TLC Book Tour: Untold Damage by Robert K. Lewis

Synopsis:  Estranged from his wife and daughter, former undercover cop Mark Mallen has spent the last four years in a haze of heroin.  When his best friend from the academy, Eric Russ, is murdered, all the evidence points to Mallen as the primer suspect.  Now Mallen's former colleagues on the force are turning up the heat and Russ's survivors are asking him to come up with some answers. But if he wants to serve justice to the real killer, Mallen knows he'll have to get clean.  Turning a life around is hard work for a junkie, especially when a gang of low-life thugs wants him dead.  Bruised, battered, and written off by nearly everyone, can Mallen keep clean and catch a killer?

Untold Damage is a dark and gritty murder mystery and once I started reading it, didn't want to stop, even though it had me cringing at times with the graphic descriptions of heroin use.  The main character, Mark Mallen was an undercover cop, and after getting addicted to heroin, is released from the force.  He has hit rock bottom and his only thought is his next hit.  Reality comes crashing down on him when Eric is killed and he is framed for the murder.  Plus two enforcers from the drug gang he's infiltrated have discovered his identity and they are out to get him.  The story is fast paced, action packed and will leave you reeling as you root for Mark to redeem himself. 

Thank you to TLC book tours for asking me to be part of the tour and Robert K. Lewis for creating the story of Mark Mallen.  Find out more about Robert by visiting his  website or follow him on his blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Be sure to check out the previous stops on the tour.

Pages:  288
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Released:  April 8, 2013
Setting: San Francisco 
Rating: 4

There Was an old Woman - Hallie Ephron

Synopsis: When Evie Ferrante learns that her mother has been hospitalized, she finds her mother’s house in chaos. Sorting through her mother’s belongings, Evie discovers objects that don’t quite belong there, and begins to raise questions. Evie renews a friendship with Mina, an elderly neighbor who might know more about her mother’s recent activities, but Mina is having her own set of problems: Her nephew Brian is trying to persuade her to move to a senior care community. As Evie investigates her mother’s actions, a darker story of deception and madness involving Mina emerges.

I love psychological thrillers and happened to stumble across Hallie Ephron's Never Tell a Lie and after reading it, wanted to read more, so was thrilled I received an email with William Morrow's offerings for the month and There Was an Old Woman was on the list.  It is one of those unputdownable books that'll make you want to read it over again to see if you can pick up the clues that you missed the first time.  The characters are very three dimensional and they will draw you into their world.   Ephron has a way of ramping up the tension, throwing in unexpected twists and turns that will hit you right in gut and getting the reader emotionally involved with the story.  Be prepared, because once you start reading it, you won't want to put it down.  

Pages:  304
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: April 2, 2013
Setting:  New York
Rating: 5

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

The House at the End of Hope Street

Synopsis: Knocked off kilter by the Worst Event of Her LIfe, Alba Ashby finds herself in front of a house in Cambridge, England, that she's never seen before. There, a beautiful older woman invites her to say on the house's usual conditions--she'll have ninety nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in. She soon discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary House. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, how have hung around to help newcomers---literally, in talking portraits on the wall. Here Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds---maybe even save her life.
     Imagine a magical house that only becomes visible when you most need it and provides you with the things you need most to figure out what to do with your life. Little notes full of words of wisdom fall from the ceiling, living portraits of past occupants more than ready to give advice, gifts such as a room full of books or a grand piano. And Peggy, the guardian of the home who wisely helps guide the women who stay at the home. The story follows Alba whose academic career has been ruined and has never lived up to the expectations of her family plus two other woman - Greer, a failed actress and Carmen, a Portuguese singer. The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming and enchanting read about truth, hope, trust and faith in oneself. 

    Menna van Praag, also the author of Men, Money and Chocolate, lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.  For more information please visit, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

     Thank you to Leyane from FSB Associates for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book and to Menna Van Praag for writing such a unique story.  

Pages:  304
Publisher:  Pamela Dorn Books/Viking
Released: April 4, 2013
Setting: England
Rating:  4

Car versus Tree Limb

It's been incredibly windy the past couple days.  I was in the kitchen yesterday morning when heard a tremendous bang.  Walked outside to discover the birch tree had attacked my car.

It could have been worse and gone through the windshield or completely through the hood. Fortunately, even though my car is 16 years old, it still in really good shape and have comprehensive coverage.  Though it doesn't look so bad, the repair will cost $1000.   So my insurance company will be taking care of the damage (minus the deductible of course) and I get the fun of driving a rental car for three days while the body shop does the repairs. Thank you USAA - I love you!

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:

“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”

The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”

* * *

Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us.

I loved reading The Alchemist a few years back so when Mr. Coehlo's publicist asked if I would like to review Manuscript Found in Accra, I jumped at the chance.  Manuscript Found in Accra, a philosophical literary story,  is a short book at 190 pages,  packed with many words of advice that although I was reminded of the books of wisdom from the bible, didn't quite speak to me in the same way.  

On the eve of battle, the people who chose to stay and fight, gathered to hear what the Copt and a Rabbi, Iman and Christian priest, leaders of the three religions in Jerusalem had to say about the battle.  But rather than prepare battle, the Copt wanted the people to question and talk about how they felt. 

"None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside.  Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that.  Therefore, we will speak about your daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.  That is all the future will be interested, because I do not believe very much will change in the next thousand years."

And went on to address questions about defeat, solitude, feelings of uselessness, afraid of changing, beauty,  which direction to take, love, fate, sex, elegance, luck, miracles, anxiety, the future, loyalty, and enemies.  What do you suppose would be the questions on your mind the night before a battle?  Given that it is fiction, I couldn't help feeling that many of the things said by the Copt was new age platitudes and  fatalistic thinking, since the majority of people expected to die the next day in the siege.  I unfortunately didn't appreciate the story as much as I had The Alchemist. Perhaps if it had been written into a story with action, rather than just a question and answer session, it would have been better

Although I didn't appreciate the Copt's wisdom, there are many who did, so be sure to check out the reviews of those who did and TLC Book tour stops.

A Bookish Way of Life:  "Though these questions do address the current situation at hand, they also seem to be about the future as well - I found that to be inspiring and hopeful....terrific read - one that will make you think, reflect, and take action"

Mom in Love with Fiction:  " We all face times in our lives where the questions seem to outweigh the answers, a time where we are searching for wisdom. This book touches on so many of the topics that hold most of us back from becoming our best selves. It's a quick read, but it's packed with life-affirming and life-altering advice."

Released  April 2, 2013
Pages 190
Rating 2.5
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf/Random House

Sand Castle Bay by Sherryl Woods

Synopsis:  In a trade-off she’s lived to regret, Emily Castle left home years ago to become an interior designer. The youngest of three sisters, Emily desperately wanted to prove herself. Success, though, came at the cost of leaving behind the man she loved. 

For Boone Dorsett, losing Emily left his heart shattered, but another woman was waiting in the wings. Now a widower with a young son, Boone has a second chance with Emily when a storm brings her home. But with his former in-laws threatening a custody suit, the stakes of loving her are higher than ever. 

Will fate once again separate them—or is the time finally right for these two star-crossed lovers? 

I read very few contemporary romances, but when I do, one of my go to authors is Sherryl Woods. Her stories are relationship driven with characters who are interesting with complicated lives, yet far from perfect.  She has released a new trilogy Ocean Breezes about 3 sisters set in a small harbor town along the North Carolina coast.  

The first book Sand Castle Bay is all about Emily and Boone but also provides an introduction to her two sisters and their feisty grandmother, Cora Jane.    Emily broke Boone's heart when she chose her career over him and disappeared from his life.  She returns 10 years later, along with her sisters, to help out her grandmother whose restaurant was damaged by the most recent hurricane.   Both she and Boone have to figure out a way to work out hurt feelings and past betrayals and learn to trust each other again since Boone is a fixture in her grandmother's life, lives close by and owns his own successful restaurant.  She just can't run away again but must face the past and deal with the attraction they both still feel for each other. 

I enjoyed the first story and quickly fell in like with all the characters and look forward to reading the rest of the series - Wind Chime Point will be released April 30th and Sea Glass Island will be released May 28th.  

Released:  March 26, 2013
Pages:  384
Setting: North Carolina
Rating: 3.5