Looking for Me

By Beth Hoffman

 

Book Blurb

Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel, Looking for Me.

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first, she must decide what to let go of and what to keep. (Goodreads.com)

My Review

Beth Hoffman is an excellent storyteller.  From early in the book through the end she had me hooked on the story of Teddi Overman.  As a young girl, Teddi discovers her life’s passion when she finds an old chair left on the road near her home in rural Kentucky.  When she takes it home and fixes it up, her mother dismisses it as junk.  Teddi loved it and as an adult rescues old furniture, repairs it, and sells it in her own shop in Charleston, South Carolina.

There were sad stories of the disappearance of her brother Josh and the loss of her parents. The misunderstanding between Teddi and her mother that created a rocky relationship between the two is a story many can relate to. There were truly funny accounts of various characters such as Albert, her grumpy furniture restorer, the hilarity of sticky-fingered Tula Jane Poteet, and a bit of romance.  In all this story had a perfect balance of all these elements.

The characters, of which there were quite a few, were well drawn out and believable.  I especially liked Olivia and her loyalty to her best friend, Teddi.  Sam was a surprise, and you’ll see what I mean when you read the book.  Albert was quite the personality and won my heart from the time I met him. Teddi was a complex character with a lot of hurdles to overcome along life’s path. She eventually discovers where her heart really lies, but it takes a long while for her to realize this.

I will definitely read more by Beth Hoffman and would recommend LOOKING FOR ME to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction.

About the Author

Twelve days after Beth Hoffman’s first novel was published in 2010, she became a New York Times bestselling author with foreign rights selling to prestigious publishers in Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Hungary, Indonesia, Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Following an extensive national tour, Beth returned home to Kentucky and the solace of her writing studio. Drawing from vivid memories of childhood on her grandparents’ farm and her love of animals, nature, and antiques, a surprising story quickly took form. When asked about her second novel, which is titled Looking for Me, Beth says: “This book encompasses my deepest passions—it’s the story that woke me in the night and demanded to be told.”

Before beginning her writing career, Beth was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio. An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Beth lives, along with her husband and two very smart cats, in a restored Queen Anne home in a quaint historic district in Northern Kentucky. Her interests include the rescue of abandoned and abused animals, nature conservancy, birding, historic preservation, and antiquing. (Goodreads.com)

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The Small Town Producing 140 Million Books A Year

Nicholas Rossis has unearthed some fascinating information about where that book you’re reading was printed and bound.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Berryville Graphics | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book Photo by Edward Leonard, Clarke Daily News

The last page of your favorite mystery novel probably offers this brief, final mystery: “Printed and bound in Berryville, Virginia.”

Just where is Berryville, you may ask. A question that can only grow when you learn that a town of some 4,000 people is responsible for producing some 140 million books a year.

A Trappist Monastery And A Printer

As Andrew Madigan of The Washington Post reports, Berryville is the seat of Clarke County, five miles from West Virginia. Buildings of note include a Trappist monastery, a soldier’s home and a very old pie company. With a population of 4,185, Berryville has a healthy, ironic sense of its own obscurity.

And yet, the town’s only major printer, Berryville Graphics (BVG), became in 1998 the nation’s No. 3 book manufacturer with a brand-new patent for its Duratech binding technology. This was a…

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Study: Reading Programs May Improve Kids’ Behavior!

A wonderful post from author Janice Spina on the importance of reading to your children and the effects on behavior.

Jemsbooks

I found this interesting study about reading  by Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday, March 29, 2018 on page 84. This may be enlightening to many parents who have children with behavior problems.

Here are some quotes from this article. If you would like to look it up online I mentioned the paper and date and page number above. I also took a photo of this article and posted it below the excerpts. Enjoy!

Study: Reading Programs May Improve Kids’ Behavior!

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health)

Programs that encourage parents to read with their kids may teach more than just book smarts — a new study suggests they may also be associated with better behavior and emotional health.

Reading interventions have long been linked to improvements in language and literacy, especially among young children whose parents have limited income or education. 

But Less…

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The Right Wrong Man

By Pamela Wight

 

Book Blurb

In this page-turning romantic suspense, Meredith Powers’ career as a medical editor seems safe enough as she searches for love with the right man. But she is pulled suddenly from her serene world in Boston to one of intrigue, kidnapping, and murder in the Caribbean.

Meredith’s simple life becomes terribly complicated when she works with an author who drags her into a drug heist. The reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, the D.E.A. agent, and the stunning response from her current accountant boyfriend all lead to complications, danger, and more than a few questions.

Meredith wonders if she really knows the people who surround her in her daily life. Her parents, her best friends, her boss, even her lover. She discovers that almost everyone holds secrets, and the unearthing of those cover-ups lead to mystery and danger that changes everything, and everyone, she thought she knew. (Goodreads)

 

My Review

Everyone looks for the book they can’t put down and THE RIGHT WRONG MAN is one such book.  The story is positively captivating with lots of twists and turns leaving you wondering what will happen next. With elements of romance and suspense combined, this fast-paced novel is a real page-turner.

The characters are fully developed and truly believable.  Though there are multiple characters, each adding to the story, they are all distinguishable and leave no confusion over who is who. Mystery surrounds each of Meredith’s love interests culminating in surprises about each.

If you love a good mystery with romance heavily sprinkled throughout, this book is for you.  There is nothing I didn’t like about THE RIGHT WRONG MAN.  I have no reason not to award this book five stars.

The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

About the Author

Pamela Wight is a successful author of romantic suspense as well as the author of the illustrated children’s book, BIRDS OF PARADISE, enjoyed by readers ages 3 to 93.

Her first book, THE RIGHT WRONG MAN, got rave reviews for taking readers “on an exciting adventure with lots of intrigue, unexpected plot twists, and romance.” A year later, Wight published her second novel, TWIN DESIRES. “Lots of suspense, plot twists, romance, and excellent character development makes this a fun read!”

The gorgeously illustrated BIRDS OF PARADISE has received many enthusiastic reviews: “This creative, compassionate story about birds will inspire children to notice the everyday adventures of backyard birds.”

Pamela earned her Master’s in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco.

She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her next novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight travels frequently to the San Francisco Bay area for additional inspiration. She speaks to book clubs in both locations. (Amazon Author Page)

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A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far

The Forgotten Child Trilogy Book 1

By Mark W. Sasse

 

Book Blurb

If she wanted help changing the world for one forgotten child, she chose the wrong man. Seventy-two-year-old Francis Frick would scorn his own family to close another deal. But Bee doesn’t see the world like you or me. She is an optimist, searching for potential where none exists, and so she hovers above Frick’s bed every night, eating pomegranates and waiting for his eyes to open to the possibilities. One night, it finally happens. A rogue droplet of juice slips through her fingers and hits the sleeping Manhattan businessman on the forehead, thrusting him on a series of baffling adventures to some of the twentieth century’s most brutal regimes—all to help Bee save a forgotten child of history.

A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR is part one of The Forgotten Child Trilogy—a one-of-a-kind adventure that mixes time travel, magical realism, and historical fiction into a contemporary story about an old man, his estranged daughter, and a tiny flying person in a white robe, who chooses to believe that anything can happen with enough prodding and an endless supply of pomegranates.  (Goodreads)

My Review

Francis Frick is a modern-day “Scrooge” who would do anything to make another business deal.  He is friendless, and his only daughter is incessantly challenged by his callousness, but she made a deathbed promise to her mother to look after him. Bee, a fairy-like being, makes him her project, and what a project he is!  Bee and her friend Ash thrust Frick into a series of journeys into the past where he is literally dropped into some of the most dangerous and ruthless moments in history.

This story is well fleshed out with notes of magical realism, suspense, and history.  For me, this is a perfect combination.  In addition to several main characters, there are numerous auxiliary characters, but I had no trouble keeping track of who is who.

I’ve read and loved all of Mark Sasse’s works and this book is possibly his best so far.  There is no reason for me not to award five stars to A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR.

The ideas expressed in this review are my own observations.

About the Author

Mark is a proud Western PA native but has lived most of the last twenty years in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia. His overseas experiences have redefined everything including his palate, his outlook on life, and naturally his writing.

He has published six novels – the sixth being book 1 in his very first trilogy – The Forgotten Child Trilogy. Books 2 & 3 will be following soon behind.

His interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – to culture and language – to history and religion – making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy writing injected with doses of culture, history, adventure, and delightful humor. You never know what you might get when you pick up a Sasse novel.

Besides novel-writing, Sasse is a prolific dramatist, having written and produced more than a dozen full-length dramatic productions. He especially is fond of the short play format and has twice won the Best Script award at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Penang. His plays and short musicals have also been produced in New York City, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney. His play “The Last Bastion” was awarded the Greywood Arts Winter Residency 2018 in Ireland. Performances of his scripts also won Gold and Bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Forensics Competition 2014.

His professional background is as diverse as his writing. He holds Masters degrees from California State University Dominquez Hills and Azusa Pacific University in Humanities and TESOL respectively. His undergraduate degree was in English, which helped him develop his passion for creative writing. He has extensive experience in teaching English, history, and drama.

On top of all of this, he loves to cook everything from gourmet pizzas, to Mexican, to various Asian dishes. Flavor is the key of both his cooking and his writing. He very much hopes you enjoy the taste. (Goodreads)

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Garden – Trouble in Paradise – Part one by Sally Cronin

Do you like stories of fairies? Sally Cronin shares part one of her book TALES FROM THE GARDEN.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

In the summer I will be releasing Tales from the Irish Garden.. stories of magic and fantasy. It is the sequel to Tales from the Garden published in 2015 and I am going to share the stories from that collection with you in the next few weeks.

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found…

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21 Ways to Spring Clean Your Blog #bloggingtips

Do you want to update your blog but don’t know where to start? Hugh from Hugh’s News and Views has simplified the steps to spring clean your blog.

Hugh's Views & News

It doesn’t have to be springtime to clean up your blog.  These free tips can be used at any time of the year.

#bloggingtips #blogging #WordPress

1. Give your blog a brand new theme. WordPress offers lots of free themes, and you can try them out first before deciding on which one best suits you. Giving your blog a brand new theme will give it a fresh new look. However, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with your current theme if you’re happy with it.

2. Customise your existing theme. Press the ‘customize’ button on your blog’s dashboard to see what you can change.

#bloggingtips #blogging #WordPress

3. Change the background colour of your blog. However, be careful when choosing a colour. Ask yourself if you’d be happy reading a blog with that neon coloured background that plays tricks on your eyes. Press the ‘customize‘ button to make any changes.

4. Change the type of font (and…

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Useful Twitter Hashtags for Bloggers

For those of you who struggle using hashtags, Suzie over at Suzie Speaks has simplified hashtags for bloggers.

Suzie Speaks

Useful twitter hashtags for bloggersWhat is a Hashtag?

A hashtag, put simply, is a label or category that allows others to find something within a specific theme or content and are primarily used on Twitter and Instagram. Once you have copied a URL or used the share button on a post, hashtags can be used to direct your post towards the people you want to read them. On Twitter you can use a hashtag for everything – #cats, #dogs, #football, #sandwiches – but as a blogger the main focus is to use categories that will gain interest in your content and grow your readership and traffic.

Using Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags are the most popular things on Twitter at a particular moment in time  and at several points in the last few years I have written a post about a topic while it was trending, with immediate effect on my traffic once it was…

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Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker

By Cynthia Mackey

 

Book Blurb

Katie is too young to use the stove so she dreams of making her very own pancakes. Join Katie and her friend Baxter in this fun story as they use a passion for collecting and building to find a way to realize Katie’s pancake dream! This upbeat energetic tale with great potential for reading aloud will appeal to adults and young children alike. The book includes a predictable rhyme that will have children chiming in as the story unfolds. Children will celebrate with Katie and Baxter as their pancake dream becomes reality! Recipe included. (Taken from Goodreads)

My Review

Katie Shaffer loved building things, but more than that she loved eating pancakes. In fact, she dreamed of making “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!” herself, but her parents said she was too young to use the stove. So, Katie went to her collection box where she had saved all sorts of castaways – cardboard, ribbon, buttons, kitchen gadgets, and more. She and her new neighbor Baxter decided to build their own pancake maker so they could make, “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  Together they blended the ingredients and then Katie mixed in a magic ingredient. The pancakes were delicious, so they decided to go to the store to get various butters, syrups, and jams to top their “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  When they returned they found pancakes on the floor, the ceiling, the bed, everywhere!  They had forgotten to turn off the pancake maker and now had enough pancakes to feed their families, friends, and neighbors.  That is exactly what they did!

This wonderful story shows children that some dreams do come true and you can accomplish a lot through cooperation.  If you want the young children in your life to hear or read stories of hope, the rewards of working toward a goal, and friendship and cooperation, then this book is for you. The book even includes the recipe for Katie’s “Golden brown, fluffy as a cloud, perfectly round, PANCAKES!”  I thoroughly enjoyed reading KATIE SHAEFFER PANCAKE MAKER! Without a doubt, I give this book 5 gold stars!

About the Author

Cynthia Mackey has always loved children’s literature. After years of teaching preschool and kindergarten, she is proud to have written her first children’s book, KATIE SHAEFFER, PANCAKE MAKER.  She lives on the west coast of British Columbia wither her family and her piano where she faithfully continues her Saturday morning pancake tradition.  (Author Bio taken from the back cover of the book)

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Book Blurb

A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.  (Blurb is from Goodreads)

My Review

Bernadette Fox had many idiosyncrasies and was too unbelievable to keep my interest.  When she disappeared, leaving her teenaged daughter and husband without knowledge of her whereabouts, I totally disliked her, never mind that she had tried and failed.  She should have done better.

I know this book has had a lot of rave reviews, but it just fell short for me.  I couldn’t abide Bee’s mother and father raising a child in the mess of the house they called home.  Plants coming up through the floors, mold in abundance, structural issues are unacceptable for a family who had the know-how and the money to do something about it.  Bernadette should have pulled herself together and used her education and resources to correct the major issues.  Elgie, her husband, should have put his foot down instead of escaping by working late and pretty much being an absent parent.  I had many more issues with this book.

On the positive side, I loved Bee.  She did her best in her circumstances, generally more adult than either of her parents.  Then there was Audrey.  At first, I disliked her, but she showed her true colors in the end and they were beautiful.  She saw her own faults for what they were and owned up to them.

If the author intended this book for a younger audience, perhaps 40’s and younger, she probably hit her mark.  My book club read Where’d You Go, Bernadette and all of the ladies agreed it is not meant for the older age group.

This honest review reflects my own thoughts and feelings about the book.

About the Author

Maria Semple is the author of the novels Today Will Be Different (2016), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) and This One is Mine (2008), all published by Little, Brown and Co.  Before writing fiction, she wrote for the TV shows  90210, Mad About You, Arrested Development and others.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, an international bestseller, has been translated into 30 languages.  It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It was short-listed for the Women’s Prize and received the Alex Award from the American Library Association.  It’s currently being made into a film starring Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig and Billy Crudup.  Richard Linklater writes and directs.  The movie is slated to open in 2018.  Today Will Be Different was an instant international bestseller and was featured on the cover of the New York Times book review.  It, too, made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It’s currently in development with Annapurna pictures as a limited TV series with Maria writing and executive producing.

Maria loves to teach.  She’s taught her popular writing workshop at Hugo House and the Cloud Room in Seattle, the Aspen Writers Conference, and Wordstock in Portland.

Maria spent her early years traveling around Europe with her bohemian parents, but that ended abruptly when her father, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., finished a pilot for Batman while living in Torremolinos, Spain. He airmailed it in, they shot it, and the family moved to LA.  After the Batman TV series and feature, Lorenzo went on to write a bunch of movies. Once he was established, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado.  Maria attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary and college at Barnard, where she majored in English.  She moved to LA shortly after graduating Barnard and wrote screenplays which never got made, and TV shows which did.   In 2008 Maria, George Meyer and their little daughter moved to Seattle just because. It was a difficult adjustment for Maria, which became the basis for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The novel came out in 2012 and became an instant bestseller. (Author Bio from Author’s Website)

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