Little Black Lies by Sandra Block (Audiobook)

February 23rd, 2015


Little Black Lies is the debut novel of Sandra Block,  It is a psychological and suspenseful tale that held my interest from the beginning to the end and I enjoyed every minute.  I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Kara Bartell who I have not listened to previously but would love to again.  I thought she did such an amazing job with the different characters and scenes throughout the novel.  As I listened to her I could picture this book as a movie in my head and that’s exactly what I look for from a narrator – bringing the story alive in my mind and making me feel as though I’m right there.

Zoe Goldman is a resident doctor on a psychiatric ward.  Having mental issues of her own she made the decision to spend her life helping those who suffer.  While Zoe listens to her patients and their stories we learn that she has some pretty major issues of her own that become apparent when she begins suffering from some wicked nightmares again.  She dreams of a fire that rages out of control and her fear and then the loss of her mother because of this fire.  She questions her adoptive mother but she’s suffering from dementia and isn’t always much help and upsets easily.  Yet there are a few times where she will make comments that mystify Zoe and make her even more determined to find out the truth that seems to be lingering in the far reaches of her mind.

Things become even more complicated for Zoe as she’s assigned a patient named Sofia.  Sofia  has been in mental wards most of her life having been accused of killing her mother.  As she talks with Sofia and tries to understand what this woman did she becomes even more obsessed with finding out the truth about her own birth mother and unlocking the meaning behind her nightmares and her own mental issues.  As she delves deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding her childhood she realizes that the one person who can help her – her adoptive mother – is slipping away more each day.

Little Black Lies was a great listening experience for me.  I enjoyed Zoe as a character although a few times I would have liked to smack her but that’s besides the point.  It’s nice to see a character with a mental illness being successful in a career.  The ending is great with a twist that may surprise some readers.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy psychological, suspense filled books!



Source- digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  Audiobook from personal library. No compensation was received.

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Doll God by Luanne Castle

February 20th, 2015

doll god2Doll God by Luanne Castle is a collection of poetry that is haunting and sometimes dark and yet hopeful speaking to your heart and soul.  I’m no expert on poetry as most who read my blog know but I’m opening my heart to it and learning to experience it if that makes sense and hopefully others like me will do the same.  I’m thoroughly enjoying delving more and more into the beautiful world of poetry.

This collection takes us on a journey through many emotions and stages like loss, sickness, marriage, divorce, and motherhood. The poems are very vivid and bring to life an image very clearly in your mind.  Most of the poems deal with dolls whether they be beautiful or in decay and take us through some point in time bringing forth in us emotions that reflect our innermost thoughts that are never spoken aloud.

Like the author I love dolls.  I used to collect porcelain ones and I had my walking doll that I idolized when I was younger.  As I read through these poems I kept reflecting and imagining the lives of my old dolls and I think that’s what I liked so much about this collection.  As a child your dolls always have these lives – sometimes better than yours, sometimes worse – but through our imagination we could go anywhere with them.

The poetry of Doll God speaks to the heart whether it be through dolls or the human condition.  It makes you feel emotion whether good or bad and I think that’s what poetry is about.  I think it’s important as well that a poem speaks to everyone differently. While I may not always get the meaning the author was trying to convey I do feel the emotions that are portrayed that lead me to either like a piece or not like it.  For me, Luanne Castle’s collection spoke to me emotionally and that’s what this newbie looks for when reading poetry!

To end I’d like to share a favorite poem with all of you…


Calculating Loss

Birds have the number sense
to know when an egg in a nest
of five goes missing.
If you have four chairs in the kitchen you don’t have to count
to know
one has been taken away,
to realize one car
cools in the double garage.

Every day the world subtracts from itself and nothing is immune.
Not these pebbles from our walks along the lakeshore: pebbles you collected

in this jar which
remains half full,
though for some reason I think of it as overflowing.

(from Doll God by Luanne Castle)


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Source: Digital review copy received from the author for an honest review. No compensation was received.

Guest Post with Luanne Castle, author of Doll God

February 19th, 2015

doll god2

Please join me in welcoming Luanne Castle, author of Doll God to the blog today.  Luanne is touring with Serena’s new venture Poetic Book Tours from February 8-March 7/15.  I’ll be posting a review of Luanne’s poetry collection tomorrow so I don’t want to give too much away other than to say I really enjoyed it.  I can see now from reading her guest post where the beauty and sadness in her poetry comes from so thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us Luanne.  So please enjoy Luanne’s post on what inspires her to write poetry…


Thank you so much, Darlene, for inviting me to write about my poetry muse. Asking what inspires me to write a poem forces me to look at the subject head on, so it’s a learning experience for me.

The other day I sat at the bank, waiting for the banker to notarize a document for me. I was bored and it was my fourth errand, so I hadn’t checked my emails in hours. Glancing at my iPhone, I saw a recent email from a friend. I dipped into it and found a link to an article about the death of a young actor. Within a manner of seconds, my mind zipped from thinking of the ways a young person might suddenly die to my actor daughter and her actor friends to the genre” of online obituaries. Each thought was accompanied with a sputtering steam of emotions. I realized that the juxtaposition of my relaxed and professional demeanor at the bank with the lid-rocking cauldron of emotions I felt inside meant that a poem was in the making.

Maybe a lot of poems come into being from bouncing against a boundary or the comparison/contrast of disparate images or thoughts.

Following Emily Dickinson’s advice to “tell it slant,” sometimes I set up the juxtaposition on purpose as a way to look at something common in a new light. I wrote a series of poems a few years ago that purposefully took a scientific image or theory and paired it with a folk or fairy tale just to see what would happen.

The old tales are also inspirational for me. I am struck by certain stories from my childhood. Their resonance seems to have permanent residence in my thought patterns and in my life. They grow and change with my world. In my new book Doll God the Snow White story and a Japanese tale called “The Stonecutter” inspired several poems.

Water–lake, ocean, river–is one of my inspirations. That might be because I grew up in Michigan, which is bounded by four of the five great lakes and contains 11,000 lakes within those shores. We lived on the lake in the summer. Sometimes I can still feel the seaweed under my feet on lake bottom.

For many of the poems in Doll God, dolls have been inspirational. As a child, I loved dolls and used to transform our living room and hallway into an imaginary town for my dolls. My grandmother, who was the Head Fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Fields in Chicago, designed and sewed beautiful outfits for my imitation Barbie and for my walking doll. Because I grew up with the imaginary world of dolls, I can’t see a doll that doesn’t inspire me for a poem. Often my imagination will transform the doll into a magical portal through which to see more of the human heart.


About Doll God

Luanne Castle’s debut poetry collection, Doll God, studies traces of the spirit world in human-made and natural objects–a Japanese doll, a Palo Verde tree, a hummingbird. Her exploration leads the reader between the twin poles of nature and creations of the imagination in dolls, myth, and art.

From the first poem, which reveals the child’s wish to be godlike, to the final poem, an elegy for female childhood, this collection echoes with the voices of the many in the one: a walking doll, a murderer, Snow White. Marriage, divorce, motherhood, and family losses set many of the poems in motion. The reader is transported from the lakes of Michigan to the Pacific Ocean to the Sonoran Desert.

These gripping poems take the reader on a journey through what is found, lost, or destroyed. The speaker in one poem insists, “I am still looking for angels.” She has failed to find them yet keeps searching on. She knows that what is lost can be found.

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About the Author

Doll3Luanne Castle has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside; Western Michigan University; and Stanford University. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Barnstorm Journal, Grist, The Antigonish Review, Ducts, TAB, River Teeth, Lunch Ticket, Wisconsin Review, The MacGuffin, and other journals. She contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. Luanne divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.

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Source: Post information received from the author and the tour company.  No compensation was received.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen Blog Tour & Giveaway (US, UK, and Canada)

February 18th, 2015


As part of the blog tour for Julie Klassen’s newest novel The Secret of Pembrooke Park I had the privilege of  reading (listening) to this wonderful book!  All I can say is why in the world haven’t I read any of Julie’s books before and believe me I will be fixing that!  I was captivated by this book from start to finish and listening to it in audio, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki who is amazing, really just brought the time, place, characters, and story alive in my mind in such a pleasing way.  The Secret of Pembrooke Park is an intriguing mystery that is sure to appeal to Regency Romance fans.

Abigail Foster, practical and intelligent, stands in the shadow of her younger and much more attractive younger sister.  Things get even worse when she unfortunately gives her father some bad financial advice and they lose almost all of their money.  Luckily, out of the blue, a solicitor shows up offering them residence at Pembrooke Park.  For Abigail this seems to be the perfect solution to their problems at present.  Upon arriving they find Pembrooke Park  in a strange state.  It seems as though the people who had inhabited it had just picked up and left leaving used tea cups on the table, linens and clothes dusty and moth eaten in the closets, and even more strange a doll house that seemed as though it had been deserted in mid play.  It’s all very strange to Abigail and as the days go by things become even weirder and Abigail realizes that Pembrooke Park has many dark secrets in its past along with a secret room and treasure.  Abigail is determined to uncover the story behind all these strange goings on but she finds out quickly that doing so may put her in a lot of danger.

This was such a great listening experience for me!  When you have such a fantastic story and top it with a great narrator it’s just magic to a reader.  For me this was great – manor houses, old secrets, hidden treasure – I love it!  The characters come alive on the page with Abigail being one of my favorites.  I felt a connection to her from the beginning when she finds herself not only responsible for her family’s ruin but also the sister who lives in the shadow of her more beautiful sibling.  Abigail is beautiful – in form and in mind  – and that’s what makes her so attractive although she doesn’t herself realize that.  As a few suitors show interest in Abigail we see how insecure she becomes in her sister’s presence … so insecure that she may miss the truest love of her life.

For fans of Austenesque or Regency Romance novels and great mysteries The Secret of Pembrooke Park is one not to miss.  I really can’t put into words just how much I loved it but I can say that eighteen hours of listening to this book passed by in a flash.  It’s a fantastic book – highly recommended!


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Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Good luck to all!



*CLICK HERE*  to access all of the blogs on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour and be sure to leave your comment on all of them including mine  for a chance to win any of the fabulous prizes above.



Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.  Audiobook personal copy.  Giveaway sponsored by the publisher.  No compensation was received.

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