Baby Girl

By Bette Lee Crosby

Baby GirlBlurb

When young Cheryl Ann leaves home, she thinks her path is straight…until she’s forced to make a choice she could never have imagined. The man in her life makes it clear: either pick your baby or pick me, he says. Suddenly, Cheryl finds herself at a crossroads. She makes a decision that will change her life forever, and that decision causes a chain of events that will lead Cheryl to a completely unexpected place.

Baby Girl is a mother’s story. It’s about the greatest sacrifice a mother can make when she wants only the best for her child. It’s about falling in and out of love, of losing and finding one’s self. It’s about the perilous journey from passionate young love to happy true love and understanding the differences between the two.

Baby Girl is a book that readers won’t want to miss because it’s a story they won’t forget.

From the AuthorBette Lee Crosby

This book is based on a true story…a story that is heartbreaking at times but will leave readers with a better understanding of what a woman will do to protect her child. When I first heard this birth mother’s story I was touched by it, so much so that I needed to know more. When I knew more, I knew I needed to write my novel. The result is Baby Girl.

My Review

Baby Girl is Cheryl Ann’s story about growing up with a mother who seemed incapable of loving anyone, even her daughter and husband.  When her father died, Cheryl Ann became more lonely than ever. Then things changed when Ryan Carter moved into her neighborhood.  Though still in her teens she and Ryan set out on their own, and complications in their relationship set in when Cheryl Ann became pregnant. Ryan did not want a baby, and Cheryl Ann was put in a situation of choosing Ryan or the baby she was expecting.

At times, this was a difficult read because Cheryl Ann was emotionally abused causing her to make decisions she didn’t want to make.  Eventually, she finds the strength to move out and on, but her troubles didn’t end.  The author created a complex character in Cheryl Ann. She was weak and easily led, but adversity is an unyielding teacher, and Cheryl Ann found her strength and determination to make a good life for herself and her children.

Reading this book, you will laugh, and you will cry. You will be angry, and yet be overjoyed. It is a heartwarming novel based on a real person’s story – her growth, her weakness, and her strengths and resolve. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

Baby Girl is the fourth book in the Memory House series. I have read all of them and you can find my review of Book 1 Memory House, Book 2 The Loft, and Book 3 What the Heart Remembers by clicking on the title of each book.  It is not necessary to read them in order, but some of the characters are presented in the previous books, and, therefore, enhances your reading and enjoyment if read in order.

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

To find out more about Bette Lee Crosby, please go to her webpage or read about her on one of my previous links listed above.

Order BABY GIRL on

iBOOKSBARNES & NOBLEAMAZONKOBO, or GOOGLE PLAY

 

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-feb-2016

 

Wild Water

By Jan Ruth

Wild WaterBook Blurb

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

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

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

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

 

My Review

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

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

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

 

To Read a Sample Chapter: Mybook.to/wildwater

Available as Kindle or Print Book

Publisher: ACCENT PRESS

Publication Date:  July 2015

90,000 words (324 pages print)

Genre: Contemporary Family Saga

 

About the Author

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

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

ABOUT JAN RUTH

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT JAN’S BOOKS

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

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

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

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

Jan Ruth. 2015.

Discover More About Jan Ruth

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

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AMAZON

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

By Jane Hanser

Dogs Don't Look Both WaysBook Blurb

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

About the AuthorJane Hanser

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

To find out more about Joey

https://twitter.com/joeythebookdog

www.dogsdontlookbothways.com

Sample Chapter – Chapter One

That’s Not Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published: April 2014

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

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

Cover photo: Mark Thompson of Gatehouse Media

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

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

Indie Book

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

To Purchase the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Ivy Books

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

Tiger Tale Soup: A Novel of China at War

By Nicki Chen

Tiger Tail SoupBook Blurb

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

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

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

 

Sample Chapter
Intro and Chapter 1

1946

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring 1938

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you hear?”

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

“No, listen once more.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

Format: paperback and e-book

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Publication date: May 8, 2014

Page count: 281 pages

Genre: historical fiction/women’s fiction

To Purchase TIGER TALE SOUP: A NOVEL OF CHINA AT WAR

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Author’s website

About the AuthorNicki Chen

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

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

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

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

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

Website: nickichenwrites.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook: NickiChenAuthor

Google+: Nicole Chen

Goodreads: Author Dashboard

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

2015 – VACATION

Everyone needs a break occasionally, and nothing is more relaxing than visiting beautiful seascapes, especially when a visit with family is included in your plans.

This year our vacation took Northeast with a stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for lunch at Sander’s Fish Market. We had tuna sandwiches made of fresh caught tuna. Never has a tuna sandwich tasted so good.  Portsmouth was an interesting city with beautiful old homes nestled along the Piscataqua River.

Sanders Fish Market - Portsmouth NH -a

Sanders Fish Market - Portsmouth NH

From Portsmouth went on to Portland, Maine. From our hotel room, we had gorgeous views of the port.  We watched as the seagulls swooped in on the fishing boats unloading the day’s catch.

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A short trip Southeast of Portland to Portland Head Lighthouse at Cape Elizabeth was a dream come true. My husband George and I love lighthouses and this one has long been our favorite.  It is more beautiful in person, but George’s photos are fantastic and they will give you a sense of the beauty that awaited us here.

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Our next destination was Bar Harbor, Maine.  Bar Harbor is a quaint seaside town with all the shops, restaurants, and cute little houses you would expect to find there.  We had a lunch of lobster rolls on the waterfront while enjoying the unusually warm weather.

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Lobster Roll in Bar Harbor, MA

Acadia National Park was spectacular! I can’t begin to describe it, so I will let George’s photos speak for themselves.

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In the photo below (an enlargement of the one above) you can see hikers making their way to the top.

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Our next stop as we headed south was Kennebunkport, Maine.  This little town offered so much in the way of souvenir shops where you can purchase George Bush memorabilia or other keepsakes.  No, we did not seek out a peek at the Bush home there.

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Our final destination, as we headed down the coast to Boston, Massachusetts (Needham, to be exact) included a stop for lunch and some shopping in my favorite town of all – Newburyport, Massachusetts. Situated near the mouth of the Merrimack River and the Atlantic Ocean, Newburyport is a picture-perfect waterfront town. Surrounding a town square are quaint shops and restaurants with a short walk to the boardwalk along the river where there are more sailboats than you could count.

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Our final stop was the best stop of all. We spent several days with our son Todd, daughter-in-law Tricia, and grandsons Tyler and Taylor. Each time we visit, we try to see different sights.  This year we went to Lexington, Massachusetts.  The towns surrounding Boston abound with historic sites, and Lexington did not disappoint us. The area is rich in Revolutionary War history.  No matter what we do or where we go while visiting, the important thing is, we have a chance to enjoy our time with family.

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Me with Tricia

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Tyler and Taylor

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Tyler and his cat Taney

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Todd and George

 

Lexington, Massachusetts

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Lexington, MA -b

Lexington, MA -a

Tricia, Tyler, Taylor, Todd at Lexington, MA 9-6-15

Tricia, Tyler, Taylor, and Todd

No matter how long we visit, it is never long enough. Time flies and before we can blink, we are back home again.

The Lives Between Us

By Theresa Rizzo

The Lives Between UsBlurb

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Reporter Skylar Kendall has run from commitment all her life, pushing people away before they leave her, until her niece worms her way into Skye’s heart and settles in tight. Skye relaxes into a career she enjoys and relishes being a doting aunt.

Then her niece becomes gravely ill. Unable to bear yet another loss, Skye is determined to find a cure, but the girl’s only hope lies in the embryonic stem cell therapy Michigan Senator Edward Hastings repeatedly opposes. When Skye fails to find alternative treatment in time, she vows to end the senator’s political career.

Curious about the woman behind the scathing articles on his best friend, Mark Dutton pursues Skye. Dating Mark gives her access to Hastings’s life and secrets that would launch Skye’s career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?

Editorial Review

This charming novel gracefully addresses embryonic stem cell research and garnishes it with a powerful, tender romance… The author handles the complexities of science and morality with tremendous care and nuance; there are no hypocrites or villains here, only loving people doing their best in terribly difficult situations. Contemporary romance readers of all political leanings will be enthralled.” ~ Publishers Weekly

My Review

The author researched the controversy surrounding stem cell research. She presented both sides of the controversy through the characters of Skye, Mark, and Edward Hastings, a US senator. This book explores how much one will do for family, especially when the stakes are high. It is a highly emotional story.

The story and the characters were well developed and thought-provoking. In the beginning I didn’t like Skye because she seemed immature and extremely annoying at times. As I watched her grow up throughout the book, I saw her mature into a caring and warm individual. At times, I felt the story had too much going on with the death of Niki, Skye’s niece, Skye’s on-again-off-again relationship with Mark, her hatred-turned-to-friendship and respect for Edward Hastings, the accident, a troubled teen, all the privacy issues that surrounded Senator Hastings, and indiscretions by one of Mark’s key employees.  However, in the end, the author pulled it all together beautifully.

Because The Lives Between Us crosses several genres, I believe it would appeal to a wide range of readers.  I give The Lives Between Us 4 stars.

About theAuthorTheresa Rizzo

Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty-two years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.

Find Theresa on the web at www.theresarizzo.com,

Or connect with her on Facebooktwitter or Amazon, and Goodreads.

Buy The Lives Between Us

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This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Michelle Clements James ©

The Silver Cord

By Alison Caiola

I invited author Alison Caiola to answer some interview questions, and am extremely happy to offer you this insight into her writing.  Thank you for joining us today, Alison.

The Silver CordWhat is the premise of The Silver Cord?

The Silver Cord is Book Two in The Lily Lockwood Series and takes place two years after Book One, The Seeds of a Daisy, ends. Popular actress, Lily Lockwood, is still reeling from her mother’s tragic car crash, but as the readers will see, Lily, now a mother, has grown immensely. She no longer is the same dependent young woman she was in The Seeds of a Daisy. Surrounded by her supportive and hilarious group of friends she is moving forward in her life; she appears self-confident, is a terrific mom, and, her career is on a bullet-speed trajectory. No one would guess that Lily is wracked with bouts of self-doubt and anxiety. She is also heartbroken that she has not heard from Robbie Rosen, a doctor she fell in love with two years prior, and is in Africa on a medical mission with Doctors Without Borders.

When Lily is informed that Robbie has been abducted by terrorists in Somalia, she must use her influence to gather a group of Ex CIA Agents and Navy SEAL’s, and with Lily in tow, they embark on rescue mission that turns into a heart-stopping race against time. Lily must accept the possibility that they may be too late to save Robbie’s life.

What aspect of writing a novel do you find tough, and which one do you find easy?  Why?

I find that at different times each facet of the creative process can be easy or challenging. Some days the words flow as if from a faucet. Then there are those times when the writing process is slow-going and I wonder if I will ever be able to write again. Then the faucet turns on again and I breathe a sigh of relief, and all is good with the world. Editing can be painful at times, but freeing at others. It may sound like a creative roller coaster and that’s because it is!

Did you know how The Silver Cord would end when you started writing?

I gave my son, JD Daniels, who is an actor and author, the first draft that had a totally different ending. One day I heard a resounding NOOOO from the other room when he was done. He thought my ending too harsh and felt it may be off-putting to my loyal readers. After thinking about it long and hard, and speaking to my agent, my closest confidantes, and colleagues, I decided to change the ending. I’m so glad that I did.

How did you choose the setting for The Silver Cord?  What kind of research did you have to do?  Why did you choose it?

I knew that The Silver Cord would be the book that would have Lily and Robbie, who were separated by unusual circumstances, trying to fight their way back to one another. Whether they succeed or not, well the reader will just have to read it to find out.

The facets of the book about the entertainment industry is an easy write for me, since I have been in that world for so many years. So that part I wrote from my first-hand experience. I have always been intrigued by The CIA and since we have all been affected, one way or another, by the horrors of terrorist activity, I wanted to write about it. I did intense research into Somalia and Mogadishu, where Robbie is on a medical mission, the terrorist group al Qaeda and the off-shoot terrorist group al Shabbab. I also researched and spoke with ex-Navy SEALs to ensure those aspects of the story were genuine and true-to-life.

Who designed your cover art? Why did you go with that particular artwork?Alison Caiola

When I was looking to re-do the cover of my first book, The Seeds of a Daisy, I had an idea as to what elements  I wanted on the cover but I was not sure how it would lay out or what it should look like. I knew I needed the right artist who I could collaborate with and who had mad skills. I was stumped until I realized that person was right under my nose. Eric Hutchison, a talented artist and my son, J.D., are collaborating on a comic book/graphic novel series. J.D. is authoring it and Eric is creating the art work.  I had seen Eric’s work and I was blown away. I approached him with the offer of designing and doing the cover art for the book. We collaborated and I was so impressed by his lack of ego and desire to “get it right.” That cover was amazing and has garnered so many positive comments and reviews, that it was a natural progression to turn to Eric when it was time to design the cover art for The Silver Cord.  I knew I wanted these themes: A silver cord that tied Lily’s and Robbie’s worlds together and also give it an Indiana Jones sort of feel. I believe that we accomplished that and I am very proud of it.

What advice would you give new writers?

I advise new writers first of all to write, write, write. It is important to set up a scheduled time every day where you know that come hell or high water you will be at that computer ready to write. I get my best story ideas while driving long distances or believe it or not, in the shower. I urge new writers to always keep a pen and paper or recorder close-by to capture all their thoughts, no matter how random. Also seek out or create a writer’s group of like-minded authors who have the same goal: Creating the best product and helping fellow authors do the same.

When you go on vacation, what sort of book do you take with you to read?

When I go on vacation I always have my Kindle stocked up with great murder mysteries, women’s novels and love stories.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on Book Three of The Lily Lockwood Series: The Family Bond which will be out in 2016. Of course all our favorite characters are back and bring with them emotional ups and downs of family relationships. There is also an Organized Crime Family/Mafia component which brings a whole other meaning to the title: The Family Bond.

 

My Review

The Silver Cord is book two of the Lily Lockwood Series. You can read my review of The Seeds of a Daisy, book one, here.

Lily it has been two years since Lily heard from Robbie, and he was supposed to be back from Somalia long ago. As she tries to put him out of her mind, her little daughter’s father steps back into her life.  Maybe they could make a go of it again.  But Lily is obsessed with her love for Robbie, convinced he is her only true love, her bashert.

Robbie, volunteering with Doctors Without Borders, is still in Somalia, captured, tortured, and beaten by Al-Shabaab, a faction of the terrorist group, Al Qaeda. For what purpose?  The only thing that helps him survive his misery is his memory of Lily. Can he turn his back on his oath to accommodate Al-Shabaab when to refuse will surely mean death?

When Lily learns of Robbie’s plight, she is determined to do everything she can to bring him back.  She enlists the help of her brother David and a retired CIA agent.  How much is she willing to sacrifice to get Robbie back?

This is a well-crafted story with references to the first book. Even with the references, I think it is best to read book one first to get the background for book two. In this character driven book, Caiola uses the voices of her characters to tell their own stories and, by doing so, brings more emotion and believability to the story.

I didn’t like The Silver Cord as much as the first book.  For my personal taste, there was too much darkness with the detail of Robbie’s capture and imprisonment.  It was at times, a struggle for me to continue reading.

What I did like. Caiola did a wonderful job relating Lily’s desire to provide a real family for her daughter so that Daisy Rose would grow up knowing her father was a part of her life, unlike Lily’s father. Her inner conflict of whether or not to go back to her ex-boyfriend in order to provide the ideal family for Daisy Rose, or follow her heart and find Robbie, kept me reading.

Assigning a rating to a book is subjective, and the one thing I despise about reviewing a book. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and many other sites require a rating, but I don’t feel that a certain number of stars really means anything; it is what people have to say about the book that influences me.  With these thoughts in mind, I will give The Silver Cord four and a half stars.

 

The Lily Lockwood Series:  The Seeds of a Daisy, The Silver Cord 

Purchase: amazon.com/author/alisoncaiola

Webpage: www.alisoncaiola.com

Facebook Author Page: facebook.com/alisoncaiolaauthor

Twitter: twitter@AlisonMCaiola

Instagram: alisonwrites

Google +: https://google.com/+AlisonCaiolaAuthor/

The Faerie Tree

By Jane Cable

 

The Faerie TreeCover Blurb

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

In the summer of 1986 Izzie and Robin hold hands around the Faerie Tree on the banks of the River Hamble and wish for a future together, but just hours later tragedy strikes and they do not see each other again for twenty years.

In the winter of 2006 Izzie spots a down and out on the streets of Winchester – a man who looks very familiar…

     The Faerie Tree pieces together Robin’s and Izzie’s stories and the people they have now become, but it becomes increasingly clear that their memories of twenty years before are completely different. Whose version of the past is right? And what part does the Faerie Tree play in their story?

Following on from the success of The Cheesemaker’s House, Jane Cable once again mixes mystery and romance with a sprinkling of folklore to keep you turning the pages from beginning to end.

 

My Review

In 1986 Izzie and Robin meet, and are drawn to the Faerie Tree on the banks of the Hamble.  The Faerie Tree is reputed to grant wishes, so amongst the ribbons, necklaces, and letters, Robin and Izzie wish for a life together.  Just a few hours later, tragedy sets events in motion and their lives take separate paths.

In the winter of 2006, after Izzie’s husband dies, Izzie and Robin’s paths cross once again.  They have each faced their own heartbreaking moments, and the tragedies of those moments have colored their memories of their last days together in different ways.

Izzie’s daughter Claire is the voice of calm in the rising tide of emotional outbursts.

This is a story of family relationships, love, and loss. A powerful telling of the events that shaped the lives of the characters, the story unfolds with sensitivity and warmth.

Author Jane Cable developed believable characters that are flawed and anguished, and yet ultimately strong and determined to get beyond their pasts and accept the love each has for the other.

The Faerie Tree was an enjoyable read from page one to the end. Once I started it, I had a hard time putting it down. I recommend it to all fans of women’s contemporary fiction.

Why The Faerie Tree? You’ll have to read to find out.

A copy of The Faerie Tree was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Published through Matador, the book is available in all e-book formats and as a paperback.Jane Cable

Publication date for the ebook was March 21st and the paperback on April 28th

It is 300 pages long

The genre is women’s contemporary fiction (romance/suspense)

 

Authors Website

Jane Cable

Jane Cable Website photo

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WHAT IT TAKES

By Terry Tyler

 

What It Takes by Terry TylerBook Blurb:

A tale of three sisters…

Karen Kavanagh has spent her life feeling like the runt of the family.

Her two elder sisters, domestic goddess Ava and salon owner Saskia, are mini versions of their mother, a gorgeous Danish beauty. Karen has inherited her father’s droopy, dull brown hair and long nose – pitted against two Scandinavian sauna babes, she feels like Cinderella in reverse.

Danny Alvarez doesn’t see her like that. He thinks she’s wonderful.
Lots of women want Danny, but Danny just wants Karen.
He pursues her with the devotion of a stalker – but she pushes him away. Then she realizes what she’s done…

Set in Norfolk, Terry Tyler’s sixth novel, “What It Takes”, is a story of insecurity, jealousy, sibling rivalry, love and loss, and the games people play in the search for love – because if you love someone with all your heart you’ll do what it takes to make them yours…

Sample chapter:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-It-Takes-Terry-Tyler-ebook/dp/B00EZV832M/ref=pd_sim_b_4/280-7055956-6800560?ie=UTF8&refRID=115R7E2GT1NWD66VAZC8

Type of Book: Kindle book only

Publisher: self

Pub Date: September 2013 (Amazon gives a later date, because it ‘re-publishes’ when you change the cover)

Page or Word Count: approx 90K words

Genre: romantic suspense

About the Author:

Terry lives in the north of England with her husband, and has published ten books on Amazon. Readers say she has created her own genre, which lies somewhere in the area of contemporary drama and romantic suspense, with the occasional bit of rock fiction and mystery thrown in.

LAST CHILD is her latest release; this is the sequel to Kings and Queens, both of which are modern day parallels of events that took place during the Tudor era of history. Terry is now at work on a third ‘history revisted’ novel, this time based on the women behind the Wars of the Roses.

Website:

http://www.terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

Social Media Links:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Terry-Tyler-author/127960897322262,

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyler

My Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading WHAT IT TAKES. The first part of the book was devoted mainly to introducing the characters, of which there were quite a few.  I almost lost interest here, as it was somewhat tedious, but I am thrilled that I continued to read the book.  When the author dove into the story, there was magic in her words.  The words flew by, and before I realized it, I had finished the book.  I was not ready.  Even though everyone involved seemed to resolve his/her own character conflict, I wanted more.

I think most people can relate to Karen at one point or another of their lives.  She lacked confidence; she always felt she came up on the short end of the stick.  Her sisters were gorgeous, whereas she felt she was more of a plain Jane.  Karen’s perception was that everyone else got the best of everything in life and in love.

Then there is Danny Alvarez.  Danny had good looks, but was that enough for Karen?  He seemed less refined.

I give WHAT IT TAKES 4 stars because of the slow start.  In the end, the story won me over.  I would definitely recommend this book.

Amazon US

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The Staircase on Pine Street

By Mariana Llanos

Illustrated by Kate Gattey

 

TSOPS_FRONT_COVER

Book Blurb

The Staircase on Pine Street is a story that will touch your heart with its tenderness, humor, sensitivity and page-turning narrative. Mariana Llanos has once again, crafted a beautiful story of family love to share with readers of all ages. Ten-year-old Lilly has to learn to live with her grandfather’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Lilly and Grandpa Leo have a close, loving bond but ever since he’s been diagnosed, things have drastically changed. Alzheimer’s is taking away her grandpa’s memory. Lilly feels that there is nothing she can do to help. Until one day, Grandpa Leo gives Lilly an important assignment: to find a long-forgotten treasure. Lilly— with the help of her best friend, Mei Ling— goes on an exciting quest where she discovers more than she could have ever imagine.

To read the first chapter, click on this link:  https://scribblesonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/the-staircase-on-pine-street-chapter-1/

 

My Review

Ten-year-old Lilly’s grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease. He is moving to an apartment in an assisted living facility where he can get help every day.  Lilly is excited that it has a playground and she and Grandpa Leo can go to when she visits.  She doesn’t understand what Alzheimer’s is, but her mother helps her understand the stages of the disease as her grandpa goes through them.  Lilly realizes that her grandpa no longer remembers everything, and some days he doesn’t seem to know who she is. Then one day her grandpa gives her a mission – she is to search for a forgotten treasure.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be scary for young children, but Mariana Llanos has woven a beautiful story that explains the disease in a way that young children can understand.  I recommend parents read the forward before reading the book to their children. In this short piece about Alzheimer’s disease, the author describes what Alzheimer’s is, tells how to get more information, and makes suggestions to help families to create awareness of this devastating disease.

I recommend this upper elementary school age child, whether or not they have a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease.

 

About the Author

Mariana Llanos-00208Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian-born writer based in Oklahoma. Mariana has written short stories since she was a young girl. Hoping to give a voice to the many characters that lived in her head, she studied Drama with the prestigious company Cuatrotablas, based in Lima.  After moving to Oklahoma, Mariana has worked as a preschool teacher, standing out for her creativity and passion for arts education. She has published five children’s books whose themes revolve around family love and acceptance. Mariana visits schools around the world through virtual technology to inspire a life-long passion for reading and writing. Books by Mariana Llanos:

Tristan Wolf, A Planet for Tristan Wolf, the Wanting Monster, The Staircase on Pine Street, No Birthday for Mara. Available in Spanish: El Monstruo Quierelotodo, Mara sin Cumpleaños, Tristán Lobo.

Type of Book – Paperback

Publisher – Mariana Llanos

Pub Date – July 20th 2014

66 pages

Genre – Children’s, Middle Grade chapter Book

To learn more about Mariana Llanos and her books

Website: www.marianallanos.com

Social Media Links

http://www.facebook.com/tristanwolfofficial
http://www.twitter.com/marianallanos
http://www.pinterest.com/marianallanos
http://www.amazon.com/author/marianallanos