Emily, Gone

By Bette Lee Crosby

Book Blurb

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.

1971.

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

My Review

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.

Author Bio from BookBub

 

Unfinished

By Julieann Dove

Book Blurb

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

My Review

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!

Bio taken from Author’s website About Me Page

 

Author’s Website

Buy the Book on Amazon

A Parting in the Sky

(The Forgotten Child Trilogy Book 3)

By Mark W. Sasse

Coming March 20, 2019

 

Photo from https://mwsasse.com/Book Blurb

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

My Review

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

Photo from Goodreads

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.

Author’s Biography taken from Goodreads

https://www.mwsasse.com
https://www.facebook.com/markwsasse

Six Part-Time Angels

Years ago when I was a child, my mother wrote this story about her best ever Christmas gift. I hope you enjoy her story and the photos from Christmas of my childhood.

 

Six part-time angels gave Christmas to me wrapped in warmth and love. The uncomplicated truths of childhood changed what seemed a catastrophe into the most precious gift that I have ever received.

It was four days before Christmas and we had all been busy with our usual holiday preparations — addressing cards, baking cookies, making candy, stuffing dates, linking the wreath for the front door, decorating the house inside and out, wrapping gifts, stringing popcorn and cranberries for the birds’ tree in the front yard, arranging Great Aunt Mary’s crib in its honored place in the entrance hall, trimming the tree — doing all the happy chores that make up our pre-Christmas ritual. The children’s gifts of clothing had been purchased and wrapped, and the toys had long been ordered.

Unable to squeeze any more days into my schedule, I had ordered the toys from an out-of-town mail-order house and considered myself very lucky that they would all be delivered in one shipment to my door. I waited as patiently as possible until the preceding week and then wrote asking the company to check on my order. They replied to the effect that shipments were understandably slow and that I should not worry. Worry I did, however, as the days passed and no toys arrived. Finally, in desperation, I called the firm long-distance. After what seemed an hour of expensive delay, a pleasant female voice on the other end of the line was telling me something about a mix-up in orders. They were terribly sorry. My order had not been shipped. There was no possible way of getting the toys to me in time for Christmas. I was stunned, and I excitedly babbled something about my predicament — my husband, a mailman, was working late every night in the rush of Christmas mail. I couldn’t get to a store from our rural location. The order was all of the children’s Christmas toys. I had to have those toys! The poor girl at the other end of the line was patiently understanding and, as I remember now, sounded genuinely sorry for the mistake. There was just nothing the company could do! Finally, I had to accept the impossibility of getting the shipment to our house in time.

I sat by the phone, the thought of a toyless Christmas settled over my mind like a black fog, smothering all the joy I had known in our Christmas preparations. I was still sitting there when the children came in, flushed with cold and excitement and the joy of the season. They knew immediately that something was wrong and grouped around me to find out what it was that could cause such sadness so close to Christmas. Foolishly, I thought of the disappointment on those shining faces on Christmas morning, and the flood of tears I had been fighting to hold back could no longer be controlled. I cried. And then, hoping to temper their disappointment on Christmas morning, I told them there would be no toys. The looks of disbelief I expected were there, but not the looks of disappointment. They simply could not believe that I was so upset over that.

The parent became the child and the children became the parents. They pressed close and assured me that of all the things of Christmas, the toys were the least important. Christmas to them wasn’t presents. Christmas to them was the fun of being together, of doing things together. It was the fun of caroling our neighbors and of welcoming our friends. It was the wonderful, indescribable feeling of happiness, the experience of celebrating Christ’s birth at midnight Mass. My oldest daughter summed it up very well by saying, “Clothes wear out and toys break, but we have you and Daddy for all the time.” Needless to say, my feelings readjusted to their proper perspective immediately. I was thrilled by this insight into their true feelings and a bit chagrined that I had lost sight of the true values of Christmas.

That was the warmest, most wonderful Christmas ever. When the holiday season was over, and the Three Kings stood at their destination in the crib, the little light in the tin-star reflector over the stable was extinguished. That has always been the signal that the time has come to pack away the material evidences of Christmas. The boxes and crates were filled with gay decorations, the greens burned, and the gifts put in their proper places. But no drawer, no shelf, no closet was large enough to hold my gift. I keep it with me constantly, and each day is gilded by the knowledge that, “we have you and Daddy for all the time.”

In all fairness, I must confess the children did not reform their mother completely. When I had related the incident to my husband, we immediately combed the city for late-closing stores and replaced all the toys in the canceled order. Then we added a few extra. We are glad that we have those children, “for all the time.”

About the Author

Mildred Clements, a.k.a. Mom, passed away nearly eleven years ago, but her spirit is ever present, especially at Christmas.  Mom believed Christmas should be all about family and traditions. We put up the tree together, placed the creche beneath the tree, sang carols, and laughed over past tree raisings.  With so many people living in one house, someone always had a funny remembrance.  Though Mom decorated most of our house during the day while we were at school, she enlisted our help with baking and food prep and many of our other Christmas traditions.  I still make many of the same cookies we baked in Mom’s kitchen.

Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events

By Janice Spina, author

      John Spina, illustrator

 

Book Synopsis

Abby and Holly are cousins who are more like sisters. They enjoy doing everything together. Holly lives with Abby and her family in a haunted Victorian. Holly must deal in some difficult decisions with her family when unexpected and unfortunate events come to pass.

Abby is there to lend support to Holly along with two ghostly apparitions, Felicity and Minerva, who live in Abby’s house. These specters provide some magical and helpful advice along the way as they watch over Holly during this difficult time.

The girls’ friends, twins Davey and Derek Donato, from their own series, pop in to support Holly and bring some fun and comical relief to the story.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads

My Review

I am so excited about the Abby and Holly Series for girls, but it could be equally enjoyed by boys.  In Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events, Abby’s cousin, Holly, is faced with some difficult issues.  While her parents are away on overseas jobs, Holly is living with Abby. Things go downhill when her parents return for a visit and her mother becomes ill. Throughout this trying time, Holly has a tremendous amount of support from Abby, her Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob, and two ghosts who live in Abby’s house, Felicity and Minerva. Of course, their friends Davey and Derek are there to help, too.

As with all of Spina’s children’s books, Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events teaches life lessons such as respect, kindness toward others, and the importance of being polite.  This book concentrates on handling the unexpected and overcoming life’s disappointments.  The unexpected was Holly’s mother’s illness and hospital stay.  With the love of her extended family, Holly was able to cope with her worry for her mother.  Disappointment was addressed when her father announced that he was flying out to finish his work overseas. He explained to Holly the importance of fulling his obligations to his employer.

I highly recommend Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events to all middle-graders, both girls and boys.  The storyline is one that will keep children interested with its elements of suspense and mystery.  Though there are references to a childhood crush, they are not a major component of the story and certainly not enough to deter boys’ interest. And who doesn’t love a friendly little ghost or two! As with all the author’s children’s books, this one is true to her ideals of writing books that encourage children to read while incorporating those all-important life lessons.  As a book I think every parent will want their daughters and sons to read, I give Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events 5 stars!

About the Author

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with twelve children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Lamby the Lonely Lamb, Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose, Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat, Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab, Lucy the Talented Toy Terrier, and five YA/MG/P/T books, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series, Books 1-5, Abby & Holly Series, Books 1 & 2, copy editor, blogger, book reviewer and supporter of fellow authors.

Hunting Mariah is her first novel to be published under J.E. Spina. She published her second novel, a paranormal/mystery/romance, How Far Is Heaven, June 2016. Book 3 of Davey & Derek Junior Detectives was published in August 2016 and Book 4 of Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series in December on 2016. An Angel Among Us, a short story collection, was published in March 2017 and Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, a children’s book, in May 2017. Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab, Mariah’s Revenge, Lucy the Talented Toy Terrier and Abby & Holly School Dance, Books 1 & 2 in a series were published in 2018.

Jance has received the following awards for her books:

Mom’s Choice Awards – Silver Medal – Lamby the Lonely Lamb

Pinnacle Book Achievements Awards – Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Broose the Moose on the Loose, Colby the Courageous Cat, Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Books 1, 2, 3, 5 of Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series

Reader’s Favorite Book Awards – Silver Medal – Book 3, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives,

Honorable Mention – Book 1, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series

AUTHORSDB – Cover Contest – Silver Medal – Book 5, Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series

AUTHORSDB- FINALIST in First Lines Contest – Hunting Mariah

Red City Review FINALIST – Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Book 4, The Case of the Brown Scraggly Dog

She is editing a YA fantasy and writing more books in a series for MG/PT/YA girls and plans to write more Davey & Derek Junior Detectives books. All of these books, hopefully over the next few years, will be published.

Janice’s short stories have been published in others’ anthologies and in The Writer’s Newsletter, https://thewritersnewsletter.com/fiction-non-fiction-

Book trailers: https://youtu.be/pLCjyc9Q9tQ  (How Far Is Heaven)

https://youtu.be/pLCjyc9Q9tQ  (Hunting Mariah) (Both created by Chris Graham)

https://youtu.be/2DIawvOX9aw  (Mariah’s Revenge – created by Janice Spina)

Her logo is Jemsbooks – books for all ages! Her motto is – Reading Gives You Wings to Fly! Come soar with Jemsbooks! Happy reading!

Janice’s hobbies besides writing are crocheting, exercising to keep in shape, going to the movies with her husband or out to lunch or dinner, reading, book reviewing, blogging and spending time with her five grandchildren who are her writing inspiration.

Janice loves to hear from readers and appreciates and happily welcomes reviews.

Janice can be followed on her blog: http://jemsbooks.blog

Website: http://jemsbooks.com

and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook.

Biographical information taken from Amazon author page

 

 

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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The Twelfth Child

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

Book Synopsis

An uplifting tale of trust, love, and friendship from a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction…

Papa wasn’t someone who’d flat out kill a person, but he sure knew how to destroy a woman from the inside…a slice of spirit, a piece of pride, a chunk of heart, until one day there’s nothing left but a walking around shell to do the cooking and laundry…thus begins the story of Abigail Anne Lannigan, a willful daughter determined to overcome the past.

Leaving the Shenandoah Valley of the early 1900’s behind, Abigail finds a way to survive in a world of joblessness and speakeasies. Now, at the tail end of her years, her best friend is accused of embezzling one million dollars and Abigail is helpless to save her. She knows the truth of what happened, but will never have the chance to tell.

Reminiscent of Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” the May-December friendship of these two unforgettable women is sure to settle in the soft spot of your heart.

The Twelfth Child, told in the timeless tradition of Southern Fiction, is a novel rich with emotion, humor, and tenderness. A Historical Mystery set in the 20th Century, this is a story of love, friendship and one woman’s struggle to survive America’s Great Depression.

Winner of: FPA President’s Book Award Silver Medal, the Royal Palm Literary Award for Women’s Fiction, and the National Association of American Pen Women Fiction Award.

My Review

Growing up with a father who preferred her twin brother, Will, Abigail Anne Lannigan was continuously trying to win her father’s love, but he had a heart of stone.  After Abigail’s mother passed away, life became increasingly hard for Abigail.  Her father wanted her to quit school and take care of the household chores, and marry someone of his choosing at a young age.  Abigail Anne had bigger plans and, with the help of her teacher, found her way to Richmond, Virginia.  The woman she lived with and worked for passed away and she was expelled from the woman’s home by the probate court.  Life grew tougher as she tried to eek out a living as a dancer at a speakeasy during the Depression years.  A tough, courageous, and determined woman, Abigail Anne faced many trials and tribulations during her lifetime and became successful in her own right.

When Destiny Fairchild, with her heart of gold, moved in across the street the two formed an unlikely friendship, given their age differences. It is their friendship that gives heart to this story.

The ups and downs of Abigail Ann’s and Destiny’s story will keep you turning the pages.  Their saga is well fleshed out with real-to-life situations.  Their characters are undeniably plausible and equally loveable.  Another character is Elliott Emerson who is nothing but bad news.  I disliked him from the moment he appeared.  He personifies greed, dishonesty, and all else on the ugly side of human nature.

As with all the books by Crosby, I thoroughly enjoyed THE TWELFTH CHILD.  Her style of weaving warmth, a bit of cozy mystery, and a touch of fantasy into everything she writes makes Bette Lee Crosby one of my favorite authors.  As I say after reading each of her books, this is my favorite. But the truth is, they are all so good it is impossible to choose one book over another.  Reading Crosby’s books, one gets the sense that you are sitting in the room while the author tells the story.  She writes with a soothing Southern voice that brings a sense of realism to her fiction.

About Bette Lee Crosby

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.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her 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. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Crosby’s published works to date are Beyond the Carousel: A Southern Saga (2017), Silver Threads (2016), The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (2016), Baby Girl (2016), What the Heart Remembers (2015), The Loft (2015), Memory House (2015), Passing through Perfect (2015), Wishing for Wonderful (2014), Blueberry Hill (2014), Previously Loved Treasures (2014), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Life in the Land of IS (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), and Spare Change (2011).

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Silver Threads

Memory House Collection #5

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

 

Book Blurb

On the day Jennifer Green was born a pile of stones was placed alongside her scale of life. A few were the dark gray of sorrow, but most were a pale blush color. The largest stone was the rose hue of a sunrise. That one would be placed on the scale the day she married Drew Bishop. Even more brilliant but a wee bit smaller was the pink stone glistening with specs of silver. That one would bring Jennifer a baby girl named Brooke. The Keeper of the Scale smiled. Seeing such happiness laid out before him was pleasing to his eye.
Since the beginning of time, he and he alone has been challenged with the task of keeping each person’s scale in balance. A bit of happiness and then a small stone of sorrow, until the lives he has in his charge are measured evenly.
You might think such power is universal, but it is not. There are silver threads that crisscross the landscape of scales and connect strangers to one another. Not even the Keeper of the Scale can control the events traveling through those threads; the only thing he can do is try to equalize the balance once it has been thrown off. There is nothing more he can do for Jennifer; now he must find the thread that leads to Drew if he is to have the love he deserves.  (Blurb from Goodreads)

 

My Review

The Keeper of the Scale balances the scales of life for each person under his care, but sometimes a stray silver thread linking people and events can alter the outcome of events.  That is what happened one day in the lives of the main characters of this story.

Drew Bishop was out of town on business when his wife, Jennifer, woke up with a migraine. She got up and took their young daughter, Brooke, to school and planned to stop at the drugstore on the way home to get something to help her headache.  This is where everything went wrong and life for Brooke and her father would never be the same.

Tom Coggan needed money for drugs and decided to rob a liquor store that morning.  He believed in non-violence but carried a gun none-the-less.  His twin, Eddie, was serving time for a violent crime and he didn’t want to follow in his footsteps.  When he got to the liquor store it was closed but saw there was a drugstore nearby.  This is when things went terribly bad. Tom shot and killed Jennifer, an innocent bystander, and he, in turn, was shot by the store owner.

Drew and Brooke each bore their own guilt and sorrow.  Could they ever put these feelings aside and function as a happy family again?  My heart ached for both as they struggled to move beyond their grief and find happiness.  I felt a lot of empathy for this family in their struggle to return to normalcy.

Often, I can find something good in the unlovable characters, but the Coogan twins were of such ugly temperament and evil purpose that I could not find it in them.  They had no redeeming qualities.

I was so happy with the return of Annie at the Memory House.  I knew when Drew and Brooke ended up there, that they would be able to find their turning point with the help of Annie.

Once again, I cannot say anything bad about the author’s writing style.  I love the easy voice that permeates all of Bette Lee Crosby’s books. I always feel as though I am sitting in a chair by the fireplace with the author seated across from me, spinning a story.  Her books draw me in from line one to the last.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction and family sagas.

I received this book from the author for my honest review.  I did not receive any remuneration for giving this review.

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.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her 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. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win twenty awards for her work; these include The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

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Say Never

By Janis Thomas

say-never-by-janis-thomasBook Blurb

Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need…

Snarky radio personality Meg Monroe thinks she has the perfect life: no husband, no kids, and best of all, an Upper West side apartment three thousand miles from her family and her childhood demons. But when her brother calls to ask for Meg’s help with his three kids, she is forced to do the unimaginable: go home and step into the dreaded role of ‘parent.’

With no maternal skills whatsoever, Meg is thrust into a world of diapers, tantrums, and projectile vomit, and her decision not to procreate is stunningly validated—she could never be a mom. But as the days go by, and she starts to connect with her nieces and nephew, Meg discovers that her family is not the nemesis she feared, and she might not be the person she always thought she was.
Sassy, sexy, and poignant, Say Never is a hilarious roller coaster ride of self-discovery that will keep you laughing long after you put the book down.  (Blurb taken from Goodreads)

 My Review

Okay, so I’ve had this book for ages and just never seemed to work my way down to it.  Wow, it was worth the wait!  SAY NEVER is funny and poignant at the same time.  A lot of people try to write humor, but many can’t pull it off. Janis Thomas does so – masterfully.

Meg Monroe’s life is a mess, but she believes she’s got it under control.  A 40-year-old New York City talk show host, Meg uses sarcasm when talking to her co-host and guests who call into the show, and this sarcasm spills over into her personal life.  In the book synopsis, she is called snarky, and there is no better word to describe her.  She has no social life, no love life, and hasn’t been out to California to visit her family in five years.  She greets every situation with a feisty I-can-do attitude. In her own opinion, she has it all together.

When her brother Danny calls after his pregnant wife Caroline was in an accident, he asks Meg to come to help him out with their children while Caroline is recovering in the hospital. But what does she, a person who doesn’t want children, know about taking care of a five-year-old and a two-year-old.  Grudgingly she agrees but has no clue to what’s in store for her in California. Her journey begins with lost luggage and a playdate for her niece and five of her little friends. When things start spinning out of control, Matt Ryan, Danny’s neighbor, appears out of nowhere and helps out.  It’s not long before the reader notices a connection between the two, albeit with conflicting emotions as Meg has convinced herself she’s not interested in a relationship.  Then Cera, Caroline’s daughter, is added to the melee. Can Meg handle everything and everyone? I have to stop right here, or I’ll tell you the whole story.

You will love all of the characters.  Each one is well fleshed out and believable.  The circumstances of each relationship between characters are true to life.  Though new characters keep popping into the story, each has a purpose that is developed smoothly and fully. The situations Meg finds herself in are plausible and lend credence to the story as a whole.

If you are looking for a quick read, don’t let the length of the book deter you.  I promise you won’t be able to put it down and will fly through it. I look forward to reading the author’s other books, SOMETHING NEW and SWEET NOTHINGS.  I can think of no reason not to give SAY NEVER five stars.

fivestarts

About the Authorjanis-thomas

Janis Thomas is the author of three critically-acclaimed humorous Women’s Fiction novels, Something New, Sweet Nothings, and Say Never. Award-winning Murder in A-Minor is the first book in her Musical Murder Mystery series featuring songwriting detective Samantha Wedlock. She has recently signed a two-book deal with Lake Union, the women’s fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing, for her latest two novels of domestic suspense. Janis is a popular workshop leader and speaker, and a passionate writing advocate. When she isn’t writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, she loves to spend time with her kids, sing with her sister, play tennis, and throw wild dinner parties with outrageous menus. She lives in Southern California with her husband, children, and two crazy dogs.

Website: Janis Thomas

Blog: Anonymous Soccer Mom

Social Media Sites: Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Not By Design

A Getting To Mr. Right Series

By Carol Balawyder

Not Byy DesignBook Blurb

Not By Design: A Feel Good Novel
In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship, and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

My Review

When I began reading Not By Design, I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance.  Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed.  While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco.  Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold.  I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.

I don’t often read a book straight through, but I couldn’t put this one down.  I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it, other than Marco.  It was a heartwarming story of a person learning to accept and live with a debilitating disease.  There is no reason for me to not award Not By Design five stars.

File Size: 2161 KB

Print Length: 164 Pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publication Date: January 31, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the AuthorCarol Balawyder

Carol Balawyder holds an undergraduate degree with a major in English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. She has taught English in various colleges in Montreal, Concordia University and Ho Chi Minh University of Technology in Vietnam. During this phase of her teaching career, she developed teaching material including Open For Business (Harper & Row), Windows on Sci-Tech (Thomson Publishing) and Pour Etre Ganganat (Beauchemin Publishers).

In the second half of her teaching career, she taught criminology in Police Technology and Corrections Programs. She helped set up and animate a writing workshop for women in prison and has worked in halfway houses and drug rehab centers.  She has self-published Mourning Has Broken (a memoir on grief) and her Getting to Mr. Right Series. Her short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction, Mindful.org, Between the Lines, Carte Blanche and she was given an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.

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Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/

Blog- http://carolbalawyder.com/blog/