Book Review · Books

All About Us

What would you do if you could go back in time to choose a different path than the one you are currently on? Ben gets his chance in: All About Us. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s in a rut. His wife, Daphne is off at her work Christmas party. He declines to go so, he can stay home and decorate their tree. Instead he’s off to the pub to see his best friend Harv. At the pub he meets a watch salesman who gifts him a watch. This stranger asks Ben if there was anything in his life he’d like to do over. Welcome to Ben’s adventure to find out just what that entails.

This novel is fast paced, gripping, emotional, thought provoking, and sobering. I couldn’t put it down. This book is fiction, but the essence of the story brings home so much on a personal level. You can’t read this novel and not think about your own life and all you’ve gone through to be at where you are at currently. If you love a Christmas Carol then you may enjoy this story. I have never read this classic Christmas tale, but I just might after reading this novel.

I received my complimentary copy of All About Us by Tom Ellen from HarperCollins, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. Thank you for the opportunity to get to read such a powerful book.

Book Review · Books

On Traigh Lar Beach

I never read short stories. This short story collection may have changed my mind. Enter the world of Scotland where an author is traveling with her husband after an author’s award banquet where she won an award. The author is feeling stuck inspiration wise. On their travels she observes random objects she discovers. The short stories are the background stories to the objects. After these short stories is a novella about a popular band and the lives of a few of the groupies.

The description of these short stories are vivid. I’ve never been to Scotland, but the descriptions make you feel as if you are there with the characters. I Googled the name of the beach and it’s beyond stunning. Hopefully this collection will help others be inspired to visit Scotland.

The band novella is quirky. I haven’t been obsessed with a band in a very long time, but the novella shows how music and artists strongly affect fans. The novella is broken up in sections by the different fan’s point of view.

I received my complimentary copy of On Traigh Lar Beach by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff from care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice.

Book Review · Books

Life Under The Apple Tree

If you grew up in the 80’s then you’ll remember the children’s book The Giving Tree. The cover of Life Under The Apple Tree gives off this same vibe as it is a cartoon of an apple tree with a single apple dangling from a branch. I just had to read this story.

Enter into the author’s ordeal starting his life over when his wife passes unexpectedly. The author and his children scramble to find a home to move into. His family cabin becomes a brief respite while they search since their old house sold and their new home fell through.

Things turn sour when financial troubles hit hard. Life gets even more stressful. Thankfully the author has a best friend in the local couple Thaddeus and Christopher. They offer pearls of wisdom under the apple tree. Come sit and listen to their wisdom.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Life Under The Apple Tree by A.P. Roberts from BooksGoSocial, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and are my choice. This story is based on a true story of what the author went through. It is hard to put down and is a swift read. This book is parts magical, convicting and inspiring. I can’t get over how much I love this book’s cover. It brings out the kid in me.

Book Review · Books

The Outlook For Earthlings

If you are craving a story about friendship then you need to go grab a copy of The Outlook For Earthlings. Mel and Scarlet are classmates, a grade apart. Scarlet is older with beautiful red hair and Melanie is the one with the mousy brown hair. Both teens love books. Both live in difficult home situations. Mel looks up to Scarlet and Scarlet doesn’t judge Melanie’s strange father who has pin up photos in his writing office for inspiration.

Through the years both ladies go through life changes and careers. Both Scarlet and Melanie stay in contact through letters, phone calls and when email comes on the scene they graduate to sending messages from their prospective jobs.

This novel touches on the topic of friendship and how through the years even if our lives are in turmoil at least we have our best friend to vent to and share life with. Even though both Mel and Scarlet come from different kinds of families, they form a friendship that still stands firm beyond the different life decisions they make as adults.

I received my complimentary copy of The Outlook For Earthlings by Joan Frank from Regal House Publishing, care of TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. The prose in this novel is captivating and will make you pause with reverence. The description of the setting of the story is spot on and so visceral you feel as though you are walking the neighborhood between Scarlet and Melanie’s homes. The only thing is that I don’t understand how the title coincides with the book. This is a novel that isn’t long, but deep in heart. Have you discovered your own Scarlet or Melanie?

Book Review · Books

The Ancestor

An unknown man wakes up crusted in ice. After he frees himself he wanders in the woods and discovers civilization has changed from what he dimly recalls. He doesn’t recall who he is, but while trying to piece together the mystery of who he is, he discovers Travis. This other man looks so much like him it’s creepy. How is that possible?

Travis lives a simple life with his wife, California and their young son, Eli. He’s been in a funk being out of work, but glad there’s a job for him to start. Life in Alaska consists of fishing, hunting, beer, the bar and seeing his extended family. Hopefully this new fishing job will ease his stress.

When the unknown man and Travis meet it’s like looking in a mirror, minus one with a beard and one clean shaven. Travis befriends this stranger, who seems like he’s also, down on his luck. The two form a friendship.

Grayson, part of the police force and Travis’s best friend is leery of the uncanny stranger, but tries to give the unknown man the benefit of the doubt. Travis’s wife is a tad thrown off by the resemblance of this new stranger in town, but he’s super old fashioned polite. He’s quite the charmer.

How is this man connected to Travis? What is the unknown man’s fascination with Travis, California and Eli? Will his amnesia ever life to uncover the truth?

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg, from Down & Out Books, care of the author and TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab your own copy get one quick from Amazon. To connect with the author, check out his website. This novel is a whirlwind of identity, family, brotherhood and the question we all face: do we always truly know those who are in our lives? This novel is fast paced, fascinating and a story you won’t soon forget.

Book Review · Books

How To Make A Life

If you love family sagas then you need to go grab a stunning copy of How To Make A Life. This novel tumbles you first into Ida’s world, the old country, the Ukraine. Due to the first war she escapes off to America with her two young daughters, where she works to build a brand new life for them. Ida can’t wait to put away the horrors of the war behind her.

This novel touches on the tough subject of mental illness and how society has viewed it through the decades and how family members can view it very differently. Would you be strong enough to call it out when a family member may need help instead of keeping quiet since you speak out loud just may bring shame on the family?Another subject that is focused on is sisterhood. When is being a sister go from caring to usury?

Each chapter gives the point of view from a different family member through different eras. Join Ida, Bessie, Jenny, Ruby, Morris, Irene, Abe and others on their adventures through life.

I received my complimentary copy of How To Make A Life by Florence Reiss Kraut from She Writes Press, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. I love the cover of this book. I have a soft spot for WWII books and this cover gives off the rustic, charming, 1940’s antique look. It makes me feel like I could walk right out onto the cover and be there with the characters.

Book Review · Books

Those Who Prey

College is a time for freedom, to discover yourself, enjoy dorm life and take the classes that interest you. Emily was thrilled to go away to Boston, away from her home in the south. Dorm life wasn’t the greatest. College life was lonely, until a cute guy interpreted her reading at the local coffee shop.

Josh invites her to hang out with his friends Heather and Andrew. Emily is excited to meet new people and make new friends. Heather seems very nice and that she wants to become genuine friends. Emily gets invited to an event where she gets a glimpse into the group that her new friends are involved in. Heather isn’t religious, but hearing one of the leader’s speak she is transfixed. Who doesn’t want improve their life, to discover their spirituality?

Heather is Emily’s mentor of sorts and as Emily goes through the process of learning and growing it seems Heather becomes even more controlling. Emily brushes off the caution in her gut. Heather wants the best for her, right?

When an internship spot opens up through the group Emily wants to go since Josh is going. The only challenge is that Heather wants to go. Which of them will get picked?

I received my digital complimentary copy of Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett from Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own will. This book will make a great conversation piece. This novel is a cautionary tale of sorts and an important one. I’m still processing my reaction.

Books

Author Q & A For: Lifeline To Marionette

A Q&A with Jennifer Waitte

Author, Lifeline to Marionette

 

Question: You have a journalism background, why did you choose to move into fiction?

Jennifer Waitte: My interest in creative writing actually predates my journalism career. When I was in grade school, I was always writing short stories and poems. In college, I originally majored in architecture because I loved architectural history and design, but I failed miserably in anything mathematical. I switched to English, and I loved English lit but worried about my career options as an English major. I switched again to journalism after deciding I wanted to focus on editorial and feature writing for magazines, and eventually be a magazine editor. All through college and my early journalism career, I continued to write fiction, mostly short stories. Overall, I just loved writing features about interesting people. As a result, my novels are character-driven stories.

 

Question: What themes in Lifeline to Marionette do you most want to highlight and why?

Jennifer Waitte: The effects of societal pressures, the hopeless trap of drug addiction, and the damage caused by exploitation are the primary themes that are the backbone of the story. It is also a love story, albeit a dark one.

 

Question: What character do you hope most resonates with readers and why?

Jennifer Waitte: Definitely Alaina Michelle Sekovich. I want my readers to sympathize with her and cultivate compassion for her as they come to understand the disparity between what she is (a celebrity) and the pressures she faces, and who she is, which is a lonely and misunderstood young woman. Ultimately, I want readers to find her damaged yet endearing.

 

Question: Please describe your writing process.

Jennifer Waitte: I spend a lot of time thinking about my storyline and my characters’ personalities, motives and actions before writing. I develop an outline first, so I know where the story is going, and then I go back and work on different sections solely based on what I feel like working on. I don’t write beginning to end. Lifeline to Marionette takes place over a short period of time, which is two weeks. The sequel, The Fifth Language, also takes place over a short period of time, which is about a month. In both books, readers learn about my characters’ lives, but the actual plot unfolds over a short period of time. 

 

Question: Are there any writers or specific books that influenced you as you were writing Lifeline to Marionette?

Jennifer Waitte: There is one book that truly inspired me to start writing again, and that was The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas. It’s a brilliant, well-written story about a writer resurrecting her writing career. What influenced me while I was writing Lifeline to Marionettewas not another novel, but music. I have a Lifeline to Marionette playlist, and each scene/situation in the story is a certain song or a collection of songs. The main character was inspired by a song. 

 

Jennifer Waitte is an award-winning journalist, editor and author. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

For 15 years, Waitte worked as a writer and editor for numerous lifestyle, equine and equestrian sporting magazines. She has won many awards for her writing, editing and editorial direction.

 

Waitte is an avid equestrian. She competes in the sport of long-distance horse racing and dressage. She lives in Napa, California, with her husband Barry. They own Tamber Bey Vineyards, a boutique winery located in Napa Valley.   

Connect with Jennifer Waitte at JenniferWaitte.com, Facebook.com/jenniferwaitteauthor and Instagram.com/JenniferWaitte.

 

Lifeline to Marionette will be available at Amazon.

Book Review · Books

Let The Willows Weep

What’s it like to have your own mother hate you? Birddog knows. Her mother always favored her older brother, Denny and other brother, Caul. The one solace she has is her dear father. He’s a miner who works hard, but shows love even harder, giving Birddog the sense of safety her mother won’t. Thankfully her brother, Denny is her protector and one of her best friends.

When the unthinkable happens to their father, Denny is forced to grow up sooner than he’d probably like. The challenge is he gets the same kind of work his father did. This doesn’t go over well with their mother. With miner work comes the comfort of the bottle and Denny starts to pull away from Birddog.

Birddog try’s her best to warm up to her mother, but any praise from her is fleeting, often filled with caustic words. After she doesn’t have the safety of her father, Birddog gets sick and the local town doctor asks her mother to comfort her. There is no comfort provided in their shared grief. Birddog’s mother’s hate just seems to gather more intensity like a storm brewing.

One day while visiting her father’s grave she happens upon Samuel and Dig. They both befriend her. Samuel is the local caretaker of the cemetery. Dig is his special needs younger brother with a heart of gold. Dig gives Birddog a new nickname. Daisy Girl. Daisys are the flower of choice for her father’s grave. The new nickname is a pleasant change. While getting to know Samuel her broken heart begins to heal. Will Birddog ever discover a love of her own?

This novel is lyrical, gut wrenching and powerful. I can’t fathom my parents hating me as deeply as Birddog’s mother does her. She’s a tomboy while her mother is all about appearance and the finer things in life. As soon as I started this novel I was transported back in time, when your station in life isn’t always easy to move on up from.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Let The Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell from TLC Book Tours and the author. The views are of my own accord and at will. Go grab a gorgeous copy off Amazon and to connect with the author, check out her website. This novel is a top favorite of mine this year. If you’ve also, read this novel I would love to discuss it.

Book Review · Books

Amelia Unabridged

Amelia’s life comes crashing down the day her dad leaves her and her mom for a younger woman. In her distress Amelia goes to the local bookstore to just window shop. In her glazed over pain she doesn’t notice Jenna until Jenna asks if she’d like to come in. Amelia discovers a true fellow book lover in Jenna when she offers to purchase a book for Amelia. This purchase tumbles them both into the exciting world of N.E. Endsley’s books.

With Jenna’s friendship comes a set of surrogate parents: Mark and Trisha. Jenna’s parents take Amelia into their lives in stride, treating her like the second daughter they never had. For their high school graduation gift they gift the girls tickets to a big book convention where their beloved author will be. They are so stoked to go on a trip out of state and BFF time as brand new adults.

The book convention ends up being a disappointment when N.E. Endsley’s time slot gets canceled. Amelia is crushed, hopping mad. The worst part is that while she was using the bathroom, Jenna gets to meet THAT author. Amelia has mixed emotions. Jealous doesn’t quite cover it.

After Jenna goes off on a trip overseas. Amelia misses her best friend. At least they have their college plans mapped out. Life can resume when Jenna gets back. Unfortunately Jenna comes back in a box. Amelia is thrown for a loop. Jenna was the captain to their BFF ship and now Amelia has to navigate their plans solo.

One day Amelia gets a call from the bookshop where Jenna used to work. A mysterious gift is waiting for Amelia. Who sent her this mystery gift? Inside is a limited fancy edition of their favorite book by their favorite author. Awkward thing is the local bookstore has no clue why this other bookstore shipped the book to their store instead of directly to Amelia. Was it Jenna’s surprise gift from the grave? Does this other bookstore have any clues? Amelia wants to find out.

This novel is my top favorite for 2020, so far. The characters come across like real life friends you want call up and hang out with. The depiction of grief is varied and true. This story is for those bookworms who have that one favorite author they squeal over at a book signings. This is for those that have that one nerdy best friend who understands their love of reading and actually enjoys reading by their side. This novel does have some magical realism in it. Other topics it tackles are social anxiety, death, people pleasing, family and what family loyalty looks like. I already want to reread this book, buy a physical copy when it comes out, so I can highlight my favorite lines and recommend it to all my book loving friends.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my full choice. This book is so magical, lovely, gut wrenching, perfect. For a devout novel I’ve discovered a new favorite author. Thank you Ashley Schumacher for writing this novel from the heart. It is a gift that will become a classic.