Posted in 4 paws, Review, women on February 13, 2018

Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction

Synopsis

A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice

At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.

When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.

Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.

Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.

Review

A very intense book that peeks into the life of several women that survive a sexual assault (on a college campus in this case) and what the gamut of emotions that they endure. Please note that the assault scenes are not graphic but are powerful.

Each of the three women, Lauren, Brooke, and Nikki, tell their story in their own way. All three stories intersect each other since they are on the same college campus. The women support each other against their perpetrator, Colin. They each feel guilt, remorse, and anger about the situation, and who could blame them? This story also reflects how the situation affects the parents, especially when it comes to Brooke. Her mother is very supportive, but her father blames her and perhaps it is his guilt for not being able to protect her while she is away at college.

While this is a horrible crime against the three, it does make each of them stronger in their own way. From standing up against Colin, to wanting to get more involved on campus and prevent this from happening to anyone else. This incident does not put the university in a good light, and I was angry at the Dean of Students and President for trying to sweep this under the rug just because Colin’s family is wealthy.

This story is well written and I had a hard time putting it down at times. It may be fiction but there is a lot of truth to the story and how it does happen more than we would probably like to admit on college campuses.

We give this 4 paws up

About the Author

The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.

My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.

As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It’s On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.

Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors’ Dawn.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

Ashley Warren is giving away a FREE Kindle copy of SURVIVORS’ DREAM!

Terms & Conditions:

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  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight March 30.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on March 31.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

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Posted in 3 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Review, romance, women on February 5, 2018

Book Title: Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies by Evy Journey
Category: Adult Fiction, 240 pages
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Release date: December 2017
Content Rating: R (Two bedroom scenes)

Synopsis

Cooking a wonderful meal is an act of love. An act of grace. A gift that affirms and gives life—not only does it nurture those who partake of a meal; it also feeds the soul of the person who creates it. These are lessons Gina learns from her mother.

Gina is a young woman born to poor parents; a nobody (her words) who wants to taste life outside the world she was born into and her passion for cooking is all she has to help her do so. She gets lucky when she’s chosen to cook at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where she finds a world of a privileged class with money to spare for dinners that cost hundreds of dollars. A world of new friends and new challenges—one that exposes her to fascinating people who’re also gripped by dark motives.

Amidst her culinary adventures, she becomes good friends with pastry chef Marcia, and falls in love, in different ways, with, two very different men: Leon, a rich regular client who has been dating Cristi, her friend from childhood, and Brent, a brooding homicide detective. This other world, it turns out, is also one of unexpected danger that eventually threatens her life.

Can the lessons she learned from her mother about cooking and life help Gina survive and thrive in this other world of privilege, pleasure and unexpected danger?

Review

This book is a mixture of romance, a little mystery, and food! All three are a good combination in my book.

This story follows Gina – from her involvement with Leon, a spoiled millionaire, to her attraction to Brent, a police detective, to her life as a chef/cook for a high-end restaurant. Her life hasn’t been easy and she even refers to her family as “white trash” because of where they live and her family life growing up as a child.

The story is fairly consistent in pace and tone. It was near the end that the action picked up as Gina was being targeted because of her relationship with Leon. The who was quite surprising but looking back, it was somewhat obvious by some of the conversations with this character.

Gina is talented and has a soft heart, but sometimes I thought she was naive. She is young, in her 20’s, and that could play a factor in her actions. It also made me wonder about her relationship choices. She did not want to become involved with Leon because of his playboy nature and his previous relationship with her childhood girlfriend, Cristi.

I do like that this story comes full circle and Gina is able to build a strong relationship with her family despite her childhood. I don’t want to give away too much, but her mother is able to find some peace even though tragedy struck her family when she was a young child. This tragedy carried forward and is most likely part of the reason Gina felt the way she did about her family.

We give this 3 paws up.

About the Author

Evy Journey, writer, wannabe artist, and flâneuse (feminine of flâneur), wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

Giveaway

Prizes: Win an ebook copy of Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies. One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card (21 winners total / open internationally to wherever Amazon delivers)

(Ends Feb 24, 2018)

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on January 22, 2018

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Synopsis

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Chapters-Indigo ~ Powell’s

Praise for Degrees of Love

​”Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”
– Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

Review

While the concept behind marriages has not changed, the role of each individual in that marriage is in a state of flux. No longer are roles defined by gender and marriages have become a true partnership. But what happens when one of the individuals wants something different? Or what if one is not happy with the other? Or finds what they are looking for from another? That is what this book brings to the table.

Adultery is not a new concept, it has been around since the beginning, but why do some people seek out something more than what they already have at home? In this debut novel by author Lisa Slabach, she allows us inside the marriage of Matt and Susan. They met in graduate school and couldn’t have been more different. Susan is artistic and Matt is scientific, but something still sparked between the two. Time has gone on, there are children, but things are the not same as they were all those years ago. The picture that is painted of Matt is not a pretty one. He wants her home more and to be the more traditional wife and mother. His words and actions did not sit well with me as the reader. I saw it as being narrow-minded and selfish to expect Susan to give up everything for him and the children. Susan, while a strong and fiercely independent woman, is torn between what she wants from life and doing what others expect. Enter Reese. He is Susan’s new boss and he is bewitched by Susan and wants her all to himself with no regard for her marriage.

I’m sure as you can imagine, this story is not going to end well for anyone. It is hard to have an affair and expect to get away with it long term. But what I found as the story progressed is that love comes in many forms and fashions and who is anyone to say what is right or wrong other than those involved?

There are various points in the book where Matt, Susan, and Reese are all cast in positive and negative lights. No one character is right or wrong at all times…they all share the blame for how the relationships evolve and I did feel differently for each character at different points in the book.

The book moved along at a pretty steady pace but really picked up near the end when the affair between Susan and Reese is uncovered by Matt. Emotions are running high and I wondered how the author was going to resolve this issue. I enjoyed the epilogue because it really brought the story full circle and answered any unanswered questions in my mind.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: ​ Win a signed copy of Degrees of Love or a $25 Amazon Gift Card (5 winners, open int’l to wherever Amazon delivers)

(ends Feb 7, 2018)

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery, women on November 28, 2017

Hunting Hour: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
Mystery/Police Procedurals/Woman Sleuths
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (August 8, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages

Synopsis

Deputy Mattie Cobb is in a dark place and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to work on issues from her past. When she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student, they find the girl dead on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, and Mattie must head to the Walker home to break the bad news. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing—and this time it’s one of Cole’s daughters.

Knowing that each hour a child remains missing lessens the probability of finding her alive, Mattie and Robo lead the hunt while Cole and community volunteers join in to search everywhere. To no avail. It seems that someone has snatched all trace of the Walker girl from their midst, including her scent. Grasping at straws, Mattie and Robo follow a phoned-in tip into the dense forest, where they hope to find a trace of the girl’s scent and to rescue her alive. But when Robo does catch her scent, it leads them to information that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case.

Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down the kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series.

Booksamillion * Indiebound

Guest Post

THE VALUE OF SEARCH AND RESCUE DOGS

By Margaret Mizushima

 

Throughout the past thirty-five years, my veterinarian husband and I have shared our lives with a pack of dogs. When our children were young, we decided to train two of our dogs in search and rescue. A tragic event in our community precipitated this decision.

We live in an agricultural area nestled against the foothills of the rugged Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. The mountains to the west offer scenic pleasure in the form of river rafting, fishing, hiking, and picnicking for locals as well as tourists from all over the country. Countless families spend weekends and vacations on the river or hiking in the forests without incident, but family fun can turn deadly when a loved one, and especially a child, strays from the group and becomes lost.

In 1978, soon after our older daughter was born, a ten-year-old boy disappeared while hiking with his parent on the Gray Rock Trail in the Cache la Poudre Canyon north of Fort Collins. The media reported that this child and the adults he was hiking with made it to the top of the trail and had turned around to head back downhill. The boy asked if he could go ahead and meet them below. After gaining permission, he hurried ahead on his own. When the rest of his party arrived at the trailhead, he wasn’t there. Trace of him has never been found, and he remains missing to this day.

People speculate that this child misread the twists and turns of the trail, became lost in the wilderness, and subsequently perished. Others believe that he was kidnapped and taken far from his family and our community. His family erected a memorial for him at the Gray Rock trailhead, and I stop each time before hiking there to say a prayer for him and his family.

Sometime after our second daughter was born, we decided to head for the mountains to camp on summer weekends when we could take time away from the vet clinic. Memories of this devastating event motivated us to train at least one of our dogs in search and rescue, primarily so that we would have the option of our own dog tracking our child immediately if necessary. We joined a search and rescue training group, taking our Rottweiler, Ilsa, and our Austrailian shepherd, Jessie.

Wow, the things we learned! This is where I learned the value of using water to moisten mucous membranes to enhance scenting ability as well as how to combine the search and rescue equipment with the activity involved. At first, the dogs were allowed to play and socialize, but as soon as search harnesses came out, the tone became serious. You could observe which dogs caught onto this over time and which ones struggled to switch off the urge to tussle with the other dogs.

Dog owners themselves laid down the scent trail, keeping it very short in the beginning and then following a training protocol to increase the difficulty in incremental steps as the dog advanced through the stages. Once the scent trail was set, the dog owner would hide, and the group leader would set the dog onto the track. The best reward in the world is finding someone you love at the end of the track, and dogs did a happy dance as they joyously reconnected with their “lost” owners. Gradually, strangers were substituted for owners, and that joyful response still carried over at the end of each search.

Thankfully, we never needed to use our dogs to search for lost children, but our entire family, kids included, enjoyed those months of training and reinforcement of search skills. Due to job commitments and time constraints, neither my husband nor I were able to join the county search and rescue team ourselves, but we gained a new respect for the level of dedication and fitness required of these volunteers.

In those days, I had no idea that someday I would write a mystery series that featured a German shepherd K-9 with search and rescue skills. It’s safe to say that this experience helped set the stage for the creation of K-9 Robo and his handler Deputy Mattie Cobb, and I invite you to join me in their adventures.

About the Author

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, which includes Killing Trail (Crooked Lane Books, 2015) nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice award for best first mystery, Stalking Ground (Crooked Lane Books, 2016) a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards mystery category, and Hunting Hour (Crooked Lane Books, 2017). She has a background in speech pathology and practiced in an acute care hospital before establishing her own rehabilitation agency. Currently, she balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. She enjoys reading and hiking, and she lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

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November 24 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 24 – Because I said so – Adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

November 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 26 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

November 27 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

November 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

November 29 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST

November 30 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW

December 3 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW

December 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in 4 paws, Review, Romantic Comedy, women on November 7, 2017

Synopsis

Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

Review

What do you do when you don’t want your parents involved in your personal life? You take a pretend boyfriend home for the holidays….because we all know that is going to work, right? Wrong! Even worse? It might be your childhood crush dating the woman who has proposed swapping boyfriends.

I’m not sure that I would have ever thought to do something like this, but then I don’t have the family situations that Sidney and Robyn have that they think that swapping boyfriends is a good idea. The funny thing is that maybe this was a good idea and perhaps neither was dating the right person.

I identified with both Sidney and Robyn. Sidney for her controlling manner and hiding her feelings and protecting her heart. And Robyn, for her crazy creative side with a heart of gold. Then there are the guys – Perry (Robyn’s boyfriend) who is a wannabe actor but not serious about anything in life; and Will, Sidney’s boyfriend but Robyn’s childhood crush and is that crush dead or will it come back while spending several days together? You will find out when you read the book!

This story made me laugh, shake my head and even get a little misty at the end. It was a great culmination of everything that I like to see in a book. This author writes some great romantic comedies and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related e-mails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling write chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single status. Meredith is also the co-founder of Bookbuzz, a live author/reader event held annually. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner.

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, Review, Romantic Comedy, women on October 27, 2017

THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH HOLLENBECK

by

BETHANY TURNER

  Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Publisher: Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 304

Scroll down for giveaway!

Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that’s obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she’s made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she’s chosen. She’s still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she’s not sure she can write anymore. She’s beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a “scandalous” book. And the fact that she’s falling in love with her pastor doesn’t make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn’t afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life.

Praise

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck is a rare treat packed with humor, hope, and heart. Sarah’s struggles are real and nearly tangible, and she feels like a friend we’ve all had. I laughed with her and fell in love alongside her and couldn’t wait to hear her whole story. What a charming, delightful book!”  Liz Johnson, bestselling author of The Red Door Inn

 

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Baker Book House   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Christianbook.com   iBooks   Kobo

Lifeway   Books-A-Million

Every now and then you just want to read a book that is light-hearted and fun. This book fills the bill. But don’t think that there is not a message in the book, there is if you look deep enough – that you can change your life and become a better person. Ok, so that sounds like many books, but in this case, Sarah goes from being a kept wife (for lack of a better description) to divorced to author of steamy books to a born again Christian and Christian Romance novel writer.

I liked this book but felt like Sarah was very self absorbed. It seemed like it was all me-me-me. She has a best friend Piper that she met through a book club (and how was actually quite comical), but we don’t really know anything about Piper other than she is a Christian and loves to read. She is always there for Sarah but don’t recall a time when Sarah is there for Piper. Perhaps there will be a book from Piper’s viewpoint and her life?

As self absorbed as I thought Sarah was, she was a character that was in continual development. She had to figure out how to restart her life after divorce. Then she becomes a famous author over night of some steamy romances (think 50 Shades) and then attends a church with Piper and decides to become a Christian (I think she always was but maybe more aware and dedicated?) overnight. Then she meets Ben, the new pastor of her church, and it is like fate has stepped in to push them together despite many roadblocks that arise.

Overall an enjoyable read and I had many LOL moments. It was the perfect book to read at the time, escapism but a little reality too.

We give this 4 paws up.

Bethany Turner is the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former VP/operations manager of a commercial bank and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

Grand Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter tote bag + a typewriter notebook + Columbia Jo’s coffee + Novel Teas teabags

2nd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + a typewriter hardcover journal + typewriter enamel lapel pin

3rd Prize: Copy of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

October 19-October 28, 2017

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

19-Oct Author Interview Forgotten Winds
20-Oct Guest Post #1 Margie’s Must Reads
21-Oct Review Texan Girl Reads
22-Oct Deleted Scene Reading by Moonlight
23-Oct Review A Page Before Bedtime
24-Oct Guest Post #2 Texas Book Lover
25-Oct Review Tangled in Text
26-Oct Playlist Books in the Garden
27-Oct Review StoreyBook Reviews
28-Oct Character Interview Books and Broomsticks

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Posted in excerpt, romance, Spotlight, women on October 26, 2017

The highly anticipated and epic conclusion to the Chasing Red duology

THE RIVETING CONCLUSION TO RED AND CALEB’S EPIC STORY
Veronica “Red” Strafford’s painful past has made trusting Caleb Lockhart difficult. But Red might have pushed Caleb away one too many times…

I want you to fight for me. Just as I fought for you. But you wouldn’t.
I stood there, staring after him, tears pouring down my face.

 

Chasing Red Duology:

Chasing Red (Book 1)

Always Red (Book 2)

Buy the Book

Excerpt

We were back at the beach. It was past midnight, and the place was deserted, as if it had been waiting for us all day.

As if it had been waiting for this moment.

We lay on the sand, on the same blanket he’d brought when he took us here the very first time. It seemed like a long time ago. Before, he would have reached for my hand, threading his fingers through mine.

Not this time.

I turned onto my side so I could look at Caleb. His eyes were closed. The breeze blew a lock of his bronze hair against his forehead, and I wanted to brush it back so badly.

“I miss you, Caleb.”

He didn’t respond. His eyes remained closed, but I knew he heard me because I saw his breath catch in his chest.

I had hurt him badly, and he was probably still angry at me. He must hate me, but I would rather have that than a cold shoulder.

I needed to explain. I needed to tell him what I really felt.

I took a deep breath, gathering courage. “All my life I had to work hard to get the things I wanted. To reach the places I needed to be. I had to be strong—stronger than most people. Because I had to be. I shut out everyone. And why not?”

I rolled onto my back and looked up to the dark velvet sky, at the bright half-moon and the stars glittering like diamonds. It was so beautiful, so peaceful with the sound of the lapping waves. But a storm was brewing inside me.

“People are selfish,” I continued. “They always want something from you, and when they get it, they leave. So I never let anyone in. But then…I met you. You made me feel. You made me want things that I never allowed myself to want before. And it scared me. It scared me so much. So I didn’t trust you. I didn’t allow myself to. Every time I felt myself getting close to you, I pulled away.”

“Why?” he asked, his voice low and quiet. “Because…because it hurts to hope for the impossible. How can someone like you want to know someone like me? All I have is a suitcase of sad stories and a broken heart. My walls are high and impossible to break down, and I won’t let anyone in. But I felt your warmth…seeping through the cracks. How did you know where to find me?” My voice broke. “No one else ever worked to find me, Caleb. No one else stayed long enough to even try”—I felt a tear slide down my cheek— “until you.”

I sat up, pulling my legs close to my chest and burying my face in my arms. I felt him sit up and move closer to me.

“I didn’t trust what you felt for me,” I admitted. “I was scared. I kept waiting for you to disappoint me. Everyone else did. And I think that…that…somehow there’s something wrong with me. Something missing. That I’m not enough to make you stay, that somehow, someday you’re going to get bored with me and leave.” I sobbed. “All my life, my dad told me it was my fault. That I was the reason for all the bad things…” I swallowed. I didn’t want to talk about him. I didn’t even know why I’d mentioned him.

“I wish he was in front of me so I could hurt him,” Caleb said. “More than he hurt you.”

I heard the anger in his voice. He paused for a moment, and I could hear him breathing slowly, trying to calm himself. When he spoke again, his voice had softened.

“Red,” he whispered. “Do you know how I felt when you left me?”

I lifted my head and looked into his eyes. The emotion I saw in them—the intensity and the tenderness—filled my throat.

“I felt ruined. You ruined me. There is anger, but every time I see you, my anger fades away. And there is pain, but what is love without pain? Because, Red, every time you break me apart, you put me back together. And I always come out better than before. So.” He cupped my face, stroking my cheek with his thumb. “Ruin me.”

 

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Posted in 5 paws, Review, women on September 10, 2017

Synopsis

Ellie Pringle has spent endless hours and countless dollars working with a therapist to remember the lost years of her childhood. She’s baffled and more than a little intrigued when the grandmother she hasn’t seen in thirty-four years dies and leaves her a fortune. The time has come to face her past in person. Still reeling from a recent breakup of a long-term relationship, and with nothing to keep her in San Francisco, Ellie packs her meager belongings and boards a plane for the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Standing in the entryway of her grandmother’s antebellum home on South Battery Street in Charleston, Ellie faces the first of many ghosts who will soon haunt her. On her first night in the creepy, creaking mansion, as she’s perusing the titles in a dusty bookcase, she comes across her deceased mother’s leather-bound journal. Her mother’s words create more unanswered questions and send her on a quest to find more journals. As Hurricane Irma bears down on the South Carolina coast, Ellie encounters Julian Hagood, a handsome architect who has the talent to restore her dilapidated mansion and the charm to mend her broken heart. But as Ellie reads her mother’s diaries, they dislodge a stone in the wall that safeguards her memories, causing her world to come crumbling down. Revelations about her childhood lead Ellie on a harrowing journey of discovery that will hold readers spellbound until the dramatic conclusion.

Review

I love love love Ashley’s books and this one is no exception. I think I heard this will be a series (or at least a 2nd book) which I am glad of because there is so much more to the story that hasn’t been told yet.

This book is about learning about the past and coming to terms with it, finding love and strengthening family. There is even a little bit of action and mystery – a very well rounded book.

This book also reminded me of Flowers in the Attic with the strict grandmother and her actions and comments to her daughter and granddaughter.

Ellie has inherited the estate from the crazy grandmother. She has mixed feelings, as anyone would, about the house and everything else. But it is also cathartic because she knows she is repressing something but isn’t sure what. You do find out but not giving it away, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The book does leave you hanging a little bit because Ellie’s story is not complete and there are some other things that are revealed that need to be addressed more fully. Yes I know it is vague but has to be to not spoil part of the story.

We give it 5 paws up.

About the Author

Ashley FarleyAshley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

HER SISTER’S SHOES—June 2015—is a women’s novel that proves the healing power of family. Merry Mary—October 2015—a holiday novella, a young woman longing for a child stumbles upon a Christmas miracle. BREAKING THE STORY released on March 17, 2016. A romantic political suspense filled with passion, peril, and a scandal that will rock American politics.

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Posted in 5 paws, Giveaway, Review, women on August 12, 2017

COMFORT PLANS

by

KIMBERLY FISH

  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Date of Publication: May 23, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

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Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.

As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.

Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.

Praise

“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” –Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address

The author knows how to weave a tale and this book is a wonderful mix of romance, history and a splash of mystery.

I truly enjoyed this book because it is set in Texas near San Antonio which is rich in history that we don’t hear about very often. At the end of most chapters there is a letter from Colin to Laki and these letters give us a peek into what life was like for this couple and the trials they were going through.

Colette has had an interesting life that is set out throughout the book – from a divorce at a young age, to her grandfather wanting her to take over the architectural firm, to her own insecurities about what she can and cannot do, or so she thinks.

Enter Beau – a talented builder that has his own take on life..and Colette! Let’s just say there are some fireworks with their chemistry. But as with most books, both Beau and Colette have some baggage they have to deal with so that they can establish a relationship. There are quite a few funny moments as they deal with family and some others…I was definitely chuckling!

Nathan, Colette’s Grandfather, seems to be acting strangely especially when he let’s Colette know that since she won’t run the family company that he is hiring Julian – her ex-husband. This action has Colette wondering about her grandfather’s mental state especially when Julian starts taking the company in directions they probably shouldn’t be going. There is a LOT more to this story but you’ll have to read the book to find out because that would be a huge spoiler. But it does help Colette learn who she wants to be in this life and strengthens ties with her family.

The story that is woven in the pages is engaging and it was hard for me to put the book down.

We give it 5 paws up


Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch. She lives with her family in East Texas.

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7/31 Excerpt 1 Books in the Garden
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8/12 Review StoreyBook Reviews
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Posted in excerpt, romance, women on July 9, 2017

THE CORNER OFFICE

by Katerina Baker

Publication Date: 23 Jun 2017

Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Issues

Synopsis

Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.

Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.

But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her.

Excerpt

I sauntered to the elevator with my well-practiced “confident” walk, stretched my arm to push the button—

And my high-heeled sandal slipped.

My knee gave in, and I grabbed onto the first thing I could reach to prevent me from the total embarrassment of ending up on the floor in front of everyone. I turned to thank the helpful soul…and came face-to-face with Richard and a lazy twist of his lips settled in the corner of his mouth. I continued to squeeze his arm and my chest brushed his side. But it was more than that; he placed his other arm on my lower back to support me, and I felt a slight tug. The bastard pulled me closer to him in front of everyone watching and my space was suddenly invaded by the scent of his cologne. By Richard.

My insides tightened, and my lips pained as I was still trying to keep them in a semblance of a smile in front of everyone.

“You okay there?” he asked, his expression no less mocking than it was earlier. “You seem flustered. I understand. You finally get to see my place.”

The following moment was the testament to the long road that got me to that point in my career. All the brutal hours I’d slaved in the office, the hard work, missing friends’ events because of last-minute urgent assignments, working through my own birthdays—it all came down to that. My self-control to not kill Richard when every inch of my body believed spending the next twenty years in prison would be well worth it.

I smiled into his snake-green eyes, pushed his arm away and stepped into the elevator. Just as the doors closed separating us, as he thankfully decided to stay with the next group, I managed to think of an appropriate response. But it was too late.

About the Author

Katerina Baker is a lucky gal who still attempts to have it all: full-time project management job that she enjoys, crazy family of four (with the ongoing threats of getting a pet to upset the family equilibrium) and writing.

Although on some days she is much more successful at managing her life than on the others, she still claims that she doesn’t want it any other way.

Katerina is represented by Sharon Belcastro from Belcastro Agency, and has a contract with Lachesis Publishing, who will be publishing her Romantic Suspense novel Under the Scrubs.

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