Book Review: Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1) by Kristin Harper

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and Bookouture. Read on to know my thoughts on the book.

About the Book:

Summer at Hope Haven (Dune Island #1)

Making her way up the cedar-lined driveway, tears fill her eyes at the sight of the cottage’s faded trim and peeling turquoise shutters. Taking a deep breath, she grasps the heart-shaped iron door handle and steps inside the once-happy childhood home she’s been avoiding. It is time to face up to the past…

When Emily’s fiancé walks out on her while she’s still grieving the loss of her family in a terrible accident, she escapes back to Hope Haven on the remote Dune Island, where her family vacationed every summer. Emily hopes that fixing up the house will also mend her broken heart, but the cottage holds more than just bittersweet childhood memories. Emptying her father’s antique writing desk, Emily finds a letter that reveals a devastating secret about her parents.

With a head full of questions that can never be answered, it seems like returning to the island was the worst decision Emily ever made… until she meets Lucas Socorro, saltwater dripping from his dark curls after a surf session. As they take long walks on the soft sand, and talk late into the firefly-lit night, Emily wonders if Dr Luke—as the kids in the hospital call him—could be the one to help her heal. With Luke holding her hand, delving into her family’s painful past is a little easier.

Painting the gloomy cottage walls the colour of seashells, and revamping her grandmother’s flea-market furniture, Emily starts to feel she might call Dune Island home for good—and that she could build that home right here with Luke. But when Emily’s family secret spreads through a network of local gossips, her fragile heart breaks all over again. Luke is the only one who could have started the rumours. Was she wrong to trust him so easily?

As the sun sets behind the dunes, Emily has a difficult decision to make. Does she pack her bags and leave the island for good? Or take a risk that Hope Haven has everything she’s been looking for?

A beautiful and emotional read that will make you long to feel the sand beneath your feet. Perfect for fans of Nancy Thayer, Tracy Brogan and Mary Alice Monroe.

My Thoughts:

The book introduces us to Emily, the main protagonist dealing with the loss of her family in a terrible accident and a broken engagement. To get away, Emily comes down to Hope Haven, to stay at the house her family vacationed at every summer. Surrounded by many memories and in the midst of discovering new secrets about her parents, Emily is once again shattered as she struggles to reconcile the knowledge she has of her parents and the new information she finds. In the midst of all this, she leans on her bonds with her childhood friend and his wife while trying to forge new with Lucas Socorro, a doctor at the hospital and the people at Dune Island.

As the story progresses, the reader is thrown into the midst of Emily’s emotional turmoil as she struggles to cope. The story is well-written and is filled with some very well crafted characters. They are endearing and relatable and fun to read about. The setting is beautiful and while our characters take long strolls along the beach, it is easy for the reader to imagine themselves doing the same thing.

The story is quite enjoyable and as Emily becomes stronger and accepts her life, the secrets, the people at Dune Island, she also starts to consider opening herself up to love. This is a great read for all the romance fans out there!

Grand Finale Book Blitz: HER SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT by Cari Lynn Webb

Her Surprise Engagement
(City by the Bay Stories #6)
By Cari Lynn Webb
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
July 1, 2020 by Harlequin Heartwarming

A football star and a single mom…

Teach each other to trust again

To impress the executives buying her app, Nichole Moore enlists the help of old friend and pro quarterback Chase Jacobs. A pretend marriage is the perfect ruse: Chase’s celebrity status will impress the executives, while likable, hardworking Nichole could fix his fading career. But as their fake relationship plays out under the glare of the public eye, Nichole realizes her feelings might be the real deal…

(Affiliate links included.)
Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Cari Lynn Webb lives in South Carolina with her husband, daughters and assorted four-legged family members. She’s been blessed to see the power of true love in her grandparent’s 70 year marriage and her parent’s marriage of over 50 years. She knows love isn’t always sweet and perfect, it can be challenging, complicated and risky. But she believes happily-ever-afters are worth fighting for. She loves to connect with readers. Visit her at her website.

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and the Return of the Blackwell Brothers Continuity Series with a book tote bag. (5 Print Books & tote bag to US Residents only, E-copies to anyone outside the US).

Ends July 22, 2020

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Grand Finale Book Blitz: Christmas in Bayberry by Jennifer Faye

Christmas in Bayberry:
A Small-Town Christmas Romance from Hallmark Publishing
By Jennifer Faye
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 238 Pages
July 7th 2020 by Hallmark Publishing

She’s trying to save the family candle company.
He’s trying not to fall for Bayberry—and her—again.

Kate Taylor knows what she wants in life: to one day run her family’s candle business, which is at the heart of the close-knit community of Bayberry, Vermont. But the company isn’t doing well.

Wesley Adams is on the fast track to be an assistant vice president at his financial firm in Manhattan. Before the promotion is announced, he’s sent to this small town from his past to do an analysis of the candle company.

He doesn’t expect to bump into his childhood crush, Kate, and when he does, sparks fly. As he spends time in Bayberry, he falls for the town’s Christmas traditions—and for her. But he has a responsibility to submit an honest report. Will it extinguish Kate’s dreams…along with any chance they have for a future together?

This heart-warming romance contains a free Hallmark original recipe for Cast Iron Beef Stew.

(Affiliate links included.)


Go to Jennifer’s Contact Page HERE and order your bookmark(s)!

Please state the quantity you desire and which bookmarks/titles you are interested in.Feel free to order extra to share with your favorite bookstore, library and family/friends.

NOTE: A big apology but due to postal fees, only available to continental U.S. residents.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Jennifer Faye pens fun, heartwarming contemporary romances with rugged cowboys, sexy billionaires and enchanting royalty. Internationally published with books translated into nine languages. She is a two-time winner of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, named a TOP PICK author, and been nominated for numerous other awards.
Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card plus…
an autographed copy of CHRISTMAS IN BAYBERRY, Yankee Candle Bayberry, Wilton cookie cutter, Hallmark ornament, Hallmark Light-up earrings, Hallmark glass and more…
US only
Ends July 22, 2020

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In Conversation with E.B. Roshan

I have the pleasure of introducing E.B. Roshan on the blog. Her latest book Last Chance was released on the 4th of July.

Read on to know more about her and her book.

1.  Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, I’m E.B. Roshan and I’m delighted to be able to share a little bit about me and my books with you all today. In addition to being an author, I’m wife to an exceptional man and mother to two sons. After spending several years living in the Middle East and Asia, our family has settled in Missouri. I’m a Goodreads Author, so please do check out my profile there and leave me a note, or ask me a question: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20265632.E_B_Roshan As a new author, I’d love to connect with more readers. I want to to hear from the people who loved my stories, and the ones who didn’t, since obviously I can’t learn and improve without feedback.

2. What prompted you to start writing?

I’ve been writing nearly all my life. When I was very young, I would write letters that were really just wobbly scribbles to my great-grandmother telling her about what I was doing. Writing runs in my family, I think. Nearly everyone seems to enjoy doing it on some level. However, it wasn’t until relatively recently I decided to take the plunge and write a series for publication. Two books in, three to go…

3. Tell us about your latest book?

          My latest book, Final Chance, is suspense with some romantic elements. It’s about a young woman’s search for her estranged and missing husband, and the trouble she gets into because she’s convinced she’s the only one who can           save him. I like to give as many people as possible the opportunity to read my books, so Final Chance is available on Kobo, Barnes&Noble, and Apple Books as well as Amazon.

4. How much research went into the writing of this book?

To be honest, I haven’t done any research for my current series. The settings and characters are based on imagination and personal experience rather than research. Though I’ve spent time in some of this world’s most troubled places, for the Shards of Sevia series, I’ve chosen to create my own setting, inspired, but not based on, any place I’ve actually lived. This is partly because I loved the challenge of creating a whole world from scratch, but mainly because some of the major themes in this story, like war and racial hatred, are very sensitive topics. I did not wish to entangle my fiction with real-world conflicts or political issues. I would like any reader, regardless of background, to be able to enjoy these stories.

5. How easy/difficult was it to write this book and create the characters for it?

My latest book, Final Chance, was actually not as easy or enjoyable to write as some of the others, because it’s the story of a difficult person going through an incredibly difficult situation. I really wanted to write the story, and I felt it had to be told the way I chose to tell it, but when I sat down with my computer and a cup of tea I didn’t say, “Ahhh, now I get to write!” The protagonist of Final Chance is a young girl named Preen.  Everyone (including her) believes her husband, Rama, is dead, but when Preen realizes he isn’t she goes against her family’s wishes, leaves her young daughter behind, and returns back to the city where he’d been living to find him. An early reader of the story summed up Preen very well: “She’s not mean-spirited, but she’s too self-focused in a way, even though she’s doing it for someone else. She also lets her common sense be blinded innumerable times in pursuit of her goal. She could be a really strong character, if she could just get over herself…”

6. How much does your day to day life inspire your characters?

Certainly I’ve gained inspiration for plots and characters from my daily life, but since I am writing fiction I take care not to use details in a way that would be offensive, making someone I know who reads the story wonder, “Yikes, is she writing about me?”

7. What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Actually, the majority of my life comes under the heading of “Not Writing,” though I really enjoy the times I have a quiet hour or two to capture the next scene in a story. As a housewife and mother, I’m usually busy with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my boys. We have a small house and sometimes things get a little wild, but I can always settle them down by reading a good story.

8. How much time do you spend on your writing on average per day?

That really depends—some days I have time to write a lot, other days hardly at all. Since I’m not trying to make a living off my books, that takes away a great deal of pressure, I think. Writing stories is a relaxing, creative activity.

9. What do you like best about writing a story?

I love the satisfaction that comes from creating anything new, and I really love it when other people read my stories and for a short time find themselves living in the world I created.

10. What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

Writing keeps my brain fresh and active in a way that washing muddy shoes or picking grains of rice out of the rug just doesn’t. You other moms/authors out there know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

11. Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

          Thanks for reading! Writing wouldn’t be much fun for me if I didn’t know there were people out there who really enjoy my stories. And thank you, Namrata, for giving me the opportunity to share this interview.

Book Review: The Best of Us (Sullivan’s Crossing #4) by Robyn Carr

About the Book:

The Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing, #4)

In Sullivan’s Crossing, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr has created a place where good people, powerful emotions, great humor and a healthy dose of common sense are the key ingredients to a happy life. Sullivan’s Crossing brings out the best in people. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.

Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.

When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives.

My Thoughts:

The Best of Us introduces us to Leigh and Helen, two wonderful women who share a very special bond. Having brought Leigh up, Helen tries to find her space, once her niece is all grown up. As Leigh tries to break away from her stressful life and deal with moving away from her aunt, Helen, we see that the both of them have to accept the change. The story is well written and we watch as the main characters interact with their new surroundings and the new people around them. They have to adapt to each other as adults and accept who they are now! The author shows us the importance of acceptance and maintaining relationships, especially those with family.

Once again we are back at Sullivan’s Crossing for another feel-good tale of love, good people and a lot of fun. This book is a must read for fans of romance novels!

Introducing Author Roy Huff on the blog!

I am delighted to host Author Roy Huff on the blog. Roy has also contributed a guest post on Time Travel!

Read on to know more about the author: his thoughts, his books and the genre of SF/Fantasy!

Author Bio:
Roy Huff is a Hawaii-based best-selling author, peer-reviewed research scientist, and teacher. After overcoming significant childhood adversity, he moved to the islands and hasn’t looked back. He’s since earned five degrees, trained on geostationary satellites for NASA’s GOES-R Proving Ground, and written numerous bestsellers. He stumbled into writing, but what he didn’t stumble into is his love for all things science fiction and fantasy. Later, he contributed a series of fiction and non-fiction books as well as widely shared posts on how to design life on your terms. Despite early challenges, he embraces optimism, science, and creativity. He makes Hawaii his home, where he creates new worlds with the stroke of a pen and hopes you’ll come along for the amazing ride. You can download Roy Huff’s free sci-fi short at https://www.royhuff.net/salvationship or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram @realroyhuff
Follow Links:
Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook @realroyhuff
In conversation with Roy Huff:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in the South very poor. My family suffered through many challenges, and I lost my father when I was 21 to HIV/AIDS. Mental illness inflicted and continues to inflict pain on many immediate family members, but I’ve personally been fortunate. I moved to Hawaii to go to college, and after a delay and initial financial hardships, I was able to complete five degrees. I’ve had the privilege to work on some amazing projects including a grant for NASA/NOAA related to geostationary satellites (GOES-R). I’ve since begun writing and teaching.

What prompted you to start writing?

I’ve always been an academic, so nonfiction and academic writing was something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. That accelerated in college. In my early 30’s, I began writing fiction, in part inspired by a professor Jayson Chun and UH West Oahu.

How did the series ‘Everville’ happen?

I was working concurrently on my fourth and fifth degrees, writing a creative paper titled Everville for an English class. We had to share the paper with other students in the class, and one student commented she wanted to read an entire book on Everville. The rest is history.

What inspired you to write SF/Fantasy?

I’ve always loved science, so there is a natural love for imagining how technology will evolve from science in the future. In both science fiction and fantasy, I find an element of both escapism and wonder. They offer an avenue to plan new ideas and revisit societal constructs that aren’t always possible in the present environment. Speculative fiction can also be therapeutic, a place to go to recharge one’s mind and separate oneself from anxiety, abuse, or the realities of a harsh life. Of course, you have to come back to reality at some point, but fiction can provide an outlet in an often unforgiving world.

How much research went into the writing of this series?

The amount of research just depends on the topic. I have some level of background knowledge, but there are always times when I have to sketch an idea or thought and jump onto a search engine to find what I need. It’s usually not an awful lot, but research is still necessary from time to time.

How easy/difficult was it to write this series and create the characters for it?

Super easy, but the real challenge is making those characters compelling and the story engaging. Doing that requires asking the right questions and adding interesting flaws and motivations. How long that takes depends on a host of factors that can span hours or months.

How much does your day to day life inspire your characters?

All of it.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I love traveling, hiking, movies, and fiction on both the screen and in books and audio. I enjoy walks, spending time with family, learning, and good conversation with interesting and kind people.

How much time do you spend on your writing on average per day?

It varies widely. I’ve tended recently to write between 30-90 minutes daily if possible, or about 2-10 pages. But I used to be more of a marathon writer with 8-12 days of up to 45 pages a day. I wrote book three in the Everville series in six days. Recently, I feel more comfortable with 3-4 weeks for a rough draft if that’s my sole focus. But I’ve tended to stretch that out over months to gather a more sustainable routine within life’s other constraints. I’ve always done more traveling recently (the current pandemic excluded) which aligns to a more moderate but consistent pace.

What do you like best about writing a story?

There is no one thing. But, I like leaving a legacy behind. I enjoy creating new worlds and exploring ideas that haven’t been fleshed out by other works of fiction.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

Writing encourages me to grow, pay attention, and listen. It forces me to consider reasons and motivation but also to question the effectiveness and validity of societal expectations and rules. I usually write more optimistic fiction, so my own stories can give me reasons to hope and make me feel like I’m leaving something constructive behind to positively impact other people.

How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences, with respect to plot, characters etc?

All of it. Every thought, experience, feeling, or emotion provides subconscious or explicit inspiration for every part of the story.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

I wish to inspire my readers and give them a glimmer of hope for a brighter future. It may not seem like it, especially in trying times, but the arc of humanity has moved towards greater tolerance, reduced poverty, less violence, and longer life spans. Expect this trend to continue. I’ve woven that belief in my writing.

Additionally, I’m launching Seven Rules of Time Travel mid-July. You can find it on Goodreads here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54130441-seven-rules-of-time-travel

I’m also giving away a free space opera short at https://www.royhuff.net/salvationship

Guest Post by Author Roy Huff

So why write about time travel? Fiction is a great way to explore what could be and what might have been. Time travel in particular allows the writer to fix mistakes as an individual and as a society. Who hasn’t thought about changing something in the past? Why not take advantage of that?

And what about the future? Why not imagine seeing the future and steering it in a direction that benefits you? In essence, it’s the most direct way to blend the benefits of fiction with real human desires and emotions. It’s escapism combined with the ultimate reality check. It forces you to confront your demons and develop a solution to vanquish them.

Time travel takes on many flavors. Writers can use the paradox trope as a literary tool to show character growth, forcing them to face reality instead of fantasy. I generally don’t like the paradox because it takes some of the fun out of the genre, and there are other more intriguing options to show growth that is unique to time travel.

Lifting time travel constraints allows the writer to explore those human conditions that usually don’t get explored. It forces the writer to find compelling motivations and character growth to engage readers.

Depending on the mechanism of time travel, one unexplored prospect is immortality. Humans, and all creatures, are limited by a finite lifespan which provides a sense of urgency. What happens when that urgency is removed.

And what about power? They don’t call Doctor Who a Time Lord for nothing. If you were immortal and could manipulate time, what would you do? What would your story look like? This is mine.

Book Review: Wrong Place, Right Time by E.B. Roshan

About the Book:

All Anna Belko wants is a quiet cup of tea. For a young garment factory worker in the uneasy city of Dor, such moments of peace are few and far between. When she stops by a little cafe called Oxsana’s on her way home from work, she has many things on her mind, but meeting the man who will turn her life upside down is not one of them.

After his cousin is killed, Boris Merkovich wonders if he will ever feel a moment of peace again. As the manager of Oxsana’s, his family’s cafe he doesn’t have time for grieving. But everything changes when he stumbles and almost pours a pot of tea into his customer’s lap. To his surprise, the young woman doesn’t become angry…

Love comes in unexpected ways. Neither Anna nor Boris dreamed this unexpected encounter would change both their lives, but as Dor implodes, Boris and Anna’s relationship, begun over a broken teapot and a heartfelt prayer, only grows stronger.
However, it isn’t long before Anna realizes the hatred destroying her city isn’t just “out there.” If Boris cannot forgive his cousin’s killer, it will cost both him and Anna everything they’ve begun to hope for.

My thoughts:

I was provided with a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wrong place, right time follows the lives of Anna Belko and Boris Merkovich as they navigate a war torn world. Set in the make-believe world of Sevia, the author has done a wonderful job of bringing this world to life. It feels as though the places really exist and the author brings to life the characters in the book with great attention to detail! The best thing is that the characters are realistic. They have problems, they are not perfect, but they find love and learn to accept each others’ flaws.

As far as romance novels go, this book is a short and quick read. However, there is an element of suspense with respect to what happens to the main characters and what kind of decisions they take which makes the story interesting. Keeping in tune with the title, the main characters Anna and Boris meet coincidentally at Boris’s family’s cafe. This leads to an unexpected attraction, a growing friendship and a lot of understanding born out of dealing with grief and loss. As they navigate the world and their feelings, we meet their families and the people they interact with, giving us a further glimpse into the perils of life and how the people are dealing with them.

This story is worth the read especially since it has all the elements of romance mixed with suspense making it an emotional ride in a very short time!

Book Blitz: Under the Willows by Pamela McCord

Book & Author Details:
Under the Willows
by Pamela McCord
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: May 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Synopsis:

After her husband is killed by a drunk driver, Kelly Harris and her son TJ move into a sprawling Victorian house in Ohio that her husband inherited from his grandmother. Dealing with her overwhelming grief is a struggle as she adjusts to life in a small town. And, just as she’s beginning to feel more comfortable, life takes another unexpected turn.

The Alexa unit in her son’s bedroom starts to cry, and a little girl’s voice comes out of it asking for help.

At first Kelly is unnerved by the presence of the voice. After ruling out all the other likely possibilities, she begins to put the pieces together, and suspects the girl is a ghost. Unwilling to be uprooted from another home, she decides to find out what the child wants. Maybe she can help.

Kelly isn’t the only one interested in the voice. Detective Rob Porter is investigating the disappearance of a child named Marilee. As the two cross paths, Porter is taken aback when Kelly’s ghost mentions Marilee’s name. In fact, the ghost says “Marilee’s with me.”

Whether that means the child is a ghost as well is a question Rob and Kelly hope to answer.

Purchase:

“Dot was crying last night,” TJ said through a yawn.

“Dot? Who’s Dot?”

“You know. Dot. Alexa’s Dot.”

I stared at the back of his head, frowning, as I dished up his breakfast.

“Alexa can’t cry. It’s a cylindrical inanimate object. Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?”

“Mom. I’m eight. It really did happen.” He looked at me with a scowl. “I don’t imagine things.”

A frightened “Mom” roused me from a fitful sleep. I swung my legs off the bed, the hardwood cool against my feet. “I’m coming,” I called as I rushed to TJ’s room. I found him sitting up in bed, his eyes big and worried.

“What is it, sweetie?” I asked as I sat beside him. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Mom, Alexa was crying again.”

“What do you mean?” I tipped his face up and looked him in the eyes. “Alexa can’t cry. She’s not a real person. Tell me what happened.”

“I was asleep and I heard a little girl crying. There wasn’t anybody in my room but I could still hear it.”

“Maybe you were dreaming.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at me. “I wasn’t dreaming, Mom.”

“Okay, then. Maybe it just sounded like crying.”

“There were words, too.”

“Words?”

He nodded. “I said, ‘is anybody there’ and the crying stopped. Then Alexa said Help us.” His serious eyes dared me to not believe him.

Turbulent emotions kept me awake. At 2:30, I gave up trying to sleep and padded downstairs to make myself a cup of tea. I sat in the dark kitchen, moonlight streaming in the window over the sink my only companion. I sipped and contemplated. Eventually the warm comfort of the tea calmed my shaky nerves and I headed back upstairs. I poked my head in TJ’s door, tiptoed in and sat at the foot of his bed watching him sleep.

A chill came out of nowhere. I glanced at his window, but it was closed and locked. I bent over him and pulled the covers up around his shoulders. That’s when I heard sobs that seemed to echo around the room. I whirled my head around but no one was there. I started for the door, but it slammed shut as I approached. A small cry escaped me and my hand flew to my mouth. My hair lifted around my face as if a wind swirled through the room, and I froze. And, then, something impossible to believe happened. Alexa said Help us and a child’s eerie crying filled the room.

“What the hell?” I turned the doorknob and pulled, but the door wouldn’t open.

“Mom?” TJ sat up in bed. I could see his wide, startled eyes in the light from his nightlight, and rushed to his side.

“We have to get out of here,” I whispered, a tinge of urgency coloring my voice as I helped him out of bed.

Please, the disembodied voice said. Help us.

The door banged open. Grabbing TJ’s hand, I pulled him out of the room. We flew down the stairs and huddled in the living room.

AUTHOR BIO:

Born in Arkansas and raised in Southern California, Pamela McCord started writing later in life when she was challenged by a friend to create a book out of his story idea. Since then, she’s become an internationally published author. Pam has spent over 40 years working as a legal secretary at a law firm in Orange County, California. Aside from writing, she follows the stock market, buying, selling and trading stocks and options. In contrast to that, she loves trips to Las Vegas where she can spend many happy hours at the Pai Gow tables. She shares a condo with her very own My Cat From Hell TV star, Allie, who manages to exude just enough affection to make her scary feral ways tolerable.

Author links:

GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
  • $25 Amazon gift card

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.

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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 Review: The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley and the review below is my honest opinion.

About the Book:

The Girl in the Corner

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse comes the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

My thoughts:

The Girl in the Corner follows Rae-Valentine’s life and journey towards self-discovery. The entire first half of the story gives us a taste of her seemingly perfect life, perfect friendship and perfect relationships. She married her childhood-sweetheart and they have been together for twenty-five years, bringing up their two children, spending time with family and just living life.

However, when Howard reveals the truth of an affair, Rae-Valentine is forced to reassess her life and the decisions which led her to where she is today. As she tries to reconcile the facts in her head, she is forced to deal with her issues with her sister and she starts to question her friendship with Dolly, Howard’s sister. With time away, a lot of introspection mixed with Dolly’s persistent attempts to push her opinion on her friend, Rae-Valentine starts to realize that a lot of her life decisions seem to have been made for her. Things just fell into place and she never questioned them. She changed her goals based on her family’s ideas, then her life moved to revolve around Howard and her children. In the end, she starts to question which decision was really hers and where she is going with her life.

As everything comes crashing down, she realizes that sometimes you just have to seize the moment and do things for yourself, otherwise you get lost in the chaos of other people’s choices. When the betrayal strikes hard, it brings things into perspective and cause her to re-evaluate her life. The crux of the story is in her decisions and how she handles things in the end. Will she forgive Howard or will she move on from him after being together for so long?

At times the story seems slow and some parts repetitive in the thought, but overall, this is an interesting read with a pertinent message for all.