Here is the second post from Christopher Graham, The Story Reading Ape. He suggested that having such an extensive archive, that I share some of his guest posts. It serves another purpose apart from showcasing that guest, as it is reminder to you that Chris loves having new guest write for his blog. This week I am sharing the guest post in 2014 of Michelle Clements Jameswho is a wonderful supporter of this blog too and most of yours I would imagine.
The Story Reading Ape – and his guest Michelle Clements James
Book Synopsis If you can’t stand the heat, don’t walk into the fire.
Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful. . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.
To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot
worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town’s prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course, his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich “in crowd.”
From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the “popular and pretty” table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel “Blaze” to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire. You can find more about her at www.hopebolinger.com
A missing child sets the lives of three women on a collision course in this powerful and compelling novel by USA Todaybestselling author Bette Lee Crosby.
When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone.
Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women.
When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again?
Blurb from Goodreads
EMILY, GONE is another of Bette Lee Crosby’s superb “can’t put down, don’t want it to end” books. Written so beautifully in her Southern voice, the author evokes all the emotions, tears, and emptiness that the Dixon’s felt when they discovered their baby was kidnapped from her crib during the night. EMILY, GONE is a story that will tug at your heartstrings.
Ms. Crosby’s characters are true-to-life and could easily be your neighbor, your friend, your family, and even a stranger who sneaks into your home at night. I love when I have a visual of the main characters, but when I can also picture the supporting characters so clearly, you can buy into the story and better understand why the story took the turns that it did. So often a great number of characters can confuse the reader, but that was not the case in EMILY, GONE. Each character, so brilliantly developed, stood on his/her own.
The storyline is well chronicled and was told by numerous points of view throughout.
As always, I enjoyed another delightful book by Bette Lee Crosby, who is undoubtedly one of my favorite authors. I recommend EMILY, GONE to anyone who enjoys reading women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, tearjerkers, realistic stories, inspirational stories, and diverse characters. EMILY, GONE positively deserves 5-stars!
My thanks to the Bette Lee Crosby and Netgalley for this ARC. All thoughts and praise for this book are my own.
About the Author
USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.” Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.” Crosby is the USA Today bestselling author of eighteen novels, including Spare Change and the Wyattsville series. She has been the recipient of the Royal Palm Literary Award, Reviewer’s Choice Award, FPA President’s Book Award, International Book Award, and Next Generation Indie Award, among many others. Her 2016 novel, Baby Girl, was named Best Chick Lit of the Year by Huffington Post. . . . Bette laughingly admits to being a night owl and a workaholic, claiming that her guilty pleasure is late-night chats with fans and friends on Facebook and Goodreads.
Brian and Marcie were supposed to live happily ever after–they repeated vows that stated that very sentence. So, no one, especially Brian, could have predicted that Marcie would file for divorce. It was difficult to fight the situation, finding that all his possessions were packed and waiting by the door when he came home from work that Thursday evening.
Kate Moore sat in a stupor for a month. Unlike any other breakup she had experienced, this felt more like a drive by shooting, with her ex holding the smoking gun as he sped away. What happened, she asked herself, knee-deep in peanut butter cups and bags of cheese doodles. Oliver was the man she was going to marry…she’d already pinned a secret board of wedding dresses and honeymoon destinations.
1247 Sycamore Street, Apartment A and B respectively, is where Kate and Brian find themselves after their tumultuous breakups. An unlikely relationship would soon ensue between these shattered souls, and ‘what ifs’ would slowly rise to the surface of their attraction for one another. But what would happen to their budding relationship when their ex’s want a second chance?
Blurb taken from Amazon
This book took me longer to read than I thought it would, as I had to put it down and walk away from time to time. Brian and Marcie lost a child and that loss had, as you can imagine, a profound effect on their lives, and finally on their marriage. Instead of bringing the two closer together (as it did in the case of my husband and me), they grew further apart until Marcie told Brian to find another place to live. This book was so beautifully written, I could feel their pain, a pain that never truly goes away, and remember, as though I could ever forget, how it felt to be caught in the clutches of such sorrow.
Kate Moore thought she and Oliver would get married and live happily ever after, that is, until Oliver ran from her. Kate left the city and moved to an apartment in the suburbs where she hoped to get over Oliver. The same building where Brian moved so he could be near his young daughter.
What I loved about the book was that Brian and Kate both had monumental issues to overcome which became complicated when their ex’s decided they wanted to reconcile. I will leave it to you to discover the outcome. To me, the choices they made were the right ones and the ending left me satisfied with the outcome.
The story was well crafted and the characters were believable. I would definitely recommend UNFINISHED.
My thanks to the author for the ARC. I have received no compensation for my honest review.
About the Author
Julieann Dove began her writing career not long ago. Taking a break from her job as a bookkeeper was just what the doctor ordered, to tap into her creative side. When she’s not writing, she loves playing with fabric at her sewing machine, baking new recipes, and playing in the dirt, trying to get things to grow. Julieann loves old movies, and never tires of listening to music–it’s where she finds most of her inspiration for her books.
Who am I? It’s more difficult to put into words than one can imagine. There’s so much, yet very little. Well…I’m a girl who during their entire childhood wanted to be an English teacher. Who instead became a bookkeeper. When September rolls around and the stores are stocked with back-to-school supplies, I still get a pang of “something’s missing.” But still I continue counting money and storing the data.
I’m not a morning person–never have been. It stems from my mother, as she cannot function at the break of daylight, either. I recall many mornings dragging into school barely before the first bell, Mom still in her robe, watching me walk in from behind the steering wheel of her car. Instead, I come alive around 7 p.m. That’s when you’ll find me scouring tubs or rearranging kitchen cabinets.
Before going to sleep, I love reading recipes. It gives me hope I’ll make something good to eat the next day. I don’t always get around to fulfilling that dream, but I surprise myself and sometimes do go to the store in search of the ingredients. Cooking good food makes me happy—eating it makes me happier!
Not until four years ago did I discover writing books. I’ve always kept my stories and characters locked away in my mind. One day I took a hiatus from numbers and began typing words into my computer. That was my first book. My fingers couldn’t catch up to my thoughts. I couldn’t stop. And I haven’t since. This is my joy. Writing about messy people encountering love is what makes me happy!
There was a loud buzzing coming from behind the willow screen, echoing in the narrow passage beside the house. I stood still and waited, watching with a smile as the first bumblebee of spring emerged from its winter quarters.
The fog had lifted, revealing a sky of clear blue. I took off my fleece to wash the car, for the first time this year, I was too warm… and it is only February. Everywhere you look there are signs of spring and it lifts the heart.
Looking up, I caught sight of the year’s first butterfly, a good month earlier than the last two years. Once again, it was a deep yellow… almost golden.
I thought back to something I had written a couple of years ago, because, as always, a yellow butterfly takes me straight back to childhood and Moomin Valley, for…
We all know we can’t pass up a good book even though our TBR is overflowing with more books than we can reasonably read in a lifetime. Have you ever wondered how long it will take you to read them all if you don’t add more to the pile? Here is a fun tool from READ IT FORWARD to help you figure it out.
In part three of The Forgotten Child Trilogy, Bee takes her biggest gamble yet with Francis Frick, whisking him to the beginning of it all on the forlorn battlefield of waning World War I. When her plan puts Frick in grave danger, she decides to do whatever is necessary to bring Ash back to earth.
In the explosive conclusion to The Forgotten Child Trilogy, loyalties are tested, and secrets are revealed. From Scotland to Africa to Manhattan to the edge of the earth, the enigmatic beings from beyond have a decision to make. Will they continue to influence the world in surprising ways, or will they be released through the parting in the sky.
Book Blurb FROM from Amazon.com
The Forgotten Child Trilogy is an exciting and intriguing story and it thrilled me when the author announced the third book in the series, A Parting in the Sky. If you’ve read the other two books in this series (if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do – see my reviews for A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far – Book 1 here and The African Connection – Book 2 here), Book 3 will bring a satisfying end to the story. It is here that everything is brought together and the secrets of Ash and Bee and of Francis Frick and his family are finally exposed.
With colorful characters and vivid scenes, the story has a bit of everything–riveting suspense, sensational action, plausible crime, and mystifying fantasy. I was genuinely sorry to finish reading A Parting in the Sky.
I have read nearly all Sasse’s books and have never been disappointed. He was born to write. His works show his enthusiasm for writing and his gifted understanding of the written word. His work flows smoothly, and the carefully crafted characters and engaging plot jump off the page. He is gifted with the ability to introduce many characters and subplots to a story without bewildering or discouraging the reader.
I absolutely recommend A Parting in the Sky and all books by Mark W. Sasse.
The author gave me A Parting in the Sky (The Forgotten Child Trilogy) Book 3 in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review.
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 eight novels, including his brand new Forgotten Child Trilogy.
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 Master’s 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.
The day was bitterly cold. Icy winds and heavy skies meant that it was definitely not the weather for tramping the moors on search of ancient stones. Instead, we had a run out to Tissington, knowing that one of the windows in the little Norman church there would be perfect to illustrate the post we were putting together for the Silent Eye’s April event.
The village is tiny… just a few old streets clustered around Tissington Hall in Derbyshire. The Hall has been the home of a single family, the FitzHerberts, for centuries and the ghosts that walk there, from cellar to landing, are their own. Orbs and lights, tobacco smoke and footsteps may follow you in the cellars… and a man dressed in black. In the Library, the temperature is prone to drop rapidly, while lamps move and vibrate and a spectral cat is a prowling presence whose…
From the bestselling author of Between Husbands and Friends and An Act of Love comes a wise, wonderful, and delightfully witty “coming of age” novel about four intrepid women who discover themselves as they were truly meant to be: passionate, alive, and ready to face the best years of their lives.
Meet Faye, Marilyn, Alice, and Shirley. Four women with skills, smarts, and secrets—all feeling over the hill and out of the race. But in a moment of delicious serendipity, they meet and realize they share more than raging hormones and lost dreams. Now as the Hot Flash Club, where the topics of motherhood, sex, and men are discussed with double servings of chocolate cake, they vow to help each other . . . and themselves.
Faye, the artist. A determinedly cheerful widow and connoisseur of control-top pantyhose, she’s struggling with creative block and an empty, lonely house. Now she’s got a tricky problem to bring to the club’s table: how can they catch her perfect son-in-law cheating on her only daughter Laura?
Shirley, the healer. Though her yoga-slender body belie her years, decades of dating losers and the strain of being broke make her feel her age. Shirley has a secret dream: a wellness spa that nurtures body and soul. But first she needs to believe in herself, in her abilities, and in her friends at the club.
Marilyn, the brain. A paleontologist who has spent so many years looking at dried-up fossils, she’s almost become one herself. Worried that her brilliant but nerdy son is about to marry the very wrong woman, she gets some help from the HFC, who transform her from a caterpillar to a butterfly, with amazing results.
Alice, the executive. Black and regal, she soared to the top of the corporate ladder. Now her shoes are murder on her arthritic back and the younger jackals are circling in for the kill. But as the inspiration behind the HFC, she’s about to discover something extraordinary: contentment.
For Faye, Shirley, Marilyn, and Alice, the time has come to use it or lose it—be it their bodies, their brains, their spirits, and their sense of fun. Together they realize that they can have it all, perhaps for the first time in their lives. And though what sags may never rise again, feeling sexy has no expiration date— and best of all, with a little help from her friends, a woman can always start over . . . and never, ever, give up what matters most.
Blurb from Amazon
The Hot Flash Club is about four middle age women and the various issues each faced as they aged and about how they adjusted to life under their own individual circumstances. Of course, one of the main issues each was faced was the man, or lack of a man, in their lives. They came together by chance and had dinner and lots of wine and chocolate. It was then they decided to keep meeting, mostly for the wine and chocolate, to help each other in their adjustment to their current situations. Alice took on the role of spearheading the group. A lot happens in the story, but to keep from giving too much away, I will not delve into the nitty-gritty of the book.
In the beginning, it was difficult to keep the characters straight in my mind (be patient), but as the story evolved, they came into their own right. There are a lot of humorous and relatable situations, and I must admit, I found myself laughing out loud at times. The author did a wonderful job fleshing out the stories of these four midlife women. By the end of the book, you will feel you have a personal relationship with each.
If you enjoy women’s fiction with humor sprinkled throughout, this is a book you’ll want to read. As a side note, I read the second book in the series, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, and was substantially disappointed. Because the first part of the book lacked in keeping the characters straight for the readers (my book club had the same issues with The Hot Flash Club), I am giving this book 4 stars.
About the Author
Nancy Thayer has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Before settling down to write and have children she taught English at various colleges and traveled, living in Paris, Amsterdam and Helsinki. In 1981 she was a Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers Conference. She has lived on Nantucket Island year-round for twenty-five years with her husband Charley Walters. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Nancy Thayer is the author of nineteen novels, including Summer House, The Hot Flash Club series, Moon Shell Beach, Stepping, and Three Women At The Water’s Edge.
Her books concern the mysteries and romance of families and relationships and the humorous adventures of growing older.
In 2008, Redbook magazine chose her novel Moon Shell Beach for their “Hot Summer Read.” Nancy’s work has been translated into more than 14 languages, including Polish, Hebrew, Russian, and Serbo Croatian. Her novels have been condensed or excerpted in several magazines, including Redbook, Good Housekeeping, England’s Cosmopolitan, Holland’s Viva, and South Africa’s Personality.
She has published a commissioned three-part mystery novella in Redbook, and short stories in literary reviews in the United States, Canada, and Spain. Her first novel, Stepping, was made into a 13-part series for BBC Radio. Her ghost novel Spirit Lost was produced as a movie by United Image Entertainment. Her novel Everlasting was a Main Dual selection of the Literary Guild in 1991.