SPLIT-LEVEL by Sande Boritz Berger – Spotlight & Giveaway

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In author Sande Boritz Berger’s novel, Split-Level (SheWritesPress), the nation recoils from Nixon and Alex Pearl is about to commit the first major transgression of her life. But why shouldn’t she remain an officially contented, soon-to-turn- thirty wife? She’s got a lovely home in an upscale Jersey suburb, two precocious daughters, and a charming husband, Donny. But Alex can no longer deny she craves more—some infusion of passion into the cul-de-sac world she inhabits. After she receives a phone call from her babysitter’s mother reporting Donny took the teen for a midnight ride, promising he’d teach her how to drive, Alex urges they visit Marriage Mountain, the quintessential 1970s “healing couples’ sanctuary.” Though Donny accedes, he becomes obsessed with the manifesto: A Different Proposition—and its vision of how multiple couples can live together in spouse-swapping bliss. At first Alex scoffs, but soon she gives Donny much more than he bargained for. After he targets the perfect couple to collude in his fantasy, Alex discovers her desire for love escalating to new heights—along with a willingness to risk everything. Split-Level evokes a pivotal moment in the story of American matrimony, when it seemed as if an open marriage might open hearts as well.

How interesting, it’s now 2019, and the nation is recoiling from a different President. Life is truly is cyclical. I loved the premise of Sande’s novel, and found it quite provocative. I remember the 70’s. I was in high school and it was all about polyester prints, corduroy pants, vinyl and smoking pot … well, not necessarily everyone. Many of my friend’s parents were separating and checking out what was “out there.” Mine got divorced. Sande’s novel is compelling, her prose are fluid and her descriptions paint portraits. Expect an unexpected ending … the best kind!

SandeBoritzBerger

After nearly two decades as a scriptwriter and video producer for Fortune 500 companies, Sande Boritz Berger returned to her first passion: writing fiction and nonfiction full time. She completed an MFA in Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University where she was awarded The Deborah Hecht Memorial prize for fiction. Essays and short stories have appeared in over 20 anthologies including Aunties: “Thirty-Five Writers Celebrate Their Other Mother” by Ballantine, and “Ophelia’s Mom” by Crown. Her novel, The Sweetness, was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s yearly Breakthrough Novel Awards. Sande lives in Manhattan with her husband and has two daughters.

http://www.sandeboritzberger.com

We have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us something you think about marriage. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

MORE THAN by Diane Barnes – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY

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“You are obese, Mrs. Moriarty.”

So begins author, Diane Barnes novel, MORE THAN. Peggy Moriarty is stunned. She knows she’s let herself go a bit, but she thinks her young, skinny doctor is exaggerating. Her husband’s death fourteen years ago left her to raise their twins, Grace, and Greg, alone. But now that they’re teenagers, doing their own things, her only hobby is watching Messages from Beyond, a show about a medium who connects the grieving with their deceased loved ones.

When the twins leave for college, they give Peggy a gift certificate for an exercise class. At first, Peggy is insulted. But once the sting wears off, she realizes if she gets in shape, she might gain the confidence she needs to go on her favorite TV show and talk to her husband one last time.

With help from her new friends at the gym and Carmen Tavarez, the mother of Grace’s boyfriend, Peggy begins to emerge from her prolonged grief and spread her wings. She may soon discover that her sum is more than a mother, a widow, and her body.

I love the cover and believe it sums up the point of the novel. Becoming something more beautiful than what you start of with. The cover itself is lovely.

diane

How many people get to do what they love? Since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve loved writing. Today,  I’m fortunate enough to have two careers that give me the opportunity to write. By day, I write marketing copy and corporate communications for a company in the healthcare market. After hours I pen fiction.  I’m also a voracious reader and can sit for hours, preferably on a beach or by a pool, devouring good books.

I live outside of Boston with my husband. I don’t talk like a Bostonian, but some people still detect Southern California in my accent from the years I lived there. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m at the gym, running, or playing tennis, trying to burn off the ridiculous amounts of chocolate and ice cream I eat.

http://www.dianembarnes.com

We have one ecopy to giveaway. Just tell us about any weight issues you may have had. I’ve been fighting my weight all of my life. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

#MoreThan #DianeBarnes  #KateRockBookTours #WeightIssues #Overweight

** MAMA HISSA’S MICE by Saud Alsanousi – SPOTLIGHT * GIVEAWAY **

mama

From the author of The Bamboo Stalk and winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction comes an apocalyptic and caustically funny novel about the power of friendship in a war-torn world.

In Saud Alsanousi’s  novel, MAMA HISSA’S MICE (AmazonCrossing), growing up together in the Surra section of central Kuwait, Katkout, Fahd, and Sadiq share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination—only friendship and a rage against the unconscionable sectarian divide turning their lives into war-zone rubble. To lay bare the ugly truths, they form the protest group Fuada’s Kids. Their righteous transgressions have made them targets of both Sunni and Shi’a extremists. They’ve also elicited the concern of Fahd’s grandmother, Mama Hissa, a story-spinning font of piety, wisdom, superstition, and dire warnings, who cautions them that should they anger God, the sky will surely fall.

Then one day, after an attack on his neighborhood leaves him injured, Katkout regains consciousness. His friends are nowhere to be found. Inundated with memories of his past, Katkout begins a search for them in a world that has become unrecognizable but not forsaken.

Snaking through decades of Kuwaiti history well into a cataclysmic twenty-first century, Mama Hissa’s Mice is a harrowing, emotional, and caustic novel of rebellion. It also speaks to the universal struggle of finding one’s identity and a reason to go on, even after the sky has fallen.

*****

saud

Saud Al-Sanousi is a Kuwaiti novelist and journalist, born in 1981. His work has appeared in a number of Kuwaiti publications, including Al-Watan newspaper and Al-Arabi, Al-Kuwait and Al-Abwab magazines. He currently writes for Al-Qabas newspaper. His first novel THE PRISONER OF MIRRORS was published in 2010 and won the fourth Laila al-Othman Prize, a prestigious award for novels and short stories by young writers. He won the first prize for his story ‘The Bonsai and the Old Man’ in the Stories on the Air competition organised in July 2011 by the Al-Arabi magazine with BBC Arabic.

He is currently writer in residence at The Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Centre and has dramatised and scripted a new version of the “Memoirs of a Sailor” musical; an epic written by poet Mohammed Al-Fayez and composed by musician Ghannam Al-Daikan. He’s at work on another play.

WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC FICTION (known as the ‘Arabic Booker’)
WINNER OF THE STATE OF KUWAIT PRIZE
FINANCIAL TIMES RECOMMENDED SUMMER READ
WINNER OF THE 2016 SAIF GHOBASH BANIPAL PRIZE FOR ARABIC LITERATURE IN TRANSLATION
VOTED PERSON OF THE YEAR IN THE KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN 2016
Zayed Book Award 2018/19 – longlisted for novel Hamam Al Dar

Thanks to Amazon Crossing and MB Communications, we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us the latest novel you’ve read about a foreign land. We’ll announce a winner soon Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

GIVEAWAY ** JOY of COOKING ** JOY of COOKING ** JOY of COOKING ** JOY of COOKING ** GIVEAWAY

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WELCOME TO A NEW GENERATION OF JOY …

It’s been nearly 90 years since Irma Rombauer self-published the first 3,000 copies of JOY of COOKING in 1931. JOY has become the kitchen bible, with more than 20 million copies in print. This is the first revision, since Scribner’s massively successful 2006 JOY. The 2019 edition (Scribner) being published today is edited and updated by Irma’s great-grandson Jon Backer and his wife Megan Scott.

For this edition they’ve developed over 600 new recipes, tested thousands of recipes from previous editions, and updated every section of every chapter to reflect the latest ingredients and techniques available to today’s home cooks. Readers will find many new diverse vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipes and tips on for how to save money and time while still making homemade food.

Yum, yum!

Since it’s the fall, apple season and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, publishers are sharing the hugely successful apple dumplings recipe! They recommend you use Gravenstein, Pink Lady, Jongold or Winesap apples.

apple

APPLE DUMPLINGS

6 dumplings

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Cut in until well blended:

1 stick (4 ounces or 115g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

4 ounces (115g) cold cream cheese, cut into cubes

Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap,
and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Generously butter a baking dish large enough to hold the dumplings with 1 to 2 inches between each one, such as an 11 × 7-inch rectangular dish or a 12-inch oval gratin dish.

Peel and core (leaving them whole):

6 small apples (about 4 ounces each)

Or peel, halve lengthwise, and core:

3 large apples (about 8 ounces each)

Mix with a fork in a small bowl until blended:

½ cup packed (115g) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

Add and mix well:

4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55g) butter, softened

Fill the whole apples with the mixture and pat any remaining mixture on top of the fruit, or, if using apple halves, fill the hollows with the mixture and reserve any remaining. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 18 × 12-inch rectangle about ⅛ inch thick. Cut into six 6-inch squares, then roll each square a little larger, into a 7-inch square.

Lightly brush with:

1 egg, lightly beaten

Place an apple in the middle of each square. If using apple halves, place cut side down and spread the remaining sugar mixture over the rounded tops of the apples. For each square, bring the 4 corners of the dough up around the apple and pinch the corners and edges of the dough together. Prick the top of each pastry several times with a fork. Place the dumplings in the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. While the dumplings bake, make the syrup.

Combine in a saucepan:

1 cup (235g) water

½ cup packed (115g) light brown sugar

1 small lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

Stir until the sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Pour the boiling syrup over the dumplings when they begin to color, 10 to 15 minutes into the cooking time. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the apples are tender when pierced with a small knife, 30 to 35 minutes more. Baste the apples with the syrup every 10 minutes or so to form a glaze and flavor the crust. If the dumplings start to brown too quickly, loosely cover with foil.

Let cool slightly. Serve warm with:

Heavy cream or vanilla ice cream  … OMG!

*****

Keep your eyes open for another dessert recipe to welcome in 2020!

http://www.thejoykitchen.com

Thanks to Scribner/Simon & Schuster, we’re able to giveaway one copy of the new JOY of COOKING …. all 1,152 pages to one very lucky winner. Just tell us what your favorite recipe to cook is and why. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

#JoyofCooking #SimonandSchuster #Scribner #cooking #recipes #eating #kitchen #dessert #Fish #poultry #meat #breads #Pancakes #cakes #cookies #icecream

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE by Susan Isaacs – Spotlight & Giveaway

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Bestselling author, Susan Isaacs is back with another story about a sassy broad who is guaranteed to make you stay up reading through the night. TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE (AtlanticMontlyPress) is the first in the new Corie Geller series.

Corie Geller has plunged into the happy suburban married existence she’d hoped for: whip-smart husband, adorable stepdaughter, loveable rescue dog, free-lance work for a literary agency. It’s all exceedingly pleasant but not exhilarating–especially for an ex-FBI agent who must keep her past job in counterterrorism secret.

Then one Wednesday, at her weekly restaurant lunch with other locals who work from home, Corie’s focus is drawn to one of the regulars. That’s when it hits her: Something’s off with this guy.  Okay, just a hunch, but no way can he be what everyone thinks. As with Corie herself, he has a hidden life.  Or at least that’s what her training and experience are whispering to her—as well as her gut feeling—maybe because it takes one to know one.

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SUSAN’S WORDS … 

I was born in a thatched cottage in the Cotswolds. Oh, you want the truth. Fine. I was born in Brooklyn and educated at Queens College. After leaving school, I saw one of those ads: BE A COMPUTER PROGRAMMER! Take our aptitude test. Since I had nothing else in mind, I took the test-and flunked. The guy at the employment agency looked at my resume and mumbled, “You wrote for your college paper? Uh, we have an opening at Seventeen magazine.” That’s how I became a writer.

I liked my job, but I found doing advice to the lovelorn and articles like “How to Write a Letter to a Boy” somewhat short of fulfilling. So, first as a volunteer, then for actual money, I wrote political speeches in my spare time. I did less of that when I met a wonderful guy, Elkan Abramowitz, then a federal prosecutor.

We were married and a little more than a year later, we had Andrew (now a corporate lawyer). Three years later, Elizabeth (now a philosopher) was born. I’d left Seventeen to be home with my kids but continued to write speeches and the occasional magazine piece. During what free time I had, I read more mysteries than was healthy. Possibly I became deranged, but I thought, I can do this.

And that’s how Compromising Positions, a whodunit with a housewife-detectives set on Long Island came about. Talk about good luck: it was chosen the Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, auctioned for paperback, sold to the movies, translated into thirty languages, and became a bestseller. I was a little overwhelmed by the success, but since it’s hard to be cool and go to fabulous downtown parties when you’re living in the suburbs with a husband, two kids, two dogs, and a station wagon, I simply wrote another book… and then another and another. About half my works are mysteries, two fall into the category of espionage, and the rest are…well, regular novels. In the horn-tooting department, all my novels have been New York Times bestsellers.

My children are grown, married to wonderful people, and they’ve made me a grandmother. (Being a grandparent is one of those rare times in life that lives up to its rave reviews – I suppose as partial compensation for adolescence.) And I still live on Long Island with my husband, the criminal defense lawyer, breakfast chef, and fellow political junkie. After forty years of marriage, we’re still exchanging significant looks as we watch Meet the Press.

FYI: If you’re in Miami November for the Book Fair, look Susan up. She’ll be doing what she does best, talking about her new novel and making us laugh.

We have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us which of Susan’s fourteen novels is your favorite. I like too many to  make one choice! Maybe you can narrow it down for me. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

http://www.susanisaacs.com

GIVEAWAY: USA ONLY PLEASE

#AtlanticMonthlyPress #TakesOneToKnowOne #SusanIsaacs #MiamiBookFair

 

** ONE FOR THE BLACKBIRD, ONE FOR THE CROW by Olivia Hawker – GIVEAWAY **

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From bestselling author, Olivia Hawker, comes an epic novel about the American frontier, ONE FOR THE BLACKBIRD, ONE FOR THE CROW (LakeUnionPublishing). Wyoming, 1876. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival.

But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor, he doesn’t think of survival. In one impulsive moment, a man is dead, Ernest is off to prison, and the women left behind are divided by rage and remorse.

Losing her husband to Cora’s indiscretion is another hardship for stoic Nettie Mae. But as a brutal Wyoming winter bears down, Cora and Nettie Mae have no choice but to come together as one family—to share the duties of working the land and raising their children. There’s Nettie Mae’s son, Clyde—no longer a boy, but not yet a man—who must navigate the road to adulthood without a father to guide him, and Cora’s daughter, Beulah, who is as wild and untamable as her prairie home.

Bound by the uncommon threads in their lives and the challenges that lie ahead, Cora and Nettie Mae begin to forge an unexpected sisterhood. But when a love blossoms between Clyde and Beulah, bonds are once again tested, and these two resilient women must finally decide whether they can learn to trust each other—or else risk losing everything they hold dear.

ONE FOR THE BLACKBIRD, ONE FOR THE CROW (LakeUnionPublishing) is an all American saga. It’s the kind of book I don’t find being written much more. It immediately drew me into the American wild west of the 1800’s. Hawker’s descriptions and research are unmatched.

Olivia has some interesting thoughts for those thinking about writing historical fiction.

MAKING FICTION FROM FAMILY HISTORY by Olivia Hawker

Authors of historical fiction most often find their inspiration in “big history”—major events that have played out on the world stage, and the important players who have directed and shaped those events. And there’s no doubt that readers love novels about royal courts, wartime spies, and great conquerors. But some of the most compelling stories of the past can be found in unexpected places: among the journals and artifacts of our ancestors, and in the oral histories our loved ones share.

While researching and documenting my family’s history, I’ve come across many gripping stories of survival, heroism, adventure, and love. I’ve turned two of my family’s histories into novels: The Ragged Edge of Night—a Washington Post bestseller about my husband’s grandfather, a humble music teacher in small-town Germany who became a resister against Hitler’s regime—and One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow (Lake Union Publishing; October 2019.) Blackbird tells of the hardships my great-grandparents and their families faced as sheep ranchers on the Wyoming frontier… and shows what can happen when love and hate are forced to live together under one roof.

My great-grandma Beulah was quite a character—a real chatterbox who never even paused for breath. My mom had a very close relationship with her grandparents and often drove my sister and me all the way from Seattle to Eugene, Oregon to visit them. Their house was full of marvelous, strange knick-knacks, and on the bottom of every single item in her house—literally everything—Beulah had affixed little adhesive labels bearing the name of a family member, and sometimes a short note about the provenance of that object. The labels indicated who was to receive that item after Beulah and Clyde (my great-grandpa) both passed away. Those labels were Beulah’s version of a will—an admirably simple system.

Now that I’m all grown up with a home of my own, I treasure the antique dishes Beulah “willed” to me. The faded labels on their undersides tell a family history in their own right. Most prominent is a label that reads: Georgia. Love, Mom in Beulah’s unmistakable handwriting. But next to that label are two others: one bearing Beulah’s name, written by her mother, Cora Bemis, along with the words, Is over 100 yrs old. Another label, also written by Cora, says, Belonged to Gram. Bemis, is old. What a touching treasure—a family heirloom dating back at least to 1866, possibly older, and bearing physical evidence of its being handed down from one woman to another over five generations.

But the labels on the milk-glass bureau dishes aren’t the only ones that tell an interesting story. My mother Cheryl inherited an extra-special object when Beulah died: a hand-carved wooden box decorated with a checkerboard pattern and Beulah’s maiden initials: B. B. On the bottom of the box, on a scrap of yellowed masking tape, Beulah wrote this intriguing message: Daddy carved it while in jail.

Naturally, I had to know how Beulah’s father ended up in jail, where the only pastime he had, it seemed, was woodcarving. I asked my grandma Georgia to tell me what she knew about the checkerboard box, and the simple family story she recounted became the basis for my One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow.

My two great-grandparents (Beulah and Clyde) grew up on neighboring farms on the Wyoming range, where their families scratched out a living raising sheep and training horses. With few other people in the vicinity, the Webber and Bemis families became close—too close, it seems. An extramarital affair developed between Cora Bemis and Frank Webber (named Substance Webber in my novel—Substance being an older family name which I couldn’t resist using.) As you might expect, discovery of the affair led to hard feelings on both homesteads; animosity persisted even after Mr. Webber died of illness. Shortly after Frank Webber’s death, Ernest Bemis—Beulah’s father—landed in jail for the crime of cheating an apple farmer out of some of his money. He cooled his heels behind bars for two years, which left Cora Bemis and Nettie Mae Webber to run their two neighboring farms with only their children for help. Survival without their husbands was so difficult that Cora and Nettie Mae thought it best to move in together and operate one farm until Ernest was released from jail… a trying prospect at the best of times, but especially difficult considering how much the two women despised each other in the wake of the affair. Their vexation must have only grown when a romance developed between their teenage children, Beulah Bemis and Clyde Webber, who eventually married and became my great-grandparents.

I knew as soon as I heard the story that this could be the premise of a fascinating novel. I set to work at once on Blackbird, though I changed quite a few details to add dramatic tension. I pushed the setting farther back in time, starting the novel in 1876 to isolate my characters more on the Wyoming frontier… and I added a murder to really provide a sense of stakes and afflict my characters with guilt and loss. But the core of Blackbird is a true family story—just as compelling, I believe, as the doings of European royalty or the feats of great military commanders—revealed thanks to a few family heirlooms and some faded stick-on labels.

The past is rich with human drama, but we may miss out on some of the best and most compelling tales unless we tear ourselves away from “big history” now and then, and delve into smaller spaces—searching for the stories hidden in our artifacts, heirlooms, and family trees.

*****

Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. She is also the author of the runaway bestseller “how-to” guide for writers, Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.

When she’s not writing, Libbie can be found in her garden, at her spinning wheel, or hiking the trails of San Juan Island, where she lives with her husband and three naughty cats.

http://www.hawkerbooks.com

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing we have a copy to giveaway. Just tell us about your thought of the American frontier circa: 1800’s.
We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

THE ESCAPE ROOM by Megan Goldin – SPOTLIGHT & Giveaway

escape

Kirkus Reviews (Starred) writes about THE ESCAPE ROOM (StMartinsPress) “Cancel all your plans and call in sick; once you start reading, you’ll be caught in your own escape room—the only key to freedom is turning the last page!” 

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.

Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.

Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

*****

megan

Megan worked as a journalist for Reuters, the Australian ABC and Yahoo! News before writing her debut psychological thriller The Girl In Kellers Way. 

http://www.megangoldin.com

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what your favorite thriller is this summer. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.