Wild Water

By Jan Ruth

Wild WaterBook Blurb

Will life and family conspire to keep these lovers apart again?

Wild Water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out – not only by work, bills, and the approach of Christmas, but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy, are growing apart.

His misgivings prove to be true when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant. As his marriage begins to crumble around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before.

His feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?


My Review

Just about everything his life touches – work, his home life, his wife Patsy’s infidelity – leaves Jack Redman stressed.  When he confronts Patsy, she says she wants a divorce and runs off, with their youngest child in tow, to live with her French lover Phillipe.  While dealing with this major upheaval, Jack’s father sends him to talk to Anna Williams, a former girlfriend from long ago, about selling her farm. Thus, we have basis of the love triangle – Jack, Patsy, and Anna.  Phillipe is, for most of the story, in the background and his character doesn’t really come into play until the later part of the book.

The characters are so well drawn; they came to life for me.  Jack is somewhat of a tragic character that evokes the reader’s sympathy.  Patsy is the easy to dislike. She fits the stereotypical idea of a wife who runs off with her lover, forsaking many happy years of marriage and family life. Without regard for her young daughter Lottie’s feelings or the feelings Jack and of the other members of her family, she uses the child as a pawn in the divorce.  Anna is easy to like, she is a friend, a single mother, a caretaker of her farm, and finds that her long buried feelings for Jack are still burning strong.

Wild Water takes place, in part, in rural Wales, which the author describes in such vivid detail you can visualize the mountains, the farm, the beauty of the area as you read.  The plot has a many elements seamlessly woven through it to keep you turning the pages.  Well written so that fiction could be one with reality, Wild Water is the kind of book you never want to put down. It is the first of Jan Ruth’s books that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last.


To Read a Sample Chapter: Mybook.to/wildwater

Available as Kindle or Print Book


Publication Date:  July 2015

90,000 words (324 pages print)

Genre: Contemporary Family Saga


About the Author

Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK.Jan Ruth - B & W - Lake

This ancient, romantic landscape is a perfect setting for Jan’s fiction, or simply day-dreaming in the heather. Jan writes contemporary stories about people, with a good smattering of humour, drama, dogs and horses.


Jan was born in Cheshire and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her work.

The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.

Her first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing.

Many years later Jan’s second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn’t fall into a specific category and, narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk.

Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. Jan went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections. Jan is now pleased to announce that throughout 2015, she will be re-published with Accent Press.


Fiction which does not fall neatly into a pigeon hole has always been the most difficult to define. In the old days such books wouldn’t be allowed shelf space if they didn’t slot immediately into a commercial list. Today’s forward-thinking publishers – Accent Press being one of them – are far more savvy.

As an author I have been described as a combination of literary-contemporary-romantic-comedy-rural-realism-family-saga; oh, and with an occasional criminal twist and a lot of the time, written from the male viewpoint.

No question my books are Contemporary and Rural. Family and Realism; these two must surely go hand-in-hand, yes? So, although you’ll discover plenty of escapism, I hope you’ll also be able to relate to my characters as they stumble through a minefield of relationships, family, working, pets, love …

I hesitate to use the word romance. It’s a misunderstood and mistreated word in the world of fiction and despite the huge part it plays in the market, attracts an element of disdain. If romance says young, fluffy and something to avoid, maybe my novels will change your mind since many of my central characters are in their forties and fifties. Grown-up love is rather different, and this is where I try to bring that sense of realism into play without compromising the escapism.

Jan Ruth. 2015.

Discover More About Jan Ruth

Jan writes a variety of posts – funny, serious, informative – about Snowdonia and it’s landscapes. Horses and history, her inspiration to write fiction set in Wales and her publishing journey so far.


Connect with Jan



Find Her Books



Sunday Lunch Invitation – Sherri Matthews and Michelle Clements James.


My thanks to Sally Cronin who so graciously invited me, along with Sherri Matthews, to a luncheon today. We each brought a guest and shared recipes, chatted about books, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:

sunday lunch logo

Today it is all girls together for the Sunday Lunch although my husband is hovering in the background keen to enjoy the food that our guests have brought with them.. Their own guests sound both interesting and wonderfully colourful and I am going to enjoy getting to know them a little better. Without further ado; time to meet Sherri Matthews and her mother-in-law Olivia and Michelle Clements James and her maternal grandmother Anna Davis Rabe.

Since it is Thanksgiving in the United States this coming week I have cooked a turkey which has been roasting away since very early this morning. Sherri’s mother-in-law Olivia has provided the stuffing which is infusing the bird with delicious flavour and there are roasted squash, potatoes, green beans and carrots with thick gravy to accompany it.

A little bit about Sherri first.


By the time we get into our 50s and 60s most of…

View original 2,172 more words

Book Launch – Tales from the Garden – Fairy stories by Sally Cronin


Congratulations to Sally Cronin. Tales from the Garden is now available in Ebook.

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

I am delighted to announce that my latest book Tales from the Garden is now available in Ebook versions with the print copies available shortly.

We will be leaving our house and garden at some point in the future and when we put the house on the market, I realised that it was not only the sunshine that I would miss. I already had many photographs taken over the last sixteen years and I decided to capture as many aspects of the garden as I could to take with us digitally at least.

As I photographed the statues, most far too heavy to take with us, it came to me that some of them had been here at least for 60 years and had seen many changes over that time. Also there was the mystery surrounding the missing dwarves? Just exactly where did they disappear to some nights; when the…

View original 624 more words

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences

By Jane Hanser

Dogs Don't Look Both WaysBook Blurb

Joey, the chocolate Labrador, loves to run and run. Living in the neighborhood of the Boston Marathon, he runs as many as twelve miles a day, early in the morning, with his dad. But after they return home from a run, Joey still wants more, much more. Keenly observant, he allows no opportunity to explore the world pass him by. But will his insatiable sense of discovery lead him to gratification? Or to danger? Planning his moves long before, a decision Joey makes early one morning forever changes his life and the lives of his mom and dad, his running partner.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a true story with a unique voice and a lot of adventure.
Readers love Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways for its colorful and heartfelt story-telling, but book’s main story – about discovery and freedom, rules and boundaries, communication and caring for a dog, and, of course, our dependence on the kindness of others – is a message about life itself.

My Review

Joey is a loveable dog who cannot stay out of trouble. He loves to run with his dad, and gets bored when he is home by himself or with his mom. His morning run just isn’t enough exercise for a Labrador retriever. He is always using his senses to find ways out of the backyard fence to explore the world beyond.  This always gets him in trouble with his “mom” who usually gets a call from a friend or neighbor who saw him out wandering.  One day after Joey “escaped” from his backyard; a car accident nearly kills him. The road back to healing and health is a long and arduous climb for both Joey and his family.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a well written, character driven story with numerous escapades by Joey. Writing from Joey’s point of view must have been a difficult task for the author. Though it can be an enjoyable read for an adult, I believe it would be better suited to a child who is old enough to read chapter books. I tired of reading the dog’s words and thoughts.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is based on a true story.

About the AuthorJane Hanser

Jane Hanser has developed software to teach writing, self-published a grammar book and taught English as a Second Language at several campuses of the City University of New York. She has an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from the Graduate School of Temple University. In her other life, she is dedicated to many and varied community activities. Her poetry, essays and movie reviews have been published in numerous print and online journals and newspapers such as Poetica MagazineThe Persimmon TreeEvery Writer’s ResourceThe Jewish Journal, and others. She spends way too much time on the computer. She is married and lives, works and plays in Newton, MA. Joey’s descriptions of her in Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways are, except for a few insignificant details of time and place, true and accurate.

To find out more about Joey



Sample Chapter – Chapter One

That’s Not Me

In some families, little dogs sit on people’s laps all day. I’ve tried sitting on my Dad’s lap but he keeps saying, “Ouch! Joey, you think you’re a little dog but you’re not. Get down.”

There are also dogs who live in the coldest places on Earth and who run in teams. These dogs work hard, running long distances to help pull heavy sleds over huge fields of silvery snow to transport people and their belongings from one place to another. Well, I’m strong enough to do this type of work, but this isn’t me either. When the ground is covered with snow, Mom gets her cross-country skis, and she and I go outside and eagerly walk to The Woods nearby. We descend down one trail into a valley where it levels off and meets new trails and we stop at the base of the first uphill we encounter. She lays her skis on the snow, steps into the foot bindings, attaches one end of the lead to my collar, holds on to the other end, and instructs, “Joey, go go go!” Leading the charge up the hill, I enthusiastically and easily pull her up the snow-covered trail as the lead stretches behind me to its full length. Soon we are almost at the top of the hill. But then I notice some dogs in the distance and those dogs are now much more interesting to me than pulling Mom up the hill is, so I seek the most direct path to the dogs, weaving through the bushes and saplings that impede Mom’s person and entangle her in a web of tree trunks and branches.

One snowy day when Mom was gliding along on her skis and I was pulling her around our block, I saw Mary, our mail carrier, going from house to house; with Mom in tow, off I galloped toward Mary to get some of the pocketful of tasty dog biscuits she carries with her in her pockets. What happened to Mom? I don’t recall. The last I heard her, she was calling, “Joey, stop. STOP!” and the last I saw her, she was heading right for the hedges. So this type of working dog would not be me.

In other families, people take their dogs out into the fields and then locate ducks, pheasants or rabbits or other small animals for food for the family members. These dogs have very good noses, and after these people have shot the ducks or other small animals, the dogs work hard to help their owners by running out into the fields or swimming out into the ponds to track, locate and retrieve the downed animal. This also would not be me. I view these animals as my friends. Besides, I like my parents to set out breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening for me. And foods like oranges, chicken, rice, cashew nuts, popcorn, and broccoli are also welcome in between.

Some dogs live in families where they help guide a family member who cannot use his eyes to see. These dogs work hard to assist their partners and masters with walking down sidewalks, crossing streets, going up and down escalators, going shopping, going to work, and coming back home again. This also would not be me. Dogs who do this important type of work sometimes wear a nice jacket that says, “Do not talk to me. I am working.” Wherever I go, I like to wag my tail and personally greet everybody I see. When my parents and I are outside walking along the sidewalk, I look ahead and see where I want to go, or with my nose to the ground or pointed into the wind I smell where I want to go, and step down from the curb into the street toward that destination. Sometimes I step off the curb at a spot where another road is crossing. That’s when I hear Dad sharply call out, “Joey, stop. Sit. Cars are passing here. Do you want to get hit? Sit until I say it’s okay to cross.” So I stop and force my body to form the “sit” posture, though my bottom doesn’t like to cooperate, hovering and vibrating slightly above the pavement, waiting for some sign that Dad really means what he says. In this position I remain suspended and I plant my gaze firmly on Dad’s face, until he looks back at me and repeats even more emphatically this time, “SIT,” and my bottom finally and reluctantly cooperates. This I do only because he tells me to.

My parents have a lot of rules for me. They have rules for whether I can jump up on the sofa or not. They have rules for whether I am permitted on their bed or not. They have rules for whether I am allowed to beseech them for food when they are eating, other rules for when they are preparing food, and even more rules for what foods I am allowed to eat, and not eat. They have a rule for where I must sit and wait when people enter our home, and one for who walks through the door first (and last) when we are leaving and entering our home. They have a rule for who goes first when we’re going up and down stairs. They have many rules for how I must behave when we go outside. Whether I am allowed past the gate that separates our yard from the world beyond is one such rule. Where I walk, how I walk, how quickly I walk and trot and run when we are outside are others.

When my parents ask me to do something, or expect me to do something, I hear anything from a pleasant sing-song “Good boy, Joey” to an emphatic “Joey, come on! Come on! Come on!” to an irritated “Joey, NO! What did I tell you?” – which is something I hear a lot.

To be honest with you, I don’t always obey the rules, but I’ve learned to put up with many of them, more or less, because with them comes the opportunity to be part of a family where, after dinner, Dad puts on his heavy winter coat, Mom puts on hers, Dad says, “Joey, you don’t need a coat. You already have two coats” and then gets my lead, attaches it to my collar, opens the front door and then out we three go, into my promised land, into a cold dark snowy night. All around us the snow is falling so gently and quietly, each dainty flake seems suspended in the air, dancing a silent and unpredictable dance, until it evaporates or reaches the now carpeted ground and lays gently on top of other fallen flakes, or upon my coat, where it nestles, unconcerned.

Dad says that when I was a puppy, I used to try to catch the snowflakes in my mouth. Now, he, Mom, and I are the only ones outside and together off we head in one direction, walking in the middle of the white road. We follow it to where it bends, head up one long small hill as it twists and turns, then up another longer and steeper hill as it twists and turns, and then yet another, where we are so elevated that we can see the tops of trees and the tops of homes all around us in all directions. We cease moving and wonder. I can also pull on the lead and let Dad know where I want to go next, and we walk on, deeper and deeper into the ever expanding world of evening and time and sky and snowfall, closer and closer to the top of the world. I can smell the trails of the bunnies in the snow and though I’d love to follow those trails, I don’t. On such nights, I have everything a dog could ever want.

Published: April 2014

Genre: Reality-based Fiction, Non-fiction – Animals, Memoir, Nature and Pets, Fiction

Age Group: All adults, children 5th grade and up

Cover photo: Mark Thompson of Gatehouse Media

Available: Paperback (162 pages), all e-book forms: .epub, .mobi

Published by Ivy Books (an imprint of the author’s educational software company)

Indie Book

April 8, 2015 – Honored with the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion for Literary Fiction

To Purchase the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Ivy Books

The author gave me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Dust Bunny Fairy Tales

The Legend of the Dust Bunnies
a fairy’s tale

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie

Both By Michelle R. Eastman

And Illustrated by Kevin Richter


My Reviews

The Legend of the Dust Dunnies - a fairys taleFairies enter your house at night, and yes, it’s true, they spread dust, spider webs, and crumbs EVERYWHERE.  That is, all but one very sad and lonely fairy named Artie. Artie collects thread, lint, and hair.  What does he do with it?  Artie makes a dust bunny to keep him company. When all of the other fairies see it, they each want one too, so Artie sets about making dust bunnies for everyone. And, now you know!

Michelle Eastman’s The Legend of the Dust Bunnies: a fairy’s tale is a delightful story about where dust bunnies come from. Every child is sure to love this wonderfully illustrated book with colorful characters and lilting text.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie is the second book in the Dust Bunnies series. Aggie is an awkward, unconventional fairy. She just doesn’t fit in with theAggie_Cover_Front_v2_Lo other fairies.  Aggie tries to join the fairy band but her bagpipes are too loud, and she isn’t dainty like the rest of the fairies.

Each evening as the fairies played, Aggie would find a dark corner, and with tears in her eyes, she would hug her dust bunny. One night a little cherub heard her, invited her to join their band, and told her, “You don’t have to be perfect, to find your perfect fit.”

This lovely story is my favorite of the two because it teaches children that individuality is okay.  You don’t have to be just like everyone else to fit in. Once again, Kevin Richter has illustrated this book with the same charming little fairies as he did with The Legend of the Dust Bunnies: a fairy’s tale.

These charming books would make the perfect gift for either a young boy or girl.

Genre: rhyming picture book for ages 4-8

Available as e-book, hardcover, or paperback


Michelle EastmanAbout the Author

Michelle Eastman is the author of Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie as well as The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Michelle’s books take a lighthearted approach to the compelling desire kids have to fit-in. The stories validate the need we feel for acceptance, while imparting a subtle message about the joy that can come from embracing one’s individuality. The lively, rhyming stanzas and vivid illustrations appeal to boys and girls alike.

Michelle began her career as an elementary teacher in the West Des Moines School District. At Iowa Public Television, she wrote and produced educational content.

Her work with children, and passion for picture books, inspired her to found the literacy initiative Picture Book Pass it On (PBPiO), to get free books to kids in need.   http://www.facebook.com/PBPiO

When she’s not chasing dust bunnies, or her two cats, she likes to cuddle up with a good book and her son. Michelle lives in Waukee, Iowa. dmeastman@msn.com

Michelle donates $1 from each book sold to Operation Christmas Child.

Books are for purchase on her website, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.



 I received both books from the author in exchange for an honest review of each.


May All of Your Days be Amazing!


A wonderful little book that is beautifully written. See my here.

Originally posted on Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author:

AMAZING DAY 2 basAs a monarch butterfly conservation advocate and author/illustrator of the children’s book AMAZING MATILDA, I was fortunate to capture several photos of these amazing butterflies at our farmstead in Central Maine this summer. This one landed on our phlox. Read along to discover more about our amazing monarch butterflies, and about my children’s picture book as well.

Here’s wishing that all of your days be amazing!
~ Bette A. Stevens

Monarch butterflies are a near-threatened species. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition requesting Endangered Species Act protection for the monarch and its habitat.

Eighth-generation monarch butterflies in the US and Canada migrate south each fall—destination: Mexico and California’s coast where they over-winter before mating to create the first generation of monarchs for the northern migration that begins the following spring.

About Bette’s award-winning monarch butterfly children’s book

AM cover with MonarchOne concern parents…

View original 266 more words

Have Bags, Will Travel: Trips and Tales – Memoirs of an Over-Packer

By D.G. Kaye

Have bags, will TravelMy Review

Have you ever read a book that could have been written about you? D.G. Kaye did just that.

Case#1 – She’s a shopaholic.  Well, I love to shop, though maybe not as much as she does. Christmas shopping, back to school shopping, birthdays, anniversaries – I could shop for days on end.  I love buying gifts for others, furniture for our home, the list is endless.  The author loves to buy so much more, in fact shoes are her favorite shopping item. The problem is she shops when she travels and has to have a way to get it home without customs finding out she packed more than she is allowed to bring back. As you will see, she goes to great lengths to pack creatively.

Case #2 – the suitcase.  My husband thinks my suitcases are overloaded, but I never have to pay for overweight luggage or an extra suitcase.  I have a few packing tricks up my sleeve to get everything to and from with some room to spare for purchases. Ms Kaye, on the other hand, has tricks galore.

Her friends personalities are much like the author’s, and their escapades will leave you chuckling.  Well, not exactly.  They will have you in stitches. Follow D.G. Kaye as she travels to Paris, London, Las Vegas, Greece, Venezuela, and Arizona. You will be fascinated with her description of the transition from old Vegas to the Vegas we know today.

I’m not about to go into detail about her shopping trips, the size of her suitcase, or how she manages, or not, to get through customs. You have to read the book to find out. However, I promise, you will be laughing from page one to the end. Written with such vivid detail, you will feel you are right there watching the spectacle of someone who loves to shop too much, trying to get everything home without chucking it on the way to airport.  A delightful story, HAVE BAGS, WILL TRAVEL, is a short book that can be read in one sitting.

Do I recommend HAVE BAGS, WILL TRAVEL? Absolutely!

Excerpt From Have Bags, Will Travel

Airport Security

Returning home from a vacation is always a nerve-racking event for me. Instead of flying home and basking in the memories of the wonderful time I’ve just had on vacation, I repeatedly go through my receipts from the trip so I can carefully calculate how not to exceed the fixed limit we’re allowed to bring back without penalty. I must remember which receipts correspond to the tags I’ve already cut off so I can take them out of the pile. More math!

Most people don’t worry about such things—but I have to. It’s practically like my face is on a milk carton: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WOMAN SHOPPING? For decades now, I’ve been consistently pulled over at customs. A planeload of people pick up their luggage and sail through the exit doors to freedom, and one person (and her husband) get singled out for interrogation. This happens on ninety percent of my trips. Why is it that I’m picked out of two hundred and fifty passengers to be interrogated? I lament, but I’m familiar with all the tricks by now: don’t wear flashy jewelry, don’t dress up, try to blend in. I can’t help it, though. I have what I’ve identified as shopping face. . .

Author’s Note

When I began writing this book, it didn’t start out as a travel memoir. After many drafts and revisions, I realized I had been writing two books in one, and decided to keep the one book as a short stories memoir about some of pitfalls I endure when I travel. Throughout the years, friends and family who found my escapades humorous, and sometimes unbelievable, urged me to write a book about some of my adventures, and so this book was born. Many who have read this book are tagging this book as the perfect airport read.

About the AuthorD.G. Kaye Author

Debby Gies is a Canadian author, and writes her books under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. 

I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who likes to write about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. My intent is to inspire others by sharing my stories about events I encountered, and the lessons that come along with them.

I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humor in some of my other works and blog posts.

When I was a young child, I was very observant about my surroundings. Growing up in a tumultuous family life; otherwise known as a broken home, kept me on guard about the on-and-off-going status of my parent’s relationship. I often wrote notes, and journaled  about the dysfunction that I grew up in. By age seven I was certain I was going to grow up to be a reporter.

Well life has a funny way of taking detours. Instead, I moved away from home at eighteen with a few meager belongings and a curiosity for life. I finished university and changed careers a few times, as I worked my way up to managerial positions. My drive to succeed at anything I put my mind to, led me to having a very colorful and eventful life.

Ever the optimist, that is me. I’ve conquered quite a few battles in life; health and otherwise, and my refusal to accept the word ‘No, or to use the words ‘I can’t’, kept me on a positive path in life.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences.


At a young age, I began keeping journals to keep notes about my turbulent childhood while growing up as an emotionally neglected child. Tormented with guilt, as I grew older, I was conflicted with the question of whether or not I was to remain obligated to being a faithful daughter, feeling in debt to my narcissistic mother for giving birth to me. My first book, Conflicted Hearts is a memoir, written about my journey to seek solace from living with guilt.

My writing relates to my experiences in life, and I like to share the lessons and ideas I acquired along the way. Meno-What? A Memoir, was written based on my own passage and experiences going through menopause. In that book, I share some of the many symptoms I encountered, hoping to shed some light and humor on what women may expect or experience at that unpredictable time. I also offer up some of my helpful hints I found useful for relief.

Words We Carry focuses around women’s self-esteem issues; how and why the issues evolve, and how I recognized my own shortcomings and overcame my own insecurities.

My newest book Have Bags, Will Travel is based on memoirs of tales and reminiscings from some of my more memorable trips, which all factor in the same ongoing issues for me – too much luggage!

I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.


                 “Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                  “For every kindness, there should be kindness in  return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

My favorite genres to read: biographies, memoirs, books about writing, spirituality, and natural health. I love to read stories about people who overcome adversity, victories, and redemption. I believe we have to keep learning—there is always room for improvement!

I love to cook and concoct new recipes (and I don’t believe in measuring cups), travel, and play poker (although I seldom get the chance), oh, and did I mention travel?

Please feel free to connect with me on social media and any of my author and blog pages at:




(Of course there’s a story to this name!)






Conflicted Hearts

MenoWhat? A Memoir

Words We Carry

Have Bags, Will Travel


Halloween Books for Little Ones

It’s no mystery that I love children’s books, especially board books for the youngest readers.  With a few days left before Halloween, you still have time to go to your favorite bookstore and pickup a Halloween book or two for the little ones in your life.  Here are some of the books I am reading this Halloween with my granddaughter.

Duck and Goose Find a PumpkinDuck & Goose Find a Pumpkin

By Tad Hills (Author and Illustrator)

Duck and Goose look everywhere for a pumpkin. They looked in a log, in a leaf pile, in the apple tree, under water, and on top of a stump, but they couldn’t find their pumpkin anywhere. Thistle had his own pumpkin. Where did Thistle get his? In the pumpkin patch!

This beautifully illustrated storybook by Tad Hills will delight the youngest reader. It is available as a board book, just right for their little hands.


Boo! Guess Who, Elmo!Boo! Guess Who, Elmo

Story by Matt Mitter

Illustrations by Ernie Kwiat

This is a large flap book where the characters ask who is hiding.  The question asked on each flap is “Boo! Guess who, Elmo!”  When a child opens a flap a different Sesame Street character appears in costume.  Additional there is a question for the reader to answer on each page. “What color is the scarecrow’s shirt?” is just one example.

Colorfully illustrated, this board book will appeal to all Elmo and Sesame Street fans.


Mickey’s Halloween - A Lift-the-Flap BookMickey’s Halloween:  A Lift-the-Flap Book

Story by Matt Mitter

Illustrations by Later, Inc.

This book is so much fun for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fans. Each page has a different Halloween scene with flap to lift, surprises to find, and all of the favorite clubhouse characters. The story is told in four line rhymes for each scene, and there are different activities for the children to do. On the farm scene the child is instructed to find specific items, and on the haunted house (a friendly haunted house, of course) the child is told to find different shapes.  With over fifty to lift, your child will be entertained for hours.


Fisher Price Little People Halloween is Here! (Lift-the-Flap)

By Fisher Price

Fisher Price Halloween is Here

This fun book by Fisher Price has over 40 flaps for you little reader to lift. All of their favorite little people are here in their Halloween costumes.  This book will absolutely delight every young toddler.



Some other Halloween books I’ve reviewed can be found here and here.

Happy Halloween reading!

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-oct-2015

Tiger Tale Soup: A Novel of China at War

By Nicki Chen

Tiger Tail SoupBook Blurb

An Lee has the heart of a man. But when the Japanese invade China, she’s forced to stay home while her beloved husband goes to battle. Until he returns, it’s up to her to protect her mother, mother-in-law, daughter and soon-to-be-born son.

Surrounded by the enemy, An Lee buries the family gold, stocks the pantry, and watches in dismay as her former teachers flee to Hong Kong. Then, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and take control of China’s international settlements, including An Lee’s island home. To survive the next four years of occupation, she will need all the strength, resilience, and love she can muster.

Emotionally charged and lyrical, Tiger Tail Soup captures the drama and suffering of wartime China through the eyes of a brave young woman.


Sample Chapter
Intro and Chapter 1


Dodging a low-hanging pine, I settle back into my sedan chair. This washed-out road, like the mountains themselves and the tigers that hide in their shadows, is all beauty and treachery. We start up another slope, my neck straining to support my suddenly heavy head. Finally we reach a level spot.

“A moment’s rest, ma’am?” the lead man asks, and I nod. These carriers use their rest periods to lick the opium they carry in their belts. I use the time to look back.

Walking along the trail, I search for a break in the trees, but we’ve come too far. Mountains are blocking the view of my home now. Kulangsu. Island of pianos they call it, drum-surf isle, egret island. Every detail of its contours is carved into my memory—trees everywhere, tile-roofed houses, cottages painted gold and peacock blue, sandy beaches the color of a ripe peach, and the surrounding sea, blue or green, gray or white, depending on the weather. My beloved home, and for nearly eight years of war, my prison.

“Ma’am.” The amah comes up behind me, my son and daughter at her side. “They’re ready to go, ma’am.”

I search my children’s eyes for the strength I know is there. My ox girl, my tiger boy. Too small for their ages. Still startled by loud noises. And yet the might of their ancestors shines through.

“Get in your sedan chair,” I tell them. “We have a long way to go.”

Our journey to Foochew won’t be over tonight or even tomorrow night. I settle back for another leg in the long, uncomfortable journey, and as my chair jostles and jolts, my thoughts bounce from one memory to another. The Japanese guns and bombs. My tiger dreams. My mother, my mother-in-law, and of course, my husband, Yu-ming, so long absent from my bed.

Spring 1938

In the spring of 1938, I was alone and pregnant. And I was worried out of my mind. My husband should have returned days earlier from his business trip. I kept watch for him each day from our bedroom window, straining my eyes and wringing my hands. Each night before falling asleep, I whispered into my pillow, asking him to enter my dreams and tell me where he was. Yu-ming was a scientist, though, and scientists don’t believe in dreams.

Still, I continued to hope for some sign that he was still alive. Instead, when I fell asleep, I dreamed of tigers, nothing but tigers. Here they were again. Tails swishing, eyes flashing, they led me through the forest, past a monk’s fire pit and up to a clearing with white pillars at its center. I’d seen all this before. These dreams that were meant for the child I carried had nothing to do with my husband.

As the sun rose and my dream began to fade, the tigers flicked their ears and growled one last time. I shivered and opened my eyes. Enough with the tiger dreams!

Shaking the dampness from my hair, I dangled my feet over the side of the bed. Surely, I told myself, Yu-ming was still alive. All I had to do was to wait for him. I fluffed the quilt, freshening equally the sweaty and the unused sides of the bed. I’d assumed when Yu-ming went to work for Siemens that the powerful German company would protect him from China’s sorrows. Now I wasn’t so sure. After all, why would bandits care whether the throat they slit belonged to a Siemens engineer? And the bow-legged invaders? I stuffed my fingers in my hair and yanked at it as I padded across the cool tile. It was ludicrous to think the Japanese would ask the affiliation of a Chinese before shooting him between the eyes.

Blinking the thought away, I opened the French doors, and stepped onto the balcony. Below me a rice straw broom whispered on the paving stones. A rooster crowed. And in the distance, one rumbling boom after another. I leaned out over the railing and looked for lightning. But the booming sounded more like bombs than thunder.

No, I thought, it can’t be bombs. The Japanese are still in the north, and these sounds are coming from the south.

“Po-ping,” I called to the amah. “Come out here.”

She shuffled onto the balcony, my daughter’s head resting on her shoulder.

“What do you hear?”

She squinted into the rising sun. “Thunder,” she said.

“No, listen once more.”

“I hear thunder, Young Mistress,” she said again, impatiently bouncing Ah Mei on her hip. “May I go now?”

Before long the distant booms were drowned out by the sounds of shouting and laughter, chickens and birds. A crow swooped down and scattered a flock of chickadees. A vendor selling sweetened soymilk and crispy fried ghosts called at the gate. And once again, it seemed that everything was back to normal on the charmed little island of my birth.

Everything, except that my husband was missing and the Japanese invaders had within the past three months captured Shanghai to the north of us and the capital at Nanking.

Now, I wondered, were they also bombarding cities to the south?

I dressed and went downstairs, intending to ask one of the maids for a poached egg. As I turned a corner, Su-lee nearly ran me down. Only her legs showed as she hobbled toward me carrying a potted Japanese bamboo.

“Oh, Young Mistress,” she said through the foliage. “Look at these flowers. They bloomed during the night.” The small white flowers bursting from a center point in each cluster looked like miniature fireworks. “I want to put them outside,” she said. “Very bad luck. When the bamboo flowers, someone is sure to die.”

I held the door for her, and she staggered, half-running, through the laundry area and across the yard to the far side of the fishpond. As far from our house as possible, I thought as I followed her outside.

My Review

If reading the book blurb and the Introduction and Chapter 1 above hasn’t convinced you to pick up this book and start reading, let me say I was totally sold on this book from the beginning lines and it just kept getting better.

An Lee is a determined woman who loves her country, her family, and her home. Her husband unexpectedly enlists in the army and is gone for most of the story. This is wartime, World War II to be exact, but this book isn’t about battles and the nitty-gritty details of fighting.  An Lee’s story is one of the hardship, fears, and personal loss the people of China felt as the Japanese invaded their country.  It is a story of personal triumph and the courage of An Lee and the other the women left behind while the men are off fighting the war.

There are many characters to keep track of, but most are essential. Without them, An Lee’s chronicle would be incomplete. For some readers, the most difficult aspect of the book is keeping track of characters with Chinese names. This is a character driven novel and Nicki Chen’s writing flows effortlessly, and her knowledge of the people of China comes though as she beautifully develops the characters in TIGER TALE SOUP: A NOVEL OF CHINA AT WAR.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Any lover of great historical fiction will enjoy TIGER TALE SOUP: A NOVEL OF CHINA AT WAR, however, this is not a book to rush through.  I give this book five stars out of five.

Format: paperback and e-book

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Publication date: May 8, 2014

Page count: 281 pages

Genre: historical fiction/women’s fiction



Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Author’s website

About the AuthorNicki Chen

When I started writing seriously, I was living overseas with my husband and three daughters. I’d been trained as a teacher, but the Manila International School didn’t hire expat teachers. So, after several years of children’s birthday parties, volunteer work, and Chinese painting classes, I decided I needed a new occupation.

By the time I was accepted into the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, we’d moved to a small island nation in the South Pacific called Vanuatu. It made for a very long commute to classes in Montpelier, VT.

My first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is loosely based on the stories my late husband, Eugene, told me about his childhood in China during the Japanese invasion of WWII. He was a great storyteller. Unfortunately, he died before I started writing the novel. So I was on my own.

My daughters and grandchildren keep me busy driving across the mountains or flying across the country to visit them.

I’m currently working on a second novel which tells of a woman who in her eagerness to follow the advice of a fertility doctor, convinces her husband to move to the South Pacific.

Website: nickichenwrites.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook: NickiChenAuthor

Google+: Nicole Chen

Goodreads: Author Dashboard

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

Your Own Kind

By Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas


Your Own KindBook Blurb

If Kareem had not found the photo of Sarah, there never would have been that explosion at the gas station and Alexandros wouldn’t have fled, but life is full of “if-onlys,” especially for seventeen-year-old Sarah Petit.

It is 1974 and Sarah finds herself alone in East End. She’s become involved with Andreas, a troubled young man with a drug problem; and with Kareem, a lovesick newspaper boy; and with Alexandros, a new immigrant who barely speaks English but clearly knows what he wants.

All four have grown up in drastically different worlds, but they’ve somehow been thrown together, and with one misguided decision after another, they set in motion a series of unstoppable events that lead to violence and heartbreak. Maybe life would be easier if people would just stick with their own kind. But what does that really mean?

This is a story of yearning and desire, of the basic need to connect with others and the expectations of culture and tradition that sometimes keep us from real love, a love that is truly with someone of our “own kind.” 

First Chapter of Your Own Kind

Everyone was asleep when the Turk’s son came looking for Sarah that morning. With a thick willow branch tucked under his arm, he walked on the edge of the dirt road with long angry strides. The sun had just become a thin red line in the east and the bitter smell of wet reeds was coming off the marsh near the lake as he rounded the corner and made his way to the front of the Middleground Boarding House. Mrs. Middleground was the first to hear the commotion, awakened by the thuds of the branch hitting the windshield of the red car. As the shards of glass fell against the metal hood, she raced to the window, her sluggishness momentarily forgotten. She’d fallen asleep in the chair the night before. The magazine she’d been reading had slid to the floor and lay with its spine open—the cover showing its beaten state—torn and creased, last year’s edition of The World in Pictures:1974. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have thought much about seeing the Turk’s son outside her window, especially in the morning. That was the boy’s usual routine after his newspaper deliveries. He always appeared on foot at the front of the boarding house, meeting with Sarah to do whatever it was they did together. And then they’d drive off in that blue Impala of hers. Well, in Mrs. Middleground’s opinion—and she had many of them—he was much too young for Sarah. Three or four years can be an enormous difference in age, especially at that time of life. She peered through the lace curtains and shook her head. That boy couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen.

Mrs. Middleground was a woman with many philosophical principles for life, though they changed more often than her boarders. The fishermen were her steady renters but the young people who were there to work during the summer season would come and go like a stubborn rash. They all seemed to follow the same foolish path—living an entire lifetime in that short three month period before leaving East End with nothing to show for it. Or at least that’s how Mrs. Middleground saw it, and she figured the reason the Turk’s son was hanging around that year, was because he’d just gotten old enough to know there were girls at her boarding house. But now as she held open the curtain in her trailer window, watching him swing the branch at the red car with such venom, she was caught between intrigue and genuine fear.

Sarah was lying in bed, suspended between a dream and reality when the noise started. She heard the shuffle of feet in the hallway and opened her eyes to see Alexandros fighting to get his arms into a tee shirt. In an instant she was behind him, following him out to the yard. She pushed her hair away from her face but it fell back into her eyes as she came up next to him and saw his damaged red car.

“Kareem, What are you doing?” she cried.

Sarah was the only boarder who knew the Turk’s son by name. To the others, Kareem had always been no more than a moving piece of the background, an early morning paperboy who threw rolled up newspapers onto lawns while balancing on his bicycle seat. It wasn’t until he’d started coming around the boarding house that they’d heard Mrs. Middleground refer to him as The Turk’s Son. And there he was, on that unusually warm spring morning, having fully emerged from the scenery with all the fire and rage of a real live person.

Kareem’s insults hit Sarah like a blow to the head and it took her a second to realize that the crumpled paper he was thrusting into Alexandros’ hand was actually a photo, her heart pounding into her ribs as Alexandros looked at it and then at her—his expression impossible to read. By then, the sun was already sitting on top of the boarding house, its heat pushing through the elm branches and burning holes into her back. She wanted to grab the photo from Alexandros and explain, but there were no words and then Kareem was gone, disappearing into the brush around the lake and a police car was pulling up onto the dirt.

It was all a mistake—a terrible misunderstanding, but how could she stop the movement of a boulder falling from a cliff? She knew—though she tried to convince herself otherwise—if she hadn’t stayed in East End, none of this would be happening. Those were the thoughts that pushed her as she ran to the blue Impala and got in, hoping to get to Kareem before the police. She at least owed him that, and she made it half way to Main Street before the vibrations hit the side of her car and a deafening blast slapped against her face through the open window. Her body went ice cold, the chill starting at the base of her spine, running up her back and stopping at the nape of her neck. She knew—without knowing—it was over. Nothing would be the same after this.

She pulled to the side of the road when she saw the line of police cars blocking the intersection, and she left the Impala to join a small group of onlookers moving toward the ocean, toward the tower of black smoke that was billowing above the dunes. As her pace quickened and she broke from the group, a cop with a walkie-talkie grabbed her by the elbow, the static buzzing from his hand and voices spitting commands out of the small gray speaker.  His thick fingers pushed against her skin, but she’d already gotten as far as the IGA and there was something lying in the street—something that made her want to yank her arm from his grasp and run to it. But his grip was too tight.

“Move back.  Crime scene.”

He ordered her back to an invisible line where others had gathered.

“Move back. C’mon, move!”

The smoke was starting to turn a light gray; a strong sea breeze smeared it across the cloudless sky, shading the sun with an artificial twilight. Sarah listened to the hum of conversation around her, not really hearing it until a hand on her shoulder startled her.
It was Oscar. So much time had passed since the last time they’d seen one another, she almost didn’t recognize him with his crew cut. But with Karen Marie there, standing beside him, Sarah knew who he was, and in a flood of relief, she folded herself against his chest and let the tears come. Karen Marie put her arms around them, so Sarah was in the center of the embrace and couldn’t see the red car parked across the street with its front wheels sunk into the sand or Alexandros, who had been running toward her, suddenly stop. She simply closed her eyes, willing herself to be back in time, back in Owl’s Head with her family, back in the general store. But the past is a closed door, though Sarah longed for it anyway, pressing her eyes tightly together until she could see herself sitting on the stool behind the dated wooded counter beside the old brass resister. And she was home again.

Type of Book: Paperback and ebook

Publication Date:  May 2, 2015

Publisher: Self-Published

Word Count:  84,200 of literary fiction

My Review

I fell in love with the story of Your Own Kind immediately.  It is one of relationships between parents, parents and their children, neighbors, people of different nationalities. It is about finding love where we least expect it.  Your Own Kind explores the ins and outs of relationships where all is not as it seems.

There is a lot of backstory to explain how the characters got to where they were. For the most part this was helpful, but at times, it was perplexing. There was also a lot of jumping around from one period in the characters’ lives to another (past and present). This too, was a cause for some confusion.  There were a number of supporting characters, and I feel it would have helped move the story along if the author had narrowed down the characters to those with the most significant roles.

With all of this in mind, my original statement stands. I absolutely enjoyed the story. Even though I felt there were issues with the structure,  I would recommend Your Own Kind to anyone who enjoys fiction with well-defined characters, and a strong believable story.

About the AuthorLinda Fagioli-Katsiotas

Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas lives on Long Island with her husband, Nick. She teaches English to newly immigrated English language learners at her local middle and high school. This is her first work of fiction, though she has also written a memoir entitled, The Nifi, which inspired her creation of a blog with the same name.

To Find Out More About the Author, click on these links:

Author’s Blog



To Buy Your Own Kind:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Barnes and Noble

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

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-sep-2015