Review: Pie Girls by Lauren Clark + Giveaway

pie girls by lauren clarkFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: women’s ficton
Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Camellia Press
Date Released: August 5, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s is thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

My Review:

There are two completely opposite literary tropes about going home. One is the title of the Thomas Wolfe novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. The other is the quote from Robert Frost, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

For Searcy Roberts, home is definitely Frost’s version. She has to go back to tiny Fairhope, Alabama, and it has to take her in. Not initially because either she loves it or it loves her, but because they both love her mother Maggie, the owner of Pie Girls.

And Searcy has no place left to go. Considering the amount of glee she expressed on seeing Fairhope in her rearview mirror 10 years ago, there’s more than a little schadenfreude around town that she got stuck coming back.

The person Searcy is at the beginning of the story deserves every bit of that karmic payback, too. She’s vain, shallow and using conspicuous overconsumption to fill in the huge holes in her life and, frankly, her personality.

Searcy is a woman who not only can’t live without regular consultations with her personal shopper, but she expects champagne (her favorite and in her signature style) while she does her consultation. And then she feels fully justified in dropping $3,000 on “just a few things”.

Searcy isn’t mean or bad tempered, she’s just chosen to become high-maintenance to make up for everything lacking in her life. Like any relationship at all with her husband. Or much relations, ever.

When Alton finally does the very late but ultimately couragous thing and calls both their marriage and his advertising career, over and done, Searcy answers a call from her mother and realizes that her only option is to go home to Fairhope and regroup while she checks in on her mother’s health and on the family business, Pie Girls.

Both the shop and her mother are ailing. In fact, they are both terminally ill, and they need Searcy to give them both a new lease on life, every bit as much as Searcy needs to go back to her roots and find herself a new purpose.

it’s too late for Searcy to rescue her marriage (in fact, it was too late on her wedding day), but it isn’t too late for Searcy to make a fresh start on the rest of her life.

Escape Rating B: As a heroine, Searcy is a study in contrasts. The woman she is at the beginning of the story isn’t a person I liked very much. She felt like a caricature of one of the stars of Real Housewives, rich and pampered and completely shallow. She wasn’t bad or mean, she just wasn’t really there.

Then her marriage finally gives up its last ghost, and she’s depressed and desperate. And completely self-absorbed. She’s ashamed to let her friends know what happened, so she hides and covers up.

When her mother calls, it’s a rescue. Not in any financial way, but simply because it adds purpose to an otherwise purposeless life. It’s only when Searcy stops feeling sorry for herself and gets herself re-involved with Fairhope and Pie Girls that she becomes a person that you’d want to know.

Because of this, the first half of the book moves a bit slow. I wanted Searcy to see the clue-by-four way earlier than she did. It actually takes her soon-to-be-ex-husband bringing his boyfriend around to meet her that she finally gets that he’s gay, and has been all along. (The reader figures this out much, much earlier)

Although if I had to deal with his mother, I’d probably hide myself too. Possibly in Greenland. Or Antarctica. Far, far away from his mother and her badly behaved, spoiled rotten purse-dog.

But once Searcy starts taking care of her own mother, the store, and her old friends in town, her life perks up and her story gets much more interesting. And fun. I liked Searcy at the end, quite a lot, and I was rooting for her happy ending.


Lauren is kindly giving away a $20 gift card for Amazon. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below, and for more chances to win, visit the other stops on the tour!

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 3-17-13

Sunday PostIt’s official. Galen is a sorcerer. Make that Sourcerer. Let me explain.

Galen Charlton Library Journal Movers and Shakers 2013Every March 15, Library Journal names 50 people in the library community as “Movers and Shakers” in a very splashy issue of the magazine. It’s a pretty big deal. I’m very proud to say that this year my husband Galen was one of those 50. He’s listed as one of the “Tech Leaders” of course. The official title of his article is “Open ‘Sourcerer'” for his work with open source library automation software. The picture at right is shamelessly scanned from the print copy a friend at LJ sent us. The online version of Galen’s profile will be posted on March 19.

(If you’re wondering about the penguin, he’s Tux, the mascot for Linux, the giant open source Unix project. It’s a geek thing.)

And now I’ll float down from Cloud 9 and get back to my usual blog recap.

Lucky in Love Blog HopThere are a few hours left to get in on the Lucky in Love Blog Hop. Just a few rapidly disappearing hours. The prize here at Reading Reality is a $10 Amazon Gift Card, but there are over 300 blogs participating in this hop. Surely there must be a few, or a few dozen, books and gifts cards you would like to take a chance on before it’s too late?

Speaking of giveaways, the Lauren Clark giveaway has another week to go, so you have plenty of time left to put your hat into that particular ring. Lauren is giving away a signed copy of her very funny and excellent women’s fiction/romance Dancing Naked in Dixie as well as five $10 Gift Cards to the winner’s choice of either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Let’s do a rundown of all of last week’s events, just so we can see everything at a glance:

Stardust Summer by Lauren ClarkB Review: The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
B+ Review: Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts
B+ Review: Cards & Caravans by Cindy Spencer Pape
B+ Review: Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark
Guest Post: Author Lauren Clark is All Shook Up + Giveaway
Lucky in Love Blog Hop
Stacking the Shelves (38)

There are three events going on this week. Wow!

Tomorrow, Reading Reality will be part of Entangled Publishing’s Launch Party for Lisa Kessler’s Night Demon. Lisa’s Night series has been a blast so far (I reviewed both Night Walker and Night Thief), so I’m pretty happy to celebrate the release of Night Demon.  (That sounds like we’re letting a demon out of the Rift, doesn’t it?) There are giveaways involved, so some lucky readers will be able to find out just how much fun this series has been so far.

Take What You Want by Jeanette GreyOn Tuesday, Jeanette Grey will be back to talk about her latest book, Take What You Want. This is a very hot contemporary romance (I finished my review and will be posting it on Tuesday, too) Jeanette will be giving away a copy of Take What You Want to one lucky commenter, and this is definitely a book worth wanting.

Speaking of books worth wanting, Nina Croft is going to be here on Thursday to talk about things she wants. Nina will have Top Ten list for us, and she will also be giving away a copy of her new paranormal romance, Bittersweet Blood.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. I hope you have a very lucky day. If you must drink something green, better the green beer than this particular green liquid. It’s the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day, an annual tradition. It looks awesome but I wouldn’t drink it.

Chicago River dyed green St Patricks Day

Guest Post: Author Lauren Clark is All Shook Up + Giveaway


My guest today is Lauren Clark, the author of the hilarious Dancing Naked In Dixie (reviewed here) and her more recent, and more thoughtful (but very excellent!) Stardust Summer (see today’s review for deets) and who is here to talk about why her heroines are…

All Shook Up

A friend of mine recently observed that all three of my novels are about women who get very seriously shaken out of their ruts—those ruts all being very different. She then posed the following question: What makes this sort of story so fascinating?

As an author, my favorite stories to write are the ones based on realistic situations—novels about smart, personable, yet slightly-flawed women who end up tangled in a problem that completely messes with their comfort zones.

While I like to include a love interest or healthy flirtation in my writing, I also prefer that my heroine doesn’t rely on a male figure to swoop in and fix the problem. My main character usually has several issues to solve, those involving past or current family relationships, and also those challenges that are internal—ones that can wreak havoc on her confidence, career, and overall karma.

It’s the conflict—small or large—that creates the basis of any good book. I love to see growth and change in my characters, first forced, then embraced, especially when it positively impacts the lives of others. It’s how these women deal with issues, approach challenges, and eventually solve the problem in their lives that provides a satisfying (but not completely perfect) ending.

12899838Melissa Moore, in Stay Tuned, wrestles with an unhappy marriage, an empty nest, and a slightly-neurotic mother with dementia. She has a job that’s safe and enjoyable, yet offers little reward or recognition. A fist-fight between two news anchors at the TV station throws Melissa’s life into a tailspin. She makes a split-second decision to save a newscast, and it forever alters the course of her career, her family, and her future. In the months that follow, Melissa’s marriage, faith, and friendships are tested. When a disaster threatens to destroy much that she holds dear, life ends up offering Melissa an amazing gift.

The protagonist in Dancing Naked in Dixie, Julia Sullivan, is a talented, yet scattered travel writer for Getaways magazine. On the verge of losing her job, Julia is sent on assignment to Eufaula, Alabama—a map dot in the Deep South—home to sweet tea, a charming antebellum homes, and the annual Pilgrimage. Julia, who plans only a day or two-long visits, finds herself in the midst of a powerful crisis that has the potential to destroy the very essence and deep history of this small town. Usually the first to run away from controversy, Julia finds herself drawn back to Eufaula, where she risks her job and her life to save this much-loved community.

Stardust Summer by Lauren ClarkIn Stardust Summer, heroine Grace Mason finds herself yanked away from her quiet existence in Ocean Springs, Mississippi when her estranged father suffers a heart attack. As she travels across the country to say her final goodbyes, the incident forces Grace to face long-buried problems from the past. In a new environment, surrounded by people who loved and adored her father, Grace discovers the truth about her family, learns to embrace forgiveness, and find true love again.

My fourth novel, and work-in-progress, Pie Girls, involves a different kind of heroine—someone with much, more more to learn about life. Here’s the summary:  Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return to her hometown in Alabama. After eloping with her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big city life Carrie Bradshaw-style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem:  Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her platinum American Express, and run off with the “new” love of his life. Searcy finds herself back in Alabama with no job, no money, no husband, and no plan. After a frigid welcome home, she finds out that life in the small town Deep South is much harder at 32 than it ever was at sixteen. When she’s forced to take over her mother’s fledgling business, Searcy deals with sullen employees, strange ingredients, and the business owner next door who’s made it his mission to make her life miserable. Will ‘Pie Girls’ be an epic failure, or will Searcy find the courage to persevere?

Do you like a heroine who’s shaken out of her rut? What sort of novels do you find most fascinating to read? 

[Photo of author Lauren Clark]

About Lauren Clark
Lauren is a reformed news junkie, a non-reformed coffee drinker, and an official library geek. Her big loves are family, paying it forward, eight hours of sleep a night, and homemade macaroni and cheese. She lives near the Florida Gulf Coast where she is surrounded by family and and true-blue friends that inspire her writing and keep her sane.

Look for Lauren at Her website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Goodreads


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Review: Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark

Stardust SummerFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: women’s fiction
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Booktango
Date Released: February 20, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Single mom Grace Mason doesn’t believe in miracles, magic, or love at first sight. She likes the quiet life, complete with her eight-year-old son, their tiny house, and her teaching job. For Grace, happiness means that nothing much ever changes in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Then, one thousand miles away, tragedy strikes. A massive heart attack leaves Grace’s estranged father comatose in an Upstate New York hospital. While a team of doctors fight to keep Henry Mason alive, Grace and Evan rush to his bedside to say their final goodbyes.

Henry’s passing brings little closure for Grace, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her new surroundings. What begins as a short trip results in an entire summer spent with Henry’s second wife, Kathleen, and her next-door neighbor, Ryan Gordon, the town doctor. When a series of unlikely events lead to Evan’s disappearance, Grace must face her worst fears to find her son and bring him back home.

Stardust Summer explores the complexities of forgiveness, what it means to be a family, and the fabulous possibility of falling in love—again.

My Review:

Love. Forgiveness. Parents. Children. Second chances. Life.

Stardust Summer is about all of those things. It’s about thinking that there will always be time to say good-bye, and then discovering that there isn’t.

It’s about being playing it safe, because taking risks involves the risk that you might get hurt.


And discovering that you get hurt anyway.

Two women’s lives are connected by one remarkable man. Henry Mason was lucky. He loved his first wife, and mourned her when she died. Then he fell in love with her best friend, and happily married her.

His daughter Grace never forgave him for finding happiness with Kathleen. The woman she blamed for her mother’s death. The woman she still blames, over a decade later.

That blame kept her from visiting her father, kept him from having the relationship he could have had with her son, his grandson.

Henry Mason is dead. At 57, of a sudden stroke. Grace can’t go back. Only forward.

Kathleen is lost. She needs Grace. She needs Evan, the only grandson she will ever have. Kathleen loves them both, but can’t find a way to bridge the years, the resentments, the loss.

She wants to. So very much.

And next door, Ryan Gordon. Henry’s doctor. Henry and Kathleen’s friend. A man who came to upstate New York with the intention of building a practice and forgot to build a life. His wife left him. He wants a second chance.

With Grace. But for there to be a future, Grace has to let go of the resentments in her past, and embrace the joys, and even the heartaches, in today.

All in one summer that might just be filled with stardust.

Escape Rating B+: Stardust Summer is a captivating story. It worked best for me when it focused on the stresses and strains of Grace’s and Kathleen’s relationship, because there was so much there to be worked through!

Grace has been so closed off, and she really had a ton of stuff to deal with, not just with Kathleen but the why of what kept her away from her father and from his home in upstate New York. She had frozen herself and her career in a rut after her mother’s death and a disastrous relationship.

I think there could have been even more angst and it would have worked in the story.

The love story between Ryan and Grace could have used a bit more heat, or it didn’t need to be as prominent in the last third of the story. Ryan’s regrets about the breakup of his marriage were portrayed well, and I liked the way his sincere grief over Henry was handled. He definitely needed to be involved with Kathleen and Evan, but the love story either needed to be a LOT more, or to remain as merely potential.

The heart of this story was Grace and Kathleen finally coming together, and Grace moving past the “stuck point” she had been frozen in for so many years. They are remarkable women, and I enjoyed sharing their story.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On MY (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 3-10-13

Sunday PostDid you set your clocks ahead last night? Half of ours updated themselves automagically, and half didn’t. Tomorrow morning is going to be a bear, I can just tell.

Daylight savings time is a system administrator’s semi-annual nightmare. Galen spent this morning at his computer before he even got a cup of coffee. That’s just pathetic.

Carolyn GoolsbySpeaking of nightmares, the picture at left is our friend Carolyn the librarian. Her hair is not normally pink. Carolyn is the Library Director in Ft. McMurray, Alberta, and she has dyed her hair pink as part of Hair Massacure, an annual event in Canada that raises fund to support children with life-threatening illnesses. Particularly, as you might have guessed from the pink, cancer.

Hair Massacure logoOn Friday, her library staff is going to shave her head as part of the event. (I always knew Carolyn was brave. I’m not sure I’d let non-professionals near my head with sharp implements!) This is a totally amazing event, and it’s a real wow to be able to send some support her way. (I also can’t wait to see the “after” pictures.) If you’re interested in supporting the librarian’s head shaving click here. (You don’t need to be a Canadian!)

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog recap.

Blood and Magick by James R. TuckB+ Review: Million Dollar Mistake by Meg Lacey
B+ Review: Calculated In Death by J.D. Robb
A- Review: Blood and Magick by James R. Tuck
B Review: What’s a Witch to Do? by Jennifer Harlow
Interview with Author Jennifer Harlow + Giveaway
A- Guest Review: Naked Tails by Eden Winters
Stacking the Shelves (37)

There’s still plenty of time to get in on that giveaway!

This week, we have two big events. On Thursday, Lauren Clark will be here with a guest post to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Stardust Summer. I was eager to jump on this tour, because her previous book, Dancing Naked in Dixie, was an absolute hoot! I will say that Stardust Summer did not disappoint, although there’s no naked dancing in this one. Lauren will also have a giveaway of Stardust Summer.

Stardust Summer by Lauren Clark  Blog Tour

And the week will end with a bang, as we kick off the Lucky in Love Blog Hop!

Cards and Caravans by Cindy Spencer PapeBut before we get to next weekend, I’ll have reviews of a few other books for you to look forward to, including an early review of Cindy Spencer Pape’s new story in her Gaslight Chronicles series, Cards & Caravans.

A lot to look forward to this week! We’ll just have to keep springing ahead.

Q&A with Lauren Clark, Author of Dancing Naked in Dixie + Giveaway

I’d like to welcome Lauren Clark, the author of the absolutely terrific (check out my review here) Dancing Naked in Dixie to Reading Reality. I had the chance to cook up a few questions for Lauren, just in time for the release of Dancing Naked. (I love that title! And it fits so perfectly)

Tell us a little bit about Lauren Clark…

I am a mom of two school-aged boys, wife of a medical professional, daughter of a nurse practitioner and a college dean (also avid readers). I have a master’s degree in journalism and worked in TV news on-air for six years before deciding to write fiction. I love yoga, Pure Barre, travel, flavored coffee, the color pink, the ocean, my historic home, friends, laughter, and my family.

Is there a real Eufaula? Or what place, or places, were the inspirations for Eufaula Alabama?

Yes! It is a lovely place about three hours southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. I visited Eufaula and attended the Pilgrimage many times when I lived in Dothan, Alabama. It’s a magical place–the historic homes are marvelous, the people are so friendly, and Eufaula has a real sense of ‘community.’

Dancing Naked in Dixie is a terrific title. Can you tell us what brought that particular line to life?

I wanted a title that expressed unbridled joy and happiness–like the exhilaration of new love, the heady feeling that makes a person want to “dance naked.” I actually came up with the title before I wrote the book. Not something that usually happens, at least for me!

You refer to both Dancing Naked in Dixie and your first book, Stay Tuned, as women’s fiction rather than romance. What do you see as the difference?

The major difference, I believe, is my focus on a strong female protagonist who has a major challenge in her life. The crux of the story is finding a solution to that problem, or making a change in her life. That’s how she eventually finds happiness, not through finding the man of her dreams (although that part is an extra, added bonus if it happens!).

Let’s talk about casting. If Dancing Naked were made into a movie, who would you want to see playing Shug and Julia?

Gosh, I love the thought of Emma Stone playing Julia, though one of my editors had a dream that Dancing Naked was made into a movie and Reese Witherspoon was the lead role!!! My best friend wants me to say Matthew McConaughey for Shug, and although he doesn’t have dark hair, I have to agree that he’d be a great choice.

There are so many strong women in Dancing Naked. Is there one in particular who is your favorite? And why?

I love Julia. She’s me in so many ways (klutzy, coffee-drinker, loves to travel), but I have a great relationship with my parents and I am NOT allergic to bees! I love that she has both a physical and personal journey to go on–and that the two mirror each other and allow her to grow as a career woman, daughter, and person. Julia is terribly unorganized, however, and that’s one of my strong points (or I would never get any writing done)!

Who introduced you to the love of reading?

My parents shut of the family television all summer, every summer. As a result, I spent LOTS of time at the local library and carried stacks of books back and forth every week. I must have read one hundred books a summer. My parents and my grandparents are/were also big readers and bookstore lovers, so I think I was destined to be an avid bookworm.

Who or what influenced you to become a writer?

I’d played around with writing fiction after I got out of TV news, but didn’t get serious about it until about 7 years ago. I hired a freelance editor to help me with two stories I’d written and am forever grateful for her help and encouragement. Stay Tuned was the third novel I finished.

Do you plan your stories out to the nth degree, or do your characters sometimes take over?

I do outline pretty extensively, meaning that I do a sentence or two for each chapter and plan out the entire story beforehand. Yes, sometimes the characters surprise me!! For example, I didn’t plan on Mary Katherine being quite so scheming and deliberate, but I was having so much fun with her that I expanded her role, especially near the end of the story!

What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?

One of my favorite novels is My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It’s a fabulous story about how a family disintegrates when one of the children is born with a life-threatening illness. An ending rarely surprises me, but this book did–and made me cry! (Do NOT see the movie version) Other highly recommended reads:  The Green Mile, The Poisonwood Bible, The Secret Life of Bees, and anything by Sophie Kinsella.

Tell us a little bit about what comes next for you after Dancing Naked in Dixie

I am working on story about The Pie Lab, which is an actual restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. It’s a great little place, has wonderful pies (both dessert pies and quiche/taco/lunch-type pies), and provides a place where local folks can get on-the-job training. My protagonist is a young woman who’s vowed never to return to Greensboro (her hometown), but is forced to do so when her husband leaves her for another man.

Since on your website you admit to being a “non-reformed coffee drinker,” I’ll have to ask a different final question. Morning person or night owl? 

Morning. Early morning, much to the chagrin of my husband, who likes to ‘sleep in’ until at least 8 a.m. on the weekends!

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Dancing Naked in Dixie

Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark lives up to its teasing, tantalizing title. Every single bit of it. And it’s marvelous, in more and surprising ways than you might expect from the breezy picture on the cover.

Globe-trotting travel writer Julia Sullivan sputters that she’d rather dance naked for her next assignment than go to Alabama. However, she’s going to Alabama, and there is no way she’s getting out of it.

Julia’s been in kind of a slump recently. Like two years recently, ever since her mother died. She’s used her jet-setting, travel-writing job as a way of avoiding, well, pretty much everything. Especially her own problems.

What she hasn’t been doing is actually connecting with any of those fantastic places that she’s visited. Which means that her travel writing hasn’t been what it used to be. And the new editor of Getaways magazine is just the person to make sure she gets back on track. Or make sure she goes out the door. The new editor is her very much estranged father.

And he’s sending her to Eufaula, Alabama, to cover the Annual Pilgrimage, and do it right, damn it, or get fired.

Even if Julia would rather dance naked than find herself in the Heart of Dixie.

But once she gets there, after leaving her luggage behind and suffering one mishap after another, Julia discovers a few things.

Being forced to slow down a little gives her a chance to do some real travel reporting again, and not just take pictures. Connecting with the people of Eufaula makes her connect with herself again. And even though it hurts, it’s a good hurt.

And about that reporting…there’s some shady dealing going on under the shady porches of sleepy Eufaula. A real estate developer is doing something underhanded with the city council, and against the historic commission.

But the head of the historic commission, well, there’s just something about Shug Jordan that’s touched Julia’s heart in all the right places. It’s too bad he already has a conniving witch of a fiance.

And Julia’s just in Eufaula to write a story, go back to New York and save her career. If her story does its job, it should save the Annual Pilgrimage, too. She’s not supposed to be an investigative journalist. And she’s not planning on falling in love with a small town in Alabama or with a man named after a Football coach. Not a city girl like her. Not going to happen.

Escape Rating A: This is the story of Julia’s journey. She does happen to get the guy at the end, but really, that’s the icing on the cake. Or maybe even the sprinkles on top. For this reader, the real story was in Julia getting her act together all the way across the board and the HEA is the prize.

Julia starts out pretty messed up for really good reasons. And she’s been running away from her problems through travel, which is not a bad way to do it if someone else is footing the bill.

But going to Eufaula makes her face everything, and she does. She also falls in love with the place and almost all the people. And she solves some really, really big puzzles in her own life. She makes some good friends, heals some old wounds, and gets a fantastic reward in a terrific guy.

But reading her journey is what makes the story so good.

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 5-13-12 AKA The Sunday Post

In the U.S. today is Mother’s Day. So for all of you are mothers, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day. My present to my mom this Mother’s Day is going to Cincinnati to visit her. Hopefully, it will beat flowers or chocolate. (And yes, she does know I’m coming)

Welcome back to my Mostly Virtual Nightstand, also known as The Sunday Post. This is where I take a look at the events coming up on Reading Reality in the week ahead, and I also take a peek at the books I have on my schedule in the week after that, so I keep myself on track with my deadlines.

Otherwise I occasionally find myself in the unfortunate position of needing a review on Tuesday for a book I haven’t started reading yet on Sunday. I still get surprised, but with a bit more warning!

Monday on Reading Reality is always Ebook Review Central. (Not on Memorial Day, though, but almost, almost always). This week’s ERC will feature the Carina Press titles from April 2012. Looking at the reviews, Carina had some pretty big hits last month. And a couple of misses.

Tuesday, May 15 I’ll be interviewing romantic suspense author Kelly Gendron, and posting a review of her recent book, Satisfying the Curse. I don’t want to post spoilers, but I will say that the book was great if you like bad boy heroes. This tour is from Sizzling PR.

Thursday, May 17 I’ll be reviewing Bad Girl Lessons by Seraphina Donovan, and there will also be a guest post from the author as part of a tour from Book and Trailer Showcase Virtual Book Tours. Read this book for fun!

Reading Reality has a Help Wanted sign out. I am looking for associate reviewers. Think of it as “Blogger seeking fellow book addicts for fun and free books.” If you think you might be interested, click on the sign for details.

About those books…

For the week of May 21 (like the old song said, time keeps on slipping into the future) I have some books for blog tours and some books that I picked from NetGalley or Edelweiss that are just coming out that week.  I have books.

As I said, I will be travelling again this week. I always take a print book along on the airplane, since they can’t make me turn it off as an electronic device. This trip it will be The Mongoliad, since I have to turn in a review to Library Journal by May 21.

I also have Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark for a Bewitching Books blog tour next week. I need to read it and send the interview questions. I like to read the book first and base some of the questions on the book. I liked the sound of this book. It’s a contemporary romance about an international travel writer who has to save her career by taking an assignment to cover Eufalia, Alabama. Since I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia, I thought it would be fun. So far, it is!

Seized by Lynne Cantwell is the first book in her Pipe Woman Chronicles. Reading Reality is part of a Goddess Fish tour on May 24. Seized appealed to me as a paranormal/urban fantasy with a Native American flavor. I’m intrigued.

I also have to read and review Kiss of the Goblin Prince for Book Lovers Inc. before the end of May. I hadn’t read either The Summons or The Goblin King, but I’d always intended to, because the reviews were so fantastic. Finished Summons, and I’m in the middle of Goblin King now. The reviews were right. I’m looking forward to Kiss of the Goblin Prince. Some deadlines are no burden at all!

I have some other books that I picked up that either have publication dates or will timebomb on my iPad next week. Zombie Island by Lori Handeland, the second book in her Shakespeare Undead series, and Her Majesty’s Will by David Blixt. There’s a theme in these two; Shakespeare wasn’t what he seemed. He’s either a zombie, or a spy.

And a friend strongly recommended The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn. I was able to get it from Edelweiss before the publisher archived it, but my copy is going to timebomb. End of May is pretty much now or never on this one.

As the late, great Edward Gorey said, “So many books, so little time.”


So my nightstand is portable this Sunday. Lucky for me most of it is on my iPad. But what about you? What’s on your nightstand this week?