The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

Sara loves her grandmother Maggie, but her eccentricity created some distance between them. Now that Sara has a flourishing business in New Orleans, she doesn’t get back to Mobile, Alabama as often as she should… until Maggie dies, leaves a ramshackle inn to Sara in her will, and has her attorney convey a request for Sara to renovate the place while allowing Maggie’s old friends to remain living there for a while. 

That’s the plot set-up. But the vibe is even better. Sara’s shop assistant Allyn was a BRILLIANT character- vibrant, grab-life-by-the-horns, supportive without being smothering, and so, so intuitive. Denton did a remarkable job juxtaposing Allyn with Sara, who was reserved, all-business, and pretty much living a superficial life while coping with a whole bunch of emotional baggage. Well, until she goes to Mobile and unravels her baggage along with Maggie’s past. *dunt dunt dunt*

Enter stage left: a panel of senior citizens who loved Maggie and want to love Sara, a local contractor – sensitive yet manly – who wants to help rebuild the inn… and build a relationship, and a slimy land developer who wants to ruin it all. 

This story is beautifully written, deeper than standard chick lit but light enough for a beach read. You’ll root for Sara every step of the way, and in the (very well done) flashbacks, you might find yourself rooting for Maggie, too. 

-calliope

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Review: Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice

2924362First, I can’t believe this book was written almost 40 years ago!

Second, I can’t believe I haven’t bothered to read it up until now.

Third, it is worth all the hype.

Finally, a message to my dear Louis –

Louis, Louis, Louis…you are not a tortured soul…you’re just a big fat whiner…..get over yourself man…..

Bwhahahahahahahahaha

Brilliant book. Amazing really….

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Review: The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

25917801New Orleans is a city of excess. Music, food, drink…it’s all there to be had in abundance. Stories of the supernatural and paranormal are no exception. Ghosts, witches, voodoo queens, vampires…you name it and they’ve got it. One of the best known and most frequently retold legends centers around the Casquette girls of the Ursuline Convent. Walk by on a dark & foggy night and you can almost see the shutters rattling.

This take on the infamous tale picks up after the Storm of the Century. Katrina isn’t specifically mentioned but the implication is there. Adele is eager to return to the city she loves. She and her father are among the first to come home, the magical pull of the city being too strong for them to resist. It’s a city in ruins. Electricity is scarce, groceries are hard to come by, and there’s a city-wide curfew in effect. Still, it’s good to be back. Adele finds comfort in the little things such as walking the streets of the French Quarter in the mornings and evenings. It’s on one such walk that she happens to walk past the Ursuline Convent. She’s lived in New Orleans her entire life, and she knows the stories. When the infamous blood suckers are accidentally released, Adele and her friends must find a way to stop them from taking over what’s left of the city.

Did I love this story so much more because of my love for New Orleans? No doubt. The author writes with such depth and accuracy that I felt as if I was walking the streets of the French Quarter, waiting for one of the vampires to jump out and grab me. But I also know that I would have loved this story almost as much without that sense of familiarity. The vampires are dark and scary with just enough charm thrown in to almost make them likeable. Intertwined with their tale are stories of voodoo and witchcraft. To top it off, the human characters are fun and likeable. And Adele makes one heck of a leading character.

Grab this one, turn the lights down low, and get ready to be scared!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Casquette Girls

Review: A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice

51GdIgFFSzL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_It’s always a joy to discover a book that’s been around for several years but has somehow flown under my reader radar. On the one hand, there’s a bit of frustration that I HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE NOW! But conversely, there’s pleasure in being able to recommend an older, maybe unheard of, book to friends.

Once upon a time, there were four friends. They did everything together. But then they began to grow up. And their paths diverged. Two of them became jocks. One became the popular cheerleader. And one becomes the outcast. But things aren’t always what they seem, and being on the right side of things doesn’t guarantee a happy outcome. Death, by both murder and suicide, sets everything on a collision course to an ending that can’t be happy for everyone.

This story is full of dark secrets and family histories that were best left hidden. Everything’s connected, and that’s not always a good thing. The writing is beautiful, poetic even, full of rich imagery and so descriptive that you can feel the atmosphere with every page.

This was recently a rerelease of Christopher Rice’s debut novel. Of special interest to me was the note from the author sharing his thoughts on how he would/wouldn’t change the story if he were to write it today. Yes, he’s Anne Rice’s son. And with that comes huge expectations. But talent is talent, regardless of the family lineage.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: A Density of Souls

Review: Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina by Lisa Karlin

518K729yxgL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_It’s been ten years since the unforgettable devastation known as Katrina came ashore. Ten years since families were displaced, homes were destroyed, lives were lost. Such a long time ago, but yet not so very long ago. And although I’ve read many different accounts of the tragedy, every new one that comes along immediately catches my eye.

In this newest telling, we are given an insider’s view of what one family encountered in the days leading up to the hurricane as well as their recovery process. This family is somewhat different from what most of us know from television accounts. They’re white, middle class (at least) and living comfortably. Mom is a nurse and dad is a surgeon. Kids one and two are enrolled in private school. They have a nice home in a nice neighborhood. And most importantly, they have the means to evacuate as Katrina bears down on the city.

I’ll admit, I had to sit on this one for a bit after finishing it. I knew that I wanted to write a review, but I wasn’t quite sure in which direction I wanted to go. The author does provide a very real, honest account of her family’s experiences. However, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for someone whose home escaped mostly intact while so many lost everything they owned. And how does a tree in a pool and rotten food compare with the loss of a loved one?

But the more I reflected on it, the more I appreciated this unique perspective on the Karlin family’s experience. Because who am I to determine what an authentic story is? And I give the author much credit for never minimizing the horror of what others went through. In fact, at several points throughout the story she makes a point of noting that so many others had it so much worse than her family did.

Mostly, I admire the hope and passion for New Orleans that is woven throughout this book. The author makes it clear that there’s no love lost for those who were in power ten years ago. Powerful people who, by the way, dropped the ball in a very big way. She also makes it very clear why she and her family made the decision to return to a city that many felt wasn’t deserving of rebuilding efforts. To quote a well-known phrase: “I’m not a native of New Orleans. Although I wasn’t born here, I got here as fast as I could.”

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina

Review: Malevolent by Jana DeLeon

51bf4t0pbbL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_There’s something to be said for a good murder mystery. I hesitate to use the term “cozy mystery” because that’s always seemed like such a contradiction to me. But still. I’m not talking about one of the serious psychological thrillers full of blood and gore that leaves you sleeping with the lights on for a week. What I like from time to time is a well-written mystery with a little bit of murder thrown in for good measure. And this introduction to a new series from Jana DeLeon fits that description perfectly.

Shaye Archer is finally getting her life on track after a traumatic childhood, to say the least. And she’s realizing her dream of owning her own business with the opening of a private investigator business. But before all the furniture is even delivered, her first client shows up at her door. Emma has had trauma of her own, escaping her abusive husband only by killing him. So then how can he be stalking her if he’s dead? When she enlists Shaye to help her find the answers she so desperately needs, both of them find themselves in greater danger than they could ever have imagined.

This is a great mystery with great characters. The story moves along nicely, and there’s plenty of suspense along with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I especially love the lead character, Shaye, and can’t wait to dive in to her next adventure coming out this fall!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Malevolent (Shaye Archer Series Book 1)

Review: Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith

51lNSiGFQjL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_Anyone who knows me knows all too well the love that I have for New Orleans. So whenever a book about or set in New Orleans comes onto my radar, it immediately goes onto my must-read list. And bonus points if it’s a book written for kids or young adults.

We have two ten-year-old boys in this story. Although they are in different parts of the country, each is dealing with tragedy and loss. Zavion has lost his home and very nearly his life during a hurricane. And Henry has lost his best friend in a tragic accident. Their worlds collide when Henry travels to New Orleans as part of a hurricane relief effort.

The writing in this debut novel was simply beautiful. The author writes poetically about the joy and sadness of New Orleans, the laughter and tears of friendship. Her characters make you laugh and cry at the same time as they are so vividly brought to life. The story is full of cultural references that pull you in and make it seem as if you are actually there.

So obviously this book is about a hurricane, Hurricane Katrina to be exact. But it’s about so much more than that. It’s about loss, both physical and emotional. It’s about losing hope and wanting to give up. It’s about friendship and how friendship can give you the courage to go on. And it’s about standing up for what you believe in and doing the right thing. A great story!
~Thalia

Buy It Now: Another Kind of Hurricane