Blitz Review: The Sunshine Sisters: Aurora, by Rosie Green

The Sunshine Sisters Aurora

About the book, The Sunshine Sisters: Aurora AURORA_KDP copy

  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 16, 2024
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Pages: 212

This is the first book in an exciting new trilogy (‘The Sunshine Sisters’, part of the Little Duck Pond Café series) about three sisters, who are all – in their different ways – searching for something missing in their lives. They haven’t been close since a shocking incident years ago sent them spinning off in different directions. Will the village of Sunnybrook work its magic and finally reunite the family?

In this first story, Rori has escaped a desperate situation by fleeing to the village. But can she really leave her past behind, or will it come back to haunt her, as she fears it will? Can she find the peace and happiness she craves in Sunnybrook?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Rosie Green Rosie Green Author Pic

Rosie’s series of Little Duck Pond Café novellas is centred around life in a country village cafe. ‘A Winter Wonderland’ is out now. Look out for Skye’s story and Blossom’s story, completing ‘The Sunshine Sisters’ trilogy – out in April and June!

Connect with Rosie:

X (Twitter) | Goodreads


My Thoughts

The Sunshine Sisters: Aurora is the first in a spin-off trilogy from Rosie Green’s ever-popular series featuring The Little Duck-Pond Café. It was a joy to re-enter this world and meet Aurora (Rori) and the other new characters featured in this book.

 

While Rosie’s upbeat, contemporary writing style is very much evident in this novel, she’s shown off her range a bit more here, going darker in tone, with an abusive ex (Nash), as well as stalking. These elements are added organically, and worked to make the story a richer one.

 

I liked Rori and the other new characters. I especially appreciated that she is a middle sister, with the mix of emotions, habits, and reactions that entails. I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous that she gets to live above the café. In my twenties and thirties, that would have been my dream.

 

With a page count of 212, this is a fast read, but it never feels like anything is missing. I’m a proponent of the concept that books are always exactly as long as they need to be to tell a complete story, and while this book, in particular is part of a trilogy, it didn’t feel incomplete at all.

 

I’m looking forward to the next two installments in The Sunshine Sisters, and heartily recommend Aurora for anyone who loves Green’s other work.

 

Goes well with: a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant.

Book Excerpt: Spanish House Secrets by Susan Gray

Spanish House Secrets

 

About the Book, Spanish House Secrets Spanish House Secrets Cover

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ UK Book Publishing (February 8, 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 335 pages
  • Scroll down for an excerpt from this book!

In 2019 Grace’s memories from childhood are stirred by the sound of a melody. Her home in 1950’s England was a Spanish House. A house with secrets.

1920’s England…loveable, likeable Simon receives a letter on the eve of his twenty-first birthday. A letter that will change the course of his life.

Dainty, demure Olivia has so much to be thankful for: a doting husband, a beautiful house and a thriving business…but a nagging doubt. In the last years of the Roaring Twenties this doubt is compounded by the discovery of a discarded item.

Elise has known many harsh blows in her young life. Returning to her home in Madrid in 1922, she knows she must pick herself up and move on. Can she continue to live in this Spanish House? The arrival of a visitor creates a new dimension for her.

Spanish House Secrets is a story of love, life, loss, jealousy and forgiveness set in the twentieth century.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the Author, Susan Gray Spanish Sussan Gray

Susan Gray lives with her husband in northeast England. She has a son and daughter, both married, two granddaughters and a grand dog. After a career in primary teaching, she embraced retirement fulfilling her ambition to travel, attend Wimbledon and write a novel. She enjoys reading, walking, crafting, doing puzzles, catching up with friends over a coffee and being a gran. She has written several novels – Spanish House Secrets is the first to be published.

Connect with Susan:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


Read an Excerpt from Spanish House Secrets

Spanish House Secrets Excerpt

SIMON’S DOUBLE LIFE

Simon returns to his hometown in England, from his six weeks visit to Spain in 1922, where he has learned of his unexpected inheritance. His former sheltered life is now a thing of the past – but how much of his newly acquired wealth should he convey to his family?

 

Simon was never sure when his double-sided life began. He never set out to be secretive, but he just knew on that beautiful day in May, when he returned to Newcastle station, the Spanish side of his life must remain largely secret. Before taking the train to Loftam he needed to make some arrangements. So, he made his way to the premises of Hodgson, Smith and White where he had first learned of his legacy last autumn. The events of those months were mind blowing. His intention was to make an appointment with Mr Hodgson, but the lady behind the desk informed him Mr Hodgson was no longer with them, having retired due to ill health. His clients were being handled by another solicitor, new to the firm called Mr Adams. This information suited Simon, as he had found Mr Hodgson rather imposing. He made a future appointment with Mr Adams then took the train home to Loftam.

In the bubble that was Simon Guilder’s world, he expected a welcoming homecoming – a celebration meal and Serena jumping around eager to hear all his news. Instead, he entered an almost empty house – no father, no Serena, no cosy fire in the drawing room – only Mildred, in the kitchen finishing off the cold buffet for tonight’s evening meal.

“Oh, Mr Simon, it’s so good to see you, sit down – you seem to have been away for ages. I’ll get you a cuppa,” she said.

“Where is everybody?” Simon asked, grabbing a biscuit.

“Serena’s at the store, busy with her new venture, but I’ll not steal her thunder – she’ll be wanting to tell you all about it. Serena and Olivia have been in ecstasy – they’ve been like two busy bees – she only went home today.”

Simon stopped munching his biscuit and asked, “Olivia?” sounding very puzzled.

Mildred replied, “Oh, you must remember her, Mr Simon – she stayed over after the funeral with her grandmother. She lives in York.”

Olivia…Olivia… thought Simon, trying to sift through the many, many, people he’d met in recent weeks, and then there she was in his mind’s eye…an attractive young lady, someone he thought was worth a second meeting, something about her eyes intrigued him, as he recalled.

“Well, that’s me done. I’ll be off now,” Mildred called, retrieving her coat and hat from the hall. Mildred’s words pulled Simon back from his faraway thoughts.

“Your bed is newly made up and I opened the window to let some air in this morning. Cheerio. Mr Simon…it’s so good to have you home,” she called, walking out the back door.

Simon climbed the stairs to his room. The sun was still shining, and the garden was bursting with life, as he looked out of the window.

Everything was normal for Loftam…but in the six weeks since he had gone off to Spain, Simon knew life would never be normal for him again. This is where I take off ‘Spanish Simon’ and put on ‘English Simon’, he thought. Then he went to take a bath and change for dinner.

That was how Simon’s secret Spanish life started. He was never deceitful – just careful with the truth.


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In Their Words: CG Fewston, author of Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being – with Giveaway

BNR Conquergood

 

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview (scroll down to read it) with the author of this book. It seems like a fantastic read, and his writing process really made me want to dig out MY old moleskines and get back to writing more in longhand.

About the book: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being Cover Conquerwood

  • Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian / Steampunk
  • Publication Date: October 17, 2023
  • Pages: 381
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

One of resilience and transformation, Conquergood’s life-changing discovery explores the depths of family, memory, love, and the mysteries that lie at the heart of the universe.

In 2183, Jerome Conquergood is an outcast roaming the abandoned and crumbling skyscrapers of Old York City outside the Korporation’s seductive and dizzying headquarters, a post-apocalyptic security-city for the mega-rich. Despite his hatred for the techno-optimism and the Korporation, Conquergood is compelled to save his mysterious twin brother Vincent by joining the Korporation, a mega-corporate and governmental entity in a world oppressed to peace.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the author, CG Fewston Author Photo Fewston credit Thor

The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s been a member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

Fewston is the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son, The New America: Collection, The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts, Vanity of Vanities, A Time to Love in Tehran, Little Hometown, America, A Time to Forget in East Berlin, and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being.

Connect with CG:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | BookBub | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn

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Author Interview: CG Fewston on the Writing Life

How do you write? Any backstory to your choice?1215 MELISSA Author Interview 2 of 5

I prefer to write longhand using a black uni-ball pen with a Moleskine notebook the size of my palm. In the front of the small notebook, I write the story. In the back, I write down notes and tidbits of research that I want to include later on in the story.

Writing longhand allows me more room to create and rework (fixing, editing, and smoothing out) the language and the flow of the dialogue and events of the narrative dream. I always read aloud what I write by longhand and if there’s something flawed or the wrong word choice, I’ll correct or change it and read again and again and again until the flow is sufficient for my level of perfection — until I am satisfied that the fictive dream flows without stumbling or breaking.

After many of these small notebooks have been filled, I will go to typing them and then printing the typed pages out (having the pages bound like a book) so I can then read and edit many times over, reading aloud as I go through the entire manuscript. I will have read the book aloud hundreds of times over before I am ready to let the book go out into the world.

 

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 3 of 5

I’m a full-time writer who spends his days working on novels. First and foremost, however, I am a proud stay-at-home father who focuses on his son. I wake at 4:30 in the morning to do some writing before my son wakes up. Then as he showers, I make his breakfast and spend time with him. Then I take him to school and return home by about 8:30 am to focus on my writing; this includes writing new fiction for my novels. Usually this is either one or two novels because if I get stuck or slowed on one, then I switch to another and continue writing — in this way I can keep writing and remain productive.

I also work on author interviews or writing up blog posts about the books I’ve read and publish these on my author website. I enjoy sharing with the world the books I’ve read and it also helps me to reflect and have a deeper understanding of the books I’ve read. In the afternoon, I get my son from school and spend the rest of the evening and night focusing on him and family. I strive for balance between writing and family, and enjoy a more family-centered routine.

 

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication? What was least useful or most destructive? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 4 of 5

The most useful piece of knowledge I learned in writing for publication came from my mentor (if I’m allowed to call him that) the American novelist John Gardner. Through his amazing books discussing the craft and art of writing — On Moral Fiction (1978), The Art of Fiction (1983), On Becoming a Novelist (1983), and On Writers and Writing (1994) — John Gardner taught me the importance of the “fictive dream” and how writers should do everything to maintain that fictive dream throughout the story.

The most destructive aspect to writing would be for a writer to care too much about what’s going on in the world (at the time they are creating the story and writing it down) and what critics actually say or think about your work. Fiction should stand alone from critics and the events of the world. If the fiction does parallel, then let the fiction do that on its own. Writers should give little time and attention and energy to good or bad comments or reviews of their fiction. Strive to do your absolute best, don’t compare, and then let the fiction speak for itself.

 

Do you have any strange writing habits or writing rituals you’d like to share with your readers?

I have the ability to lose myself inside my work. Five hours can quickly become five minutes. When I’m writing, I’m connected to something greater than myself and Time becomes somewhat different. That’s when I know I’m doing what I was meant to do.

 

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like? 1215 MELISSA Author Interview 5 of 5

The perfect writing spot, for me, is the spot that is most conducive to my writing, creating a productive writing session with the most ease. Now, it’s the kitchen table at 4:30 in the morning or my leather writing chair when no one is home.

So, yes, my perfect writing spot is my actual writing spot — it cannot be any other way. I’m not trying to make a million dollars. I’m trying to write a beautiful work of art. So, I take my writing seriously and with a fierce intensity that goes completely unnoticed because I write in solitude and in silence. And I love it that way.

 

 


Giveaway

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SIX WINNERS:

1st: $100 Amazon card + eBook or paperback of Conquergood

2nd: $50 Amazon card + eBook or paperback

3rd: $25 Amazon card + eBook or paperback

4th: Book Lover’s gift bundle + eBook or paperback

5th: Book Lover’s blanket + eBook or paperback

6th: Book Lover’s tote bag + eBook or paperback

(US Only; ends 12/21/23)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each post on this tour, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:

12/11/23 Sybrina’s Book Blog Excerpt
12/11/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
12/11/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
12/12/23 The Page Unbound Notable Quotables
12/12/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
12/13/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Review
12/14/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
12/14/23 Book Fidelity Review
12/15/23 Bibliotica Author Interview
12/15/23 Librariel Book Adventures Review
12/16/23 Forgotten Winds Scrapbook Page
12/17/23 StoreyBook Reviews Author Interview
12/18/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
12/18/23 Rebecca R. Cahill, Author Scrapbook Page
12/19/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Review
12/19/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
12/20/23 Jennie Reads Review
12/20/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review

 

Note: The links in the above schedule are general links and go to each blog’s home page only.

 

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Book Review & Giveaway – Finding Comfort by Kimberly Fish

BNR Finding Comfort

About the book Finding Comfort Cover Finding Comfort

Series: Comfort & Joy (Book 2)

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary / Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing

Date of Publication: September 1, 2023

Number of Pages: 312 pages

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Even with all her experience, Gloria Bachman, retired banker and candy entrepreneur, didn’t see this coming.

Sweeties, the beloved Comfort chocolate shop, was ready for its cameo in advertising extraordinaire Jazzy Mezcal’s famous travel and food show! Comfort town folks had worked hard all summer to get their shops Hallmark-movie ready. On the eve of the TV crews overtaking the town, Gloria’s Chamber of Commerce welcome party gets drenched in a wicked rainstorm. Locals call it a “blue norther,” and a dreaded agent of change. Flooding seems like the worst of their problems until the celebrity TV host turns up dead.

In shock, Gloria’s friends turn to her to figure out who could be responsible for such a disaster. With the TV crew and guests in town for the 8th Street Market’s annual shopping event, suspects are endless. Reluctant to get involved, Gloria would much rather focus on the delicious romance with Mason Lassiter. And she would if a frenemy from Kerrville didn’t haunt her every step. Now as Gardner Rogers treads on her turf, everything feels suspicious.

With all eyes on Gloria to find the truth behind Jazzy Mezcal’s untimely death, she indulges her curiosity for problem solving while trying to disguise how unsure she is about the future with her boyfriend. Disruption in Mason’s world, mayhem in Comfort, and one epic chocolate disaster rouse Gloria to action and make her decide what’s worth fighting for. All she can say for sure, is that no one is finding any comfort in Comfort.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Click to Purchase | Goodreads


About the Author, Kimberly Fish Author Photo Fish

Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Finding Comfort is her latest novel, the second book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Instagram | X (Twitter) | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | Pinterest | BookBub


My Thoughts MissMeliss - 2023

I love visiting Comfort, Texas through Kimberly Fish’s books, and since the previous book in this series, Sweet Comfort, really resonated with me, I was excited to dive into the sequel. As ever, Fish’s storytelling does not disappoint. This novel is the perfect read for a crisp autumn evening, and since it starts in October and moves into the holiday season, it’s also a great way to escape from your relatives at Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas when family togetherness gets a little overwhelming.

Revisiting Gloria Bachman, banker cum candy store owner, was a wonderful reminder that those of us who are past our thirties and forties still have a lot of life, and that romance has no expiration date. Seeing her continue her relationship with Mason Lassiter was fantastic. These two are my endgame, as the kids say, and I’m rooting for them. That said, I love that their romance is a little rocky. It just makes them feel more like real people, with doubts and fears to work through.

But author Fish did not give us only a second-chance romance. Instead, this novel is the quintessence of cozy mysteries: adorable small town with charming shops – check, community of friends and relatives who all have opinions – check, charismatic outsider who may not be a villain but is definitely an antagonist (I’m looking at you Gardner Rogers), distraught father  of the deceased – check. But while this book hits most of the genre’s familiar notes, there’s nothing formulaic about it. Every character in Finding Comfort feels like someone you know, and their lives are intertwined the way people who live in close communities really are.

What I always appreciate about Fish’s work, and is especially evident in this book, are the grace notes she adds to her work. She addresses some of the issues of aging – Will Wanda’s daughter convince her to move away from Comfort and give up some of her independence ? – without delicacy and care, and I found myself as intrigued by such side stories as I was with the main story.

I also love that Gloria has surrounded herself with a circle of women friends who laugh with her, cry with her, celebrate and mourn with her, and indulge her habit of sniffing out crime a little too much. It’s the richness of the world that Comfort, Texas represents that keeps me reading, and reading, the books set there.

One thing of note. While the story was perfectly paced and the characters well-drawn, there were more than the typical number of typos and grammar issues than I’m accustomed to seeing in published copies of any work – and especially in a Kimberly Fish novel. My heart goes out to her because these are things a proofreader or line editor should have fixed. I’ve never met Ms. Fish, but I can bet she’s less than pleased, and my heart goes out to her. I’m such a fast reader, and so good at closure, that my brain autocorrects most things for me, and they don’t detract from the reading experience. Slower readers may not be so lucky.

Despite this, I recommend this book, because everyone needs to find a little Comfort, and with this book, they will.

Goes well with: Ginger snaps, but not the commercial kind, and a cafe cortado.

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TWO WINNERS:

Signed copy of FINDING COMFORT + surprise bonus gift!

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 11/3/23)

Giveaway Finding Comfort

 

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for Finding Comfort with direct links to each post, updated daily,  or visit each blog directly.

10/24/23 Reading by Moonlight Review
10/24/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
10/25/23 The Book’s Delight Review
10/25/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
10/26/23 Bibliotica Review
10/27/23 Jennie Reads Review
10/27/23 The Page Unbound BONUS Stop
10/28/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
10/29/23 Rox Burkey Blog Review
10/30/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
10/31/23 Carpe Diem Chronicles Review
11/01/23 Boys’ Mom Reads BONUS Stop
11/01/23 It’s Not All Gravy Review
11/02/23 Forgotten Winds Review

 

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The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent – Playlist and Giveaway

BNR Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

 

About the book, The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent Cover Coldest Winter Full size

  • Genre: YA / Contemporary / Suicide & Family Issues
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
  • Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
  • Length: Print – 352 pages / Audio – 9 hours, 11 minutes
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Eighteen-year-old Del is in a healthier place than she was a year and a half ago: She’s sober, getting treatment for her depression and anxiety, working in her Aunt Fran’s San Francisco art gallery, and volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline. Her own suicide attempt is in the past and living with her beloved aunt has helped her see a future for herself.

But when Aunt Fran is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Del’s equilibrium is shattered. She struggles to help care for her aunt—while also dealing with a crush, her looming first semester at college, and her shifts at the crisis line. After Aunt Fran asks for her help with a mind-boggling final request, Del must confront her own demons and rethink everything she thought she knew about life and death.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Bookshop.orgAmazonIndiebound | B&NBooks-A-Million | GoodReads


About the author, Ann Jacobus 

Author Photo JACOBUS bio medAnn Jacobus is the author of YA novels The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent and Romancing the Dark in the City of Light. She earned an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has published articles, essays, short fiction, and poems. She teaches writing and presents at workshops and conferences. A former suicide crisis line counselor, she’s a mental health advocate and speaks to teens about writing and suicide prevention both. Born in Texas and a life-long Tex-Mex addict, she and her family divide their time between California and Massachusetts.

Connect with Ann:

Website | LinkTree | Facebook | Pinterest | GoodReads | X (Twitter) | LinkedIn

 

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Listen to a Playlist Associated with The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

Ann Jacobus’s Playlist to

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

 

LISTEN HERE FOR FREE ON SPOTIFY!

(SPOTIFY ACCOUNT REQUIRED TO LISTEN OR REGISTER FOR FREE!)

Track List:

“September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire

“(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” by Tony Bennett

“Intoxicated” (radio edit) by Martin Solveig, Good Times Ahead

“Shower the People” by James Taylor

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

“Imagine” by Jack Johnson

“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum

“Stayin Alive” by Bee Gees

“That’s the Way of the World” by Earth, Wind & Fire

“Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire; The Emotions

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, Leon Fleisher

“Dream On” by Aerosmith

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult

“Amazing Grace” by Carrie Underwood

“I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco” by Cosmo Alleycats

“Save Me, San Francisco” by Train

“Clocks” by Coldplay

“Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)” by Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars

“The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News

“We Found Love” by Rihanna, Calvin Harris

“How Deep Is Your Love” by Bee Gees

“How Deep Is Your Love” by Calvin Harris, Disciples

“Texas (When I Die)” by Tanya Tucker


Giveaway

TWO WINNERS:

Each receives a signed hardcover copy + San Francisco swag

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/6/23)

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for links to each blog, updated daily, or visit each blog directly:

09/26/23 StoreyBook Reviews Review
09/26/23 Hall Ways Blog BONUS Stop
09/27/23 Boys’ Mom Reads Audiobook Review
09/27/23 LSBBT Blog BONUS Stop
09/28/23 Forgotten Winds Excerpt
09/29/23 The Plain-Spoken Pen Review
09/30/23 Shelf Life Blog Author Interview
10/01/23 Bibliotica Playlist
10/02/23 Chapter Break Book Blog Audiobook Review
10/03/23 Book Fidelity Deleted Scene
10/04/23 The Real World According to Sam Review
10/05/23 Jennie Reads Review

 

 

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Book Spotlight with Guest Post and Giveaway: “So Sorry for Your Loss” by Dina Gachman

BNR So Sorry for Your Loss

 

About the book, “So Sorry for Your Loss”

Cover So Sorry For Your Loss

Cover: “So Sorry for Your Loss”

  • Genre: Grief & Bereavement / Love & Loss / Parenting & Relationships
  • Publisher: Union Square & Co.
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Publication Date: April 11, 2023
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

A heartfelt exploration about what it means to process grief, by a bestselling author and journalist whose experience with two devastating losses inspired her to bring comfort and understanding to others.

Since losing her mother to cancer in 2018 and her sister to alcoholism less than three years later, author and journalist Dina Gachman has dedicated herself to understanding what it means to grieve, healing after loss, and the ways we stay connected to those we miss. Through a mix of personal storytelling, reporting, and insight from experts and even moments of humor, Gachman gives readers a fresh take on grief and bereavement—whether the loss is a family member, beloved pet, or a romantic relationship. No one wants to join the grief club, since membership comes with zero perks, but So Sorry for Your Loss will make that initiation just a little less painful.

In the spirit of Elizabeth Kubler Ross books like On Grief and Grieving, or C.S. Lewis’s A Grief ObservedSo Sorry for Your Loss is the perfect gift for someone who is grieving. With her blend of personal experiences, expert advice, and just a little bit of humor, Gachman has provided a compassionate and compelling resource for anyone looking for grief books.

Praise for this book:

  • “Gachman perceptively puts words to the uncomfortable realities of loss…and deconstructs its social myths, helping readers feel less alone. Those facing loss will find solace here.” Publishers Weekly
  • So Sorry for Your Loss is a monument to the work of remembering and a testament to the immutable love of family and the grief that forever changes us.” —Lauren Hough, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing
  • So Sorry for Your Loss is a meditation on loss that reminds us how to go on living.” —Deirdre Fagan, author of Find a Place for Me and The Grief Eaters

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Goodreads


About the author, Dina Gachman

Author Photo Gachman credit Jessica Comiskey

Dina Gachman

 

Dina Gachman is a Pulitzer Center Grantee and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Vox, Texas Monthly, and more. She’s a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter, and the author of Brokenomics: 50 Ways to Live the Dream on a Dime. She lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. Photo credit Jessica Comiskey.

Connect with Dina:

Website

Instagram 

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon


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Interview with author Dina Gachman

What was the hardest part of writing “So Sorry for Your Loss”

Since it’s a book about grief, I guess I can honestly say—everything. Intentionally going deeper into my own pain over losing my mom and sister Jackie, day after day, was tough. There were plenty of ugly cries at my desk over the course of eight months. I also interviewed so many people about their personal losses for the book, whether it was losing a parent, a child, a pet. They were so vulnerable and lovely, and hearing their stories was healing, but also emotional of course. There were plenty of weeks where I would get to Friday and think, “I am done with grief for the week. Time to zone out and watch Iron Chef.” 

Do you have any research rabbit-hole stories? 

I love a good research rabbit hole. I have no clue why or how I found it, but I discovered this old tradition and superstition called “telling the bees” where people would have to tell a bee hive that someone had died. If they didn’t, more death would occur or bad luck would come. There are paintings and poems about this tradition, and I found it so odd but also beautiful. When Queen Elizabeth II died, I read that this tradition was still happening, which surprised me. If I had a beehive, I would probably keep that tradition alive. 

Do you have any writing pet peeves?

Using too many exclamation marks, which is something I used to do. They can work occasionally, but I try to go back and strip as many of them away as I can when I’m revising my work. It’s a cheap way to get a response or a laugh. One thing I learned from an editor on a book I was ghostwriting was that I was relying on too many parentheses, so I try to strip those away too. Besides that, don’t try too hard. Being subtle is an art, and Joan Didion was the queen of that skill.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m ghostwriting two new books and always pitching and writing stories. I wrote a story I am thrilled about for a magazine called Mother Tongue which is my first attempt at any sort of investigative journalism, and I loved it. I’m hooked. It’s about uncovering the truth about my great aunt, who committed arson in Fort Worth in the 1940s because her husband was abusive. It’s a wild ride. I’m also brainstorming my third book idea, which relates to the story about my great aunt.


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Book Review: The Cruise, by Caroline James

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The Cruise CoverAbout the book, The Cruise

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ One More Chapter (April 20, 2023)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ April 20, 2023
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

Three women.
One widowed.
One unmarried.
One almost divorced.
All aged 63, but not ready to give up on life!

Leaving behind the heartache, guilt and disappointment of their real lives, three friends decide that now they’re in their sixties, it’s time they finally did something for themselves!

Swapping Christmas turkeys and BBC reruns for crystal waters, white sandy beaches and smooth golden rum, Anne, Jane and Kath throw caution (and tradition) to the wind as they set sail on a luxury two-week Christmas cruise around the Caribbean.

Will the three friends find the comfort and joy they seek aboard the Diamond Star?

 

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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Caroline James

About the Author, Caroline James

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James, has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but escapes whenever lockdown allows. A public speaker, which has included talks and lectures on cruise ships worldwide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. Caroline writes articles and runs writing workshops, is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writers & Journalists and the Society of Authors. In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking with Fred, her Westie and in summer, wild water swimming. In winter, when not working, she relaxes with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Connect with Caroline:

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My Thoughts

MissMeliss

In Caroline James’s fabulous new novel, The Cruise, Jane, Kath, and Anne are three single women in their sixties who decide to ditch the winter weather in the UK and go on a Caribbean cruise for singles over fifty.

While I am not single (I’ve been married forever), I fit the over-fifty demographic, and I really appreciated this fun, feisty, sometimes flirtatious story. Fifty may not quite be the new thirty, but contemporary fifty- and sixty-year-olds are definitely healthier, more energetic, and ‘feel’ younger than they did when our grandparents were that age. It was so refreshing to read a story that really understands that, that I was hooked just from the concept.

More than that, though, I loved the premise. Cruise ships are the perfect microcosms of society, and time aboard one is like living in a heightened reality for a week or two. (Having come off a cruise in March, I’m still wistful for morning coffee on my balcony and free mimosas at brunch.)

I liked that the author gave each of these women her own story, though Jane’s arc was the most dramatic, and I appreciated that she was able to truly find herself on her voyage. I also liked the way the friendship between all three women was depicted. Too often women in novels are catty to each other. These women tease each other but are also supportive, which is how the best friendships should be.

The male characters aboard ship are vivid and interesting as well. Setwyn, traveling with his deceased wife’s ashes (and leaving them in the various ports he visits) had such a poignant story. I’d read a whole novel just about him. And Dicky, the ultimate lounge lizard-type cruise entertainer was deliciously smarmy.

Despite being set at Christmas, this novel is the perfect beach read. (After all, it’s always summer in the Caribbean!) It’s substantive enough to be satisfying, and light enough to zip through in a weekend. Great read!

Goes well with: any rum-based cocktail that comes with a paper umbrella.

 

Review and Giveaway: Sweet Comfort, by Kimberly Fish

BNR Sweet Comfort

 

Cover Sweet ComfortAbout the book Sweet Comfort (Comfort & Joy #1)

  • Genre: Women’s Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Later-In-Life Romance / Sweet Second-Chance Romance
  • Publisher: Fish Tales
  • Page Count: 359 pages
  • Publication Date: January 21, 2023
  • Scroll down for a giveaway!

Welcome to the hometown everyone wants to call their own.

Gloria Bachman, a retired bank executive, has eight weeks to flip a location on Comfort’s High Street into a boutique chocolate shop. Defying expectations for “women of a certain age,” Gloria rediscovers talents and a sharpening of skills. If only she could read people as well as she does a spreadsheet. Even with the renovation in good hands, the subsequent struggle to name the shop brings Gloria and her business partner into conflict with a shady citizen. While Gloria is capable of remaining in her retirement rut while opening a business, two competing social groups try to lure her into their networks, causing Gloria to wonder if she ever knew Comfort at all. A murder rocks the community and revives investigative instincts honed by years in the banking industry.

Mason Lassiter, a disgraced CEO, has his own dramas to escape and the offbeat town seems the perfect place to recover his self-esteem. What was to be a quick reversal of fortunes becomes a quest to right a deeply felt injustice. Fascinated by the women driving the energy of Comfort, he extends his stay to find out why the small town is the backdrop to their best tales. Tangling with his neighbor Gloria becomes his favorite pastime and the key to unlocking the mystery of his past—if he can convince her to trust him.

Chocolate and joy become the glue bringing an unlikely cast together, which just might change Gloria’s and Mason’s course for the better. With characters familiar from previous Comfort novels and introducing fresh names, Sweet Comfort will entertain those who like their stories seasoned with coziness and sweet, second chances.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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Author Photo FishAbout the author, Kimberly Fish

Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for over thirty years, with regular contributions to area newspapers and magazines. As an accidental historian, she wrote two novels, The Big Inch and Harmon General, both based on factual events in Longview, Texas that changed world history. Kimberly also offers a set of contemporary women’s fiction novels and novellas, based in the Texas Hill Country, that reveal her fascination with characters discovering their grit and sweet, second chances; all four of the novels have won distinguished awards. Sweet Comfort is her latest novel, the first book in the Comfort and Joy Trilogy.

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | YouTube | Pinterest | BookBub

 

 


My Thoughts

MissMelissIt’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kimberly Fish and the wonderful town she’s created in Comfort, TX. Reading one of her books is like a visit to a beloved hometown, and I’m always eager for another installment in the goings-on there. With Sweet Comfort, the first in a spinoff trilogy, not only did I get to revisit one of my favorite fictional towns, but I also got to have the vicarious experience of opening a chocolate shop, and seeing a woman closer to my own age in a plausible romance  – not that I dislike reading about twenty- and thirty-year-olds, but representation matters, and as a woman in the prime of middle age (even if I sometimes still get carded), I love it when authors tackle romance between more mature adults.

But author Fish did more than merely tackle the second-chance romance. With Gloria and Mason, she has given us two people who are perfectly imperfect, reflecting the real concerns we get into when we are older, stuck in our patterns, and both willing to change but afraid of what that change might entail. Gloria Bachman is my new hero, and I would be happy to sit down at a cafe with her and sip coffee or a glass of Prosecco. She’s got a good heart, but can be a little bit prickly. She’s strong in business, but less confident in her personal affairs, and, like many of us, often keeps herself on the fringes of the social whirl, rather than in the thick of it. I really related to her, and not just because my first career was also in finance. She’s so well drawn, that she could be any of a dozen women I actually know, or a composite of all of them.

I also liked the character of Mason Bachman, bruised by life, and trying to turn things around. It’s rare for male characters to be written so sympathetically even when they also have slight antagonistic tendencies, but with Lassiter everything just works. But then, I expect no less from this author, whose knack for creating dimensional characters is one of the things I’ve come to expect from her writing.

And then there’s Kali and the chocolate shop. First, I loved the dual process stories of creating chocolates and also renovating the storefront where they will be sold. My family has owned diners, small markets, and craft/souvenir stores, and the need to make changes while still maintaining the integrity of a specific building and the flavor of the town are things that resonated with me. Fish gave us enough detail that we could see everything happening but never made this book feel like a how-to guide.

As mentioned earlier, Sweet Comfort is the first in a new trilogy, but the text contained a peek at book two, which, I’m excited to say, features both Gloria and the town of Comfort.

Bottom line: This is a satisfying read that is especially satisfying for those readers of a certain age. The only thing that would improve it is if it came with samples of truffles.

Goes well with: chocolate bombe and espresso.


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Book Review and Giveaway: Survival, by Lisa Harris

BNR Survival

 

Cover Book 1 SurvivalAbout the Book, Survival

  • Series: Fallout (Book 1)
  • Dystopian / Science Fiction / Mystery / Christian
  • Publisher: Adrenaline-Fueled Fiction
  • Pages: 236 pages
  • Publication Date: October 19, 2021

In today’s world, law enforcement agencies across the country rely on forensic tools, DNA testing, and crime labs. But what if that technology was suddenly no longer available? No one in the small, west Texas town of Shadow Ridge knows what took down the power grid, or when it’s going to be back up, but everyone knows exactly where they were the moment it went down. And now, with no electricity, no internet, and no modern technology, the men and women responsible for keeping the town safe are going to have to learn how to fight crime all over again.

When one of the men in charge of storing food for the town of Shadow Ridge is found murdered execution style, it’s up to Jace McQuaid to find the killer. What he discovers is a group of organized raiders who are stealing supplies and selling them on the black market—and the survival of the town depends on stopping them.

Morgan Addison’s estranged brother, Ricky, shows up at her house demanding weapons and confirming her fears that he’s a part of the outlaws. Tensions are raised further when Ricky kidnaps her son to ensure his safe passage out of town. Jace must find a way to save Noah and ensure the survival of Shadow Ridge.

Praise for this book:

  • “An adrenaline rush of a read! Summed up in one word: Unputdownable!” ~Kav, Amazon reviewer
  • “Once again Lisa Harris has created a creative world full of intrigue, suspense, and action! This book is irresistible! I can’t wait to finish with the rest of the series!” ~Dawn, Amazon reviewer
  • “Excellent. Lisa Harris at her best.” ~Chipchucker, Amazon reviewer
  • “The book starts with a bang and does not slow down.” ~Grandaddy A, Amazon reviewer
  • “This is an absolute must read!!” ~Carlien, Amazon reviewer

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Author Photo HarrisAbout the Author, Lisa Harris

LISA HARRIS is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom, Vendetta, and Port of Origin, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has fifty plus novels and novellas in print. She and her husband currently live in Texas.

Connect with Lisa:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

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MissMelissMy Thoughts

The first book in Lisa Harris’s Fallout Series, about life in a small Texas town after an EMP event knocks out the power grid is a fascinating combination of mystery, science fiction, and good old hometown drama. Her take on the common post-apocalyptic trope is a fresh one – the blending of police work and a touch of romance really add depth to the concept. More importantly, this novel is as much character-based as plot-based.

The lead characters of Jace McQuaid, the reluctant lawman, and Morgan Addison, the sister of one of the villains of the piece, are both well drawn and interesting. I liked that Jace questioned his unintended role in the town’s law enforcement, and I also liked that the relationship between Morgan and Jace was formed from a strong friendship, and that romance was secondary to the main plot, adding color, but never overshadowing the mystery. The supporting characters were also well-drawn, but I think my favorite was Hope, the town doctor, who reminded me very much of Doc Baker from the Little House on the Prairie series, but female. Her description of her newly acquire4d extra goat and chickens as payment for her services was both amusing and poignant. I confess to an audible “awww’ during a crucial scene between Jace and Morgan’s young son.

I want to applaud the author’s choice NOT to make solving the EMP problem or reestablishing electricity a core plot point. As this is the first book in a series, and there are several titles listed as coming in the future, doing so would have ruined her setup, first of all, but would also have taken us out of the bubble that a single, small town can be. Having a finite area and a limited number of characters makes for tighter storytelling, and Harris is an amazing storyteller.  Details like the fact that the library had become a local meeting place and an information exchange really made this version of Texas feel real, and I loved that she had townspeople researching and growing medicinal herbs.

While this book is very entertaining as a piece of fiction, I also found it extremely thought-provoking. Our world where HOAs dictate what we can grow in our own yards has moved far away from the practice of kitchen gardens, but such gardens can be literal lifesavers in the event of a real emergency. (This is not an endorsement of people becoming urban or suburban chicken farmers because of a temporary spike in the price of eggs.) I’m not the type to become a prepper, but I feel like I should plant the zucchini and tomatoes I’ve been contemplating sooner rather than later. After all, we cannot survive on basil alone.

Overall, this novel is a very promising opening to what I hope will be a successful series. It was well-paced and perfectly crafted, and I will happily read more in this world.

Goes well with: hot tea and homemade blueberry pie.


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What would you miss most if the grid went down? While not as essential as toilet paper or air-conditioning during a Texas summer, I think the McQuaid heroines from this series would love a bit of self-care—and so would I. – Author Lisa Harris

 

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Book Blitz and Giveaway with Review: Find the Moon by Beth Fehlbaum

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 About the book, Find the Moon Cover - Find the Moon

  • Young Adult / Social Issues / Family Issues
  • Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
  • Pages: 298 pages
  • Expected Publication Date: January 10, 2023
  • Scroll for Author’s Giveaway
  • Scroll for Review

For as long as she can remember, Kylie Briscoe’s been searching for the moon even though she has no idea why it soothes her. Placed in an impossible situation by her mother, Kylie cries for help. It brings rescuers and a new life, but it feels more like a death sentence when she is separated from her three-year-old sister Aliza, the only person Kylie’s ever really loved.

Now she’s in tiny Patience, Texas, with her eccentric potty-mouthed grandmother, ever-patient stargazing grandfather, an uncle who reminds her a lot of a cop who terrified her during a drug bust, a herd of Norwegian Dwarf goats, their “guard donkeys,” and three canine roommates occupying Kylie’s former nursery.

When the authorities make a mistake that could cost her everything, Kylie must decide whether to tell the truth-all of it-in order to save herself and her sister.

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Pre-order a copy of Find the Moon and enter the author’s giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, signed set of THE PATIENCE TRILOGY, and signed copy of BIG FAT DISASTER. Ends 12/30/2022. Visit Beth’s website for more information and to enter!

 

 


About the Author, Beth Fehlbaum Author Photo Fehlbaum 2

Beth Fehlbaum is the author of the young adult novels Find the Moon, Big Fat Disaster (on the Spirit of Texas-High School Reading List, 2014-2015), Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience (A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers), and Truth in Patience. With Dr. Matt E. Jaremko, Beth co-wrote the creative nonfiction book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. She is a high school English teacher.

Authenticity, calling out hypocrisy, and finding one’s voice are frequent themes in Beth’s work, and they are absolutely essential themes in her life, as well. Beth has a B.A. in English, minor in secondary education, and an M.Ed. in reading. Beth is in-demand as an author-panelist, having presented/appeared at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, the American Library Association’s annual conference, YALSA, N.C.T.E./ALAN, and numerous YA book festivals. She’s a member of The Author’s Guild, SCBWI, Romance Writers of America, and the Texas Federation of Teachers.  She loves doing school visits and meeting teens, teachers, and librarians!

Beth lives in the woods of East Texas in a house on a slice of family acreage. The home was built by her family over one very hot humid summer, a task she wishes never to repeat again. This sanctuary-of-sorts is lined by pine trees, and the woods are inhabited by raccoons, possums, and feral cats. All of these creatures appear to consider Beth their cat-food-providing goddess. There is no place she would rather be.

Connect with Beth:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts MissMeliss

When I was little I believed that my grandmother kept the moon in a glass on her bedside table, so an affinity for the moon is something that resonates with me, and it’s one of the reasons I chose to read Beth Fehlbaum’s latest novel, Find the Moon. I was not disappointed. Like many books that are labeled as Young Adult titles, this book is provocative, but it’s also at times both poignant and profound.

I knew from the description that this would be a hard read – protagonist Kylie’s situation, so aptly described in her opening line, “This year will monumentally suck,” is a grim one. Her mother is unreliable at best, and she’s the primary caregiver for her beloved little sister Aliza. A split-second decision made under great danger and duress changes the course of life for both girls, but the moon is their constant companion, and Kylie reminds her sister that no matter what happens to them, if they can find the moon, they’ll know their connection remains.

The moon continues to be an image as the story unfolds. Presented in first person, from Kylie’s perspective, this is the story of a teenager who has been dealt one of life’s worst hands, but has managed to survive. As we follow her on her journey to the welcoming home of her grandparents stargazing Ollie and motherly, if somewhat foul-mouthed Honey, we see her learn to trust others, and to trust herself. The poignance comes in small moments – when she cries on Honey’s shirt for the first time, when a dog offers comfort, when the English teacher’s son Ethan reaches out to her.

There are moments of profundity as well, the most striking when Ollie rises from the kitchen table, encouraging Kylie to rise as well, and shares with her the secret of Just One Thing: Every day, you have to do just one thing that moves you forward. As someone who would likely have been diagnosed with ADHD if girls had been evaluated for it in the 1970s, this echoed my own rule; no matter how much I have to fight to focus on anything, I do at least one productive thing every day. The Just One Thing concept is a powerful one, because it takes the weight of the world off your shoulders. Anyone can manage one thing in a day.

What I loved about this story was that author Fehlbaum never dropped the moon metaphor. Our favorite near-earth object is a talisman, a friend, and a beacon of hope in this novel, and it never feels hokey or overused. I appreciate that she connected Kylie’s attachment to the moon with Grandpa Ollie’s love of astronomy. Stargazing isn’t just a hobby for him, it’s an intrinsic element of his personality.

I also loved the relationship Ollie and Honey had with each other. Their fond bickering reminded me of my own grandparents, and made them feel all the more real.

Realism is another strong facet of this book. The teenagers in this story – Kylie, Ethan, and their schoolmates – never feel too young or too old. Their dialogue is believable and natural without relying on slang that would make this book feel dated if someone read it a decade from now. That kind of writing is an example of great craft and great care, and I really appreciated the authors effort.

While this book does touch on some heavy subjects the darker elements never overwhelm the reader. Rather, this book sucks you in, and makes you FEEL. It seems so cliched to say, “I laughed, I cried,” but the truth is that there were parts of this novel that did make me laugh, parts that made me yell at the characters, and parts that moved me to tears.

Find the Moon is an emotional, truthful story suitable for “young adults” and all adults.

Goes well with: rabbit-shaped pancakes hopping over bacon fence-posts.

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