madeleine, would rather he do anything but.

The facts of what has occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated, her head apparently severed by a machete. Though police investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed the young woman in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother—a chilly high-society beauty—is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre.

Underneath it all may exist one of the darkest criminal schemes imaginable. And as Gurney begins deciphering its grotesque outlines, some of his most cherished assumptions about himself are challenged, causing him to stare into an abyss so deep that it threatens to swallow not just him but Madeleine, too.

Desperate to protect Madeleine and bring an end to the madness, Gurney ultimately discovers that the killer has left a trace after all. Unfortunately, the revelation may come too late to save his own life.”

I think it’s a rare case when the sequel to a book simply blows the first book in a series away but that is just what John Verdon’s newest book in the “Dave Gurney” series has done for me. While I genuinely enjoyed the first book in the series Think of a Number, this next volume is on a whole new level. There is a sophistication to the writing, a depth of detail and plot that simply seem to excel above the first book which was an international bestseller itself. Verdon seems to always keep one step ahead of his readers…keeping us guessing…on the edge of our seats…everything a thriller should do. I myself am not usually a reader of thrillers so for me to enjoy one this much is praise indeed.

I am glad Verdon chose to continue Think of a Number and it’s main protagonist into a series. Dave Gurney is a worthy character and within this second chapter in his life we really get to know more of the man including the amazing way his mind works. Just the intricate details of how he connects things is fascinating in itself for me as a reader. Also there is no doubt John Verdon will have most of his readers hooked from the very first page of this novel as he draws you into the bizarre and somewhat disturbing mind of a killer. The nature of the crime that draws in Dave Gurney is also what will draw in readers and keep them reading through the first few chapters.We simply need to know what happened….and isn’t that the gist of a great book?

Want to check out the first book in the “Dave Gurney” series? Check out my review of Think of a Number here. Also make sure to follow the TLC Book Blog Tour for Shut Your Eyes Tight here.

Book Giveaway

One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Shut Your Eyes Tight. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 5, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter simply comment below answering this question:

What is your favorite thriller novel or author and why? 

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

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Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter (Leave Name)

Like Author John Verdon on Facebook (Leave Name)

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave links in comments)

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Blog Tour: Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

 Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

“After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.”

There is something about historical fiction that has always been magical to me. It literally can take you not just to another place but another time. That being said I think it’s also one of the hardest genres to perfect. Not only must one contend with the ambitious quest of writing a good story but the writer must also mix in writing with characters well-known to many including persnickety “experts” and at the same time be aware of the tiniest historical accuracies/inaccuracies like the color of a dress or the exact size of a carriage. When done well historical fiction can be educational and enchanting…when not it can be a downright disaster of historical proportions that will eventually be used as a coaster by many a reader.

Karleen Koen in my opinion is an author who does historical fiction well…quite well in fact. For those who enjoyed Through a Glass Darkly, her latest work will be a pleasure. Exquisitely detailed and rich in factual material the book takes us into the life and times of Louis XIV from multiple character point of views. While lush in it’s detailing and scope the book still manages to not become too weighty and readers will find it a pleasurable read. In case of of character mix-ups, Koen has provided a short list in the front of the book. I always enjoy supplemental materials like this in historical fiction. We are all human and sometimes we might need a little note taking to fully enjoy a book that goes deep into historical depth. In short Before Versailles is a wonderful trip down the road of French history and storytelling at the same time.

Make sure to follow the Before Versailles Blog Tour here at TLC Book Tours.

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, historical fiction, New Books