#BookReview: Before You Go by Tommy Butler ~ 5⭐️

7F6CC716-6314-4A78-8FA6-9B6642D506FCReviewer: Annie McDonnell

Summary:

A big, rich, life-affirming debut that explores the most perplexing questions of existence: purpose, the pain of loneliness, the desire for happiness, and the price we pay as we search for fulfillment.

In the Before, humankind is created with a hole in its heart, the designers not realizing their mistake—if it was a mistake—until too late.

Elliot Chance is just a boy, and knows nothing of this. All he knows is that he doesn’t feel at home in this world, and his desire for escape becomes more urgent as he grows into adulthood, where the turbulence of life seems to offer no cure for the emptiness. Desperate and lost, he stumbles upon a support group on the edge of Manhattan. There he meets two other drifting souls—Sasha, a young woman who leaves coded messages in the copy she writes for advertising campaigns, and Bannor, whose detailed depictions of the future make Elliot think he may have actually been there. With these two unlikely allies, Elliot launches into the business of life, determined to be happy in spite of himself.

Yet the hole in the heart is not so easily filled.

Profound yet playful, Before You Go is a beautiful, imaginative journey into the ache and wonder of being human, and the quest for a meaningful life.

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Review:

So Many New Releases Today, but Tommy Butler has released “Before You Go”!!

A novel that has truly resonated with me and touched me beyond measure! I truly believe I was led to this book! I invited Tommy to The Write Review months ago, because I believed this book had to be shared with my Book Club and my desire to read it was so strong. Sadly, the interview didn’t transpire, due to my illness. But, I needed this book now. 

I have always “lived” to read. It is actually the fiber of my being! I see that clearly now. 

“Before I Go” is a novel that helped me see that before I go, I must be sure that this is never forgotten! 

Sometimes a book changes your life! Tommy Butler’s “Before You Go” has certainly changed mine! Little did I know that when I read it I would be in a place that I’d be considering the meaning of my life! With his words crashing into me, as if he was reaching into my heart and speaking it’s very language.

This story is truly breathtaking. A compelling journey I began and never wanted to end! 

His words are poetry! He is absolutely beautiful in his prose and he took me to wonderful places. 

He has me taking my present journey and seeing it with fresh eyes, and it is wonderful! With each tear stained page in this book, I know I’ve left my a piece of heart behind.

What a Story!!  Finally! You are so imaginative! Thank you, Tommy!

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

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About the Author:

Tommy Butler was raised in Stamford, Connecticut, and has since called many places home, including New Hampshire, San Diego, Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, he was a Peter Taylor Fellow at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and is an alumnus of the Screenwriters Colony. His feature screenplay, Etopia, was the winner of Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competition at the Nantucket Film Festival.

 

#BookReview & #AuthorInterview: Little Tea by Claire Fullerton ~ 5⭐️

43D35A14-A0F5-4CB5-8E15-74C27DA1D80EReviewer: Annie McDonnell

Date of Release: April 28th, 2020

Summary:

Southern Culture … Old Friendships … Family Tragedy
One phone call from Renny to come home and “see about” the capricious Ava and Celia Wakefield decides to overlook her distressful past in the name of friendship.
For three reflective days at Renny’s lake house in Heber Springs, Arkansas, the three childhood friends reunite and examine life, love, marriage, and the ties that bind, even though Celia’s personal story has yet to be healed. When the past arrives at the lake house door in the form of her old boyfriend, Celia must revisit the life she’d tried to outrun.
As her idyllic coming of age alongside her best friend, Little Tea, on her family’s ancestral grounds in bucolic Como, Mississippi unfolds, Celia realizes there is no better place to accept her own story than in this circle of friends who have remained beside her throughout the years. Theirs is a friendship that can talk any life sorrow into a comic tragedy, and now that the racial divide in the Deep South has evolved, Celia wonders if her friendship with Little Tea can triumph over history.

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Review:

I’ve just discovered a rare gem!

Beloved author, Pat Conroy left behind a legacy that weaves it’s way through so much of southern fiction, but I trust he stopped by Claire Fullerton’s pen and whispered some of his wisdom! The proof is in her novel “Little Tea”!

She has that same knack of real-life, honest storytelling wrapped in beautifully eloquent prose.  Every word being composed so harmoniously with the next.

So refreshing!

Speaking of racism and social issues with both gentle heart and pulsating tension.

Love and relationships are lovely, exuberant, determined and even heartbreaking. When everything is cracking open like a broken glass on the hot Memphis asphalt, the sun is still shining through it.

Claire Fullerton speaks of the South and being a Southerner as a status only a few can attain. Almost a deserving right! The highest of honors! I love that she reveres the South so deeply and sincerely. She writes about the South with such love, you can sense her devotion! She elevates the Southern voice!! Claire is a true gift to both Southern and Literary Fiction!

I was completely enamored and enraptured with this story and each of characters. I even found myself beginning to put the book down one night, only to chose not to because I was just too captivated with even the places and more!! I just couldn’t sleep!

That same night, I found I was reading the last sentence, and I knew without a doubt I had been introduced to one of the most talented writers of our time!

In closing, I look forward to reading Claire Fullerton’s Collection! Time to order every single book!

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

5 Stars.

Look, I GOT THEM!! I am all set now!

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Author Bio:

Claire Fullerton is the author of Little Tea, which is set in the Deep South and concerns female friendship, Southern culture, healing the past and the changing times of the racial divide. Little Tea is a Faulkner Society finalist and the August 2020 book club selection of the Pulpwood Queens book club. Her novel, Mourning Dove, is a 9-time award winner set on the genteel side of 1970’s Memphis, Claire’s novel, Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Claire contributed to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral. She writes of the Deep South, the family dynamic, and the hidden emotions that motivate a character. She hails from Memphis, and lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary Agency. https://www.clairefullerton.com

Order Here:

 

 

Live Interview:

#BlogTour, #BookReview & #Giveaway: Dignity and Grace by Alison Ragsdale

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Dignity & Grace by Alison Ragsdale

Date of Release: July 27, 2020

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Summary:

On her 21st birthday, gifted cellist Iona Muir receives a package from her estranged father containing a letter from her mother, Grace, a talented musician who tragically died ten years earlier. Reeling from what she reads, Iona soon discovers a mysterious, faded photograph of Grace, hidden inside her cello case.

Honoring her mother’s request, Iona visits Grace’s beloved music teacher, taking the first step on an emotional trail of discovery that has been left for her. As Grace’s story unfolds, Iona gains a deeper insight into the mother she lost and the heartbreaking truth about Grace’s last months. The more Iona learns, the more she is drawn back to her family home, on the remote Scottish island of Orkney, and to her father.

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Serena visited Scotland, too! She Loved Edinburgh Castle!

Reviewer: Serena Soape

Alison Ragsdale has touched my heart deeply with this poignant, heart-wrenching novel.

With recently losing my mom, “Dignity & Grace “ evoked many emotions from the very first page when Iona received the package from her Dad about the things that her mother wrote her so many years ago.

The characters were magnificently interesting as they were introduced during Iona’s emotional journey. I felt like I was sitting next to Iona as she traveled from place to place.

Alison Ragsdale has a brilliant writing style that never disappoints, through both the smiles as well as the tears.

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

5 Stars.

I never visited Scotland! But, Alison Ragsdale truly had the Orkney Islands and the Ring of Brodgar to Edinburgh Come alive for me!

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

Every once in a while I meet a book that stops my heart from beating so often I find myself actually catching my breath! Stirring my Soul a bit Loose!

“Dignity & Grace” by Alison Ragsdale moved me, both profoundly and evocatively! I was enamored with the British vernacular and sharp writing! All of the Characters I adored! I was taken away completely, from place to person to emotion! All levels! I was deep into this novel!

Losing her Mum’s very essence changed the vibration of Iona’s life. This is the story of Iona’s aching reach to regain it once again. Iona is coming full circle with a wondrous guide in Grace!

I was capturing the very heartbeat of this experience! Extremely palpable! From Orkney to Edinburgh! From first learning to play the cello to becoming a gifted cellist, Iona played her way into my heart!

I was drawn to the Cello because it was such a huge character! I felt it’s cries!! Such Aloneness….It’s unbearable aches!! It’s Pains…it’s relief!! It’s Release….It’s love for its owner! The Cello has a voice and a heart like a human, and the way Alison used this instrument and its music is breathtaking! It came alive!

Rhythmically, Alison’s story moved me gently between tears of anger and laughter and sadness. Like the cello playing it’s own life’s song!

Written with tender hearted story-telling and super smart accuracy for its serious subject matter, Alison Ragsdale scores a standing ovation from me!

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

5 Stars.

Side-bar I must include for myself outside of my review, Annie:

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You see, this story was personal for two reasons.

First, I was my (step)Mother’s caregiver for the last nine months of her life. She had decided both graciously and heroically that it was time to stop her treatments for Breast Cancer. I had already been a volunteer for years at Hospice, so I was well-equipped at end-of-life care with Dignity. I was determined that my Mom was going to have the very best End-of-Life experience! Each day was anew for us. It was beautiful. Poignant yet celebratory. She actually thanked me for creating an extremely special time for her. Fun! She called it! It has been my highest honor. I felt as though Grace was my Carmela. The letters evoked extreme emotions from me. Iona laying her head in Grace’s lap was truly my experience in life! #TissuesToTheMax

Alison truly understands the end of life experience.

Secondly, I have a neurological disorder, which I am now in the “tremor”, and “in-bed-all-the-time” phase. I understand choosing to remain in the heart of my home, as a Grace did. While it’s not ALS, it is in the same classification, and they are both on the Compassionate Allowance List for Social Security Disability. My end of life will be quite similar, and knowing this is difficult. Reading Alison’s book, I’m realizing my truth, I also have a lot going through my head. I believe if I had a daughter, I would have chosen to leave something like letters. “Dignity & Grace” has me realizing, my heart breaks that there is no one I’m leaving behind, so I need to find my persons! I’m thinking my nephews Xander & Adam will be my Legacy’s! I realized no one will be looking in the mirror and seeing my image, or missing much of anything about me because I haven’t accomplished much. So, I’m determined to write a story!

Alison hit the nail on the head with neurological changes in the body, and what it does to the people around you.

I also googled a lot of the places in the story! It was too overwhelming not too! I had to know if they were real.

Dignity & Grace” is a call to action for me! I’m on it!!

I’m going to leave part of me somewhere! Thank you, Alison Ragsdale for this reminder!

E96AFACA-0D25-46BE-B16F-E35BF7A47DC3Author Bio:

Originally from Edinburgh, Alison now lives in the US with her husband and dog. Educated in England, she holds an MBA from Leicester University.

Alison’s Amazon best sellers include: TUESDAY’S SOCKS, THE FATHER-DAUGHTER CLUB, FINDING HEATHER, A LIFE UNEXPECTED, THE ART OF REMEMBERING and THE LIAR AND OTHER STORIES.

THE FATHER-DAUGHTER CLUB was awarded the 2016, IPPY Bronze medal for Best regional fiction – Europe.

A LIFE UNEXPECTED, was awarded a 2018, IPPY Bronze medal in the Popular Fiction category.

THE ART OF REMEMBERING, debuted as an Amazon best seller, was honored as a finalist in the 2019 American Fiction Awards, was a finalist in the 2020 Eric Hoffer Award, was a BookBub Best Book Club Book pick and was nominated for the Goodreads Readers Choice Award.

THE LIAR AND OTHER STORIES, a collection of short stories was released on May 12th, 2020.

Ms. Ragsdale’s seventh novel, DIGNITY AND GRACE, will be released on July 27th, 2020.

For more information: www.alisonragsdale.com.

 Order Here:

Or, From Annie’s Local Indie Bookshop, Book Hampton:

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https://www.bookhampton.com/book/9781733037754

Giveaway:

0B335780-BF64-4039-9A45-2B124EC4B838Tell us one thing you’d like to pass on, or leave to the next generation! Words of wisdom! Please post directly in the comments!

*One “Dignity & Grace” EBook winner will be announced when Annie returns from her temporary leave of absence.

Thank you!

The Write Review loved

“Dignity & Grace” by Alison Ragsdale!!!

and we really appreciate you stopping by our

Blog Tour Stop

FOR KATE ROCK BOOK TOURS.

#BookTour, #BookReview & #Giveaway – Wildland by Rebecca Hodge

E495379A-6C23-43A4-A836-EAD0D2C84F49I’m so honored to be part of Kate Rock Book Tours for “Wildland” by Rebecca Hodge! Such a pleasure and amazing opportunity! Thank you Kate Rock and Rebecca Hodge!

Date of Release: February 11, 2020

75019EE2-2254-4E9E-ADEE-6F9E30445867Rebecca Hodge is giving away an awesome Prize Package (see graphic):  

Here is the link to share:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/52592b2c7/?

Order link: https://amzn.to/34DLPq6

Website: https://www.rebeccahodgefiction.com/

Instagram: @rhodge.fiction

Review:

Everything in “Wildland” by Rebecca Hodge screams “Fervent”!

From the wild fires that began raging in the mountains to the deep, hot, and burning desire for Kat Jamison to determine her life’s next chapter; every moment was so deeply experienced.

As I joined Kat on her path and those of the other characters, I was so immersed I could not let go! I turned the pages with the same sense of urgency I’m sure each character was either trying to escape the Blue Ridge Mountains or rescue them!

Intense, powerful, inspirational!

Wildland left me breathless. Holding my dogs tighter! Appreciating my life!

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

5 Stars.

Summary:

For fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve comes an exhilarating debut novel of one woman’s courage in the face of catastrophe.

She’ll do anything to save them.

But what will she do to save herself?

When Kat Jamison retreats to the Blue Ridge Mountains, she’s counting on peace and solitude to help her make a difficult decision. Her breast cancer has returned, but after the death of her husband, her will to fight is dampened. Now she has a choice to make: face yet another round of chemotherapy or surrender gracefully.

Self-reflection quickly proves impossible as her getaway is complicated by a pair of abandoned dogs and two friendly children staying nearby, Lily and Nirav. In no time at all, Kat’s quiet seclusion is invaded by the happy confusion of children and pets.

But when lightning ignites a deadly wildfire, Kat’s cabin is cut off from the rest of the camp, separating Lily and Nirav from their parents. Left with no choice, Kat, the children, and the dogs must flee on foot through the drought-stricken forest, away from the ravenous flames. As a frantic rescue mission is launched below the fire line, Kat drives the party deeper into the mountains, determined to save four innocent lives. But when the moment comes to save her own, Kat will have to decide just how hard she’s willing to fight to survive–and what’s worth living for.

A heart-pounding novel of bravery, sacrifice, and self-discovery, Wildland will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.

Praise for Wildland:

“Heart-stopping…Hodge shows great skill in writing a story that’s both touching and exhilarating.”

—Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter

#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.

#BookReview: Beneath Pale Water by Thalia Henry

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

8ED82A28-4526-48C3-8832-0F2790B71019Summary:

Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand’s southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals – a sculptor, a vagrant and a model – who have grown calcified shells against the world. Their search for identity and belonging leads them into dangerous territory that threatens both their sanity and lives. As their protective shells crack they are left vulnerable – both physically and emotionally – to the high country winds and their own conflicts that, ultimately, might free or destroy them.

Review:

I found this to be one of the most lyrical novels I have read in a long time. It was quite refreshing to read a book that I actually had to decipher the underlying meaning to.

The imagery was just stunning. I felt totally transported. It stirred my soul.

It was truly a beautiful dance between these characters that had me guessing right up until the end. I absolutely hated to put it down when necessary.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to take a break from the everyday story.

This Novel will win awards, and the author is going to write wondrous stories!

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

5 Stars.

#BookReview: So Long As We’re Together by Glenda Burgess

Reviewer: Annie McDonnell

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Both Serena Soape & I Reviewed this Book. You can find her find her review by simply Searching the book title in the Search Field. We hope you enjoy both points of view.

Summary:

Two little girls, holding hands and singing in the back seat of a car. There for each other, unafraid. Life for the Stone girls is a life lived on the edge. Singing for a living, Marley and Andi find their way through a childhood of upheaval marked by their mother Donna’s dark, unpredictable flights. Today, Marley writes the songs her twin, country diva Andi Stone, makes famous, and the girls’ connection struggles to survive the cuts and devastations of fame. “You girls,” laments their manager. “One of you marries indiscriminately, the other not at all.” When without warning Donna Stone takes her own life, alone at the family cabin, danger stalks Marley back to Lost Prince Lake, back into the loves and betrayals of the past. Hidden truths threaten to take the Stone sisters down, singly and together. A powerful, intimate portrait of love, ambition, and survival, So Long As We’re Together takes the reader into the lives of three women who give song to broken hearts, and for whom music is the language of family.

Review:

Finally! A novel that is a lyrical dance and a gift to all of our senses! An absolute joy and pleasure to read. This is what you call literary fiction at its best!

Glenda Burgess is a truly gifted writer! She delivers the magnificent tale of the Stone Sisters in “As Long As we’re Together”. I found both Andi and Marley to be two richly developed female lead characters, and, I was championing them both the whole way through. Even when I wasn’t sure I liked them.

Their Mother Donna’s story is told through eyes of compassion, even if it takes them them entire book to get there.

I was completely riveted. There were times where I had to read the book out loud because the writing was just so beautiful.

I loved the use of letters, and music, and just everything….Language. Like I said; a lyrical dance! Burgess’ writing is often poetic, often bringing you to tears, making you laugh, or just having you so glued to the pages you cannot stop reading!

This is a book to be savored, read slowly on a Lazy afternoon. Don’t rush this one. Trust me! You’ll be happy you took the time to enjoy every single word!

I must read more Glenda Burgess Now! I am in love!

I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

5 Stars.

Also, I’d like to add that I LOVED this Cover!