#BookTour & #BookReview: Teetering on Disaster: A Memoir by Michaela Renee Johnson

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: May 7, 2009

Summary:

“It was 1992 when her father saw the economic collapse coming, he had two choices, the rough path or the easy path, and he chose the rough one…” Dad began. Then I interrupted, “DAD, ITS MY MEMOIR ” And then my Mom piped in and yelled, “OH MY GOD I RAISED A BUNCH OF NARCISSISTS ” Let’s try again… Meet Michaela: she’s the girl next door–except that “next door” happens to be a 27-foot 5th Wheel Trailer with no electricity or running water in the Sierra Nevada’s. At 17 she sets out to take on the world, but 10 years later, she finds herself right back where she started…in a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry -sometimes at the same time- as she stumbles upon a few Mr. Right Now’s and other adventures on her quest to find love and uncover the girl she always was but had lost somewhere along the way. Join ‘Crazy Kayla’ and her nutty cast of characters for a little muddy-path Rock Crawlin’ through the true story of how her American Dream survives and thrives, in the face of life’s inconveniences and heartbreaking setbacks that sometimes leave her Teetering on Disaster.

Review:

What an emotional journey !!!

Michaela Renee Johnson has written a powerful page-turning memoir with “Teetering on Disaster”.

Kayla had such a rough complex start to life with so many turns along her heart wrenching journey. I wondered what else could possibly happen and then something else always did!

There were so many inspirational quotes that we should remember as we travel through our lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and definitely recommend it.

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: What She Found by Emerald O’Brien

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: March 26, 2020

Summary:

It was supposed to be the perfect getaway, but a knock at the door could ruin their lives.

After her recent separation, Tabitha Weaver is holding her life together by a thread. Luckily, her six closest friends have the perfect cure for heartbreak: a weekend in the countryside complete with relaxation, a blind date, and all the wine she can handle.

But it isn’t long before their night at the secluded rental house goes sour. The drinks flow a little too freely and lingering tensions arise before they’re interrupted by frantic knocking at the door. The stranger claims to have been in an accident, and though her head is bleeding, she refuses to let them call an ambulance.

With Tabitha distracted by her new beau, another friend leaving to check out the scene of the accident, and the rest of the group busy feuding, they lose track of the stranger’s whereabouts. It isn’t until she wakes up with a hangover that Tabitha finds a note on her dresser: Don’t stop until you find it.

Tabitha disregards the note, and the evening, and returns home believing the weekend is behind her. But when the strange woman is reported missing, the police start circling—the group must reexamine their accounts of what happened that night. And the discrepancies in their stories cannot be overlooked. It doesn’t help that the police have discovered clues to suggest foul play.

As the evidence mounts against them, loyalties are tested. Tabitha is desperate to find the truth about what happened to the woman.

Which of her friends is lying? Who can she trust?

A gripping psychological suspense for fans of Kiersten Modglin, Meghan O’Flynn, and Abigail Haas. If you liked Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, you’ll love What She Found.

Review:

WOW!!!!!

Emerald O’Brien has written an action packed, powerful mystery with “What She Found”.

I was literally on the edge of my seat waiting anxiously to find out whodunnit…… of course I was wrong…….

The friendship between this group of friends was complicated and so many deep deceptive secrets showed up throughout the novel!!!

There were so many twists in here that I was literally shaking my head at the end and actually read the ending twice!!!! I had to let it sink in and was just “wowed” again!!!!

I would highly recommend that you read this haunting page turner – you will not be disappointed.

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Lines We Cross (Nickel Bay Brothers #1) by Marika Ray

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: March 19, 2020

Summary:

Small towns were made for second chances…even if it’s your best friend’s sister.

Skylar Rae
I’m getting by just fine on my own when the boy who stole my heart and ran away twelve years ago shows up in town again. He’s a big shot baseball player now, needing my help to rehab his knee. If he’d just lay off the flirting and the dimples he throws with each grin, I might be able to do my job. Good thing I’m not dumb enough to fall for him a second time.

Max
I promised my best friend I would never make a move on his little sister. I kept that promise—if you don’t count that one kiss senior year—but now that we’re adults and I’m moving back home, all bets are off. Skylar Rae isn’t the same person I knew twelve yearsago and neither am I. It’ll take a lot more healing than I expected to see if she and I can cross that line again.

Review:

Marika Ray has written a heartfelt and touching romance with “Lines We Cross”.

This is the first novel in the Nickel Bay Brothers Series.

The relationship between Skylar and Max had both its good and difficult moments.

The character development for all of the brothers along with Skylar and Max was fantastic.

Nickel Bay seems like the perfect little town to either visit or live in.

This was a fun and entertaining novel that kept me wanting to turn the page all the way to the end.

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: The Mother-in-Law by Kiersten Modglin

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Reviewer: Serena Soape

Date of Release: March 17, 2020

Summary:

There’s something strange about Loren’s new mother-in-law…

When Loren meets Jack, she’s sure he’s the man she’s been waiting for—a perfect husband and a father for her young daughter. Shortly after their wedding, their plans to start a life together are put on hold when the couple receives word that Jack’s father has died.

In an effort to appease her new husband, Loren invites her mother-in-law, Coralee, to stay with them while she grieves. When strange things begin to occur just after her arrival, Loren questions how much she knows about the woman she invited into her home.

One calculated move after the next, Coralee attempts to drive a wedge between Loren and her new husband. Jack believes his mother’s strange behavior is just further proof she needs their help, but Loren isn’t so sure. As Coralee’s actions become increasingly sinister, Loren is pushed to her breaking point and she realizes she must do whatever it takes to get rid of her mother-in-law for good.

What she doesn’t know about her new family could kill her…

Review:

I was totally and utterly shocked by Kiersten Modglin with her page-turning novel “The Mother In Law”.

The beginning was mysterious and draws you in instantly.

The twists in this novel were unexpected but that is one of Kiersten’s talents and she did not disappoint with this one.

The complex relationship between Loren and Jack was intriguing. Coralee the mother-in-law was powerful and intense.

I would absolutely recommend this; as well as, her other books.

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

4 Stars.

#BookTour: A Dog’s Hope by Casey Wilson

8297BD5E-C091-45C4-B34A-F9312C2EC61BTitle:  A Dog’s Hope

 

Publication Day: March 6th  2020

 

Author:   Casey Wilson  

 

Buy  Links:       

Amazon: https://geni.us/B083XYXMLKSocial

Apple: https://apple.co/2u41lyH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2FYLp3f 

Google: http://bit.ly/2RweWa6

 

Description:

There are some things in life that only a dog can teach you.

A poignant, heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting novel about the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s PurposeThe Art of Racing in the Rain and Marley and Me.

In the farming town of Riverside in Washington, Toby Fuller is feeling more alone than ever. Nothing Toby did was ever good enough for his father, but he never expected his father to leave, to abandon him and his mother forever. He loses hope, until a scruffy golden retriever called Buddy follows him home from school.

Though he’s struggling to walk, Buddy matches Toby step for step, never taking his eyes off him, as if Toby is all he needs in the world. And from that day on Buddy never leaves Toby’s side.

Buddy shows Toby a loyalty that he has never known. But then disaster strikes and Toby’s life is changed forever. Will Buddy be able to give Toby the strength he needs to carry on?

A tale of how unconditional love can bound into your life when you least expect it, giving you hope in the darkest of times.

 

770FB7EA-F696-4EF2-AA4B-121F4A24BCE0Review:

By Serena Soape

Ahhhhh- Not only was this a beautiful cover, but a truly poignant story written on the pages between……so moving and emotionally stirring!

Casey Wilson has written a totally heart and gut wrenching novel with “A Dog’s Hope”.

Buddy was such a loyal companion to Toby and is with him through it all. I loved watching their relationship grow.

I read the last couple chapters through tears as it touched me very deeply.

I absolutely recommend this page turner! You will not want to put it down!

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

5 Stars.

Review:

By Annie Horsky McDonnell

Written with all of the things you can’t buy; but, all of the emotions you can feel, “A Dog’s Hope” by Casey Wilson touches on a lot the hardships we deal with in life with grace…often seen through the eyes of a dog named, Buddy.

Such a captivating tale! So moving and touching!

The relationship between Buddy and his person are full of such love, it is beautiful.

This intensity can sometimes even hurt immeasurably.

It’s surprising what is on the other side of that pain.

Hope.

This is a story to wrap yourself up with!

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

5 Stars.

68CE303A-F198-45A0-BDBB-59175A855443Author Bio:

Casey Wilson is the author of A Dog’s Hope, published with Bookouture.

Born and raised in the United States in Nevada, she is the owner of a gorgeous golden retriever, who may or may not have inspired the dogs in her novels.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaseyWilsonAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaseyWilsonAuth

 

 

#BookReview: The Ruby of the Sea by Peggy Lampman

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Book Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: February 5, 2020

Summary:

From the award-winning author of The Promise Kitchen comes a riveting new story of twin sisters caught in their mother’s crosshairs on what to do about their disturbed younger sister.

Lush with devastating secrets, lies, romance and psychological drama…”You tell me about a family without a certain amount of dysfunction, and I’ll tell you that family is lying.”

After aimlessly traveling the country for fifteen years, Linnea Chandler returns to her hometown of Key West, Florida keeping the genesis of a life-altering phobia to herself—not a good idea, as she comes to find out. The 19th Century lighthouse that she, her parents and two sisters call home also has a troubled past, carrying the frightening myth that eerily mirrors the mystery of her younger sister today. Should Linnea run while she can?

The women must decide to what extremes they are willing to go to protect their secrets. Ignore the brutality behind the retrieval of spoils from a fatal shipwreck in 1857? Defy a 2017 hurricane threatening to pummel their town? And when their world is upended, do the women have the strength to move forward?

Review:

Every once in a while I read a story that hits home for me in a lot of ways! “The Ruby of the Sea” is that story!

Peggy Lampman wrote a remarkable novel full of soul-stirring and poignant moments that touched my heart, bringing every emotion to the surface. I literally felt every sentiment pulling from my soul. My senses were heightened! There was no holding back!

Peggy Lampman wrote about family, and all of its fabrications with an evocative insightfulness. Happiness was almost enchanting! Feral Chickens. History, Magical! A gorgeous 19th century lighthouse. Even each crack was written about beautifully! Mental illness and it’s acceptance. Each word leading to the next; like a poem, a love letter. A perfectly planned execution, like a lyrical dance!

There was a piece of me in each character. Between that and Peggy Lampman’s writing, I was left with a sense of awe and appreciation when I closed the book.

Staring at it’s beautiful cover, knowing the Chandler family had left their mark and I was left better for knowing their story! and, no review I write can express my love for this book and my gratitude!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: Diamonds, Teak, and Murder (Crystal Coast Cases #1) & Lenses, Lust, and Murder (Crystal Coast Cases #2) by A.M. Ialacci

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Lenses, Lust, and Murder Date of Release: January 6, 2020

Summary:

When Allie Fox became a private investigator, she envisioned herself solving crimes and keeping her hometown of Carteret County a safe place. Instead, to her great regret, she’s found herself trailing cheating husbands and tracking check kiters. All that changes when her autistic brother, Ryan, discovers a body near the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Now, Allie is diving headfirst into the investigation.

Everyone in town loved the victim, or so they’re saying. Yet Allie soon discovers many at the Cape have shocking secrets they would kill to keep hidden. As she closes in on the truth, a frightening attempt is made on her life. Can she unravel the clues to reveal the murderer’s identity before becoming their next victim?

Review:

I was absolutely intrigued by “Lenses, Lust & Murder”!! A.M. Ialacci drew a stunning landscape right from the start. The trip climbing up the lighthouse and its view were breathtaking!! Too bad there was a dead body at the end of it!!

Then the island was so fired up with excitement as the ferry came in with the FBI Agents, and the local agents arrived to both work with Allie Fox and bring a special “something” for Allie’s brother!

A genius Set-Up! Intense! This was a story I knew I was going to dig my teeth into!

The novel sustained its intensity right through to the very last alarming twist!

A.M. Ialacci is a force to be reckoned with in the Mystery Genre. I hope there are a lot more stories with Allie as our female sleuth!

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

5 Stars.

Diamonds, Teak, & Murder Date of Release: August 1st, 2019

Summary:

Upon the sudden deaths of her parents in a car accident, credit fraud investigator Allie Fox traded her fast-paced life in Chicago for a boatyard bookkeeping job in sleepy Carteret County, North Carolina. It is a huge transition, especially as she is now the sole caregiver for her younger autistic brother. But when the yard foreman mysteriously ends up dead at work, she can’t resist being pulled into the mystery.

Plenty of people had reason to want Ty Guthrie dead, but he had been kind to her as a kid, and even the sheriff’s department thinks there may have been foul play. Despite the possibility of alienating all of her co-workers and risking her livelihood, Allie becomes a consultant on the case to discover the murderer in their midst.

The deeper she digs, the more secrets she unravels, and the killer turns his sights on her, and even worse, her brother. At odds with law enforcement and the DA while a massive hurricane bears down on the coast, the only thing that matters is that her brother is in danger. With everything to lose and time running out, it’s up to Allie alone to stop the killer, or die trying.

Review:

Reading “Diamonds, Teaks & Murder” was truly riveting! I read it ridiculously fast!

This is a second impressive murder mystery written by A.M. Ialacci!

I loved being introduced to another one of her protagonists!  A.M. Ialacci truly gets you invested!  It was fun to be back  after reading her first book, “Sight in the Dark”.

Allie Fox was just as unstoppable at finding answers, as I was in finishing her story!

I was so wrapped up in her livelihood, and that of her brother; that I had to know what the outcome was going to be…and….What a surprise it was!!

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

4 Stars.

#BlogTour – The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

82098BEB-CD11-493F-A87F-5A31F92B9155The Grace Kelly Dress : A Novel

Brenda Janowitz

On Sale Date: March 3, 2020

9781525804595, 1525804596

Trade Paperback

$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD

Fiction / Contemporary Women

336 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: http://www.brendajanowitz.com/

Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz

Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz

Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/241404.Brenda_Janowitz

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Indie Bound

Harlequin Trade Publishing

Books-A-Million

Kobo

Review:

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Brenda Janowitz took us on a deeply sincere and contemplative journey in her generational sweeping novel “The Grace Kelly Dress”.

It was truly sentimental, touching, and inspirational! I love books that wrap stories of friendship, love and family around a cherished item. This was magnificent! We forget how important our wedding dresses are to us, and what they symbolize. Thank you for this sincere and beautiful reminder.

As I was reading I was so full of nostalgia for my wedding dress…sitting in a box, carefully preserved, as Joan’s was so that it stays in pristine condition; to pass it down to a loved one.

Now I must decide my wedding dresses adventure!! It’s time.

5 Stars.


Excerpt:

The mother of the bride, as a bride herself
Long Island, 1982

She loved the dress. She loved the veil that went with it, too, though she wasn’t sure if it could be salvaged. It was showing signs of age, its edges curling and tinged with brown. But that wouldn’t dull her excitement.

Today was the day she would be trying on her mother’s wedding dress. Even though Joanie had tried it on countless times as a child—it was a favorite rainy-day activity with her mother—today felt different. She was engaged, just like she’d dreamed about ever since she could remember. When she tried the dress on this time, it was for keeps. She was completely in love with the dress.

“Let me help you get it on,” Joanie’s mother said, her French accent coming through. It was always more pronounced when she was feeling emotional. With her American friends, Joanie noticed, her mother always tried to sound “American,” softening her accent and using American expressions. But when they were alone, she could be herself. Let her guard down. Joanie knew exactly who her mother was, and she loved her for it.

Her mother handed Joanie a pair of white cotton gloves and then put on her own set. The first step in trying the dress on, always, so that the oils in their hands wouldn’t defile the fabric. She laid the large box on her bed and nodded her head at her husband, her signal to give them privacy. The door closed to Joanie’s childhood bedroom, and she and her mother were alone.

The white cotton gloves were cool and smooth on her skin. Joanie opened the box slowly. So slowly. It was sealed with a special plastic that was supposed to keep it airtight so that the dress would not oxidize and turn yellow. She and her mother laughed as they struggled to set the dress free. The last time she tried the dress on was the summer before her sister died. It was after Michele’s death that her mother brought the dress into the city so that it might be cleaned properly and preserved for just this day. At the time, Joanie hadn’t understood the connection between her sister’s sudden death and her mother’s tight grip on family heirlooms, but now, a year into her psychology degree at NYC University, she understood. It was so hard to hold on to things that were important to you, things that mattered, and preserving her wedding dress, this memory, was her mother’s way of taking control of something. It was something she could save.

The dress was just as beautiful as she’d remembered. Crafted from rose point lace, the same lace used on Grace Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, it was delicate and classic and chic and a million other things Joanie couldn’t even articulate.

“Go on,” her mother said, holding the first part of the dress—the bodice with the attached underbodice, skirt support, and slip—out for her to take. As a child, it had thrilled Joanie to no end that the wedding dress her mother wore was actually made up of four separate pieces. It was like a secret that a bride could have on her special day, something that no one else knew.

“I couldn’t,” Joanie said, hands at her side. Knowing how carefully preserved the dress had been, what the dress had meant to her mother, it was hard for Joanie to touch it. She didn’t want to get it dirty, sully its memory. “It’s just so beautiful.”

“It’s yours now,” her mother said, smiling warmly. “The dress belongs to you. Put it on.”

Joanie kicked off her ballerina flats, and her mother helped her ease the bodice on. Joanie stood at attention as her mother snapped the skirt into place, and wrapped the cummerbund around her waist. Joanie held her hands high above her head, not wanting to get in the way of her mother’s expert hands, hands that knew exactly where to go, fingers that knew exactly what to do.

“You ready in there, Birdie?” her father yelled from the hallway, impatient, his French accent just as strong as the day he left France. Joanie always loved how her father had a special nickname for her mother. When they first married, he would call her mother GracieBird, a nickname of Grace Kelly’s, because of the Grace Kelly–inspired wedding gown she wore on their wedding day. Eventually, it was shortened to Bird, and then over time, it became Birdie. What would Joanie’s fiancé call her?

Joanie inspected her reflection in the mirror. Her shoulder-length blond hair, recently permed, looked messy. Her pink eye shadow, which had always seemed so grown-up on her sister, made her appear tired and puffy-eyed. But the dress? The dress was perfect.

Her mother opened the door slowly, and her father’s face came into view. His expression softened as he saw his daughter in the wedding dress. She walked out into the hallway, towards him, and she could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

She turned to her mother, about to tell her that Daddy was crying, when she saw that her mother, too, had teared up. Joanie couldn’t help it—seeing her mother and father cry, she began to cry as well. She could never keep a dry eye when someone else was crying, least of all her parents, ex-pats from Europe who hardly ever cried.

Michele’s presence floated in the air like a haze, but no one would say it. No one dared mention that she would have worn the dress first. Should have worn the dress first.

“And look at us,” her mother said, her hands reaching out and grabbing for her husband and daughter. “All of us crying like little babies.”

All three embraced—carefully, of course, so as not to ruin the dress.

Her father kissed the top of her head. “Give us a twirl.”

Joanie obliged. The dress moved gracefully as she spun. Joanie curtsied, and her father gently took her hand and kissed it.

“I know what you’re thinking,” her mother said, her voice a song.

“What?” Joanie asked absentmindedly, while staring at her reflection in the mirror. She knew the first thing she’d change—the sleeves. The dress needed big, voluminous sleeves, just like Princess Diana had worn on her wedding day.

“Or I should say who you’re thinking about,” her mother said, a gentle tease.

“Who?” Joanie asked, under her breath, twirling from side to side in front of the mirror, watching the dress move.

“Your fiancé,” her mother said, furrowing her brow. “Remember him?”

“For sure,” Joanie said, spinning around to face her mother. “My fiancé. Yes. I knew that. And, yes. I was.” But the truth was, she had completely forgotten.

 

Excerpted from The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Copyright © 2020 by Brenda Janowitz. Published by Graydon House Books.

 

A82A9CA6-5165-4421-9CB0-022F9EAF3156Q&A with Brenda Janowitz:


Q: You write that you’ve always loved wedding dresses. What fascinated you about Grace Kelly’s dress in particular, and how did you come up with the idea for this novel?

A: Ever since I first laid eyes on this iconic garment, I’ve been in love. To me, Grace Kelly’s wedding gown is the ultimate dress. Beautiful, elegant, and refined– what more could any bride want?

 My agent sent me an article from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations. The moment I heard the story, I knew that I had the idea for my next novel.

 Once I decided to write about a wedding gown, there was only one thing I envisioned: Grace Kelly on her wedding day. So, when it came time to describe what this heirloom dress looked like, I found myself describing Grace Kelly’s gown– the lace sleeves, the cummerbund, the full skirt. I quickly realized that the characters in the book should be as enamored of this design as me, and The Grace Kelly Dress was born!

Q: You alternate between three characters’ stories. Did you focus more on one before turning to the others, or did you write the novel in the order in which it appears?

A: I like to write in a very straightforward manner, and that usually means writing each chapter in order, from beginning to end. So, I approached this book in this same way, at first.

But then, I realized that in order to make each story have the meaningful arc I was looking for, I’d need to focus on one story at a time. So, I broke the book apart into three different documents, and worked on one timeline at a time. This enabled me to fully immerse myself in each protagonist’s life, as well as the time period I was exploring.

Once I’d completed all three timelines, the real work began. I wove the book back together, and that was when the book took its true form, as I made sure that the different timelines all spoke to each other in a meaningful way. It certainly made the book take longer to write, but I think that by working on each timeline separately, I was able to do the individual stories justice.

Q: Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created.

A: The Grace Kelly Dress is the story of three generations of women, and the wedding dress that binds them together. It’s a story about love, friendship, and family, and it’s entirely different from anything I’ve ever written before. I hope that readers will join me on this journey, and come to love these women as I do.

Q: Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

A: When my agent sent me a clip from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations of a family, I knew that I had the idea for my next book. It had everything I love to write about in one place– multiple generations, a wedding dress, and lots of room for friction. The image of a wedding gown is one that is so incredibly powerful to me. The way one chooses to dress for her wedding day says so much about that person, and how she wants to present herself to the world.

Q: The book is set in the New York area and in Paris. How important is setting to you in your writing?

 A: Setting is so incredibly important! Where a character lives and how she interacts with her environment says so much about who she is. Rocky, our protagonist in 2020, lives and works in Brooklyn, and it says as much about who she is as the tattoos she proudly wears all over her body. Joanie, in 1982, lives a sheltered life on Long Island, but when she goes into New York City, she finds a world much larger than the one she was living. And Rose, in 1958, is in Paris, but as a poor orphan, lives a different type of sheltered life, working in a highly regarded atelier during the day, and doing not much else.

Q: What kind of research did you do for this book, and did you learn anything especially surprising?

 A: I’ve never written in a timeline other than the present, so there was a ton of research to be done! I had to research the two different time periods, 1982 and 1958. Even an innocuous detail like the brand of watch that a character is wearing can throw a reader out of the narrative if the author hasn’t gotten it just right.

 The most enjoyable research I did was about Grace Kelly herself, and, of course, her iconic gown. I read Kristina Haugland’s incredible book, Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride, and then had the opportunity to speak with her as well. I loved learning every detail I could about this beloved dress, but by far the most interesting thing I learned was this: Grace Kelly’s gown consisted of four separate parts, each of which needed to be put on separately. What a wonderful secret for a bride to have on her wedding day!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’ve loved writing about an heirloom item and the family that owns it, so I’m doing it again! I’ll be focusing on another family and another heirloom that has been passed down. Heirlooms are so incredibly important to me– I wear one of my Grandma Dorothy’s rings every day, and I love having a piece of her with me as I go through my day to day.

Q: How did you get the idea for this novel?

A: The idea came to me when my agent sent me a clip from The Today Show about a wedding dress that had been passed down through eleven generations. I couldn’t get over how incredibly special that was, and I immediately started to think about what it would mean for a family to have an item like that. How would each woman change the dress to fit her personality? How would the time she was living in have an effect on those choices? And what if one woman didn’t want the dress?

 Q: Is Grace Kelly one of your favorite actresses? What is your favorite Grace Kelly role?

 A: YES! Grace Kelly, to me, is the ultimate Hollywood story: beautiful, talented, and then she married a prince. I love all of Grace Kelly’s films, but I particularly adore To Catch a Thief. It’s so romantic and flirty, and it’s got Cary Grant.

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges you have in a story like this that spans different times in history?

A: One of the biggest challenges for me, was the massive amount of research. When writing in another time period, I underestimated how carefully every sentence would have to be researched. The characters needed to sound like they lived in the time period I was presenting, and every reference needed to be spot on– from what the characters were wearing, to the types of music they listened to, to the way they styled their hair. Is it any wonder that my current work in progress will take place in the present?

Q: What is the significance of the title: The Grace Kelly Dress?

A:  The Grace Kelly Dress refers to the wedding dress that is handed down through three generations of women. The gown in my book was initially created in 1958, and at that time, the bride wanted the dress that everyone wanted at that time: something that looked just like what Grace Kelly wore when she married Prince Rainier in 1956.

Q: Are any of your characters based on real people you know?

A: They say that your first novel is all about you, that each and every character is you, and I think that was true of my first novel. (First two novels, perhaps!) But this is my sixth novel, so at this point, all of the characters are products of my imagination. That said, everything inspires me, so parts of real life always have their way of making their way into my work. So, I suppose a better way to answer this question would be to say: no, not on purpose.

Q: Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

A: I found Joanie, in 1982, to be the most challenging to write. I first created her character while working on the 2020 timeline, at which point we only know her as Rocky’s mother. It took a lot of thought to figure out who she would be at age 20, and how she would grow into the woman we see in 2020. Additionally, since we meet her mother in the 1958 timeline, it was important that the reader see a connection there, too.

On the first round of edits, I completely trashed the original 1982 storyline and re-wrote it from the ground up. I think that I needed the first draft to truly learn who she was, and how to create her story.

Q: What did you learn when writing the book?

A: I’ve learned so much this time around, but the lesson that most resonated for me was that writing is re-writing. From the first draft of this novel to the second, the book changed dramatically, and I think that the story is ultimately better for it. But when you’re a newer writer, it’s so hard to cut things, and it’s even harder to completely trash a part of the book and start from scratch. But really, editing the book is the thing that makes it better, and ultimately, makes you a better writer.

Q: Were you a young writer, a late bloomer, or something in between?

A: I’ve always loved to write. In fact, it’s the reason I became a lawyer. But I was one of those unhappy lawyers, so for my 30th birthday, my best friend, Shawn, organized a group gift– she got all of our friends together and sent me to my first writing class. It’s the thing that helped me to take my writing more seriously, and the place where I began writing what would become my first novel.

 Q: Do you have a dedicated writing space?

 A: I do have an office in my house, but I’m one of those writers who just gets the work done whenever and wherever she can. In fact, I’m on my laptop right now while my kids are at the kitchen table doing homework!

 Q: Any type of writing ritual you have?

 A: I wish I could say that I have certain rituals and that I have a process for letting the muse in, but the truth is, I’m just a busy working mom, so I write when I can. Sometimes, I’m dictating full chapters on the voice memo app on my phone. Sometimes, I’m jotting notes on the backs of receipts. I say: do whatever works!

Q: What is your favorite genre to read, and why?

A: I love to read, and I love reading all different types of genres. I think it makes you a better writer to be more widely read. That said, I have a soft spot for upmarket commercial fiction. If Reese Witherspoon can make a limited series HBO drama out of it, I’m in!

 Q: What message do you hope readers take away from your story?

 A: The main thing is that I want readers to really enjoy the story and have a great reading experience. As for a takeaway, it’s been really moving to have readers reach out to me to discuss the role that heirloom items have had in their own life. I always tell my kids: it’s people who are important, not things. But I do believe that certain things, like these heirlooms that are passed down, have meaning. They show us where our family has been, and each one has a story connected to it. Stories are powerful, and the stories about where we come from are so incredibly meaningful.

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Seek – Project XOL (BookOne) by Amabel Daniels

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Reviewer- Serena Soape

Date of Release: April 14, 2020

PreOrder Here:

Summary:

It’s been months since Cassidy Shaw has heard from her mother, Rosa, a world-renown scientist. When she does, it’s in the form of an urgent edict to retrieve a key. Arriving at Rosa’s apartment in Cincinnati, Cassidy encounters strangers. One man who seems determined to silence her. The other, could he be her savior?

Luke Dixon enters the fray, believing his neighbor is being attacked. Never one to ignore someone in distress, he’s then shocked to realize he’s the one needing rescue. Bound together through violence, Cassidy and Luke must come to trust each other as they embark on a search, armed only with the key and Rosa’s cryptic directions. It’s a journey with unexpected answers and decades-old research. A search with more questions…and a lethal enemy who returns when least expected.

Review:

Amabel Daniels’ “Seek: Project XOL” is a mysterious action-packed novella.

The story kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next.

The evolving relationship between Cassidy and Luke was something that I did not imagine.

This is definitely an unexpected brilliant cliffhanger and I am anxiously awaiting the next book in this series…….

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

4 Stars.

#BookReview: Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: June 1st, 2019

Summary:

A moment on the platform changes two lives forever. But nothing is as it seems…

‘Take my baby.’

In a split second, Morgan’s life changes forever. A stranger hands her a baby, then jumps in front of a train.

Morgan has never seen the woman before and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life.

When the police question Morgan, she discovers none of the witnesses can corroborate her version of events. And when they learn Morgan longs for a baby of her own, she becomes a suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically tries to retrace the last days of the woman’s life. She begins to understand that Nicole Markham believed she and her baby were in danger. Now Morgan might be in danger, too.

Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia?

Or was something much darker going on?

Pulse-pounding, heartrending, shocking, thrilling. This is one book you won’t be able to stop thinking about.

Review:

(I know this is longer than I typically write, but this book really hit me in the feels)

I was completely dedicated to finishing “Woman on the Edge” in one sitting from the very first sentence!

It was spectacular!

I had chills!!

I had to know everything!!!

My mind was racing!!

Imagine a zipper being zipped up, that is how perfectly this story came together!

Nicole had a fierce, passionate drive to protect her daughter, Quinn. Wanting to protect a character while reading is so visceral!

My mind was spinning!

I was switching lanes constantly with Morgan! She was in trouble with the law, and for a long time I was cheering her on as she tried to prove her innocence and then boom!! Samantha Bailey had me completely stumped!! Even though I was connecting with Morgan, I would shift back and forth to contemplate her innocence!

My mind was swirling!

I loved that there was a solid Women’s Fiction story weaved between this Psychological Thriller that you will not miss, because it was so gripping in its own right.

The character’s were hugely developed.

Samantha Bailey’s Debut Thriller had me so absorbed…..I am still in a “‘Woman on the Edge’ Coma”!!

She has absolutely been added to my Top Author List!!

I read this novel with the same sense of urgency the subway trains rush in and out of their terminals!

I trust you will thoroughly devour it, as I did!

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

5 Stars.