Tag Archives: Women’s Fiction

#Bookreview PRACTICING NORMAL by Cara Sue Achterberg (@CaraAchterberg) A great book about the games families play and what love really is.

REVIEWS FOR LITERARY WORLD REVIEWS

Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg
Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg

Title:   Practicing Normal
Author:   Cara Sue Achterberg  
ISBN13:  978-1611882445
ASIN:  B06XH4SJW6
Published:  31st May 2017
Pages:  336
Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Family Life
Description:

The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.

The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.

And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.

Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.

Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

“Does facing the truth beat living a lie? In PRACTICING NORMAL, Cara Sue Achterberg has given us a smart story that is both a window and a mirror, about the extraordinary pain ― and the occasional gifts ― of an ordinary life.”
– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN

“What does it really mean to have a normal life? Achterberg’s stunning new novel explores how a family can fracture just trying to survive, and how what makes us different is also what can make us most divine.”
– Caroline Leavitt, author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and the New York Times bestsellers PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW

“PRACTICING NORMAL takes a deep dive into the dysfunctional dynamics of a ‘picture perfect family.’ A compelling story about the beautiful humanity in the most ordinary of lives: from first love to a marriage on the downward slide to an unexpected family tragedy. Achterberg handles each thread with tender care and we can’t help but root for every member of the Turner family.”
– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THE VANISHING YEAR 

Body of review:

I was given a copy of this book as a gift and I freely chose to review it.

Tolstoi’s probably best-known quote: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way fits perfectly this novel. As a psychiatrist, ‘normal’ is one of those terms that we always seem to come back to, even if it is impossible to define. It seems that normal is always what other people are, never us. Perhaps, as it is discussed in the novel in reference to Autism and Asperger’s, which are conditions that fall within a spectrum, the same is true for normality. It is not an on or off thing. Perhaps we all belong to some point within the spectrum, but we’d be hard pushed to find many people whom we’d all agree were ‘normal’, at least if we got to know them well.

The novel introduces us to the Turners, who live a reasonably comfortable life within a theoretically idyllic neighbourhood. Once we scratch a bit under the surface, we find: Jenna, the sixteen year old daughter, who is not a goth but likes to shave her hair, dye it in interesting colours, collects piercings and is an ace at breaking into neighbours’ houses (courtesy of her father’s job in a security company). Kate, her mother, is forever busy caring for everybody but herself. She has to look after her mother, Mildred, who might be dementing, or perhaps not, and who lives alone, never leaves the house and talks to her birds. She also has to look after JT, her son, with an Asperger’s diagnosis, who cycles through periods of obsession with different topics (ER Medicine, Fire-fighting…), has tantrums if his routine is disturbed, cannot read people’s expressions or understand their feelings, but is a genius at Maths and has an incredible memory. She also runs around the rest of the household and is always worried about her husband, Everett, who cheated on her once (that she knows of). The chapters alternate the first-person narrations of Jenna (who somehow becomes friendly with the rich, handsome and all-around nice neighbour, Wells, who isn’t, after all, the stereotypical jock), and Kate (whose sister, Evelyn, has made contact with their father, Frank, who left them when they were young children, and believes their mother has been lying to them) allowing the reader to better grasp, not only the secrets they all keep from each other, but also the different ways the same events can be interpreted and seen. Everett’s narration (also in the first person) joins later, giving us hints of more secrets to come,  allowing us a more rounded picture and offering us a male perspective.

I found the first person narrations served well the topic, and the voices of the three narrators were very distinct and fitted in well with their characters. Although personally, I can’t say I liked Everett very much, no characters are despicable and all of them love their family and each other, even if they might go about it the wrong way. Jenna’s strong hostility towards her father is easy to understand, not only because he cheated on her mother (and is still doing it after promising not to) but because she had idealised him when she was a child and he’s shattered that illusion. She is clever, challenging and reckless but with a great heart (she doesn’t care for rules or conventions but has no bad intentions) and her romance will bring warm memories to all readers who are still young at heart. Kate is a woman who is always at the service of others and makes big efforts to ignore what she feels she can’t cope with, even if it means living a lie. But she learns that she is stronger than she thinks and grows during the novel. She also gets to understand that her dreams of romantic love are unrealistic, and we feel optimistic for her at the end. Everett is a man who lost his way (it seems) when he left his job as a policeman. Now, to feel better about himself he’ll do almost anything, not caring what the consequences for himself and others might be, and he always puts his needs before those of the rest of his family. He does not understand his children but he loves them and tries to do what he thinks is best, within limits. JT is a wonderful character, well-drawn and realistic in terms of the behaviours he exhibits and his relationship with Kate, Jenna and the rest of the family is heart-warming and has the ring of truth.

There are many secrets, some that come from a long time back and some much more recent, and the narrative is good at revealing them slowly, even if we might strongly suspect some of them, partly because we have access to the thoughts of several the characters (as they don’t communicate with each other that well). There are also many love stories and many different kinds of love that are explored. Ultimately, love must be about more than just saying the words and looking into each other’s eyes. It isn’t something we should feel automatically entitled to; it has to be proven and worked on, as Cassey, a friend of Jenna and later Kate, explains.

The secondary characters are also interesting, mostly sympathetic (with the exception of Wells’s family, and Evelyn, who comes across as self-centered and domineering) but not drawn in as much psychological detail as the members of the family, but they are far from unidimensional. I really liked Cassey, the hospice nurse who understands all the females of the family and helps them without asking anything in return, and Phil, a good man who, like Wells, disproves Mildred’s generalisations about men. Mildred, the grandmother, can be at once annoying and endearing, but eventually, we get to understand her a bit better, even if we might not necessarily agree with her actions. I also loved the animals, especially Marco.

This is a well-written book, where plot and characterisation go hand in hand, that offers good psychological insights into the nature of family relationships and the games members of a family play with each other. It also will make readers think about what love means and will remind them of the risks of keeping secrets, not only from others but also from ourselves. The narration flows well and once you get to know the characters it’s difficult to stop reading and you feel bereft when you come to the end as they’ve become part of the family. A great read.

I couldn’t leave you without sharing a few of the sentences I highlighted.

Never break more than one law at a time.

Kate talking about JT, her son, with Asperger’s: but I focus on what JT can do, not what he can’t.

Kate again, wondering about her son’s inability to read other people’s expressions and know what they’re feeling or thinking:

Maybe it would be easier to sail through life unaware of the emotions of the people around you.

And Jenna, on one of her typical (and oh, so accurate, sorry gentlemen) pearls of wisdom (although this one she keeps to herself):

If men didn’t have penises, they’d probably be a lot smarter. 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $ 10.75 
Kindle: $ 8.95 
Audiobook: $31.86 

Thanks to all and remember to like, share, comment, click and to review all the books you read!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

 

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “TEARS IN THE SUN,” BY AUTHOR @JAOWENBY

Tears in the Sun

  • Title:  Tears in the Sun, A Short Story
  • Author: J. A. Owenby
  • File Size: 439 KB
  • Print Length: 16 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: J. A. Owenby
  • Publication Date: December 25, 2013
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HBZOKY4
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Drama, Teen & Young Adult, Parenting & Relationships

*The author gifted me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review which follows*

From the Author, J. A. Owenby:

“A Short Story – Lacey, a senior in high school, has never heard of borderline personality disorder yet she lives with it every day. As she begins realizing her family isn’t as normal as she thought, she searches for help and answers. Those answers turn her world upside down, and she is left with making life changing decisions for not only herself but her mentally ill mother who she loves more than anything.”

Recommendation:

This is an entertaining short read that really takes your breath away. Mental Illness can be debilitating to a family’s structure and Lacey’s family is no exception. I won’t kid you, there are some scenes in this story that will affect you deeply.

I found the characters to be well thought out and totally realistic. I felt great empathy with Lacey as a teenager trying to cope with her mother’s religious obsessions which she forced on everyone, near and far, all symptoms of a deepening mental illness burgeoning out of control.

The one salvation for Lacey was Patsy, her mother’s lover who had bought the house with her mother years ago. Their relationship hints at a deep friendship and emotional alliance against the shame and humiliation forced upon them from the ravages of the mother’s mental illness.

All books start somewhere and J. A. Owenby shared with me that she wrote this short story in 2011. She worked with an editor from Writer’s Digest and decided to put it on Amazon a few years later. Jen said that after her short story was published she had many people reach out and ask for a full novel, so she finally wrote it.

Her novel will be released later this year and called, “The Truth She Knew.” The book will include Lacey, Mama, and Patsy from the short story, and additional characters. Jen adds that she addresses issues in the novel including mental illness, mental/physical abuse, and religious manipulation. Lacy falls in love for the first time in the novel and is able to summon all her strength to make some very difficult decisions.

As of the date of this review, Jen was not sure of a publication date for the novel. I understand it is in the hands of her editor. However, I am sure if you connect with her on her blog or social media you will be able to follow the novel’s progress.

This is one you won’t want to miss!

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars
J.A. Owenby

About J. A. Owenby:

J. A. (Jen) Owenby lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

She’s a published author of six short stories and is beginning her first full-length novel. J.A. doesn’t mess around when it comes to working with a professional team in order to present her best writing.

She also runs her own business and helps people find jobs they love as a professional resume writer.

She is an avid reader of thrillers, romance, new adult and young adult novels. She loves music, movies, and pop tarts. Her downtime consists of a beautiful summer evening, snuggling with her hubby outside underneath the stars. If it’s winter, listening to the rain and watching NFL football.

You can follow the events of her upcoming novel on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JAOwenby, and on Twitter at J A Owenby, Author at https://twitter.com/JAOwenby. Look for J. A. Owenby on her blog at Jen’s Thoughts https://jenowenby.wordpress.com/.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 1122016

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “STASHES,” BY P J COLANDO

 

  • StashesTitle:  Stashes – What Ever Happened to Earn?
  • Author: P. J. Colando
  • File Size: 1011 KB
  • Print Length: 350 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Bookbaby, 1 edition
  • Publication Date: June 19, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LIAZBKK
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Humor, Contemporary Fiction

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

Meet the Breeden’s

Meet Jackie and Steve Breeden, your average hard-working, dairy farming, salt of the earth kind of folks who live on a rural farm in Michigan. Time has marched on in their lives, and both, Jackie and Steve, realize that as they are getting older their dream of hitting the road and seeing the beauty of what America has to offer, in the style of their hero Charles Kuralt, is becoming a shadowy memory. Life for the Breeden’s has become predictable and dull.

Just when Jackie and Steve accept that their dream is gone, their son Brandon abruptly loses his job at the GM Plant not far from town. Armed with the knowledge that Brandon and his wife, Amy, a Vice President at the local bank, are going to lose their home to foreclosure, Jackie and Steve decide to buy a Winnebago. It is a win-win situation for all of them. Brandon and Amy can move into their house while Brandon tends the milking business, and Steve and Jackie can travel and explore the United States fulfilling their lifelong dream. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Amy is a conniving, whining, money obsessed twenty-something, typical of an entitled generation. Amy decides that she is not going to take losing all the things she worked so hard to possess, just because they wallowed in insurmountable debt.  In Amy’s eyes, she deserves her luxuries, no matter what!

In no time, Amy hatches a scheme to expand the Breeden’s micro dairy business by growing and selling marijuana edibles, convincing Jackie that this is the way of the future. One day while at work at the bank, Amy secretly manipulates the amount of the loan for the Winnebago and the line of credit to finance supplies for her burgeoning marijuana crop.

Jackie and Steve leave for their trip, entrusting the care of their home and business to their son and daughter-in-law finally free to pursue their baby boomer dream. What could possibly go wrong?

Recommendation:

Stashes was one of the funniest and most enjoyable books in this genre I have read in a long time. Maybe it had to do with the language (I am from Wisconsin, the book takes place in Michigan) or maybe it had to do with the stage of life I find myself at but I felt a strong connection. I enjoyed the loveable characters of Jackie and Steve and felt right at home with their dialog and their thoughts. There were times that I silently howled with laughter at the situations all of these characters ended up in. The best part was that every challenge was believable and realistic in our world today!

I also enjoyed the approach that PJ Colando took in the story telling. She used two protagonists so you got both points of view, that from Jackie telling her side of the story, and Amy elaborating her’s. This made the story richer by sharing the generational ideals of the two women. You can only imagine the fireworks between these two.

The character of the daughter-in-law, Amy was fascinating to me. You had to love her determination and grit, even though she always seemed to make disastrous decisions. In fact, I liked that Amy mirrored many of Jackie’s attitudes. The fact that the women didn’t recognize that about each other added to the absurdity of their lives and decisions.

P J Colando describes her book as a “fictional farce,” and I couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, she shared with me that the cover illustration is by Cliff Cramp, who had done all of the cover art for the Star Wars DVD’s. She said he pictured himself on the cover, which he said is done in “National Lampoon” style. If you look on the lower right of the cover, he even signed it!

P J Colando also shares with us that “Cliff Cramp is a friend of a friend who is generous in every way. Cliff agreed to do the cover before my final revision; in part, because I sent him a picture of the apron on the cover – it is reversible. Has a dark side and a light side, just like The Force. I wear the apron to all book events, wearing the light side when I read a few pages in Jackie’s point of view and the dark side when I read daughter-in-law Amy’s point of view. She’s a whippersnapper, that one!”

Humor aside, this book deals with the realities of life in the heartland of America and how people are dealing with life in a downsized economy. The issues of medical marijuana are humorously discussed without demeaning the positive qualities of such a program, or demeaning the laws in place to protect the rights of all citizens.

What I loved most about the book was the moral tug of war Jackie had with herself while trying to honor her values as a friend, wife, and mother. Many of these lessons were interwoven with humor and faith, a joyful combination. Stashes will help you realize that staying true to your beliefs and values is not always an easy thing and sometimes you have to be creative to survive!

PJColando-About

Author: P J Colando

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of five stars

4.5 stars
About P J Colando from her bio on her blog:

“As a licensed speech-language pathologist I wrote thousands of clinical reports – and some of them contained fabulous fiction, to urge a denial-oriented insurer to pay. Now I write for fun and freedom of expression. It’s an elegant hobby: I hide away in my home on a hill, out of earshot of the fray.

My short stories and personal essays have been published in magazines, newspapers, and non-profits’ newsletters. I write a regular column for ‘Lit Central’ called “Write Places”. My stories have also been included in the anthologies: Open to Interpretation, The Indiana Review, The Biscuit, She Writes, and Wisdom Has a Voice.

My satiric family saga, Stashes, was published in July 2014, its pot plot shock-and-awing my friends. Next in the series will be HASHES AND BASHES. Wonder what it’s about? Clues were stashed among the misadventures of book one…

I relish oral reads, including Dime Stories, Literary Posse, and LIT UP! I’d love to come to talk with your book clubs, groups of writers/readers. I have an extensive public speaking resume. I provide home baked goodies, giveaways, insights, and laughs. Connect with me.

My husband, Larry, and I are also widely traveled, a quest endowed by my parents. We grew up in small towns in the Midwest and now live in southern California. We feel deeply grounded, yet we crave adventure. No kids, no pets, lots of friends, and few financial obligations: what a life we’ve created, fellow Baby Boomers!  Come join … via my writing.

I post regularly on my blog, themed as “Stashes, Hashes, Bashes: Boomer Stuff!”

I write while my husband watches sports (read: often). He calls me a walking exclamation point! I dash –

I’m told there’s sunshine in my Voice, an inimitable, singular energy. I am having a blast!”

Find out more about P J Colando’s books here.

Make certain to connect with P J Colando through Facebook at P J Colando.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 12.22.15

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.


© Copyright-All rights reserved by litworldinterviews.com 2015

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “BEYOND THE COLORED LINE, STELLA – BOOK 2,” BY AUTHOR @HOUSEOFPOETRY

Stella: Beyond the Colored Line by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

  • Title:  Beyond the Colored Line – Stella, Book 2
  • Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl
  • File Size: 443 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication Date: July 27, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B013PQCKK8
  • Formats: Kindle, Stella – book 1: Kindle
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Literature, Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

Introducing – Stella May

In 1916, Stella May is born as the great-granddaughter of a former slave, also named Stella May. The original Stella May changed her family’s surname to May upon gaining her freedom. Stella is born of mixed ancestry which for all appearances gives her light skin, blond hair, and hazel eyes.

An amazing beauty, Stella is teased by her black classmates because they don’t believe she is black enough. She looks white and even sounds white. In comparison, her white classmates ridicule her since she is too poor to fit in with proper white society. Stella May is caught in the proverbial catch 22. She is too light to be black and too poor to be white.

Stella May’s mother, Judith was born of mixed ancestry also, which gave her the same light skin, hair, and eyes. Judith always thought of herself as a black woman when she married Stella’s father who was also black. By 1928, Stella’s father ran off in fear of being lynched for being married to a white woman. In those days, society made it clear that the races should not co-mingle.

Who is Sidney McNair?

However, even without her father around, Stella was raised with a family of aunts (from her mother’s side) who took an active part in her life. Eventually, because of the difficulties with Stella fitting in at school, her mother sent her to a private school. Stella’s uncles on her father’s side said, “…They were breaking the law – that a Negro had no business in a white school.” Aunt Sara felt different, because, after all, she said, “Stella is half white.”

By the time the Great Depression eases, Stella and her family move to segregated Chicago, where life is not much better. Aunt Sara, a school teacher, struggles to wait for the school district to pay her. Sara has made the step into white society by dating an affluent doctor and encourages Stella to do the same.  After a discussion with Aunt Sara, Stella decides to pass for white. Sidney McNair is born and enters a white society where she had the freedom to go where she chooses and to buy whatever she likes. Stella has crossed the colored line.

Many years later, Sidney is forced to come to grips with the decisions she made long ago. How those decisions affect her life, and the lives of her children and grandchildren, take the reader on a roller-coaster ride into the world of race and ethnicity in America today.

Recommendation:

Since I had not read the first book in the Stella series, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pick up the threads of Stella’s story. Although the characters are fictional, I was drawn to them (especially Stella) because I have granddaughters of mixed ancestry and I wanted to understand the challenges they face as young women each day.

Maybe, because I felt such a personal connection, Stella’s story touched me even more deeply than I thought it would. I had no idea how difficult life was for Stella and her family, all because of the color of their skin. This was an emotional read for me.

Even more revealing, is how relevant Stella’s story is in America today. I wonder how many people, faced with the same dilemma’s that Stella dealt with, would be able to reconcile their feelings about their own ethnicity.

So, I asked my granddaughters who have black, white, and Thai ancestry. Both girls are beautiful and exotic. They have dark hair, and skin, while one granddaughter has brown eyes, the other has hazel eyes. You know what they told me? They said they were American! Somehow, I knew Stella would have approved.

Beyond the Colored Line is a story about an American family dealing with the issues of race and color in a time when those issues were considered to be conditions characterized with hardship and suffering. Stella’s story helped me to discover connections with my own family I never had before. You see, even in my own family, nothing is ever just black and white.

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5
Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Author, Yecheilyah Ysrayl:

Born in 1987 on the south side of Chicago, Yecheilyah Ysrayl (“EC”) is an author and Spoken Word Artist.

Yecheilyah started writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve. She attended Harper High School (International Language Career Academy) Robert Morris College (Computer Basics / Administration), Chicago State University (Professional and Technical Writing), and Everest College (Medical Assistance / Phlebotomy).

As an artist, Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an incorporation of spiritual critique, honesty and an authentic analysis of African American identity. She seeks to create work that promotes healthy research and investigation into the cultural identity, laws, customs and traditions of the African American for self-revolution and advancement. Furthermore, “EC” seeks to advance the promotion of truth and identity by way of Spoken Word.

“EC” currently lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.

To watch a trailer for the book click the link below.

Make certain to connect with Yecheilyah through her Twitter @ahouseofpoetry

And Facebook at Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Book Review by: @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 10.2015

Top Five #FREE #BOOK Today from @PSBartlett

Free Book Today Missed Out

ONE Top Five FREE BOOK TO GET TODAY!

LWI AUTHORS

Sorry, you missed this one. Now it’s 3.99 and it’s #7 paid. Obviously worth it.

JINX SCHWARTZ JUST ADD SALT-A HETTA COFFEY SERIES BOOK

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Salt-Hetta-Coffey-Series-ebook/dp/B005SZ132Q/ref=zg_bs_157317011_f_2

Just Add Salt by Jinx Schwartz

Book Blurb

Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it!

A globe-trotting engineer with attitude, a penchant for trouble, and a yacht, Hetta is back, and this time she’s steering us into hot Mexican waters.
Miffed that vacation plans with her chronically absent boyfriend, Jenks Jenkins, have gone awry, she accepts a job in Baja.

So what, if she and her friend Jan are spectacularly unqualified to take her yacht on a thousand-mile cruise in the eastern Pacific Ocean during hurricane season?

Hiring a handsome, if somewhat fishy captain for the trip might keep them off the rocks, but probably won’t do the same for her future with Jenks. Meanwhile, a little eye candy on board can’t be all bad.

Hetta’s fierce independence impels her to tackle a very profitable (if environmentally and politically incorrect) project south of the border. True to form, her irreverent nature and disregard for danger soon swamps her in a sea of mayhem, illegal aliens, a pesky whale, and a menacing Mexican machinator.

Set sail for Baja Mexico’s Magdalena Bay as Hetta Coffey leads us once more into a morass of intrigue that will keep you laughing, breathless, and wanting more.

Top Most Useful Review

“When I finished the first book in the series, I realized I had Hetta withdrawals. I hurried to Amazon and purchased Just Add Salt. I would advise reading the first book first because it supplies the background – where it all began. But I enjoyed the second book even more than the first. There is danger from the get-go and tension on every page. I love a mystery with a touch of romance, and this book has it all. What it doesn’t have is over-the-top graphic violence or explicit sex. The Hetta Coffey mysteries are a refreshing change and I look forward to reading more. “– Laurie Hanan, author of the Louise Golden Hawaiian mysteries

P.S. BARTLETT WITH HER SHORT NOVELLA IVORY DAWN

A PREQUEL TO HER AWARD WINNING BLUE DIAMOND: THE RAZOR’S EDGE

http://www.amazon.com/IVORY-DAWN-Razors-Adventures-Bartlett-ebook/dp/B00XQPBJ6K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1443799720&sr=1-1&keywords=P.S.+Bartlett

Ivory Dawn by P.S. Bartlett

Book Blurb

Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.

Top Most Useful Review

“The last thing he will see is my eyes before the Devil welcomes him home.”
Oh, how I missed you Ivory! This was my second read by P.S. Bartlett and she doesn’t know the meaning of disappointment! Thank you so much for sending me a file, you made my day!
This short story is a prequel of my first read, Demons & Pearls, and it was fascinating to learn how Ivory got granted passage onto Barclay’s ship. I must admit, that I missed him too. I only got a short time with him on the last book but I’m glad I got a little more of his banter with Ivory in this one. This was a hilarious quick read and I love how the bond these women have is as strong as ever. They seem to be extensions of themselves and they trust each other completely which is easily seen. Only con is that it’s too short, but that’s just because I will never get enough of Ivory and her adventures! I can’t wait to read more. I am addicted to pirate stories now!”-Cassandra Carpio-Serious Book Reviewer. Her Site.

Two Top Five #FREE #BOOKS Today from @JinxSchwartz & @PSBartlett

Free Books Today

TWO Top Five FREE BOOKS TO GET TODAY!

LWI AUTHORS

JINX SCHWARTZ JUST ADD SALT-A HETTA COFFEY SERIES BOOK

http://www.amazon.com/Just-Salt-Hetta-Coffey-Series-ebook/dp/B005SZ132Q/ref=zg_bs_157317011_f_2

Just Add Salt by Jinx Schwartz

Book Blurb

Hetta Coffey is a sassy Texan with a snazzy yacht, and she’s not afraid to use it!

A globe-trotting engineer with attitude, a penchant for trouble, and a yacht, Hetta is back, and this time she’s steering us into hot Mexican waters.
Miffed that vacation plans with her chronically absent boyfriend, Jenks Jenkins, have gone awry, she accepts a job in Baja.

So what, if she and her friend Jan are spectacularly unqualified to take her yacht on a thousand-mile cruise in the eastern Pacific Ocean during hurricane season?

Hiring a handsome, if somewhat fishy captain for the trip might keep them off the rocks, but probably won’t do the same for her future with Jenks. Meanwhile, a little eye candy on board can’t be all bad.

Hetta’s fierce independence impels her to tackle a very profitable (if environmentally and politically incorrect) project south of the border. True to form, her irreverent nature and disregard for danger soon swamps her in a sea of mayhem, illegal aliens, a pesky whale, and a menacing Mexican machinator.

Set sail for Baja Mexico’s Magdalena Bay as Hetta Coffey leads us once more into a morass of intrigue that will keep you laughing, breathless, and wanting more.

Top Most Useful Review

“When I finished the first book in the series, I realized I had Hetta withdrawals. I hurried to Amazon and purchased Just Add Salt. I would advise reading the first book first because it supplies the background – where it all began. But I enjoyed the second book even more than the first. There is danger from the get-go and tension on every page. I love a mystery with a touch of romance, and this book has it all. What it doesn’t have is over-the-top graphic violence or explicit sex. The Hetta Coffey mysteries are a refreshing change and I look forward to reading more. “– Laurie Hanan, author of the Louise Golden Hawaiian mysteries

P.S. BARTLETT WITH HER SHORT NOVELLA IVORY DAWN

A PREQUEL TO HER AWARD WINNING BLUE DIAMOND: THE RAZOR’S EDGE

http://www.amazon.com/IVORY-DAWN-Razors-Adventures-Bartlett-ebook/dp/B00XQPBJ6K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1443799720&sr=1-1&keywords=P.S.+Bartlett

Ivory Dawn by P.S. Bartlett

Book Blurb

Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.

Top Most Useful Review

“The last thing he will see is my eyes before the Devil welcomes him home.”
Oh, how I missed you Ivory! This was my second read by P.S. Bartlett and she doesn’t know the meaning of disappointment! Thank you so much for sending me a file, you made my day!
This short story is a prequel of my first read, Demons & Pearls, and it was fascinating to learn how Ivory got granted passage onto Barclay’s ship. I must admit, that I missed him too. I only got a short time with him on the last book but I’m glad I got a little more of his banter with Ivory in this one. This was a hilarious quick read and I love how the bond these women have is as strong as ever. They seem to be extensions of themselves and they trust each other completely which is easily seen. Only con is that it’s too short, but that’s just because I will never get enough of Ivory and her adventures! I can’t wait to read more. I am addicted to pirate stories now!”-Cassandra Carpio-Serious Book Reviewer. Her Site.

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “THE CRATER LAKE SERIES, Box Set One,” BY AUTHOR @FRANCISGUENETTE

The Crater Lake Series

  • Title:  The Crater Lake Series: “Disappearing in Plain Sight,” “The Light Never Lies,” and “Chasing Down the Night”
  • Author: Francis Guenette
  • File Size: 3331 KB
  • Print Length:
  •  Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: Huckleberry Haven Publishing
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN:  B010QZ12K0
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13: 9780994066404
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Drama,  Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Romance

The boxed set of The Crater Lake Series is comprised of three full-length novels. I will give a brief review of all three books in sequence order.

*The author provided me a copy of the series in exchange for an honest review which follows.*

“Disappearing in Plain Sight” Book One

Sixteen-year-old Lisa Marie has a dark past in Ontario that she would like to get away from, so when she is forced to visit her aunt in Crater Lake on Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia for the summer, she jumps at the chance.

Aunt Bethany and her partner, Beulah aren’t sure what to do with a teenager who has emotional issues. The running of their bread business is time consuming enough. In no time, Lisa Marie has her own agenda, and when she meets Justin Roberts, one of the troubled teens who resides at Camp Micah, a refuge for troubled teens who have been in the system, Lisa Marie is forced to grapple with her teenage past.

With the help of Izzy Montgomery, a trauma counsellor at Camp Micah, and owner of the Crater Lake Community, and Liam Collins, an employee of the camp, Lisa Marie attempts to deal with her own secrets and guilt from the past. Unaware that the entire community is dealing with the loss of one of their own, Lisa Marie spirals into adult situations and consequences that come to affect her entire life.

Within the tight-knit community swirl the stories of the troubled teens and the legacy of Caleb Montgomery, the man larger than life, whose dreams became a reality at Crater Lake.

“The Light Never Lies” Book Two

Lisa Marie’s story continues and she finds herself frantic to return to Crater Lake once she knows that Justin will be working at the sawmill for the summer. In typical self-centered teenage fashion, Lisa Marie is worried about herself and her needs only. However, all is not as it seems in this quiet idyllic lakeside community.

During Lisa’s school year, Izzy Montgomery and Liam Collins advanced their relationship once they realized their love and passion for each other. Liam and Izzy find their love tested with the appearance of Lisa Marie as she complicates matters further for the couple with the announcement of her pregnancy.

To add further stress to their relationship, Izzy and Liam find themselves suddenly surrounded by family. Izzy’s elderly father has come for a visit from England. In addition, Liam’s father, Alex appears with a brother named Bobby that Liam has never met. Bobby is a lovable child with a supernatural ability that bodes watching.

At Crater Lake, life is messy and never just black and white. This entire volume is dedicated to relationships, changes, new beginnings, and the realization that family comes from those you choose to let into your life.

“Chasing Down the Night” Book Three

A cougar lurks in the hills surrounding Crater Lake bringing disturbing empathic visions to Bobby Collins that usher in further changes to the residents of this small community. Bobby’s mystical qualities strengthen and he begins to associate with his spirit animal, the cougar, in an unhealthy way.

Izzy and Liam continue to grapple with home life, family, and Izzy’s challenges at work as the administrator of Micah Camp. Lisa Marie deals with the challenges of motherhood and an advancing photographic career, all the while seeking balance in her relationship with Justin.

Meanwhile, Liam’s sister, Fiona accepts an internship with Micah Camp’s local physician and arrives carrying the baggage of her Native American heritage and bringing additional upheaval to the family.

The final volume of the Crater Lake series deals with building a family, respect for tradition, and embracing the new things in life. Caleb Montgomery’s legacy at Crater Lake is secure in the community of family that meant the world to him.
Recommendation:

Have you ever read a book or a series where you become emotionally bonded to the characters? This is what I did with Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series. At the end of the last book, I was heartbroken that I would not encounter the beauty that surrounds Crater Lake and the cast of characters anymore.

Yes, I was going to miss my new friends and their lives. In fact, I had to stop reading for a few days so that I could adjust to my life without them. I had a book hangover, one of which I have not experienced in a long time!

The complexity of the characters and the realistic relationships shared between them are what propel this saga forward. Pair that with the beautiful descriptions of the surrounding area and Crater Lake comes alive in magnificent colors much like a rainbow which spreads hope in the darkest times.

There is something here for everyone. Love, sex, lust, greed, spirituality, sacrifice, death, murder, life… the list goes on and on. Each book in the series leads you on to a different life lesson much like the lessons you learn within your own family unit.

There was a kinship found within these pages where I as the reader was drawn along, all the while given permission to become part of the family. I feel my life has been enriched for having shared their lives. I will reread these books numerous times because it will feel like coming home.

 Frances Guenette

Author, Frances Guenette

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5
About Frances Guenette:

Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of a lakeshore cabin and garden on the Northern end of Vancouver Island. She shares an off-the-grid home that employs a combination of micro-hydro and solar power with her husband Bruce.

Between May and September, Billy Bob the Bear drops over to graze and eat huckleberries and salal. Now and then cougar tracks are spotted meandering across the property. Life is good in the hinterlands, but Francis warns – you have to keep your eyes open and know where you are.

Francis has a daughter and a son – both happily married and pursuing interesting careers. She also has two beautiful and wildly funny granddaughters who provide her with inspiration for writing and living.

For most of her working life, Francis has been an educator. She has worked with special needs children and youth and taught at the undergrad level at the University of Victoria. She has a graduate degree in counselling psychology and very nearly completed her Ph.D. There was that pesky matter of the doctoral dissertation, but enough said on that score! She has worked as a trauma counsellor, a researcher, and a graduate student supervisor.

During her academic life Francis published (on her own and with others) several articles that were accepted to peer-reviewed journals as well as contributing to chapters in two published books.

Please connect with Francis Guenette through her Twitter @FrancisGuenette

Her Blog at: http://disappearinginplainsight.com to learn all you would ever want to know about Francis and her writing life.

And Facebook at Francis Guenette

Colleen 10.21.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review by: @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

 

 

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “THE LADY OF THE PIER – The Ebb,” BY EFFROSYNI MOSCHOUDI

The Lady of the Pier

  • Title:  The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb
  • Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi
  • File Size: 2152 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: Based on the print edition (ISBN 1500175544).
  •  Publisher:   Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Publication Date: July 2nd, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LGNYEPC
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Genres: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance

*The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which follows*

What’s it all about?

This story begins in Brighton, England in 1937. Destitute and seeking a new start, Laura, and her mother leave London to find a new home where Laura’s sickly mother can recover from the ills of living in the city. Once there, life blossoms for the lovely Laura. Soon after her arrival, she meets Christian, a stagehand at the West Pier Theater. Laura falls in love with him and their life seems destined to be a happy one. However, Christian realizes that Laura has ambitions that might not include him.

Almost true to the form of a rag to riches tale, Laura embarks on a promising singing career after being discovered while cleaning up after her shift in the nearby coffee shop. Ecstatic with her new career, Laura realizes she wants the good things in life. A rich aristocrat, Charles Willard pursues Laura with the intent to make her his own. Laura’s singing ambitions create problems for Laura and Christian as Laura realizes the horrible truth that Willard has an unhealthy obsession for her.

Suddenly, it is 1987, where twenty-year-old Sofia from Athens, Greece spends the summer with her grandparents in Corfu, Greece. Her vacation is at an idyllic location near the sea with a loving family that cherishes her. In an act of defiance against her strict father, Sofia takes a job at the local boat rental shop located on the pier near the beach. One day a captivatingly handsome Englishman named Danny who is vacationing from Brighton, England appears on the beach.

Quick as a flash, Danny steals Sofia’s heart with his laughter and winning ways. Sofia cannot resist his charms and falls in love with him, all the while worrying that her family will report her activities to her strict father. Danny’s vacation comes to an end and he heads home to Brighton leaving Sofia in her beloved Corfu.

Corfu Greece

Corfu, Greece

In the midst of trying to balance her feelings for Danny and her family obligations, Sofia begins to have dreams of a strange lady in black who walks the West Pier in Brighton, of which she has never seen except for pictures in a magazine that Danny showed her. The woman resembles Sofia and somehow the woman’s pain becomes part of Sofia, deepening a haunting and mysterious connection between the two women.

And the mystery thickens…

At the heart of the two intertwining love stories are the piers – one in Brighton, and the other in Corfu. Sofia and Laura are connected through the haunting dreams even though they are separated by fifty years. Unfortunately, this is part one of the series and it does not give many answers to the questions that I was left with at the end of this book. Not that this is a bad thing.

Nevertheless, the descriptions painted by the words of Ms. Moschoudi transported me easily between the two times and locations. I loved how easy it was for me to find myself at both locations; on the Brighton pier and relaxing on the beach in Corfu. The characters were easy to connect with and I yearned for their love stories to become complete. I can’t wait to continue the series to find out what happens next!

My Recommendation:

I do highly recommend this book with the understanding that the story will continue to unfold in the subsequent volumes. There is a bewitching quality to the stories you will not forget. The second book is: “The Flow,” and the third book in the series is: “The Storm,” to be published in December 2015.

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 4.5
Reader Enrichment: 4.5
Reader Enjoyment: 4.5
Overall Rate: 4.5
Effrosnyi Moushidi

About Effrosyni Moschoudi:

Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she often sat alone in her granny’s garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies, and ants. Through adolescence, she wrote dark poetry that suited her melancholic, romantic nature. She’s passionate about books and movies and simply couldn’t live without them. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix. Effrosyni is a proud member of the writer’s group, ENovel Authors at Work.

To watch a trailer for the book click the link below:

https://youtu.be/s3LrIRBxNVM

Make certain to connect with Effrosyni through her Twitter

@FrostieMoss

And Facebook at Author Effrosyni Moschoudi

Book Review by: @ColleenChesebro of Silver Threading.com

BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “SECRETS OF HALLSTEAD HOUSE” @READEANDWRITE

Title: Secrets of Hallstead House

Author: Amy M. Reade

ISBN 10:  1601833008

ISBN 13: 978-1601833006

Published: Kensington Trade (July 1, 2014)

Pages: 224

Blog: amreade

Author webpage: amymreade.com

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Family Drama, Woman’s Fiction

Secrets Of Hallstead House (eBook)

Nurse, Macy Stoddard is desperately looking for a new beginning. Loss has become her sole existence after the deaths of both of her parents. To make matters worse, her fiancé deserts her just when she needs him the most. Now she finds herself totally alone in the world. To turn the corner of tragic life events, Macy decides to take a position on a remote island in upstate New York where Alexandria Hallstead, the elderly mistress of Hallstead House needs the care of a qualified nurse.

Immediately, Macy is enamored with the natural beauty of the island and the uniqueness of the old house. She enjoys caring for Alex Hallstead and the elderly woman values her friendship on the remote island. Not long after Macy’s arrival it becomes apparent that the rest of the family and servants do not want her there. A mystery drifts about Hallstead House encircling Macy, drawing her into the delicate web of family intrigue. Shrouded threats from the housekeeper and other family members begin to escalate into random acts of unexplained violence.

Macy turns to Pete McHale, Hallstead House resident handyman and boat captain, who becomes her ally in solving the mystery that permeates the island. What Macy didn’t bargain for was falling in love, or discovering the deep, dark family secrets that threaten to engulf her forever.

Author, Amy Reade

The descriptions of the Thousand Islands in upstate New York on the Saint Lawrence River were absolutely glorious. I thought Amy Reade’s words painted vivid images of the sea and the haunting beauty of the islands and the river near Hallstead House. She depicts in her writing, grand homes that dotted these islands with rich tales of the occupant’s failures and achievements. To me, this added story telling augmented a realistic twist to the unraveling events in the story.

The Secrets of Hallstead House is Amy Reade’s debut novel. This book is an enjoyable and comfortable read, much like the gothic suspense novels by Victoria Holt I read as a young woman. For me, Macy’s journey about finding herself and solving the mystery was satisfying and all I needed within the confines of the story.

So come on! Grab a cup of tea, settle in your favorite chair, and visit Hallstead House. Oh, and by the way, don’t underestimate the nature of the mystery that lurks within these pages. I never figured out the end of the story beforehand and was pleasantly surprised at the end!

Edited: Previously stated as free until June 5, 2015. The free download offer has ended.

RATINGS
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4

Buy it at: Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback: $15.99 US
Kindle: $.00 US “FREE”

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com

An @COLLEENCHESEBRO BOOK REVIEW OF “Trails in the Sand,” by @PC ZICK

Trails in the Sand

Title: Trails in the Sand

Author: P. C. Zick

ISBN: 1481255797 (ISBN13: 9781481255790)

ASIN:  B00ANVD6DE

Published:  January 10th 2013 by Createspace

Pages: 410

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Family Drama

Author Website: pczick.com

Do you like to travel? Then jump aboard, because “Trails in the Sand,” immediately propelled me into the Deep South to the state of Florida where mangrove swamps and the Gulf of Mexico beckoned and lured me into their mystique. Grab a fan, it might get hot!

The story begins with a mysterious death in 1956. It is that one single event which brings to the forefront long buried family secrets with roots deep in the sands of time, and laid to rest in the true southern tradition. These secrets reveal a pivotal connection to past and future events.

Caroline is the protagonist, an environmental journalist who left home as a young woman to pursue her dream of writing. Caroline’s sister focuses on betrayal with the love of Caroline’s life, Simon. The sister manages to marry Simon, instead of Caroline, who vows to never return because of her broken heart.

Years later after Caroline’s sister dies, Caroline and Simon are reunited in their friendship and love for each other. They marry, and revel in their new found happiness. Their lives are finally complete.

To complicate matters, Simon’s adopted daughter is resentful of her Aunt Caroline marrying her father. This leads to family strife and disagreements. However, nothing is as it seems in this tale of family intrigue. Those family secrets haunt the family and eventually lead them on a journey to discover the truth and to find acceptance from the past.

Throughout the family struggles that ensue, Caroline the journalist, is embroiled in the reporting of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Her skill in writing about environmental disasters shows firsthand the death and destruction that was forced upon the wildlife in the Gulf area. At immediate risk are the endangered sea turtles whose existence is paramount to the survival of the species.


Author: P. C. Zick

I absolutely enjoyed how the author was able to weave current events into the story. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and the events surrounding the Massey Mine accident were integral parts to the telling of this story.

The survival of the sea turtles is a vital issue where I live in Pensacola, Florida. The rich descriptions and explanations of their plight renewed my interest in environment concerns along the Gulf Coast. Our own Gulf Islands National Seashore offer volunteer opportunities that I now wish to explore since my awareness of the issues that affect native wildlife.

The family struggle that was at the central heart of the book endeared me to the characters. I was able to identify with the crippling family treachery and how it almost destroyed them all. Beyond that, I found that I wanted these characters to succeed and heal from the toll the deception had on all of them.

I found that I could not put this book down. I wanted to keep reading until I reached the last page. I was woven into a web of deceit and scheming from the portrayal of the characters. I found it hard to pull away, I was so drawn in. It seemed as if the characters haunted me from afar. I literally read this book in about three nights.

“Trails in the Sand,” is part of P. C. Zick’s “Florida Series,” which includes the following books: “Tortoise Stew,” and “Native Lands.” I read all three books at the same time, and this was my absolute favorite.

RATINGS
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

Format & Pricing

Buy it at: Amazon
Paperback: $11.22 US
Kindle: $.99 US

Goodreads

 


 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com

 

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of “The Scent of Lilacs” @AnnHGabhart

Scent of Lilacs(Image credit: Amazon)

www.annhgabhart.com

Title:  The Scent of Lilacs (The Heart of Hollyhill #1)
Author:  Ann H. Gabhart
ISBN: 978-0800730802
ASIN:  B007TV0OMM
Published:  May 1st 2005 by Revell (first published January 1st 2005)
Pages:  352
Genre:  Christian/Historical Fiction, Women’s fiction

What the book is about:  At 13 years old, Jocie Brooke learns the true meaning of faith and the love of family when her sister Tabitha, suddenly returns after fleeing their home in Hollyhill, Kentucky with their mother many years ago.  It is 1964, and Jocie’s divorced father, preacher David Brooke, and his Great Aunt Love, strive to care for Jocie with kindness and affection.  Aunt Love struggles to keep her senility in check, as the family struggles with a past that threatens to engulf them.  All is not what it seems in this quiet small town, as deep secrets surface to lead the family on a quest that leads them to many unforeseen truths.

Book Highlights:  As the secrets of the past come to light, it was a joy for me to watch the inner workings of a faith based family deal with the realities of their past choices, good and bad.  All the characters were realistic and believable in the way they dealt with their emotions while their lives unraveled around them. It was easy to empathize with the trials the family endured through the years.  I found myself drawn to the characters and the story. I did not want the book to end.  I was ecstatic to learn that this book is part of a series by Ann Gabhart.

Challenges of the book:  I had no challenges with the characters within the story.  The Christian elements in the book were tasteful and authentic.  Ann Gabhart channels her own knowledge of small town life centered on a strong Christian church element making the characters realistic and credible.  These characters could be your neighbors.

What do you get from it:  Love, family, and faith combined can conquer the troubles of the world.

What I would change if anything:  Ann Gabhart is a true story teller.  Her work stands alone and needs no changes.

Who would I recommend this book to?  I would recommend this book to all women, young and old.  There is knowledge about life, love, and forgiveness which should be passed on to all generations so that others gain an insight on how to deal with the tribulations that life sometimes holds for all of us.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5

 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $12.98 New
Kindle: Free

Review By:
Colleen Cheseboro
 
silverthreading.com

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