Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton ~ My Thoughts #TheEdgeOfNormal #NetGalley


The Edge of Normal

The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton
Series: Reeve LeClaire #1
Print and e-book, 320 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Minotaur Book

In many ways, Reeve LeClaire seems like a typical twenty-something woman: She has her own place in San Francisco, waitresses to pay the bills, and lives a pleasant, structured life. But Reeve is anything but normal. Ten years ago, she was kidnapped and held captive for four years. Her lucky escape made headlines-and since then, she's managed to rebuild her life, thanks in part to her brilliant psychiatrist, Ezra Lerner.

An expert in captivity syndromes, Dr. Lerner asks Reeve to help a young girl, Tilly, who has suffered a similar ordeal. But soon everything Reeve has worked so hard to achieve-independence, anonymity, a normal life-comes crashing down. As she tries to help Tilly, she finds herself involved in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless predator who always manages to be one step ahead of her. . . and is watching her every move. . .


My thoughts about The Edge of Normal ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Her name had been out of the headlines so long that he was sure no one was searching for her when he fir the key into the lock for the last time."

Whew! What an intense and edge-of-my-seat story. The Edge of Normal was a quick read for me because I just had to keep going to find out what was going to happen to Reeve and all of the other girls. Reeve has been through a lot and at only 22, she is wise beyond her years. She is such a smart, strong person.

And then there's the evil in the book. So much evil. How can one person be so evil? The author does a great job of creating two such opposite personalities that I came to love and hate. I found myself rooting for Reeve and hoping that the bad guy gets what he deserves, for putting her and the other girls through what he did to them.

The character of Reeve, and the strength that she has, endeared her to me. This book, and her character left such an impression on me that I immediately got book 2 of the series so I can follow up with Reeve's life.



About the author

Carla Norton

Carla Norton is an award-winning novelist and best-selling true crime writer.

* WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER: 2016 Nancy Pearl Book Award Winner & FAPA Book Award Winner
* THE EDGE OF NORMAL: Thriller Award Finalist & Royal Palm Literary Award Winner
* PERFECT VICTIM: #1 New York Times bestseller
* DISTURBED GROUND: now in ebook format

Carla's first book was a true account of a shocking kidnapping case, and that story fuels her fiction. After covering the trial, Carla wrote PERFECT VICTIM with the prosecutor. It made the reading list for the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit and was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

Carla morphs her true crime expertise into fast-paced fiction with an extraordinary heroine: Reeve LeClaire, a 22-year-old survivor of kidnapping and captivity who is introduced in THE EDGE OF NORMAL. Reeve returns in the "high-octane" sequel, WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER (titled HUNTED overseas).

Carla also wrote DISTURBED GROUND, the true story of a Sacramento landlady who murdered her tenants and buried them in her garden. Carla covered the nine-murder-count trial, examining psychological issues and explaining forensic evidence.
*"Brilliant!" Ann Rule

Carla earned her MFA degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2009. When not writing books, she's writing hotheaded essays and really bad poetry. You can find her on Goodreads, follow @CarlaJNorton on Twitter, and find Carla Norton: Novelist & True Crime Writer on Facebook. For more, please visit her website: CarlaNorton.com. ~ Amazon

Connect with Jessica

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon

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Monday, February 18, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? February 18, 2019


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's an opportunity to visit other blogs and to comment on their reads. And ... you can add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

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Snow, more snow. And wind and cold. That seems to be our lives right now. Our plans for the weekend with some of the kids and grandkiddos had to be scraped because of the winter weather. Ugh! 

We did make it over to our daughter's house here in town yesterday for some wonderful chili and family time. So we did get to see some of the kids and grands, just not the ones from out of town that we had planned on seeing.  

I'm enjoying a three day weekend because of President's Day so hopefully I can sit under a blanket today and get some reading in today. Bliss! 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a good week. Happy reading!

What I'm currently reading

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The Liar's Child
by Carla Buckley
Pub date 3/12

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Ripper
by Isabel Allende 
(audio-book)

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Gone Haunting in Deadwood
(Deadwood #9)
by Ann Charles
(audio-book)

What I recently finished

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Until the Day I Die
by Emily Carpenter 
Pub date 3/12

What I am going to read next

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The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
This will be a reread for me, it's this month's book club pick.

I really love my reading life!

What are you reading this week?

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim ~ My Thoughts #PaperWife #NetGalley

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Paper Wife

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim
Print and e-book, 293 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?


My thoughts about Paper Wife ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Before opening the door, Mei Ling turned back for one last look at her family. Swallowing hard, she studied them, burning the tableau of faces into the folds of her memory. Soon they would be separated, perhaps forever."

I love books written about the Chinese culture. Everything about the culture, their traditions, and the way they live their lives has always fascinated me. Paper Wife was an excellent look at the times and traditions of China in the 1920's—an arranged marriage for Mei Ling and a long voyage to America with a man she didn't even know. And then to find out that what she thought was the truth, was a lie. But wasn't she living a lie, as well?

Paper Wife is beautifully written and I fell in love with all of the characters that made up Mei Ling's family. The story is full of life struggles as everyone tries to adjust to each other, and to their new lives, but it's also full of love. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to ready more books by this author.

I received Paper Wife from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the author

Laila Ibrahim

My education and experience in multiracial, developmental psychology and attachment theory provide ample fodder for my novels. My passion for early childhood education, child birth and religious education are reflected in my writing.

I was the founder and director of Woolsey Children's School where I had first hand experience loving children that were not my own. There are scenes in Yellow Crocus that were largely influenced interactions I had with children from Woolsey.

As a birth doula I had the privilege of witnessing the intensity and joy of childbirth. You can see that my birth experiences are reflected in my novels.

Spiritual themes that cross over multiple religious traditions come directly from working as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland.

I live in a small co-housing community in Berkeley, California, with my wonderful wife, Rinda, our amazing children, Kalin and Maya, and our crazy dogs, Bella and Lucie.

I'm very grateful to be a full time writer starting in 2015.

I was surprised when the writing bug bit me. The idea for the story came to me in 1998, I was with a group of people talking about Tiger Woods. Someone mentioned that he identifies as much as an Asian person as an African-American person. I thought to myself, "Of course he does, his mother is Asian. You form your core identity in relationship to your primary caregivers. It's a basic part of the attachment process."

Then the image of Lisbeth, a white baby, breastfeeding in the loving arms of Mattie, an enslaved wetnurse came to me in a flash. I thought about what it would be like for Lisbeth to dearly love Mattie and then be taught by society that she wasn't a full person. I wondered how it would feel for Mattie to be forced to abandon Samuel, her own child, in the slave Quarters. Then I imagined what the experience would be like for Miss Anne, the birth mother, to have her own child twist away from her to get into Mattie's arms. These characters started to haunt me. Various scenes popped into my head. Though I had never written anything, I was being called to tell this story. For my fortieth birthday, I began the personal marathon of writing my first novel. I hope you will come to love these characters as much as I have.

At face value Living Right seems like a big leap from Yellow Crocus, but it deals with the same themes: a caregiver loving across a huge societal barrier.

I LOVED returning to Mattie, Lisbeth and Jordan for Mustard Seed. The story of finding faith in hopeless times really resonates for me. I plan to return to their families' ongoing journey after I finish my current novel-Paper Wife.

Paper Wife focuses on Mei Ling, a young Chinese woman immigrating to San Francisco through Angel Island a in the early 1920's. Reactionary anti-immigration laws in the United States and warfare in China caused people desperate for survival to be misleading about their identities so they could be united with family and have access to work. Mei Ling yearns to have a life of integrity though it was built on a foundation of lies. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Laila

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Book Spotlight Giveaway! Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks


I have sooooo many books! The Book Spotlight Giveaway feature that I post every Saturday is a way for me to clear my shelves and to share some of the many books I have. This feature is a way for my to cull my collection and to give someone else the opportunity to enjoy these treasures.

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Once again, I discovered I had duplicates sitting on my bookshelves. I'm letting this one go. Thanks for stopping by. 

Good luck and be sure to stop back next week!


Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks 
ARC, 311 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by St. Martin's Press

Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise.

Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear.


Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger's Syndrome, but most just say he's "on the spectrum." None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can't protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, the woman who works with Max in the Learning Center and who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy.


About the author

Matthew Dicks

Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, and the upcoming novels The Other Mother and Cardboard Knight, as well as the nonfiction Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was the 2014 Dolly Gray Award winner and was nominated for a 2017 Nutmeg Award in Connecticut. Matthew was also awarded first prize in 2016 and second prize in 2017 in the Magazine/Humorous Column category by the CT Society of Professional Journalists.

He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and the musicals Caught in the Middle, Sticks & Stones, and Summertime. He has written comic books for Double Take comics. He is a columnist for Seasons magazine and has published work in Reader's Digest, The Hartford Courant, Parents Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. He was awarded first prize for opinion writing in 2015 by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

When not hunched over a computer screen, Matthew fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a storyteller, a speaking coach, a blogger, a wedding DJ, a minister, a life coach, and a Lord of Sealand. He has been teaching for 20 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a 35-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 5-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. He has also told stories for This American Life, TED, The Colin McEnroe Show, The Story Collider, The Liar Show, Literary Death Match, The Mouth, and many others. He has performed in such venues as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Wilbur Theater, The Academy of Music in North Hampton, CT, The Bynam Theater of Pittsburgh, The Bell House in NYC, The Lebanon Opera House, Boston University, and Infinity Hall in Hartford, CT.

He is a regular guest on several Slate podcasts, including The Gist, where he teaches storytelling.

Matthew is also the co-founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, and school districts around the world. He has most recently taught at Yale University, The University of Connecticut Law School, Purdue University, The Connecticut Historical Society, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Miss Porter's School, The Berkshire School, and Graded School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Matthew is the creator and co-host of Boy vs. Girl, a podcast about gender and gender stereotypes.

Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have two children, Clara and Charlie. He grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Matthew



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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Release Day! Tainted By Prophecy by Hanleigh Bradley ~ Excerpt, Launch Event, and a #Giveaway!



Tainted By Prophecy

Series: Kumari’s Kitsune: A Reverse Harem (#2)
Author: Hanleigh Bradley
Release Date: 14th February 2019
Price: $2.99 (pre-order & release date) & $4.00 (thereafter)





Even at its very beginning, her reign felt tainted by the prophecies that surrounded it and the death that they foretold.

They were dark, speaking of unknown evils and the potential destruction of the realm and even the eradication of magic. It was not a destiny that Bae, the Kumari, wanted but it was the one allotted her.

Bae wished that she could deny them, call them falsehoods but she couldn't, not when the fate of the whole realm rested on her shoulders.

It might cost her her life, or the lives of those she loved most, but she would stop at nothing to save magic, save her ren and hopefully save herself.













Hanleigh and several other Reverse Harem authors are giving away a bundle of books to celebrate the release of Tainted By Prophecy. There are a variety of ways to enter this giveaway and the more times you enter, the more chance you have of winning.





Hanleigh is throwing a party to celebrate the release of Tainted By Prophecy on February 14th in Author Friends With Benefits and would love you to attend. There is a brilliant line up of authors including; Emma Jaye, Jaliza A. Burwell, Lucy Felthouse, Tiffany Carby, Melissa Adams, Anita Maxwell, Kim Faulks, Cecilia Randell, Lyn Forester, Lily Harlem, K.B. Wheelock, Elle Cross, Cari Robe, Beth Hendrix, C.R. Jane, Joelle Greene, A.M. Hardin, Catherine Banks, V.kelly and Stephanie Nichole





There was an urgency surrounding Bae’s guards as they began to pack the luggage into the procession of carriages that would take them to Nun or at least as close to the mountain range as they could safely get without the aid of the Nunsmen. Even the low ranging hills that ran the path towards the higher mountains were dangerous to traipse through, although compared to the highest of Nun peaks they were child’s play.

Bae could only hope that her emissary would be able to arrange for safe escort through the mountains at such short notice. Nunsalem, the Nunman who was supposed to be attending them, would not be expecting them for another ten days.

Bae knew that leaving Laoshi so soon after the Claiming would not be well received by the Laoshian Ren. She hadn’t even had an opportunity to hold court in the city before she was preparing to leave. It was hard to believe that the Laoshians wouldn’t resent her for it. The time following each Claiming was an opportunity to build bonds of friendship and loyalty with each of the tribelands so to leave now was a horrific snub but Bae had no choice.

Her schedule had been completely thrown aside this morning when her elder brother, her Chief Protector, had knocked on her bedchamber door to announce news from Kumai. There had been an attack on several of her Kumaian suitors and it was completely possible that her yet to be claimed Kumaian mate was amongst those hurt.

That knowledge had her blood boiling with anger and her magic sizzling with a strong need to claim him as her own.

Threatful, Bae was stood watch as her belongings were loaded into the carriages. Her mind was disordered as she tried to process everything that had happened in the small period of time that had passed since her Commencement. She had been Kumari for just over a month and yet so much had happened.

Much of it didn’t make sense.

She’d hoped that Laoshi would hold some of the answers in its many libraries but what information she had been able to garner had done little to alleviate her concerns. If anything, her fears had grown rather than diminish. She felt as if she was racing against an enemy whose speed she could not gage.

It was now clear why her advisors believed her to be the Kumari that the prophecies spoke of. Her destiny had been predetermined by the death of her mother. There were countless prophecies surrounding the line of the Kumari but over four-fifths of them were relating to a single queen.

Those prophecies were far harder to swallow than the others.

They were darker, speaking of unknown evils and the potential destruction of the realm and even the eradication of magic. It was not a destiny that Bae wanted, but it was the one that had been allotted her if the prophecies were to be believed. Bae wished that she could deny them, call them falsehoods but everything that had happened and even the words of the Kitsune on the night of her Commencement made sense only in the light of the prophecies.

Even at its very beginning, her reign felt tainted by the prophecies that surrounded it and the death that they foretold.



Tainted By Prophecy is the second book in a Seven Book Fantasy Reverse Harem Series. If you haven't read Cursed By The Crown, the first book in the series, there's no better time than the present.





Hanleigh is a British author. She was born in Scotland but has lived near enough her whole life in the South of England, although she recently moved to the Midlands. Hanleigh loves reading books more than anything in the world; whether it’s reading them or writing them, Hanleigh just can’t get enough.




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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Marrying Mr Valentine by Laura Barnard ~ Spotlight #MarryingMrValentine

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Marrying Mr Valentine

Marrying Mr Valentine by Laura Barnard
Series: One Month Til I Do #2
Published May 9th 2018

Nadine Roberts smiles for everyone, but beneath it she hides a heartbreaking past that only a few know about. Throwing herself into her new career; wedding planner at The Duck & Goose, a property recently purchased by newlyweds Florence and Hugh, has helped distract her from her loneliness.

When a teary bride suddenly cancels her upcoming wedding Nadine looks to the two year waiting list. Clara Blumenkrantz and Hartley Valentine. It’ll have to be a quick turnaround, but what’s the worst that can happen, right?

This should be like every other wedding she plans, but the magnetism she feels towards Mr Valentine disrupts the orderly life she’s worked hard to carve out. 

Can she ignore her intense desires and be a professional? Or will she open up her heart to the one person that has the power to break it? And in doing so endanger not just her job, but her venue’s reputation? 

_‘I just always imagined when I married someone I’d be totally, ridiculously, over the top in love with them. Not just...going with the flow.’.jpg

Marrying Mr Valentine is now available to read for FREE via Kindle Unlimited - mybook.to/MarryingMV 

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 Find out if Nicole is willing to put her heart and career on the line for the delicious Mr Valentine.


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Adventurous Proposal
book #1

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