Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Vacation Giveaway!

It's that time of year again! We will be taking a few weeks off to have family time before school starts back. We hope you are all having a fabulous summer and that you have found lots of great books to read. We'd like to give you a beach read you've had your eye on. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for the chance to win a book of your choice! This giveaway is international: if you are in the US, you will receive your book from Amazon; and if you are international, you will receive your book from The Book Depository (you can check their site here to make sure they will deliver to your country). Please see the terms and conditions on the Rafflecopter widget.

Thanks for stopping by! We'll see you in September :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

© at A Belle's Tales


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday Thrillers: The Tracy Crosswhite Series by Robert Dugoni


And coming soon: 

The Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni 
Genre: Mystery/Crime Thriller | Books: 5 

Also available: Tracy Crosswhite novellas (#0.1 and #0.5):

The Academy (Tracy Crosswhite, #0.1)  Third Watch (Tracy Crosswhite, #0.5)


If you're no stranger to this blog, then you know I absolutely love Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite series. I first discovered this amazing character in book one, My Sister's Grave, when it caught my eye as a Kindle Daily Deal. Tracy is working as a homicide detective with the Seattle PD, and she has dedicated her life to tracking down killers. This first installment really gives us an in-depth look as to what put Tracy on this path, and that was the disappearance of her beloved sister Sarah twenty years ago. For those twenty years, she has questioned what happened to Sarah; and when her sister's remains are finally discovered, Tracy will stop at nothing to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible. I couldn't put this book down, and I have devoured every book that followed. Those books follow Tracy and her friends on the force as they investigate incredibly intriguing cases, as well as make me love Detective Crosswhite even more than I already did. The fourth book, The Trapped Girl, was my absolute favorite; and I can hardly wait to begin Close to Home, which releases September 5th. 

One thing I'm asked a lot is if these books need to be read in order. It's a hard question for me to answer because I want everyone to read every book in this series; but it's true, they can be stand-alones. The author does an incredible job relaying past information without distracting from the current story. However, I believe one of the reasons I feel so connected to these characters is because I've been with them from the beginning and I know their history so well. The things that have occurred in the subsequent novels have meant so much more to me than if I had jumped in somewhere in the middle -- certain things that transpire are just so much more rewarding when you've been with this group from the beginning. But if the series seems too daunting -- then by all means, jump in. You can always go back to the first book later *wink* 

Mr. Dugoni is a brilliant writer, and I love when he surprises me -- and even if I manage to figure some things out, he delivers the reveal in the most superb way and blindsides me with another twist that leaves me captivated and always ready for the next book. I highly recommend this series for mystery/thriller lovers -- and even if you don't enjoy mystery/thrillers but perhaps you're a big fan of a particular Law & Order character named Olivia Benson or you can't get enough smart and courageous female protagonists, then you're definitely going to love Tracy Crosswhite. 

Here are links to my reviews of Her Final Breath, In the Clearing, and The Trapped Girl

Robert Dugoni is the #1 Kindle bestselling and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Tracy Crosswhite Series, including My Sister’s Grave, Her Final Breath, In the Clearing, and The Trapped Girl. His books have twice been nominated for the International Thriller Award. He is also the author of the Edgar Award–nominated The 7th Canon; the New York Times bestselling David Sloane Series, which includes The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One, and The Conviction; the stand-alone novel Damage Control; and the nonfiction exposé The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year selection. Dugoni is a two-time nominee for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction and the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for fiction.

You can find Robert online here: 

© at A Belle's Tales


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #71: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, previously hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine,
that showcases our most anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker 
Author: Gregory Maguire 
Publisher: William Morrow 
Expected Publication: October 31st, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: In this imaginative novel rooted in the rich soil of early-nineteenth-century German Romanticism, beloved New York Times bestselling author Gregory Maguire twins an origin legend of the famous Nutcracker with the life of Drosselmeier, the toymaker who carves him. 

Gregory Maguire’s novels have been called “bewitching,” “remarkable,” “extraordinary,” “engrossing,” “amazing,” and “delicious.” Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked, Wonderland in After Alice and Dickensian London in Lost, Maguire now takes us to the Black Forest of Bavaria and Munich of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffman. Hiddensee recreates the backstory of the Nutcracker, reimaging how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how it magically guided an ailing little girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a snowy Christmas Eve. It also brings to life the mysterious godfather Drosselmeier—the ominous, canny, one-eyed toymaker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s ballet—who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism a migrating strain of a Hellenic mystery-cult, and ponders a profound question: how a person who is abused by life, short-changed and challenged, can access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless. Ultimately, Hiddensee, offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized on the eve of a winter holiday, has something precious to share.

This cover is so stunning, but we're equally drawn in by the summary.  This is definitely one we're waiting on!

What book are you waiting to get your hands on?

© at A Belle's Tales


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Release Day Review: It's Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

Title: It's Not Yet Dark 
Author: Simon Fitzmaurice 
Source: Publisher 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Published: August 1st, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | HMH 

Summary: In 2008, Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (also known as ALS). He was given four years to live. In 2010, in a state of lung-function collapse, Simon knew with crystal clarity that now was not his time to die. Against all prevailing medical opinion, he chose to ventilate in order to stay alive. Here, the young filmmaker, a husband and father of five small children, draws us deeply into his inner world. Told in simply expressed and beautifully stark prose—in the vein of such memoirs as Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—the result is an astonishing journey into a life which, though brutally compromised, is lived more fully and in the moment than most, revealing at its core the power of love its most potent. Written using an eye-gaze computer, It's Not Yet Dark is an unforgettable book about relationships and family, about what connects and separates us as people and, ultimately, about what it means to be alive.

At 165 pages, It’s Not Yet Dark is a book I read in one short sitting; but it is one that will stay with me forever. Written using an eye-gaze computer, Simon Fitzmaurice’s beautifully authored memoir is told simply and honestly. Sharing moments from his meeting of wife Ruth, the births of their children, and his successful career as a filmmaker, Mr. Fitzmaurice gives us these amazing glimpses into his life leading up to the moments when he realized something was very wrong. When he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Motor Neurone Disease), it threatened to rob him of his career and, most importantly, his life; but Simon wasn’t having it, and the determination and courage he possesses are what transforms this book from heartbreaking to heartwarming. I adore the way he writes about his wife and children, as well as family and friends. It's a beautiful thing when a man can express his love so eloquently and freely. 

This is an eye-opening look at an awful disease and the vastly different approaches medical personnel had in treatment as well as non-treatment plans. An absolutely inspiring story about love, determination, and the will to live, It’s Not Yet Dark is a book I wholly recommend to everyone. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Praise for It's Not Yet Dark:

“Beautifully written. Utterly life-affirming.” 
 —Alan Rickman 

“[A] gripping, affecting, sometimes funny read by a natural-born storyteller with something to say about the weight and the value of a life...If you need a story of courage, of heart, of coming back for more, of love and struggle and the power of both, It's Not Yet Dark could be the elusive thing you're after.”
—Joseph O'Connor 

“A beautiful love story - in its essence that's what this is. Survival stories are not about surviving, they're inherently about what makes a survivor push through. A desire to remain in the light of all creation, even as a darkening is taking place. A darkening which happens to us all.”
—Colin Farrell 

“Part memoir, part stark document of the way [Simon] and his family have dealt with motor neuron disease, and part fierce celebration of being alive, It's Not Yet Dark is powerful, gripping and compelling.”
The Irish Times 

SIMON FITZMAURICE is an award-winning writer and film director. His debut memoir, It's Not Yet Dark, was a #1 bestseller upon its release in Ireland, has been nominated for the Bord Gáis Book of the Year Award, and was ranked #2 in Liveline's Writer's Book of the Year. His films have screened at film festivals all over the world and won prizes, including Best Short Film at the Cork Film Festival and the Belfast Film Festival (twice); the Grand Jury Prize at the Opalcine Film Festival, Paris; the Jimmy Stewart Memorial Award at the Heartland Film Festival; and Jury Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. His short film The Sound of People was selected to screen at the Sundance Film Festival. Simon holds honors master's degrees in both Anglo-Irish literature and drama, and film theory and production. His short fiction has been short-listed for the Hennessy Literary Award, and his poetry has appeared in the quarterly publication West 47. His first feature film, My Name Is Emily, was just released in both the UK and the United States. He lives in Greystones, Ireland, with his wife, Ruth; their five children, Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie, and Hunter; and their basset hound, Pappy. 

© at A Belle's Tales


Monday, July 31, 2017

Early Review: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Title: Girl in Snow 
Author: Danya Kukafka 
Source: Publisher 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: August 1st, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. 

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.

Danya Kukafka’s debut thriller slowly drew me in and held me captive until the last page. More than a mystery, Girl in Snow is a character study of three individuals: 

Cameron, the peculiar but gifted artist who, as the neighborhood’s Peeping Tom, has fallen in love with Lucinda Hayes through windows. His actions have led to those in town referring to him as Lucinda’s stalker; so when Lucinda’s body is found blanketed by the falling snow, it is Cameron that seems the most likely suspect. 

Officer Fletcher, who is investigating the death of Lucinda Hayes but also trying to keep the promise he gave his ex-partner and friend that he would look after his son, Cameron, when he was gone. 

Jade, neighbor of Cameron, who would sometimes watch Cameron watching Lucinda and wonder what he could possibly see in the girl that Jade hated so vehemently. 

In the small sleepy town of Broomsville, Colorado, everyone is reeling from the death of “golden girl” Lucinda Hayes; but through the POVs of three fascinating characters, well-kept secrets come to light, and what they know about people in their little town will come as a shock – and one person you think is a liar may be the only one telling the truth. 

The author’s writing is beautiful and compelling; and I really enjoyed this story, as well as the many layers of the characters, the red herrings, and the gradual and unique plot. Though the characters were heartbreaking and there can be no happy ending when a young girl has been murdered, I will say I left my favorite characters better than I found them; and that is something important for me as the reader. Girl in Snow is a very different and equally fascinating novel, and I look forward to more books from Danya Kukafka. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
© at A Belle's Tales


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Release Day Review: Vanguard (Razorland, #4) by Ann Aguirre

Title: Vanguard (Razorland, #4) 
Author: Ann Aguirre 
Source: Publisher 
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 
Published: July 25th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship's doctor, she can't wait. It's past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.

Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn't allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.


This review is spoiler-free not only for Vanguard but also for the three books that come before it, so I will refrain from identifying particular characters by name and will be stingy with certain details. 

I have loved this trilogy since the first book, Enclave, and watching this series and its characters grow into something so exquisite has been magical. Reading the summaries of these books, you see words like plague, apocalypse, and war… so how is it that these stories are such a thing of beauty? Because Ann Aguirre is a brilliant wordsmith, and she has filled the pages with characters who have so much heart and hopefulness that you can’t help but be inspired and fall deeply in love. 

Horde, the third and what I thought was the final book in the trilogy, was everything a final book should be. It contained an epilogue that is still one of my most favorite epilogues of all time. I thought all of my favorite characters had closure… but I forgot a few. One of those being an essential character in the trilogy – Tegan. I loved Tegan, but I realize now that she had been overshadowed by the main characters of the series. I was much like Millie and many of the villagers who had a case of hero worship with those two characters, and I failed to realize that Tegan was still carrying the pain of her past that she had yet to unburden herself of. Tegan’s story was just beginning. So taking place exactly ten months after the War of the River, the next part of her adventure opens. With Millie by her side, she begins a quest that pairs them with the reluctant Szarok, who is on a mission of his own. And what an adventure they all have! Tegan absolutely shines in this story! Going in, I could not wait to be reunited with two characters from the previous books; and once that happened, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only had eyes for Tegan. I certainly enjoyed seeing old friends; but when Tegan parted from their company, I was more than happy to follow. That says so much about the author, the plot, and a character who I once considered secondary but who has grown so much into this lead role. She is an amazing heroine and her courage and determination unmatched. 

“I always get up again. That’s what you learn from falling.” 

Szarok. There is so much I want to say about him, and yet I want everyone to discover his attributes on their own. An exceptional character and one that I admit… crept up on me. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to “learn” him. 

“I will be home and shelter for you. I will be an island where the water never rises.” 

Vanguard is a perfect companion novel, one that thrills and delights, that answers any questions left over from the trilogy, and (this is important to me)… one that doesn’t take away or change a thing from that amazing epilogue of book three. It ties in so perfectly – it’s the novel that was there all along just waiting to be discovered. I will always be open to more from these characters because they are fictional family and friends, but I love that this gives such closure and resolution to everyone that played a role in the saga. Brilliant, exciting, and beautiful, this is a series I want all my friends to have on their shelves. 

 “So each time my heart beats and yours answers, our song is complete.” 

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change. 
© at A Belle's Tales