Book Review: Suddenly Psychic, Glimmer Lake- Book #1

Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Book Name: Suddenly Psychic
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Series: Glimmer Lake
Order: #1
Genre: Paranormal/Women’s Fiction/Family Drama/Romance
Overall SPA: 5 Stars
5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Every woman goes through changes in their forties.
Just not… these changes.

Robin Brannon was a normal wife, mom, and antique shop owner until a brush with death turned her day-to-day life upside down. Now she and her two best friends are seeing things that belong in a fantasy novel. Ghosts. Visions. Omens of doom. Nothing that belongs in the peaceful mountain town they call home.

Added to that, Robin’s marriage is on the rocks, her grandmother’s health is failing, her mother is driving away the customers at her shop, her teenage daughter refuses to get her drivers’ license, and her left knee aches every darn morning.

Robin doesn’t have the time, energy, or knees to unearth the secrets buried at the bottom of Glimmer Lake, but fate doesn’t seem to care. Some secrets are just dying to be exposed.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 5/5 Stars
Uniqueness Factor: 4.5/5 Stars

Believability: 4.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 5/5 Stars

This is a beautiful mash up of some of my favorite genres all in one book. Top that with the main characters being mature, adult women (something that is rare in the paranormal genre) dealing with real life type issues associated with being that age along side the twist of the paranormal, toss it all with very real characters with sass, attitude and relatable flaws and this was nearly a perfect fit for me.

While the premise behind the three women and best friends, Robin, Monica, and Val, suddenly getting psychic abilities in their mid 40’s may be a bit far fetched, the author does an amazing job of selling it with the way she manages to blend it with real life.

The story is told from each of the three women’s perspectives, but falls more heavily on Robin’s perspective as she is the main character. That imbalance was unusual for me, but I really enjoyed how it helped the story flow and to get an idea of how each woman was dealing with the sudden changes. I adored the amazing, loving relationship between these three friends. It is the type of friendship most everyone would love to have in their life.

The romantic aspect of the story comes in a couple of different places, mainly in Robin’s relationship with her husband. How she is feeling in that relationship was so relatable to what many women, especially those that are also mothers, feel at some point. This just added to how much I liked her character.

This book made me laugh while connecting with the characters. Then topped it off with the kind of cry that is sad and happy at the same time. Since this is the first in a series, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next book and probably digging into this authors back list as this was the first book I’ve read from them.

*This review was also published in Envie! Magazine’s April 2020 edition.

 

Recommended Reads From March

I haven’t written many reviews recently, but have still been reading a ton. I’ve also gotten away from posting any kind of TBR. I thought I might try posting a sort of a reverse TBR, instead. Basically a list of books I read over the month that I’d recommend instead of what I intend to read.

All books will be 4 to 5 star ratings and books that I enjoyed enough to say, “Hey, you should maybe pick this one up!” All books will also be books I read in that month, but not necessarily books released in that month. Not sure if it is something I’ll stick with, but thought I’d try it out, just for something different.

Based on this list, I’d say I had a decent month when it comes to books I enjoyed. The massive number of books that start with an “S” was purely luck and completely unintentional.

Badger to the Bone
Badger to the Bone
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Book Name: Badger To The Bone
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Series: Honey Badger Chronicles
Order: #3
Genre: Urban/Fantasy/Romance/Humor
Overall SPA: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed: Yes – HERE

The Queen's Bargain
The Queen’s Bargain
Author: Anne Bishop
Book Name: The Queen’s Bargain
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Series: The Black Jewels
Order: 10
Genre: Dark Fantasy/Romance
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
Reviewed: Yes – HERE

Suddenly Psychic
Suddenly Psychic
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Book Name: Suddenly Psychic
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Series: Glimmer Lake
Order: 1
Genre: Paranormal/Women’s Fiction/Family Drama/Romance
Overall SPA: 5
Reviewed: Yes – Will post on 4/2/2020 (Also for Envie! Book Review)

Shifting Dreams
Shifting Dreams
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Book Name: Shifting Dreams
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Series: Cambio Springs
Order: 1
Genre: Urban/Fantasy/Romance
Overall SPA: 4
Reviewed: No

Bounty
Bounty
Author: K.N. Banet (Kristen Banet)
Book Name: Bounty
Release Date: March 14, 2020
Series: Kaliya Sahni
Order: 1
Genre: Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
Reviewed: Yes – HERE

Smoke Bitten
Smoke Bitten
Author: Patricia Briggs
Book Name: Smoke Bitten
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Series: Mercy Thompson
Order: 12
Genre: Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
Reviewed: No
Spiked
Spiked

Summoned
Summoned
Author: C.P. Rider
Book Name: Spiked & Summoned
Release Date: August 14, 2019 & November 30, 2019
Series: The Sundance
Order: 1 & 2
Genre: Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
Reviewed: No
Heart of Malice
Heart of Malice

Heart of Fire
Heart of Fire
Author: Lisa Edmonds
Book Name: Heart of Malice & Heart of Fire
Release Date: June 5, 2017 & May 29, 2018
Series: Alice Worth
Order: 1 & 2
Genre: Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
Reviewed: No

Shatter the Earth
Shatter the Earth
Author: Karen Chance
Book Name: Shatter the Earth
Release Date: February 5, 2020
Series: Cassandra Palmer
Order: 10
Genre: Urban/Fantasy
Overall SPA: 4
Reviewed: No

One Year Book Anniversary: An Unexpected Turn – Free Offering

One year ago, I clicked the publish button on my book, An Unexpected Turn. To celebrate, I’m offering up the Kindle version for free from 3/27 through 3/31.

Considering I never even planned to write a book in the first place, seeing that I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of it’s release, is kind of mind blowing. If you enjoy emotional stories about found families, feel free to grab this while it lasts. If that’s not your thing, then please pass it along to someone that might enjoy it as a way to help me celebrate this shocking milestone.

 

Blurb:

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

Tiny Bit of Self Promotion: An Unexpected Turn

I haven’t mentioned anything about my book in a while and thought I’d put this out there just in case any of you hadn’t seen it yet. Or… if any of you felt nice enough to push it on share it with your reader friends. Or even just say nice things about it to other people. That’d be awesome!

I’m about a month shy of the one year anniversary of this release, so I’m hoping it sees a little love.

Blurb:

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

 

It is still available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and paperback.
An Unexpected Turn on Amazon

If any of you are on BookSirens and want to get a review copy: An Unexpected Turn on BookSirens

 

Another Nudge: An Unexpected Turn On Kindle Unlimited

Just posting a little reminder, or an “In Case You Didn’t Know”… my book, An Unexpected turn, is available for free to Kindle Unlimited users. A paperback version is also available for those that need a physical book in their hands.

I’m also going to offer up the ebook version to any book bloggers that might be interested in a review copy. Just send me a message and I’ll get it to you.

For those of you that have already taken the time to read this and rate or review it, THANK YOU! It warms this neurotic little introvert’s heart that you took the time to share your thoughts. Every single star and word makes a difference to a book’s success. This is exponentially more important for indie authors.

If you haven’t seen it, the blurb is below.


Blurb:

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

Yes! Finally!

It is official! My book, An Unexpected Turn, is now available through Kindle Unlimited! It took a few too many days to get to the point where I could list it, but I got there. Apparently listing is pretty much instant once you click enroll, so it is already out there and available for anyone that has been waiting!

Book Review: Loving Henry, Kate Lawson

Author: Kate Lawson
Book Name: Loving Henry
Release Date: June 24, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/LGBTQIA
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Henry’s mother gave him up for adoption and although he’s been the most loved boy in the world, he always wondered why his birth mother gave him away.

Elizabeth wanted a son, a little man to dote upon, but she always worried he would leave her one day, like the man she had intended to be his father.

Rachel had to give her son up for adoption, just like her mother gave her up when she was born, but she always wondered, what if…?

A chance encounter changes their lives forever and brings to light emotions all three have been trying to suppress. Can they all move on now their lives are entangled, especially when they’re all holding on to the secrets in their past?

Loving Henry is a novel about the search for identity and purpose, and an examination of the true meaning of family.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

I always have a soft, squishy spot for stories about family, especially ones where the families are built on more than just blood and genetics, so this was a really good fit for me. The characters came across as fallible and human, without dipping into stereotypes, making them relatable. This gives a good look into some of the issues that can come up with both adults and kids that have been adopted as well as seeing it from the perspective of those adopting and those letting go. It was nice to see all those different perspectives. I wasn’t pulled in quite as hard emotionally as I would have expected given the subject matter as this didn’t take me to extremes and is probably my one ding to the overall rating for me. Otherwise, this was a really good story.

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 4/5 Stars: I had to note that I really liked this cover and the simplicity of it. It just feels really calming and soothing.

Book Review: His Secret Family, Ali Mercer

Author: Ali Mercer
Book Name: His Secret Family
Release Date: September 11, 2019 (ARC)
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/Mystery
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.

I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.

They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.

So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2.5/5 Stars
Blurb: 2.5/5 Stars

Peeve Factor: 3/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2/5 Stars

*Potential Spoilers*

Looking at the name of this book. Reading the blurb and the first piece in the book (noted as the foreword in my copy) and you get the impression that you are going to get a pretty intense and potentially emotional book. I was really excited about this when I read the blurb. Getting it and reading that first section, which is sort of an expansion on the blurb, made me feel like I’d made a really good choice.

Once you get into the book, you get chapters that cycle through 4 different character perspectives. Ellie, Ava, Jenny, and Paula. None of which are the one name that was noted in that first piece that drew you in. I can see how this may create a deep sense of mystery for some readers, but for me, it was more frustrating trying to understand what that first bit had to do with anything at all as it seems completely unconnected to what is going on immediately after that.

I don’t mind the alternating character perspectives. That is something I normally enjoy, but with the 4 you get in this book it felt a bit too much. Ellie, Ava and Jenny’s timelines all run mostly concurrently with tiny bits of overlap in events here and there. Paula’s is more fluid and doesn’t run in line with the others, creating an additional level of confusion for the reader when attempting to make connections because you don’t know that her timeline isn’t running the same as the other characters. It takes a very long time before you see that and any of the pieces begin to fall in place.

There is this small thread through the story that runs more along the lines of paranormal. I really enjoy paranormal stories, but that isn’t what this story is about and it feels out of place.

Ellie and Paula’s characters were probably the most well rounded and interesting. Their perspectives were the pieces I liked the most throughout the story. I did not like Mark at all as he was a self-absorbed narcissist to the core and I have issues with characters like this (yes, they are realistic and human, but this is a personal thing for me). I didn’t see him as redeemable in any way. Getting his perspective for the final chapter bumped into one of my peeves as I’m not a fan of that kind of perspective inconsistency in a book. When you already have 4, you really, really don’t need one more at the very end. Ava wasn’t too far behind Mark in being the self-absorbed, often bratty teenager. The teenager thing being the only reason I was willing to overlook some of her personality, but she seemed to get worse as the book went along. Jenny was a character that I just couldn’t find much of interest in. While she wasn’t entirely selfish, she did seem to be the type that was easily blinded by materialistic things.

Overall, I didn’t feel like the book really lived up to the dramatic, intense blurb or the title. I love situational drama. I love emotional drama. I do not love manufactured drama and that is where most of the drama is derived from in this book, through those differing timelines and the dragging out of events followed by a 10 year time jump towards the end. The actual events weren’t that dramatic. The big secret isn’t really a secret, either to the reader or to the characters. What little bit you do get at the end feels anticlimactic because, as the reader, you see it all unfold. The character reactions to it compound that feeling as it ends up not being any kind of an issue for them either. The pieces of this story that should have been sort of emotional volcanoes for me, just weren’t. I don’t know if it was because of a lack of connection to the characters or if it was the way those pieces were written, but it sort of felt like even the characters were experiencing the events they were going through from a distance rather than directly.

I do think it should be noted that some readers may find they have problems with how some issues were presented and dealt with in this book. If you have problems with cheating, you may have issues with this book. If you have problems with how people on the Autism spectrum are sometimes viewed and treated, you may have issues with this book. If you have problems with how mental illness is sometimes viewed by some people or some of the ways it was treated historically, you may have issues with this book. These aren’t normally things that stick out for me, but I found I really disliked many of the situations surrounding these issues and how they were presented in this book.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review: The Place on Dalhousie – Melina Marchetta

Author: Melanie Marchetta
Book Name: The Place on Dalhousie
Release Date: June 6, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: ‘You look the type to break your father’s heart.’
‘Yeah, but he broke mine first.’

When Rosie Gennaro first meets Jimmy Hailler, she has walked away from life in Sydney, leaving behind the place on Dalhousie that her father, Seb, painstakingly rebuilt for his family but never saw completed. Two years later, Rosie returns to the house and living there is Martha, whom Seb Gennaro married less than a year after the death of Rosie’s mother. Martha is struggling to fulfil Seb’s dream, while Rosie is coming to terms with new responsibilities. And so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.

As the battle lines are drawn, Jimmy Hailler re-enters Rosie’s life. Having always watched other families from the perimeters, he’s now grappling, heartbreakingly, with forming one of his own . . .

An unforgettable story about losing love and finding love; about the interconnectedness of lives and the true nature of belonging.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 3/5 Stars
Believability: 2.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 2.5/5 Stars

How do you write a review for a book when you aren’t entirely sure how you feel about it?

The characters were okay, but I don’t feel as though I learned enough about them to care one way or another about their story, though I feel I learned more about Jimmy than any of them. The story had an interesting premise and I wanted to read more about it, but… overall the entire thing kind of just felt… placid. That it was slightly interesting, but didn’t really go anywhere or do much of anything. I wanted to love this, but I didn’t.

When it comes to books in this genre I really want a strong emotional reaction and/or connection and I didn’t get that at all with this book. The characters are emotional, but those emotions never really spill over onto the reader. There is a slight vagueness to the writing style here that sort of acted like an emotional filter for me.

The weird part for me is that normally those things would trip a peeve button and irritate me. I didn’t dislike this book. Instead it is just… there. There is a book. It has a decent story. I read it. The end. Placid.

 

 

 

Book Review: A Family of Strangers – Emilie Richards

Author: Emilie Richards
Book Name: A Family of Strangers
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense/Family Drama
Overall SPA: 4 Stars
4 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Could a lifetime of memories…be a lifetime of lies?

All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.

Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.

While Wendy lays low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?

Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 4/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

This book surprised me. In good ways and on a couple of different levels.

Initially, I got frustrated because I wasn’t seeing what the blurb had led me to believe this book was about and I thought it was beyond time to start seeing those things. That’s when I noticed I was only at like 15-20% and I was a bit shocked. So much had already happened, I felt like I was much farther along than I was, so it wasn’t unreasonable I hadn’t hit those things. Once I realized that, I let go of the impatience and settled into the story.

One of the things I really liked about this was that there were lots of threads in this story, but they are all mostly tied together and related. The only real exception is Ryan and Teo’s back story, which you get in drips for a while (one of the points of early frustration and my one real irritant). The connected threads all fit smoothly together.

I loved how those threads all developed. Even as the story seems to get complex and convoluted, the author does a good job of making it all work, of making it believable. There are several “surprises” along the way. Most I could see coming, but I still liked how they came about. One that I saw, the author managed to distract me enough I’d forgotten about it only to have it pop back up when I wasn’t looking (LOVED that).

The very few negatives I’d have to mention are all mostly centered around Ryan and Teo’s relationship. Those early drips of their back story did annoy me as there didn’t seem to be any real purpose to the slow doling out of that part of the story other than to add a level of suspense, which was unnecessary with so much other stuff going on. The one piece I struggled with believing was how their previous relationship ended. That part really didn’t get wrapped up until deep into the story and it felt a little weak, as though there had to have been a lot more to it than there was. It wasn’t enough to do too much damage to how much I enjoyed the rest of the book, though.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and once I got over myself and my impatience, this kept me intrigued all the way through.

 

Other areas of note (not included in the SPA rating):

Cover: 4/5 Stars
Just wanted to point out that the cover was one of the things that got me to look closer at this book. It sets the perfect tone and backdrop for the story.

 

An Unexpected Turn July Library Book Boost!

One of my goals when I published my book was to get into my local library. I’ve met that goal, but now I’d like to see how many more libraries I can get in and I need your help!

I’m asking readers, other indie authors, book bloggers/reviewers and just anyone that wants to help:

1) go to their local library
2) request An Unexpected Turn in ebook
3) share a picture or a link of the book in that library
4) share this post

Requesting an author’s book from the library is just as important as buying because it helps to get that book into the hands of other readers. Anyone that takes it a step further and wants to read and review it, then you are an amazing human being. I’ll be retweeting (for twitter) and sharing all blog posts (if you send me the link) and keeping track of library locations for anyone wanting to follow along. I want to keep this going for the month of July to celebrate summer reading and the TBR’s everyone has.

Not all libraries have this ability and I don’t know if it is even possible outside of the US, but I’d love to find out, so be sure to let me know what you find! I also highly encourage you to do this for any indie author you’d like to support.

Book Review: Sister Dear – Laura McNeill

Author: Laura McNeill
Book Name: Sister Dear
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Family Drama
Overall SPA: 2.5 Stars
2.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 2/5 Stars
Believability: 2/5 Stars

Personal Opinion: 3/5 Stars
The overall storyline in this is good, but I really struggled with both the lack of depth in the characters and with believability. Probably because the two are pretty closely tied together.

One of my biggest issues with believability comes into play with the utter lack of support that Allie has from her family. Supposedly a young woman who really plays by the rules and doesn’t rock the boat, with one exception and that exception does not translate into someone capable of or willing to commit murder. It just feels like every single person in her life just washed their hands of her as soon as she was convicted; friends, family, the entire community; with the exception of Emma and the rare moment with her parents. This does not work for me at all.

Allie herself is someone I struggle to connect with. With her history, you’d think it would be easy to create some emotional investment from the reader, but you never get that. For me it was partly because she is so willing to just accept the lines people are feeding her with regards to that lack of support. The fact that she just swallowed whole that her 5 year old daughter couldn’t visit her because she broke out in hives and had major panic attacks (which is later in the story somewhat contradicted) really bugged me. Same with every single time her daughter came up after she got home and it was always some sort of an excuse to keep Allie from working on rebuilding their relationship. This is exacerbated by her own parents not doing everything they could to keep that relationship in tact.

And why in the world would any loving, caring, intelligent parent be willing to turn over a 5 year old child to the care of the kid (adult or not) that was ALWAYS the one breaking the rules, getting into trouble and making pretty heavy mistakes? There is no discussion at all as to why Caroline ended up being taken care of by her aunt, Emma, and it is really a pretty huge hole in the story.

Emma’s character is nearly a cliche with the jealous, hateful sibling thing. The problem with this is that it just isn’t sold all that well. She comes across as lacking enough intelligence and too full of self interest to pull off the whole relationship with Caroline. That level of narcissism is rarely capable of making the supposed sacrifices she made.

The details of the crime Allie was convicted of along with all the reasons why a jury looked at that information and were able to come back with a guilty verdict are extremely thin, which was just one more mark against being able to fall into this story.

All of these character and plot issues could have been developed in ways that made at least some sense. ie: The adult parents weren’t actually loving and caring, but were very much absent. Emma having some specific, definable motivation for making the sacrifices she did. Or something, anything, that made the pieces of this story more believable or just work better, but those things are missing.

The ending was overly convenient and overblown. Couple that with the fact that you don’t get any hint at all of any kind of reparations to Allie for being wrongly convicted, not even a single line stating that her conviction has been overturned, just that the real bad guy was going to be prosecuted, and the story utterly fizzled out for me.

 

 

 

 

Just A Little Nudge And A Question

I’m dropping this little nudge for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet or is new around here. I did this thing called “writing a book” a while back. I’m kinda proud of it. At the same time, I’m trying to get really creative in ways to promote it besides spamming people here, on twitter and through their contact pages if they are book bloggers asking if they’d be interested in reviewing.

Would any bloggers be interesting in participating in a post-release party kind of thing (because I can’t do things in the logical, normal way and have done this PRIOR to releasing my book)? Especially book bloggers, but I’m not going to hold it to just that. Basically, I thought it might be fun for bloggers to host either a review or even a book club like discussion around this. Obviously, they’d get a copy of the book in exchange. It might even be fun to offer up a copy to one of their readers for participating if the blogger wanted.

This is just an idea I’ve been tossing around and thought I’d get some feedback or thoughts on whether this is a good/viable idea or not. Feel free to drop any other ideas or suggestions into the mix as well.

If you want to have a look at what the book is about, it is sitting quietly over here.

 

Book Review: The Year of Fog, Michelle Richmond

Author: Michelle Richmond
Book Name: The Year of Fog
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life
Overall SPA: 2.8 Stars
3 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.

Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. With her life at a crossroads, she will leave San Francisco for a country thousands of miles away. And there, by the side of another sea, on a journey that has led her to another man and into a strange subculture of wanderers and surfers, Abby will make the most astounding discovery of all—as the truth of Emma’s disappearance unravels with stunning force.

Cover: 4 Stars
This did fit the story sets a good tone for what is inside.

Blurb: 3 Stars
The blurb for this is absolutely what convinced me to read this. Sadly, while it is factually accurate, I feel like it is somewhat misleading in that it makes this seem like a much more intense, adventure kind of a book and this really isn’t.

Characters: 2 Stars
I am really kind of on the fence with the characters in this. Abby is a struggle to identify with as, for me, she really does not come across as being emotionally connected, just more obsessive. I struggle to feel grief or loss from her. Jake is there as a character, as what should really be a more important character, but you honestly do not get enough of him on the page to really get a sense of him. All the remaining characters come across as slightly odd and weird in ways I struggle to pinpoint, but they all behave in ways that make them slightly distasteful.

Plot/Themes: 3 Stars
I obviously really liked the concept that this story was based on, but there were several things that kept pulling me out of the story. The first was the random time jumping that went on, either between chapters or even within the same chapter. It felt really disorienting as a reader to constantly try and figure out where in the timeline the story was at. Then there were all of these random bits of side stories dealing with various pieces of history and facts about memory or photography, some ranging into scientific information. In the end, they really weren’t needed and came across more of a distraction. If there had only been one or two of these, I don’t think it would have been an issue, but you could very easily have cut every single one of those specifics and still had a completely cohesive story. I understand some of their purpose, but it was way over done and did not work well. If anything, it contributed to the lack of emotional connection.

Uniqueness Factor: 3 Stars
While I can’t say that I’ve read a lot of books with this theme exactly, it isn’t unique. The one really unique factor was the perspective of a future step-parent being the central figure. That was part of what drew me to this story because it was a different take and a different perspective, but I think there were a lot of opportunities to go places with this emotionally that this book never did.

Problem Free/Editing: 4 Stars
I didn’t run into any problems in this area. At least nothing that jumped out and yanked me out of the story.

World Building: 2 Stars
You get an inordinate amount of geographic references to both the San Fransisco area and Costa Rica. After a while, it just became too much, especially when all throughout this book I was really looking for a much deeper emotional impact, something that I don’t feel I ever got.

Believably: 2 Stars
The lack of that emotional impact made this whole thing so much harder to believe in the story. When you are talking about a book surrounding a missing child, I cannot see how you can manage to avoid those really strong, extreme emotions. The idea that any parent reacts in a set of scripted rules when their child goes missing is ridiculous, so it really should have been easier for me to fall into this story, but I just never completely bought the actions, or thoughts in Abby’s case, of the characters. Abby really felt like she was going through the motions and doing what she thought was expected more so than because she was compelled. There were some issues with feelings of guilt, but most of that is what the reader is told rather than what is actually demonstrated.

Peeve Factor: 3 Stars
The timeline jumpiness throughout this isn’t a major peeve of mine, but it is an annoyance. The purpose of a book is to compel a reader to follow along, not jerk them from one point to another in an effort to get them lost along the way.

Personal Opinion: 2 Stars
I was just overall disappointed in this. I was expecting a much more emotionally charged book with a lot going on. Instead, this came across as something more along the lines of a person’s extremely dry philosophical debate with themselves that dragged on and on. All the pieces of this story that I would have thought should have been front and center felt kind of as if they were shunted to the sidelines of the bigger story of Abby’s personal search for Emma, which really did feel like it was something done more out of guilt and the need to fix something rather than true loss.

More time was spent on the many, random outside issues that really had no impact on the story overall than on the parts I really expected to see. The impact of Emma going missing on the relationship between Abby and Jake is not really addressed directly on the page. You only see small glimpses along the edges of the story when that really should have been one of the focuses. The other important parts, such as the initial investigation into her disappearance is handled only with small snippets of actual events followed by vague acknowledgements that it was going on in the background.

Instead, you get too many listings of the locations where Abby was, went, or was going at all times. The bits of her personal history and childhood, which didn’t have any relationship to the events in the rest of the story. And, no matter how different loss and grief may work for different individuals, I just could not connect to the characters because I just couldn’t find any of those expected emotions or reactions.

An Unexpected Turn: Book Review & Give Away

When I offered my book in exchange for reviews, one of the takers was Jess at Sorting Life’s Issues With Jess. She chose a paperback copy with the goal to then pass that book along when she was done with it, starting a train of passing the book along to others. I loved this idea and the potential that my book could end up on a journey that I might be able to follow. The idea is so intriguing to me so I’m going to do everything I can to help her and this copy of my book along.

Her review and instructions to enter the give away are here. Please go say “Hi” and drop her a note to enter to win this! I would love to see the different places this may end up.

 

New Book Image

I wanted more options for promo images, so I decided to play a little bit this morning and this is my favorite at the moment. There are other things I want to try, but this was a good start in the right direction. And just in case you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just leave the link for my book here – An Unexpected Turn – You can even request it at the library.

Book Review – Mercy Dogs: Tyler Dilts

Author: Tyler Dilts
Book Name: Mercy Dogs
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Family Life
Rating: Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:

How can a shattered ex-cop follow the rules when he’s no longer sure of them?

For sixteen years, Ben Shepard loyally served the Long Beach Police Department. Then he took a bullet to the head, and his life was shattered. No one expects much of anything from him anymore—except his father, an old man receding into a fog of his own. And except maybe his tenant, Grace, who’s been a warm and friendly constant in his and his father’s bleak lives.

Until the day she vanishes.

After an official investigation stalls, Ben moves forward on his own. But stepping into Grace’s past—and all she was hiding—is a dangerous move for a man who can’t trust his memories from one day to the next. The deeper he gets, the more he has to question whether he’s being driven by the gut instincts of a suspicious former cop or by paranoia.

Recognizing what’s real can save Grace’s life. If only he can trust himself to do it…

This book has sat on my TBR for a while now only because I just wasn’t sure what to expect. Once I finally did pick it up, it took me a bit to get into it because of the jumping around of events and they way things were presented. I completely understand the why behind this and actually ended up liking that, but it took me a bit to sink into because of that.

While you have the overarching story of Grace and what is going on with her disappearance, for me, what made this story so great was seeing the relationship between Ben and his dad and how they were both struggling to overcome some significant struggles. Both of them having major issues that make just getting through the basics of life incredibly difficult, yet still being there and doing what they could for each other made this a really moving story. It is both heartwarming and poignant.

Last Chance!

The sale and promo for any photo prints or my book ends this Sunday! Details below.

 

Original Post –

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m running a sale on pretty much everything. Pricing for everything runs from Monday, April 29th thru Sunday May 12th. If you’ve ever considered grabbing something, but just weren’t certain, now’s the time to pick up my book or a photo print. Either to treat yourself or as a really unique gift. The book would be especially fitting for a Mother’s Day gift.

My book, An Unexpected Turn, is on sale. The ebook is regularly $4.99 and is on sale for $2.99. Paperback is regularly $11.99 and is on sale for $9.99 (Amazon will not show as sale price and will most likely show early). This price should apply to all platforms, so please drop me a note if for whatever reason it isn’t. It is available in all of these locations:

An Unexpected Turn Cover
An Unexpected Turn Cover

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Barns & Noble/Nook
Kobo
Apple Books
Scribd
Playster

 

 

 

ALSO… On my photo print site, everything is 25% off. All prints, stationery and household products like tote bags, pillows and the random phone case. Everything is included, just use the discount code at check out.

Photography Discount Code: NMHZHV

 

Book Review – Only One Life: Ashley Farley

Author: Ashley Farley
Book Name: Only One Life
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/Family Drama
Rating: Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb: Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.

As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.

Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.

I had a really hard time getting into this one and came really close to putting it down a couple of times. Mostly because, at least for close to the first 1/3 of the book, I really didn’t like any of the characters.

Meeting each of the main characters for the first time, I was left with the feeling that they were pretty shallow and self-absorbed. Julia came across as more of an angry, spiteful teenager that had their plans ruined rather than as someone truly grieving a deep loss, so instead of feeling sympathy for her, I just didn’t like her.

Iris wasn’t much better. The beginning of her relationship with Max wasn’t even remotely intriguing or romantic. It felt like she had zero emotional stake in it, but rather was more interested in what she could get out of that relationship; away from her poor upbringing and marriage into a wealthy family. There was absolutely nothing redeemable at all about Max or Alex. Both were horrible. Granted, they kind of are supposed to be, but that didn’t really make things much better. Lily also fit right into the unlikable, self-absorption character theme.

Once a little deeper into the story, you are FINALLY given a different glimpse of at least Julia and Iris and they became a little bit more human, which allowed me to keep reading. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to overcome such a negative first impression. While they were more humanly flawed, they still weren’t overly likable.

This just wasn’t a very satisfying read. The secrets alluded to in the blurb come out early for the reader and don’t feel much like secrets. When they are revealed to the other characters, it really doesn’t amount to much overall drama. With the difficult start and the lack of any kind of connection to the characters, this ended up being a “meh” kind of read.

Mother’s Day Sale!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m running a sale on pretty much everything. Pricing for everything runs from Monday, April 29th thru Sunday May 12th. If you’ve ever considered grabbing something, but just weren’t certain, now’s the time to pick up my book or a photo print. Either to treat yourself or as a really unique gift. The book would be especially fitting for a Mother’s Day gift.

My book, An Unexpected Turn, is on sale. The ebook is regularly $4.99 and is on sale for $2.99. Paperback is regularly $11.99 and is on sale for $9.99 (Amazon will not show as sale price and will most likely show early). This price should apply to all platforms, so please drop me a note if for whatever reason it isn’t. It is available in all of these locations:

An Unexpected Turn Cover
An Unexpected Turn Cover

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Barns & Noble/Nook
Kobo
Apple Books
Scribd
Playster

 

 

 

ALSO… On my photo print site, everything is 25% off. All prints, stationery and household products like tote bags, pillows and the random phone case. Everything is included, just use the discount code at check out.

Photography Discount Code: NMHZHV

 

Book Review – The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness: Maddie Dawson

Author: Maddie Dawson
Book Name: The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/Family Drama
Rating: Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb: Three women, three lives, and one chance to become a family…whether they want to or not.

Newly orphaned, recently divorced, and semiadrift, Nina Popkin is on a search for her birth mother. She’s spent her life looking into strangers’ faces, fantasizing they’re related to her, and now, at thirty-five, she’s ready for answers.

Meanwhile, the last thing Lindy McIntyre wants is someone like Nina bursting into her life, announcing that they’re sisters and campaigning to track down their mother. She’s too busy with her successful salon, three children, beautiful home, and…oh yes, some pesky little anxiety attacks.

But Nina is determined to reassemble her birth family. Her search turns up Phoebe Mullen, a guarded, hard-talking woman convinced she has nothing to offer. Gradually sharing stories and secrets, the three women make for a messy, unpredictable family that looks nothing like Nina pictured…but may be exactly what she needs. Nina’s moving, ridiculous, tragic, and transcendent journey becomes a love story proving that real family has nothing to do with DNA.

This was a really interesting read that definitely takes you on a journey of differing emotions. The characters were particularly interesting because at times I really liked one or two, but maybe not so much another and then a little farther along, those feelings would start to shift and the character I wasn’t a huge fan of was now someone I could understand. At the same time, that previously liked character was showing bits of personality that frustrated me. Basically, they were these flawed and imperfect humans going through flawed and imperfect human lives.

There were a lot of traits and emotions I felt I could identify with throughout this story. I think this story touches on a lot of somewhat universal human needs and desires pertaining to family and relationships in general. One portion of a line really stuck out to me.

“…-had I been so needed, so important to someone else’s story.”

That desire to feel important to someone else’s story is kind of the backbone of this entire book and part of why I enjoyed it so much.