Not By Design

A Getting To Mr. Right Series

By Carol Balawyder

Not Byy DesignBook Blurb

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

File Size: 2161 KB

Print Length: 164 Pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publication Date: January 31, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the AuthorCarol Balawyder

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

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

Connect on Social Media Links

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Balawyder/e/B00HVETKWM

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Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/

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

Dancing to an Irish Reel

By Claire Fullerton

 

Dancing to an Irish ReelBook Blurb

On sabbatical from her job in the LA record business, Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland for the vacation of a lifetime. What she finds is a job offer too good to turn down.

But her life in Ireland comes with one complication—Liam Hennessey. He’s a famous Irish musician whose entire life revolves around performing, so when he meets Hailey, he is so unbalanced at the prospect of love that he can’t decide whether to come closer or run away.

And so begins the push and pull of Hailey and Liam’s attraction. It is a dance enriched by colorful Irish friends who help Hailey navigate her budding romance with Liam in a landscape with more charm and character than any place Hailey ever imagined.

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Publication date, March 6, 2015

Page count; 236

Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0990304256

ISBN-13: 978-0990304258

My Review

Dancing to an Irish Reel is written in the first person of Hailey Crossan, the main character.  Hailey arrives in Connemara, Ireland on vacation, but when offered the job of a lifetime at a music company, she extends her vacation. Through Hailey, we learn about the people of Connemara, their language, their country, and their music.

Hailey is a strong person who tends to tell it as she sees it. She is not afraid to explore on her own, or travel by herself.  When she meets Liam Hennesey, an accordion player, she immediately feels an attraction.  Liam has a slow way of pursuing Hailey, but he is definitely interested. However, he seems uncertain of their relationship.  There is a lot of hesitancy and on again, off again in their relationship, and even at the end, we aren’t sure where the relationship will go.

The author is a master at rich description allowing us to immediately feel at home in Connemara.  Her vivid descriptions are what drew me in from the first.  The plot evolves with slowly, leaving us to savor our visit with the land and people of Ireland.

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

About the AuthorClaire Fullerton in front yard with dogs Dec 28 2011

Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a 4 time, award-winning essayist, a contributor to magazines (including “Celtic Life International” and “Southern Writers Magazine”) a former newspaper columnist, and a 5-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Malibu, California, with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

Website

 http://www.clairefullerton.com

Social Media Links

Author Facebook page:  Link​

Dancing to an Irish Reel – Facebook page:    Link​

Dancing to an Irish Reel – Google+ page:  Link

Claire’s blog: Link​​

Follow Claire on Twitter: @cfullerton3

Claire on Pinterest:  Link

Excerpt link http://www.clairefullerton.com/dancing-to-an-irish-reel

Available on: Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Barnes & Noble

 

Secrets in the Sky

By Pauline Wiles

SecretsInTheSkyCover013Medium-641x1024Book Blurb

No-one ever accused Sophie Campbell of being a coward. From caving trips to rooftop pranks, it appeared nothing could hold her back, especially once she landed a dream job promising travel all over the world.

But Sophie’s jet-setting lifestyle is not what it seems and she’s been spending more time in the quiet English village of Saffron Sweeting than she cares to admit. When her beloved Great Aunt Wol dies suddenly, Sophie loses one of the few people who truly know her. As friends, family and an old flame gather for the funeral, questions soon follow. Worse, Sophie finds herself increasingly attracted to the man most likely to expose her secrets. Can she manage to guard her past, yet finally follow her long-held dream?

Type of Book – paperback, e-book

Publisher – Pauline Wiles

Pub Date – Feb 26, 2015

Page Count – 342 pages

Genre – Women’s Fiction / Chick Lit

My Review

The protagonist in Pauline Wiles’ prequel to Saving Saffron Sweeting, Sophie Campbell, has so many secrets to keep, and some to discover; secrets that get in the way of her moving forward after the death of her beloved Great Aunt Wol, and of finding true love. In the small village of Saffron Sweeting are her secrets really safe? Most of all Sophie wants to keep her secrets from her mother, but will her boyfriend Joey, who is close to Sophie’s mother, spill the beans? Is Sophie willing to do what it takes to keep him from telling all?

When Tom enters the story, early in the book, there are vibes that Sophie tries to ignore. Tom discovers a link between him and Sophie, but soon discovers she’s not who she says she is.

The various characters woven expertly into the story, each have a place in the unraveling of Sophie’s story. Whether they are supporting her, as her friend and housemate Bella, or have a reason to expose her, each character adds to the viability of the story. The author beautifully introduces characters who, each in their own way, have an impact on the direction the story is taking the reader, while at the same time creating a real life image of a village that feels as real as any town the reader may have visited.

A five-star book, I was mesmerized by Secrets in the Sky and didn’t want it to end. Secrets in the Sky is a book I highly recommend to all readers of women’s fiction/chick-lit. Now I need to get a copy of Saving Saffron Sweeting!

About the AuthorPauline Wiles

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to an occasional yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes. Her work has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange and Alfie Dog Fiction. Her first novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and a number one Kindle bestseller. When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake.

Connect with the Author

Website
www.paulinewiles.com

Social Media Links
https://twitter.com/paulinewiles
https://www.facebook.com/scribinglimey
https://www.pinterest.com/paulinewiles/

I was given a copy of this book by 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-jan-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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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

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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

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 ©

Anna

By Fia Essen

 

Book Blurb

Anna by Fia EssenRadical life changes and too much champagne at high altitude can take a girl to the most interesting places. Anna’s journey is just getting started when she takes a chance on a new friendship of the handsome male variety and winds up in a tiny village in Crete. It turns out she’s not the only one who has that idea.

Author’s Description

Anna thought she knew exactly where her life was heading. She was wrong. After ten years of climbing her way up the stressful corporate ladder at Milton International, her dream of one day occupying her boss’ corner office has been ripped from her thanks to a round of downsizing. Her boyfriend of five years has dumped her because he didn’t think she shared his vision of their “ideal future” together. In addition to losing her job and boyfriend, she comes to the conclusion she might be losing her mind too. A sane person wouldn’t follow a perfect stranger they meet on a plane to a tiny village no one has heard of on a Greek island, would they? The stranger in question is an irresistibly handsome Englishman with a sympathetic ear. But that’s no excuse to follow him to the place he calls his home and practically move in with him, is it?

My Review

Have you ever read a book that you liked so much from the beginning, you actually felt you were part of the story? A book where you could visualize the area, the rooms? Were you ever so engrossed you in the story, you didn’t realize you were at the end until you read the last word? That is exactly what Anna was to me.

Fia Essen wove a story that was alive with delightful characters and a captivating plot. The location?  Who wouldn’t fall in love with the charismatic Crete, as so vividly described in the book? I loved the way the characters dropped into Anna’s life and immediately became indispensable to the rest of the story.

Would I recommend Anna by Fia Essen? Absolutely! It is the perfect read for a summer day on the porch, at the pool, or at the beach.  5 Stars

About the AuthorFia Essen

Fia Essen has been an expat since childhood. She grew up in the stables of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, surrounded by horses, philandering polo players, and the occasional Boa Constrictor. Currently, she lives in Athens, Greece with her Yorkie.

She has always had an active imagination and has a tendency to float off into a world of her own. While she doesn’t put a terrible amount of stock into astrology, apparently, this trait of hers is textbook Pisces.

Growing up, if Fia wasn’t on horseback, she had her nose in a book. She didn’t read books, she lived them. Characters in novels became her best friends. And ultimately she started creating her own.

 

Illustrator/Cover Artist: Michelle Crocker

Type of Book: Anna is available in Kindle format and paperback.

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

Page Count: 289

Word Count: 90 thousand

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit

Website

http://www.fiaessen.com

Social Media Links

Twitter Handle – @FiaEssen

Sample Chapter

 The Amazon Kindle Look Inside Feature – http://www.amazon.com/Anna-Fia-Essen-ebook/dp/B00YCRZAGG/

Where to Buy: 

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A Love Story for a Nation

By Mark W. Sasse

Love Story for A NationBlurb from Goodreads

As nightly raids burn the capital city, the mundane existence of Gerald Sanpatri takes a dramatic shift when Rosia walks into his life bringing laughter and unexpected love. She inspires the ex-writer to once again take up his pen and write the impossible: a love story for an entire nation.

A Love Story for a Nation chronicles the explosive and heart-warming journey of one country’s brush with history through the eyes of a courageous man who dared to stand up, smile, and think the unimaginable.

My Review

Mark W. Sasse’s most recent book to be released on July 3, 2015 is a story of the bravery and perseverance of Gerald Sanpatri. After his wife Rosia dies, Sanpatri picks up his pen to fulfill a promise he made to Rosia to start writing again. He starts writing tales of Jonny, his son who died before he was born. They become extraordinary tales of heroism against the palace. On the one-year anniversary of Rosia and Jonny’s deaths, Gerald finds a note in his lunch bag that Rosia left so long ago.  It told him “Remember to just stand there and smile.” Gerald did just that as he started his vigilance on a stone outside the palace gate.  In order to avoid spoilers, I have to stop here.

I love Sasse’s books and this one stands with the rest.  (Read my review of The Reach of the Banyan Tree here.  My review of Beauty Rising will appear later this summer). The author weaves history and fiction into a contemporary story with a touch of romance, resulting in a book that leaves you wanting more.

The characters are well developed and believable with some mystery around most.  The plot evolves with enough energy to keep you turning pages as the characters slowly reveal their secrets.

author photo1About the Author

Mark W Sasse was born in western Pennsylvania, but has spent nearly two decades living, teaching, and writing overseas in Vietnam and Malaysia. He has advanced degrees in Humanities and English. His debut novel, Beauty Rising, was released in December 2012 which was followed by The Recluse Storyteller in October 2013. He is also an enthusiast of live theatre. He writes and directs for the drama troupe The RLT Players. He won the award for “Best Script” in 2013 Penang Short & Sweet Festival for his script “No In Spite of Itself.” His short play “Drive All Night” won the Audience Choice award at the 2012 Penang Short & Sweet Festival. The Reach of the Banyan Tree released July 1, 2014.

A Love Story for a Nation is due out July 3, 2015.

Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction

To follow Mark Sasse on Facebook, click here.

To go to Mark Sasse’s author page on Amazon, click here.

To visit his blog mwsasse, click here.

To buy A Love Story for a Nation:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

The author gave me a copy of A Love Story for a Nation in exchange for an honest review.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP

By Diana Stevan

 

A Cry From the DeepAbout The Book

Despite a near death diving accident years before, Catherine Fitzgerald, an underwater photographer, embarks on a journey to cover the find of the century, one of the lost ships from the Spanish Armada. But before she goes, she buys an antique ring that triggers nightmares and visions of a young woman searching for someone on an old sailing ship caught in a storm. When Catherine sets out to discover the young woman’s identity, she discovers a connection that will change her life forever.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is a romantic adventure novel, set in Provence, Manhattan and Ireland. Interwoven with this story of love and loss is the drama that takes place in our oceans, where salvagers continue to wreak havoc on the environment and steal cultural treasures. It’s also about fate and the mystery of how we find love and how it finds us.

 My Review

I didn’t know what to expect of A CRY FROM THE DEEP, but soon found I was immersed in a mind-tingling mystery of two different times.  One event occurred in 1878 off the coast of Killybegs, Donegal Bay, Ireland, when Margaret O’Donnell married James Gallagher after his cargo ship the Alice O’Meary returned from India.  Her father gave Margaret her mother’s wedding band to wear.

Fast forward to 2010 in Provence, France.  Catherine Fitzgerald was working in her lavender fields when she received a phone call from her old boss.  He was offering her the opportunity to come back to work as an underwater photographer at National Geographic. She would have to return to New York so her ex-husband could look after their daughter while she photographed the deep-sea dive of an ill-reputed treasure hunter. Her job was to photograph everything during dives and to make sure all recovered items were recorded as required by law.  It was a dangerous job, and she hadn’t been back in the water since she had nearly drowned on another job several years before.

Once in New York, Catherine, with her ex-husband Richard and their daughter Alex toured a street market where Catherine purchased a peculiar gold ring.  Was this ring responsible for the nightmares she started having?

Catherine was to work alongside Daniel Costello, a nautical archeologist, who was a very experienced diver and would ease Catherine back into the deep. Daniel was engaged to be married after the salvage project.

Was there a connection between the event of 1878 and Catherine in 2010?  You’ll just have to read to find out.  No spoilers here.

Stevan created characters and a story that kept me in my chair all day reading A CRY FROM THE DEEP from beginning to end.  The amount of material she researched is mind boggling, but her diligence resulted in a believable story with characters so well developed, I had no trouble visualizing any of them. Before long, I felt I knew everyone personally, and was deeply engrossed in one of the most fascinating tales I’ve ever read.  This book absolutely merits 5 stars.

 About the Author

Diana Stevan

Diana Stevan took many detours to get to the writing phase of her life. After marrying at 19, she received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and a Master of Social Work, both with honors, from the University of Manitoba. She moved to B.C. in 1979 with her husband and two children. As a clinical social worker, Diana spent over twenty-five years in the field, working in a variety of settings—psychiatric, child guidance, cancer agency, and private practice.

She’s also worked as a teacher, professional model, actress and a sports writer-broadcaster for CBC television. Writing has been her passion, even though it was relegated to the back seat while her children were young. She’s published fitness and travel articles for newspapers, poetry in the U.K. journal, DREAMCATCHER and a short story in ESCAPE, an anthology published by Peregrin.

Diana has traveled widely and uses her experience to color her stories.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is her debut novel. She now lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia.

You can visit her on her website and social media:

http://www.dianastevan.com

https://www.facebook.com/dianastevan.author

https://twitter.com/DianaStevan

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8420679.Diana_Stevan

Chapter Three

It was as if she’d never left. Driving over the Queensboro Bridge with Alex and Richard in his BMW, Catherine feasted on the Manhattan skyline. Even though the absence of the twin towers brought tears to her eyes, the majestic spires of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings still stirred her like no other buildings could.

Richard glanced at her. “It still haunts, doesn’t it?”

She nodded as she looked again at where the towers once stood. She said nothing more until they’d crossed the bridge and a man yelling at another man on the street got her attention. “Are you still dealing with some of those patients you took on back then?”

“A few are still coming.” He pursed his lips. “I wasn’t much fun, was I?”

She shrugged. “It wasn’t a fun time.” Richard’s sadness over his patients’ misfortunes had crept into their relationship. Like a fog that showed no signs of letting up, a pall had settled over their union, to the point where even lovemaking became a chore. She couldn’t remember when they’d stopped doing it altogether. Instead of sex, they had each gone to bed with a book, as if reading would squash any desire.

They rode the next few blocks in silence. The rush of cars and pedestrians on East 60th and Park Avenue reminded Catherine of a Pollock painting with its kinetic frenzy and streaks of every color. The yellow cabs and street vendors brought back more memories. She remembered the times they had tramped across town to Greenwich Village to hear some jazz musician, or to an art gallery that had sprung up overnight in Chelsea. They’d had their happy moments.

But after her scuba diving accident, everything had changed. She got depressed, and Richard, being a psychiatrist, started treating her like a patient. And even when she decided to see a therapist, he couldn’t keep his hands off. He called her shrink periodically to give his unsolicited opinion until Catherine found out and insisted he stop. That only added to the strain between them. By that time, she was pregnant.

Catherine looked over at Richard. He was focused on driving. He was still a handsome man with his prematurely silver hair and soft blue eyes. And when he smiled, his face shone in a way that made her wonder why she’d ever left. Perhaps they were too much alike. They both needed to be in charge. One thing, though. They had their differences, but they never fought. Instead, they had drifted apart, each trapped in a bubble. It had been no surprise that their divorce turned out to be an amicable one. Richard hated scenes and because of Alex, Catherine was forever grateful.

They had stopped at a light. She said, “How’s the rest of your practice? Still turning heads inside out?”

“Not much has changed. I’ve got the usual assortment of the too thin, too rich, and too…” He glanced back at Alex, whose face was pressed against the side window. “Too forked.”

Catherine said wryly, “Forked?”

“You know what I mean.”

Alex groaned and gave her mother an oh, brother look. Catherine couldn’t help smiling. Alex was at the age where you couldn’t get much past her.

It was too bad she and Richard couldn’t have made it. Especially for Alex’s sake. When Richard had showed up at arrivals to greet them, Alex had run to him shrieking with delight.

He had swung her around and said, “Look at your legs! You’re getting so tall.”

Catherine always got a lump in her throat at these times. She still blamed herself for dragging their daughter so far away. When he had put Alex down, she and Richard had hugged awkwardly, as if they’d never hugged one another before. It was strange how intimate they’d once been. That alone made her wary of any future attachment. You love someone one day, and the next, you’re both strangers.

As they drove on, she was glad that Alex—after taking a recess—was back at entertaining her father with tales of Disney World. Her incessant chattering left little room for small talk or any uncomfortable silence.

Richard turned on to Central Park West, where the traffic had slowed to a crawl. Up ahead, there seemed to be an accident. It was bumper to bumper as one driver after the other swiveled to find an opening. They inched forward. It seemed to take forever before Richard was able to turn left at West 75th Street and then right on Columbus Avenue. It was still slow, but better slow than stuck in the midst of steaming New Yorkers. On the other side of the road, an outdoor flea market, one city block long, was in full swing.

Alex rolled down her window. “Mama, can we stop, please, please, please?”

“Oh, Alex,” said Catherine. It’d been hectic since they’d left Provence and the last thing she wanted was a stop at a crowded marketplace.

“Well…?” asked Richard. “You better make up your minds fast.”

Catherine threw up her hands. Parking was always a headache. “Suit yourself.”

Richard gamely looked for a spot. He could never say no to Alex.

“Looks like you’re going to get your wish,” said Catherine.

“How about I drop you both off, and I’ll come and find you?”

Catherine scanned the throngs weaving past the various stalls and spotted a canopy with lettering: Hats by Helene. She checked her watch and then pointed at the sign. “How about we meet at eleven by that hat table?” Maybe the market wouldn’t be so bad. She could always use another hat.

 ~~~

Catherine and Alex had walked the entire circuit—of antiques, homemade foods, and old photographs of once-famous stars­—before Richard caught up with them at the hat table. Catherine was trying to decide whether to buy a black wool one with a brim and a braided ribbon around the crown. It reminded her of the hat Diane Keaton wore in that Woody Allen picture decades ago. Some things never went out of style.

“Looks good on you.” He smiled approvingly.

“It does, Mama.”

Catherine checked her image in the hand mirror on the table. She liked what she saw and pulled her wallet out from her bag.

Richard took out a roll of bills from his pants pocket. “Let me get it for you.”

“Absolutely not.”

“It’s only a hat, Catherine.”

She hesitated and then said, “If you’re sure.” She grinned as he paid the seller. “Thanks. You’ve always been generous.”

“You’re welcome.” Richard put a hand on Alex’s shoulder. “What about you, cookie? Did you find anything?”

“Yes.” Alex opened a plastic bag she was holding and took out a small stuffed blue and yellow rabbit with a white bow on each ear. “She’s my lucky rabbit foot.”

Richard and Catherine laughed as Alex hopped around holding up her new purchase. Is this what it would’ve been like had she stayed? Would they be this perfect family?

Richard looked at her as if he was thinking the same thing. But maybe the thought was too dangerous, because he said nothing and turned away.

Alex stopped hopping by a booth featuring antique jewelry. She fingered some bracelets and then settled on a blue suede jewelry case with a twirling ballerina inside. Richard came up behind her to see the tiny plastic dancer spin slowly to one of the pieces from The Nutcracker. “Can you make her go faster, Papa?”

While Richard attended to Alex, Catherine admired a display of rings on a black velvet cloth on the same table. The bands were the usual sterling silver, some carved, and some set with turquoise, black onyx, or malachite stones. She tried on several, but nothing seemed special. The vendor, a woman with frizzy, red hair partly covered by a paisley scarf, watched Catherine for a few moments before bending under the table. She brought up a small wooden box and opened it, revealing a slightly tarnished gold ring.

Fascinated by the design—two hands holding a heart—Catherine tried the ring on her right hand. It slid on easily with no room to spare.

“This is nice, huh?” Catherine said to Alex.

“Oh, that’s so cute!”

The redheaded vendor tucked her hair behind her ear. “It’s a Claddagh ring. Very old Irish wedding ring. More than a hundred years old.”

Catherine raised her hand, allowing the sunlight to bathe her fingers. The heart with the crown on top glistened in the light.

“Why don’t you buy it, Mama? It’s so pretty.”

“It’s a wedding ring, Alex. I don’t need a wedding ring.”

The vendor said, “You can buy it for good luck. Everyone needs good luck.”

“But it’s not a good luck ring.”

Alex looked closer at it. “Maybe it is, Mama. I have my rabbit’s foot. You can have a ring.”

Catherine took the gold ring off, and examined the inside of it. There was some kind of hallmark, followed by numbers that were too small to make out. She put it back on the velvet cloth and looked at the others, but her attention kept coming back to the Irish ring. “Can I ask you where you got it?’

The vendor shrugged. “In an estate sale. The guy who died was an Irish immigrant. A fisherman. He apparently found it in a large cod caught off the coast of Ireland.”

“In a fish?”

“That’s what the seller said.”

“Strange.”

Alex screwed up her face in distaste. “Ooo. The fish ate it? Does it still smell?”

Catherine laughed and put the ring up to Alex’s nose.

“It doesn’t,” said Alex, wide-eyed.

Catherine said, “It’s a beautiful ring. How much is it?”

“One hundred and fifty dollars. You won’t find another one like it. It’s a genuine antique. You’re lucky, it already fits. You won’t have to have it sized.”

Richard turned to Catherine. “Do you need another ring?”

She hated when he used that tone. As if she were a child. It was her own fault. She shouldn’t have asked for his opinion. She glanced down at her finger again. “I’ll take it.”

The vendor got a small paper bag from under the table, but Catherine had already slipped the ring on. “It’s okay. I’ll wear it.” She figured she could use some luck.

 

Self-published

Printed by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Charleston, South Carolina.

Distributed by Ingram Book Company

ISBN:     eBook          1-4975-36634

              Paperback   978-1-4975-36630

CIP data on file with The National Library of Canada

Release Date:  October 15, 2014

378 pages

BISAC FIC027000

Now available on Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Kindle, Coho Books, Campbell River, Chapters-Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Google Books

An e-copy of A CRY FROM THE DEEP was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.