TLC Book Tour: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Jenny Wingfield

Random House Trade Paperbacks

352 pages

Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core and setting the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.

With the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic—and triumphant—aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield has created an enduring work of fiction.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake was one of those books that I was dying to read when it was first released.  I even started it last summer but had to put it aside for other obligations, so when the opportunity to review it came my way, I was thrilled.  Unfortunately, I realized pretty quickly that this book just wasn’t for me.  I was determined to stick it out, but I wanted to put it down within the first forty pages.

I guess my issue was the Southern, country setting.  I am not usually one for Southern fic, and this was no exception.  Everything about this one grated on me.  The language, the characters–it was not what I expected.

I always feel bad in instances like this because The Homecoming of Samuel Lake has been well received and it was more a case of clashing interests than anything else.  I urge you all to take my review with a grain of salt because I feel like I am in the minority with this one.  In other words, the problem is me, not the book!

About Jenny Wingfield

Jenny Wingfield lives in Texas with her rescued dogs, cats, and horses. Her screenplay credits include The Man in the Moon and The Outsider. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is her first novel.

 

 

Jenny Wingfield’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Wednesday, July 11th:  Twisting the Lens

Thursday, July 12th:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Monday, July 16th:  Southern Girl Reads

Tuesday, July 17th:  The House of the Seven Tails

Thursday, July 19th:  The Lost Entwife

Monday, July 23rd:  Book Snob

Wednesday, July 25th:  Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, July 30th:  A Novel Source

Wednesday, August 1st:  WV Stitcher

Monday, August 6th:  A Patchwork of Books

Wednesday, August 8th:  Reviews by Lola

Monday, August 13th:  A Musing Reviews

Monday, August 20th:  Colloquium

Wednesday, August 22nd:  Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Tuesday, August 28th:  Sweet Southern Home

TLC Book Tour: Darkness All Around

Darkness All Around

Doug Magee

Touchstone

352 pages

Risa is married to a local politican and has a teenage son from a previous marriage.  She owns a local diner and she seems to have it all.  Turns out though that her first husband disappeared years ago and has been declared legally dead.  Risa has no idea what has really happened to him.  Until the local high school’s Scrimmage Day when he shows up again.

Sean comes back out of the blue.  A recovering alcoholic, he is now in recovery and has come back to his small hometown to confess to the murder of his and Risa’s high school friend Carol, who was killed years ago.  Sean is having flashbacks of her dead body and he is convinced he is the killer, but Risa cannot fathom her former husband committing such an atrocity.

Darkness all Around was good but not great.  The mystery in itself was interesting enough but I felt like Magee didn’t go into the initial murder enough.  There was a chapter at the beginning of the book detailing the discovery of Carol’s body, but I never felt that there was a picture painted for the reader of the actual murder, which is kind of important when you’re talking about a murder mystery.

I also had issues with the characters. They seemed a little two dimensional to me.  I was able to understand who they were and what they were about, but I never really ended up caring about them or drawing a connection with any of them. It was unfortunate because I liked Sean and Risa and I was intrigued by their story, especially that of Sean, but it just never panned out.

My two main concerns made this book just an ok read for me.  I am glad I read it.  It kept me involved for the most part.  I just don’t think I’ll remember much of it in a few weeks time.

About Doug Magee

Doug Magee has been a photojournalist, screenplay writer, children’s book author, death penalty activist, film producer and director, war protestor, college football player, amateur musician, and the basis of the Aidan Quinn character in Meryl Streep’s “Music of the Heart.” This is his first novel. He lives in Spanish Harlem with his wife and two teenaged children.

Learn more about Doug and his work at his website, dougmagee.com.

Doug Magee’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, June 19th:  Crime Fiction Lover

Thursday, June 21st:  You’ve GOTTA read this!

Monday, June 25th:  Bewitched Bookworms

Tuesday, June 26th:  Life in Review

Wednesday, June 27th:  House of Crime and Mystery

Thursday, June 28th:  Inside of a Dog

Monday, July 2nd:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Tuesday, July 3rd:  Reviews by Lola

Thursday, July 5th:  Chaotic Compendiums

Monday, July 9th:  Man of La Book

Tuesday, July 10th:  Wordsmithonia

Thursday, July 12th:  Well Read Wife

Monday, July 16th:  A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, July 17th:  Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, July 18th:  Reviews by Elizabeth A. White

Thursday, July 19th:  Drey’s Library

TBD:  Murder by Type

TBD:  Raging Bibliomania

TLC Book Tour: Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner

Elizabeth Haynes

Harper

416 pages

Cathy Bailey is a recluse.  She has a good job and she is a single woman in her mid twenties living in London.  She should be in the prime of her life, but instead Cathy is haunted by her past.

Cathy’s story is revealed thread by thread, but it becomes clear pretty early on that she has been the victim of an abusive relationship at the hands of her ex boyfriend who is currently incarcerated for almost killing her.  The story flips back and forth between the present and five years earlier, as Cathy was trapped in her relationship with Lee.  The present story deals with Cathy’s struggle with OCD, which has become her coping mechanism to deal with her intense fear.

Cathy is lucky to befriend her upstairs neighbor, Stuart, right around the time she discovers that Lee is being released from prison.  Because of his background in psychology, Stuart attempts to help Cathy overcome her fears as she deals with Lee’s release.

Into the Darkest Corner was originally published in the UK and it was named Amazon UK’s best book of 2011. I certainly believe that it deserves those accolades.  It was the type of book that I would pick up before bed and an hour or two would pass with the snap of a finger.  I couldn’t put it down.  It is the epitome of a psychological thriller.  Haynes encapsulated the severity of Cathy’s mental illness while still tying in Lee’s abuse and release from prison.

Cathy was such a genuine character but as the book went on, it became harder and harder for me to determine whether or not the danger she perceived was real or just in her head, which only added to the suspense.  It reminded me of SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and I am now yearning for other books in the same vein.

This is a great thriller that will keep you rapt during the sweltering summer days.

About Elizabeth Haynes

ELIZABETH HAYNES is a police intelligence analyst. She started writing fiction in 2006 with the annual challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the encouragement of the creative writing courses at West Dean College. She lives in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Elizabeth’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Wednesday, May 23rd: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Thursday, May 24th: StephTheBookworm

Monday, May 28th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Tuesday, May 29th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, May 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, June 1st: A Worn Path

Monday, June 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, June 5th: Book Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, June 6th: Book Addict Katie

Thursday, June 7th: Paperback Princess

Monday, June 11th: Mary’s Cup of Tea

Thursday, June 14th: Twisting the Lens

Saturday, June 16th: “That’s Swell!”

Monday, June 18th: Book Hooked Blog

Tuesday, June 19th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, June 25th: Reviews By Lola

Tuesday, June 26th: Life In Review

Wednesday, June 27th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, June 29th: Proud Book Nerd

Wednesday, July 4th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Thursday, July 5th: Veronica M.D.

Monday, July 9th: Booksie’s Blog

Thursday, July 12th: MariReads

Friday, July 13th: My Life in Not So Many Words

TLC Book Tour: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker

Random House

288 pages

Julia awakes on a summer day to what seems like a normal Saturday.  It only takes a few minutes for everything to change dramatically.  The news stations suddenly have breaking news to report: the days are getting longer.  It’s only by a few minutes, but scientists are reporting that it’s indicative of the earth’s rotation slowing down.

As The Age of Miracles goes on, the situation quickly becomes more dire.  As the days go on, the idea of a 24 hour day becomes a distant memory.  The daylight hours stretch on for days, to be followed by long bouts of darkness.  The government decides to go ahead and stick with “clock time”, meaning that people are expected to live by the 24 hour clock regardless of whether 3am falls in the middle of the day or noon is smack dab in the middle of the night.  Conflict arises when some citizens decide to go by “real time”, meaning they sleep when the it is dark and stay awake during daytime hours.

There is a LOT of YA dystopian fiction out there.  I think we can all agree on that.  So it can be difficult for a debut author to step onto the scene and be successful. For that reason, I was kind of skeptical when I picked this one up.  I was interested in the premise, so it was a matter of whether or not Walker could deliver.  And guys, I am happy to say she did! The Age of Miracles was wonderful. I could not put it down!

There seemed to be a little something special about this book.  It kept me rapt, which is typical for YA dystopian but there also seemed to be an additional weightiness to the text that I don’t always find with the genre.  It almost seemed a little more realistic than what the genre typically offers.

I urge others to read this one ASAP.  It’s a great beach read because it will keep your attention from page one! I will definitely keep an eye out in the future for more from this author.

About Karen Thompson Walker

KAREN THOMPSON WALKER holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University and is an editor of fiction and non-fiction at Simon & Schuster. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

For more information about Karen and The Age of Miracles, please visit the book’s website, www.TheAgeofMiracles.com, and Facebook page.

Karen Thompson Walker’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 4th:  Layers of Thought

Wednesday, June 6th:  Rhapsody in Books

Thursday, June 7th:  A Chick Who Reads

Monday, June 11th:  Reviews by Lola

Tuesday, June 12th:  Book Chatter

Wednesday, June 13th:  Alison’s Bookmarks

Thursday, June 14th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves

Monday, June 18th:  Inklings Read

Tuesday, June 19th:  Life in the Thumb

Wednesday, June 20th:  Under My Apple Tree

Thursday, June 21st:  Twisting the Lens

Monday, June 25th:  Taming the Bookshelf

Tuesday, June 26th:  Stephanie’s Written Word

Wednesday, June 27th:  Jen’s Book Den & Literary Review

Thursday, June 28th:  Conceptual Reception

Monday, July 2nd:  Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Tuesday, July 3rd:  It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Thursday, July 5th:  The Brain Lair

Monday, July 9th:  Great Imaginations

Tuesday, July 10th:  Sweet Southern Home

Wednesday, July 11th:  The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, July 12th:  In the Next Room

Monday, July 16th:  Regular Rumination

Tuesday, July 17th:  She Treads Softly

Wednesday, July 18th:  Book Addict Katie

Thursday, July 19th:  Fiction State of Mind

Monday, July 23rd:  Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, July 24th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 25th:  Ashley Loves Books

Thursday, July 26th:  Becky’s Book Reviews

Date TBD: Tuesday, June 5th:  Book Drunkard

TBD: Chick Lit Reviews and News

TLC Book Tours: My New American Life

My New American Life

 Francine Prose

Harper Perennial

336 pages

Lula, a twenty-six-year-old Albanian woman living surreptitiously in New York City on an expiring tourist visa, hopes to make a better life for herself in America. When she lands a job caring for a rebellious high schooler in wealthy, suburban New Jersey, it seems that the American dream may finally be within reach. But things take a sinister turn when Lula’s Albanian “brothers” show up in a black SUV to remind her that all Albanians are family—and that Lula’s family has a very serious favor to ask.

Set in the aftermath of 9/11, My New American Life offers a biting and darkly humorous portrait of an era when dreams and ideals began to give way to cynicism, fear, and still-resonating questions about what it means to be an American.

From the TLC website

I have heard such great things about Francine Prose and I loved her book Goldengrove, so I agreed to host a tour stop for My New American Life for that reason alone. The premise sounded interesting enough.  I love a good immigrant story, so I didn’t have any hesitations picking this book up.  I realized that after one week of reading this, I was absolutely dreading picking it up. I finally admitted defeat at page 111.

The writing style was part of the problem.  I felt no connection with the story and characters.  Everything and everyone felt two dimensional and disjointed. The narrative was no linear enough for me either.  All of a sudden, Lula had these three Armenian guys in the house asking her to hide their gun.  What the hell?  I couldn’t understand what was going on or why she agreed to go along with it when she knew nothing about the situation.

I hate giving up on tour books, but I couldn’t torture myself any longer.  Prose is a well known author, but this one fell short.

About Francine Prose

Francine Prose is the author of many bestselling books of fiction, including A Changed Man and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the nonfiction New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. Her novel, Household Saints, was adapted for a movie by Nancy Savoca. Another novel, The Glorious Ones, has been adapted into a musical of the same name by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, which ran at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City in the Fall of 2007. Her latest novel, Goldengrove, was published in September 2008. She is the president of PEN American Center. She lives in New York City.

Francine’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 15th: Book Club Classics!

Thursday, May 17th: Bookstack

Monday, May 21st: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, May 28th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Tuesday, May 29th: Books and Movies

Wednesday, May 30th: Veronica M.D.

Tuesday, June 5th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Wednesday, June 6th: Reviews By Lola

Thursday, June 7th: I Read. Do you?

Monday, June 11th: My Bookshelf

Tuesday, June 12th: Chocolate & Croissants

Thursday, June 14th: Literate Housewife

TLC Book Tour: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemaker’s Wife

Adriana Trigiani

Harper

496 pages

Enza and Ciro are both growing up in small villages in the Italian Alps.  Although tied by their homeland, Enza and Ciro have dramatically different childhoods.  Ciro and his brother had been abandoned at a convent by their mother after their father died in a coal mining accident in the states.  The boys are distraught without their mother but quickly become adapted to the lifestyle of the convent.  Meanwhile, Enza is the oldest daughter of a large family that is barely scraping by.  Both she and Ciro are forced to emigrate to the states due to uncontrollable circumstances.

Enza and Ciro had met shortly before they each emigrated, although they spent many years in the US without seeing one another, except for a few random run ins.  It is only in their mid twenties that the fates conspire and they come together.

The Shoemaker’s Wife follows the couple both before and after they get together and marry, and the difficulties of adjusting to life in another country is something they both must deal with throughout the entirety of the book.

Enza and Ciro are remarkable characters.  They have minor flaws, which only make them more realistic, but more importantly their tenacity enables them to succeed in a life that is full of hardships and disappointments.  I admired them both for the choices they made, although at times they made me shake my head in frustration as well, as despite their good qualities they were both overly stubborn as well!

I had never read anything by Trigiani before, nor had I any interest in doing so.  I can’t say what it is, but something about her books has always struck me as a amateurish.  I think it’s the covers, to be completely honest.  I to tend to judge books by their covers, and it is not out of the realm of possibility for me to write off a book completely solely on the cover.  The cover of The Shoemaker’s Wife is gorgeous, and once I read the synopsis I decided it was time to give into the masses and give Trigiani a chance. I am so glad I did! This book captivated me from the start and I was swept away by both the atmosphere as well as the love story between Ciro and Enza!

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo, she has also written the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. Her books have been published in thirty-six countries, and she has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Adriana’s Tour Stops

Monday, April 2nd: The Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 3rd: Book Journey

Wednesday, April 4th: Reading Lark

Thursday, April 5th: Life Is Short. Read Fast

Friday, April 6th: Amused By Books

Monday, April 9th: Literature and a Lens

Tuesday, April 10th: Book Dilettante

Wednesday, April 11th: Bibliosue

Thursday, April 12th: West Metro Mommy

Monday, April 16th: “That’s Swell!”

Tuesday, April 17th: Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 18th: Reviews by Lola

Monday, April 23rd: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, April 24th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, April 25th: Knowing the Difference

Thursday, April 26th: Library of Clean Reads

Friday, April 27th: Books and Movies

Monday, April 30th: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life

Tuesday, May 1st: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 2nd: I’m Booking It

Thursday, May 3rd: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

TLC Book Tour: Clair de Lune

Clair de Lune

Jetta Carleton

Harper Perennial

304 pages

Allen Liles is a a farm girl, born and raised, who is determined to become a writer.  She is reasonable enough to realize that she has to be more realistic, so in order to make ends meets, she takes a job working as a college professor, and puts her aspirations on the back burner.

Allen realizes quickly that teaching isn’t as bad as she had anticipated.  She is only a couple of years older than her students, and she forms a bond with some of her more studious pupils, most notably George and Toby.

George and Toby are in Allen’s modern writing seminar and they become so interested in the subject matter that they often stay after class to discuss literature and the meetings quickly involve into a threesome.  Allen, Toby and George start meeting at Allen’s apartment numerous times a week and go out on the town together as well.  George becomes a third wheel though once Toby and Allen begin to grow closer, and it begins to seem as though Allen’s infatuation with Toby could put an end to her teaching career.

Given that Clair de Lune takes place in 1941, it is well before the time of Mary Kay Letourneau.  It is easy to see how Allen’s situation could get out of hand, although at times I was shocked that she could be so naive.  She seemed much too young to be a college professor but she also became a very likeable character for me.

I knew nothing about this book but I immediately volunteered to participate in the tour because I have been meaning to read Carlson’s other book, The Moonflower Vine. I knew very little about Clair de Lune and I am glad I went into it not knowing much.  The simplicity of the prose really struck a chord with me and I found myself flying through the book at lightening speed.  I am even more excited to read The Moonflower Vine now!

About Jetta Carleton

Jetta Carleton was born in 1913 in Holden, Missouri, and earned a master’s degree at the University of Missouri. She worked as a schoolteacher, a radio copywriter in Kansas City, and a television advertising copywriter in New York City. She and her husband settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they ran a small publishing house, The Lightning Tree. She died in 1999. The Moonflower Vine was, until now, her only published novel.

Jetta’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 6th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, March 12th: Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, March 13th: The Bluestocking Society

Monday, March 19th: Amused By Books

Wednesday, March 21st: BookNAround

Thursday, March 22nd: Life In Review

Friday, March 23rd: “That’s Swell!”

Monday, March 26th: The Lost Entwife

Tuesday, March 27th: Review By Lola

TBD: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!

TBD: Coffee and a Book Chick

TBD: Lit Endeavors

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