annie mcdonnell, book review, Fiction

#BookReview & #Excerpt: As Good As Can Be by William A. Glass

Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: April 14, 2020


A novel about the wayward son of an alcoholic army officer. As his dysfunctional family moves from one military base to the next, Dave Knight develops a give-a-damn attitude and an ironic sense of humor.

In high school, he becomes the class clown and is accepted by other delinquents. He joins them in a series of escapades, some dangerous, others funny, and a few that would be worthy of jail time should the troublemakers be caught.

After barely graduating, Dave’s drafted into the army and sent to guard a nuclear weapons depot in Korea. There he runs afoul of his sergeant and must scramble to avoid dishonorable discharge.



This was quite a change of pace for me! I really enjoyed reading about Dave and his challenges between growing up in a military family and having to move around so often from base to base.

Reading a coming of age story about a young man was very intriguing. The 1950’s was super interesting to learn about, especially from Dave’s point of view.

I have learned I am enamored with military stories. His collision of military, Coming-of-age and mid-century America is flawless!

William A. Glass has painted a picture so vivid I have the desire to learn more about these subjects!

A great writer always does this!

4 Stars


Chapter One: 


Dave Knight is on his toes peering through a playroom window at the snow. It fell overnight, but there are already tracks in the fresh powder. They lead to the shallow end of the swimming pool. Several servants have gathered there, and now Dave sees why. “Uh-oh, Haji fell into the pool again,” he exclaims.

“Let me see,” Melissa says, shoving Dave aside. Haji Baba is her donkey, and she watches with concern as two houseboys cling to his tail. The driver, Mahmoud, is partway on the ice holding the animal’s neck. “Stupid donkey,” Melissa says. “Now he’s stuck.” She allows the curtain to close and goes out. 

Soon Melissa is back holding a Coca-Cola bottle. “This is for you,” she says and gives the drink to Dave. He takes a swallow and immediately gags. As he regurgitates his breakfast, Dave’s nurse, Farah, rushes over and looks at what’s left of the drink. “You give brother soap water,” she says to Melissa. “Bad girl.” Farah spins Melissa around and gives her two bops on the behind. Then she takes Dave on her hip and carries him down the hall to the master bedroom. 

Lieutenant Colonel David S. Knight Jr. answers Farah’s knock. He belts his uniform jacket while listening to Farah describe what Melissa did. Then the officer wrinkles his nose. “What’s that smell?” he asks.

“He throw up,” Farah replies.

“Well, get him changed, we have to leave,” Knight tells the nurse. “Stop sniveling,” he barks at Dave.

“You don’t have to holler at the poor child,” Bobbie Knight says to her husband. She’s still in bed, propped up on pillows having breakfast. “I wonder why Melissa takes such delight in tormenting him.” 

Farah carries Dave into the bathroom to clean up. Then she takes him to the bedroom he shares with his brother, Dan, who’s sitting on the floor playing. The toddler looks up and blinks his brown eyes curiously as Farah gets Dave into a fresh set of clothes. Dan’s the only one of the children to inherit Knight’s dark good looks. The others all have Bobbie’s fair hair, light-colored eyes, and Celtic complexion. 

While Farah gets Dave ready, Knight goes downstairs to the kitchen. His youngest child, Marie, is in a high chair being spoon-fed breakfast by the family’s cook, Aliya. “Where in the hell is Mahmoud?” Knight asks with an impatient glance at his watch.

“Haji fall in pool,” Aliya replies.

“Not again,” Knight exclaims. He stalks to the front door past Oscar, who’s wagging his tail in anticipation of a pat on the head. Knight ignores the dog and goes outside, where he’s momentarily stunned by the sight of the Alborz Mountains rising in front of him. With the sun just up, only the peaks are illuminated, so the icy spires appear to be floating. It’s a captivating illusion, but Knight now turns his attention to the swimming pool. “Where’s the goddamn rope?” he shouts after a quick assessment.

“I get,” Mahmoud hollers back. He beckons a gardener to take his place holding Haji’s neck. 

As the driver makes his way to the stable through deep snow, Knight lights a cigarette. He watches Mahmoud return to the pool with a length of thick rope, loop it across the donkey’s chest, and then organize the other servants to pull on the ends. They quickly haul the animal out. “Put Haji back in the shed and lock the gate,” Knight directs. “What idiot left it open anyway?” 

Flicking the cigarette away, Knight reenters the house to see Farah coming down the stairs with Dave who is once again properly attired. Melissa follows, holding the hand of her nurse. Knight shepherds both schoolchildren outside and into the backseat of the family car. Mahmoud closes the door behind his passengers then gets behind the wheel. “Don’t you people ever learn?” Knight asks as the vehicle gathers speed. 

“Yes, boss.”

“No, you don’t, or you would’ve got the rope right away.”

“Forget rope.”

“That’s what I mean,” Knight laughs. “You forget what worked last time and go back to what was not working last time; pulling on the poor creature’s tail, for Chrissake.” 

Knight relaxes now that they’re on the way, and soon the vehicle is passing through the outskirts of Tehran. At first, there’s little traffic, but as they near downtown, the streets become congested. Wagons drawn by horses or donkeys intermingle with bicycles, pushcarts, automobiles, and trucks. Businesses housed in rudely constructed cinder block buildings line the road. In between are rubble-strewn vacant lots that shabbily dressed pedestrians cut through on their way to work. 

Once past the commercial district, the neighborhood improves, and soon Mahmoud is turning onto the treelined street that leads to the United States embassy. It’s in a compound that takes up an entire city block. Enclosed within the walls are the ambassador’s residence, an apartment building, a dinner club, barracks for the Marines, and the multistory embassy building, which is topped with an antennae array. This electronic gear was installed by Knight and his command to spy on the Russians. 

As the Knights’ car approaches the embassy entrance, a crowd chants anti-American slogans. Many of the protestors carry signs while others shake their fists. They crowd around the front gate, so a squad of Marines comes out to clear the way. Then a sergeant waves the vehicle through, and now, despite all the chaos at the house this morning, Mahmoud pulls up to the embassy building right on time. He springs out of the driver’s seat to open the back door, and the Knights go inside. Once past more Marine security, they approach a bank of elevators. Melissa and Dave take one down to the basement schoolroom, while their father goes up to his spacious corner office on the sixth floor. 



annie mcdonnell, Annie’s Favorites, Book Giveaway, Book Release, book review, Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Uncategorized

#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


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.



“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.


“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

annie mcdonnell, Fiction, Uncategorized

#Excerpt: The Truth About Heartbreak by B. Celeste

The Truth About Heartbreak 6Excerpt:

River / Present / 23

The velvet caress of silk sheets against my bare skin leaves me hyperaware of what I’ve done. Early morning sunlight slips through the cracked blinds and kisses my exposed back, coating the room in soft pinks and yellows.
Steady, rhythmic breathing sounds from behind me. In, out. In, out. It’s a melody that makes my muscles lock, too afraid to reacquaint my eyes with every dip and curve of chiseled muscle displayed inches away.
His natural musky scent wraps around me, overwhelming my senses until my heart thumps wildly in my chest. It doesn’t take away the memories of lingering touches, gentle kisses, and an overpowering sense of belonging. And less than twelve hours ago, I belonged to Everett Tucker in ways I never thought possible in the ten years of knowing him.
His touches scorched me.
His kisses burned me.
And his body…
The mattress dips with the shift of his weight. I hold my breath, waiting to see if he’s awake. When his soft snores echo in the half-empty room, I release the breath and white knuckle the sheets against my breasts. Carefully, I sit up and squeeze my eyes closed like it’ll soften the blow of reality.
I wait for the pounding headache or quake of unavoidable nausea to punish me, but my conscience reminds me of what I already know. I wasn’t drunk last night. What I’ve done can’t be blamed on alcohol.
My hand drags across my bare neck until my heart thunders in pure panic over my missing possession. I swallow my anxiety when I catch the silver chain resting on the night stand and remember the very moment he took it off me.
Nothing but skin. That’s what he said he wanted between us. I’ve only taken this necklace off to shower and sleep. It goes everywhere with me, the silver paint palette and brush charms sweeping over my heartbeat as a reminder that he cares. But in the moment I had him as more than a wish, a hope, a dream, he didn’t want it lingering.
Nothing but skin.
My fingertips touch the newest charm, a cracked heart, and I suck in a short breath when the contact shocks me. Clenching the sheets tighter to me, I turn slightly to peek through my peripheral and see a tussle of dirty blond hair against my starch white pillow case.
Look, my conscience taunts. Look at him.
Slivers of tan skin make their way into my sight as I shift, my gaze drifting up the mountain of hard muscles that form his toned biceps as they wrap around a pillow. Worrying my bottom lip, my heart summersaults in my chest when the curve of his square jaw comes into view. The sharp line of it is coated with early morning shadow that he’ll shave despite preferring a thin layer of stubble.
He looks peaceful when he’s sleeping; the hard edge he normally radiates eased to a laxed slumber. From this angle, I can see the faded white scar that stretches from the bottom of his left ear along the curve of his throat, landing just above his pulse. You wouldn’t know it’s there unless you know the story, and he doesn’t tell just anybody.
But I’m not just anybody.
Especially not now.
My throat tightens from the emotions lodging in the back of it as I scope out his sculpted body. He works hard for every muscle, spends countless hours in the gym or training at the fire department, and it shows. The man sleeping beside me has been a figment of my imagination that I’ve conjured thousands of times, but his body is a masterpiece I never could have perfected unless I saw it in person.
I absorb the memory of his body spread on my mattress, bare to me. Every vulnerability laying in a mess of sheets, open to pull apart and dissect and regret when the sun fully rises.
Less than twelve hours ago I belonged to the minty eyed boy I’ve loved since I was thirteen. But Everett Tucker isn’t mine to love.
He stirs when I rise from bed.
“Everett,” I whisper brokenly, my heart shattering inside my chest. I can feel the pieces splintering apart as I choke out my final words. “We made a mistake.”


The Truth About Heartbreak 5