Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Angels' Share - Spotlight

THE ANGELS’ SHARE (New American Library; July 26, 2016; $28.00) is the second book in Ward’s series set in Kentucky’s Bourbon Country that will appeal to readers of Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles series and fans of Empire, Scandal, and Downton Abbey.

While bourbon ages in its oak barrels, the barrel expands and contracts due to seasonal changes, which causes a small amount of the liquid to dissipate. That small sacrifice of some of the most sought-after alcohol in the world is called “the angels’ share.” While there is a scientific reason behind this, author J.R. Ward has noted that that process can be applied to all of us. “We are, like fine bourbon, a different product at the end—and there is sacrifice involved.” Such change and sacrifice is also true of the fictional bourbon-making family the Bradfords, first introduced in last year’s bestselling The Bourbon Kings.

On the surface the Bradfords were the perfect family. With a thriving bourbon business that has kept them wealthy for generations, they are part of the Kentucky elite society and the envy of many. But the foundation of their prosperity and influence has crumbled. The business is bankrupt and the family patriarch, beloved by no one, was found dead in the Ohio River. When the investigation threatens to point fingers at someone within the family, secrets and lies begin to unravel.

Ward has created an indelible cast of upstairs/downstairs characters whose lives intersect in a page-turning mix of dark family secrets and double crossings, high stakes business deals, and delicious bad behavior. From the now-emotionally and physically debilitated eldest son, Edward, and his recently-returned prodigal brother, Lane, to their wild child baby sister, Gin, and their painkiller- addled mother, Victoria (“Little V.E.”), the Bradfords—and the characters surrounding them—are intriguing, layered characters created by one of the sharpest writers in contemporary women’s fiction.

The Secrets She Kept and You Will Know Me - Spotlights and Excerpts

Idgie Says:
Two new suspense novels are coming out on  July 26th and I wanted to share them with you.  These books are not similar in any way except that they contain secrets, mysteries, ambition and jealousy.  You want juicy reading - you'll find it here. 


The Secrets She Kept

Book 2
Fairham Island Books
Release Date: July 26, 2016

The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it.

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer.

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk.

Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

 Click HERE for an excerpt.


You Will Know Me

Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: July 26, 2016

Katie and her husband Eric have made their daughter Devon the centre of their world. Talented, determined, a rising gymnastics star, Devon is the focus of her parents' lives and the lynchpin of their marriage. There is nothing they wouldn't do for her.

When a violent hit-and-run accident sends shockwaves through their close-knit community, Katie is immediately concerned for her daughter. She and Eric have worked so hard to protect Devon from anything that might distract or hurt her. That's what every parent wants for their child, after all. Even if they don't realize how much you've sacrificed for them. Even if they are keeping secrets from you . . .

A mother knows best . . . doesn't she?

Plotted with all the brilliance of Dare Me, and written with the compassion of The Fever, the astonishing You Will Know Me - dark and tender by turns -is an unforgettable novel by Megan Abbott.

 Click HERE for the EW.com interview and excerpt

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Summer Romance with Jude Deveraux (Review of 45 of her books!)

http://prodimage.images-bn.com/cimages/0000000149726_p0_v1_s260x185.jpgJude Deveraux books are like crack.  This summer I went on a binge and now need rehab.  I seriously could not put her books down once I started reading them again. 

I decided to take a Summer sabbatical in between the Spring Review Books and the Fall ones and re-engage with a writer that I used to read voraciously.  When I saw she has around 55 books published, combined with the summer and the fact that I can read a romance book in a day, I decided to create a challenge for myself.  A challenge that wasn't that hard at all.  I was going to re-read ALL of her books before fall.   (Thank heavens for used books stores is all I can say!)

My little post of what got me started on this Summer Adventure is below.  Note - I only read 45 of her novels, I decided to leave the paranormal ones be and for some reason had no real desire to read the ones set in the 1500's and before. 


When I was a young pup I adored romance novels. Read them by the handful.  Then life got in the way and I felt they were way too sappy for the reality of living.  This was a good thing for me as it opened up my reading to a whole new level and now I read just about anything.

As a reviewer I get to pick and choose what I read.  I traditionally turn down graphic violence, stalker books, fantasy........and romance.  I just wasn't into it anymore and it is somewhat hard to review a romance book at times - they all have happy endings with solved problems.

But then I was offered a chance to review a Jude Deveraux book.  At the time I didn't realize she was still writing. She was my all time, go to favorite romance author.  Her characters were usually humorous, spunky and sassy without too much angst and gnashing of teeth.  Great escapism that you could somewhat chuckle through.

So I said yes I would do the review.  Wow.  I forgot how much I enjoyed her.  Then I was offered another new Jude book to review.  Suddenly I had a full blown desire to read Jude again.  Luckily most of her books are at used book stores so they're easy to pick up and won't cost a fortune as she is prolific

Then I had another idea - why don't I at least give a thumbs up or thumbs down to each book since I'm tearing through them all.  So that's what I'll do here.  It will be a simple list of titles and what I thought of them.

Maybe it will encourage you to pick up some of her novels if you haven't already.  Truly she is a master of the romance. The covers are generally awful, but just open to the story and you'll be fine.

I found that most of the time I liked the men best - they are generally always nearly perfect, warm and understanding in every way but the women almost always needed attitude adjustments. I didn't actually understand how some of them could even interest these perfect men. A fun perk is that many of her story lines run long.  A book set in the 1700's will have those characters show up as ancestors 12 books and 200 years later.  It's fun to work your brain and try to keep up with the tiny details and "Ah-ha!" moments.

I used to read only her historical novels and stopped reading when she started contemporary, but I just read the entire Edilean series and found that I liked it almost more now than the historicals.

Click HERE for a fun link I found describing all of her books in order of publication. 

Now, my cliff notes thoughts on her books.  Books that I liked the best are in red. The ones in green, I actually read twice!

  1. The Scent of Jasmine - One of my Favorites, a lot of fun banter
  2. High Tide - Meh
  3. Change of Heart - Loved the first half, lost interest in 2nd half (really 2 stories)
  4. Sweet Lair - Will that girl calm down already, one of her more angsty characters, hard to figure out why the guy liked her.
  5. Eternity - very cute and fun
  6. Just Curious - a fun short story.  Enjoyable.
  7. A Knight in Shining Armor - one of her most popular, but damn, doesn't that girl ever stop crying?
  8. A Season in the Highlands - Short story anthology, I loved hers - straight fun.
  9. Someone to Love - Quite good.
  10. Holly - One of her sexier ones, sex everywhere, anytime, from beginning of the book, fun read.
  11. Temptation - Set it Scotland, nuff said.  I quite enjoyed it.
  12. The Duchess - another good one, though the girl was ridiculously young and naive to attract a worldly man.
  13.  The Awakening - ridiculous.  She went from insanely timid and mousy to a tiger.  Too much of an attitude change too quick
  14. Twin of Fire - Very much enjoyed.  Lot of spunkiness
  15. Twin of Ice - Also enjoyed very much, perhaps more than Twin of Fire.
  16. Ever After - A good read, lot of tension with enough humor to offset it.
  17. The Girl from Summer Hill - A fun read that bogged down during the overly long Play re-enactment.
  18. The Invitation - 3 short stories.  I loved all the men, 2 of the ladies made me want to smack them. **Read after Sweet Lair**
  19. Secrets - This is one of those fun books with interesting escapades and dialogue.  
  20. The Raider - A really fun read except for the part that made jokes about rape and then concluded with incredibly weak sex.  Rest of book very fun.
  21. The Temptress - It was okay.  Not one of my faves, but I did really like the end.
  22. River Lady - Harsh beginning and unbelievable that someone would mess around with such a dirty and smelly woman.  He just wasn't drunk enough.  The rest of the book amused though.    
  23. Wild Orchids - Really different for her.  Not really any sex scenes, the Devil is a character and the Hero is a successful author with a dad bod.  It was quite fun though. 
  24. The Blessing - Ridiculously silly plot but still amusing in spots.  
  25. Legend - quite fun, a blond and a dark hunky men - pick your favorite.
  26. Stranger in the Moonlight - Not as crazy plot heavy as others, some really fun moments of dialogue.  
  27. Scarlet Nights - Saucy book with actual criminals.  Hero has receding hairline and damaged trachea.  I love it when her men aren't perfect.  
  28.  Wishes - an okay book.  Had Houston and Kane from Twin of Ice in it, so that was fun.  Showed that a heavier woman could still be found very attractive so handsome men.
  29.  Heartwishes - a cute story, enjoyable
  30. Lavender Morning - one of the rare, no sex scenes at all stories.  Revolved around 2 romances.  One fun to read, the other with a very sad ending. I don't like sad endings in romance novels. 
  31. Moonlight in the Morning - One of my favorites.  The male character is truly too perfect to be true and oh so romantic. 
  32.  Promises - A novella set in the Edilean seriesQuite fun, but be warned, priced for some reason as a full length novel and called a Vook.  I received no video but a story under 100 pages.  **Read after The Scent of Jasmine**
  33.  Moonlight Masquerade - I have become quite attached to the people from this town and I enjoyed the main storyline, along with all of the side stories involving people I already "knew". 
  34. The Teacher - from  Upon a Midnight Clear Anthology - This novella made me very happy.  The novel, Legend, totally left  the fate of one of the main characters up in the air.  A character who was quite wonderful so I was  pleased when this story showed up to finish that tale.   **Read after Legend**
  35.  Lost Lady - Fun, Quick read.  Final quarter of the book slightly ridiculous but still...the romance.  :)
  36. Carolina Isle - I am going to say this was to finish a contract.  Cardboard characters, weak plot, sloppy lame ending.  I was kind of embarrassed for the book reading it.
  37. Sweetbriar -  The hero in this novel was like Dirk Pitt, near death through half the book but still horny.  Kind of ridiculous.
  38. Mountain Laurel - the hero was super hot and wonderful, but the woman made me kind of want to beat her every time she started talking about how wonderful her voice was.
  39. Mulberry Tree - Nice sweet love story with a devious murder plot behind it.
  40. Days of Gold - This tells the story of how the town of Edilean (for the entire series) started and was interesting for that part alone - making me want to go back and re-read the history bits in the other novels (I mistakenly read this one last).  The story itself is okay.    
  41. True Love - The next 3 books were fun, they brought the Montgomerys and Taggerts back and added the Kingsleys....and ghosts. All three were fun.
  42.  For All Time - This one has 2 Princes!
  43. Ever After - This one has a lot of Naked Cousins
  44. First Impressions - Interesting in that the main characters are in their mid to late 40's.  Nice to see that for a change.  People already settled into their ideals and attitudes trying to figure out love.
  45. The Summerhouse - 2 of the stories grabbed me - Thomas made me very sad in one and in the other there is a scene of a man and a horse that is seriously hot. 
Just a few of Jude's Books!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser

Idgie Says:
What a beautiful coffee table book!  This showed up at my door this week and immediately went to a place of honor in my living room.  As I flipped through the pages I began taking mental notes of which pieces would look lovely on my walls.  I adore the coastal paintings, but the small town views were actually my favorites.  West does a brilliant job of making the locations in his paintings so very lifelike and welcoming.  I could take this book with me on a road trip as a travelogue - following the paintings to see the locales in real life.

This book is available as a gift worthy hardback, but also is available in a more affordable paperback. 


Painting the Southern Coast
The Art of West Fraser
West Fraser
July, 2016
USC Press
10 ½” x 12″
288 pages
264 color illustrations
The beauty and spirit of coastal landscapes and waterways captured and celebrated in art.

Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser is a stunning collection of the works of West Fraser, one of the nation's most respected painters of representational art. A mastery of his medium and the scope of work ensure his place in Southern art history. A true son of the lowcountry, Fraser has dedicated much of his career to capturing the lush, primordial beauty of the Southeast's coastal regions that have been altered by man and time. The 260 works in this book are representative of the sketches, studies, and finished paintings he has generated over his nearly forty-year career, works that depict coastal locales from Winyah Bay, South Carolina, to St. Augustine, Florida, and include Charleston, Hilton Head, Savannah, and the islands of the lowcountry through the Golden Isles of Georgia.

Fraser's goal with each of his paintings is to create a portrait of what he calls "my country." He captures on canvas not only the visual beauty of the landscape, but the spirit and soul of each place. From the sultry streets of Savannah to the winding waterways and unique environs of the sea islands, the works included offer a view of the land he loves. Fraser augments his visual tour of the coast with original maps of the region and location coordinates of each painting, enhancing the viewer's knowledge and appreciation of the region as well as Fraser's artistic gift.

Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser includes essays by Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum, and Martha R. Severens, Greenville County Museum of Art curator (1992–2010) and authority on Southern art. Fraser has also written an autobiographical essay in which he discusses the experiences and influences that have shaped his work and his life as one of America's noted landscape artists.

Author West FraserWest Fraser has been honored with seven solo museum exhibitions in the Midwest, the Southeast, and California. His paintings are in nine museum collections, including the White House Historical Association, and numerous significant private and corporate collections nationwide. He has been published extensively, including features in Art and Antiques, Plein Air Magazine, Robb Report, Southern Accents, American Artist, Nautical Quarterly, Charleston Magazine, South Carolina Wildlife, and Sandlapper. In 2001 the University of South Carolina Press published Charleston in My Time: The Paintings of West Fraser. Fraser lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife, Helena Fox.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Desperation Road - Review and Trailer

Idgie Says:

This is the last of the three books that I desperately wanted to get my hands on this summer.  As with the other two - it did not disappoint me one tiny bit.   It gets a gold star from me.

This novel wrenched at my heart. I know this life and I know these people.  I lived in Lucedale and Purvis, Mississippi - both very similar to McComb.  I have seen boys run out of town for causing unintentional damage to others.  I've seen and felt the long standing hate of someone done a family wrong. I've seen and held those early, accidental babies.  I thought I had "escaped" those towns because I had a way to physically leave, but this book hits so close to home that I realize in my heart I will never completely be gone from them.

I was so very tense reading this novel.  I found that right from the start I really liked Russell.  He is a man who made a very poor decision early in life that will affect him forever, change his entire future, but he's not a bad man at all.  Therefore the building tension, the feeling of possible doom in the pages just set me on edge the entire way through.  I think my jaw still hurts from clenching.

Russell returns to his small town after 11 years in prison.  He's done his payment to society, but several people don't see it that way.  From the very moment he sets foot off the bus he is reminded again and again that there are still hates and grudges aimed at him and forgiveness is not a given.  He is also reminded of all that he personally lost, and who he lost, due to that one day of reckless stupidity.

When his life intersects with a mother and child who desperately need a way out of their own situation, his choices may help them, but they may also complete his own path to ruin.

The prose in this novel is tense and short and whip sharp.  It speaks true in the style and cadence of the Deep South.  You can feel the emotions fully in the characters, you are able to know them as much as if you were sitting on that bar stool or truck bed with them.

I highly recommend this book.

Read my review of Rivers, Michael's first full length novel, which was just as fabulous as his latest. 

This book sadly does not release until February of next year, but you can go read Rivers now if you haven't already!


Desperation Road

In the vein of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone and the works of Ron Rash, a novel set in a tough-and-tumble Mississippi town where drugs, whiskey, guns, and the desire for revenge violently intersect.

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman Penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His sentence is now up for manslaughter, and he believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns to his South Mississippi hometown, he faces blood-thirsty revenge. Larry and Walt, older brothers of the young man Russell killed so many years ago, have had the calendar marked. They greet Russell the instant he steps off the bus with hard fists and dire promises.

On the same day that Russell comes back, a homeless woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spends their last dollar on a room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running down a desolate back road holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the asphalt. When Russell later rides up on the scene with the loaded shotgun he's gotten for protection tucked behind the seat of his father's truck, the eyes of the law can't help but look toward him.

Along these dark back roads, lives twisted with regret intersect with violent and vengeful consequences as the differences between right and strong shift like the southern sky. DESPERATION ROAD, written in powerful and lyrical prose, is a story of troubled souls bound by a secret that stretches over the years and across the land.