#AuthorInterview #HolidayReads & #GiveAway: Meet Janice Lynn, author of Hallmark’s “Wrapped Up in Christmas”

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What first sparked your interest in writing Wrapped Up in Christmas?

For some time I have been wanting to spread my wings as a writer and push myself outside my comfort zone, to write a story that moved people, and brought my writing to another level. My agent suggested I write a proposal for Hallmark. When I sat down to write the proposal, I asked myself what Hallmark meant to me, and I started writing the proposal for Wrapped Up in Love–which was the original title, as the original version centered around July 4th rather than Christmas. I was asked to revise to a Christmas story and make a few tweaks to the proposal, and Hallmark Publishing bought it. Now, I can’t imagine the book as anything other than a Christmas story.

How long did it take you to write the story?  

I’m honestly not sure of the exact timeframe for the first draft. I’d guess around 3 months. I was on deadline with another publisher, so I had to write.

Who is your favorite character & why?  

There are a lot of characters in the book I love for various reasons. The answer that popped into my head is Harry, who is my hero’s dog. But I adore Bodie and Sarah, and I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention the Butterflies. Writing Harry and letting his personality come through without dialogue stretched me as a writer. Stretching outside one’s comfort zone makes one grow and that’s a good thing. I adore Bodie because he is a wounded warrior with a big heart, a real life hero who loves his country and fellowman. He’s the kind of hero you know would come to your rescue no matter what. Sarah is sweet and loves her hometown and community. I love that about her, probably because I feel the same way about the small town in Tennessee where I live. And, those pesky Butterflies….those ladies were so much fun to write because I had to ask myself, now what would they do next that borders on outrageous without going too far over the top. I’d catch myself giggling at times writing the scenes with them on the page because I could so vividly see them in my mind. Hmmm, that was more than a single character, but I honestly love them all equally.

Annie: I am totally excited that you said the hero’s dog first. Each character sounds amazingly special, but I have a special place in my heart for dogs.

0B618662-BB41-4637-B465-CE0105BFD580When did you realize you were a novelist?

When I was in the first grade. No kidding. On my tablet paper, I wrote a story about a witch and was hooked. I’d write every chance I got up until I went away to college. Somehow, I quit writing for pleasure during that time, got my degree, a husband, some beautiful children, and it wasn’t until 9/11 happened that, same as many others, I found myself looking at life differently. For me that meant asking myself why I wasn’t pursuing my dream of writing. It was my dream and yet I was putting zero effort into making it a reality. I started writing again. Writing is such a wonderful outlet for me that, looking back, I can’t believe I allowed myself to stop for so long. Whether or not I ever sold another book, I’d still write. Writing soothes a need in me that nothing else touches. My hope is that my writing soothes a need in my readers that only a good book can accomplish.

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What’s been the most exciting part of Wrapped Up in Christmas’s release?

Everything about writing for Hallmark has been exciting. How my hometown has shared in my joy of this book warms my heart in so many ways. Friends and family have just embraced me with their joy. It’s been amazing, but my answer as to what’s been the most exciting has to be having been a guest on the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family talk show on November 8th and making a snowflake ornament with Cameron Mathison. He was so unbelievably kind. I’d love to write a book that he someday starred in the movie. Did I mention that I’m a dreamer? LOL. Still, this entire experience has been dreamy, so I know dreams come true. I’m just going to keep dreaming.

Annie: WOW! I love that show, and Cameron Mathison! That is so amazing!

What’s your favorite part of being an author?

Getting to write stories that raise awareness of causes I believe in such as the Quilts of Valor Foundation. In Wrapped Up in Christmas, Sarah has donated a quilt to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. That quilt made its way to a wounded warrior named Bodie Lewis.  Quilts of Valor is a real organization that really does wrap up veterans and active servicemen and women in quilts. That my book has brought attention to their mission makes my heart happy because I 100% believe in what they are doing.

Annie: This is an amazing organization! Here is the link for everyone to check out! https://www.qovf.org

6C64D46C-0D2E-4DA2-9D69-861ECC8BEEF4What are your hobbies?

I love to sew and quilt. I won’t say that I have a whole lot of perfectly straight quarter inch seams, but I try. 🙂  I am in the process of making a quilt for each of my children, make quilts for baby shower gifts, and have recently finished my second Quilts of Valor quilt to be donated. I hope to make many more to be donated in the future as well as continuing to write stories that draw attention to the wonderful work this organization does.  


Annie: Thank you so much for this outstanding interview behind the scenes of both you and your book! It’s so wonderful to get to know you better!

 

GIVEAWAY:  eBook COPY OF BOOK.

TO ENTER PLEASE LEAVE COMMENT BY 9PM WEDNESDAY.  THANK YOU.

#BookReview: The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: August 20, 2019

Summary:

“An exhilarating thrill ride that keeps you turning pages.. Ryan deftly delivers a denouement as shocking as it is satisfying.”–Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.

Problem is–she’s wrong.

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoli

and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Review:

Hank Phillipi Ryan’s triangular approach that is used to introduce each character to us in “The Murder List” was a winning combination. It was such a wicked playing field! So ferociously intense you didn’t know who you could trust! Such a beautiful gift in a thriller!

Rachel is a Howard Law Student married to Jack, one of the finest Defense Attorney’s in Boston. Rachel must work with Jack’s nemesis, Assistant District Attorney, Martha to complete her internship for Law School. Deliciously intense!

It is so thrilling..you will not want to stop reading!

Rachel wants to get on the  Murder List. To be part of the team defending the people being accused of murder. But. How do you get on this List? Is there more than one type of Murder List???

This story is nothing short of exhilarating! I was taken away with the courtroom drama, political games, and crimes. Everything had me gripped to the pages….Hank Phillipi Ryan truly has a gift for writing the riveting novel with twists you don’t expect and one that you certainly do not want to put down until you get to the very. last. word.

And, then you have to sit…and absorb everything you just read.

Brilliant!

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars

#BookReview: The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: September 18, 2018

Summary:

On September 14, 1969, Private First Class Judy Talton celebrates her nineteenth birthday by secretly joining the campus anti-Vietnam War movement. In doing so, she jeopardizes both the army scholarship that will secure her future and her relationship with her military family. But Judy’s doubts have escalated with the travesties of the war. Who is she if she stays in the army? What is she if she leaves?

When the first date pulled in the Draft Lottery turns up as her birthday, she realizes that if she were a man, she’d have been Number One—off to Vietnam with an under-fire life expectancy of six seconds. The stakes become clear, propelling her toward a life-altering choice as fateful as that of any draftee.

The Fourteenth of September portrays a pivotal time at the peak of the Vietnam War through the rare perspective of a young woman, tracing her path of self-discovery and a “Coming of Conscience.” Judy’s story speaks to the poignant clash of young adulthood, early feminism, and war, offering an ageless inquiry into the domestic politics of protest when the world stops making sense.

Review:

I was honored to have been able to read Rita Dragonette’s Novel “ The Fourteenth of September” during the 50 year Anniversary of the actual date that this story was wrapped around.

You see this is the year 1969, and the first Draft Lottery for the Vietnam War is 19 year old Judy Talton’s Birthday, September 14.  The awareness that if she were to have been born a man was so emboldened within her, that she makes choices that are going to be pivotal for her entire future.

Judy is in college on an Army Scholarship, and with this comes a certain level of responsibility. So does being the daughter of a Mother that served in World War II. Choosing her own path at this time in history was obviously not an easy one. Rita Dragonette wrote an absolutely stunning, beautiful, powerful and heartfelt story; one that finally is being heard!

It will leave your heart bleeding as lottery numbers are called. You will cry out for Veterans. You will truly empathize so often, because you will feel as if you are truly part of each scene. You see, let me try to explain! There will be no separation between you and Rita Dragonette’s Story….because you won’t feel like you are reading it as an outsider looking in; she takes you inside each moment in time. It is more than saying “I felt like I was there”…it’s deeper!! It’s almost Visceral!!

I cannot applaud this novel enough, because I could discuss it forever…

And, I will recommend it for the next 50 years!

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

5 Stars.

Side Note:

One of my Favorite Covers!

I have such a better understanding of what my Uncle, and husbands Uncle went through. A better understanding of their families..and their traumas.

It is a book that will make you think..What choices would you have made?

Perfect Book Club Book! High School Requirement!

Thank you Rita, for opening my eyes!

#BookRelease, #BookReview & #BookGiveaway: Love, Jane By Katie Blanchard

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Jane always longed for security and thought she found it when she married Stewart. When stress takes a toll on their marriage, she hires yoga instructor Shana to help him, but finds that sometimes inviting a stranger into your home means they never leave.

Tossed out of her home and marriage, penniless, while Shana sleeps in her place, Jane is brutally attacked. With help from Billy, the cop who saved her life, Jane takes on a new identity to hide from the man who assaulted her. Hiding is exhausting, but she’s not sure who to trust. Even Billy has past ties to her husband.

While the cops hunt for her attacker, a run-in with Shana exposes a secret that could result in a new madman on Jane’s tail– Stewart. Both women are in peril and Jane must decide if she can help the woman who ruined her marriage.

Will she be able to save them both or is the danger closer than either of them imagines?

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Katie Blanchard does it again with “Love, Jane”!

We all met the steadfast Jane Voss in “Dear Anna” and now we are afforded the opportunity to learn her backstory. It is not often that an author takes us on this journey and what an awesome idea this is. I found it to be not only super exciting, but; realized how truly powerful learning her history was.

The theme that runs vibrantly through this novel is that “Girls Stick Together” and…it bleeds into (or out of) “Dear Anna”. That is the beauty of how Katie Blanchard wrote these novels; you can read them in either order.

The depth with which each character is driven is triumphant! I truly felt compelled to care for each character. Her character development is flawless.

The most magnificent part of this novel was that Jane’s ex-husband, Stewart plays one of the strongest characters in the storyline, yet we never meet him, or even see him from a distance. He is so hated by me. He is so vile, and disgusting….It is pure talent that can give this type of power to a character that is unseen.

I was totally taken away! I not only recommend this book…I give it high praise!

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

—-Annie Horsky McDonnell

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Katie Blanchard is an author of women’s fiction and suspense. Her debut novel, ‘Pressing Flowers’ is available for purchase through Amazon. Katie resides in Southwestern, Pennsylvania where she spends most of her days chasing two children. When they give her a moment, she’s found crocheting on the couch. You can find out more about Katie and her upcoming releases at www.authorkatieblanchard.com, or follow her on Facebook. http://bit.ly/KBlanchardFBPage

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#NewRelease, #AuthorInterview & #Giveaway: Meet Eileen Sanchez and learn more about “Freedom Lessons: A Novel”

1CFD5BB2-3D9E-4704-BC53-B87AABEAD12EQ: What first sparked your interest in writing “Freedom Lessons”? 


Ten years ago, I was at a professional educational conference in New Orleans, LA. After a long day of presentations, we went out to Pat O’Brien’s, a great bar in the French Quarter. If you ever visit NOLA be sure to go there to have a
Hurricane and request your favorite song to be played by the dueling pianos. In between the drinks and entertainment, I surprised the people I was with when I told them I had taught in a small rural town in Louisiana. It was during the mandated integration that followed the October 29, 1969 Alexander v Holmes Supreme Court decision which ordered schools across the county to desegregate. I had rarely shared that experience. I explained how a 22-year-old young woman from NJ wound up in the middle of the poorly planned mandated integration of the public schools. My husband was in the Army and we lived there for the last year of his service.

I always knew the impact it had on my personal history, but that revelation made me realize how significant the event was in the history of our country. I was a witness and felt a responsibility to share it. At the time, my first grandchild was two years old and a friend challenged me to write about my life during that year so that my granddaughter would learn about it.

When I started to write, I realized that I only knew my story. I had returned to NJ at the end of that school year when my husband was discharged. What happened to my second grade students after that traumatic year? I uncovered numerous personal stories through reading and research.


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Q: Is there any truth to your story that is personal to you?


The story is told from three points of view. Colleen represents my own experience and I created two characters, Evelyn and Frank, to tell the point of view of a black teacher and a black high school student. My November 12, 2019 publishing date commemorates the 50th anniversary of southern states meeting the mandate of the Brown v BOE decision, followed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and finally on October 29, 1969 the US Supreme Court ordered schools across the country to desegregate in the little-known but milestone case,
Alexander v. Holmes. It was 15 years after Brown v Board and most black students in the South still attended segregated black schools.  If they had not integrated public schools, they would have forfeited federal funds on Dec. 31, 1969. Stubborn resistance to move beyond “Freedom of Choice” plans created numerous last minute decisions to meet the mandate.

My book is based on my personal experience that I more fully understood by studying the impact on the black families and teachers forty years later through research and interviews about that school year of 1969-1970.

I fictionalized my experience to create the characters of Frank and Evelyn after reading first hand accounts of the impact of the mandated integration on families of the children I taught and the black teachers and administrators who were moved from respected positions to secondary support staff. Having two POV characters who are black and one white misplaced “Yankee” I have tried to give a more accurate expression of the small stories and the wide impact of this event.


Q: Do you have a favorite character? Why?

That’s easy, it’s Frank. Five years ago, I was able to visit the town and the school I taught in. The visit filled some of the history of the people and the community. One of the opportunities allowed me to meet the current principal of the school. The school had been reopened and now serves as a middle school. She had been away in college the year of the mandated integration, but she told me some of her own family’s experiences. The stories about her brother who was a high school senior in 1969 helped me to personalize and build a deeper background for Frank. He became the character to tell the story from a student’s point of view.  I created a family for Rachel, one of Colleen’s second graders. Frank became Rachel’s brother, the eldest son who was deeply impacted by his father’s death in a suspicious fire. Frank and his parents had been counting on a football scholarship for him to be able to attend college. But when the schools were integrated the football team spots were already filled by the white students.  He wasn’t able to play and lost his chance for the scholarship. He struggled with the unfairness but maintained the core values from his parents.


Q: How long did it take you to write “Freedom Lessons”?

Five years. Slow and steady. I tend to write in chunks of time. The discipline of writing every day for an hour doesn’t work for me. I get immersed in the research and the “telling”. Some writers can turn out books very quickly but that’s not how mine happened. Once a week for four years I met with my writing group as we wrote our novels under the tutelage of my mentor, Michelle Cameron (The Fruit of Her Hands: the Story of Shira of Ashkenaz, & Beyond the Ghetto Gates). There are other methods to writing a novel, but I wrote 10-20 pages a week for three years. We each read our pages aloud to the group and then received feedback. I had to learn to show not tell. After decades of writing educational reports of all kinds which required concise specific explanations, I had to learn how to let the story roll out through the characters. Creating characters and learning who they were was a huge challenge because two of my main point of view characters are African American. It took a great deal of research to understand Frank and Evelyn. I began a personal black history study and wove what I learned into their background and their lives.

Q:  When did you realize you were a novelist?

“Who me?” It’s still sinking in.

Annie: Today is the day! Congratulations!

Q:  As you geared up for your Book being released, what was the most exciting part(s) for you?

The initial critical reviews from people who I’m not related to! I’m most pleased with my Library Journal (LJ) review and being included in a LJ article titled Fall/Winter Best Debut Novels.


Q:  With this being your first novel, do you think you will always explore historical fiction? Maybe still more to tell about this particular era?

There’s always more to tell about an era. I enjoy writing and the history research that supports the story.


Q: I love the Music that comes with the book. Where can people order this?

I created the playlist mainly for book club swag. It’s from my personal music burned to a CD. So, I can’t sell it, but some lucky readers can win it!

Name

Artist

My Girl

The Temptations

All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)

Charley Pride

A Beautiful Morning

The Rascals

Okie from Muskogee (Rerecorded)

Merle Haggard

Yellow Submarine

The Beatles

Honky Tonk Women

The Rolling Stones

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The…

The 5th Dimension

Ball of Confusion (That’s What the…

The Temptations

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

ABC

Jackson 5

Both Sides Now

Judy Collins

Get Together

The Youngbloods

Annie: Thank you for including this CD in your Giveaway!

Q:  Is there an author that you feel resonates with you and your writing style?

There are two authors that have influenced my interest in storytelling.

Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings follows thirty-five years of a complex relationship between Sarah and her ownership of Handful, as both women strive for lives of their own. I would never compare myself to Sue Monk Kidd, but I love her books and wish that her readers might like mine. She is a prolific writer and develops the rich interior lives of her characters with prose that keeps you turning the page. Her books build from real historic figures to tell the small stories of everyday people that make up our history. My book tells the small stories directly from the everyday people. I can hope for some of her readers, can’t I?

 Amy Hill Hearth’s endorsement, featured on the cover of Freedom Lessons, validated my writing and the telling of the story. She has been generous with her support of a second career debut author. Amy, a New York Times best selling author, has written several books, two fiction and several non-fiction, the most recent is Streetcar to Justice. Her most successful book became the Broadway play “The Delany Sisters – Having Our Say”. I loved these two: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society: A Novel and Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County: A Novel. The Stories take place in a rural area of Florida that became Disney World and the setting rises to a level of the characters. A transplanted “Yankee” from Boston shakes up the community by starting a literary salon, aka a book club. Both books “will touch the heart of anyone who ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.”


Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?  Set this up for us…

When I started Freedom Lessons I wrote in an upstairs bedroom dedicated to be “A Room of my Own”. It was sacred and when I returned to write more the next day the thoughts and ideas returned as I started to write. Mornings are the most creative times for me to write but I can return to ideas any time of day. I need to be alone to write; I can get distracted easily. I’ve witnessed an author friend writing pages by hand in a notebook in the middle of activity around us as we waited for a conference to begin. I write on my laptop. I type fast and the ease of quick edits releases my worry about getting it right the first time. I’ve learned that I just need to write it and then fix it later. A handwritten manuscript would slow me down. I can type almost as fast as I’m thinking the ideas.

Q:  May I ask who your favorite authors are?

I’ve already mentioned Amy Hill Hearth and Sue Monk Kidd. I would add Camille Di Maio, and Tara Conklin. Kwame Alexander inspires me with his poetry and books for “children of all ages”.  Books? Any book by Sue Kidd Monk but The Secret Life of Bees came to mind first.  I love poetry and have just discovered Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover because of my grandson. Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic is an old favorite to pull out. Judith Viorst keeps me laughing as I age with her poems from How Did I Get to Be Forty, Forever Fifty, Suddenly Sixty and I’m Too Young to Be Seventy. (Yup, 72! How else could I have been there in 1969?)

Annie: I love Sue Monk Kidd!  Must read Kwame Alexander, as I love poetry.


Q:  What books are in your nightstand right now?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is my most recent finished book. Starting in 18th century Ghana to Jazz Age Harlem, the novel illuminates’ slavery’s troubled legacy. I am often reading several books at a time. I’m reading a lovely lyrical memoir by new author Marlena Maduro Baraf’s, At the Narrow Waist of the World, which tells the coming of age story of a young Jewish woman in Panama who is torn by love and worry for her mentally ill mother.  And I’m listening to Camille Di Maio’s The Beautiful Strangers, it’s historical fiction and a cozy mystery. To further support my book talks and events that are coming up I’m reading non-fiction The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.


Q:  What is your favorite part of being a published author?

Holding the book, meeting people who are interested in the story and hearing the connections they have to the themes in Freedom Lessons.


Q:  Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?

Is traveling a hobby? I love to travel and if I had unlimited funds I would do more, I like to explore the history of the places we travel to.

Annie: Traveling, learning the history! Amazing hobby..especially for authors! Often makes for great novels. (Hint, Hint)


Lastly, Do you prefer Print Book or eBook?? Audible?

Each of these have their place for me. I prefer holding a print book and I have stacks of books on shelves and tables to prove it. But eBooks are great, especially for traveling. I used to listen to books only when I would be driving but now I find myself listening when I’m cooking dinner. How else could I be reading three books at the same time?!

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Intro: Colleen and Miguel were married for five days when they moved into the home Miguel had found for them.
Trailer pic: “Oh my God.” Colleen clapped her hand to her mouth. “You’ve got to be kidding. It’s turquoise! It has porthole windows! Does it float too?”

 

 

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Intro: Colleen taught in a segregated black school. Each Saturday she took four of her students to the library to get library cards. She had just dropped the children off at their homes and was stopped by a police officer.
Road pic: “Officer, did I do something wrong?”
“Well now, that depends. Why would a white woman be out driving in these parts?”

 

Annie: Congratulations Eileen on your New Release today! I know “Freedom Lessons” is going to be an amazing story for so many to read. Thank you for telling it! I appreciate you taking the time for this interview today. Learning more about you and  your story has been amazing!

GIVEAWAY:  PRINT COPY OF BOOK AND BOOK CLUB SWAG PACK WHICH INCLUDES CD OF MUSIC, BOOKMARKS, AND RECIPES THAT CONNECT TO THE BOOK.

TO ENTER PLEASE LEAVE COMMENT BY 9PM FRIDAY.  THANK YOU.

#BookReview: The Shape of the Atmosphere by Jessica Dainty

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: November 2016

Summary:

Gertie MacLarsen believes she was given ugliness at birth. Growing up in an estranged home, the only times she feels beautiful are the nights her father comes in to show her the stars. The day of her 16th birthday, the same day that Sputnik traverses the sky, Gertie’s life is irrevocably changed. After a family

tragedy, her elusive and alcoholic mother sends her to Willow Estate, a private mental institution, where she is thrown into a world of harsh therapies, dangerous hospital politics, and, surprisingly, a sense of family.

Within the walls of Willow Estate Sanatorium, Gertie finds awfulness and grace, terror and family. From hydro and shock therapy, to first love, to rape and suicide, the only thing Gertie is sure of from day to day is that growing up is not a choice and that forgiveness and acceptance are perhaps the greatest gifts anyone can give. As Gertie learns her fellow patients’ stories, she realizes she is not the only one alone in this giant universe and that finding yourself sometimes means letting the past versions of yourself go and letting others help you define your own center of gravity.

Set against the historical backdrop of the early space race, THE SHAPE OF THE ATMOSPHERE features a spectrum of supporting characters that bring the dramatic setting to life and a plot that explores what it means to know yourself in a world that never stops expanding and changing, and that humanity is possible, in any universe.

Review:

Meeting one of the strongest young characters I have in a long time in Jessica Dainty’s “The Shape of Atmosphere” was one of the best surprises. This is a coming of age novel set in the 1950’s wrapped around history learning more about the Universe and the Mental Health Institutions that existed at the time.

Gertie MacLarsen is a complex teenager that I fell in love with from the first page. I was her champion right through to the last page. This is a truly compelling, provocative and enlightening read.

It made the size of my room actually pulsate and sound louder than it was, because this book gave all I had more meaning.

I highly recommend this story to anyone that likes to read about a character that struggles to grow to become themselves. Knowing your heart breaks wide open..Trust there is hope on the other side.

For the fighting spirit!

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

5 Stars.

 

 

 

#BookReview: How Fires End by Marco Rafalà

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Summary:

A dark secret born out of World War II lies at the heart of a Sicilian American family in this emotional and sweeping saga of guilt, revenge, and, ultimately, redemption.

After soldiers vacate the Sicilian hillside town of Melilli in the summer of 1943, the locals celebrate, giving thanks to their patron saint, Sebastian. Amid the revelry, all it takes is one fateful moment for the destiny of nine-year-old Salvatore Vassallo to change forever. When his twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded mortar shell, Salvatore’s faith is destroyed. As the family unravels, and fear ignites among their neighbors that the Vassallo name is cursed, one tragedy begets another.

Desperate to escape this haunting legacy, Salvatore accepts the help of an Italian soldier with fascist ties who ushers him and his sister, Nella, into a new beginning in America. In Middletown, Connecticut, in the immigrant neighborhood known as Little Melilli, these three struggle to build new lives for themselves. But a dangerous choice to keep their secrets hidden erupts in violence decades later. When Salvatore loses his inquisitive American-born son, David, they all learn too late the price sons pay for their fathers’ wars.

Written with elegiac prose, How Fires End delves into the secret wars of men; the sins they cannot bury; and a life lived in fear of who will reveal them, who will survive them, and who will forgive them.

Review:

Marco Rafalà’s “How Fires End” is a Triumph! It is a powerful ache that you read until you find relief.

Rafalà puts his emotion on the pages; poignant moments shared between the characters and across seas and continents. He literally leaves your heart to cry or pound! All wrapped up in the hope I trust he wants us to believe in.

“How Fires End” is more than a story, it is an absolute truth being shared after generations of secrets.

Do not miss this debut novel, for I am sure this is the first of many evocative, strong, and must read novels by Rafalà.

 5 Stars.

#Giveaway: Arbitrage by Colette Kebell on Audiobook

CB8063D7-01D4-4E7F-8FED-0C875ABFEED5We have been kindly offered an Audiobook copy of Colette Kebell’s novel “Arbitrage” on audiobook.

Please leave a comment below if you are interested and that you will leave a review.

 

Summary:

Ryan Logan thinks he has it all… A young attorney specialising in finance and tax law, Logan has earned an impressive reputation and commands a hefty fee for his services. But when he advises his corporate employers against a merger with a shady financial institution, he soon finds himself caught up in a web of betrayal and deceit. Framed for the murder of his wealthy boss, Logan is forced to accept a plea deal, to keep his own dark secrets from coming to light…

Arbitrage is a fast-paced, stand-alone financial thriller. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, sweet revenge, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, you’ll love this eye-opening look into the world of financial crime.

Can a burned out lawyer outwit an army of con artists and killers?

#BookReview, #Excerpt, #Giveaway & #HolidayReads: Mistletoe at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

C392CA06-7096-48F4-942E-AE62138637E0Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Release Date: Today. October 25, 2019

Summary:

USA Today Bestselling author Susan Schild writes heartwarming and funny novels about women over 40 having adventures, falling in love and finding their happily ever afters.

The soon to be released MISTLETOE AT THE LAKESIDE RESORT is a Christmas novella and the third book in Susan’s popular Lakeside Resort series. You’ll catch up with Jenny and her gal pals, fiancé Luke, and Levi and the boys as they plan a very special Christmas for guests at her rustic cabinson beautiful Heron Lake.

A few hints: Jenny’s been gifted a new vintage camper and has the jitters about her future with Luke. Charlotte and Ashe are at odds about their upcoming wedding, and Mama and Landis make a startling announcement.

If you’re looking for a feel good read to get into the Christmas spirit, Mistletoe at the Lakeside Resort offers cozy romance, classic Christmas carols, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and a happily ever after.

 

Review:

“Christmas at Lakeside Resort” is a feel-good, charming and always engaging story about people you want to know and a place you want to visit! I’d call ahead and reserve my spot if I could right now for this upcoming Christmas Season!

Since we can’t do that…I suggest you get lost in the land that Susan Schild’s created at Lake Heron called Lakeside Resort.

Between the wonderful town, amazing people and absolutely delightful animals I could not put this novella down. I know you will feel the same way!

This is part of a series, but I believe you could read this first and then go back to the others! So….Grab this little piece of the holiday joy now….so you can start your celebrations early!

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

5 Stars.

22C7CCDA-178E-4105-9266-E450F1E3355F
Excerpt:

“With a businesslike look on her face, novice house stager Charlotte pulled a scribbled list from her purse. “Ladies, I need accent chairs, even if they’re ratty. I need lamps, but only if there are two of them. Vintage water skis are hot. Look for lake-related memorabilia, like books or old pictures of families on the water. Dog prints always come in handy. Cool baskets, macramé, bowls, and rugs are useful though I’d need to sniff the rugs before I buy them. I got a beauty at an estate sale last year. When I got it home, I realized it smelled of dog tee-tee.” She wrinkled her nose. “That smell never comes out. Never.”

The parking lot of the fire hall was already packed, even though the sale didn’t officially start for another ten minutes. Mama expertly swung the big SUV into the last slot in a line of cars parked on a grassy roadside.

“Are we too close to a ditch bank?” Jenny asked nervously.

“I’ve got plenty of room,” Mama said, a confident look in her eye as she switched off the ignition.

The three of them stepped out of the SUV.

When Jenny paused to adjust her wrinkled sock in her boot, she heard a cry, a muffled thud, and then a small moan. Wildly, she glanced over to the driver’s side of the SUV. Mama had disappeared.

Charlotte realized something was wrong at the same moment Jenny did, and they both scrambled around to the other side of the car. Mama was sprawled in the grassy ditch, groaning and touching her right foot.”

….thank you, Susan Schild