Review: Remember My Beauties, by Lynne Hugo

About the book Remember My Beauties Remember My Beauties

Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.

Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.

Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.

For more information on this and other Switchgrass titles, be sure to visit their website HERE.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, Lynne Hugo Lynne Hugo

Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriev

Connect with Lynne

Website | Facebook | Twitter



My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I had a difficult time reading this book. The story is well-crafted. The characters are believable and dimensional. The horses (which are the ‘beauties’ in the title, but also characters in their own right) are powerful and lovely.

But I found myself getting sucked into the bitterness and anger that so many of the characters are feeling, and that made the read a difficult one for me.

One could argue that in provoking such a response, author Lynne Hugo has done her job, and done it exceedingly well. After all, literature is meant to inspire dreams and catalyze ideas. Literature, and all art, is sometimes a window, yes, but at other times it’s also a mirror.

I don’t have anywhere near the kind of anger and bitterness that Jewel, for example, feels towards her parents. I have an excellent relationship with my mother, and nearly three decades into their marriage, my stepfather and I have become really good friends. But there are old issues that resurface sometimes, and this book, Remember My Beauties brought a couple of them to the surface.

Art – literature – can be a mirror, but I’d prefer it if it wasn’t mine.

But aside for recognition of emotional tone (because the specific circumstances of the characters in this novel are completely foreign to me), I also felt annoyed at the characters. “You’re making poor choices,” I wanted to scream at them. “Just communicate!”

Ultimately, this book is not the story just of Jewel, caretaker for aging, sick parents, mother of a young woman who has dropped out of life, wife of an everyman (Eddie) who, while he may not have a heart of actual gold, has enough of a gold overlay to make his intentions shine. Sure, it seems like he’s muddling through his marriage at times, but doesn’t everyone muddle through in their own way?  It’s also not just the story of Carley (Jewel’s troubled daughter), or Hank and Louetta (Jewel’s parents) or even her brother Cal, back in their lives after a seven-year absence.

It’s the story of one family, and how their lives weave around each other, sometimes tacking out to the fringes for a breather, other times existing at dead center, and of how their horses keep them together, even when secrets and old hurts threaten to tear them apart.

It’s beautifully written, and while much of it is, as I said, tinged with bitterness and anger, there are reasons those two emotions are prominent, and at the end, while they are not completely gone, an air of Hope has pushed them mostly aside.

If you’re looking for an easy, breezy beach read, this is not your story.

If you want a story you can chew on, one that makes you examine your own life and choices, even as you’re reading about the lives and choices of Hugo’s fully-realized characters, read Remember My Beauties. You may find it a bit of a difficult read, but trust me, you’ll be glad you stuck with it, when you get to the end.

Goes well with scrambled eggs, home fries, and strong, black coffee.

Lynne Hugo’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, June 22nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 22nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Monday, June 27th: BookNAround

Wednesday, June 29th: Travelling Birdy

Thursday, July 7th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Monday, July 11th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 13th: Reading Cove Book Club

Monday, July 18th: Bibliophiliac

Wednesday, July 20th: Back Porchervations

Monday, July 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, August 1st: Mama Vicky Says

First Chapter Review: My Year as a Clown by Robert Steven Williams

About the book, My Year as a Clown by Robert Steven Williams

My Year as a Clown

Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

With My Year as a Clown, Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero—imperfect and uncertain—fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse his 20-year marriage.

Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.

Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

Buy a copy from Amazon.

Click through to read an excerpt via the Issuu Reader

My Thoughts on the First Chapter:

Robert Steven Williams is a fantastic writer. That was my first thought as I zipped through, not just the first chapter of My Year as a Clown, but the first FOUR. He’s a fantastic writer and this is a fast read. I said to myself. Hey, I’m a writer, too, and an improvisational actor. When I talk to myself, it’s not crazy, really.

But back to chapter one. This book opens with Chuck racing in his un-air conditioned car to meet his wife, an archaeologist, at the airport. He’s running late, and doesn’t want her to wait, but when he gets there, she rebuffs him. Within 24 hours, nee, within, ten, their marriage is essentially over.

That should make Chuck seem pathetic, and it is, in a way, but he’s written to be very real, if a tad more self-aware than most of the men I know, and what follows is the day-by-day chronicle of his life over the next year.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading. I knew the ‘clown’ part in the title wasn’t literal, and I vaguely remember an explicit language warning when I signed up to help promote this title, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last ever, there’s really nothing offensive in this book. Is there cursing, well, yes, but not for the shock value. Just because…don’t faint or anything…people curse from time to time. (I’m told in the South and parts of the Midwest that word should be written as ‘cuss’ but as ‘cuss’ is obviously an elision of ‘curse’ I’m using the word my Jersey-Girl-turned-California-Girl-turned-Texas-resident is most comfortable with.)

But back to my review. I was instantly engaged with Chuck’s story because author Williams writes in a very accessible, almost breezy (except that’s a bit girly for this material) style. We see everything from Chuck’s eyes, from his interaction with the cats and the neighbors, to his reaction when a rabbi refers to a singer as being “hot” and then reminds him that “we’re not Catholic.”

This isn’t really a ha-ha comedy, but the voice Williams uses in this book is decidedly wry, and I found myself clicking on the ‘purchase’ button to buy the whole copy. (Hey, they Kindle version is only $0.99 at Amazon, at least today.)

Goes well with: Cold beer and pepperoni pizza.

Connect with author Robert Steven Williams

Goodreads: Robert Steven Williams
Twitter: @RSWwriter
Facebook: Robert Steven Williams

This spotlight is part of a blog tour. You can see the entire tour page at the Pump Up Your Book tour page.

First-Chapter Review: The Alchemist Agenda by Marty Weiss

The Alchemist Agenda


When Charlie Rocklin and his company Gold Diggers Exploration set out to recover a 17th century shipwreck, they discover an undocumented Nazi submarine with enigmatic symbols. Ariel Ellis, a femme fatale historian with a mysterious past, proves that the U-boat contains the key to a formula more valuable than any sunken treasure, and more deadly than any weapon that has ever existed. In this globetrotting international adventure, Charlie and Ariel uncover an accelerating tempest of secrecy, lies, and agendas, fighting not only for the truth, but for their lives. Weiss’s debut novel is a lightning-paced story with surprises at every turn, and shows us that our personal legends may be more real than we ever could have imagined.


Purchase at:




Add to Goodreads:




My Thoughts on the First Chapter of The Alchemist Agenda

One of my favorite features of the digital age is the ability to preview, not just a blurb or a flyleaf summary of a book, but an entire chapter. It’s true you can’t really judge a whole book from one chapter, but at the very least you can get a sense of the author’s style and see if the main character grabs your interest.

Having read both an excerpt (see my previous post) and the first couple of chapters of Marty Weiss’s The Alchemist Agenda I’m confident in recommending the book to anyone who likes the works of Dan Brown or Clive Cussler, or who grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies, although, Weiss’s characters have a much better command of witty banter.

The first scene really hooked me as a reader – dropping me into the action and onto the deck of a rain-pelted ship out at sea, and maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for bad weather and good writing, and when you throw in shipwrecks and intrigue I’m completely in love, but I didn’t want my sample to end at the end of the first chapter.

Seriously, you should rush right out and buy this book – I just did, even though I got the samples for free – and I can’t wait to finish it.

Goes well with… a bowl of New England clam chowder (that’s the white kind), and hot tea served in those handleless Corning ware mugs the U.S. Navy used to use.

Charlie, the main character, is a perfect action hero – ruggedly handsome but with a brain –