The Summer of New Beginnings

By Bette Lee Crosby

Blurb

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments—not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

My Review

Bette Lee Crosby has long been one of my favorite authors.  Her Southern voice comes through in all of her books and lends a believable element to everything she writes.  THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is no exception.

The main characters all had depth which is what made them so believable. They navigated, each in their own way, through the trials and tribulations of a family who lost their husband and father.  This is the story of Meghan and Tracy and their mother Lila, each taking different directions and ending up at the same place, though stronger and more resilient.  You will fall in love immediately with Megan and Sox, her dog.  Lila adores her family but lacks the strength to pull them together, which is sure to frustrate you.  Tracy’s rebelliousness will have you pulling your hair.

Yes, there is some romance in this story, but it is well balanced with the underlying plot – a story of love and forgiveness, and the importance of family. No, I am not going to discuss the plot except to say that like all of Crosby’s novels, it is well executed and follows in the tradition of her other wonderful books. THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a cozy story, whether lazing on the beach or at the pool or cuddled up at home in your favorite reading nook.  Anyone who loves a well-crafted book with an expertly developed plot and true-to-life characters you feel you know will love this book.

My thanks to Bette Lee Crosby, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.  I have read nearly all the author’s books and look forward to reading more.  My honest review is my own opinion.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

A Note from Bette Lee…

Welcome. I’m delighted that you’ve stopped by for a visit. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore my website, browse through my books and get to know a bit more about me.

First off, I’m a Southerner; and Southerners are born storytellers. In the South stories are handed down from one generation to the next, and often told while sitting on the front porch or gathered around a potluck picnic table. With every telling the characters grow bigger, braver and definitely more memorable. So it is with my characters—each one born of a tale that started long ago.

Every writer begins as a reader and this is also true of me. But ignoring the gift of storytelling that my mama passed down, I majored in art and started out as a graphic artist. Fate stepped in and when one of the salesmen said to make up some sell copy for the back of a pantyhose package, I did. Before long I realized my niche was creating images with words rather than pictures and a new career blossomed.

After two decades of writing for business—magazine articles, corporate reports, marketing plans and the like—that storytelling heritage kicked in and I began my first novel. I began writing the story in longhand using sticky notes, cross outs, and asterisks for editing and then handing my messy papers over to my secretary to be typed. (Remember, I studied art, not typing.) Several chapters later, I admitted defeat, bought my first laptop and taught myself to type.

I wrote two full-length novels (which will never see the light of day) before I wrote The Twelfth Child and entered it into the National Pen Women competition as an unpublished manuscript. It won and that tiny taste of success spurred me on to make this a full time career.

Now, I write almost every day and consider myself blessed to be doing this thing that I love so much. I look back and smile thinking if Mama were still here she’d recognize bits and pieces of the stories she once told.

 

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How to extend the attention span of your children.

I highly recommend this insightful article from Dayne Sislen.

Dayne Sislen Children's Book Illustration

Kids today are bombarded with video games as well as fast action cartoons and movies. Picture book publishers are requesting shorter and shorter picture books for young children. No wonder our children have problems keeping their minds focused on one thing for very long.

What can you do to help your kids have a longer attention span? My advice is not some new technical invention or app for your phone or tablet, but something easy and inexpensive that you can do in your own home.

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You can extend your children’s attention span by reading to them.

What better way to show them you love them and help them at the same time. Kids love getting attention from their parents and grandparents. This one-on-one time without any distractions from phones or TV is important. Children can later illustrate the stories you read together so you have a visual reminder of the time you have…

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12 Life Lessons I Learned in 2017

As we start the new year I want to share with you the wise lessons of 2017 as told by Yecheilyah Ysrayl on her fabulous blog. Though all are important, the last one stands out above the rest.

The PBS Blog

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  • Growth is painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating. It reveals the raw and aching part of us and demands our masks to fall so that we may accept who we truly are and what truly is. This is unpleasant and frightening but necessary because, without this kind of mental and physical suffering, we cannot grow.

  • Deceit lies, and lack of proper communication can destroy any relationship. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known a person, how many secrets you’ve shared, how many deep conversations you’ve engaged in or how many tears you’ve shed, deception is a rotten fruit that contaminates weak foundations. No matter how embarrassing or silly, be upfront with the people you say that you love.

  • There is, sadly, a thing as being too nice. Energy is precious and we cannot risk being vulnerable to the first smile or positive comment that is thrown in our direction. Not in this…

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A Christmas Journey

A Christmas memory from my husband.

Thinkin' Things Over

Snow Storm Christmas tree

It was a cold winter night with snowflakes falling as big as quarters.  I was about five years old and was sitting on a sled being pulled by my grandfather through the streets of our small town along the Ohio river.  It had already snowed about six inches that day with no sign of letting up.  We were off to get our Christmas tree at the local market/store about four blocks away.

As I was being pulled through the streets I marveled at the beauty of the snow glistening in the night, houses decorated with Christmas lights, the smell of fireplaces, and the sound of the sled gliding through the snow.  What peacefulness.

Outside the store was a large area filled with rows of Christmas trees sitting in concrete blocks.  Around the perimeter were oil drums cut in half stuffed with burning firewood.  As my grandfather visited with some friends…

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Whack, Whack, Whack, Goes the Tail!

By Mark Rouillard

Illustrated by David Burk

 

Book Blurb

This is a story about a dog named Jack that has no idea his tail is constantly whacking anything and everything that is behind him. Jack loves his human family unconditionally, and they love him.

My Review

Whack, Whack, Whack, Goes the Tail! is the author’s debut book.  It is an adorable story about a dog’s love for his family and the trouble his tail is always causing.  The story is written with the 3-5-year-old in mind and is sure to cause some giggles when children hear the tale of the tail.

The book is beautifully illustrated with colorful pictures the children are sure to love.

I recommend this for all young children in the target age group.  It would make a lovely gift.

About the Author

Born and raised in Littleton, Massachusetts, Mark Rouillard moved to Southern California and now calls Orange County home. Working as a mechanical design engineer has been a rewarding profession with several patents being awarded.

Although it is said everyone has at least one book in them, I never dreamed of writing a book. A friend has a dog named Jack that I love who was the inspiration for this book. Always a happy dog his tail is constantly wagging furiously creating turmoil for anything and everything that is behind him. Long ago I began to tell him, “whack, whack, whack, goes the tail”, usually as something was getting upended by his tail. When the inspiration was born I clearly envisioned a children’s picture book with that title, wrote the 357 words, and described my vision for each illustration.

Holding the first hardcover book in my hands in April 2017 was exciting and achieved part of my first goal. Now seeing the book for sale on the website http://whackwhackwhackgoesthetail.com/ in both hardcover and eBook formats has fully achieved that first goal. I have two more goals for this book which are associated with sales. I hope to someday announce these next 2 goals have also been achieved!

Follow the author on Goodreads and Amazon and on the author’s website.

The author gave me this lovely book in exchange for my honest review.

The Good Liar

By Catherine McKenzie

 

Book Blurb

Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?

When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

My Review

Catherine McKenzie can always be counted on to spin a great tale, and The Good Liar is no exception. We meet three women who were present when a large explosion rocked Chicago killing more than 500 people on October 10th at 10:00 a.m.  Theirs are stories of secrets, deceptions, and guilt.  In this character-driven story, Cecily, Kaitlyn (Kate), and Franny find themselves confronting their sins of the past year as memorials for “Triple Ten” approach.  I found them each to be believable and profoundly changed by the events of the previous year.  Were they likable characters?  Cecily was the true victim of the story and I liked her a lot, though I found myself getting frustrated with her from time to time.  Kate was so twisted that I couldn’t understand how she could leave her family thinking she had died in the explosion.  I disliked Franny from the start. She was too conniving, and I wanted to have nothing to do with her.  The story is told in the first person by Cecily and Kate giving us a deep insight into their characters, while Fanny’s story was told in interviews and thus was impersonal.

Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author throws another twist at you keeping you engaged in reading.  Full of the unexpected, The Good Liar is a book you should watch for.  It will be published in April 2018.

I am giving The Good Liar 4 stars because I felt it was confusing going back and forth among the three women. While I could grasp Cecily’s and Kate’s comments, I had a hard time connecting to Franny’s interview format at first.

Would I recommend The Good Liar?  Unquestionably!

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine is a partner in a litigation boutique in Montreal, where she was born and raised. Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN, HIDDEN, SMOKE and FRACTURED, are bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Slovakian and Czech. SMOKE was named one of the Top 100 Books in 2015 by Amazon and one of the Best Books of October 2015 by Goodreads. FRACTURED was named one of the Best Books of October 2016 by Goodreads.

Catherine’s first book writing as Julie Apple (the protagonist in FRACTURED), THE MURDER GAME, was released in November, 2016. SPIN has been optioned for a television series. A short film of ARRANGED was made in 2014 and won a Canadian National Screen Institute Award. Catherine was on set while they filmed it. It was one of the highlights of her writing life.

Catherine’s next novel, THE GOOD LIAR, will be published on April 3, 2018.

An avid skier and runner, Catherine climbed the Grand Teton in 2014.

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, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/catherinemckenzieauthor, and on Twitter and Instagram at @CEMckenzie1

Due Out April 3, 2018

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Christmas #ShortStories Silent Night by @WendyClarke99

Rosie Amber

Today’s team review is from Jenny, she blog here http://jennyworstall.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading Silent Night by Wendy Clarke

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My review:

I have long been an admirer of Wendy Clarke’s short stories; she writes with great delicacy about the deep emotional truths found at the heart of seemingly everyday lives.

Christmas is a time of heightened emotion and this collection explores themes of loneliness, loss and love, all with the constant thread of the real meaning of Christmas running through.

In ‘Finding Santa’ we sympathise with a family stranded at Gatwick Airport as the festive season starts and in ‘All I Want for Christmas’ we feel for the new step-father desperately searching the shops for the elusive must-have-toy late on Christmas Eve.

The most original story of the collection in my opinion is ‘Silent Night’, but my favourite is ‘Christmas Strike’, for its humour and for the tenderness of…

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