Mini Review: Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

About the book, Beach House Reunion

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Gallery Books (May 22, 2018)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 22, 2018
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 401 pages

Beach House ReunionThe New York Times bestselling author and “skilled storyteller who never lets her readers down” (Huffington Post) returns to her beloved Beach House series with this “authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author) tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Comforting in its familiarity, it is still rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara let go of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new career and love.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate with an uncertain future, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is free to join the turtle team, learn to surf, and fall in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In “this tender and openhearted novel of familial expectations, new boundaries, and the power of forgiveness” (Booklist), three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts:

The Beach House series has long been a favorite of mine, and this is no exception. Well written with dynamic characters and vivid descriptions of both people and places, this novel is a satisfying read for anyone who loves family stories and beachy settings.

One of the things I love about Mary Alice Monroe is that her books often weave together similar experiences from different generations of the same family. In this case the through-line is sea turtles, and their conservation, and I liked the way the protection of the turtles echoed the maternal protection between the characters.

If you’ve seen the Hallmark movie “The Beach House,” this is the book it was based on. The movie was cozy and entertaining. The book is rich and rewarding.

You will not be disappointed.

Review: Blooming Murder by Simon Whaley

Blooming Murder

About the book, Blooming Murder

Blooming Murder ebook coverMURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.

Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.

This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.

It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.

So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.

Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Simon Whaley

Blooming Simon Whaley squareSimon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Connect with Simon:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI love getting into a series when it’s brand new. I get to meet all the main characters and then look forward to their returns in future novels. I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you, I’m really looking forward to seeing where Simon Whaley’s new “Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries” go from here.

But let’s talk about the beginning. Blooming Murder is the opening novel of what I hope will be a series of many books. Whaley’s writing style is straight-forward and hooks you instantly, and his plot builds steadily from there. Aldermaston, the Marquess, is one of the first characters we meet, of course, and it’s clear that he’s going to be our POV character, after all, it’s “his” series.

Characters abound in this novel, many of whom are involved either in local (village) politics, or in the politics of a gardening club, or both, and Whaley describes them vividly (dainty feet stuck in my head) and writes them with just as much care. This novel takes place in Wales, and the author doesn’t write in dialect, but he still manages to convey where each character hails from and how they sound, as much as how they look.

What I really loved about Blooming Murder is that the murder in question felt really organic, not just shoved in as a plot contrivance. I also appreciated that there are touches of humor throughout the book, lightening some of the more serious moments. (A character hoping the body won’t be in frame for a photo opp is just one example.)

Overall, Blooming Murder is a charming, engaging novel, and I am looking forward to the series continuing.

Goes well with: a glass of Prosecco and a salad that includes edible flowers.


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Review: Finding Jo, by Frances Ive

Finding Jo

 

About the book, Finding Jo

Finding Jo Front CoverAt breaking point Jo deserts her dysfunctional family and possessive boyfriend, making an uncharacteristic escape to the Himalayas in a bid for freedom and self-knowledge. The peace she finds there helps her to unravel her turmoil, but unexpected challenges test her new-found equilibrium to the limit.

Finding Jo focuses on relationships between families, lovers and friends, and the resentment and long-held grievances that threaten to destroy them. Jo’s quest for a deeper purpose in life acts as a catalyst to her family, indicating that willingness to change and grow enables people to find happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Frances Ive

Finding FrancesA career as a journalist/PR led to health writing for UK nationals newspapers and consumer magazines. Out of the blue I was inspired to write a novel, Finding Jo, which has taken some years to come to fruition, self-publishing in January 2021. I travelled a lot in my 20s and I have drawn on my three months’ trip to India in Finding Jo.

Connect with Frances:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMany times during my read of Frances Ive’s Finding Jo, I felt like I was reading a real-life travelogue and not a novel. This is not a bad thing, as it only makes Jo and the rest of the characters feel more dynamic.

At the same time, Ive’s writing puts you smack in the center of every scene. From Jo’s first steps in India as she’s realizing no one is there to meet her,  to her purchase of a train ticket and beyond, I could feel the heat and hear the noise of begging children, rickshaw drivers seeking clients, and vendors offering their wares (do not drink the green juice!),  and at one point I even checked to make sure my own purse was still on the chair in my mother’s guest room. That’s how vivid the writing is in this novel.

But the dialogue is equally well-crafted. Perhaps it’s the author’s experience as a journalist that has helped her recreate dialogue that gives the essence of different languages without resorting to writing in dialect, or maybe it’s just natural talent, but at no time did I have trouble keeping track of who people were or where they were from.

India is a place of extremes… major cities teeming with people, and then the Himalayas, which are unrelenting and unforgiving. Life, itself, can also be full of extremes. In Finding Jo, highs and lows in both landscape and emotion are represented with care and skill, making a compelling novel that lingers with you long after you’ve finished it.

Goes well with: Chicken tikka masala and garlic naan.


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Cover Reveal & Pre-Order Giveaway: Deadly Business, by Anita Dickason

BNR Deadly Business Blitz

 

About the book, Deadly Business

  • Anticipated Publication Date: July 3, 2021
  • Pages: 324 pages
  • Categories: Suspense | Thriller | Crime Thriller

Cover 3D 2 Deadly Business-a-5-3-21A Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up.

Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced.

Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk?

Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target.

The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

Pre-Order this book:

Amazon


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About the author, Anita Dickason

Anita Dickason

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.

Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.

In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order.

As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

Connect with Anita:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | VimeoAmazon Author PageGoodreads Author Page


Giveaway on Anita Dickason’s Website!

Pre-order Deadly Business, and you could win one of three prize packages (value $40 each) containing a tote bag, mousepad, coaster, pen, & bookmarks!

Visit www.anitadickason.com/ for details!

(US only. Contest ends at midnight, CDT, July 2, 2021.)

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Review & Giveaway: A Witch’s Brew, by Michael Scott Clifton

BNR Witch's Brew

 

About the book, A Witch’s Brew

  • Series: Conquest of the Veil
  • Publisher: Book Liftoff, April 14, 2021
  • Categories: Sword & Sorcery / Magical Realism / Fantasy / Paranormal
  • Giveaway: Scroll for entry information

Cover Hi Res A Witch's BrewIntent on defeating the Dark Queen and destroying the Veil, Prince Tal and Alexandria arrive at Markingham to discover a city on the verge of collapse, its people starving, and children vanishing without a trace. Hopes of launching attacks from the city against the Dark Queen evaporate. To make matters worse, the tiny breach in the Veil allows only a trickle of soldiers and supplies to pass through.

Before the city’s defenses can be restored, the Baleful, a vast army composed of melded humans and animals led by a giant centaur, sweeps across the land like locusts, leaving nothing behind.

In the midst of turmoil and conflict, the love between Tal and Alex reaches white-hot intensity. But the leader of a ragtag militia group wants Tal for herself and will do anything to get him…even strike a bargain with a child-killing witch for a potion to make her irresistible.

But every witch’s brew comes with a price.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Scott Clifton

Author CliftonMulti Award-Winning Author Michael Scott Clifton, a longtime public educator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, his books contain facets of all the genres he enjoys—action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch, The Open Portal (Book I in the Conquest of the Veil series), and Escape from Wheel (Book II), all received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews. The Open Portal has also been honored with a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award. In addition, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator earned a 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award Bronze Medal in the Teen Readers category. Two of his short stories have won Gold Medals, with Edges of Gray winning the Texas Authors Contest, and The End Game, winning the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary EducationMagazine.

Connect with Michael:

Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub

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My Thoughts:

I jumped into A Witch’s Brew the third installment in Michael Scott Clifton’s Conquest of the Veil series having only read brief synopses of the previous two novels, but so good is the author’s storytelling that I never felt out of the loop, or like I’d missed a ton of crucial backstory. More importantly, I felt completely comfortable in the world Clifton built, which felt like a real place.

While I loved the story over all I really appreciated that both the protagonist, Alex, and the antagonist (I felt too much sympathy for her to label her an outright villain), Maggie, were both strong, self-possessed women. I was rooting for Alex, of course, but both characters were well drawn, dynamic women, and leapt off the page and into my imagination, where they’ll linger for a while.

I also loved Clifton’s use of language. So many fantasy authors conflate fantasy with medieval, and use antiquated language where it really isn’t necessary. Clifton understands the difference, and I enjoyed reading this genre-blending story of witches and potions, sword fights and romance, all the more because the author used contemporary language.

While I am a new reader of this series, I’m not entirely new to Clifton’s work, having reviewed his novel The Janus Witch in 2018. Then, I was impressed by his deftness at handling time travel. With A Witch’s Brew, I was struck by his prowess with both parallel world structures, and with writing romance that is poignant but never sappy. I’m also excited to know that there are more stories planned in this world. I’m completely hooked and I think anyone who is a fan of series like Shadow and Bone will be, as well.

This novel is a fantastic (no pun intended), immersive story that has something for everyone, wrapped in a perfect plot and enhanced by compelling characters and a truly original take on magic and its uses.

Goes well with: A grilled grouper sandwich, sweet potato fries,  and a craft-brewed beer, nothing too hoppy.


Giveaway

THREE WINNERS!

Grand Prize:
Signed Copies of all three books in the Conquest of the Veil series
+ $15 Amazon Gift Card:
2nd & 3rd Winners: eBooks of A Witch’s Brew.
Ends midnight, CDT, May 28, 2021.

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5/18/21 Review The Plain-Spoken Pen
5/18/21 BONUS Promo LSBBT Blog
5/19/21 Review Missus Gonzo
5/19/21 BONUS Promo Hall Ways Blog
5/20/21 Review Book Fidelity
5/21/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
5/22/21 Review Bibliotica
5/23/21 Review The Clueless Gent
5/24/21 Review The Page Unbound
5/25/21 Review Sybrina’s Book Blog
5/26/21 Review Forgotten Winds
5/27/21 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
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Review & Giveaway: The Paris Betrayal, by James R. Hannibal

BNR The Paris Betrayal

About the book, The Paris Betrayal

  • Publisher: Revell
  • Pub Date: May 4th, 2021
  • Pages: 352 pages
  • Categories: Fiction / Christian / Suspense
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover hi res Paris BetrayalAfter a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance–reserved for incompetents and traitors.

Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him–and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.

Award-winning author James R. Hannibal ratchets up the tension on every page of this suspenseful new thriller.

Praise for this book:

“A masterful thriller is created by a masterful writer, and James R. Hannibal is at the top of my list. I devoured every page with the lights on!”DiAnn Mills, DiAnnMills.com, author of Airborne

“James Hannibal once again displays his dazzling prose and ability to keep even the more experienced readers guessing. In The Paris Betrayal, Hannibal sets his hook deep and early, then drags you through a riveting, edge-of-your-seat story. Another gripping, high-octane book from one of the best thriller writers in the business.” — Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and bestselling author of Hunt Them Down 

“Riveting and action-packed! The Paris Betrayal is everything you want in a thriller–suspense, intrigue, and white-knuckle action. Hannibal has a knack for keeping you guessing in a plot that moves at a breakneck speed. This is one you don’t want to miss!” —Ronie Kendig, bestselling author of The Tox Files

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Christianbooks.com Barnes and Noble | Revell Affiliates | Goodreads


About the author, James R. Hannibal

Author Pic HannibalJames R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. This former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his children’s mysteries, a former Thriller Award nominee, and a 2020 Selah and Carol Award finalist for The Gryphon Heist–the opener for the CIA series that now includes Chasing the White Lion. James is a rare multisense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells, and he hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.

Connect with James

Website | Instagram | Facebook | BookBub | Goodreads Author Page | Amazon Author Page


My Thoughts

Melissa A. Bartell Opening in Rome and then moving to Paris, this novel is a feast of action-adventure, spy games, murder, intrigue, and chess-like strategy and a hint (but only a hint) of romance on a global table, and its protagonist, Ben Calix is the main dish, competent, likeable, and extremely dedicated to a job that doesn’t always offer positive rewards.

The initial sequence really sets the tone and pace for this novel, and I found myself breathless when the first chapter finally wound down. The rest of the book is slightly slower, but the fast pace works for this kind of story, and even the chapters are relatively short. Author Hannibal excels at giving the reader exactly what they need to know at any given moment. You never feel like you’re missing something, but there’s also very little filler.

I really appreciated the author’s personal experience and how he used it in addition to careful research to provide the level of detail in this novel. Every weapon was specified, for example. No one ever pointed a gun, they used a SIG or a Glock. That specificity really lets the reader immerse in this story. After finishing it, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a spy and no one was targeting me! Then again, “…the most dangerous enemy is the one you don’t see coming.”

While Ben was the most completely drawn character in this story – and he seems to be as wonderful as he is ruthless – after all, he even saves a dog and continues working for the greater good even after the time in Rome finds him severed from The Company – Giselle was also vividly painted, and I enjoyed seeing a female agent in the mix.  Of course it’s the bad guys who make a thriller, work as much as the good and they did not disappoint. The mooks were all menacing, and the bigger players were  – as bad guys should be – convinced their point of view was the right one.

Overall, this novel is a gripping story with enough action, suspense, and spy tricks to please even the most ardent reader of espionage tales.

Goes well with steak au poivre and a nice merlot.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER receives a print copy of The Paris Betrayal,
Mini Pen Camera, & $10 Starbucks Gift Card!

US Only. Ends midnight, CDT, May 14, 2021.

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5/7/21 Review The Clueless Gent
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Review: Le Deal, by J. Byrne Murphy

About the book, Le Deal

• Publisher: Lyons Press (March 14, 2021)
• Paperback: 304 pages

Le Deal Le Deal is a business adventure story involving raw entrepreneurship and high-level politics. It is the true story of Byrne Murphy, a young businessman who abruptly moves to Paris in a quest to reignite his career and his fortunes. He quickly finds himself up against powerful forces, including wrestling with the Prime Minister of France, the soon-to-be Chancellor of Germany and wanna-be mafia in Italy. There are also charming encounters with the British Royal Family, including a near royal embarrassment of epic proportions.

Eight years after Byrne’s company, McArthurGlen Europe, was launched in his hotel room, it generated approximately $1 billion in sales from 11 centers across Europe; created nearly 8,000 jobs; opened 1,500 stores featuring 500 brands; attracted nearly 40 million shopping visits per year and spawned an array of competitors. In short, an industry was born.

Along the way, the author learns what he, and Americans in general, do and do not know about life beyond our borders. The book offers a message for Americans who work internationally to truly take “context” into account; to realize, in our quest to accomplish more in less time, that investing the time to understand the nuances of the foreign cultures we are dealing with is key to prospering in our twenty-first-century multicultural, polyglot, interconnected, globalized world.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Goodreads


About the author, J. Byrne Murphy

J. Byrne Murphy was one of the founders and Deputy Chief Executive of McArthurGlen Europe. He spent eight years in an ultimately successful struggle to implant the concept of designer outlet centers in Europe, featuring brands ranging from Gucci and Prada to Polo and Nike. Murphy is an entrepreneur who has started up several European ventures. Recently these have included a data center operation in Scandinavia, and the redevelopment of a fifteenth-century Medici palazzo in Florence, Italy, into one of Europe’s first private residence clubs. He is a cum laude graduate of Harvard and received his MBA from the Darden School of Business at the Universtiy of Virginia. After living in Europe for twelve years, Murphy now resides in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife, Pamela and their four daughters.

Find our more about him at his website.


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThis non-fiction story is the true story of the author’s relocation to Paris in an attempt to reignite his career. At times funny, honest, political, and loaded with hindsight, it’s the perfect book for anyone who has fantasized about reinventing themselves, opening a business, or moving to a different country. While only the latter applies to me (and not until retirement), I still found Le Deal to be a valuable read.

I was expecting the book to focus on Murphy’s experiences in France, so I was  pleased that his time in other countries was related, though I would have liked more in Italy and Germany. At the same time, there were a lot of people (I almost said characters, and truly, some of them are) to keep track of, and I would have appreciated more time with Pamela (Murphy’s wife). Not that she wasn’t present; I just wanted more.

I think for those who are interested in going into business, Murphy’s story is extremely relatable. Certainly, he’s a gifted writer, and this was an easy read. I liked that he shared his failures and bobbles as well as his successes (spoiler alert: ultimately he was quite successful). I think younger people, or at least people who didn’t find corporate life a bad fit, as I did, would find Le Deal useful as both an object lesson and a guideline.

Overall, Le Deal is a well-written, engaging true story about the struggles and successes of a man who takes on Europe in more ways than one.


Check Out the Other Participants in This Tour

TLC Book ToursTour participants include “bookstagrammers” and bloggers.

Monday, April 19th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, April 20th: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews

Thursday, April 22nd: Musings of a Literary Wanderer

Monday, April 26th: bookchickdi

Wednesday, April 28th: Instagram: @gracereads82

Wednesday, May 5th: Instagram: @megsbookclub

Thursday, May 6th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, May 11th: Man of La Book

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Thursday, May 13th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 14th: What Is That Book About

TBD: Tuesday, April 27th: Run Wright

Review: Lemons in the Garden of Love, by Ames Sheridan

About the book Lemons in the Garden of Love

Lemons in the Garden of Love

  • Publisher : She Writes Press (May 11, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 248 pages

It’s 1977 and Cassie Lyman, a graduate student in women’s history, is struggling to find a topic for her doctoral dissertation. When she discovers a trove of drawings, suffrage cartoons, letters, and diaries at Smith College belonging to Kate Easton, founder of the Birth Control League of Massachusetts in 1916, she believes she has located her subject.

Digging deeper into Kate’s life, Cassie learns that she and Kate are related―closely. Driven to understand why her family has never spoken of Kate, Cassie travels to Cape Ann to attend her sister’s shotgun wedding, where she questions her female relatives about Kate―only to find herself soon afterward in the same challenging situation Kate faced.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | IndieBound | She Writes Press | Goodreads


About the author, Ames Sheldon

Ames SheldonAMES SHELDON: was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota. After graduating from Northrop Collegiate School, she attended Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in English. After graduating, she worked in the legal department of a chemical company, as a reporter at two newspapers, as office manager of a start-up auto salvage business, and eventually as a grant writer and development officer for a variety of nonprofit organizations, ranging from the Sierra Club in San Francisco to the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minneapolis Public Library. She has an M.A. in American Studies and was lead author and associate editor of the groundbreaking Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States (R.R. Bowker, 1979). In the process of working on this monumental reference book, Ames discovered her love of women’s history and of using primary sources for research. Her debut novel, Eleanor’s Wars, won the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best New Voice: Fiction. Her second novel, Don’t Put the Boats Away, was published on August 27, 2019, by She Writes Press. Her third novel, Lemons in the Garden of Love, will be published in 2021.

Connect with Ames:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

As a woman who was given my mother’s vintage original copy (then little more than a pamphlet) of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and as a woman who has fought for reproductive rights my entire  adult life (often with my mother beside me) I was eager to read Lemons in the Garden of Love when it was offered to me for review. This, I thought, was a story I could really relate to.

The parallel stories of Cassie, a grad student in the 1970s, and her aunt Kate, several decades earlier, are compelling reading. Both women were intellectually curious, passionate, and trapped in marriages to cold men. Both women found themselves facing a similar challenge. And both women had to deal with family members who were slaves to conservative views of gender roles, at best, and generally dreadful, at worst.

What I loved about this novel, was that you could tell that author Ames Sheldon had a personal investment in the story. Indeed, she is so committed to reproductive rights and  women’s healthcare that fifty percent of the proceeds from this novel are being donated to Planned Parenthood. That’s an amazing legacy, but so is this novel, which captures the very different experiences of women in the earlier and more recent twentieth century. As well, I really appreciated the technical knowledge that Sheldon included in her story, like how to make your own diaphragm from liquid latex and a darning ring, as many of our great-grandmothers had to do.

Beyond the technical detail, however, I liked how distinctive the two main characters’ voices were. Cassie is very much a contemporary woman, even if the seventies are considered “historical” now (as someone born in 1970 I have difficulty with that), and Kate’s words in her journals are stiffer, and more formal, really cementing her in the early twentieth century.

Overall, I feel Lemons in the Garden of Love is an important read. We must know where we came from as we face an increasingly autocratic future. We must take care not to repeat the worst parts of our history, and honor the best. Most importantly, we must continue to tell our stories, our mothers’ and grandmothers’ stories, and those of our sisters in spirit.

Goes well with grilled chicken, asparagus, and sauteed mushrooms.

 

Review and Giveaway: Infinity’s Gateway by James S. Parker

BNR Infinity's Gateway

 

About the book, Infinity’s Gateway

  • Published by: Morgan James Publishing
  • Series: The Infinity’s Gateway Trilogy
  • Pages: 361 Pages
  • Pub Date: January 26th, 2021
  • Categories: Science Fiction / Adventure / Action
  • Scroll for Giveaway!

Cover Infinity's GatewayEvery year, all across the planet, people simply vanish, completely disappear and are never seen again.  Some areas of the world are well known for this phenomenon.  Infinity’s Gateway opens with a very famous incident that took place just after the end of World War II with the United States Navy.  The story then jumps to the present day with an unexplainable event that occurs off the coast of Florida, an event that cannot be ignored by the military.

The Navy ship Eclipse and its crew are sent to investigate, but after several days come up empty.  Two days before returning to port, the event reoccurs, and the Eclipse is caught up in something it cannot escape.  The Eclipse and its crew suddenly find themselves completely isolated, all communication lost, surrounded by a terribly hostile environment where each day is a struggle to survive.  Infinity’s Gateway is an intense, action packed story of survival, self-reliance, and discovery.

Praise for this book:

Infinity’s Gateway is an engaging science fiction thriller with tones of Michael Crichton Tom Clancy.  To fans of the science fiction genre, it will feel like an old friend with a surprising, and exciting new makeover.”  —Joseph Mauceri, Executive Editor, Fearsmag.com.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, James S. Parker

Author Pic James ParkerEvery now and then author James S. Parker has a vision.  And, when he does, he sees people and places off in the misty distance.  Sometimes these visions are futuristic and filled with danger.  Most often they are mystical, with good and evil and a cast of characters who beautifully represent both.

In his high school years James experienced a spine-tingling brush with the supernatural.  That single event – complete with the sound of heavy footsteps and an invisible visitor – etched forever in his mind the idea that life is much more mysterious than we oftentimes admit — that the spiritual world is all around us, and that its impact on us cannot be denied.

Though he sees through a glass darkly, he writes as though he has been granted a glimpse into the unknown, one that has informed his novels and their powerful stories of good and evil and the struggles we all face every day to assure that good wins.

Infinity’s Gateway, the first book in a fascinating sci-fi adventure trilogy, is his latest work.  James lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Margaret. He is available for in-person and online book club visits.

Connect with James

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’m a huge fan of the two authors whose work this novel, Infinity’s Gateway was compared to – Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy – and I love anything that takes place on ships, so I knew this novel would be right up my alley, and I was not wrong. James S. Parker’s latest novel has that perfect balance of technical detail and action-adventure that makes for a fun and gripping story. Plus it’s a new exploration of the Bermuda Triangle myths. It’s been far too long since we’ve had something new in that niche.

Beginning in post-WWII Florida and later jumping to a more contemporary setting, I found Parker’s story to be incredibly well crafted. His attention to the technical detail of both past and modern naval vessels was obvious as were the subtle differences in speech patterns and word choices for each time. I also felt that the pacing he used was appropriate for the story he was telling. There was enough specificity that you could easy visualize everything that was going on, but at no point did it feel like there was too much exposition. Similarly, while there were a LOT of characters introduced in the early chapters – from admirals to ensigns, and congressmen to chaplains – it was never confusing keeping track of who was who.

One thing I particularly loved about this novel were the interjections about the Bermuda Triangle itself, even mentioning that “Mr. Spock” had narrated a show about it in the 1970s. I like it when fiction acknowledges contemporary culture and pop culture (the comments about funding for Navy projects were also appreciated) instead of ignoring them, because it grounds the work in our world (references to the Many Worlds theory notwithstanding).

Overall, this is a well-written, compelling adventure story with touches of philosophy, mystery, and wonder, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Goes well with: Lobster rolls and cold beer.


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(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, May 8, 2021)

 

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Spotlight: The Takeaway Men, by Meryl Ain

BNR The Takeaway Men

 

About the book, The Takeaway Men

  • Publisher: SparkPress
  • Pub Date: August 4th, 2020
  • Pages: 265 pages
  • Categories: Historical / Jewish Literature / Sibling Fiction / Holocaust

Cover Med Res Takeaway MenWith the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War.

Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated.

Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America

Praise for this book:

“At a time when the darkness of the Holocaust is being whitewashed, Meryl Ain’s remarkable debut novel illuminates the postwar Jewish American landscape like a truth-seeking torch. An emotionally rich and lovingly told saga of survivors, with great sensitivity to what was lost, buried, and resurrected.” Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible.

“The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” Kirkus Reviews

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About the author, Meryl Ain

Author Photo AinMeryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal.  She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator.

The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York.

Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and an active supporter of UJA-Federation of New York.  She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. This is her first novel.

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