Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (3.5 stars)

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto (424x600)About The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto

Hardcover: 512 pages 
Publisher: Harper (November 10, 2015)

Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable character, Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist ever to walk the earth in this magical novel about the power of talent to change our lives.

In Mitch Albom's epic new novel, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, Frankie Presto, a Spanish war orphan raised by a blind music teacher. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six magical strings.

But Frankie's talent is touched by the gods, and it weaves him through the musical landscape of the twentieth century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll. Along the way, Frankie influences many artists: he translates for Django Reinhardt, advises Little Richard, backs up Elvis Presley, and counsels Hank Williams.

Frankie elevates to a rock star himself, yet his gift becomes his burden, as he realizes that he can actually affect people's futures: his guitar strings turn blue whenever a life is altered. Overwhelmed by life, loss, and this power, he disappears for years, only to reemerge in a spectacular and mysterious farewell.

With its Forrest Gump like journey through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers an unforgettable story. 

"Everyone joins a band in this life," he observes, be it through music, family, friends, or lovers. And those connections change the world.

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Since the book is so beautifully detailed above, I will skip straight to my review.

Frankie is a man with music flowing through his veins. Everything about him we learn from third party viewpoints, and all of those are lead by the voice of Music itself. For die-hard music fans, particularly of certain eras (think Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett), there are some cool chapters where these people's lives interact with Frankie.

I love the idea of music having power over souls and infusing them with greatness. There's a great description of music's power in the later part of the book. Something we can all relate to. Basically, Music suggests it absorbs our memories. So when we hear a particular piece, we relive them. Who hasn't had that moment? A song comes on, and a precious memory clearly replays in our mind and heart.

So many cool ideas with Music as an almost god. 

My biggest complaint was that I loved other characters in the book, but I felt like it took forever to really get to know Frankie. Maybe it's because the book starts with an event and then flashes back. And those flashes back are from other perspectives (several other). 

It took me almost one hundred pages to really get in the groove and start caring, and that was a bit too slow for me. But, by the end, I could appreciate the style and the characters.

Books are so subjective, so what took me one hundred pages might take another person twenty. So, if you love music, please give this a try. Also, I recommend it to fans of Mitch Albom. I've read a couple of his precious books, and he's a very stylized writer.

Definitely give it a chance.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Mitch AlbomAbout Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time. Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit. 

Find out more about Mitch at his website, connect with him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and sign up for his newsletter.

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Wish Maker Series by Shawn McGuire Sale & Boxed Set

Some exciting news for what looks to be an amazing series (one that's on my TBR list and I've heard great things about). 

Today and tomorrow (through September 24, 2015), the latest book in the series will be on sale for only $0.99.

About Had a Great Fall

Everyone deserves happiness. Is Robin the exception? 

A cross-country move to a new state offers Robin Westmore the chance to get away from the relentless bullies and reinvent himself. But on the first day at his new high school Robin finds himself in front of Zane, the school’s star pitcher and chief tormentor, at the exact wrong moment and right back into the role of victim. Hopeless, he wishes for it all to stop. 

When Desiree, the new leader of the genies, grants Robin’s wish he’s sure things are finally going his way. But problems in the magical realm mean Desiree is distracted and unable to give Robin the attention he needs. 

As Desiree hides from her responsibilities, Robin disappears into the video game he’s created. There he finds excitement, adventure, and control. When the game presents him with a real escape from his tortured life, will he take it? 


But, wait, if you haven't started the series yet, there's some even more exciting news...

My name is Desiree, and I’m a genie.

When wishes are made, I’m the one who grants them. Most turn out fine. A few don’t. That’s not my fault. I always warn them to be careful what they wish for.

Granting wish after wish while never receiving my own has worn me down. I admit it, I’m jealous. 

Without realizing it, I started taking my bitterness out on my charges. I sent them on wish-journeys that twisted into darkness before ending in light. Then came Mandy’s wish followed quickly by Crissy’s. That’s when my life changed, too.

Sticks and Stones
Everyone has a dark side. Mandy’s just moved in with her.

Break My Bones
Everyone makes mistakes. Crissy’s just might kill her.

Never Hurt Me
Everyone has a wish. Desiree’s just got real.

Buy Links 

About the Author

Shawn McGuire is the author of young adult novels that blend contemporary settings and issues with a touch of fantasy and magic. She started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that's episode IV) as a kid. She couldn't wait for the next movie to come out so wrote her own episodes. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then.

Her books deal with harder topics (dating violence, death of a sibling, divorce, substance abuse, runaways, bullying, teen suicide, etc.) because she believes it is important to talk about these things. Those kinds of topics can be hard to handle and a bit overwhelming, so she infuses a bit of humor in her work as well because she also believes that a sense of humor can help you get through just about anything.

Shawn lives in Colorado with her family where she loves to read, cook and bake, craft, practice yoga and meditation, and spend time hiking and camping in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dead of Night by Carlyle Labuschagne Re-Release

Dead of night was first published in 2014 in the USA

Nominated by Best Kindle Hub for Best Dystopian 2014 
Nominated for UtopYAcon Best Dystopian book 2015
And has since been re-edited with new content for
Fire Quill Publishers

In a dark and desolated After Earth, love still does exist, but the cost of bearing such a flaw is death.

World War III has left Earth in utter turmoil. People’s beliefs are said to be the cause of the worldwide destruction. After The Clearing new laws are set about - to show certitude in anything besides the law is weak and chargeable as mutiny. To be illogical and have faith in religion is illegal, to be limitless is dangerous. And Illness is seen as a defect – all flaws that are inexcusable.
But to love is the greatest betrayal of all man kind. It is a fault the world has long forgotten and punishable by death, a fatal risk Aecker and Opel are fully prepared to take - because in love there is freedom. But how far can they push back before it claims their lives and of those they care about?

Buy on Smashwords. Amazon. Barnes & Noble 

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Connect with the Author


Carlyle is an South African award winning author, with a flair for mixing genres and adding loads of drama to every story she creates. For now she is happy to take over the world and convert non Sci-fi believers.

Her goal as an author is to touch people's lives, and help others love their differences and one another by delivering strong messages of faith, love and hope within every outrageous world she writes about."I love to swim, fight for the trees, and am a food lover who is driven by my passion for life. I dream that one day my stories will change the lives of countless teenagers and have them obsess over the world literacy can offer them instead of worrying about fitting in. Never sacrifice who you are, its in the dark times that the light comes to life."

Carlyle used writing as a healing tool, and that is why she started her very own writers support event - SAIR book festival.

"To be a helping hand for those who strive to become full times writers, editors, bloggers, readers and cover artists - its a crazy world out there you dont have to go it alone!"
follow @CarlyleL for all the crazy updates on all things me.

Founder of 
SAIR Book Festival

Co-Founder of Fire Quill Publishing.
Founder of Help build a library in South Africa. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

When They Shine Brightest by Jordan Zhelyazkov (4 stars)

About When They Shine Brightest

A character-driven fantasy novel, exploring the theme of loss and how we try to deal with it even when there is no way to do so.

Korsak Dryshore, a middle-aged war veteran, is being held directly responsible for the invasion of his home town of Seten. Everyone in Seten, including his family, blames him for losing the last ditch defense against the aggressors. 

Utterly defeated, and mourning the loss of his eldest son in the conflict, he has spent the last months following the battle away from home. Upon his return, he has to confront the animosity of the populace, made even worse by his bringing a heathen girl back with him.

Beaten, downcast and in despair, he is resigned to merely spending the remainder of his days in meek quietude. That would prove impossible, however, as he's soon implicated in an escalating political and religious conflict within the city. To make matters worse, his youngest son and the foreign girl are dragged deep into the whirlwind of the crisis.

And in the meantime, they are about to set over Seten.

While a standalone, “When They Shine Brightest” is also a first book in a new and vast fantasy world and gives the start of events that are yet to reach all of its corners.

Find out more on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon


Since the book summary so well outlines the arc of the story, I thought I'd jump right into my review.

Sometimes I find fantasy books so detailed and descriptive that characters are lost. Thankfully, that's not the case with this story. Korsak is a multi-dimensional character with plenty of flaws and strengths. He loves his family, yet he's often sidetracked by duty and his own journey.

Even more of his character is highlighted through his relationship with a young girl. She's brought into his life through an interesting turn of events, and in the end, she manages to bring him closer to self-understanding and to his own family. 

This is an epic saga about families, duty, and struggle. There's a beautiful richness and depth to it, both in world-making and in character-building.

It's a captivating and fascinating read. I'm looking forward to future installments. 

Rating: 4 stars

About the Author

Yordan Zhelyazkov was born 1988 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Actively reading since he was 4 years old he had several attempts at writing while growing up but none of them was really serious. That changed in his early 20s when he decided to turn writing into a career, began his Creative Writing Masters degree in New Bulgarian University and also started working on When They Shine Brightest.

Soon after he finished his work on the novel he signed a contract for its publication with publishing house "Enthusiast" in Bulgaria. In the meantime he also gave the book for translation into English to professional translator Alexander Gurovski and made a successful IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign with which he funded the enterprise. He published and self-published the book in both languages in 2015.

At the moment Yordan is working on his next fantasy novel.

Note: I served as Proofreader for this novel through Indie Books Gone Wild. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wrought-Iron Roses by Elizabeth Kirke Cover Reveal

Happy Friday!

Today, I'm sharing information about an awesome upcoming release by Elizabeth Kirke with a cover reveal.

Isn't it pretty?

Now for more about the book...

About Wrought-Iron Roses

Sisters Rachel, Angie, and Jo may have survived their first encounter with a curse, but hundreds more are lurking within their aunt’s antique shop. There’s just one problem: Peter, the apprentice, has no idea how to start teaching two untrained rune-casters and keep them safe at the same time.

It isn’t fair to Jo that she has no magic, but her sisters both do. She feels useless and left out. Worse yet, she knows that she’s a liability. She would leave… but, something in the shop is calling to her, reaching out … and she won’t leave until she finds it.

Every night, Angie’s dreams are haunted by a man who claims he was cursed, and she’s the only one who can save him. When she starts to get sick, Peter and her sisters are sure the cause is her mysterious dreams. How can they convince her that the person she’s determined to help could be the one killing her?

Rachel never expected to get a magic power and a boyfriend when she inherited the antique shop. Better yet, she’s actually good at curse-breaking. It seems as though she’s found exactly what she was meant to do. But, when a curse strikes two people she cares about, Rachel is faced with the harsh truth that she might only be able to save one.

Releasing October 30, 2015

Find out more, read a chapter, and get your own rune at:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Come Away with Me by Karma Brown (4.5 stars)

About Come Away with Me

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Mira (August 25, 2015)

A heartbreaking and emotional story of love and loss, COME AWAY WITH ME is one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned.

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief—not to mention anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it. Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, COME AWAY WITH ME is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.

“Karma Brown has written a book that will make you feel like you’ve traveled the world without leaving your seat. COME AWAY WITH ME is full of lush locations, memorable characters, and a turn of events that is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Brown’s work is as smart as it is effortless to read.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do
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Tegan Lawson has a beautiful life and so many things to look forward to. But everything changes in an instant, and her hopes and dreams will never be the same. Her husband, Gabe, is driving on the night of a horrific car crash, one that leaves her life in shambles. 

Desperately trying to find a reason to keep going, Gabe reminds her about their wish list of travel places. Will getting away bring some closure and light up a new path?

Wow. Have you ever read a book where something happens in the story and you literally have to stop reading and go back through previous pages to see if you missed something? But in a good way.

From the very first page, your heart goes out to Tegan and her loss. She struggles to put her life back together. It's painful and heartbreaking, but you want to keep reading and make sure she'll be okay. To make sure she can find happiness again.

Then, just as you think she's rounding a corner, Bam, another blow. One you never see coming. Of course, I'm not going to provide any spoilers here. It's something you truly have to experience. Can I just say... the twist is brilliant.

And for those who love travel and the allure of new locations, the travel destinations are breathtaking (it reminded me of the journey in Eat, Pray, Love). But for me, it was all about Tegan and her transformation.

It's a beautiful story about survival and what mechanisms we use to get through life's toughest moments. A very touching journey.

Rating: 4.5 stars

About Karma Brown 

profilepicKarma Brown is a National Magazine Award winning freelance writer and journalist, and a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives just outside Toronto with her family and writes powerfully emotional upmarket women’s fiction, in the vein of Me Before You. COME AWAY WITH ME is her first novel.

Connect with Karma 

Website | The Debutante Ball | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Please visit other stops on the Come Away with Me blog tour page.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs (4.5 stars)

About Starlight on Willow Lake

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Mira (August 25, 2015)

Join #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs on a journey to a charming Catskills town that feels like home and where a cast of brilliantly drawn characters awaits in a poignant story of reconciliation and the healing power of love.  

When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted lakeside estate of Avalon’s renowned Bellamy family, she’s intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice’s charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancée.

The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice’s accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he’s created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.

“Wiggs’s storytelling is heartwarming… [for] romance and women’s fiction readers of any age.”—Publishers Weekly
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Faith is a single mom of two girls who's barely making ends meet. When she's hired to take care of a broken woman, Alice, dealing with her own loss, both women embark on a new journey.

Mason, Alice's son, goes through life keeping everyone at arm's distance. But he soon realizes his mother needs more, and so does he.

A good story will entertain you for a couple of days, but a good story with memorable characters who touch your heart will remain with you for a quite a bit longer. That's this story. Faith is an amazing character who, pardon my cheesiness, restores your faith in perseverance and having a kind heart. She does everything for her two girls, often forgoing her own needs.

Alice is a woman searching for a reason to continue. Revelations and loss rock her world, and she feels as if she's on the edge looking into the abyss. But Faith and her daughters give Alice hope again and touch her heart. (I was especially touched by Alice's interactions with the girls.)

Finally, Mason is a guy putting up defenses. Deep down, he's more, and the women in his life pull it out of him. Although I would have liked more peripheral character development, the three (and Faith's girls) were enough. They made their way into my heart and have stayed there long after closing the last page.

This story is about relationships and struggle. Romance is very much in the background (I thought I'd note this for readers wanting more of a romantic focus). These characters have all endured sadness, and they are coming out on the other end. There they begin to discover their happiness. It's a journey, one many of us have to take or are taking now.

If you are looking for some inspiration and a feeling of connection, pick up this charming and heartfelt novel. Happy reading!

Rating: 4.5 stars

About Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter . .


Monday, August 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 4th: The Sassy Bookster 
Wednesday, August 5th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy 
Thursday, August 6th: Sara’s Organized Chaos 
Friday, August 7th: Raven Haired Girl 
Monday, August 10th: Mom in Love with Fiction 
Tuesday, August 11th: The Romance Dish
Wednesday, August 12th: Written Love Reviews 
Thursday, August 13th: Books and Spoons 
Friday, August 14th: A Chick Who Reads 
Monday, August 17th: Urban Girl Reader 
Tuesday, August 18th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books 
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal 
Thursday, August 20th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, August 21st: The Bookish and The Romantic
Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 

Please visit other stops on the Starlight on Willow Lake blog tour page.