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.

 

 

 

Free Book Anyone?

So, I’m going to try this again even though this is the part that I still despise with a fiery passion: asking for help. As a raging introvert, this part is excruciating, but necessary when you are an indie author.

I’m offering up my book, An Unexpected Turn, in exchange for a review. If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page with a link to where you review books (blog, Goodreads, Instagram, wherever). My only requirement is that you DO write book reviews and that you will give me a heads up when you post the review (sorry, I have to set some boundaries). Do note: I’m not asking for a GOOD review, just an honest one.

I’ll provide your preferred ebook format for any platform I’ve published on. I also have 2 paperback copies available (first come, first serve to US residents only on the paperback) if that is your preference. I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your review site as an additional thanks. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)

Massive thank you in advance to those that volunteer!

If you are feeling especially generous, feel free to help in my quest to get into as many libraries as possible. Simply request the ebook version through your local library.

For those that haven’t seen it… the blurb… (oh, and I thought I’d mention that this falls into the women’s fiction and family life/drama genres)

“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.

Book Review: The Road She Left Behind – Christine Nolfi

Author: Christine Nolfi
Book Name: The Road She Left Behind
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life
Overall SPA: 3.5 Stars
3.5 Stars

 

 

Blurb: Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.

Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.

Main SPA Evaluation Areas:

Characters: 4/5 Stars
Believability: 3.5/5 Stars
Personal Opinion: 4/5 Stars

This is an emotional book about family, which is one of my most enjoyed types of books. It is also the type that, for me, needs to have a really strong level of believability for those emotions to be evoked. There were bits and pieces that were a stretch for me to believe and is the only reason I didn’t rate this higher because it was a really good story otherwise.

One was the background behind Darcy leaving in the first place. It isn’t something that is really ever addressed. We know the events leading up to it, but you are never given the final match that lit the fuse that forced her to leave. The reader is lead to believe it was something specific that Darcy’s mother said that forced her away, but you aren’t ever shown that event in any way. It was only ever eluded to, so it left that piece feeling weak.

The other was the whiplash like change in attitudes and personality that come about when certain things are revealed. Yes, people can change, but they don’t do so overnight just because some long buried secret comes out, especially when it kind of isn’t much of a secret.

While those things didn’t play a huge part in how I felt about the story, they did lessen the overall emotional impact of the story, though it was still a good book.

 

 

 

On My TBR – July 2019 Edition

I normally don’t have a set TBR as I tend to pick up and read what I’m in the mood for at the time. I do have several lists in various different genres that I’ll use to pick from when I’m in the mood for that particular genre or I just go dig through new releases or new additions to my local library.

Now that I’m getting ARCs and picking up more books based on what I’m seeing other bloggers reading, I’ve decided to try and keep an actual TBR. These are the books I’m looking to read in the near future. Knowing me and my reading habits, this list is likely to change drastically within a week or two, but we will see how it goes if I shoot for a full month. I seriously doubt these will be the only books I read this month and there is a chance one or two get the procrastination shove to the bottom of the list, but it is a place to start.

So, what is currently on my shelf:

A Stranger On The Beach
A Stranger On The Beach

A Stranger on the Beach

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

*This is an ARC

 

 

 

The Need
The Need

The Need

Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

 

 

 

 

 

The Place On Dalhousie
The Place On Dalhousie

The Place on Dalhousie

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life

 

 

 

 

 

The Road She Left Behind
The Road She Left Behind

The Road She Left Behind

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow's Bane
Shadow’s Bane

Shadow’s Bane – Dorna Basarab #4

Genre: Fantasy/Urban

 

 

 

 

 

Winds of Fate
Winds of Fate

Winds of Fate – Valdemar: Mage Winds #1

Genre: Fantasy

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.

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.

Book Review – The Color of Ordinary Time by Virginia Voelker

Author: Virginia Voelker
Book Name: The Color of Ordinary Time
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama/Religious Fiction
Rating: DNF

Blurb: One summer in the life of a young teacher pulled between the needs of her biological family and those of the family she has chosen as hers. Troubled by past decisions, Keziah must find a way forward. Will she strike out on her own, into an uncharted future, or will she take the path others have laid out for her?

It isn’t often that I will write a review on a book I couldn’t even finish, but I felt like I needed to make a point with this one because it landed pretty heavily on one of my peeves. Inaccurate categorizing/genre placement.

I fully understand that sometimes it is really difficult to pick the top categories for a book. You want them to be the most accurate and draw in the most readers. The problem is, by leaving a category off that truly does apply, not something iffy, but rather something that is at the core of your book, you are running 2 rather huge risks. One is missing out on readers who will love your book. The other is pissing off readers that feel like they have been mislead into picking your book up and feel like what they got was nothing at all like what they were expecting. Neither situation can possibly be a good one for an author.

In this case, I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that this falls quite strongly into religious/Christian fiction, which I do not personally enjoy, yet it wasn’t classified as such. When I started reading, I truly had hopes that this wasn’t the case. That it would step away from those aspects and focus more on the family drama, but you cannot get past a paragraph without some form of religious connotations or context. And while not directly preachy, it does come across a bit from a sideways angle.

I’m not saying that this wasn’t well written. I think it has a lot going for it, but I struggled with finding anything I could connect with because of how heavily it relies on that religious motif. Because of that, I had to just put this down around the 50% mark as it just wasn’t for me. I was hugely disappointed because I expected this to be more about family than anything, but it really wasn’t.

If you really enjoy fiction with a heavy religious bent, then this may be an amazing book for you. If that isn’t your thing, then you will probably be better served looking elsewhere.

Another Goal!

I got notification that my book is finally, fully published on all the platforms I submitted to. One more publishing goal checked off. It’s a small goal, but it is still a pretty awesome one.

I am also probably going to have to place another order of the paperbacks for myself as all the ones I bought for the first round were gone before I could blink. I had about half of them accounted for when I placed the order, but between giving a few away for reviews and BG being a better salesperson than I am, I’m out.

I do still have an opening for a reviewer that wants any of the ebook versions. Just drop me a message if you are interested.

Looking For Reviewers

I am down to one paperback copy for this and a spot or two for another reviewer. If you or someone you know would like a copy (ebook or print) in exchange for providing a review, please drop me a note or pass this along! Every tiny bit helps, especially as a brand new author in the indie field.

TJ Fox

On to the part of the book process that I dislike with a flaming passion. Pretty much begging for help. As a raging introvert that struggles with most any communication, this part is excruciating, but necessary. That said, I do need some help from anyone that is willing to step forward and volunteer to read my little baby and give me a review. Ideally, I’d like to see reviews spread out in various different places like Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and blogs, but I’m not going to be picky.

I am looking to get between 3 and 5 people willing to write up a review in exchange for a copy of my book. I’ll provide their preferred format, ebook for any platform I’ve published on or a print copy that I can mail to you. If you are posting to a blog, I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review…

View original post 335 more words

An Unexpected Turn Availability

I am posting this for an easy share as it is a single link to all the various platforms An Unexpected Turn is available on.

Even if it isn’t a genre (women’s fiction/family life) you normally read, maybe you have a friend that does and you’d be willing to slide this under their nose or at least share the link (or this post) with others. If you are amazing enough to read it, please leave a review! Every tiny bit helps me to get this out there.

Please take a few to check it out. The blurb is below.

“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.

 

 

Baby Lily Leaves & A Reminder

To say that releasing a book is interesting would be an understatement. I’m doing all the things, no matter how much they grate on this raging introvert, I still do them. That said, apparently, BG, is way better at it than I am as she has managed to definitively sell one book to a classmate and has a second one who talked to a parent about it and now the parent wants to read it. All in a single day. Yes, my girl is peddling my book at school!

I am still looking for reviewers for anyone that is interested. I have 2 people committed, but still have a few spots still open. If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page, letting me know your interest and the platforms you would normally post reviews along with your format preference. I’ll provide you a copy in your preferred format, ebook for any platform I’ve published on or a print copy that I can mail to you. If you are posting to a blog, I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your blog as an additional thanks once the review is posted. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)