Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jersey Girl Book Reviews: Top Ten Books Read In 2015

2015 has been an awesome year of reading, reviewing and hosting virtual book tour events for Jersey Girl Book Reviews. From NY Times Bestselling Authors to Indie Authors, I have read 175 wonderful books, and trying to narrow it down to my Top 10 favorites has not been easy. While I have enjoyed every book, here is the Top 10 Books I Read in 2015 that simply moved me the most.

1) Gooseberry Island by Steven Manchester

2) The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne DeMaio  

3) Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer by Joanne DeMaio                             

4) Plan Bea by Hilary Grossman                                  

5) A Peach Of A Pair by Kim Boykin 

6) A Sister's Place by Savannah Page

7) Then No One Can Have Her by Caitlin Rother

8)  Memory House by Bette Lee Crosby 

9) What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan 

10) Center Of Gravity by Laura McNeill

And there you have it, my Top 10 Books that I read in 2015! 

Check out my complete 2015 books read on Goodreads: 

Stayed tuned to see what fabulous books are in store for 2016 on Jersey Girl Book Reviews! 

All I Want For Christmas (A Holiday Novella Collection) by Laura Chapman, Cat Lavoie, and Samantha March (Book Review)

All I Want For Christmas (A Holiday Novella Collection) by Laura Chapman, Cat Lavoie, Samantha March
Publisher: Marching Ink LLC
Publication Date: November 11, 2015
Format: Paperback - 358 pages
               Kindle - 753 KB
               Nook - 419 KB
ISBN: 978-0996427678
BNID: 2940156675241
Genre: Holiday Novella Collection

Buy The Collection:
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the novella collection from the authors/publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours and Marching Ink LLC.

Book Collection Description:

Making Christmas by Laura Chapman 

While settling into a new career in a new community, Ivy is determined not to let the holiday season pass her by. Enter the grownup advent calendar: twenty-four days of festivities to celebrate Christmas. What begins as a bit of fun turns into a mission to spread cheer when she meets Everett. After learning about his bad Christmas attitude, she invites him to join her quest. Despite his initial reservations, Everett quickly gets caught up in the spirit of the calendar. But when new feelings surface and are impossible to ignore, Everett’s inner curmudgeon threatens to put a damper on the whole experience.

Nine Ladies Dancing by Cat Lavoie 

Casey Ellis is the last person who should be planning her office’s holiday party. Convinced she’s plagued with chronic Christmas bad luck, Casey isn’t interested in tempting fate. But when putting on a party planner hat seems like a good way to get closer to her longtime crush, Casey takes charge—and braces for impact. When things start to fall apart—just like Casey knew they would—will she run and hide, or will she learn that bad luck can sometimes turn out to be Christmas magic in disguise?

The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March 

Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother...until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

What Happens at Midnight by Laura Chapman 

Romantic comedy junkie Natalie lives out those fantasies in real life three New Year's Eves in a row when fate throws her together with the same handsome stranger. A heartbreaking turn of events leaves her swearing off of love, forevers, and the holidays (bah humbug). That is until the mystery man from her past reappears years later. Over a holiday season, Natalie struggles to reconcile the whimsical notions of her past with the practical sensibilities she has worked so hard to develop. With the countdown to a new year looming, she must decide whether or not she is willing to give happily ever after another shot.

My Book Review:

There is nothing better to end the holiday season then to read a delightful holiday romance novella collection.

All I Want For Christmas authors Laura Chapman, Cat Lavoie, and Samantha March weave a wonderful collection of four holiday romance novellas that easily keeps the magic and spirit of the Christmas season alive for their readers.

Each of these lighthearted novellas feature a holiday themed story filled with drama, romance, friendship, and the magical spirit that comes with the Christmas holiday season. The reader will easily get swept away into each of these stories, they read like a mini Hallmark Channel movie, delightfully sweet but leaving you wanting more! So cuddle up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa, and let the four novellas in All I Want For Christmas whisk you away on an enjoyable holiday ride!


About The Authors

Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of winning a fantasy football championship (and marrying Clay Matthews), you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.

Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. Her debut novel, BREAKING THE RULES, was published in August 2012 by Marching Ink. ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN was published in October 2013. PERI IN PROGRESS will be published in October 2015.

If Cat isn't reading or writing, she's most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London.

Author Website
Author Amazon Page

Samantha March
 is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all-around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up-to-date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and beauty related. In 2011, she launched her independent publishing company, Marching Ink, and has four published novels—Destined to FailThe Green TicketA Questionable Friendship, and Up To I Do. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Author Website

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Lightening Round by Bruce Stuart (Book Review)

In association with Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Lightening Round by author Bruce Stuart!

Book Review

The Lightening Round by Bruce Stuart
Publisher: SerialTeller
Publication Date: PB - July 8, 2015 / eBook - October 6, 2015
Format: Paperback - 260 pages
               Kindle - 880 KB
ISBN: 978-0996486606
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to dare to fall in love with someone who literally isn’t on your level?

The Lightening Round is a fast-paced novel brimming with colorful characters, sinister plots of intrigue and revenge, and over-the-top antics.

Hannah More, a single mom with weight issues, assumes that her longtime boyfriend, Luke Havitt, is about to propose marriage to her. Instead, he proposes that in order for Hannah to take their relationship to the next level, that she needs to join a gym and to lose weight. Hannah soon finds herself entering the Ultimate Level, a highly controversial yet incredibly sought after San Francisco “fitness experience” known for not only having the latest in technology and fashion, but also segregating all of its members based solely on their weight and fitness levels.

This snappy novel ultimately questions whether true love can survive two individuals from different levels. Even if those levels are only found at a gym.

Book Excerpt:

“Can members on different levels interact inside the club?”

“Yes. And outside as well. But there are time limitations.” Missy smiled and looked at them both supportively. It was time to kick the sales into high-gear.

“And they are?” Levreece and Hannah couldn’t help but be completely awed by Dante as he strutted by the office in an outfit that showed off his incredible physique. Hannah was taken back when she realized that he was even better looking in person than he’d appeared on TV.

“Fifteen minutes for each individual who is on a different level every two weeks.” Missy gave Dante a passing glance. “It helps incentivize you. Also, if you are only working on your own level you won’t be as distracted towards achieving your fitness goals.”

Levreece smiled at Missy’s rigid face. “Damned. Even the Little Mermaid got longer than that to land her prince.”

“But she didn’t have her voice. Now, did she?” It took Missy by surprise that he had alluded to one of her all time favorite movies. She often cried at the end over Ursula, the Sea Witch’s, tragic demise.

“I guess you have to talk fast around here.” Hannah hadn’t been in sales for most of her adult life without realizing that Missy was simply selling a dream that very few can obtain. Although she had heard a few of her friends say that if one was able to hold on through the grueling process, Ultimate Level got amazing results.

“If you both join today. I am prepared to give you a very attractive membership package.” Missy ignored their skepticism. Levreece thought about Dante. “Well, I do like packages.”

“Both? I’m sorry, Miss.” Hannah could feel her chocolate buzz crashing.

Missy addressed Hannah as she would a first grader who lacked proper discipline. “The name’s Missy.”

“Okay, Missy. I’m sorry if you misunderstood. I’m just here to support Levreece. I am most certainly not joining a gym.” She tightened the head-to-toe black raincoat she had draped around her body.

Missy felt the blood boiling in her veins at the mention of the word “gym.” She held her seething anger inside as she spoke. “This is not a gym, Hannah. It is a health and fitness experience.”

“I’m not signing up for one of those near-death experiences either. Whatever you want to call it.”

My Book Review:

The Lightening Round is an entertaining story that follows single mom Hannah More's humorous trials and tribulations when she joins Ultimate Level, a trendy San Francisco gym. Ultimate Level is considered more of a club that promotes a comprehensive health and fitness experience by grouping its members based on their weight and fitness levels, allowing them to work out on their own level without being judged by other members.

Hannah More is a thirty-nine year old single mom and successful owner of J'Adore L'Amour, a baked goods online business. Hannah has been in a relationship with Luke Havitt, a self-absorbed man who insults Hannah's plus size figure and looks, and just when she thinks he is going to propose to her, Luke tells Hannah that if she wants to take their relationship to the next level, she has to agree to his demands or he will leave her. Luke demands to be made a full partner in her business, wants her to give him more money for his side projects, and he wants her to go on a diet and join a gym. Reluctantly, Hannah and best friend Levreece Monroe join Ultimate Level, embarking on a journey to get fit, filled with humorous trials and tribulations, and an unexpected romance along the way.

Author Bruce Stuart weaves a fun tale that easily draws the reader into Hannah's story. Hannah is a sassy lady with a witty sense of humor whose journey to get fit will keep the reader in stitches. I was intrigued by the concept of Ultimate Level being a health and fitness club that basically tracks virtually every aspect of the members' daily interactions and fitness experience via a self-report e-Log on a silver metal wristband called Reveal. The assessment data provides an overall evaluation and insight into which level group the member belongs in, with a goal to progress and advance up each level. And if that isn't enough, the members are also limited in their interactions with members on the other levels, it is a rule used as an incentive to get the members to work on their fitness goals on their own level in order to advance to the next level. Hannah starts her fitness journey calling Ultimate Level a little torture chamber gym of horrors run by smug and sadistic trainers, but as she gets used to the club's regimen filled with a variety of interesting members, obstacles, challenges, sabotage, sexual dalliances, and comedic trials and tribulations, she comes up with crazy schemes and antics that makes the journey worthwhile, especially when she catches the eye of fellow member Brendan Daniels, who is on a higher fitness level.

The Lightening Round is a thoroughly entertaining romantic comedy / women's fiction tale that kept me in stitches. I really enjoyed following Hannah on her journey, the humorous dialogue and the zany interactions of the members at the fitness club, the quest for friendship and romance, and the author's tongue in cheek wittiness of creating a virtual Big Brother kind of fitness club that makes the reader ponder the idea if such a club could really exist. The Lightening Round is a fast paced and enjoyable romantic comedy to read!


About The Author

Bruce Stuart is the founder of five previous books and is the founder of the popular serial fiction website, The Lightening Round was previously seen in part as a serial on under the pseudonym K.T. Newman.

Bruce lives and works in San Francisco.

Author Website

Virtual Book Tour

Click on the above link for the tour schedule.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Body In The Landscape by Larissa Reinhart (Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Body In The Landscape by author Larissa Reinhart!

Book Review

The Body In The Landscape by Larissa Reinhart
Book 5: A Cherry Tucker Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: December 15, 2015
Format: Paperback - 276 pages 
               Kindle - 794 KB
               Nook - 595 KB
ISBN: 978-1943390373
BNID: 2940151066228
Genre: Cozy Mystery


BUY THE SERIES: A Cherry Tucker Mystery
Book 1: Portrait Of A Dead Guy
Book 2: Still Life In Brunswick Stew
Book 3: Hijack In Abstract
Book 4: Death In Perspective
Book 5: The Body In The Landscape

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

When Cherry Tucker’s invited to paint the “kill portrait” for the winner of Big Rack Lodge’s Hogzilla hunt, it seems like a paid vacation. Back home in Halo, a Hatfield-McCoy-style standoff builds between Luke and Cherry’s families. She’s ready for a weekend away, hobnobbing with rich and famous hunters, where she can forget her troubles and nobody knows her name. 

As Georgia sunshine turns to bleak December rain, Cherry’s R&R goes MIA when she finds a body in the woods. While the police believe the local drunk took an accidental spill, Cherry has her doubts, particularly when a series of malicious pranks are targeted at the rifle toting contestants. With loyal companions at her side—sort-of-ex-husband Todd and a championship bayer named Buckshot—Cherry tracks suspects through a forest full of pitfalls and perils. And all the while, a killer’s stalking the hunt party with a bead on Cherry.

My Book Review:

The Body In The Landscape is the fifth book in the entertaining Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. Written in the first person narrative, the reader is transported back to Halo, Georgia, for the latest investigative adventure of struggling artist Cherry Tucker.

Cherry Tucker sure has a knack for getting into trouble, and in this latest installment of her quirky adventures, Cherry is commissioned to paint the portrait of the winner of the Big Rack Lodge's Hogzilla hunting competition. The feral hog has been terrorizing the Big Rack Lodge's property and
surrounding farms. Cherry thought that this would be the perfect weekend getaway, a chance to get away from the family drama back home with the arrest of her brother Cody for kidnapping Cherry's old nemesis Shawna Branson. And if that isn't enough, Cherry's love life is a mess because her boyfriend, Sheriff's Deputy Luke Harper is the arresting officer! But wait, there's more ... the weekend getaway gets a tad bit hairy when Cherry and ex-husband Todd find a body of a man in the woods, and Cherry knows him! Can it get any worse? Cherry and Todd have to track down the killer before there are more people killed at the hunting lodge, including herself!

This was such a fun whodunit to read, it had a great mixture of mystery, romance and humor. I easily found myself entertained by Cherry's craziness and her madcap investigative adventures. From Cherry's dysfunctional family, to her ongoing romantic issues, to her amateur sleuthing skills, this sassy southern lady's antics kept me entertained and laughing as I followed her quest to solve the latest murder case.

With a zany cast of characters (many who return from the previous books in the series) who keep the reader in stitches with their witty dialogue and hilarious interactions; a storyline filled with enough drama, suspense and twist and turns that keeps the reader guessing; and a richly detailed setting that transports the reader to a quirky Southern small town; The Body In The Landscape is an entertaining cozy mystery interwoven with Southern charm and humor that leaves you wanting to go on more crazy adventures with sassy Cherry Tucker!


About The Author

Larissa Reinhart considers herself lucky to have taught English in Japan, escaped a ferocious monkey in Thailand, studied archaeology in Egypt, and survived teaching high school history in the US. However, adopting her daughters from China has been her most rewarding experience. After moving around the Midwest, the South and Japan, her home address is Peachtree City, Georgia.

In June 2015, she and her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier, moved back to Nagoya, Japan, where she'll continue to write about Southern characters, although some might find their way to the Land of the Rising Sun.

She loves small town characters with big attitudes, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. The Cherry Tucker Mystery series with Henery Press begins with Portrait of a Dead Guy (August 28, 2012), a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Following Portrait are Still Life in Brunswick Stew, (May 21, 2013), the 2014 Georgia Author of the Year and Silver Falchion nominee, Hijack in Abstract (November 5, 2013), and Death in Perspective (June 24, 2014) follow. The Cherry Tucker novella, Quick Sketch, in the mystery anthology The Heartache Motel (December 10, 2013) is a prequel to Portrait. The fifth Cherry Tucker mystery, The Body in the Landscape, launched on December 15, 2015.

She was very pleased to receive the 2015 finalist medal for Georgia Author of the Year, Best Mystery, for Death in Perspective.

Author Website
Author Blog
Publisher: Henery Press

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:

December 17 – TheBook Bag 
December 18 – Granny Loves to Read 
December 18 – Queen of All She Reads 
December 21 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews 
December 21 – The Phantom Paragrapher

Friday, December 18, 2015

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for What She Knew by author Gilly Macmillan!

Book Review

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover / Paperback - 496 pages
               Kindle - 765 KB
               Nook - 694 KB
ISBN: 978-0062413864
Genre: Psychological Suspense Thriller

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...

Critical Praise:

“What an amazing, gripping, beautifully written debut. WHAT SHE KNEW kept me up late into the night (and scared the life out of me).”
— Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author

“Tightly focused and fast-paced. You won’t rest until you really know what happened.”
— Lisa Ballantyne, author of The Guilty One

“Every parent’s nightmare, handled with intelligence and sensitivity, the novel is also deceptively clever. I found myself racing through to find out what happened.”
— Rosamund Lupton, international bestselling author of SISTER

“This accomplished, intelligent debut should come with a warning-it’s completely addictive. A nail-biting, sleep-depriving, brilliant read.”
— Saskia Sarginson, author of The Twins

“Heart-in-the-mouth excitement from the start of this electrifyingly good debut…an absolute firecracker of a thriller that convinces and captivates from the word go. A must read.”
— Sunday Mirror

“One of the brightest debuts I have read this year - a visceral, emotionally charged story….heart-wrenchingly well told and expertly constructed, this deserves to stay on the bestseller list until Christmas”
— The Daily Mail

“A terrific debut”
— Reader's Digest

“A very clever, tautly plotted page turned from a terrific new writer”
— Good Housekeeping

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

In the eyes of others, we’re often not who we imagine ourselves to be.
When we first meet someone, we can put our best foot forward, and give the very best account of ourselves, but still get it horribly wrong.
It’s a pitfall of life.
I’ve thought about this a lot since my son Ben went missing, and every time I think about it, it also begs the question: if we’re not who we imagine we are, then is anybody else? If there’s so much potential for others to judge us wrongly, then how can we be sure that our assessment of them in any way resembles the real person that lies underneath? You can see where my train of thought’s going with this. Should we trust or rely on somebody just because they’re a figure of authority, or a family member? Are any of our friendships and relationships really based on secure foundations?
If I’m in a reflective mood, I consider how different my life might have been if I’d had the wisdom to consider these things before Ben went missing. If my mood is dark, I find fault in myself for not doing so, and my thoughts, repetitive and paralysing, punish me for days.
A year ago, just after Ben’s disappearance, I was involved in a press conference, which was televised. My role was to appeal for help in finding him. The police gave me a script to read. I assumed people watching it would automatically understand who I was, that they would see I was a mother whose child was missing, and who cared about nothing apart from getting him back.
Many of the people who watched, the most vocal of them, thought the opposite. They accused me of terrible things. I didn’t understand why until I watched the footage of the conference – far too late to limit the damage – but then the reason was immediately obvious.
It was because I looked like prey.
Not appealing prey, a wide-eyed antelope say, tottering on spindly legs, but prey that’s been well hunted, run ragged, and is near to the end. I presented the world with a face contorted by emotion and bloodied from injury, a body that was shaking with grief and a voice that sounded as if it had been roughly scraped from a desiccated mouth. If I’d imagined beforehand that an honest display of myself, and my emotions, however raw, might garner me some sympathy and galvanise people into helping me look for Ben, I was wrong. They saw me as a freak show. I frightened people because I was someone to whom the worst was happening, and they turned on me like a pack of dogs.
I’ve had requests, since it was over, to appear again on televi- sion. It was a sensational case, after all. I always decline. Once bitten, twice shy.
It doesn’t stop me imagining how the interview might go though. I envisage a comfortable TV studio, and a kindly look- ing interviewer, a man who says, ‘Tell us a little about yourself, Rachel.’ He leans back in his chair, which is set at a friendly angle to mine, as if we’d met for a chat in the pub.The expres- sion on his face is the sort that someone might make if they were watching a cocktail being made for them, or an ice-cream sundae if that’s your preference. We chat and he takes time to draw me out, and lets me tell my side of the story. I sound OK.
I’m in control. I conform to an acceptable view of a mother. My answers are well considered. They don’t challenge. At no point do I spin a web of suspicion around myself by blurting out things that sounded fine in my head. I don’t flounder, and then sink.
This is a fantasy that can occupy long minutes of my time. The outcome is always the same: the imaginary interview goes really well, brilliantly, in fact, and the best thing about it is that the interviewer doesn’t ask me the question that I hate most of all. It’s a question that a surprising number of people ask me. This is how they might phrase it: ‘Before you discovered that Ben had disappeared, did you have any intuition that something bad would happen to him?’
I hate the question because it implies some kind of dereliction of duty on my part. It implies that if I were a more instinctive mother, a better mother, then I would have had a sense that my child was in danger, or should have done. How do I respond? I just say ‘No.’
It’s a simple enough answer, but people often look at me quizzically, brows furrowed in that particular expression where a desire to mine someone for gossip overwhelms sympathy for their plight. Softly crinkled foreheads and inquisitive eyes ask me, Really? Are you sure? How can that be?
I never justify my answer. ‘No’ is all they need to know.
I limit my answer because my trust in others has been eroded by what happened, of course it has. Within many of my relationships doubt remains like slivers of broken glass, impossible to see and liable to draw blood even after you thought you’d swept them all away.
There are only a very few people that I know I can trust now, and they anchor me to my existence.They know the whole of my story.
A part of me thinks that I would be willing to talk to others about what happened, but only if I could be sure that they’d listen to me. They’d have to let me get to the end of my tale without interrupting, or judging me, and they’d have to under- stand that everything I did, I did for Ben. Some of my actions were rash, some dangerous, but they were all for my son, because my feelings for him were the only truth I knew.
If someone could bear to be the wedding guest to my ancient mariner, then in return for the gift of their time and their patience and their understanding, I would supply every detail. I think that’s a good bargain. We all love to be thrilled by the vicarious experience of other people’s ghastly lives after all.
Really, I’ve never understood why we haven’t thought of an English word for Schadenfreude. Perhaps we’re embarrassed to admit that we feel it. Better to maintain the illusion that butter wouldn’t melt in our collective mouths.
My generous listener would no doubt be surprised by my story, because much of what happened went unreported. It would be just like having their very own exclusive. When I imagine telling this fictional listener my story, I think that I would start it by answering that hated question properly, for the first time, because it’s relevant. I would start the story like this: When Ben went missing I didn’t have any intuition. None whatsoever. I had something else on my mind. It was a pre-occupation with my ex-husband’s new wife.

My Book Review:

If you are looking for an intense psychological thriller that will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat, then look no further, What She Knew, is the book for you!

In her debut novel, What She Knew, author Gilly Macmillan weaves a riveting psychological thriller that follows one mother's worse nightmare: the disappearance of her son, and her desperate search to find him.

While walking in the Bristol park one Sunday afternoon, eight year old Ben Jenner runs ahead and out of the eyesight of his mother Rachel, and suddenly disappears. Rachel frantically searches the woods surrounding the park without any luck of finding a trace of Ben. The police begin an intense investigation into Ben's disappearance with very little leads to go on, while Rachel is thrust into the public's view and endures a horrible vilification via the press and social media that leaves her second guessing her judgment as a responsible parent. What really happened to Ben on that fateful Sunday afternoon?

What She Knew is a well written and realistically gripping page turner that is told in the alternating perspectives of the mother, Rachel Jenner, and the lead detective investigator, Jim Clemo. From the very beginning, the author easily captivates the reader's attention and draws them in as the story of Ben's disappearance and the ensuing investigation unfolds. The dual perspective storyline is told in a clever way with the inclusion of social media blog posts and comments, newspaper articles, emails, and counselling session transcripts, and interwoven with enough raw emotions, chilling suspense, secrets, surprising twists and turns, and thought provoking intrigue, that easily keeps the reader engaged and guessing what really happened to Ben, and who the perpetrator is from the ever growing list of suspects. The reader will be fascinated by this realistic psychological thriller, it reads like a true crime story where they will experience the full gamut of emotions, and it will leave them completely spent by the stunning conclusion.

What She Knew is a cleverly written and stunningly heart wrenching psychological thriller that stay with the reader long after the last word has been read.


About The Author

Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and then at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in A Level Photography and a full-time mum.

Author Website

Contest Giveaway

Win a Copy of What She Knew

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gilly Macmillan & William Morrow Books. There will be 5 US winners of 1 copy of What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan. The giveaway begins on December 1st, 2015 and runs through January 3rd, 2016. For US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

12/01 Showcase @ Books Chatter
12/02 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
12/03 Review @ Keenly Kristin
12/04 Review @ The Book Divas Reads
12/04 Showcase @ Books Direct
12/07 Review @ The Phantom Paragrapher
12/08 Review @ Words by Webb
12/09 Review @ Rockin Book Reviews
12/10 Showcase @ Building Bookshelves
12/11 Review @ 3Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too!
12/11 Showcase @ Bookalicious Traveladdict
12/13 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
12/14 Review @ Lets Talk About Books
12/15 Review @ Kritters Ramblings
12/16 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
12/17 Review @ Book Babble
12/18 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
12/19 Review @ Booked on a Feeling
12/21 Review @ Beth’s Book Reviews
12/27 Review @ Brooke Blogs
12/29 Review @ FictionZeal
12/30 Review @ Mallory Heart Reviews

Christmas Confessions & Cocktails by Vicki Lesage (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Christmas Confessions & Cocktails by author Vicki Lesage!

Author Guest Post

French Boutiques and Booties 
By Vicki Lesage

Ah, a dream come true: shopping in Paris! The “glitz” and the “glamour”… unless you’ve got a little booty in your trunk. Then it’s more like the “wiggly bits” and the “clamor” as you turn around in the tiny dressing room and knock all the clothes to the floor.

I wouldn’t say I’m big, but my derriere is certainly not as small as those of my French compatriots. I’m a U.S. size 8 but I often wear size XL in French fashions. So shopping isn’t always the dreamy experience I’d like it to be.

One time I was shopping and found this adorable sweater but the large wasn’t large enough. So I headed to the sales counter where the salesgirl told me she could order a different size for me.

“What size will you be needing?” she asked, way more loudly than necessary.

“Um, extra large, please,” I whispered.

“Extra large?” she shouted, as the entire store turned to scope out the extra large lady at the checkout. Me. How embarrassing.

So it was with trepidation that I set out on a recent hunt for a dress for my French sister-in-law’s wedding. I was worried about being the bull in the Parisian clothing shop, bursting seams as I tried on dainty clothing and not finding anything to fit my American-sized booty.

Fortunately, my anxiety was unwarranted. I was met by a lovely shop assistant who helped me in and out of the dresses, and even gave me a pair of snazzy heels to try on, “Otherwise we have no idea the full extent of your beauty in this dress.” Sold!

As I twirled in front of the dressing room mirror, two middle-aged women entered. “That. You must buy that. It looks perfect on you!”

“Thank you,” I replied, feeling my cheeks turn red at the compliment, and also at the fact I’d been caught twirling around the dressing room.

“But here’s another one in the same color. I can’t decide, but I clearly don’t need two dresses in the exact same shade.”

“Well then, I guess you’ll have to try the other one on for us!” They plopped down on a plush suede couch as I changed into the other dress.

“Oh là là! That one is beautiful too. We’re going to have a hard time deciding. Can you try on the first one again?”

And so the afternoon passed, me trying on clothes with total strangers who were throwing compliments all over the place. And the sweet shop assistant who had nothing but smiles and encouraging words for me.

We (because it really was “we” at that point; I no longer had full control over which dress I would be purchasing) finally settled on a dress. One that matched my eyes and flattered my fuller-than-the-average-French-woman figure.

As I left the store, carrier bag in hand, I had a little spring in my step. I’d just been pampered and fawned over in a cute Parisian boutique. Sometimes, life is just too good to be true.

And then I nearly stepped in a huge pile of dog crap.

Back to reality.

But I still had the dress.

About The Author

Bestselling author Vicki Lesage proves daily that raising two French kids isn't as easy as the hype lets on. In her three minutes of spare time per week, she writes, sips bubbly, and prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charming daughter, all of whom mercifully don't laugh when she says "au revoir." She penned the Paris Confessions series in between diaper changes and wine refills. She writes about the ups and downs of life in the City of Light at

Author Website

Book Review

Christmas Confessions & Cocktails by Vicki Lesage
Part of the Paris Confessions series
Publisher: Party Girl Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2015
Format: Paperback - 244 pages
               Kindle - 1875 KB
ISBN: 978-1515037576
Genre: Christmas Themed Memoir

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

American-turned-Parisian Vicki tells it like it is, from her crazy Christmases growing up in the Midwest to her even crazier holidays in her new home in France. Bizarre gifts, stomach-turning food, and holiday travel disasters are just some of the tales you'll chuckle at in this installment of the Paris Confessions series.

This Christmas-themed memoir features 25 funny and heartwarming essays, all with a tenuous tie to Christmas, and pairs each with a delicious drink recipe. So grab your martini shaker and get ready for tasty cocktails and hearty laughs this holiday season!

A humorous collection of holiday-inspired stories with Christmas drink recipes

If you're looking for a great read this holiday season, don't miss Christmas Confessions & Cocktails! The 25 stories in this holiday collection take you on an adventure full of Christmas spirit (and spirits, including Christmas cocktail recipes like Christmas Cookie Martini, Peppermintini, and Glitter & Gold). And it makes the perfect Christmas gift!

Book Excerpt:

Years later, I married the love of my life, Mika. It would be hard to find a bad quality about this guy. He’s patient. He’s kind. He’s funny and smart. He’s a wonderful husband and an amazing father.

But he absolutely sucks at killing bugs.

His technique: Grab a paper towel and stomp loudly toward the bug, usually scaring it away before arriving on the scene. If the stupid thing sticks around, it’s only because he’s thinking, “Get a load of this guy and his soft, fluffy paper towel. What’s he planning to do with that? Tuck me in to bed and sing me lullabies? Sounds lovely!”

Mika’s “plan” is to gently cover the area the spider is occupying, and to—I don’t know—just hope the spider crawls into the paper towel’s pillowy folds, leading itself to death? Of course the spider darts away each time and now Mika’s just wasted a paper towel.

“You have to smash it. With force,” I said, with all the knowledge of a backseat driver. “The paper towel is just to protect your fingers from the carnage. You actually need to kill it with your hand.”

He gave me a look like, “Holy hell, who did I marry?”

I gave him a look back like, “You better kill the next one or you won’t stay married for long.”

One week later, I was minding my own business (so, ending world hunger or spending too much time on Facebook) and I heard a loud SMACK in the kitchen.

“Check this out,” Mika said, entering the living room with a smile on his face and a dark smear on a paper towel.

Ah, my technique worked.


This doesn’t solve my mom’s problem, though. My newly-trained bug-killing husband was thousands of miles from St. Louis. My step-dad, Doug, will take care of any insect problem, but what does my mom do if he’s not there? She would never kill an intruder herself, but she can’t stay frozen in one spot all weekend.

Enter the best Christmas present ever, courtesy of SkyMall: the bug vacuum.

I’d traveled home for Thanksgiving one year, opting for the cheaper international fares for that time period compared to Christmas. After reading the in-flight magazine cover to cover (or at least taking the Mensa quiz to feel smart), I perused the SkyMall catalogue.

Have you ever looked in that thing? I wanted to buy everything on every page! And I nearly did.

Toy gun that shoots marshmallows? Perfect for my trigger-happy, sweets-loving brother. (Bonus: New way to play fetch with Chopper.)

A glass display case for children’s artwork where you slide in their new artwork while cleverly hiding their previous masterpieces so that you don’t have a house full of scribbles? Perfect for my colleague who has two adorable, prolific, artistic children.

Collapsible silicone wine glasses that you can—get this—fold up and tuck in to your back pocket so you’re ready for any occasion? I might just have to get those for myself.

A bug vacuum with extendable arm and a circular shield to trap the bug before being sucked away to get zapped by a jolt of electricity go live on a farm in the country? Perfect for my easily-spooked arachnaphobic mother. She talks smack about bugs, but can’t handle actually smacking any.

Bonus gift: A battery-operated bug-zapping tennis racket for the flying critters. Plus it counts as exercise because it has “tennis” in the name.

I filled out the order form and dropped it in the mail when I landed. Christmas shopping had never been so easy.

Bug vacuum: $64.95

Battery-operated bug-zapping tennis racket: $16.95

Living in a bug-free house: Priceless

My Book Review:

Christmas Confessions & Cocktails is an entertaining seasonal Christmas themed collection of twenty-five memoir snippets with accompanying cocktail recipes that will definitely get the reader in the holiday spirit!

Author Vicki Lesage, an American expatriate living in Paris, France with her husband Mika and children Leo and Stella, weaves a humorous Christmas collection of memoir short stories from her childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, and from her current family home in Paris.

Written in a sassy style, Vicki gives the reader a glimpse into her family with hilarious snippets of her family's Christmas traditions (gift giving and regifting, family holiday trips, etc) interwoven with mishaps and trials and tribulations that provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. At the end of each memoir snippet is a cocktail recipe that ties into each snippet's theme. Just to whet your whistle ... here is a sample teaser of the cocktail recipes that you will find in this delightful book:

* Christmas Cosmo
* Chocolate Chip Cookie Martini
* Glitter & Gold
* The Bonsai
* Lucky Charm
* After Midnight
* Cinnamon Cider Sensation

Christmas Confessions & Cocktails is a fast paced and thoroughly entertaining holiday book that can be read in a day. As the reader gets a glimpse into the author's life, you can't help but take a walk down memory lane of your own family's holiday traditions and the craziness that comes with it. This sweet holiday memoir will conjure up the magic and spirit of Christmas that will leave a smile on your face!


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