The Lives Between Us

By Theresa Rizzo

The Lives Between UsBlurb

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Reporter Skylar Kendall has run from commitment all her life, pushing people away before they leave her, until her niece worms her way into Skye’s heart and settles in tight. Skye relaxes into a career she enjoys and relishes being a doting aunt.

Then her niece becomes gravely ill. Unable to bear yet another loss, Skye is determined to find a cure, but the girl’s only hope lies in the embryonic stem cell therapy Michigan Senator Edward Hastings repeatedly opposes. When Skye fails to find alternative treatment in time, she vows to end the senator’s political career.

Curious about the woman behind the scathing articles on his best friend, Mark Dutton pursues Skye. Dating Mark gives her access to Hastings’s life and secrets that would launch Skye’s career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?

Editorial Review

This charming novel gracefully addresses embryonic stem cell research and garnishes it with a powerful, tender romance… The author handles the complexities of science and morality with tremendous care and nuance; there are no hypocrites or villains here, only loving people doing their best in terribly difficult situations. Contemporary romance readers of all political leanings will be enthralled.” ~ Publishers Weekly

My Review

The author researched the controversy surrounding stem cell research. She presented both sides of the controversy through the characters of Skye, Mark, and Edward Hastings, a US senator. This book explores how much one will do for family, especially when the stakes are high. It is a highly emotional story.

The story and the characters were well developed and thought-provoking. In the beginning I didn’t like Skye because she seemed immature and extremely annoying at times. As I watched her grow up throughout the book, I saw her mature into a caring and warm individual. At times, I felt the story had too much going on with the death of Niki, Skye’s niece, Skye’s on-again-off-again relationship with Mark, her hatred-turned-to-friendship and respect for Edward Hastings, the accident, a troubled teen, all the privacy issues that surrounded Senator Hastings, and indiscretions by one of Mark’s key employees.  However, in the end, the author pulled it all together beautifully.

Because The Lives Between Us crosses several genres, I believe it would appeal to a wide range of readers.  I give The Lives Between Us 4 stars.

About theAuthorTheresa Rizzo

Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty-two years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.

Find Theresa on the web at www.theresarizzo.com,

Or connect with her on Facebooktwitter or Amazon, and Goodreads.

Buy The Lives Between Us

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Michelle Clements James ©

SMOKE

By Catherine McKenzie

 

SmokeBook Blurb (from Goodreads)

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

My Review

The characters in Smoke are as vividly depicted, as they are in McKenzie’s other novels.  I loved Elizabeth.  Her life is complex, and yet she yearns for a simple life with the man of her dreams, a home to love, and the children she thus far had been unable to have.  Her life seems to be a train wreck.  She tells Ben she wants a divorce, and she has been unable to forgive her good friend Mindy.  Liz quit her job as a firefighter and now works as a fire investigator. Just as her life is spinning out of control, a wild fire is bearing down on her home and the town she loves.

Ben is somewhat of a mystery to me.  He loves Liz but is complacent about the divorce. He was a sea of calm in the midst of the travesty of his marriage and the fire that threatens everything he holds dear.  I kept waiting for Ben to explode in anger.

Then there is Mindy.  We all know a Mindy, the person, who on the outside seems so organized and self-confident, but whose life is in shambles.  She tries to do everything right, but lacks the confidence to carry through.  She wants to be the perfect wife, mother, everything and worries that she is not.

The story is one of friendships, misunderstandings, mistrust, and lies.  With all that is going on, is there a chance for forgiveness? Did the fire start by accident or arson? If it is arson, who started it? Why? There is so much action going on at any one time, there is plenty to keep the reader’s attention.  Rest assured the author ties all of the story threads together in the end.

I’ve read every book Catherine McKenzie has published, and I can say unequivocally that Smoke is her best so far.  If you enjoy a bit of romance, mystery, and a great storyline, Smoke is the book for you.  I have to give this book 5 stars.

About the Author

Saturday, August 8, 2009. Photo/Robert J. Galbraith).

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practises law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN and HIDDEN, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. Her most recent release is SPUN – a novella sequel to her first novel, SPIN. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller.

Her fifth novel, SMOKE, will be published by Lake Union on October 20, 2015.

And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Visit her online at www.catherinemckenzie.com

Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/catherinemckenzieauthor

Twitter at @cemckenzie1

Preorder SMOKE at

Amazon

Amazon Canada

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Clements James ©

 

 

Are You Letting Your Blog Get Out Of Control?

macjam47:

Is your blog controlling your life? Hugh has some terrific tips for narrowing down the number of people you follow.

Originally posted on Hugh's Views & News:

If I had children I would do all I could to make sure they never got out of control.  I do the same with my dog, Toby.  When he was a puppy I took him to training classes and, on the odd occasion when he does disobey me, I put what I learned at those classes into place to make sure he behaves.  Fortunately, I’m pleased to say that he behaves most of the time.

If we can do this with our children and pets, then shouldn’t we also do the same with our blogs?

Occasionally I hear other bloggers say they feel guilty because they do not have enough time in the day to read all the newly published posts of the blogs they follow.  This is also true of myself.  It’s impossible to read every single new post published by the bloggers I follow.  There is just not…

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Secrets, Spies, and Spotted Dogs

By Jane Eales

 

Secrets, Spies, and Spotted DogsBook Blurb

Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is a true story about the author’s adoption and her quest for truth and identity.  Told about her adoption at age 19, she was sworn to secrecy and forbidden to search for her biological family.

Decades later, a heart-wrenching family crisis and a longing to know about her origins and why she was adopted drive Jane to painstakingly research her roots in Harare (then Salisbury), Johannesburg, London, Berlin and Sydney.

Eventually she is warmly welcomed by her biological mother’s family in London and is astonished to learn that her mother was an attractive mysterious and charming woman – and a spy for the Allies during WWII.

The Imitation Game, and Foyle’s War set the atmosphere perfectly. Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs interweaves the author’s poignant search for truth abut her identity with the heart-pounding threads of WWII espionage at Arnhem in the Netherlands just prior to the ‘Market Garden’ airborne campaign.

 

Sample Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

The letter

The letter arrived in a drab brown, envelope stamped ‘official’. It was October 1966. I was nineteen, and had been living in Johannesburg for a year. I was staying in the YWCA, a centrally-located, purpose-built modern hostel for women. My room was on the fifth floor with a pleasant outlook over the city. Mum and Dad (Elizabeth and Benjamin) lived in Salisbury (now called Harare) in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and a year earlier, they had encouraged me to move to Johannesburg, and had also supported the choice of the YWCA as a place where I could live. Some years before this, James, my brother, who was seven years my elder, had moved to Australia.

It was standard practice for the South African Department of Immigration to contact new settlers at the end of their first year to see if they were planning to stay permanently in South Africa and if so, to invite them to complete an application for permanent residency. My letter contained an application form.

It seemed fairly straightforward; however, I needed my birth certificate. I looked for it in the document file in my cupboard, but it wasn’t there. Where could it be?

Then I remembered, Mum and Dad had done all the paperwork for my passport application a few years earlier, so maybe they still had it. In my next weekly letter home, I asked Mum and Dad to post my birth certificate to me. They probably kept it with my other personal documents in their safe at home in Rhodesia. With that done, I put it out of my mind.

After supper on the very next Sunday night, I was sitting on the edge of my bed in my hostel room choosing clothes to wear for the week ahead. The curtains were half open and the city lights twinkled Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs in the dark of the night. It had been a sociable weekend – with a great party the previous evening filled with new friends, guitar playing, and folk singing.

‘Jane, room fifty-two, please take a phone call in the lobby!’

The intercom announcement boomed into the bedrooms of all seventy residents. I had never had a phone call during my stay at the hostel, so generally took no notice of these broadcasts. There was a brief pause and the proclamation rang out again, and this time the voice was more insistent. I suddenly realised the announcement was for me! How embarrassing. I jumped up, pressed the intercom button, acknowledged the message, and dashed downstairs.

Who was it? Who would be phoning me?

This was long before the days of mobile phones, and at that time in Johannesburg, there was a long wait to get a phone connected at home. We were fortunate as the hostel had two public telephones in the lobby. No privacy though! The motherly concierge, as well as any residents with their guests, could hear every conversation. This did not bother me, as I was not planning to have any personal conversations. But who could be phoning?

‘Hello. Good evening,’ I said in my most confident voice.

‘Hello, Jane. It is Dad. How are you?’ Of course as soon as I heard his heavy German accented voice, I knew it was Dad. But why was he phoning me? What was the urgency?

‘Fine – thank you, Dad. How are you? How is Mum?’

Dad, characteristically, came straight to the point.

‘We are all right, Jane. Thank you for asking. We received your letter.’

Oh, yes. I remembered now.

Dad continued in the tone I knew so well that meant, ‘Do not question me; let me finish what I want to say, then please follow my instructions!’ Perhaps he was aware of where I was and that there was no privacy.

‘Jane, I won’t beat about the bush. I will say immediately why I am phoning you. Mum and I want you to fly home for the weekend next Saturday. It will be nice for you to visit and we can give you the documents you ask for.

Fly home, for just a weekend! I liked the idea of going home. It was quite a few months since they had visited me in Johannesburg. But, why did they want me home suddenly, at such short notice? Why fly all that way for only a twenty-four hour visit? This would be my first trip home since Christmas the year before.

Feeling apprehensive, I knew Dad did not want me to question anything over the phone.

‘Okay, Dad. That’s fine,’ I said.

He continued. ‘I’ll book the flight and organise for the ticket to reach you before you leave. Take a taxi to the airport on Saturday morning and I will pay. I will meet you at the airport.’

‘Thanks, Dad,’ I said. After asking Dad to give Mum my love, we rang off.

Wow! How exciting! The pleasure of looking forward to flying to Salisbury diminished any doubts or uncertainties about why I had been called home so suddenly. Life at nineteen was exhilarating and I felt as if nothing could go wrong.

There was little that could have prepared me for what was to follow.

 

About the AuthorJane Eales

Jane Eales was born in London and adopted into a family with a German refugee father, a British mother and a seven year old son.

She grew up in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) met Rob in Johannesburg South Africa and married in Oxford, England. They returned to South Africa and there she went to university. In 1980 the family moved to Sydney Australia.  Not long after this, the eldest of their three children was diagnosed with a disability. His health deteriorated markedly and in part to clarify the genes she had inherited, in 1990 Jane began to search for her biological family.

In 2005 she met her half-brother for the first time at Canary Wharf in London.  She was welcomed warmly into his family, now her family.

Overwhelmed with family stories, and as a way of making sense of everything, she began to write. As layers upon layers of her family history emerged, she was often asked ‘why don’t you write a book?’ Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is the result. This is her first book.

Jane and her husband continue to live in Sydney with their children, grandchildren and friends.

Learn More About the Author

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Author – Jane Rosalie Eales (Middle Harbour Press Pty Ltd)

Format  Print book and e-book.

Publisher  Middle Harbour Press Pty Ltd.

Pub Date – 2014, reprinted 2015

Page Count – 292

Genre – Memoir

Award – Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs was a Winner in the autobiography/biography category of the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Program. It is the largest not-for-profit award program open to independently published authors worldwide.

Title – Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs   Subtitle: Unravelling mysterious family connections behind a secret adoption

Buy the Book

Middle Harbor Press

Amazon

Amazon Australia

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

My Review

Family secrets? Every family has them. What is it like to find out at age nineteen, that your parents are not your birth parents, and what’s more, that you have been sworn to secrecy? Furthermore, your parents demand that you never search for your birth parents.  This is the story behind Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs.

This is Jane Eales own story. The author carefully researched her book, and in writing it, shared the shame and isolation she felt not being able to discuss her adoption with her friends.  It is a chronicle of her painstaking search for her birth parents.

Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is a well written, easy to read memoir that anyone can enjoy, but that would be of great interest to those who have been adopted and to their birth and adopting families.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Clements James ©

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog,

click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-aug-2015

Texting and Driving: Redux

macjam47:

Everyone needs to read this and pass it on.

Originally posted on mwsasse:

I originally posted this a year ago, but it recently came up again in my classroom and thought it might be timely to post again. I asked my students how many of them have been in a moving car while someone was texting? 39/52 said they were. Wow! How incredible it is that parents value their children so little. You think that comment is too harsh, well it isn’t. Texting and driving is 17 times more dangerous than driving drunk at the legal limit. 17 times!!!! That’s crazy. The post below will give you the particulars. I told my students that they should grab the phone and throw it out the window. After all, a broken phone is much better than a dead child. Here we go: 

This feels like a public service announcement. Here goes …

I had a long interesting discussion with some of my students today. First…

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An Ode to the Innocence of Childhood

macjam47:

Can you hear the music? A lovely poem of childhood days.

Originally posted on Where to, Miss Daisy ?:

newevolutionsdesign

Can you hear the music
Of old-time dreams and days
When you were but a little child
And the world was games and play

When the joyous fields
And soft warm nights
Were young and free from stain
And the woods were full of secrets
And fairies danced in the lanes

When sunsets were singing lullabies
For goldenrods and cloves
And warmly folded you into
The loving arms of home

Can you hear the music
Of old-time dreams and days
When God was a wayside flower
An afternoon in May
Or a little lamb at pasture
Or the sunrise above the bay
And the sweetness of your laughter
Was better than any prayer

Can you hear the music
Of old-time dreams and play
When you were but a little child
And the world was games and play

Image credit: newevolutionsdesign.com

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Tips For Hosting A Facebook Launch Party

macjam47:

Are you planning to host a Facebook launch party for your book? Author Kristina Stanley shares tips from her experience.

Originally posted on KRISTINA STANLEY:

Exhausted, that’s how I felt when my Facebook launch party ended. Three hours of  chatting online, asking trivia questions, keeping track of winners, and answering questions.

This is the story of how I created and hosted my first launch party.

Preparation for the event.

  • Create a banner to announce your event. I used Canva.com. It’s free.

Release  Day Party

  • Set up event on Facebook. Remember to make the event public or only your friends can see it.
  • Put the back description of your novel at the top of the page with a link to where your book is sold. You can use booklinker.net to create a link that will take the person to the amazon site of their home country.
  • Invite all your friends and ask them to share your post.
  • Send a reminder the day before and the morning of the event.
  • Have something to give away. I had 14 books donated by other…

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What Settings in #Fiction have you never forgotten? #writing #reading

Originally posted on Daily (w)rite:

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, we had Jane Camens , guest editor ofGriffith Review: New Asia Now answering questions last week. Today I’m pleased to welcome authors Denise Covey and Yolanda Renée, who are here to talk about a wonderful event, an opportunity for all writers.

Their community, Write Edit Publish (WEP), is a great way for

Readers to find or talk about books they like,

and for

Authors to

  1. Post excerpts from their work (published or in-progress),
  2. (or) Write new flash fiction 
  3. Receive feedback (if they want to)
  4. Gain new readers.

Feel free to leave your questions for Denise and Yolanda in the comments section, and they might stop by to answer them. Take it away, Denise and Yolanda!

———-

Fictional settings Blogfest Memorable Settings in Fiction

Denise:

What better place than the blogosphere to learn more about the writing craft? Yet…

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