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!!

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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 · 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.

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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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Audiobook · Book Review · Contemporary · FIction

The Language of Divorce

Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours, author Leanne Treese, and Filles Vertes Publishing for the gifted copy of The Language of Divorce. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Synopsis

Hannah and Will Abbott define the American dream:  two kids, a home in the suburbs, and a seemingly perfect marriage.  But discontent lurks under the surface of their outwardly happy lives as each Hannah and Will suspect the other of infidelity.  When they independently consult divorce attorneys, the conflict escalates and Hannah flees with the children against a court order.  This snap decision starts a social media firestorm and, suddenly, the Abbott divorce is big news.

With family stress and legal fees rising, Will and Hannah accept an invitation to appear on a reality television show for divorcing couples.  During filming on the beautiful island of St. John, the Abbotts must decide once and for all: can their love survive their past?

Review

Reading this book was my first introduction to author Leanne Treese, and boy am I glad that I was introduced to her! In her debut novel, Leanne Treese writes a book full of heartbreak and loss as well as a book about finding one’s way through life, no matter what has been thrown at them. I listened to this book on audio and from the first minutes of this book, I was hooked! I loved every one of the characters and the story that Leanne Treese told about each of their lives. This book was so wonderfully descriptive, I genuinely felt like I was part of the book and living right alongside the characters. I cannot say enough about how good this book was! Every minute I could, I was listening to the book, and I must admit that I did not want the book to end. I wanted to know more about the characters’ lives and “what happened to them after.” I am so glad that I was introduced to Leanne Tresse and hope that she writes more books in the future!!

Rating

About the Author

Leanne lives in New Jersey with her husband of twenty-five years and their three wonderful children.  When Leanne is not cheering her kids on in their activities, she can be found running, watching 76ers basketball games, and spoiling her two beloved dogs.  Favorite locations include the Jersey shore, Martha’s Vineyard, and any place that sells books or coffee, preferably both. A passionate student, Leanne’s dream life would include going back to college and majoring in everything.

Leanne is a graduate of Lafayette College and The Dickinson School of Law.  She is a former attorney who is now lucky enough to write full-time! The Language of Divorce is her debut novel.  

Book Review · FIction · Women's Fiction

The Ruby of the Sea

For this book I partnered with Suzy Approved Tours and Peggy Lampman. Thank you Suzy for the invitation to join this tour and thank you Peggy Lampman for the gifted copy of The Ruby of the Sea. All opinions in this review are my own.

Synopsis

Meet Linnea Chandler. For the last 15 years she has been aimlessly traveling the country, trying to find happiness, while running from her fear of the sea. Linnea returns to her hometown of Key West, Florida and although this is home, this is where the heart of her phobia of the sea lives. While she has kept this secret for years, she comes to find out that maybe keeping it a secret was not the best idea. After all, kept secrets sometimes come back to bite you when you least expect them to and can put wedges between loved ones.

Back home, Linnea reunites with her sisters, her parents, and the 19th century lighthouse that her family has called home since she was little. The lighthouse carries a troubled past and a frightening myth…a myth that if Linnea is honest with herself, eerily mirrors the mystery that is her younger sister.

The three sisters must decide to what extremes they are willing to protect the secrets that they carry. Can they ignore the lighthouse’s history and the fatal shipwreck in 1857 that caused so much pain? Can they defy a hurricane that is threatening to pummel their town? And when their world is upended, do the women have the strength to move forward?

Review

While this book was slow to start for me, once I got into the book I really enjoyed the story. While I thought that this was just going to be another story about three sisters coming together to clear the air of all that they have been through and are going through, I am glad to say that I was wrong. Peggy Lampman’s writing was full of wonderful and not so wonderful surprises! While I am not a huge fan of books that have multiple narrators, Peggy Lampman did a wonderful job of keeping each of the sister’s stories separate, while at the same time weaving them all together. While I was not sure I was going to like this book with how slow it started for me, I am glad that I stuck it out or I would have not learned of the sister’s tales and all that it takes to keep a family together during hard times.

Of note, Peggy Lampman writes of mental health troubles in this book. Since I am a social worker and work with people with mental health troubles, I am always interested in how people portray them. Will they give the issue the attention that it deserves while not overwhelming the reader? Without giving the story away, I think that Peggy Lampman did a great job of describing what one goes through with a mental illness. She did a great job of showing the severity of what those affected go through, while at the same time telling a beautiful story of the person affected and how the family is affected as well. I can only hope that other authors would take the same care with the subject of mental illness as Peggy Lampman did.

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About the Author

Peggy Lampman’s passion is writing women’s fiction, which provokes the mind and touches the heart. She uses contemporary themes as a means to break down relationship, familial and cultural barriers. Her novels, THE PROMISE KITCHEN, THE WELCOME HOME DINER and THE RUBY OF THE SEA, reflect this fascination. Of particular pleasure to her is developing flawed characters-living in and reconciling with-the shadows cast by their equally flawed parents.

She grew up in Alabama and planted roots in her college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan where she owned a specialty food store and wrote a food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive

After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public relations firm. After moving back to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, Peggy sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com. She is currently writing her fourth book.

Adult Fiction · Book Spotlight · Contemporary · FIction · Mystery · Thriller

Book Spotlight: Little Lovely Things

Check out Little Lovely Things written by Maureen Joyce Connolly!!

Published April 2, 2019!!

Synopsis

Meet Claire Rawlings. She chose the wrong time to get sick. While on the highway, on her way to drop off the kids at daycare so she can get to work as a medical resident, Claire does not have time for the nausea that is beginning to overtake her. Getting more nauseated by the minute, Claire’s world suddenly turns sideways causing her to stop at a gas station, run to the bathroom and pass out. While this is alarming in itself, Claire’s two young daughters are sleeping in the back seat of the car when Claire passes out. Claire wakes up just a few minutes later, but her car and THE KIDS are gone!!!

The police are called, but they have no leads as to who took Claire’s daughters let alone where they could be. As each hour, then day passes with no word on the girls, guilt presses down on Claire. While feeling guilty about her missing children, Claire tries to hold onto her strained marriage.

But then, a witness comes forward…a potentially unreliable witness. But Claire clings to the hope that her daughters are out there somewhere and this man may know where.

Taken from the book jacket itself: “Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by unthinkable tragedy, and the unexpected intersection of heartbreak and hope.”

Where to Buy…

You can buy the book now at these following places…

Amazon

Barnes and Nobel

Books-A-Million

Indiebound

Or purchase an audio version to listen to in the car…

Audible

Google Play

audiobooks.com

I really hope you enjoy this read (or listen)!!!

Adult Fiction · Book Review · FIction · Historical Fiction

Don’t Put the Boats Away

This month I was chosen to be part of a Suzy Approved Book Tour for Don’t Put the Boats Away by Ames Sheldon.

Synopsis

World War II has just ended and the world is beginning to put itself back together. In the Sutton Family, they are reeling at the sudden loss of their son/brother Eddie. This book follows the family for the next 25 years as they deal with the sudden loss of Eddie. Daughter Harriet goes to school to become a chemist. Son Nat wants nothing more to be a jazz musician. Father George is stuck in his ways and struggles to accept the choices that his son and daughter are making. Mother Eleanor blames herself for her son’s death because she never told him the horrors that she saw while serving during the Great War. She thinks if she had told him maybe he would not have enlisted and now he would not be dead. Watch as each member of the family struggles, succeeds, and begins to put their lives together one year at a time.

Review

I have said it before on this blog, but I tend to stay away from historical fiction. I often struggle to completely understand what the book is talking about as history was never my strong suit in school. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed learning about the history of the United States, its just that all the details didn’t stick and I often confuse one war with another. Thank being said, this book was wonderful! Ames Sheldon has a way of writing that brings you into the story and makes you feel like you are really there. The writing wraps you in the warmth of the story and makes you fall “in like” with each of the characters and the story of their life.

In addition, imagine my surprise upon starting the story and finding out Harriett was attending school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I live in Wisconsin and have also lived in Madison. All the details that Ames Sheldon provided of the city I could imagine and have been to many of them. This detail really made the story connect to my heart.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed all the details of post-war times that were provided and woven into the story. Theses details made you feel like you were part of the story and that you were going through what each of the characters were going through. Ames Sheldon has a way of pulling you in on page one and keeps you turning each page until the very end. I will definitely be picking up Ames Sheldon’s other book, Eleanor’s War!!!

I think I have to stop saying that I don’t read historical fiction!!! 🙂

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Book Review · Self-Help

Life Is A Four Letter Word

I had the pleasure this month of partnering with Suzy Approved Book Tours, Mango Publishing and David Levy to read the book “Life is A Four Letter Word.” When I read the description of this book, I had this feeling that it was going to offer life lessons as well as true life and humor and so I quickly signed up for this tour. SPOILER ALLERT: This book did not disappoint.

Synopsis

In this book, David Levy takes a look back at his life through 40 different essays about events that happened throughout his life that taught him life lessons. Written in chronological order, the reader is able to follow David’s life from a young child and through adulthood and learn those valuable lessons through the reflections he has about his life as well as wisdom that he can provide from those experiences.

Review

As I stated above, when I chose to be part of this tour, I had this feeling that this self-help books was going to be different and let me tell you I was totally right!!! David Levy presents a fantastic sequence of short essays about his life that provided me with valuable life lessons to thinks about. This book did not lecture me or give me advice at every turn, but made me relate to and think about the story David told as well as the life lesson being presented. Some of the life lessons hit home closer than others, but all of the life lessons really made me think. I must admit that some of them were so good that I committed the ultimate sin while reading a book of folding down the page corner!!! I know, I am terrible and should probably go to book jail, however the lessons were so good that I know I will go back to them for years to come. David’s writing style and stories about his life have a way of capturing you and making you think about things in a quiet manner, which I really enjoyed. There was no pointing fingers or “yelling” through the pages of a book…it was just quiet, wise advice. I really hope David Levy comes out with more books like this in the future, because I would definitely pick them up and get lost in those books, just as I did in this book!

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