BOOK REVIEW: The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.


Oh my grits and gravy...this book.  When I first requested it from NetGalley it seemed like it would be interesting.  A bit of intrigue, a heap of family drama, and a dash of crazy thrown in for good measure.  Oh it had all that but then took it to a completely different level...in a good way.  Meg's mom wrote a cult classic that happened to capitalize on the horror fame of the 70s.  It wasn't necessarily well written but it was well received.  So much so that multiple movies were made of it.  And here we are 40 years later with a re-launch of the book hanging in the balance on the anniversary of the first release.  Meg doesn't really care about any of that.  She's estranged from the mother she felt was never there for her to begin with.  But of course, things happen that put them back together - sorta. Not necessarily in the same room but definitely in the same space.  And most assuredly at odds with each other, again.

This book brought it all to the table for me.  Most importantly, a good mystery.  Throwing in the poor little rich girl (I say that in the nicest way possible) and the attention hungry mother just added fuel.  Oh and don't forget the publishing guy who is out to make a name of himself at anyone's expense.  Or the family on Bonny Island whose lives were forever altered because of this book.  Kitten, or Doro as everyone knows her, was just a child when the book came out.  The huge acceptance the book garnered also brought a lot of fingers pointing in her direction.  Was she the inspiration for the murderous child in the book?  Lots of theories were thrown out, lots of fans created their own sub-culture, and lots of lives were caught in the balance.  Meg sets out to uncover the secrets and learn the truth.  Was the book 'Kitten' really just a work of fiction?  Was this book worth the end result of how it affected Meg's life, when she wasn't even born yet?

This book hit all the right notes, even though I still can't stand Ash - you know that publishing guy who would sell his grandma's soul for a contract.   It kept me guessing, surprised me more than once, and had me checking over my shoulder as I read well into the dark of night. The ending was a bit predictable and trite, after of course it changed paths and kept me guessing.  Once the secrets were out it lost originality but I can't fault like a chapter ya know.   I'm definitely interested in reading more of this author and am seriously contemplating a paperback copy to reside with honor on the bookcase.  Yup, it was THAT good.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.  

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The Weight of Lies


About Emily Carpenter
Emily Carpenter, a former actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant, was born and raised in Alabama. After graduating from Auburn University, she moved to New York City and now lives in Georgia with her family. She is the author of Amazon bestselling Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and The Weight of Lies.

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BOOK REVIEW: Dog Day Wedding by Rich Amooi

Giovanni Roma was jilted at the altar. Twice. Meeting Natalie is an enchanting distraction—too bad she’s engaged to another man. To top it off, Giovanni’s mother has a mouth with no filter and is obsessed with finding her son a suitable baby-maker.

Natalie DeMarco is a good cop with one problem. Cold feet. Her fiancé is a decent man, but she’s starting to wonder if decent is good enough. Maybe the doubts could be blamed on Giovanni, that guitar-making Italian hunk next door.

Giovanni knows he must do something, but things get out of hand when he learns he’s not the only one who objects to the wedding. 


I've read Amooi's work before and really liked it.  Yes it was cheesy but it was good cheesy and it wasn't over the top.  This story though just didn't flow for me.  There were a few things that were too over the top and not just fun cheesiness.  The story line was good.  An alter runner, same guy two girls.  An unlikely rescue of a runaway dog that leads to him meeting his neighbor's granddaughter.  Of course he doesn't realize that until his busted in his backyard in his underwear.  Don't ask.  He was just left at the alter, again, remember.  The nieghbor is an amazing charter, a really cool man that really made the story better for his role.  Some of the characters really didn't.  Some were confusing and some.  Well some were just too much.  

Giovanni's mother was a force to be reckoned with.  And not in a believable way.  She was too crass, too rude, so far over the top that even the explanation at the end about why she was that way didn't even help redeem her.  I guess, I understand where this woman was coming from but there's a line of too much.  And several times this character crossed this line.  Giovanni's friends were also a but much.  Them I could understand because their weirdness was well written.  Just so many of these characters were classic in their role but at the same time many times too cliche.  Natalie's fiancee Jacks is a perfect example of too cliche.  He lost his believably due to that.  

Even the wrap up of the book was just too over the top.  It was hilarious, which Amooi does with flair but oh goodness and biscuits.  You may think I truly did not like this book and you would only be partly right.  I don't see it sitting on my reread list.  However, like I said Amooi does hilarious with a flair.  This book made me laugh so many times (between face-palms of course) even his disclaimer at the beginning is interesting.  I don't regret reading this book but at the same time it's not high on the list of reread either.  I like Amooi.  I will read Amooi again.  But, just know if you can't stand over the top or a lot of four letter words turn you off then this is not the book for you.  If you can take the salt with the pepper then have a go. 

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Dog Day Wedding
About Rich Amooi
Rich Amooi is a former Silicon Valley radio personality and wedding DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

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BOOK REVIEW: Ties That Bind by Cindy Woodsmall

Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world is about to unravel. Will holding tightly to the cords of family keep them together—or simply tear them apart?

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a café in historic Summer Grove to help support her family’s ever-expanding brood and to keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill, along with her dear friend Frieda, ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him, she soon realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill’s goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that may hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove on another matter, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His love and loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust and help her find a way to buy the café—because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever. 


There is something to be said about waiting until an entire series is out before starting it.  Authors and publishers may not like what I'm about to say but it's entirely worth thinking about.  Well, on second thought, don't do everything I am about to say...it is not for the faint of heart and can make you miserable.  It's a pretty well known fact that I took some time off from reviewing and blogging and all the stuff that goes with that.  In that time (entirely too much time!) I didn't focus on the new books or even the old books though I did read a ton on my Kindle library (just without reviewing) like it was a glass of sweet tea.  I missed a lot from some favorite authors.  Maybe a whole series (or honestly several!).  Back in the saddle and more productive than ever before I was given an opportunity to review Cindy's last book in her The Amish of Summer Grove series.  You can't just read the end without starting at the beginning.  So that's where I started with 'Ties That Bind'.  And am ever so grateful that there's no long drawn out wait for me to read the next book...I already have it in the stack.  Bless all of ya'll who made it through the wait for these to come out.  I'd have lost it I'm certain!

Ariana's heart was broken by her childhood best friend Quill when he left the Amish under the cover of darkness (at her expense) with her friend Frieda.  There's a story there, a much larger story that I hope plays out in later books.  Quill, while older, was her first love, really her only love.  She's dated a bit but then meets Rudy and finds love again.  All of this while saving and working toward her dream of the restaurant to help her financially struggling family.  There are so many threads that blend together almost seamlessly that it doesn't feel overwhelming.  Quill has lots of secrets.  Ariana's parents have a pretty big secret - maybe?  Yeah, it's there after all, just took some time to go from maybe to real.  Even Ariana's sister has a secret.  And we all know that secrets have a way of coming out.  And when her parents' secret comes out it's life changing.  For them, for Ariana, for Rudy and another English family as well.  

Skylar Nash is an English girl whose life is about to intersect with this loving Amish family in a way no one could have predicted.  Lifelong fears become life altering secrets that have no way of staying under wraps.  I'm struggling to not give out spoilers but I feel like all I'm doing is dancing with words...and sister don't dance.  At the end of this book we leave Summer Grove with Ariana as she embarks on an adventure (I'm trying to soften the blow people!) to the English world while Skylar finds herself at the doorstep to rebel against what she fears the Amish will bring to her life.  Again, grateful that I don't have to wait a year to read the next book, just a couple of weeks as I work through the ever rotating pile.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Cindy Woodsmall and WaterBrook & Multnomah Publishing.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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Ties that Bind (The Amish of Summer Grove #1)
About Cindy Woodsmall
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written nineteen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three Amish fiction writers.

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SPOTLIGHT: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White


Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book title: A Name Unknown
Author: Roseanna M. White
Release date: July 4, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance

She’s Out to Steal His Name.

Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary’s challenge of a lifetime comes when she’s assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moved closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown—so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, though, and both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth—about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

 

 

Guest Post from Roseanna White

It’s always a challenge to make a historical setting authentic—especially when it’s set in a region you’ve only ever read about. As I was writing A Name Unknown, I learned so much about Cornwall—all the more when I had the opportunity to visit the gorgeous Penzance region while the book was still in edits! I quickly learned that I had far too many trees in my story, and hadn’t quite captured the uniqueness of the coastal setting. I dove into rewrites with excitement and gusto, ready to make my fictional Cornwall more like the real one.

I studied the Cornish accent, Cornish foods, typical Cornish coloring in hair and eyes. I’ve now gotten rather proficient at making pasties (beef hand pies) from scratch, I’ve special-ordered ingredients to make Cornish ginger cookies called fairings, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time listening to videos of people speaking in a Cornish accent.

Delving into this rich region and its history was a blast! And I’m so excited to get to share the culture of Cornwall—and a taste of their unique flavors—with you. In a special Celebrate Lit giveaway, I’ll be offering not only a signed copy of my book, but also some homemade ginger fairings! Here’s the recipe I used . . . after special ordering the Mixed Spice (reminiscent of pumpkin pie spice) and Golden Syrup (a thick syrup with a bit of a toffee flavor) from Amazon. 😉 (I have a gram scale so did use the weight measurements rather than volume—also, English teaspoons and tablespoons are a bit bigger than American, so I heaped them, and I turned out deliciously.)

GINGER FAIRINGS RECIPE

100 grams butter, cold and diced

225 grams all-purpose flour

¼ heaping teaspoon salt

2 heaping teaspoons baking powder

2 heaping teaspoons baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon ginger

2 heaping teaspoons mixed spice

100 grams superfine (caster) sugar

4 heaping tablespoons golden syrup

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a stand mixer. Add the butter and beat until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in sugar.

In a small saucepan, warm the golden syrup until it’s clarified a bit; stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put on prepared baking sheets a few inches apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden. Cool a few minutes on the trays and then transfer to a cooling rack.


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Giveaway

BOOK REVIEW: The Outlaw Preacher by John W. Andrews

Ride from darkness to light with the legendary "Nine Ball" of the notorious Doomsayer's Motorcycle Club as evil relentlessly pursues his soul. Hang on from the gates of Folsom prison to the streets of Southern California as this outlaw biker struggles to break free from his life as a violent marauder to answer the call of God. Once you're in there's no turning back so grab your helmet, you'll need it!

Let's just get this out of the way, when Ma tells you that you have to read a book - you read the book.  I didn't have time to read a non-review book.  I was drowning in review books.  I was behind on reading the books.  But Ma said it, and amazingly enough I did it (don't get use to it Ma!).  And I'm so glad I did.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't perfect but oh the biscuits it was good.  'The Outlaw Preacher' was just that, a book about an ex-con biker outlaw who found Christ and stood out on faith to attempt to reform his life and to show the love of Christ to those around him.  There were a couple of quotes (one longer than just a phrase) that I carried away with me.  One about being a Christian and one just about life.  

Some Christians pepper their conversations with words like 'blessing' and 'prayer' as verbal trial balloons.  Other Christians jump on those words like storm shelters in a tornado.  It's code for 'we're in this together,' and it's comforting.  Non-believers just ignore them completely, which gives them away every time.
Oh my grits and gravy I never thought about it like this.  I'm not one to throw out blessing or prayer willy nilly like a condiment or spice to my conversation but I know people who do.  This small passage right at the beginning of the book (page 22 to be exact) started me down a pretty introspective path.  There was another passage just a wee bit further in that made me think for a moment and reminded me why I have a 5 year plan.
A man's life must be more than a commute where talk radio personalities become intimate friends and thoughts and passions are controlled by news, weather and sports.
Obviously, I really liked this book.  There were so many offbeat spunky thoughts that the man had and openly shared that gave me pause to think and even made me chuckle.   While the book was entertaining, engaging, and spiritually refreshing there were things that I truly struggled with.  The person changes (i.e. first person to third person) sometimes in the same scene made my head whirl a minute.  I'm going to be spoiler-y for a minute and talk about his dear friend that he stayed with after his release.  I feel like the set-up was there about how his friend was very anti-faith but then his near instant conversion.  I feel like there were things missing there.  I don't doubt that when the spirit moves the right person to speak the right truth at the right time anything is possible but I feel like it felt a bit um, (struggling with words here) 'too easy'.  I'm sure it wasn't but I couldn't connect to the moment which led to it feeling off.  There were lots of amazing moments that I felt disconnected from and I hate to say it but could have been way more impactfull with a bit more editing direction.  Kinda like my posts!

That being said, I still LOVED this book.  (Yes Ma, thank you.) The knowledge that it will be a minute or million before I can squeeze in another non-review book is hard.  I want to finish the series and when I checked out the author's website (linked below) there's a fourth book already being worked on.  If you are open to stories of redemption, faith, and a fresh take on the Holy Spirit as told by an every day person living the life and facing the struggles this is the book for you.

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The Outlaw Preacher

About John W. Andrews 
 I’m supposed to write something about myself so you know who’s behind The Outlaw Preacher books.  It’s a little weird writing about myself, I don’t enjoy doing it but I wanted you to know who wrote your books and why.  So, here goes:  I’m a husband, a son, a dad, a grandpa, a friend, a pastor and Nomad with The Prophets MC in Southern California and now Michigan.

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Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren's Page Turners. To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners.
 Since it's Minions Week on the blog again it seems only relevant to pull a book that I've had sitting on my Kindle list for a while aimed at the Kidlets.  A free public domain book, this is a collection of original fairy tales.  No frills, no illustrations, I'm curious if they are the sugar coated version I grew up with or the real deal they were original written and meant to be?  I guess when I get around to actually reading about it I will know the answer!

The fairy tale is a poetic recording of the facts of life, an interpretation by the imagination of its hard conditions, an effort to reconcile the spirit which loves freedom and goodness and beauty with its harsh, bare and disappointing conditions. It is, in its earliest form, a spontaneous and instinctive endeavor to shape the facts of the world to meet the needs of the imagination, the cravings of the heart.

Classics included in this volume include:

One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes,
The Magic Mirror,
The Enchanted Stag,
Hansel and Grethel,
The Story of Aladdin,
This Story of Ali Baba,
The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor,
The White Cat,
The Golden Goose,
The Twelve Brothers,
The Fair One With the Golden Locks,
Tom Thumb,
Blue Beard,
Cinderella,
Puss In Boots,
The Sleeping Beauty In the Wood,
Jack and The Bean-Stalk

Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
Share it up, got a classic for the Wee Ones that you've always meant to read?

BOOK REVIEW: A Home in the West by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

Journey back to 1858 Berlin, Ohio, in this free short story e-romance from The Amish of Apple Grove series by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith. For 19-year-old Jonas Switzer, the promise of a productive life as an Amish farmer is only as real as a dream on the western horizon. Living on the charity of the Bylers, and with no claim to a family farm, Jonas’s future depends on a bold plan and an ambitious move. He also longs to catch the eye of Caroline Hersberger, the most beautiful young woman in the village, and share his dream with her. Will Matthew Kennel woo her first? Will she reject Jonas outright? Only God knows, and only He can provide Jonas with a godly wife and a home in the West.

 This short story is a bit difficult to review.  Knowing that it is a small part of an ongoing series makes me think that reading it out of order leaves me with more questions than answers.  That being said, with a background of having read Amish fiction I knew many of the words that other people were at a loss to understand.  I feel as though had I read from the beginning of the series this belongs in the characters would have more background and knowledge.  Though for only being 15 pages in length the characters were pretty well developed.  I had a good understanding of their general backgrounds and their general desires, as far as the main character at least.  The others were just extraneous for the story.

I think, for someone just getting into the idea of reading Amish fiction, this is a decent primer so to speak.  However, for that same reader not having a dictionary to reference certain words was a serious draw back.  I liked this story.  I liked the premise.  I want there to be more.  However, it does set the stage for an interested person to choose to pursue the other full length books in the series.  

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A Home In The West (The Amish of Apple Grove,  #3.5)

 About Lori Copeland 
Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance.  Lance and Lori have three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and six wonderful grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.
Lori began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market.  In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him.  It was at that time that Lori began writing for the Christian book market. 

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About Virginia Smith
VIRGINIA SMITH is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting!), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

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