Say Never

By Janis Thomas

say-never-by-janis-thomasBook Blurb

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

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

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

 My Review

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

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

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

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

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


About the Authorjanis-thomas

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

Website: Janis Thomas

Blog: Anonymous Soccer Mom

Social Media Sites: Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

What Jennifer Knows

By Wendy Janes

What Jennifer KnowsBook Blurb

A vital member of her Surrey community, Jennifer Jacobs is dedicated to her job as a dance therapist, helping children with special needs to express themselves through movement. Wife of a successful though reclusive sculptor, Gerald, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, she is known for having a deep sense of empathy, making her a trusted confidante. So when two very different friends, Freya and Abi, both share information with her that at first seems to be an awkward coincidence, she doesn’t tell them. But as the weeks roll by, the link revealed between the two women begins to escalate into a full-blown moral dilemma – and also brings to the surface a painful memory Jennifer believed she had long since forgotten. What is the right thing to do? Should she speak out or is the truth better left unsaid?

My Review

Jennifer is the friend everyone should have. Do you have a secret?  Jennifer can be trusted to keep a confidence.  She divides her time among the things most important to her – her grandchildren, husband, friends, and her part-time job as a dance therapist teaching children with special needs.  But her relationship with her daughter Blythe is strained. They both have a lot to work out before they can have the easy relationship Jennifer longs to have with her daughter.

When Jennifer meets Freya at the grocery store, she soon is listening to Freya’s plan to propose to her boyfriend, Oliver. Jennifer and Freya soon fall into an easy friendship, and Jennifer wonders why she and Blythe can’t have the same kind of relationship.

Jennifer’s longtime friend Abi can’t make up her mind whether or not to ask her boyfriend Ed to move in with her. Jennifer supports Abi in her decision.

But when Jennifer discovers what Freya and Abi don’t know, can she tell them?

Will Jennifer and Blythe ever find common ground? What role does Jennifer’s grandson Tim play in keeping Jennifer and Blythe at odds or helping them reconcile whatever differences are keeping their relationship on rocky ground?

I relished reading What Jennifer Knows. Wendy Janes did an excellent job crafting the story and developing the characters.  It is a quick read but contained all the necessary details needed to keep my interest.  Jennifer must deal with the issues of morality and loyalty and leaves the reader wondering, “what would I do?”  I recommend this to all readers of women’s fiction.  I look forward to reading more from this author.

I was given a copy of What Jennifer Knows by author Wendy Janes in exchange for an honest review.

Format: Available as an e-book.

Publisher: Self-published

Publication Date:  October 11, 2015

Page count: 223

Genre: Women’s Fiction

About the AuthorWendy Janes

Wendy Janes lives in London with her husband and youngest son. A number of her short stories have recently appeared in anthologies, and 2015 sees the launch of her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows. Her writing is inspired by family, friends, and everyday events that only need a little twist to become entertaining fiction.

As well as writing contemporary fiction, she loves to read and review it.

Wendy is also a freelance proofreader, and a caseworker for the National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service.

Connect with Wendy Janes on social media and her website




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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.
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



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.

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The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison

The Banks of Certain Rivers

THE BANKS OF CERTAIN RIVERS will draw you in immediately with its backstory where we meet Neil Kazenzakis (Mr. K), husband, father, friend, teacher, coach. It is here that we learn first of his wife Wendy and son Chris, and the terrible accident that Wendy has in a swimming pool that left her in a permanent comatose state. Their son Chris, an eighth grader, witnessed the accident.

We move forward a few years and find that Neil has more to deal with than seems humanly possible.  His wife Wendy remains in a nursing home, he and Chris both are still struggling to move on, and he is caring for his mother-in-law Carol, while at the same time, maintaining her home.  On top of everything else, Neil has fallen in love with Lauren, the nurse taking care of Carol.  Neil must tell Chris, but fears it is more than a young person can handle given the state of his mother’s health.  Add to all this is a video that went viral showing Mr. K knocking a student to the ground. Can he prove his innocence and that the video is a fake?  With his job and reputation on the line and Chris’ loss of respect for him after Neil tells him he has been in a relationship for two years, Neil feels his life is spiraling out of control. With the determination and help of understanding and caring friends, Neil is able to move forward.

I don’t like spoilers, and this book is difficult to talk about without revealing too much. It is well written with a plot that will keep you turning the pages. It is about love and redemption, loyalty and trust.  It is about putting what life throws at you into the proper perspective and getting on with one’s life.

The characters were so well developed that I felt an immediate bond with each one.  I wanted Wendy to recover, and at first didn’t like Lauren because I felt she stood in the way of that recovery. I wanted to hug Chris and help him through the murky waters of grief, sadness, distrust, and disappointment.  It was so much to put upon a teenager.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a five star book.  Once I started reading, I was unable to put it down.  With so many layers to the story and personalities elaborated so beautifully, this is one book I wholeheartedly recommend.


About the Author

Born in Michigan, Jon Harrison studied English literature and geological sciences at Ohio University. A lover of the outdoors, he moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1994 and has lived there ever since. When not writing, he enjoys skiing, running, and climbing.

The Banks of Certain Rivers is his first novel.Jon-Harrison_9659-1200px

Follow Jon Harrison on:

Webpage – Harrison Pages

Twitter – @HarrisonPages

Goodreads – Jon Harrison Author Page

FaceBook – The Banks of Certain Rivers


Buy The Banks of Certain Rivers


IMG_1110 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Jon Harrison at Books by the Banks. Shown here on the right with author Catherine McKenzie on the left.

HIDDEN by Catherine McKenzie

hidden-204x300Catherine McKenzie weaves a tale of secrets kept in her latest book HIDDEN. Jeff Manning is hit by a car while walking home from work and leaves two women devastated. One, his wife Claire, is left to struggle with this unimaginable loss while at the same time helping their son Seth find his way through his own suffering. The other, Jeff’s co-worker Julie, is faced with hiding her grief and at the same time burying her secret before anyone discovers it.

Written in the voices of main characters Jeff, Claire, and Tish, this book is brimming with emotion and excitement. Even though Jeff dies at the beginning of the book, his explanations interposed in this way, bring clarity to the story. HIDDEN is about the complexity of relationships – good, bad, and everything in between.

I am an ardent fan of Catherine McKenzie, and have read all of her fabulous books. HIDDEN is a masterpiece! It is carefully crafted with a story line and characters that left me mesmerized. HIDDEN is a book you will carry with you everywhere you go until you read the last words. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a truly absorbing read. I give it five stars.

To find out more about Catherine McKenzie visit:

Website      Twitter       Facebook       Goodreads

To buy her books:

Amazon     Barnes and Noble

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Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

When Lottie met Richard for lunch, she thought he was going to propose, but he didn’t. Lottie was crushed, totally heartbroken, but assured her older sister Fliss that all was well, Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsellaeven though that was far from the truth.

Lottie, on the rebound, met up with her boyfriend (Ben) from her college days and within a short time agreed to marry him. Fliss’s job, as the big sister, was to make sure that didn’t transpire.  What occurred next will take you on a whirlwind trip as Fliss attempts to make sure that Lottie and Ben never marry.  However, just when she thinks she has the situation under control, she finds out that Ben and Lottie got married and are packed and leaving for Greek island where they met so many years before and Lottie is hoping to get pregnant on her honeymoon.  That can’t happen if Fliss wants Lottie to have the marriage annulled.  Will Fliss stop the marriage before it is consummated?

Intertwined with Lottie’s story is Fliss’s story. Fliss has recently gone through a painful divorce and thinks her motivation is to protect Lottie from the same lot in life.  But is it?

Sophie Kinsella’s WEDDING NIGHT was a both a quick read and a highly entertaining story.  It is filled with humor (I laughed out loud the whole time I was reading it), romance, and many surprising events.  I would positively recommend WEDDING NIGHT.