Blog Tour | A Beginning at the End

Blog Tour | Strangers? Friends? Survivors. A Beginning at the End explores what happens after the end of the world.

**Many thanks to MIRA Books and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Mike Chen

(3.91 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Dystopian Science Fiction

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: January 14, 2020, by MIRA Books

Pages: 400 (Kindle version)

#ABeginningattheEnd #MikeChen #MIRABooks

Memories are meant to fade. They’re built with an expiration date.

It’s the end of the world as we know it. You know that song? The R.E.M. one? That keeps playing in my mind whenever I think about apocalyptic or dystopian novels. But this book is slightly different. It’s the beginning of a new world – rather, a reboot.

Life as we know it has been decimated by disease, and the 15% of the planet’s population left alive is trying to figure life out all over again. It’s in this season of discovering a new normal that four strangers’ lives collide. Let’s check out the blurb…

An emotional story about what happens after the end of the world, A BEGINNING AT THE END is a tale of four survivors trying to rebuild their personal lives after a literal apocalypse. For commercial readers who enjoy a speculative twist, or their sci-fi with a heavy dose of family and feelings.
Six years after a global pandemic, it turns out that the End of the World was more like a big pause. Coming out of quarantine, 2 billion unsure survivors split between self-governing big cities, hippie communes, and wasteland gangs. When the father of a presumed-dead pop star announces a global search for his daughter, four lives collide: Krista, a cynical event planner; Moira, the ex-pop star in hiding; Rob, a widowed single father; and Sunny, his seven-year-old daughter. As their lives begin to intertwine, reports of a new outbreak send the fragile society into a panic. And when the government enacts new rules in response to the threat, long-buried secrets surface, causing Sunny to run away seeking the truth behind her mother’s death. Now, Krista, Rob, and Moira must finally confront the demons of their past in order to hit the road and reunite with Sunny — before a coastal lockdown puts the world on pause again.

I saw all these people looking to one person, and that one person looking ahead, and they were moving together.

A running theme in A Beginning at the End is learning that no one can take on the big things all alone – least of all, the end of the world. Each of our main characters needs something from someone else in order to survive their new normal and their personal issues may keep each of them from receiving exactly what they need in time to make a difference.

Krista and Sunny have mommy issues, Moira has daddy issues, and Rob has Family Stability (read DFaCS) issues. It’s a nod to good writing to see these life dramas play out against the backdrop of the larger threat of a deadly virus looming over everything. That, and secrets… SO many secrets!

If you’re into dystopian fiction because you’re drawn to the destruction, terror, and mayhem that comes along with the imminent annihilation of the entire human species; well, this has plenty of panicked people, but its focus is mainly on humanity attempting a massive reboot. But that doesn’t mean all the thrill is gone! You’ve still got gangs, and looters, and cults – yes, cults! – chase scenes, and close calls. Reconstruction does not equal boring in this case.

We’re all hiding something.

In the beginning, I was expecting a cookie cutter end-of-the-world novel, but by the end of A Beginning… (see what I did there?), I was pleasantly surprised by a fully fleshed out story of strangers becoming friends and friends becoming family.

A Beginning at the End is now available at all of the following retailers:

Mike Chen

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. Mike lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter


The Tenant

“Writing a murder mystery is like trying to braid a spiderweb, thousands of threads stick to your fingers and break if you don’t keep your focus.” -The Tenant

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Scout Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Katrine Engberg

(3.67 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: January 14, 2020, by Scout Press

Pages: 368 (Kindle version)

#TheTenant #KatrineEngberg

Sound is equivalent to life, except when the sound is a doorbell bearing bad news, then sound is equivalent to death.

We’ve all heard the saying that art imitates life. Is it true, and is it equally true the other way around? I think a solid argument for either is demonstrated very well in The Tenant. Here’s the blurb…

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.
But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

A lack of evidence and divergent theories are not the optimum combination for solving a crime.

I started out loving this book. There’s just something about Scandinavian crime-fighters that piques my morbid interest. We’ve got Danish backdrops, imperfect main characters, a grisly murder, and a killer who is going off the rails. Can it get any better? The jury’s still out on that.

Although I do consider this a good series debut for Anette and Jeppe’s characters, somewhere in the middle the wheels fell off. Were there too many suspects? Too much internal conversation? Too much of not enough? I can’t precisely put my finger on it, but whatever it was, it made a good book just not quite click for me.

The second we die, we become someone’s job. In some ways a crime scene is reminiscent of a theater production. A web of silent agreement that, taken altogether, makes up a whole. On cue.

Ultimately, I gave this book a star and a half for captivating character development in Jeppe, a star for the excellent first few chapters, and a star for the future potential of this police procedural/detective series. I wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters as long as the plots stay original and the action doesn’t drag.

Oh, and let’s learn more about Anette’s backstory next time!

Katrine Engberg

A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg has launched a groundbreaking career as a novelist with the publication of The Tenant. She is now one of the most widely read and beloved crime authors in Denmark.

Blog Tour | The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Blog Tour | “It was time to stop hiding, and start participating in real life.” – The Little Bookshop on the Seine

**Many thanks to HQN Book and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Rebecca Raisin

(3.64 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Romance

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: January 7, 2020, by HQN Books

Pages: 232 (EBook version)

#TheLittleBookshopontheSeine #RebeccaRaisin #LittleBookshop #HQNBooks

I’d left my home, my routine, and I was here where ancient beauty was abundant. I’d made the right choice, I could feel it in my bones.

Fictional characters make it seem so easy to pull off some pretty amazing feats – take switching lives for example. We’ve seen it 100 times – either through some kind of freaky magic, a rogue lightning strike, or just a spontaneous decision, switching lives always leads to some big adventures. I’ve never tried it – maybe because there isn’t anyone I’ve met so far that I would want to trade lives with, even for a few weeks. Not that my life is so interesting, my switcher would probably be bored out of their minds!

But Sarah Smith (gosh, even her name sounds like she needs some excitement, right?) needs a change. She needs to shuffle some things up, find a spark, and get recharged. And overworked, spurned-in-love Sophie in Paris offers Sarah just the opportunity she is looking for. Let’s check out the blurb…

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer — after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime — days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.
But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light — she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop — and her life — back in order… and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

In small-town Connecticut, there wasn’t a lot to do. And life here – calm, peaceful – was fine, but that’s just it, fine wan’t enough anymore.

OK, so we have one woman who is seeking adventure and change from her mundane everyday, and then we have another woman who is looking for an escape from a bad relationship and a way to relax from her hectic lifestyle. Come on… you know this story, right? The Holiday! My favorite Kate Winslet movie (and really, the only one I’ll watch with Cameron Diaz in it). Amanda and Iris (Cameron and Kate) switch houses/lives in LA and Surrey in an effort to “reset” themselves, their careers, and their love lives.

This Little Bookshop novel has the same premise – two women needing a hard reset to get their lives on track. Attractive premise, promising plot, I just wish I could say that I enjoyed this reading experience more. But let’s talk about the things I do like first…

…to me, books were alive, the words throbbed and pulsed, as important as a heartbeat,…

Raisin’s descriptions of Paris – its food and sights – actually made me want to go there, and I consider myself quite the anti-Francophile. There are beautifully crafted paragraphs about mouth-watering Parisian delicacies and equally enticing descriptions of Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe that immediately thrust you into a magically, romantic world.

Plus, in every romantic novel, you need at least the promise of romance. Even though Sarah and Ridge are separated for most of the book, their romance shines through his absence – and this dude is really romantic.

I would find the heart of Paris, I would do all those things lovers did, and to hell with it if I was alone.

So, why only three stars? Why didn’t this book really resonate with me? There’s an easy answer: One thing that turns me off from a book and its story is if the protagonist is wishy-washy, and Sarah definitely is that kind of character. She keeps hearing what she needs to hear and know in order to feel confident in her man and her relationship, but she refuses all of that advice and chooses to feel abandoned and slighted instead. So, yes, an annoyingly needy main character can throw me out of the book because I feel I can’t relate to her motivation and choices.

Also, there were several places where the writing and action seemed too repetitive. Sarah was in Paris for months, and readers learn about her weeks of trouble and solitude in detail; however, when anything truly interesting happens, those events are glossed over and summarized down into one paragraph. Tell us about the late night art gallery visit! Tell us about the one night spent with the boyfriend you’ve been longing to see for months! That’s the stuff we want to know about. Honestly!

Even though this book didn’t quite hit its mark with me, there were many points where I could appreciate that it is written by a lover of books and by someone who really appreciates the written word. And for that, I would recommend it to those who love reading book about books, those who are instantly attracted to handsome little bookshops on historic corners, and to those for whom Paris is a dream. This book will whet your appetite for more than a cheap romance, you will want the adventure!

The Little Bookshop on the Seine is available now at any of the following booksellers:

Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris seris and the Gingerbread Cafe trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook, and at http://www.rebeccaraisin.com

Blog Tour | First Cut

Blog Tour | “I was being haunted by two women I didn’t even know. One was dead and buried — the other waited for me in the morgue cooler.” – First Cut

**Many thanks to Hanover Square Press and the authors for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

(4.10 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: January 7, 2020, by Hanover Square Press

Pages: 336 (Kindle version)

#FirstCut #JudyMelinek #TJMitchell #HanoverSquarePress

I wondered, again, if I had mad the right choice in coming to San Francisco. Then again, I had to remind myself, there hadn’t been any choice involved.

Reviewing books isn’t always easy. There are expectations attached to every review you right; publishers want a good review to boost sales, readers want an honest review to fill TBR lists, and authors want outstanding reviews to know that others also love the literary children they’ve released into the world. Sometimes those expectations make a reviewer sentimental enough to bump up a rating – you know, give it an extra star because, hey, it wasn’t terrible.

Don’t get nervous, I am not about to trash this book in the name of keeping things “honest”. Just the opposite, in fact. This isn’t your mother-in-law’s gloppy potato salad that you have to smile and pretend is delicious. This is a Food Network chef’s gourmet potato salad that can more than hold its own at any family reunion picnic. OK, I’ll translate that: This is a good book.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discover. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals — on both sides of the law — that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for your yourself, ” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all — even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

Nothing puts a messy homicide investigation out of your mind like a newer and messier one.

When a book has a certain formula that captures my attention, I get a little giddy; and this one fits the bill. It has a flawed, but relatable, main character, love interests to the left and right of her, several mysteries to solve with villains in abundance, and diverse characters that keep the plot moving along at a rapid, engaging pace. There are different voices here, different backgrounds, and varied experiences – even though they all share one basic career category: law enforcement.

I am so satisfied that First Cut is my first blog review of 2020. I mean, I could have really picked a dud to start out the year, but instead, I happen upon this gem of a mystery/thriller! If you’re into forensic-based crime thrillers, check. If you’re into messy little love triangles, check. If you’re into strong female leads working their way into power positions, check. And if you’re into thorough, clever, inclusive storytelling with heart, check, y’all, check.

You aren’t responsible for the things other people do to themselves.

You can find First Cut at any of these major booksellers on January 7th!

Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical eaminer in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland. T.J. Mitchell, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, who worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time, stay-at-home dad.

Blog Tour | Husband Material

Blog Tour | “Sometimes life has other plans. Or, as I’ve come to witness, no real plans at all.” – Husband Material by Emily Belden

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Harlequin Books/Graydon House, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author: Emily Belden

(3.46 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy

Format: Kindle

Publication Date: December 30, 2019, by Graydon House / Harlequin

Pages: 304 (Kindle version)

#HusbandMaterial #EmilyBelden #GraydonHouse

Life is a little scary when you have to sit one-on-one with it for any length of time.

Being a gown-up kinda sux. There are all kinds of things to worry about and be responsible for: bills, your job, and <gasp> taxes! Who thought all this up anyway? We could all just be lounging around somewhere fanning with leaves by a waterfall without a care in the world past which berry to pop into our mouths next. Adulting, bah humbug!

And I’m sure Charlotte Rosen, Husband Material‘s main character, feels at least a little of that same sentiment when her deceased husband’s ashes become her responsibility… again. Let’s check out the blurb:

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.
Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.
But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

I’m officially in my last good year of dating… and I’m determined not to wind up with my dog.

OK, so granted, adulting isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but most of us don’t have to deal with an urn that needs re-homing and an overbearing ex-mother-in-law hounding us. Phew! But being a fly-on-the-wall as Charlotte navigates this extreme bump in her road turns out to be quite the adventure.

There are several prevalent themes in Husband Material: getting over the ex, becoming a legit professional in a cut-throat industry, and navigating the tricky lanes of dating after a major relationship ends. While this book is whimsical and doesn’t present itself as a serious tome, it does make you consider some serious subjects before thrusting you back into the humor of it all.

He wouldn’t do something to hurt me. He would, however, choose to protect me at all costs. Are those the same things?

All-in-all, Belden’s book is about starting over; beginning again when things didn’t quite go the way you expected the first time. Charlotte, in her own quirky way, is a poster child for pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and marching on into a new normal. And that’s a theme that I can certainly get behind.

Little things annoyed me about this book, like Charlotte’s manic retreat into algorithms whenever the proverbial poop hit the fan, for instance. But that was more a personal irritation than a fault with the story. Husband Material is a quirky, quick read that tackles some real adult issues with humor and a whole lotta number-crunching!

Buy Husband Material today at any of the following retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
Google Books

Emily Belden

Emily Belden is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at http://www.emilybelden.com or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @emilybelden.

Good Me Bad Me

=> More disturbing than hurt is love when it’s wrong. -Good Me Bad Me<=

Author: Ali Land

(3.90 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Psychological Thriller

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: 2017, Bo Dreams, Ltd.

Pages: 292


I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m scared. Different. I wasn’t given a choice.

Remember in You’ve Got Mail when Kathleen Kelly tells Joe Fox that she always wanted to be that person that can say exactly what she wants to say exactly when she wants to say it? I totally felt the exact same way. To be able to say that mean or snarky thing to that totally rude or disrespectful person at the exact time that it would affect them the most – that seemed like a lofty goal. The Bad Me wanted that so badly!

But then, like Kathleen, there is the Good Me. The one who keeps the peace and mends the fences, goes home, and then two hours later has an epiphany and thinks, THAT’S exactly what I SHOULD have said. The battle of good and evil, it always rages, but never in my life has it ever been as intense as it is in Good Me Bad Me. Check out the blurb…

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.
But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

I thought you would own less of me after I handed you in but sometimes it feels like you own more… Invisible chains. Jangle when I walk.

OK, we are introduced to this tragic creature, Milly, who really needs a hug. Her mom is serial killer, which is a pretty rotten way to grow up, no matter how you analyze it. So, naturally, you’d think that things would start getting better after Murder-Mom is arrested (not a spoiler) and Milly starts a new life with her highly-esteemed foster parents, right? Not so fast…

You know how at random moments you might hear your mother’s voice in your head reminding you, encouraging you, nagging you – “Never leave the house with your hair wet.” or, “Use your head for something other than a hat rack!” Well, Milly could hear her mom’s voice too, only that voice wasn’t doing much encouraging. Or maybe it was…

I used to pray for a night light, I believed in a god back then but instead I got you.

Good Me Bad Me really took me on a ride. While readers naturally (and necessarily) sympathize with Milly’s plight, we all know that there are things operating in the background that we just can’t suss out in the beginning (or middle). The steadily building action is dangerous and there is very little that distracts from it. This is a psychological thriller that truly earned its name.

With an unconventional narrative style, Ali Land captures our imagination and forces us into the mind of a teenage girl who certainly isn’t all that she seems to be. The fit is uncomfortable, but that’s how it’s supposed to feel – for most of us. What you get with Good Me Bad Me is not so much a plot twist as a plot untwisting with characters that are motivated by more than just the obvious connections we see on the pages.

Ali Land

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in West London.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

=> “When I write, I hold nothing back. I write like he’ll never read it. Because he never will.” –To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before<=

Author: Jenny Han

(4.16 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / Romance / Young Adult

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: April 15, 2014, Simon & Schuster / BFYR

Pages: 355

#ToAllTheBoysIveLovedBefore #ToAllTheBoys

…it’s a lot of responsibility to hold a person’s heart in your hands.

When I was in school, people still wrote letters to each other (I know, I know…the Dark Ages). We would pass notes under our desks and would hand off coded sheets full of gossip to each other in the hallways. But the best letters of all, of course, were the love letters. Granted, in high school they were a little more advanced than “Do you like me, check yes or no.”

I had one boyfriend in college that kept a regular written correspondence with me after I graduated and he had one more year to go. Those were some of the most meaningful letters I ever got – and I have them still today (Yep, I held on to them even through my marriage to a totally different man! Shhhhh….!)

Love letters are magical because they are so revealing, so honest, and so open. You have to really know how you’re feeling to write a good one, and the commitment of putting it all down on paper takes bravery. In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean Covey opens her heart up to the loves of her life, but it was all supposed to be private…

Here’s the blurb: “Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved — five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the thing she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”

My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.

So, Lara Jean is in high school and she’s got some real challenges going on, not the least of which is the fact that someone mailed all of her love letters to former loves of her life. If someone did that to me I would think that it might be time to relocate to a different country! But LJ takes it all in stride – just like any teenager would – SHE FREAKS THE HECK out!!!! Totally understandable.

Although I am, sadly, far from high school these days, I still feel like I can relate to this adorable, romantic story. I remember those days when I felt like my heart couldn’t contain everything I was feeling for a guy, and that writing it all down was the only way I could manage to get through my day without exploding. That’s what reading this book made me remember – the days of being totally dominated by overwhelming emotions and living in that heady feeling every day.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to be brave. I want… life to start happening. I want to fall in love and I want a boy to fall in love with me back.

Jenny Han has written a special little love story here; one that shines on paper and on the little screen (yes, I watched the Netflix movie too). And I know I talked a lot about the romantic aspects of this book, but it’s also about family, managing big life changes, and tackling school politics.

If you haven’t already read this book, and you decide to pick up To All the Boys, I hope you will see Lara Jean as I did – not a love struck teenager, but as a young lady who’s trying to figure out her life, just like all the rest of us. This is one I wouldn’t mind reading again for the nostalgia of the feelings of first love and the comfort of a well-written book that fits like a cozy sweater.

Jenny Han

Jenny Han is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Summer I Turned Pretty series. Her books have been published in more than thirty languages. A former librarian, Jenny earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Blog Tour | The Glittering Hour

⇒Blog Tour: The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey – “It all started with the treasure hunt.” – The Glittering Hour

Author: Iona Grey

(4.31 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance

Format: Kindle

Publish Date: December 10, 2019 by Thomas Dunne Books

Pages: 480 (Hardcover)

#TheGlitteringHour #GlitteringHour

Many thanks to the author and Thomas Dunne Books for providing a free galley of this book for my review. I received no monetary compensation and my thoughts are my own.

It may be silent and empty, but it has its store of treasures to be discovered and secrets waiting to be revealed…

Bad boys. Man-oh-man, do we love them! We love to watch them, to be close to them, to be near their electric energy. And when we can’t, we love to read about them. And they don’t have to even necessarily be “bad”, but just bad for us, or inappropriate, or unacceptable in some way. It makes them all the more enticing.

Heathcliff, Darcy, Lestat, even Rhett Butler – it’s the bad boys that put the zing into a romance, not the straight-laced, do-gooder that your parents always seem to prefer. It’s the motorcycle-riding, black leather-wearing, rock musician that your father despises (and your mother wishes your father was) that always gets your blood pumping.

Why am I talking about bad boys in this review of The Glittering Hour – a touching, romantic historic novel about self-discovery? Because one particular “bad boy” catches the eye of Selina Lennox, and everything she thinks she knows about life changes in an instant.

Here is the blurb: “Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.
Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

The relief of finding each other, of escaping, made them reckless, and they ran.

I began this review with a fun, frivolous draw into this novel, but it has so much more to recommend it than a dangerous liaison. The Glittering Hour is a thoughtful, touching, backward peek into a mother’s rollicking youth by a daughter who is hungry to really know her.

The magic of this book is in the dual timelines, knit together by a crafty treasure hunt through which Alice Carew is able to escape the drafty darkness of her grandparents’ home and enter the world her mother flourished in decades before as a Bright Young Thing, hounded by journalists and chastised by her prudish parent.

Yes, you have read the bad boy tale before (ok, maybe three dozen times), but this story has heart, and it is one that I could actually see moving onto the <gasp> big screen. With delicious imagery and beguiling characters in both timelines, it is not a story that one would forget easily.

You know I never like to give too much away about a book (Don’t you know you’re just supposed to trust me and either read it or skip it based solely on my Smell Rating?!). For some stories, the way the width and breadth of an epic tale unfolds only adds to the way it lingers in your mind afterwards. Its touching moments, its devastating conflicts, its sacrifices, and its celebrations build from chapter to chapter to create something unforgettable. And this is just such a book. Grab a flute of champagne, tie on a corset (or not), have a box of tissue handy (just in case), and read.this.book.

Iona Grey

IONA GREY is the author of the award-winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.