Book Review · Book Tour · FIction

Shrug

Thank you to Lisa Braver Moss, She Writes Press, and Suzy Approved Book Tours for the gifted copy of Shrug. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Synopsis

Martha Goldenthal isn’t your typical 1960s Berkeley radical. Her rebellion isn’t sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll―it’s doing well at Berkeley High and planning for college. Her father, Jules, is a raging batterer who, because of his own insecurities, hates academia. Not that her off-the-rails mother, Willa, is much better. Meanwhile, Jules’s classical record store, located directly across the street from the U.C. Berkeley campus, is ground zero for riots and tear gas. No wonder Martha has a nervous tic―a shrug of the shoulder.

Preoccupied with the family situation and barely able to concentrate, Martha plods along in school and somehow manages to achieve. But her parents’ hideous divorce, the loss of her father’s record store and livelihood, a heartless eviction from the family home, and an unlikely custody case wind up putting Martha in Jules’s care. Can she stand up to her father and do the one thing she’s sure she must―go to college?

With its running “soundtrack” of classical recordings and rock music and its vivid scenes of Berkeley at its most turbulent, Shrug is the absorbing, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting story of one young woman’s journey toward independence.

Review

Lisa Braver Moss is a new to me author, and I am glad that I was introduced to her. Lisa Braver Moss writes a great story about Martha, a teenager growing up in the 1960s and her family. A wonderfully descriptive story about the struggles Martha has as the “odd duck” of her family with a mother who thinks that much of the world damages a child’s psyche, and a father who is abusive, yet loving, to his wife and children. With an older sister who can do no wrong and a younger brother who is the baby of the family, Martha finds herself trying to please everyone and yet is miserable at the same time. Lisa Braver Moss has a way of telling the story of Martha in such a way that you feel all that she is feeling and want nothing more than a happy ending for her. Although set in the 1960s, I felt like I knew exactly what it was like to grow up in the 1960s even though I was born 20 years later. I really enjoyed Lisa Braver Moss writing and the characters that she developed. I enjoyed rooting for Martha throughout the story, while at the same time knowing that nothing was going to change for her. I really enjoyed this book, and hope you will too!!!

About the Author

Lisa Braver Moss is the author of the novels The Measure of His Grief  (Notim Press, 2010) and the award-winning Shrug (She Writes Press, 2019). Her essays have appeared in the Huffington PostTikkunParentsLilith, and many other publications. 

Lisa’s nonfiction book credits include Celebrating Family: Our Lifelong Bonds with Parents and Siblings (Wildcat Canyon Press, 1999) and, as co-author, The Mother’s Companion: A Comforting Guide to the Early Years of Motherhood (Council Oak Books, 2001). She is the co-author of Celebrating Brit Shalom (Notim Press, 2015), the first-ever book of ceremonies and music for Jewish families seeking alternatives to circumcision.

Born in Berkeley, California, Lisa still lives in the area with her husband, with whom she has two grown sons.

Book Review · Book Tour · Contemporary · FIction · Women's Fiction

The Exit Strategy

A big thank you to Lainey Cameron, The Wild Rose Press, and Suzy Approved Book Tours for the gifted copy of this book. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Synopsis

Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan is on the verge of achieving everything she dreamed. She’s succeeded in the male-dominated venture capital world, has a supportive husband, and is about to close the deal of her career. Everything is going exactly as planned, until she meets Carly, her husband’s mistress, across the negotiating table.

Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, caring single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her loving fiancé, she’ll secure the complete family she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married—to Ryn, her company’s biggest investor.

In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak, and ensure their success?

Review

I absolutely LOVED this book!! This was the first book that I have read by Lainey Cameron and I am glad that I was introduced to her! I think it is really cool that this book was inspired by experiences Lainey Cameron had in the tech world. This made me like the story even more because I know part is based in truth rather than a completely made-up story (don’t get me wrong, I love those too!!). I loved the characters that Lainey Cameron created. The book was full of amazingly strong women, who tackled the world head-on. If anyone could inspire you to live life by “taking the bull by the horns,” the characters in The Exit Strategy could! No matter what was thrown at them, the women in this book did not shy away. They did not rely on a man. They took charge and didn’t run away. If you can’t tell, I LOVED the go get ‘em attitude of the women! Besides the characters, I LOVED the storyline. The story had many twists and turns thrown in. It definitely made this book a page-turner as I could not wait to see what happened next! Overall, I thought this book was fantastic! I can say without a doubt that you MUST pick up this book!!

Rating

About the Author

Lainey Cameron is a digital nomad and author of women’s fiction. A recovering tech industry executive, her award-winning novel, The Exit Strategy, was inspired by a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom. It’s been called a “rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together” and tells the story of a Silicon Valley investor who first meets her husband’s mistress across the negotiating table.

A digital nomad—meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time—Lainey is an avid instagrammer, and loves to share her travel tips and insights with readers.

She’s a proud member and volunteer with Women’s Fiction Writers Association, believes community makes the author’s life worthwhile, and is on a mission to obliterate the term aspiring writer.

Originally from Scotland, Lainey has a soft spot for men in kilts and good malt whisky, and when she’s not writing (or reading), you’ll find her hunting down new single malts, checking out rooftop bars, and when possible, hanging out with anything equine (donkeys rock!).

Find her online at www.laineycameron.com where she talks books and travel, or Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

Book Review · Cozy Mystery · FIction · Mystery

What the Hatmaker Heard

Thank you to author Sandra Bretting and the Cozy Mystery Review Crew for the gifted copy of What the Hatmaker Heard. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Synopsis

When a groom gets murdered, Louisiana hat maker Missy DuBois must look behind a veil of secrets on a former sugar plantation . . .

Bride-to-be Lorelei Honeycutt is brimming with excitement over the elaborate headpiece Missy has created for her wedding but fears she won’t be able to maintain her balance when she walks down the aisle. She’s asked Missy to assist her during the rehearsal at Honeycutt Hall, a once grand sugar plantation now used as the family’s home. Missy’s trying to keep a cool head herself, as her own wedding is coming up in three short weeks on the Riverboat Queen. But after the rehearsal, she overhears the bride and groom quarreling. The next morning, Wesley Carmichael is missing. After searching the house and grounds, Missy discovers the groom lying at the bottom of an old, unused sugar silo—and now it’s up to the mystery-solving milliner to find an unbalanced killer . . .

This is book 6 of the Missy DuBois Mystery series.

Review

This was a cute book and a great cozy mystery!! I have not read any of the other books in the Missy DuBois series, but that did not matter. Sandra Bretting did a great job of writing a story in a series, where she included enough information from previous books so that you understood completely what was happening and some of the history of Missy DuBois. Sandra Bretting’s writing is fun and lighthearted. You can’t help but keep turning the pages. Sandra’s characters are instantly likable and one can’t help but like them from page one. I will be sure to pick up more of Sandra Bretting’s books in the future!!

Rating

About the Author

I was born in Southern California, but moved to the Midwest to attend the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I found my true calling when I took a creative writing class and another student assumed I’d come to Mizzou to be a novelist. (Bless you, oh stranger!)

I returned to California to freelance for the Los Angeles Times and also took every creative writing course I could get my hands on. Now I live in Texas, where I write cozy mysteries and enjoy life with my husband, daughters, and one slaphappy rescue dog.

In addition to having a wonderful agent and publishers, I’m blessed to have the very best readers in the world.

Taken from Sandra Bretting’s website: https://sandrabretting.com/index.html
Book Review · Book Tour · Contemporary · FIction

The Laundress

Thank you to author Barbara Sapienza, Suzy Approved Book Tours, and She Writes Press for the gifted copy of the Laundress. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Synopsis

Twenty-six-year-old Lavinia Lavinia is burdened by her unknown heritage—but her uncle Sal, who raised her in San Francisco, has always kept silent, refusing to reveal the devastating secret of her origin. And now, following the death of his wife, he’s left for Italy. 

In the wake of her uncle’s departure, Lavinia has quit school. Now she works as a personal laundress to a diverse cast of San Francisco residents—people with stories as complicated as her own. As time progresses, through the sacred ritual of washing clothes—and with the help of a friend and her nurturing, flamenco dancing mother—Lavinia begins to recover memories of her past. Gradually, her gifts of receptivity multiply, and she communes with nature, finding messages from birds and the leaves of her garden’s fig tree. And when she recovers Raggedy, a beloved doll that accompanied her from Naples when she was four years old, she experiences a tangible connection to her own mother. 

Even as Lavinia makes these discoveries, she is busy building new relationships—discovering healing dance with her lover, a barista in a North Beach coffee shop; learning to understand Time and forgiveness with an elderly client; and even getting to know her father, a man who has never been a part of her life. Poetic and poignant, The Laundress is a coming-of-age story for anyone who’s ever sought to understand where they came from in order to figure out who they’re meant to become.

Review

Barbara Sapienza is a new to me author. I must admit that when I started this book I was not a huge fan. I felt like the story was a bit jumpy and I did not understand exactly what was happening or how the synopsis related to what I was reading. While I was struggling, I decided to keep reading and give the book another chance. Maybe more pages and more details would help and maybe not and this would be a did not finish. And I must admit it did! As I continued to read the story and learn more about the life of Lavinia Lavinia and those in her life, I began to enjoy the story. For me, this story was about finding oneself. About discovering one’s past to discover one’s future. I very much enjoyed learning about Lavinia as she learned more about herself. I enjoyed learning about the relationships that she had built over the years and the ones that she built as she began to find herself. I felt for her as she experienced heartbreak and pain. Most of all I saw a little of me in her. I am so glad that I was turned on to this book…even if I did have a bit of a rough start.

Rating

About the Author

Barbara Sapienza, PhD, is a retired clinical psychologist and an alumna of San Francisco StateUniversity’s creative writing master’s program. She writes and paints, nourished by her spiritual practices of meditation, tai chi, and dance. Her family, friends, and grandchildren are her teachers. Her first novel, Anchor Out (She Writes Press, 2017) received an IPPY bronze medal for Best Regional Fiction, West Coast. Sapienza lives in Sausalito, CA, with her husband.

Author Links

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