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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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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Waking Amy

By Julieann Dove

Waking AmySynopsis

Amy Whitfield is blindsided when she comes home and finds a note on the fridge from her husband, Wesley, stating that after four years of marriage, he’s leaving her. Amy was in the midst of trying to spice things up, to bring life back to their boring marriage. It seems now that she was too late.

As Amy sits with her head between her knees, trying to figure out what to do next, a call comes from Mercer General Hospital. The ER nurse is telling Amy’s answering machine that Wesley has been in a car accident.

When Amy arrives at the hospital, she finds her husband in a coma. The doctors say there is no sign of brain damage, and Wesley will eventually wake up. Relieved, Amy sees this as her second chance: the chance to get it right this time. To channel the girl Wesley won’t leave when he regains consciousness… She just needs some help to pull it off. After all, she was voted girl most likely to die a virgin in high school.

Amy would never figure on getting that help from Mark Reilly…Wesley’s doctor! He’s a non-committer, too-cute-for-his-own-good bachelor, and completely the guy Amy begins falling for. It’s a race against time to see who wakes up first—Amy or her husband.

Publication date – February 23, 2016

My Review

Amy is walking through life accepting her marriage for what it seems until she finds a note from her husband on the refrigerator door – he’s leaving her.  She can’t envision not being married to him or to living alone and is confident she can make Wesley fall in love her again.  While she is still reeling from the reality of Wesley’s note, she receives a call from the hospital. Wesley was in a terrible accident and is in a coma.

Though the book deals with the reality of Amy’s situation and Wesley’s accident that occurred as he was driving away from her, there is a lot of laugh out loud humor, and it all begins when she meets Wesley’s doctor Mark.

Amy enlists Mark’s help to teach her how to be attractive and sexy so that Wesley will wake up from his coma and realize the mistake he made in leaving her.  When Mark agrees, the fun begins.

In this character-driven story, the author paints Amy as someone who is searching for her own identity. She has always been there doing Wesley’s bidding and accepting their marriage as it was – virtually platonic. Wesley’s departure and his accident, force Amy to take stock of herself.

From the first, I despised Wesley, but because he’s in a coma your knowledge of him is second hand until much later in the book.  However, you will learn enough upfront to dislike him instantly.

Mark is definitely swoon-worthy but has his own problems to overcome.  As the handsome doctor who sleeps with someone different every night, can he convince Amy he’s the one for her?

Dove did a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters. Amy was complex. She was sheltered and unsure of herself, but with the help of other characters, she became strong and self-assured.  The storyline was believable and filled with fresh humor.  A fast-paced story, I read it in one sitting.  Waking Amy is one of those books you can’t put down.  It is contemporary romance, chick-lit, and comedy rolled into one.  If you enjoy any of these genre’s you will enjoy reading Waking Amy.

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

About the AuthorJulieann Dove

Julieann lives in Virginia, yet longs to live everywhere else. It doesn’t come as a surprise that along with her gypsy soul, comes an active imagination. That’s why she loves to write and invent worlds and people, so that she can formulate their happily ever after. Hobbies include cooking new recipes, sewing, and spending time with her cute boyfriend/husband and five fabulous children. Vacations happen in Nantucket or the Carolina beaches—anywhere there is inspiration for her next book. One day she hopes to travel to Italy, drive one of those little cars around the countryside, and speak the language fluently!

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Thompson Road

By Scott Wyatt

ThompsonRoadEbook FINALBlurb

A sweeping, coming of age love story set in the Pacific Northwest on the brink of WWII. Rejected by classmates and accomplished swing dancer Sally Springs, high school quarterback Raleigh Starr remains desperate to win her heart. While walking home on Thompson Road, Raleigh catches sight of Mona Garrison, dancing at her bedroom window. He is mesmerized. Still determined to dazzle Sally, Raleigh asks the shy sixteen-year-old to compete with him at the state fair swing dance contest, and she agrees. Swept up in the war, Raleigh realizes too late what Mona has always known: that they are perfect for each other… but he is unaware of the terrible price she has paid for his attention. Thompson Road is a poignant, tender story that reminds us of the power of first love.

My Review

THOMPSON ROAD, historical fiction and romance, takes place during three major periods of history from the 1930’s and into the 1950’s, the Depression, World War II, and the peace year’s immediately following the war. Raleigh Starr, a high school junior, meets Mona Garrison, who though she is 15, is still in 4th grade.  She has been labeled feebleminded, but when Raleigh gets to know her, he knows she is not. Raleigh has fallen for Sally Springs, a girl in his class who has little interest in him. Raleigh devises a plan involving Mona to get Sally to drop her boyfriend and see that Raleigh is the one for her.  The stage is set for a myriad of events that change the lives of everyone concerned.

The author gives us a look at the practice of eugenics at an asylum, a practice that had previously been outlawed.  THOMPSON ROAD is a wonderfully written, face-paced story that clearly illustrates how our innocent (and not so innocent) actions can affect others, for the good, and for the bad. Throughout this heartfelt story, we will witness the growth of the characters from the star-crossed teen years to strong individuals who have learned the hard lessons of life.

Scott Wyatt writes a captivating and compassionate story, one that you won’t be able to put down.  THOMPSON ROAD is worthy of the highest rating. It is one book anyone who enjoys romance and historical fiction will find unforgettable.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the AuthorScott Wyatt

I was born in Portland, Oregon in 1951 and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho. I’ve earned degrees from Stanford University and the University of Washington, and have worked—full– or, as currently, part–time—as a lawyer since 1976.

In 1999, I founded the Companion Flag Project to elevate and sustain public awareness of all that human beings have in common, their differences notwithstanding. The underpinnings of this campaign are reflected in the closing arguments of attorney Jason McQuade in Beyond the Sand Creek Bridge, and again in “The Sanori Flag Debate,” the appendix to Dimension M.

I have four children and five grandchildren. My wife, Rochelle Wyatt, is a talented Seattle-area actress. Since 2009, we have lived in a beautiful cabin-like home overlooking Lake Sammamish, fifteen miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

Author’s website: www.scottwyattauthor.com

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Where to Buy THOMPSON ROAD:

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Books 2 and 3 of Bette Lee Crosby’a Memory House Collection

The Loft

Book BlurbThe Loft

CAN A SINGLE MEMORY SAVE THE LIFE OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE?

Annie Doyle believes the answer is yes, but will she find it in time?

Fifty years of memories are hidden in the walls of the loft. Now Ophelia Browne is leaving the house and she’s leaving some very powerful memories behind. Annie needs to find just one… the one that will save Oliver’s life.

On the day of their wedding, Annie sees only happiness ahead, but when an accident calls her and Oliver back to Memory House, her world is changed forever.

After only three nights in the loft, Annie must now find the single most meaningful memory in Oliver’s mind. If she finds it in time, she can save his life, if she doesn’t…well that’s something she can’t afford to think about.

Readers will welcome back the much-loved characters from Memory House and enjoy a few new friends!

My Review

The Loft picks up where Memory House ended, and we are once again in the company of Annie Cross, Ophelia Browne, and Oliver Doyle.  As Annie and Oliver are starting their honeymoon, Ophelia, who is 90 years of age, has a heart attack while driving and goes off the road. Annie and Oliver return to take care of Ophelia.  Realizing she will not be able to climb to her loft bedroom that her deceased husband Edward built, Oliver decides to hire architect Max Martinelli to recreate the loft in a wing on the first floor.  He and Annie plan to surprise her with the plans when she comes home.  However, while at the rehab center, Ophelia makes new friends who all live in Baylor Towers, and begins to see that returning to the Memory House to live with Oliver and Annie would stifle their relationship.  She remembers what it was like when she and Edward were newlyweds.  Ophelia wants Oliver and Annie to experience love the way she and Edward did so many years before.

Max (Maxine) is so much like Annie they become close friends immediately; they both can detect the memories left behind.

Max is trying to get over her love affair with Julien Marceau. They met in Paris when Max was in college, and when Max returned to the U.S., Julien was supposed to follow, but Max never heard from him again. Annie understands and tries to help her move on.

Annie’s life is perfect, but then the unthinkable happens.  Is she strong enough to face this new challenge on her own? Will she be able to find the right memory for Oliver? There is much more to the story than the hints I’ve given here, but I wouldn’t want to give away any spoilers.

The Loft is the second book in the Memory House Collection. See my review of Memory House,  Book One of the series, here. You can certainly read The Loft without having read Memory House, but you will better understand the relationships if you do read it first.

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What the Heart Remembers

What the Heart RemembersBook Blurb

CAN YOU TRULY TRUST THE MEMORIES OF YOUR HEART?

Max Martinelli spent her junior year of college in Paris, and fell in love. Julien was a wickedly handsome young man who was crazy in love with her, or so she thought. He was a free-spirited artist and she an aspiring architect—impressionable, young, and standing on the brink of womanhood.

That was over three years ago but the memory of him still haunts her. Max’s life is stuck on hold because she can’t stop wondering what would have happened if she had gone back. Was Julien simply part of the magic of Paris? Or was he meant to be her destiny?

After a New Year’s Eve party that ends in disaster and bad dreams, Max decides to find out once and for all. She is going to return to Paris and search for Julien. But will her search bring forever after happiness or a truth so ugly it will change her life forever?

What the Heart Remembers is Book Three in the Memory House Series

My Review

When I finished reading The Loft, I wondered how the author could write another book in the series; Book 3 did not disappoint.

Ophelia sees the sadness in Annie’s friend Max. Max thinks her memories of Julien are happy memories, but Ophelia knows otherwise, “If she doesn’t find a way to rid herself of those memories, she’s in for a sorry life.”

Max doesn’t want to find a romantic interest. She still loves Julien and imagines the worst has happened to him. Convinced he would have come to the U.S. as promised, it’s the only thing that makes sense to her. When she tells Annie she is going to go to Paris to find Julien, Annie tries to discourage her. Max is determined to find her true love, but it turns out it isn’t who she expects to find.

While reading of the experiences Max endures in Paris, there were times I wanted to shake some sense into her, and other times I just wanted to comfort her. Her unrequited love for Julien drove her to find him, but when she did, was her feeling for him justified?  Will she ever find true love, and will it be with Julien or someone else?

Crosby creates a sense of suspense when Max is knocked down. This mysterious turn of events with Julien coming to Max’s rescue, and then later when she discovers her wallet and cell phone missing, leaves a lot of questions to be answered.

Once again, I recommend that you read Memory House (Book One) and The Loft (Book Two) before reading What the Heart Remembers (Book Three). The books in the Memory House Collection lead from one to the other. To get a true sense of who the characters are, where they’ve been, and where they are headed, it is best to read all three in proper order.

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Additional Comments

As with all of Crosby’s books, I felt as though the author was sitting beside me telling the story in her soft southern voice. As with Memory House, The Loft and What the Heart Remembers are books you will begin to read and before you know it, you have finished the book.  The plots, with a bit of magic, lots of feel good moments, and always a lovely romance, will enthrall you. Bette Lee Crosby has a wonderful ability to create characters that will continue to speak to you long after you’ve finished reading.

When you meet Ophelia and Annie in the first book of the series, Memory House, you will learn about their pasts and what draws them together.  Then, enter Oliver and by the time we get to book two, The Loft, Oliver and Annie’s friendship deepens and they get married.  Enter Max and the blossoming friendship between her and Annie. What the Heart Remember elaborates on the confidences shared, the concern, and the shared celebration of that friendship.  This is a not-to-be-missed series.

Author InterviewBette Lee Crosby

  1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

My mother, born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, was not a writer, but, she was a wonderful storyteller. Not realizing that at heart I was my mother’s daughter, I studied art intent upon becoming a graphic designer. My first job was that of a packaging designer, but it was a short-lived career. Faced with an immediate deadline and a blank space where the copy should have been, I began to write. I never looked back, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that my love for words far outweighed any design skills I acquired along the way.

  1. You’ve written six novels, in those books, which character is your favorite and why?

I suppose I’d have to say Ethan Allen of Spare Change and the reason why is because he is the type of kid I imagine my mom being when she was his age. She came from a family of eleven siblings and they were what many of us would consider poor; so she had to be resilient and determined to survive. And although she wasn’t one to toss around obscenities indiscriminately, she could cuss up a storm when she was really mad. When Mama started cussing we knew to step aside and mind our manners.

  1. Is Ethan Allen is modeled after your mom, is there a character that you’d modeled after yourself?

There is probably a bit of me in every character, but the one most like me would probably be Olivia Doyle in both Spare Change and Jubilee’s Journey. Like Olivia, I have quirky ideas about life, I am an eternal optimist and regardless of the odds, I will always go down swinging. When life takes a turn for the worse, that’s when you need to be strong, draw on your Faith and cling to the love of those around you…which is pretty much what Olivia does.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…”The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” Elizabeth Taylor

  1. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble on that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do. Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.

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Email: betteleecrosby@gmail.com

Copies of these books were given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Your Own Kind

By Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas

 

Your Own KindBook Blurb

If Kareem had not found the photo of Sarah, there never would have been that explosion at the gas station and Alexandros wouldn’t have fled, but life is full of “if-onlys,” especially for seventeen-year-old Sarah Petit.

It is 1974 and Sarah finds herself alone in East End. She’s become involved with Andreas, a troubled young man with a drug problem; and with Kareem, a lovesick newspaper boy; and with Alexandros, a new immigrant who barely speaks English but clearly knows what he wants.

All four have grown up in drastically different worlds, but they’ve somehow been thrown together, and with one misguided decision after another, they set in motion a series of unstoppable events that lead to violence and heartbreak. Maybe life would be easier if people would just stick with their own kind. But what does that really mean?

This is a story of yearning and desire, of the basic need to connect with others and the expectations of culture and tradition that sometimes keep us from real love, a love that is truly with someone of our “own kind.” 

First Chapter of Your Own Kind

Everyone was asleep when the Turk’s son came looking for Sarah that morning. With a thick willow branch tucked under his arm, he walked on the edge of the dirt road with long angry strides. The sun had just become a thin red line in the east and the bitter smell of wet reeds was coming off the marsh near the lake as he rounded the corner and made his way to the front of the Middleground Boarding House. Mrs. Middleground was the first to hear the commotion, awakened by the thuds of the branch hitting the windshield of the red car. As the shards of glass fell against the metal hood, she raced to the window, her sluggishness momentarily forgotten. She’d fallen asleep in the chair the night before. The magazine she’d been reading had slid to the floor and lay with its spine open—the cover showing its beaten state—torn and creased, last year’s edition of The World in Pictures:1974. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have thought much about seeing the Turk’s son outside her window, especially in the morning. That was the boy’s usual routine after his newspaper deliveries. He always appeared on foot at the front of the boarding house, meeting with Sarah to do whatever it was they did together. And then they’d drive off in that blue Impala of hers. Well, in Mrs. Middleground’s opinion—and she had many of them—he was much too young for Sarah. Three or four years can be an enormous difference in age, especially at that time of life. She peered through the lace curtains and shook her head. That boy couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen.

Mrs. Middleground was a woman with many philosophical principles for life, though they changed more often than her boarders. The fishermen were her steady renters but the young people who were there to work during the summer season would come and go like a stubborn rash. They all seemed to follow the same foolish path—living an entire lifetime in that short three month period before leaving East End with nothing to show for it. Or at least that’s how Mrs. Middleground saw it, and she figured the reason the Turk’s son was hanging around that year, was because he’d just gotten old enough to know there were girls at her boarding house. But now as she held open the curtain in her trailer window, watching him swing the branch at the red car with such venom, she was caught between intrigue and genuine fear.

Sarah was lying in bed, suspended between a dream and reality when the noise started. She heard the shuffle of feet in the hallway and opened her eyes to see Alexandros fighting to get his arms into a tee shirt. In an instant she was behind him, following him out to the yard. She pushed her hair away from her face but it fell back into her eyes as she came up next to him and saw his damaged red car.

“Kareem, What are you doing?” she cried.

Sarah was the only boarder who knew the Turk’s son by name. To the others, Kareem had always been no more than a moving piece of the background, an early morning paperboy who threw rolled up newspapers onto lawns while balancing on his bicycle seat. It wasn’t until he’d started coming around the boarding house that they’d heard Mrs. Middleground refer to him as The Turk’s Son. And there he was, on that unusually warm spring morning, having fully emerged from the scenery with all the fire and rage of a real live person.

Kareem’s insults hit Sarah like a blow to the head and it took her a second to realize that the crumpled paper he was thrusting into Alexandros’ hand was actually a photo, her heart pounding into her ribs as Alexandros looked at it and then at her—his expression impossible to read. By then, the sun was already sitting on top of the boarding house, its heat pushing through the elm branches and burning holes into her back. She wanted to grab the photo from Alexandros and explain, but there were no words and then Kareem was gone, disappearing into the brush around the lake and a police car was pulling up onto the dirt.

It was all a mistake—a terrible misunderstanding, but how could she stop the movement of a boulder falling from a cliff? She knew—though she tried to convince herself otherwise—if she hadn’t stayed in East End, none of this would be happening. Those were the thoughts that pushed her as she ran to the blue Impala and got in, hoping to get to Kareem before the police. She at least owed him that, and she made it half way to Main Street before the vibrations hit the side of her car and a deafening blast slapped against her face through the open window. Her body went ice cold, the chill starting at the base of her spine, running up her back and stopping at the nape of her neck. She knew—without knowing—it was over. Nothing would be the same after this.

She pulled to the side of the road when she saw the line of police cars blocking the intersection, and she left the Impala to join a small group of onlookers moving toward the ocean, toward the tower of black smoke that was billowing above the dunes. As her pace quickened and she broke from the group, a cop with a walkie-talkie grabbed her by the elbow, the static buzzing from his hand and voices spitting commands out of the small gray speaker.  His thick fingers pushed against her skin, but she’d already gotten as far as the IGA and there was something lying in the street—something that made her want to yank her arm from his grasp and run to it. But his grip was too tight.

“Move back.  Crime scene.”

He ordered her back to an invisible line where others had gathered.

“Move back. C’mon, move!”

The smoke was starting to turn a light gray; a strong sea breeze smeared it across the cloudless sky, shading the sun with an artificial twilight. Sarah listened to the hum of conversation around her, not really hearing it until a hand on her shoulder startled her.
“Sarah?”
It was Oscar. So much time had passed since the last time they’d seen one another, she almost didn’t recognize him with his crew cut. But with Karen Marie there, standing beside him, Sarah knew who he was, and in a flood of relief, she folded herself against his chest and let the tears come. Karen Marie put her arms around them, so Sarah was in the center of the embrace and couldn’t see the red car parked across the street with its front wheels sunk into the sand or Alexandros, who had been running toward her, suddenly stop. She simply closed her eyes, willing herself to be back in time, back in Owl’s Head with her family, back in the general store. But the past is a closed door, though Sarah longed for it anyway, pressing her eyes tightly together until she could see herself sitting on the stool behind the dated wooded counter beside the old brass resister. And she was home again.

Type of Book: Paperback and ebook

Publication Date:  May 2, 2015

Publisher: Self-Published

Word Count:  84,200 of literary fiction

My Review

I fell in love with the story of Your Own Kind immediately.  It is one of relationships between parents, parents and their children, neighbors, people of different nationalities. It is about finding love where we least expect it.  Your Own Kind explores the ins and outs of relationships where all is not as it seems.

There is a lot of backstory to explain how the characters got to where they were. For the most part this was helpful, but at times, it was perplexing. There was also a lot of jumping around from one period in the characters’ lives to another (past and present). This too, was a cause for some confusion.  There were a number of supporting characters, and I feel it would have helped move the story along if the author had narrowed down the characters to those with the most significant roles.

With all of this in mind, my original statement stands. I absolutely enjoyed the story. Even though I felt there were issues with the structure,  I would recommend Your Own Kind to anyone who enjoys fiction with well-defined characters, and a strong believable story.

About the AuthorLinda Fagioli-Katsiotas

Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas lives on Long Island with her husband, Nick. She teaches English to newly immigrated English language learners at her local middle and high school. This is her first work of fiction, though she has also written a memoir entitled, The Nifi, which inspired her creation of a blog with the same name.

To Find Out More About the Author, click on these links:

Author’s Blog

Twitter

Goodreads

To Buy Your Own Kind:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Barnes and Noble

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

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-sep-2015

Butterfly Barn

By Karen Power

Butterfly Barn by Karen Power - Front Book Cover - (2014)Book Blurb

Three women, two continents, one dream

Grace Fitzgerald is about to sign a contract with an American cruise corporation to bring cruise liners into the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush, in Ireland. But her fiancé, Dirk, doesn’t seem to grasp just how important the business is to her. On her way through Dublin Airport, Grace catches a glimpse of Jack Leslie, her first love. He’s married now but he still has the power to turn her knees to jelly. Grace is about to make the biggest decision of her life. Will it be the right one?

Jessie McGrath is happily married to Geoff, and together they run a small equestrian centre on the outskirts of Bayrush. Jessie is finally pregnant with her second child, and life couldn’t be better. Will their dreams come true or will they fall to pieces?

Sophia Wynthrope can’t escape the emptiness of widowhood. After thirty-five years of marriage, New York holds too many memories of her treasured husband. Is she chasing foolish dreams by travelling to Ireland, or can she possibly find the peace she craves in a place called Bayrush.

An unexpected encounter will spark a chain of events that will entwine their lives forever…

  • Contemporary Women’s Fiction
  • Self-published – Comeragh Publishing
  • Book One of the series

 

My Review

Karen Power’s debut novel is a heartwarming story about friendships, family ties, love, loss, and forgiveness. Most of the story takes place in a small coastal town of Bayrush in County Waterford, Ireland.

Grace Fitzgerald has been dating Dirk for three years and he desperately wants to set a date for their wedding.  Grace is holding back, and finally gives in. She can’t seem to be excited about her forthcoming wedding, and wonders if Dirk is truly the one.  She still feels a connection with Jack Leslie, the guy she met twenty years ago.

Jessie is Grace’s best friend and is happily married to Geoff McGrath. Together they run a small equestrian center near Bayrush.  They have a young son Sam, but want more children.  Jessie is pregnant and after a scan Jessie and Geoff learn there is not one baby, but twin boys.  A reason for joy, which is soon dashed as the doctor explains Jessie’s pregnancy is a hydropic pregnancy, and there is a chance she won’t be able to carry the boys to term.

Sophia Wynthrope, a wealthy magazine publisher has recently lost her husband of thirty-five years.  She is struggling with the emptiness she feels since his death, and on a chance meeting with Grace on a plane to New York, decides to return to Ireland to the town of Bayrush, and her newfound friend.

The three characters Grace, Jessie, and Sophia have different problems to work through, but they find their support and friendship with each other provides the impetus to endure.  There is a huge supporting cast of characters, including Dirk, Jack, Geoff, Grace’s sister Kate, and many others, all very likeable and true to life.

The weaving of this many characters into a coherent story is a challenge for any author, but especially so for a debut author.  The author carried it off without faltering and developed a storyline that entwines fact with fiction to create a book you won’t want to end.  Butterfly Barn touched me deeply, especially Jessie’s story.

I won’t go into any more detail about the plot and characters for fear of giving too much of the story away.  It is a beautiful and heartwarming story that is bound to keep your interest throughout.  I hope you will choose to read it. I heartily recommend Butterfly Barn to all readers of contemporary women’s fiction.

I give Butterfly Barn 5 stars.

Butterfly Barn was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the AuthorKaren Power (Butterfly Barn) - (2014)

Just to tell you a little about me. I live on a farm in County Waterford, with my husband, two children and our nutty Springer Spaniel called Sam.

I spent many years working in the travel industry where I had many fantastic experiences. For example, little did I know that I would use my boss’s idea to bring cruise liners into Ireland to be the career choice of my lead character, Grace Fitzgerald. That’s the beauty of fiction. People can do and be whoever they want.

Currently, I tutor in adult education delivering a range of modules such as communications, tourism, and personal effectiveness.  My big passion is my work as a voluntary literacy tutor. I truly believe that every person should have the opportunity to read. As a teenager, I travelled the world from the sofa in my living room, immersed in the world of books.

Now I’m embarking on a new adventure into the world of writing by releasing the first novel from the Butterfly Barn Series.

Karen Power can be found at the following links.

Webpage – http://www.karenpowerauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kpowerauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/irishbutterflybarn?fref=ts

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/106353349118481109015/posts

To buy Butterfly Barn

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

What Matters Most

Memory House Collection

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

 

What-Matters-Most-MHC-Ebook-188x300My Review

Louise and Clay Palmer have the perfect life, or so Louise thought, until Clay tells her his health is in jeopardy because of the stress of his job. He wants to pack up and move to the house in Florida that his uncle bequeathed to him.  He’s tired of his job, and he’s tired of shoveling snow. Clay wants to enjoy life.

Louise doesn’t want to move.  Why would anyone want to leave their family, the perfect home they’ve lived in all these years, and their friends and move to a place where they don’t know anyone?

Louise tries to sabotage the sale of their home so that they have no choice but to stay.  However, her efforts are in vain, and she and Clay pack up their belongings and move to Florida.  The story follows their adjustments to a new life and the friendships they make.

Will Louise and Clay discover what matters most?

WHAT MATTERS MOST is a story of love, friendships and new beginnings.

.I read WHAT MATTERS MOST some time ago.  It was the first of Crosby’s books I’ve read. Since then I’ve read several more, and like this one, I enjoyed all of them immensely.  Crosby has a talent for telling a story in a way that you feel part of the cast of characters.  It’s her gift for spinning a yarn that makes her characters and story come to life.

I recommend WHAT MATTERS MOST to all readers of fiction.  No matter what genre a reader prefers, Crosby’s story will resonate with everyone.  Like all of her books, I couldn’t put this one down.

About the AuthorBetteMedals_3309-150x150

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: TheRoyal 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: 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), Spare Change (2011).

Social Media Links

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
G+
Pinterest
Instagram

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

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

Amazon UK

 

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