Book Review: The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

About the Book:

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She held the letter that she had found in the garden, and noticed the distinctive curls of her father’s handwriting etched on the worn paper. Her life had already been turned upside down by one family secret, would his last words force her to leave her childhood home forever?

When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents. But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows she must return from Chicago to save it.

Caroline and her daughter Lee are welcomed home by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in saving her mother’s legacy, when she meets handsome historian Aaron. As she gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.

But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. And soon the real reason Aaron is in Lake Summers comes to light. Will the truth about the people she loves force her to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart?

About the Author:

barbara

Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning writer who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels include The Bluebell Girls, The Lilac House, The Last Dreamer, and her newest release, The Lily Garden. She has published hundreds of articles about family, home and relationships in national and regional publications, and also teaches novel writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: her husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo! Visit her online at http://www.BarbaraSolomonJosselsohn.com, @Barbara_Josselsohn_Author (Instagram), @BarbaraJoss (twitter) or Facebook.com/BarbaraSolomonJosselsohnAuthor

Amazon link: https://bit.ly/39PgndH

My Thoughts:

This is a wonderful story of re-connecting with people, unravelling secrets and forging new bonds. Caroline comes back to Lake Summers with her daughter in the hope of saving the garden behind the library. This is the garden which her mother built up rather lovingly and took care of it until she passed away at a rather young age. Caroline was taken in by her mother’s best friend Maxine until her great aunt came and took her away.

Caroline is nursing a slight hatred towards her great aunt for having kept her away from Lake Summers, but as time passes, she starts to find out the truth about what really happened and all the secrets her family has kept. Reconnecting with people from her childhood, especially ones who love her and took care of her gives us a feleing of finally coming home. As Caroline and her daughter explore this place and discover their passion, the reader is taken along on a sweet journey towards a wonderful end.

The characters are well thought out and pleasant. I loved reading about Maxine and her family, the love and connection people had with the Garden and the place, Lake Summers. It is a pleasant setting that made me feel happy to be a part of it through Caroline in the end. The cherry on the top is the chance to find love and move beyond all the secrets and what ifs towards new beginnings. The author addresses these quite well in this book.

This is a pleasant read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a romance and family story.

Note: Thanks to Bookouture for having me on the blog tour!

Lily Garden Banner

Book Review: The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad

  Join us for this tour from June 1 to Jun 28, 2021!

 Book Details:

Book Title:  The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad
Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  175 pages
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Amazon KDP
Release date:   March 2021
Content Rating:  PG: Some intense scenes and mild language.

Book Description:

The point of no return has come!

It’s the summer before high school and life is about to change for fourteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer hexes her with everlasting powers, requiring her to become an enchantress. If she cannot learn to control her magic pronto, she will forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s eternal slave.

In order to control her powers, Alyssa must gain control of her emotions. With the struggles of adolescence and disasters everywhere, catastrophes are bound to happen! It’s only a matter of time before Alyssa’s world changes, for better or worse…

BUY THE BOOK:
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Meet the Author: Sunayna Prasad enjoys writing fantasy books for children, as well as cooking, creating artwork, watching online videos, and blogging. She has also written The Frights of Fiji, and A Curse of Mayhem and is constantly creating and brainstorming new ideas.

Sunayna also loves cartoons, traveling, and thinking outside the box.

She lives in New York.

Connect with the Author:   website ~ twitter ~ goodreads

 

Enter the Giveaway:

THE NEW ENCHANTRESS (An Alyssa McCarthy Magical Missions) Book Tour Giveaway

My Thoughts (Book Review):

The New Enchantress is Book 3 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. This book follows Alyssa as she once again gains magic powers and has to become an enchantress. She has to learn to control her powers otherwise she will forget everyone she knows and loves and become a slave to the evil warlock. The story starts off with an upcoming middle grade graduation sleep over where we see Alyssa and her friends gather at her house to spend some time. However, Alyssa’s spirits are dampened due to the loss of her laptop and her newly gained magical powers. Being a moody young teen, she takes it out on her friends causing some backlash.

I found this to be quite childish in the way the friendships are handled. Some of the things the girls say or Alyssa says do not seem to fit with a young teen. It was difficult for me to relate to them as young teens with the way they talked and behaved. However, the writing in this book is much much better than the previous two books and the focus on the plot has been strengthened. I appreciate and acknowledge the maturity in the author’s writing when compared to the previous books, though I believe that there is room for further improvement.

The plot is much the same as the previous books with something going wrong and Alyssa setting out to fix it. One thing however is how she has to learn to control her emotions to be able to control her powers and thus foil the warlock’s plans. By the end, she learns the meaning of friendship, of thinking about things beyond herself and of giving back. I like how this was handled in the book.

Overall an entertaining magic filled read that will keep readers busy for an evening or two!

Guest Post by Sunayna Prasad:

How I Chose my Novels’ Time Settings

We may be living in 2021 (and a global pandemic), but the events of my stories take place over 10 years ago.

In “The Frights of Fiji” and “A Curse of Mayhem,” the year revealed is 2010. “The New Enchantress” is set in 2011. So, my MC, Alyssa would actually only be a few years younger than me if she were real. She would have just turned 24 this past April.

While that may sound disappointing to certain people, there is a reason why the stories take place a long time ago. Some editors pointed out that the stories were set when my readers were babies or really little and suggested that I updated the first book’s setting, which got revised as a new edition in 2018. However, I am glad that I rejected that advice. The editor also understood and agreed that authors should get to choose to set their stories whenever they want.

But I will share two reasons why the events of my “Magical Missions” series take place in the early 2010s.

1: The first installment was originally written and published in the early 2010s.

I started working on book 1 after a bad turnout with a poorly written novel that I published just around high school graduation. I began work on it in 2011 and published it in 2013 as “From Frights to Flaws.”

I chose the 2010 setting because at that time, I wanted my MC to not only be close in age with me, but also have technology not be too advanced or primitive. In “The Frights of Fiji,” there is even the mentioning of an iPod and the iPad getting released soon.

I know technology and times change drastically and quickly. And if I were to write an unrelated book today, I would probably set it around or close to this time.

Which brings me to my next point:

2: You never know what will happen as you live.

There is a lot of controversy and discussions on the dilemmas of writing a story in today’s world, with a pandemic and restrictions on how to live because of it. Some say set your stories in 2019 or a little earlier, and others give all sorts of chaotic advice.

Some authors change their stories to make the characters live in the covid-19 pandemic, where they have to wear face masks, socially distance, refrain from activities like kissing and traveling. I personally would avoid doing this.

Some experts even suggest omitting the pandemic from your stories in order for readers to escape from the stress we’re living through. But they also worry about it misleading future generations about what the world really experienced during 2020 and 2021. So, certain writers might just leave out the dates or years their stories take place as the pandemic could be a thing od the past once the books are finished or when people get it them.

Therefore, I am glad that I stuck with my original time setting. Readers still enjoyed the stories, regardless of the years they take place.

Although I plan to make the final installment’s last setting no later than 2019, my little (not so) secret is that… there is no pandemic happening in my book’s universe.

While we went on a global lockdown in March 2020 and lived with many restrictions since then, my characters continued to live typical lives (going to concerts, bars, etc.). I feel like after going through the difficult time that I never expected, I was uncomfortable making my characters go through that, even if I won’t publish a book set later than 2019. Also, many people crave escapism from stressful times.

There is a work of fiction that has specific dates throughout different moments of the protagonist’s life, and events of the main story take place in 2020. But the characters don’t have to wear face masks, socially distance, quarantine, or have any other pandemic restrictions. They basically live a normal life, except for the domination of advanced technology. This is the film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

All in all, those are the reasons I chose my novels’ time setting.

Book Review: Murder at the Mela by Leela Soma

 

Book Blurb:

Newly appointed as Glasgow’s first Asian DI, Alok Patel’s first assignment is the investigation of the brutal murder of Nadia, an Asian woman. Her body was discovered in the aftermath of the Mela festival in Kelvingrove Park. During the Mela, a small fight erupted between a BNP group and an Asian gang, but was quickly quelled by police.

When Nadia is accused of having an affair with a local man, even more questions about her death arise. Was her murder a crime of passion, or was it racially motivated? Could it be an honour killing? The deep-rooted tensions within Glasgow’s Asian communities bubble to the surface as DI Patel struggles with his parents, who disapprove of his relationship with his Muslim partner, Usma.

As DI Patel struggles to gain any help from the Asian community, another body is discovered in the West End- the body of a white man. Is this new murder fuelled by revenge? Killed by an Asian gang? As the list of murder suspects grows, DI Patel finds himself grappling with the pressures of his new rank, including the racism of at least one fellow officer.

This novel peels away the layers of Glasgow’s Asian communities, while exploring the complicated relationships between Asian people and the city.

 

About Leela Soma:

Leela Soma was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. She was a Principal Teacher of Modern Studies before deciding to write full time. Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and publications most recently, Issue 5 of Gutter magazine. She won the Margaret Thomson Davis Trophy for Best New Writer 2007 for her then unpublished novel Twice Born which was later published on YouWriteOn. She is on the Committee of the Milngavie Book & Art Festival and the Scottish Writer’s Centre. Her writings reflect her experiences as a first generation Indo-Scot.

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Glasgowlee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leela-Soma-Writer-106619201416953

Website: https://leelasoma.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leelasoma/

 

Purchase Links:

Ringwood Publishing: https://bit.ly/2ZAdb00

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/37vvKa0

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ZBMtnI

Waterstones: http://bit.ly/37w5H2e

 

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital formats by Ringwood Publishing on 3rd November 2020

 

My Thoughts:

Murder at the Mela is a well written murder mystery set in Glasgow. It follows the journey of newly appointed DI Patel as he works to uncover the truth behind the murder of a young woman after the night of the Mela. The story is well-written and flows very well. I enjoyed the way the author has explained the investigative process and it definitely shows that quite a bit of research has gone into the writing.

The characters are an interesting mix of people with different racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as religious beliefs. The author delicately handles the different religious beliefs and brings out the way each person handles it. I thoroughly enjoyed the various interactions and reactions among the characters. At some points, it felt as though the story is needlessly dragging and some changes in scenes happened abruptly with no warning. At one point we read about one character and in the next sentence the reader is taken to a different location and shown different people. This was a little confusing. However, this did not take away from the entire story and thus it was a pleasant read.

Overall, this murder mystery is worth following and DI Patel’s capabilities as a police investigator are spot on! This is definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it!

 

Book Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper

About the Book:

Clearing out the attic, Zoey opens the carved trunk and smiles as she picks up the small, leather-bound diary hiding inside. Curious, she leafs through the pages, and realises this will change everything…

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, snuggling up with hot chocolate and hearing Ivy’s stories about being married to a sea captain. Now, heartbroken from a breakup, Zoey escapes back to the island, but is shocked to find her elderly aunt’s spark fading. Worse, her cousin—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the family clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when Nick, a local carpenter and Ivy’s neighbor, takes her side. As Zoey finds comfort in his sea-blue eyes and warm laugh, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. Nick’s urging her to share the discovery, which could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but when Zoey learns that Nick and her cousin go way back, she questions if the man she‘s starting to have feelings for really has Ivy’s best interests at heart. Will dredging up this old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

A stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family. Perfect for fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Robyn Carr and Mary Alice Monroe.

About the author:
Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

 

My Thoughts:

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. Having read Summer at Hope Haven, I was immediately interested in reading this upcoming novel by the author.

This book is another simple beach read that can be read in one sitting, but will tug at the heart-strings much more than the previous book did. This story explores the concepts loss and the importance of family and support. Once again at Dune Island, we visit Aunt Ivy’s cottage, a place that holds so many memories across generations. We meet Zoey, who comes to stay with her great-aunt Ivy and to take care of her while everyone is dealing with the grief of losing great-aunt Sylvia. Ivy’s character is interesting, but we only ever see her lost in the past and repeating stories of times long gone.

Mark, Zoey’s cousin, is at odds with everyone and has a different view on how Ivy should be taken care of causing the cousins to be on opposite ends. Throw into the mix memories of Zoey’s sister who passed away due to illness and her niece, the only remaining part of her sister and we are in for an emotion filled ride. It is wonderful to read about the bond between Zoey and her niece, how they help each other heal.

However, the story line does not completely flow the way the synopsis suggests which is a little disappointing. The focus in the story is more on remodeling Aunt Ivy’s house and taking care of her. There is an element of mystery as Mark’s claim to inherit the cottage is under question. Even though this is suggested to be of importance, it takes a backseat as the story progresses until the end. There is also a budding romantic angle between Zoey and the carpenter that is pushed to the background and develops slowly not being the central focus of the story. The story does slow down in between, but there are many parts that are very enjoyable, including the references to the characters from the author’s previous book.

Overall this is a pleasant read albeit sad at times and is worth picking up for all fans of Romance out there!

 

Blog-tour stops and dates:

Book Tour Finale: JORDAN’S DELIVERANCE by Allen Steadham

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On Tour with [54]Prism Book Tours

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

[55]Launch – Author Interview

What inspired you to write JORDAN’S DELIVERANCE?

It is the third and final book in the Jordan of Algoran Christian Science-Fantasy series. I started work on the series in 2015 with a basic premise: God is not limited to Earth. He reigns over the whole universe. So, He is able to reach Jordan, even when she and her mother are abducted and taken to another world. I decided to carry this idea throughout the series and to its conclusion.

[56]Bookstagram Tour
(With its own giveaway – ends 10/25/20.)

[57]Rincón de Joss – Excerpt

The Observance Torch was the same as any other torch, but it was adorned with red jula crystals, reinforced with twine, and its top was dipped in animal fat and dusted with crushed dry jikpal leaves which made the flames take on a violet shade. When the Observance Torch was lit, it told the villagers passing by her hut not to enter, since the Chieftess was seeking wisdom and guidance from the Father of Spirits whom she called God.

[58]Christy’s Cozy Corners – Guest Post

Part of Jordan’s Deliverance is set on Earth in the early 2070s. Before I wrote those scenes, I had to ask myself a few important questions:
1. How much could Earth change in fifty years?
2. What kind of technological advances might occur in that time?
3. Would Jordan even recognize her (fictional) hometown of Chase Creek, Colorado?
4. Would people speak any differently or use different jargon? . . .

[59]Uplifting Reads – Excerpt

“You are taking a big risk acting this way,” Commander Imbador warned. “Getting that pardon will take even longer.”

“I am the only one who has the information you need. I think that justifies the risk,” Zeetra countered, her frown transforming to a smile. She put her hands behind her head, locking her fingers as she leaned back against the bed confidently. “And right now, I have nothing but time.”

[60]Adventures of a Travelers Wife – Interview and Review

How did you dream up this world and all its details?

I had to start from scratch. Originally, I was imagining this as purely a fantasy tale. But it soon became clear that this was going to mostly take place on an alien world called Algoran. I tried to envision another world, as diverse in land, sea, and people as any other world. I made it clear from the beginning that this was an Earth-like world or else the main character, Jordan, and her mother would not have been able to survive, much less thrive.

In keeping with the fantasy concept, however, I did not want a lot of advanced technology. I wanted this world to be a contrast to Earth, to picture life without our modern conveniences while depicting the beauty and dangers of nature. Growing up in a major Texas city, it was an enjoyable challenge to flesh out a world the complete opposite of what I knew. I had to do a lot of research to understand different regions and climates.

“Whew, what a way to begin a series! Jordan pulled me in from the beginning and made me so curious about her as a person and how Allen Steadham would mold her as a character. . . . The plot was also really good and hooked me from the first page . . . I totally enjoyed this story and definitely recommend it if you are willing to take a leap into a world not quite our own. 5 out of 5 stars for the great character build up, faith interwoven themes, and for leaving me wanting more.” – Jordan’s World

[61]Hallie Reads – Excerpt

Jordan hadn’t felt the rush of the vortex in decades. It had grabbed her like a thing alive and thrashed her about in its clutches, shifting violently in a torrent of motion as lights flashed all around her. When it finally released her, she was barely coherent enough to land on her feet and run to a stop. Then she heard something approaching. Whatever it was, it was big and so close, it was almost on top of her.

I cannot get out of the way in time!

[62]Rockin’ Book Reviews – Reviews

This is a very intriguing story. There is a lot of mystery and adventure throughout. It’s an interesting new world for Jordan and it’s impressive how well she adjusted to her new surroundings. . . . The characters are awesome. They are all well-developed and it is easy to feel their emotions. – Jordan’s World

It was fun to continue to follow Jordan and her old and new friends. There is so much adventure in this story. You get to meet new tribes of people on their planet of Algoran. . . . The story flows well from chapter to chapter and is easy to follow along.” – Jordan’s Arrow

A great continuation of Jordan on Algoran. Watching Jordan and her family grow and strengthen is a great treat. So many new and wonderful characters that you get to know . . . I think this is a great story and recommend it to teen to adult readers. – Jordan’s Deliverance

[63]Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters – Interview

4.) To which character did you best relate?

The main character, Jordan. There are many enjoyable characters in the series, but it’s centered around Jordan for a reason: we follow her life, the ups and downs, joys and losses. We get to see her grow as a woman. She’s not perfect, she makes some big mistakes along the way, but she has a good heart. She’s the most relatable character, in my opinion.

[64]Wishful Endings – Guest Post

I make no secret that I’m a Star Trek fan, going all the way back to The Original Series. I watched it in syndication in the 1970s as a child. From 2005 to 2015, I only read Star Trek novels. So here are my top ten influences from the TV, movies, and books. . .

[65]Splashes of Joy – Excerpt

Instead, she took in a deep breath and was grateful something had actually happened. She grabbed the sapphire-hued javelin with both hands, pulling it close to her chest. A new fire burned in her gaze.

“I am the granddaughter of Snow and Fire! I will protect you and look after your needs,” she declared. “Give me your trust and I shall not disappoint you. I will also consult with my torkomm and the village elders. All will be well.”

[66]Bookworm Lisa – Review

“. . . this story is about growing and becoming. Jordan has difficult decisions and knows that there is a deity who watches over her, even though she is far away from home. She learns for herself where her home is and whom she can believe in.

I am intrigued at what future endeavors and adventures await Jordan and her friends.” – Jordan’s World

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post…

[Jordan%2527s%2BDeliverance-Final.jpg]
Jordan’s Deliverance
(Jordan of Algoran #3)
By Allen Steadham
Christian Science Fiction, Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 330 Pages
October 13, 2020 by Ambassador International

The Onchei are back.
And trouble looms…

The Onchei want to learn what happened to their brethren on Algoran from the only survivor, Zeetra. Yet they learn instead she has broken the Onchei’s highest law: never intermarry or have children with another race. For this, she now faces execution.

Jordan SnowFire fears the Onchei will blame the Mokta and seek retribution soon. Only an ancient heirloom, which contains the ultimate Onchei knowledge, can save the Mokta…except it’s on Earth, a world she hasn’t seen in decades.

Jordan sends her son, Arrow, and her friend’s daughter, Maska, to rescue Zeetra while she travels back to Earth to seek the Onchei artifact. What tie is there between a thousand-year-old object and Jordan’s ancestors? Could this explain why she and her mother were originally abducted and brought to Algoran?

In the skies of Algoran, a final confrontation looms between the Onchei and the Mokta. And on Earth, Jordan finds more than she could have possibly imagined…

(Affiliate links included.)
[67]Goodreads | [68]Amazon | [69]Barnes & Noble | [70]Christianbook

Other Books in the Series

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(Linked to Amazon affiliate links.)

About the Author

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Allen Steadham created comic books and webcomics before he started writing novels. He has been married to his wife, Angel, since 1995 and they have two sons and a daughter. When not writing stories, Allen and his wife are singers, songwriters, and musicians. They have been in a Christian band together since 1997. They live in Central Texas.

[73]Website | [74]Goodreads | [75]BookBub | [76]Facebook | [77]Twitter | [78]Instagram

Tour Giveaway

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– One winner will receive signed print copies of the entire Jordan of Algoran series (US only)
– One winner will receive ebook copies of the entire Jordan of Algoran series (open internationally)
– Ends October 29, 2020

[79]ENTER HERE

[80]Grab Our Button!

Book Blast: Lucy’s Last Chance by Elle Sweet

Book Blurb:

Lucy was a high-powered attorney who had a nervous breakdown after her husband left her. Broken, she came to the town of Moonshire Bay to start over as a yoga instructor; determined to find inner peace in all things this time around.

Brant is running for Mayor and running after Lucy, but she is scared of his drive and need for success.

Can Lucy realize she’s stronger than she thinks and take a chance on love?

About Elle Sweet:

Elle Sweet is the pen name of mystery author Laina Turner.

I started writing ten years ago, and it was always my intent and desire to write romance. However, in my first book, someone died. It just happened and turned the romance into a mystery.

Twenty-some books later, and I decided enough was enough. I was going to do what I’d initially set out to do at the start of my writing journey. Write a book where no one died (It’s not as easy as you think).

I can’t tell you how much fun I had writing Finding Rachel and the three others set in the small town of Moonshire Bay. Finding Rachel is out now and Ari’s Adventure will release in spring of 2020 with the third book set to follow in the early summer of 2020.

How did I come up with my pen name? Elle for the “L” in Laina and Sweet was my grandfather’s last name. I wanted something that had a story. I originally wanted to call myself LuluBell after a pet cow I once had, but the family shot that one down.

Born and raised in the midwest, I live in Indiana with my husband, three amazing children, and our dogs Duke and Macy.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/laina_turner

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

Website: https://www.lainaturner.com/books/?cat=romance

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lainaturner/

Purchase Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2P5Y0WZ

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31368Nq

Google Books: https://bit.ly/3gaKddL

NOOK: https://bit.ly/30Y7QzR

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2X3cBa7

Publishing Information:

Published on 12th August 2020 in digital format

 

Book Review: Keep Forever by Alexa Kingaard

 

Keep Forever
Alexa Kingaard
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 28th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction

“Unlike some war stories that focus on intense, harsh and graphic depictions of post-combat trauma, this tale unfolds gently, like an Edna Ferber novel, spread across many decades, detailing the impact this soldier’s illness has on an entire family, including children and grandchildren. KEEP FOREVER is a wonderful, emotionally satisfying read that I highly recommend. ”
GARY SEIGEL, author of “Haskell Himself”

 

 

Paul O’Brien’s idyllic childhood in Southern California comes to a halt when his mother dies in the summer before his senior year of high school and a very different persona of his father emerges – isolating himself inside the house, turning to alcohol for comfort, and barely noticing his only child. Simultaneously, the war in Vietnam is sending shock waves around the world and young men from one coast to the other are being called upon to serve. Paul enlists in the Marines before receiving his draft notice.

Elizabeth Sutton is eager to gain some independence from her father’s old fashioned notions and looking forward to her first year in high school. At fifteen years old, tragedy strikes with the loss of both parents in an auto accident, turning her childhood into one of responsibility and worry overnight. The four siblings are scattered when her nine-year-old twin sisters are sent to live with their Aunt and Uncle on Nantucket Island, and Elizabeth is left behind in Boston with their grandmother. Her older brother, Sam, enlists in the Marines, eager to join the conflict a world away as opposed to dealing with the one unfolding at home.

A bond develops between Paul and Sam in Vietnam, and both are injured in a bloody battle that costs Sam his right hand and sets the stage for a lifetime of nightmares and sleepless nights for Paul. Matched by similar tragedies at a young age, Elizabeth and Paul’s first introduction by Sam upon their return from Vietnam is the beginning of friendship and love that survives five decades.

After marrying, welcoming their first child, and inheriting a small beach house, the couple adapts to their new surroundings, but distant memories of Vietnam continue to haunt Paul. In an era when veterans refuse to speak of their pain and the government denies that thousands of soldiers are coming home irreparably damaged, he is left to deal with the challenge of caring for his loved ones amidst his his erratic flashback episodes and moods. As their lives unravel from the lingering effects of PTSD, Elizabeth learns to accept the burden that Paul brought home, and together they make their own memories to keep forever.

Inspired By A True Story

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Author Bio:

ALEXA KINGAARD, a California native, currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of a son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders.

October 13, 2011, was the day that changed her life forever when her ex-husband, a Vietnam veteran, took his life during a PTSD flashback episode. Inspired to share this tragedy that continues to rob husbands and wives of their spouses, children of their parents, mothers of their children, brothers and sisters of their siblings, and comrades of their friends, Kingaard relied on her own experiences to shed light on this crisis. The burden brought home is not partial to Vietnam, but is an insidious aftershock endured by combat veterans of all conflicts.

Kingaard continues to pursue her literary career, writing about nostalgia and the human condition, the common denominator of our lives.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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My Thoughts:

Keep Forever is a story that will take the rider on a roller coaster of emotions. It follows the lives of Paul and Sam as they navigate their way through being Marines and their short experience with War in Vietnam. We also follow Elizabeth, Sam’s sister as she tries to hold on to her emotions and childhood while dealing with the loss of her parents and the responsibility of her younger siblings. A very well-written story, Keep Forever will pull the reader in and make up experience everything along with the main characters. The happiness, the turmoil, the heart-wrenching sadness and the flicker of hope.

Considering that this story is inspired by a true story, it is all that more eye opening. The reader is exposed to the concept of PTSD, the possible causes and the effects it may have on the person experiencing it as well as the people around. If a person is suffering from it, their pain and sorrow is difficult to relate to, but for the family, it is even more difficult to handle. The author brings in a lot of perspective on the topic and handles the concept with delicate ease. The main characters are well rounded and very well thought out. I enjoyed reading about their lives, and it was a humbling experience. We are also given a glimpse into the circumstances that shaped the characters and made them who they are, the reasons behind their decisions and finally the consequences of these decisions. These form the crux of the plot.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and how she grows into a strong woman. She takes control of her life, takes care of her family and builds a new one with the man she loves. Even in the end, she manages to give him distance while maintaining normalcy to ensure that he never feels useless. Her delicate handling of things and her ability to understand or make and effort to understand her husband’s pain is what makes her a wonderful person.

This story is a must read for everyone, a way to try and understand the nightmares of war and how it affects us human beings!

Book Tour – Excerpt of A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen

~ Blog Tour ~ 

A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen

– 20th to 25th April –
About the Book:

An abandoned half-human child.

An immortal warrior whose villainous past keeps him in hiding.

Two monsters in need of a family.

 

 

 

 

A Stolen Heart transports science fiction fans to the fantastic Tarthian Empire in the distant future; a wealthy but deliciously seedy corner of the galaxy. Here, powerful immortals comingle with genetically-enhanced humans and animals, aliens and androids, and secret societies are commonplace.

After rescuing a half-alien / half-human child who’s running for his life on the planet Kelthia, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur named Luc Saint-Cyr stumbles onto a conspiracy at the highest levels of the powerful Thieves’ Guild.

Complicating matters, the king–Luc’s immortal ex–might be involved.

As if that’s not enough, an unseen enemy is undoing every good thing Luc accomplishes.

But, when it comes time to give up the child to a family who can care for him, how will Luc bear to part with the adorable little boy who has stolen his heart?

Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from A Stolen Heart

At lunch, Luc finished a sandwich and pulled out his mobile while the boy gobbled up his own sandwich, crunched all his carrot sticks and drank all his milk. But then Senthys stuffed his mouth with apple slices as if he thought someone would take away whatever he didn’t eat. Perhaps at the Academy, they had.”Take those out of your mouth.” Luc held the plate for him. “One bite at a time, please.”Head down, Senthys obeyed. “Can I still eat them?”

“You may.” Luc wiped the boy’s mouth. “In this house, no one will take away your food. Not ever.” He had never disciplined his Deshai by denying them meals. How could anyone do such a thing to a child?

When imprisoned, Pietas had been chained in the dark and starved for over a year. If Luc couldn’t bear the thought of his king going hungry, how could he tolerate it for a boy?

Once Senthys finished his apple, he pointed to a small bowl. “What’s that?”

Luc tipped it toward himself. “Raisins.”

The boy wrinkled up his nose. “They look scary.”

“Raisins?” He tilted the bowl again. How did one convince a child raisins weren’t scary? How had he convinced recruits to try things they balked at? Familiarity. He’d made them carry unloaded weapons for days before training them on the devices. Luc picked one up. “Smell.” He pulled his hand back before the boy could.

Senthys blinked and looked up at him.

“Remember,” Luc told him. “Smell. Don’t eat it yet.”

“Okay.” As Luc held it for him, Senthys leaned closer, sniffing. “It’s sweet.”

“That’s because there’s magic inside them.”

The boy’s eyes widened. “There is? Can I see the magic?”

Stifling a smile, Luc chose one and offered it. “You try. Squeeze it. Like this.” He pressed it between first finger and thumb.

Senthys pressed, frowning in concentration. “Ew! Brown stuff came out.” He dropped it and wiped that hand on his shirt.

“The squishy part is the magic coming out.”

“It is?” Senthys picked the raisin back up, peering at it.

Now came the part Luc liked. Showing recruits the benefits and seeing them embrace the challenge. “Raisins give you magic energy to run and hit a ball. They help you play hide and seek.”

“Can they help me get magic coins out of my hair?”

“Hmm.” The sleight of hand had been Luc’s attempt to distract him from crying. “If you eat them long enough and study how to do it.”

“Can I have a raisin?”

“I don’t know.” Luc pretended to consider it. “You’d have to eat the whole bowl to get enough magic. I don’t know if you can eat that many.”

“Oh, I can!” Senthys clapped, bouncing in his seat. “I can eat them!”

“I squished this one, so I’ll eat it. Okay with you?” Luc held it up to his mouth.

Senthys opened his.

“You want it?” Luc offered it.

The boy nodded.

“Okay, here we go.” Using slow motions, Luc reached toward him as Senthys leaned forward. At the last second, Luc yanked it back and popped the raisin in his own mouth. He opened his eyes wide, teasing the boy. “Mine.”

With a peal of laughter, Senthys grabbed a raisin and offered it to Luc, but yanked it back and made the same face.

Luc clacked his teeth together, pretending to bite the air.

Senthys stuck the raisin in his own mouth and threw out his arms toward Luc.

When Luc hugged him, the boy kissed his cheek and put his head on Luc’s shoulder. “I love you, Sen’dai.”

He hugged the boy tight. How could vows be right if they forced him to say good-bye?

Senthys lifted his head. “Why are you sad?”

Luc brushed back the boy’s hair. “Because I never want you to grow up. I want you to stay little like you are right now, forever.”

Senthys wrinkled his nose. “That’s silly.”

He tapped the boy on the nose. “It is indeed.”

A Stolen Heart, sci fi from Kayelle Allen

Want to know when this book is available? Like to have a free read before it’s out? Join one of Kayelle’s reader groups. You’ll also get free starter books right away. https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups/

 

Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She’s also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she’s tenured.

Book Tour: Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

~ Book Tour ~
Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

10th to 30th April

About the Book:

She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin’s prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He’s never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He’s Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the ‘right’ man or a chance at happiness with the ‘wrong’ one?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj

Alisha was dreaming about tiny babies crawling all over her when a tinny, buzzing noise filled the room. Struggling awake, she located her phone on the side table and squinted at the display. Vivaan. At this hour? It was close to two in the morning.
Heart pounding, she answered the phone. “Are you okay?”
Silence was her only reply. Checking the phone’s display to see if the call had been cut off, she frowned when she realized he was still on the line.
“Vivaan?”
“I get it now.”
The quiet words had her flopping back against her pillows in relief. He didn’t sound like he was hurt or in pain.
“Get what now?” she asked, staring into the darkness of her room. There was something frighteningly intimate about lying in bed, enveloped in darkness with only his voice on the other end of the phone anchoring her to the moment.
“Everything you said. About the way people think. About the way they behave.” He sounded sad. Alisha wanted to soothe and comfort but didn’t know exactly where this was going. Instead, she waited.
“I want you to know,” he stopped for a minute and then continued, “No, I need you to know that you’re incredible. That you can smile, you can laugh, God, the fact that you can love and live in the face of the incredible assholes who make up huge chunks of our society is beyond incredible.”
A single tear rolled down Alisha’s face as she let his words wash over her. They soothed her in places she hadn’t known were still hurting.
“Are you there, Alisha?” His voice reached out to her again bringing her back to the moment.
“Yes.” She could never let him know it but for him, she would always be there.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I don’t remember you doing anything that needs apologizing for,” she answered.
“For not taking what you said seriously. About people and society. For dismissing it the way I did.”
His words had pain knifing through her. If he finally understood, he also understood there was no future for them. A sense of loss swept through her at the thought of Vivaan no longer wanting her. It was what she’d wanted, what she’d pushed for and still….it was devastating.
“Alisha,” he whispered her name, recalling her to their conversation. “I’ve never wanted you more.”

About Shilpa Suraj:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Shilpa on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

 

Book Review: The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski

About the Book:

A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.

About the Author:

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LeoBorstinski

Website: http://www.leopoldborstinski.com/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B071ZZXZMR?_encoding=UTF8&redirectedFromKindleDbs=true&ref=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000&rfkd=1&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bowery-Slugger-Alex-Cohen-Book-ebook/dp/B07X7HC4L2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1572945986&sr=8-1

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Bowery-Slugger-Alex-Cohen-Book-ebook/dp/B07X7HC4L2/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+bowery+slugger&qid=1572946119&sr=8-1

Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=7L2vDwAAQBAJ&rdid=book-7L2vDwAAQBAJ&rdot=1&source=gbs_vpt_read&pcampaignid=books_booksearch_viewport

NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bowery-slugger-leopold-borstinski/1133282419

My Thoughts:

The Bowery Slugger follows the life of Alex as he steps off a boat and onto American soil. This is a well-written story set during the onset of World War I, bringing the reader to a small part of the world and it’s inhabitants. Alex, in his teenage years, is smart and ruthless, grabbing opportunities and finding his way forward. We are introduced to the Jewish New York mob and how it is run. We meet some very interesting people who add different views and dimensions to this story.

The story is fast paced and at some points is quite graphic and gruesome. However, the author handles the plot quite well and the reader is pulled in the midst of family drama, power struggles, trust and status. The characters are well crafted and fit into the historical setting of this first book. The period and setting is so well described that it is easy for us as the readers to imagine it all in our minds.

Though slow at the beginning, the story picks up speed and pushes forward to an interesting climax. There is indeed some romance brought into the mix, but it takes a back seat most of the time. This story arc shows the reader a contrast in character thinking and brings into focus the skills of the main protagonist. As Alex starts to consider a move from his profession for the sake of love, he starts to wonder at his skill set and whether he is cut out for a world away from crime and the mob.

The plot is elaborately crafted and the reader takes a journey through the hierarchy of people and how the system works. There is a weird sense of justice about the job Alex holds inspite of the violence. there is a sense of honor.

The Bowery Slugger, an apt title for Alex in my opinion, is well worth a read!