My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2019!

Once again I’m very late to post my favorite books on the year, primarily because we were travelling over the holidays.

So, while I read many good books, here – in no particular order – are the books I enjoyed most and are most likely to recommend (all were reviewed this year):

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Educated by Tara Westover (non-fiction)

Becoming by Michelle Obama (non-fiction)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

HFVBTours: Feature of Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard

Today I’m blasting it up for Historical Fiction’s Virtual Book Tours with FAREWELL MY LIFE by Cynthia Haggard.

(FYI – this book contains adult themes and would be rated “R”. I have not personally read it).

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard
Publication Date: October 29, 2019eBook & Paperback; 586 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country. And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.
The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.

About the Author
Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.
Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.
Her forthcoming novel, Farewell My Life, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. 

Book Blast for Fran Lewis’ SILENT VOICES

Today I’m blasting it up as part of the PICTour for Silent Voices:
 Synopsis:
Driving down a rocky road I saw the overgrown grass, weeds, and poison ivy overtaking the outer perimeter of the bushes. The smell of mildew permeated the air, along with the stench of animals killed by cars coming up from the ground along this dirt road. I could see the sadness on the faces in the cars behind me; I could feel the pain and sorrow. As I looked inside the cars and saw the faces of the drivers, I began to wonder what they were thinking, their thoughts and feelings as they traveled down life’s highway, maybe for the very last time.What stories lay behind the faces behind the wheel of each oncoming car?What stories were hidden?Whose voices are now silenced? 
Reviews:
“Unique, haunting, terrifying, incredibly moving: Fran Lewis’ SILENT VOICES is all that and more as people tell spell-binding stories of their lives – and their deaths – from beyond the grave. You won’t forget this one!” – R.G. Belsky, award-winning author of the Clare Carlson mystery series.
“Silent Voices is a shrewd, sensitive and scintillating collection of short stories that make us feel and think.
Noted talk show host Fran Lewis proves herself to be as skilled a storyteller as she is a listener, adept at both tugging on our heart strings and exposing the raw emotion between the lines. Her tales reach beyond the grave in fashioning rich tapestries drawn on a sprawling landscape at once both rich in color and gray-toned. A can’t miss effort certain to live with you far beyond the turn of the final page.” -Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author
Once again, Fran Lewis knocks it out of the park with the latest in the Silent Voices series. At once chilling, but also inspirational, these stories do not fail to entertain. They will also raise the goosebumps on your skin. Prepare to be thrilled.” Vincent Zandri, New Your Times bestselling Thriller Award winning author of The Remains and The Caretaker’s Wife
Book Details:Genre: Horror, Suspense 
Published by: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: June 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 51
ASIN: B07S75JPQW
Series: Silent Voices
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Author Bio:Fran Lewis taught for 36 years as a staff developer in reading and writing and a dean. She is the author of the Bertha and Tillie series and the author of the Faces behind the stones series as well as her books for caregivers on Alzheimer’s and mj magazine and mj network.Catch Up With Fran Lewis On:
tillie49.wordpress.comGoodreadsBookBubTwitter, & Facebook

Book Blast: Hanging Murder by A. J. Wright

We are blasting it up today for one of the Lancashire Detective Mysteries, Hanging Murder, sent to me by the publicist.

We can all stand on principles until evil pays us a visit…

The year is 1894 when Mr Simeon Crosby, a retired executioner, comes to Wigan with his wife and brother to give a talk on his life’s work.

Whilst he has an eager following, there are also many people who strongly object to Crosby’s profession and do not wish his melancholy shadow to be cast over their town. Protests have been organised and threats have been made.

Detective Sergeant Brennan is tasked with overseeing the security of the controversial visitor and all seems to be going to plan… until a murder is committed on the night of Crosby’s talk.

As Brennan and his brawny constable Fred Jaggery begin their lines of inquiry, they become overwhelmed with suspects and frustrated at the ambiguity of the evidence.

And then a second body is found.

Brennan soon discovers that both victim and killer can take many, sometimes indistinguishable, forms.

Hanging Murder is one of A.J. Wright’s Lancashire Detective Mystery series of cleverly crafted Victorian whodunits, which also includes Sitting Murder and Elementary Murder.

Praise for A.J. Wright:

‘This is an absolute gem of a historical crime novel – cleverly and intricately plotted, very well-written and convincingly evoking all the social problems of a late-Victorian industrial town’ – Crime Review

‘Excellently plotted, with some breathtaking moments, as pieces of the dark past come into the light’ – Chris Nickson, best-selling author of the Richard Nottingham Mysteries

‘A.J. Wright has composed a clever tale indeed in his novel, “Sitting Murder”. The grey and gloomy place that was Victorian Britain is wonderfully rendered by the author in this fast-moving mystery novel’ – L.J. Shea, bestselling author of The Raven’s Augury

‘A network of loves, hates, intrigue and suspense’ – Roger Silverwood (best-selling author of DI Angel Mystery Series)

‘…the book vividly depicts the tensions and ramifications of the miners’ strike. The mystery is equally strong: the plot is fast-paced and cleverly strewn with red herrings and subtle clues. Highly recommended’ – Historical Novel Society

In 2009 A. J. Wright won the 2010 Dundee International Fiction Prize for his Victorian murder mystery Act of Murder. His writing is inspired by his two major interests: all things Victorian and classic works from the Golden Age of crime fiction. He lives near Wigan.

Saturday Snapshot: Day Out in Boston!

My husband and I love to do a trip when the kids are away at sleepaway camp. This year we did a mini staycation and went to Boston (we live only 45 minutes away).

I think when you live near a great city (like Boston), you can take it for granted. It’s always just “there”. We go to the museums a few times a year, we go in to see shows, we go to Faneuil Hall and the Aquarium with the kids. Occasionally, we head into the North End (the Italian section for those who don’t live here) and go to the restaurant where we had our first date (Antiquo Forno). When I first moved here in 1989 I did all the tourist spots. So it was a special treat to just go to Boston and walk around. We walked part of the Freedom Trail, we walked to the North End, we walked around Boston Common (Boston’s Central Park), we had dinner, we got caught up in a street festival celebrating St. Aggripina, and we had an overnight in a sweet little boutique hotel that was once known as “Boston’s SkyScraper” in 1889 (the Ames – now owned by Hilton, so we used points and stayed for free).

a beautiful day at Quincy Market!
Ben Franklin in the shade
Paul Revere with North Church in twilight

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at awebofstories.com.

See her site for participation details!

Some changes to the blog: an update

Each summer brings a refreshing wave of mental energy and more time to me so that I can think about how different aspects of my life are going. This summer I wanted to update my blog to give it a new look. If you know WordPress, you know how EASY this is to do! I love the new look! It’s clean and simple and works better than the old format (which is “no longer supported”). I hope to replace the header picture with a picture of Napa once I find one that is not copywrit, etc. I may have to take one myself! 🙂

The other thing you may notice is that I am no longer an Amazon Associate. This was unforeseen and rather disappointing. I’ve often included a link to see the book I’m talking about on Amazon. Or sometimes I’ve included an indiebound link. Regardless, when I first started with Amazon I made sure to include the proper text in all of my posts. I made some money the first year (about $90) – mainly because someone logged on and bought a book and then bought a laptop and printer and more. Rules apparently changed and the next time I made about $10. With the rise of kindle, I began to make something like 4 cents if someone logged on and bought a book. Rule changes decreed that I couldn’t get paid until I made $10. It really didn’t seem worth my time to post a link for EVERYTHING plus I have NEVER done this for money. I’ve blogged to share my love of books. I had hoped that maybe I’d get a book to review every now and then (I get like 200 a year which is about ten times more than I expected!) and I hoped I’d meet 1 or 2 people who also enjoyed books and didn’t think I was weird for loving to read (I’ve met countless readers, authors, and bloggers – all who love books!!). So imagine my dismay when in early June I received an email saying that Amazon was booting me from their associates program. Not enough sales. Okay, Amazon, that’s fair, I thought. But then I read that I had to take down ALL links to Amazon on my blog! I have blogged for over TEN years and have over 1000 posts!!!! I immediately became quite anxious, fearing that Amazon would somehow blacklist me, but with some constant hacking away, I’ve managed to, to my knowledge, remove ALL my Amazon links. (If you see any, tell me!). And doing this over the past 6 weeks has been like looking through an old yearbook – so many fun memories of books I’ve read and photos of things! While it was a pain in the neck, it was also kind of fun.

So – new look, no Amazon (Sing it: “I’m not worthy!”– Into the Woods reference), but still lots of great books to share and lots of great readers – like you! Thanks for coming along on the journey!!

Saturday Snapshot: Cruise to Bermuda

Each summer my family likes to decompress from the stress of school and welcome summer by taking a special vacation. This year we cruised from Boston to Bermuda on the Norwegian Gem. We love to cruise and our two favorite lines are Norwegian and Disney.

Our family cabin was beautiful!


the kids room with bunk pulldown (and their own bath)

family area w/kitchen (to the right)

Master Bath
our area

We cruised in comfort!

Bermuda itself was amazingly beautiful and warm and relaxing!

The Naval Dockyard
Cruising
Me and the hubs looking relaxed!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at A Web of Stories (http://www.awebofstories.com). See her site for full participation details!