Tag Archives: Family Life

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Hashes & Bashes,” BY AUTHOR P J COLANDO

hashes-bashes

  • Title:  Hashes and Bashes: Jackie & Steve Book 2
  • Author: P J Colando
  • File Size: 1337 KB
  • Print Length: 225 Pages
  •  Publisher: BookBaby
  • Publication Date: September 13, 2016
  • Sold By: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LWV02LG
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Genre Fiction, Family Life, Humor, Literature & Fiction

*I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book*

In the Author’s Words:

“FAITH… FAMILY… FRENZY!

Nine months after their comically abbreviated RV road trip, detailed in the award-winning book, STASHES, the Breeden family farm routines have stabilized: Jackie returned to her high school cafeteria job and their only son, Brandon, works alongside his father, Steve, in the family micro-dairy.

But then an outsider arrives, claiming to be kin, and HASHES & BASHES begin.

Steve was already perturbed with the brother he has when Carl Edwards strides onto the farm. David Breeden, who lives nearby, is not a bastard but always acted like one. Carl, a charismatic Californian, may be a bastard but doesn’t act like one…

Yet Carl rocks the entire small Midwestern farming community, including a lively cast of characters who assault Steve’s calm-against-chaos pattern in this humorous family saga:

•his spunky farmwife, Jackie, and her meddlesome church lady friends

•his immature son, Brandon, and his female pursuers

•his pastor, who attempts to foist guilt while grubbing funds

•the lure of edible and spreadable medical marijuana and easy money from natural gas fracking

Only Sparty, Steve’s dog, remains steadfast throughout the hijinks. But then…”

My Recommendation:

I’ve been looking forward to another humorous and heartwarming novel from P J Colando, and let me tell you, “Hashes and Bashes” kept me alternating between laughter and tears. Her first book was called, “Stashes,” and you can read that review by clicking here. Now, grab a seat and let me tell you about this book because you’re going to love it!

What sets P J Colando apart from many others is her ability to draw the reader into the life of her characters. As the reader, you feel like you are her protagonist’s (Jackie) girlfriend and she is sharing with you what is going on in her and Steve’s life while the two of you are drinking tea and eating scones. This makes for some great storytelling. Jackie and Steve are so real to life, you expect to run into them while running errands in town. I know I did at least.

Jackie and Steve represent the perfect Midwest farm couple, hardworking and steadfast. You sense their love for one another seep through the pages. When Carl shows up, Steve’s brother from his mother’s WWII love tryst and given up for adoption, the Breeden family welcomes him into their nest.

Carl and Steve bond through a common acknowledgment of shared genealogy. However, that leaves Steve’s brother David out in the cold. David is the brother you wish you didn’t have, while Carl is likable and real, like Steve. A Prodigal Son triangle develops with impressive results. Once you throw Brandon, Steve and Jackie’s son, into the mix, the results are hilarious.

Years ago I worked on a ranch in Montana. The descriptions of (AI) artificial insemination from Carl’s bull into Steve’s dairy cows by Brandon are not only factually accurate, but they are also hysterical. I laughed so hard, I cried.

Yet, there is more than humor found between these pages. P J Colando breathes and writes life into the pages of her novels. Love, death, friendship, family, all find their way into her stories. Add a touch of pot-laced baking to the mix, and you have a recipe for success.

The end of the book grabbed me by surprise and left me wanting more of this beautiful, and funny family!

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

 5gold-star3

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Author, P J Colando

About PJ Colando:

PJ Colando was born and raised in the Midwest, yet unabashedly aspired for adventure elsewhere, following her parents’ model. She lives in southern California with her husband, whose name is not Steve or Carl, the prime male characters in the ‘Jackie and Steve’ series.

PJ is the author of three novels, with short stories, personal essays, and articles published in journals, magazines, and anthologies. She’s earned an Erma Bombeck Humor Award, Reader’s Favorite Silver Award, and Southern California Writers Conference fiction award.

PJ writes contemporary women’s fiction and has drawn praise for her singular voice, humor and satire on contentious current affairs, and insights into human life. PJ writes funny!

Join her on her Boomer humor blog on her author site: http://www.pjcolando.com and on Facebook at PJ Colando.

PJ is having a blast and you will, too.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of colleenchesebro.com

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An Interview with Kate Frost of Beneath the Apple Blossom.

Kate-FrostToday’s special guest is Kate Frost, a UK author with a personal story to share.

Where do you hail from?

Bristol, a city in the south west of England that’s wonderfully cosmopolitan with lots going on, yet also within easy reach of countryside and the coast. I’ve always lived here apart from three years spent at university in Aberystwyth, a gorgeous seaside town in Wales.

Who are the authors that most inspired you to become a writer, or that you think influence your writing style?

It was the books I read in my childhood that inspired me to become a writer – authors like Roald Dahl, J.R.R. Tolkien and Arthur Ransome. I loved the way they could transport me to another world, and as I had a vivid imagination anyway, together the two things just clicked.

I imagine you get asked this a lot, but your book, Beneath the Apple Kate Frost FamilyBlossom, covers many of the stages of young 30 something women’s lives, how much for your life or those around you did you pull from?

Certainly friends who know me well will understand how my life has influenced this book. I wrote Beneath the Apple Blossom as a direct result of having fertility treatment, so the emotions within the book and the actual experience of undergoing treatment are true to life, yet the characters and their individual experiences are fictional. I had toyed with writing a memoir but decided what I went through was too personal to share, so I thought about turning it into a novel instead – that’s when the characters of Pippa, Georgie, Sienna and Connie were born. I was inspired by the online friendships (and the one in real life) I made via the fertility centre forum I was a part of during four cycles of fertility treatment, and that led to the relationship Pippa and Connie have in the book. Thirty-something women are interesting to write about as it seems to be an age when there’s a lot going on, whether that be the decision to have babies or not, relationship struggles, infertility concerns or career worries.    

Beneath the Apple BlossomWhat’s the significance of the title of the book?

There are two pivotal scenes that take place literally beneath an apple blossom, which I won’t describe as it will give too much away. Apart from those two scenes the reason behind the title is the idea of an apple tree in bloom being so beautiful and full of life compared to the dark, tangled mass of roots below ground. Often what we see on the surface of a person’s life is completely different to the turmoil they’re going through beneath the surface. 

What genre do you think your book falls into?

Contemporary women’s fiction – although that’s a very broad term. Family life and women’s literary fiction are sub-genres it could slot into quite well.

Tell our readers a little about Beneath the Apple Blossom.

In a nutshell it’s about four women, two longing to have a baby, two desperate to not be pregnant, and how they struggle with the choices they’ve made and the hand that life’s dealt them.

Could you have written this book before your son came along?Kate and Leo

Absolutely not. The core idea of this book was a direct result of having undergone four rounds of fertility treatment and the highs and lows that went hand in hand with it. Clearly we got lucky in the end but that was after four years of heartache and despair. As a writer it was all emotional fuel for a novel (not that I was thinking like that at the time!) – infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy and birth. Although the book is fictional it helped to draw upon my own experience of these things.  

How do you think writing for magazines has helped your novel writing?

It’s helped by giving me the mindset of working to a deadline. Particularly with self-publishing it’s easy to let things slip and put things off, so I write novels the way I would write an article for a magazine and set myself a deadline and stick to it. 

The Butterfly StormTell us about your previous book The Butterfly Storm.

It’s quite different to Beneath the Apple Blossom, both in the way it’s written and the subject matter, although there are common themes such as family, friendship and impending motherhood. At its heart is a love story with Sophie Keech escaping from her fiancé and overbearing mother-in-law-to-be in Greece, back to the beautiful north Norfolk coast in the UK when her estranged Mum is injured in an accident. It then follows her physical and emotional journey to discover who she is, where she belongs and who she loves. I published it in 2013 and it’s done really well, featuring in Amazon’s Movers and Shakers chart on more than one occasion and making it into the top five in Literary Fiction and Women’s Literary Fiction categories.

What are you currently working on and why?

I’m working on a lot of things! I’m writing the second book in The Hopeful Years series that follows Beneath the Apple Blossom and Connie’s story in Tanzania and Zanzibar. I’m also halfway through writing the second book of a time-travel adventure trilogy for 9-12 year-olds. Into the Past (Time Shifters Book One) is going to be published in October, so it’s a busy year. 

With your being so accident prone, aren’t you concerned about indulging in your cooking obsession?

Ha, yes! I seem to be okay cooking and haven’t had too many accidents, save a couple of minor scalds. I think it’s the fact that I’m pretty unstable on my feet that’s the issue. It’s just as well that we don’t get much snow in the UK as I cannot walk on ice and look like some crazy adult-sized baby learning to walk when I do.

How did end up with your publisher, Lemon Tree Press?

Ah well, Lemon Tree Press is actually my publishing name. Instead of publishing under ‘Kate Frost’ I’ve

effectively set up my own publishing company under which I’ve bought my ISBNs and will publish my books.

What advice to you have for authors out there looking to find a publisher?

Persevere and make your book as good as it can be. I got very close to getting both an agent and a publisher but neither worked out in the end. I personally didn’t persevere with finding a publisher and instead took things into my own hands and self-published. I haven’t looked back. 

Finally, what one word describes your book?

Emotional.

Get Kate’s Next Big Success at:

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Connect with Kate:

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The Donor by @StevieTurner6. Excerpt and a 5 Star #Review.

Stevie Turner The Donor book cover.Stevie Turner’s new women’s fiction novel ‘The Donor’ was recently published on December 14th, and has a sibling rivalry / rockstar theme. Stevie usually writes about peculiar subjects that are not often covered by mainstream authors, and adds in a touch of humour here and there.  To find out more about Stevie, please visit her website and check out her ‘About Me’ page by clicking on the link below:

http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/about-me

Synopsis of The Donor:

When you know you have met the love of your life, the last thing you expect is for your sister to lure him away.  Clare Ronson is faced with this scenario when her sister Isabel marries singer and guitarist Ross Tyler.  To compound Clare’s jealousy and bitterness, Ross hits the big time and becomes a wealthy tax exile, relocating to France with his family.  Clare cannot bring herself to speak to Isabel or Ross for the next 30 years. However, when tragedy occurs in 2002 causing Ross to arrive back in England at Clare’s doorstep, Clare must try to put the past behind her for her sister’s sake.

http://bookShow.me/B016MJ9W0Q

Goodreads review by LaDonna

LaDonna rated it 5 of 5 stars

Shelves: arr, blog, backstage-books, rockstar-romance

The author provided me an ARC of this book for a honest review and to see if I felt it fit the criteria for “rockstar romance” for a blog I run dedicated to that genre. I felt it did, though it isn’t your typical rockstar romance. This book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, and admittedly most of those emotions will be of the darker kind.

Once upon a time, Clare is very close to her older sister Izzy, and adores/idolized her in that way that only little sisters can. As a very naïve youThe author provided me an ARC of this book for a honest review and to see if I felt it fit the criteria for “rockstar romance” for a blog I run dedicated to that genre. I felt it did, though it isn’t your typical rockstar romance. This book will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, and admittedly most of those emotions will be of the darker kind.

Once upon a time, Clare is very close to her older sister Izzy, and adores/idolized her in that way that only little sisters can. As a very naïve young woman in 1970, Clare goes to a big rock festival. This American reader could really only tie it to the endless stories of Woodstock I have heard, being just slightly younger than that generation, but I realize festivals of the like were going on across the pond as well. Anyway, that is the picture I have in my mind of the festival she attended, and at the end of several days, Clare has lost her friends and is dirty, exhausted, hungry and broke. An Adonis of a man steps in and offers her an apple, and companionship back home. He is quite fond of the waif, and calls upon her to date whilst he is determined to make it in his band. He puts up with the obvious dislike of her father, and her virginal antics. She has quickly fallen in love with him, and he is quite smitten with her as well, until one night her sister decides to join them for one of his gigs.

To Ross’ credit, he never had any intention of hurting Clare, but when he met Izzy, the stars aligned and he knew he had met his soulmate. Likewise, Izzy had never meant to upset her sister, but who can deny true love. No one expected Clare to be as hurt as she was, or to hold a grudge for so long.

Life goes on as it is apt to do; tragedies, joys, and all the other little moments that make up a life pass by. Ross’ band hits the big time very quickly, as well as Izzy’s first pregnancy and their marriage. Clare refuses to have anything to do with any of it, hanging on to hatred for her sister for having the life she was sure was destined to be hers. Clare does go on to marry a perfectly suitable man, has 2 children with him, and by all accounts a pretty nice life with him. She tells him early on that she has an irreparable rift with her sister, but never tells him the reason why.

Izzy has always tried to keep tabs on her sister but Clare simply has not allowed it, even turning away when they once ran into one another and Izzy tried to introduce her to her niece. 30 years go by, and tragedy forces Izzy to contact Clare. Clare’s husband reads the note and encourages Clare to acknowledge Izzy’s plea, but Clare tears up the letter and ignores it. Not until Ross arrives at her door does she consider listening and doing what her sister needs. Here is where the story really came together for me. The senselessness of hate and holding on to a grudge, not to mention basically a teenage dream, for all those years, to finally realized how quickly life passes us by and how many precious moments simply cannot ever be replaced. There are so many unexpected twists and turns after Ross arrives, and so much depth to the amount of lives touched by this rift that seems so silly in retrospect. This story touched me on so many levels, and I hope that you will give it a chance to soak into your heart and mind as well.

Very highly recommended for anyone that realizes life doesn’t always hand us a happily ever after, at least not in the way we think it should.

EXCERPT FROM ‘THE DONOR’ BY STEVIE TURNER

COPYRIGHT STEVIE TURNER 2015

CHAPTER 1 – 1970

CLARE

            Life as I know it is definitely starting to be a bit of a drag, due to the fact that I’ve been awake now for 3 days and nights on Desolation Hill.  I am finished, kaput. Thank God it’s the last day, that’s all I can say.

            I yawn for the umpteenth time and watch in a kind of stupor as the fences are torn down. Ruth jumps up excitedly and decides that she wants to try and get nearer the stage.  I watch her treading unconcerned over zombie-like bodies lying comatose and frying in the heat of the late August afternoon, and try to summon up enough strength to follow her.  But by then, hungrier and more tired than I have ever been, I am faced with the certainty that all I really want to do is to go home. Bands have started to merge one into the other, but I know I’ll have to face a ribbing from Ruth if I set off without first having tried to get nearer the stage if only to feast one weary eye on the hunk of masculinity that is Paul Rogers while there is still some good daylight left.

            I force my body to move, performing a quick recce around what has transformed in three days from arable farmland into a nuclear fallout zone contained in some kind of human landfill site. I cannot see Ruth, but I stumble on regardless. Somewhere out there my friend has become lost in a sea of 500,000 faces; just another flower-bedecked hippie indistinguishable from the masses.

            Far away on the horizon I can see a speck holding a microphone stand up above his head; Paul Rogers is holding the crowd in the palm of his hand, and I am missing it.  Behind him on the low stage, long hair flying in the sultry air, Paul Kossoff, six string shredder extraordinaire, is ripping into the solo for ‘All Right Now.’

            I cannot make my legs walk another step.  I yawn.  Infuriatingly I still seem to be on Desolation Hill as far as I can make out. Sighing with fatigue, I slump down on the grass where I stand, close my eyes, and listen to the hubbub around me.  My long hair feels like a heavy blanket on my back; I desperately want something to eat, I need a bath, and I ache for my mum to be fussing around me like she does when I am sick.

             “Hey babe, have some of this.”

          I am startled by a voice very close to my ear. I open my eyes again and look to my left to see what only can be described as a bronzed, blond Adonis, with long fair curls stretching down over his shoulders.  He is stripped to the waist apart from a small rucksack on his back, and wears frayed pale-blue Levi shorts and a pair of well-worn ‘Jesus creeper’ sandals.  He squats down beside me and holds out a lighted spliff.

            “It’ll take away the pain.”

            I consider myself to be in extremis, soon to be engulfed in the Grim Reaper’s arms.  There is no way out except death.  I take a huge drag and retch as the sweet fumes of cannabis grab the back of my throat.

            “Thanks.” I cough. “I think.”

            “Woh!” Adonis laughs into the sun. “Easy!  You’re not used to it, I can tell.”

            “Is it that obvious?”  I want my head to stop spinning. “I’ve come to the end of my rope. A spliff won’t do any harm now.”  I take another drag.

            “I think I’ll take it back actually.”  Adonis prises the joint from my fingers. “Are you hungry?”

            “Starving.”  I nod, with eyes trying to close. “All I’ve got left is my hovercraft ticket back to Southsea.”

          “And you can’t eat that.”  Adonis attacks the spliff with expertise, puffing out a cloud of aromatic smoke. “I’ll see what I’ve got left in my rucksack.”

            Keeping the spliff between the index and middle finger of his left hand, with one poetic swoop of his right shoulder he dislodges the rucksack’s straps, opens it up and looks inside, bringing out a slightly dented but still crisp-looking Golden Delicious apple and handing it to me.

               “My mum’s always on at me to eat more roughage.”

              Laughing, I feast my eyes on the apple, which in my famished state seems to have taken on the proportions of a gargantuan banquet.

             “If you’re sure.”  I cannot help but take it. “I’ve eaten nothing since yesterday.  Somebody stole what was left of my food. It’s too far to walk to try and buy some, and anyway, I’ve no money left.”

              “It’s every man for himself, here.”  Adonis nods. “What’s your name?”

            “Clare.”  I bite into pure nectar. “Clare Ronson.  How about you?”

          “Hi Clare, I’m Ross Tyler.”  Adonis holds out his hand. “I hitchhiked from Ryde on Friday with a mate from college, who was last seen yesterday trying to find somewhere private to take a crap.”

             Juice from the apple runs down my chin and I wipe it away with my left hand, shake Ross’s hand with the other, and smile up at him.

              “You’re a lifesaver, Ross. I came here with a friend as well, but maybe she met up with your mate.  I haven’t seen her for a few hours now.”

             “Looks like it’s us two against the world then.”  Ross slings the rucksack back over his shoulder. “I’m on my way up the hill; going to hitchhike back to Ryde and get a chance on the hovercraft before this lot set off. Coming?”

             I’ve had enough. My knight in Jesus creepers has materialised and is standing right in front of me. Not one for wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, and fortified by the sweet fruit, I nod and get to my feet.

             “Yes; I want to go home.”

           Paul Rogers is giving it all he’s got.  Taking one last look at the stage and wondering if we would ever see the like of it again, I grab my saviour’s outstretched hand and we begin to thread our way between the bodies and mounds of detritus, back up Desolation Hill and over Afton Down, eventually descending onto the Military Road.  Crowds of young people have the same idea, and we all saunter along amiably in the late afternoon heat, in no rush to get off the Island, and unaware that we are part of history in the making.  In front of us are two girls holding hands; one is naked except for a pair of pink knickers, and the other is bare from the waist down.

            “Looks like those two have fared worse than you.”  Ross smirks.

        I am stoned on cannabis fumes, lack of sleep, hunger, and a definite animal attraction for my new-found friend.  It matters to me not one jot that female flesh usually kept under wraps is now exposed to the stares of all and sundry.  Presently the girls slope off and join many other festival-goers, washing off the dirt from Desolation Hill in the choppy waters of Freshwater Bay. I smile at Ross as we trudge along Military Road, copying him and raising my thumb some time later as crowds begin to thin out and the odd car can be seen driving past us on the way to maybe Brook Green or further on into Niton or Newport.

         “Who in their right mind is going to give us a lift?”  I panic while wondering just how much further I can walk. “Look at the state of us. How many miles is it to Ryde from here? Can’t we wait for a bus?”

         “About twenty.”  Comes the cheerful reply. “I’m skint, the same as you.  It’s hitching or Shanks’s pony.”

         My affable, blond Adonis is prepared to traipse into the night to reach his destination.  It’s all I can do to keep up with his long, loping strides. The buzz from the apple wears off around Compton Bay, and I want to cry.

         “Cheer up, babe.”

        Ross winks and puts his arm around me.  The effect is galvanising and instantly spurs me on.  I gaze up into his pale blue eyes, and his nearness causes a pleasant throbbing sensation in my groin. I have never seen such beauty in a man before.  I am certain I haven’t seen him at Uni.

        “Which University are you at?”  I find myself looking down in the direction of his groin as we walk.

      “Not Uni; Portsmouth Art College.”  Ross holds his fist up and jerks his thumb at passing cars. “How about you?”

        “The Uni; not far from there though.  Reading English; I want to be a teacher.  Do you think you’ll be a famous painter then?”

         “Don’t know.”  Ross shrugs and fondles the hair at the back of my neck. “But I’m having a ball finding out.”

***       

        It’s not until we walk past Compton Bay and head towards Brook Green that a van stops next to us.  Ross is still pointing his thumb in the vague direction of Newport, but I have long ago given up, and am just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I hear Ross speak to the driver who is on his way to Bembridge, and to my great delight he beckons us into the cab and agrees to drop us off along the seafront at Ryde.  The van has three seats at the front.  I let Ross go in first, who chats amiably to the driver most of the way I think.  Me, I put my head on Ross’s shoulder and am asleep before the van has even pulled away.

Stevie Turner The Donor book cover.


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