Book Club Mom’s Author Update: Tammie Painter

Author name: Tammie Painter

Book to feature: The Undead Mr. Tenpenny, The Cassie Black Trilogy Book One

News to share: I’m thrilled to announce the launch of The Undead Mr. Tenpenny, the first book in my new series, The Cassie Black Trilogy. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but the novel — which is full of dark humor — first came to mind while I was waiting for my grandmother’s funeral to start.

The book begins when Cassie Black, who works at a funeral home, finds her “clients” waking up.

Cassie thinks she has the problem under control, until her latest client (Mr. Tenpenny) insists he’s been murdered and claims Cassie’s responsible thanks to a wicked brand of magic she’s  been exposed to. The only way for Cassie to get her life back to normal is to tame her magic and uncover Mr. Tenpenny’s true killer.

Simple right? Of course not. Because while Cassie works on getting her newly-acquired magic sorted, she’s blowing up kitchens, angering an entire magical community, and discovering her past is more closely tied to Busby Tenpenny than she could have ever imagined.

The novel earned some happy kudos from a branch of the American PEN Women when it won first place in their novel excerpt contest, and again from Apple who selected it as one of their Most Anticipated Books of 2021.

But what’s truly brought a smile to my face are the responses from my early reviewers who have loved the characters, the humor, and the overall premise of the book.

Anyway, If you like contemporary fantasy with snarky humor, unforgettable characters, piles of pastries, and a little paranormal mystery, you’ll love the Cassie Black Trilogy…a fish-out-of-water tale that takes you from the streets of Portland to the Tower of London.

Brief bio and other books: I’m an award-winning author who turns wickedly strong tea into imaginative fiction. With a creative and curious mind, my stories run the gamut from historical fantasy to modern-day paranormal, and magical realism to humor-laced dark tales.

Besides the new trilogy, I’ve got two, complete historical fantasy series under my belt: The Osteria Chronicles and Domna, plus a fair number of short stories.

Website and social media links:
BookBub: @TammiePainter
Instagram: tammiepainter
Twitter: @tammie_painter

Are you working on a new book? Have you won an award or a writing contest? Did you just update your website? Maybe you just want to tell readers about an experience you’ve had. Book Club Mom’s Author Update is a great way to share news and information about you and your books.

Email Book Club Mom at for more information.

Open to all authors – self-published, indie, big-time and anything in between. Author submissions are limited to one per author in a six-month period.

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Virtual Book Chat on Wednesday, March 24 to discuss Fiction Set in Pennsylvania

Hi Everyone – I’m sharing this virtual Book Chat information in case you’re interested. I’ll be hosting and you’re welcome to join us!

Stay Connected with Chescolibraries

Please join us via Zoom on Wednesday, March 24 for an informal book chat on Fiction Set in Pennsylvania. Shown here are just some old and new classics set in our state, but there are many more. Let’s see how many we can discuss!

Registration is required. This program supports PA Forward Civic and Social Literacy.

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Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes
Mary Beth Keane

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I very much enjoyed this story about two families in a suburban town outside New York. A tragic event splits them apart and the resulting pain haunts them for decades. The story begins in New York in 1973 as Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope graduate from the police academy. Marriage and children follow and the two families become next door neighbors in the fictional town of Gillam. As the children grow, Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope become best friends and are on the verge of romance until the night that changes the course of both families’ lives.

After that night, Kate and Peter’s families are burdened with trying to move on and many other problems, including hushed family secrets and worries of history repeating itself. Each character wonders if the events could have been altered had they acted differently. They struggle with marriage, parenthood, and the rippling effects of mental illness, alcoholism and sexual abuse. And whether they like it or not, their families will always be interconnected.

What I liked most about this book is the way I got to know the characters and saw how they worked through situations over time, finding their way back to each other. But first, readers see how the families, engaged in daily life, don’t acknowledge their deeper problems until they lead to bigger crises. I also liked Brian’s brother, George, whose quiet resilience and self-knowledge is there for any of them to see, if they would only notice. By the end of the story, I felt like I understood why each acted the way they did.

I don’t want to give anything more away, because family dramas are much more enjoyable if you experience the events as they unfold. And although the families’ problems seem overwhelming, friendship, love, acceptance and forgiveness ultimately dominate.

Ask Again, Yes was voted a 2019 Summer Read by fans of Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show (read about that here). And for readers who like to know how authors develop stories, here’s a BookPage interview with Mary Beth Keane.

I recommend Ask Again, Yes to readers who like family sagas and stories about resilience. I think it would make a good book club book.

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What’s That Book? Torn Between Worlds by Nancy Blodgett Klein

Welcome to What’s That Book, sharing book recommendations from readers and bloggers. Today’s guest reviewer is Darlene Foster.

Title: Torn Between Worlds 

Author: Nancy Blodgett Klein

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about?  A story about a 12-year-old Mexican girl who, with her father, comes to the United States illegally, in search of a better life. Isabel´s sixth-grade teacher suggests she keep a journal, where she can pour out the feelings she used to share with her mother. She encourages her to take the newspaper home to improve her English and learn about world events and politics. Isabel is horrified by the events that take place on September 11, 2001 in the US, witnesses a political demonstration in Oaxaca, Mexico where people are killed, and is forced to flee to Madrid, Spain to keep her and her mother safe from harm. This coming-of-age story, written in journal format, spans three years and three countries. Isabel grows from innocent child into confident young woman through turbulent times, desperately trying to find a place to belong.

How did you hear about it?  Through my writers´ group

Closing comments:  The author has done a great job of writing from the point of view of a young illegal immigrant girl sharing her innermost thoughts as she deals with trying to fit in, a new language and frightening current events. Isabel is living in the United States at the time of the 911 attacks. A scary time for all young people but even more so for immigrant children. She documents her fears, joys, ideas and hopes as she moves between Mexico, the US, and Spain. We learn about her friends, her first kiss and how she deals with her parents failing marriage. Growing up is never easy, but for Isabel, it’s especially difficult. I highly recommend this book.

Contributor:  Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia. Website:

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it? Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at for information.

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Book Review: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

My Lovely Wife
Samantha Downing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In this debut thriller/dark humor novel, a picture-perfect marriage has shocking secrets beneath its shiny facade. To outsiders, Millicent and her husband have the perfect life. They live with their two teenagers in Hidden Oaks, the good part of Woodview, Florida. She sells real estate and her husband teaches tennis at the country club. They have friends. They go to work. Their kids play sports. And they are loyal to their traditions: family dinners, movie night, a standing lunch date after Saturday soccer, and guaranteed ice cream after a trip to the dentist. But Millicent and her husband play a secret deadly game. And when the stakes and pressure rise, they take greater risks to keep their secret hidden, until the dynamics of their marriage betray them.

Narrated by the husband, we learn the couple’s backstory, how they met and fell in love, and their early years as young parents. We also learn about their disturbing second life and how it fuels their marriage. When they change course, their actions begin to affect their children and the people in town. Soon, the husband reveals his own secrets and we see the trust between them erode.

Sandwiched between Millicent and her husband’s schemes are the daily activities of a normal American family and the typical problems that arise for working parents, moody adolescents and the ever-growing presence of social media and the news media. Similar in mood to shows like You, Dexter and Ozark, the characters’ mundane problems in My Lovely Wife offer comic relief to stories in which people lead secret lives which would be too dark by themselves.

Despite the obvious creepiness and some disturbing violence, I liked My Lovely Wife. While its main characters are mostly despicable, the husband reveals a glimmer of conscience, something interesting to think about. Readers who search for at least one likable character will find a couple in the side characters. Several entertaining twists, including a big reveal in the final pages will force the reader to look back and decide who is bad, who is worse, who is a little of both and what the future holds.

I recommend My Lovely Wife to readers who like thrillers and dark humor and I look forward to more books by Samantha Downing.

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Share your thoughts on What’s That Book – an invitation to you!

Hello readers and bloggers! Some of you may remember What’s That Book?, an occasional feature by guest readers. (Here’s one from author Tammie Painter, reviewing The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.) This feature has been dormant for a while and now I’m bringing back an updated version. So if you’ve read something good and want to talk about it, I’d love to have you as a guest on my blog.

If you are interested, please email Book Club Mom at and I’ll send you more information.

Hope to hear from you!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Angela Paolantonio

Author Name: Angela Paolantonio

Genre: Memoir/Place-Based Travel Memoir/Women’s Studies

Books: Still Life with Saints (2020), The Ghosts of Italy (2016)

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? No I am not a full-time author. Once a twenty-year resident of Los Angeles life and culture, I have been an artist agent and photo editor/director for national and international advertising and editorial companies. Now in Italy, I’m an English language coach and consultant, while also keeping my other art and photography interests alive as curator and consultant for art and photography exhibits, books, and events in both Italy and the U.S.

Favorite author/books: At the moment my favorite international author is Elena Ferrante. I read her Neapolitan Novels, there are four in all, about a year or two before they hit the USA market. They were recommended by an Italian friend. Ferrante captures the life of Italian women’s experiences beautifully, accurately, in spectacular emotional prose. Other favorite authors or books are too numerous to list!

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? As a memoirist, experiences and people are the main influences for my writing.

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? I do not journal, however, I have kept and filled many plain notebooks with experiences, feelings, drawings, and ephemera for years, both in the USA and Italy. They resemble more art journals than writing journals. I have referenced them when writing; they inform me of where I’ve been.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I do not belong to any writers’ group.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I’m still a morning person. But with the help of a good Italian espresso or two I can burn the midnight oil with the best of them!

How do you get over a writing slump? I don’t typically have writing slumps. But to loosen up, I may write a letter or a blog post or do a twenty-minute stream of conscious exercise by hand.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? I love both.

What are you working on now? I am always taking notes—as I recall my own stories of the many experiences I have had here over the years or listen closely when a neighbor or an acquaintance is telling me theirs. So book three or a screenplay…

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? It is one of the most rewarding creative processes I have ever experienced. But it is a longer process than you may think at first. The time you put into it is all your own. Be prepared to be challenged.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting?  I have only recently been listening to podcasts due to our sort of global lockdown. Here in Italy we were the first. I love The Michelle Obama Podcast, Dax Shepard on Armchair Expert is great, and I like You and Me Both with Hilary Clinton. I’ve also been a guest on one called The Literary Goddess.

Favorite escape: An LA movie theater for a matinee. A medieval city in Italy. A simple passeggiata.

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? I made Kombucha tea super moons ago in LA when an artist friend gave me a starter.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? I prefer a big deep couch with no pillows.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? I’m an East Coast girl who lived for twenty years in LA, so all three.

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? A plain white, pleated mask officially issued from the Regione di Campania.

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Publishing Still Life With Saints by the end of this year. We did it!

Website and social media links:
BookLife: Angela Paolantonio
Instagram: AMPaolantonio | @ghostsofitaly

Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email for a bio template and other details.

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Perfect characters and situations gone wrong – books with perfect in their titles

What is it about perfection? Though impossible to achieve, we like to strive for the perfect job, house, relationship, etc. In books, the pressure is off. Seemingly perfect fictional characters are fun to read about because we can watch (from a safe distance) when it all goes wrong! Here are some perfect books I’ve read and a few more you might like.

Recently reviewed:

The Perfect Wife by Blake Pierce

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

The Perfect Roommate by Minka Kent

More choices here:

The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose

The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

The Perfect Neighbor by Blake Pierce (Book Nine in the Jessie Hunt series)

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Book Review: The Perfect Wife by Blake Pierce

The Perfect Wife
Blake Pierce

Rating: 3 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a quick psychological suspense novel, you might be interested in The Perfect Wife by Blake Pierce, the first in the Jessie Hunt series. In this debut, Jessie Hunt and her husband Kyle Voss have moved from Los Angeles to a wealthy neighborhood in the coastal town of Westport Beach. Kyle is a rising star at the wealth management firm where he works. Jessie is about to finish her degree in forensic psychology and has lined up a practicum at the Non-Rehabilitative Division, a high-risk unit at the local state hospital. Jessie will conduct a series of interviews with Bolton Crutchfield, a convicted serial killer.

Kyle is all about climbing the ladder and they soon join the local yacht club where he hopes to make lucrative business contacts. But Jessie senses something strange about the yacht club and thinks her new friends and neighbors have too many secrets.

As Kyle submerges himself in work, Jessie conducts interviews with Crutchfield, who seems to know too much about her and her weaknesses. Is there some connection the reader doesn’t know about? At home, tension grows between Jessie and Kyle and a fateful decision after a wild yacht club party brings it all to a head, revealing all.

This is a short and fast-paced thriller in which Pierce’s characters are just coming to life. Although characters are not fully developed and the plot line is wild and unbelievable, the story moves well and is a solid 3-star read.

I recommend The Perfect Wife to readers who enjoy series debuts and like to see how characters may develop in future stories.

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Book Review: Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise by Scott Eyman

Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise
Scott Eyman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I just finished this new biography of Cary Grant and now I’m in the mood to re-watch some of my favorite movies starring this legendary actor. Scott Eyman has written an excellent and thorough book, a detailed account of Grant’s life, beginning with his childhood in Bristol, England.

Long before he became a famous movie star and heartthrob, Cary Grant was a neglected child from a working-class family. He was Born Archibald Leach in 1904 to an alcoholic father and an overly protective and controlling mother, who one day disappeared from his life. It would be years before he learned that his father had committed her to a mental institution. Archie spent much of his youth on the street and joined a troupe of vaudeville acrobats where he learned physical comedy. He arrived in New York at sixteen and, after traveling with the Bob Pender Troupe, made his way to Hollywood, where he signed with Paramount Pictures and changed his name to Cary Grant.

Grant starred in over seventy films, including Bringing up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, An Affair to Remember, Suspicion, Notorious, North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief. His numerous famous co-stars included Ingrid Bergman, Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, and Sophia Loren.

If you remember Cary Grant, you most likely think of him as a handsome, sophisticated and smooth-talking comedic actor and irresistible leading man, but this was a carefully crafted persona. Underneath he struggled with depression and feelings of abandonment and spent his life trying to reconcile these very different sides. He also struggled with relationships and married five times.

Grant longed to be a father and was thrilled when his fourth wife, Dyan Cannon gave birth to their daughter, Jennifer. To find inner peace, he experimented at least 100 times with LSD (when it was still legal) sometimes under a doctor’s care and other times by himself, proclaiming this was the reason he finally forgave his parents for abandoning him.

In addition to showing how Grant worked at achieving this goal, Eyman provides a history of the movie business and how it changed, from the 1930s through Grant’s retirement in 1966. Classic movie fans will enjoy reading about the greats he worked with, including talented writers and directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Donen and Leo McCarey.

Although friends and colleagues complained about his unwillingness to pick up the tab at dinner, Grant was a smart businessman who understood how to negotiate contracts and was one of the first to demand not only an actor fee, but a percent of gross and profit and ownership of the negatives. He often made deals as a free agent, an almost unheard-of arrangement.

I totally enjoyed this biography and learned a lot about Grant and the movie business during that time and I recommend it to all readers.

Here are a few quick videos about Cary Grant.

The Hidden Origin of Cary Grant – from Simon and Schuster
Cary Grant: From Vaudeville to Hollywood | BFI video essay
Cary Grant receiving an Honorary Oscar®

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