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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog FAT THE OTHER F WORD by Dan Radlauer A coming of age story, recommended to lovers of sitcoms and anybody looking for an inspiring story #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you a review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. This one is a YA novel about a topic that affects many but one I haven’t read many books about. It made me think about the nature of comedy.

Freedom of speech and comedy have always had a complex relationship, as many people insist that any topic can be the subject of comedy while others don’t agree. Who decides what is offensive and what is not? Although as outside observers we might think that some people are easily offended (when we don’t agree with their point of view and their annoyance at something somebody else had said or done), we all (or most of us) have something (or someone) that we would be likely to get upset by if it became the butt of a joke. How do we judge what is appropriate? Books are being banned again and such issues seem to be more relevant than ever.

And without further ado…

Fat: the Other F Word by Dan Radlauer

FAT: the other “F” word: a novel by Dan Radlauer

In “FAT: The Other ‘F’ Word,” Quincy Collins lives in two vastly different worlds. One where he’s a very heavy and awkward freshman at Beverly Hills High School, the other where he’s a Hollywood character actor in commercials and Indie films playing the comic relief or the despicable bully. Guess which world he likes better?

At the start of this Y.A. novel, Quincy gets his big break with a major role as “The Fat Brother” in a hot new Network Sitcom, only to find that wanting and having are two very different things.

First, “size discrimination activists” challenge the integrity of the character he’s portraying. Then his health struggles begin to undermine both his character on the show, and his self-assigned brand as “The Fat Kid Actor.” His dream gig becomes a nightmare, and he starts to question the role he’s playing on TV, as well as in real life.

“FAT: The Other ‘F’ Word” shows a unique person in a unique setting. It explores Hollywood, adolescence, and our culture’s attitudes towards different sized people. Quincy narrates the story with discovery, irony, pain and compassion as he learns that he can’t base his identity on the size of his body.

 https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Radlauer-ebook/dp/B09LQCDBX7/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FAT-other-word-novel-Radlauer-ebook/dp/B09LQCDBX7/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B09LQCDBX7/

Author and musician Dan Radlauer

About the author:

Dan Radlauer is an award winning composer and producer living and working in Los Angeles. After starting his career writing music for literally thousands of television and radio commercials, he started focusing on TV and Film work around 2001. His years doing “ad music” has given him a musical palette that spans from Head Banging Rock and EDM to full orchestral scores as well as world, Jazz and organic acoustics genres. Dan also is a busy music educator and mentor to aspiring young musicians as well as a consultant to various music educational organizations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Radlauer

https://radmusic.net/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

This is the author’s first novel, and from the information he includes in the author’s note, it seems that he was inspired by some tragic family history to write about the topic, and it is evident that he feels a personal connection to it.

The main details of the plot are well summarised in the book’s description. Quincy Collins is a 14-year-old boy who lives in Los Angeles, in Bel Air (in the least fancy part of Bel-Air, as he explains), and who is an actor, although most of his experience comes from acting in commercials and always playing the overweight kid. He does not mind playing the part; he meets the same heavy boy actors at most auditions, and his best friend, Cole, is one of them. He is very aware of his size, as would be expected from a teenager, and his defense mechanism is humour. He is forever making fat jokes and enjoys the fact that people find him funny and laugh with him, rather than at him behind his back. He gets lucky (he also seems to be a good actor with a particular talent for comedy) and he is cast as one of the main characters in a sitcom. The writer of the show, Paul, is also a large man, and fat jokes are a big part of Quincy’s character in the series, despite the controversy, this creates with the network executives, who are worried about a possible backlash. Things get complicated when Quincy’s health starts to suffer, and he has to make some difficult decisions that affect his size. To make matters worse the protests by pressure groups insisting that making fun of fat people is not funny and calling the jokes in the programme “hate speech” start making Quincy reconsider his attitude towards the series and wonder what is acceptable and what is offensive. Is a fat joke acceptable if a heavy person tells it? Or is it offensive regardless of the size of the comedian telling it?

This is a coming-of-age story that focuses mostly on the issue of weight, health, what is acceptable as a comedy subject, discrimination, and self-identity. The main character, who narrates the story in the first person, is likeable, although his life is not one most fourteen years old youths would easily identify with. Some aspects of it would be like a dream come true for many kids his age (avoiding school and working on TV instead; meeting big stars and having a successful career at such a young age; living in a nice house with caring parents, and a younger sister who also loves him…), while others, like his weight and his health problems, would be a nightmare for anybody. Rather than hard-hitting realism, this YA story chooses a character whose life is in the limelight and whose decisions and actions are scrutinised by all and have a much bigger impact than that of most children his age. If we all know about bullying and the way peer pressure has been magnified by social media and the way our lives are always on display, whether we like it or not, imagine what that would be like for a child actor and one whose main issue is always on display. Quincy cannot ignore what is happening around him, and no matter how hard adults try to protect him, he is faced with some tough decisions.

This is not a novel about really good and terribly bad characters. All of the important characters are likeable once we get to know them a bit, and apart from one or two who are battling their own demons, most of them just seem to be supportive, encouraging and trying to do their jobs as well as they can. We might agree or disagree with some of their opinions or points of view, but they don’t have hidden motives or are devious and manipulative.

The writing flows well; the story is set in chronological order and there are no complicated jumps or convoluted extra storylines. Quincy comes across as a very articulate and fairly smart boy, and we see him become more thoughtful and introspective as the novel progresses, gaining new insights and maturing in front of our eyes. As he acknowledges, he is more used to spending time with adults than with children, and he is empathetic and moves on from only thinking about what he wants to do and what he enjoys, to considering other people’s perspectives. The same goes for his attitude towards food. Although sometimes the process Quincy has to go through to improve his health appears, perhaps, too easy and straightforward, there are moments when his struggling to keep up control is powerfully reflected in the novel and rings painfully true.

Other than the issue of weight, which is at the centre of the novel, I don’t think any other warnings as to the content are warranted. There is no violence, no sex, no bad language, and although some diversity issues are brought up, these are not discussed in detail or gone into in any depth (they are mostly used for comparison). People worried about how offensive the fat jokes might be… Well, that is a bit of a personal matter. We don’t see examples of the actual show, so most of the jokes are those Quincy himself makes, and, in my opinion, they are pretty mild (I struggled with weight when I was a child and a teenager, and I can’t let my guard down even now, so my point of view is not truly neutral), but be warned that some of the content might be hurtful, and it might be advisable to check a sample of the book if you have doubts.

I particularly enjoyed learning more about how a sitcom is filmed, and the whole process of creation, from the rewrites of the script to the wardrobe changes, and the interaction with a live audience. It felt as if I was there, and the author’s personal experience in that world shines through.

In summary, this is a solid YA first novel, with a likeable protagonist who has to face some tough decisions and some hard truths. The ending… is very appropriate and hopeful (although I would have preferred it to end with the end, that is a personal thing), and young people who are interested in acting and/or struggle with any self-image issues (not necessarily to do with weight) are likely to enjoy and feel inspired by the book. And adults will also find plenty to think about within its pages.

Thanks to Rosie and her team for their help and support, thanks to the author for his book, thanks to all of you for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing, and remember to stay safe, and keep smiling!

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book promo Book review

#Bookrecommendation ALEJANDRO’S LIE by Bob Van Laerhoven (@bobvanlaerhoven) A story full of tragedy, wonder, and magic. Highly recommended.

Hi all:

I don’t bring you a review, strictly, today, because the author, whose work I’ve had the pleasure of reading and enjoying in the past, got in touch with me at an early stage of the book’s creation, asking for my feedback, so the final novel has seen some changes since, and I wouldn’t be able to offer a detailed account of it, but even in its early stages it was such an extraordinary book, that I had to share with you a few thoughts, and the details of it as well.

See what you think:

Alejandro’s Lie by Bob Van Laerhoven

Alejandro’s Lie by Bob Van Laerhoven 

Terreno, 1983, Latin America. After a dictatorship of ten years, the brutal junta, led by general Pelarón, seems to waver.

Alejandro Juron, guitarist of the famous poet and folk singer Victor Pérez who’s been executed by the junta, is released from the infamous prison “The Last Supper.” The underground resistance wants Alejandro to participate in its fight again. But Alejandro has changed.

Consumed with guilt by the death of his friend Victor, whom he betrayed to his tormentors, Alejandro becomes the unintended center of a web of intrigue that culminates in a catastrophic insurrection and has to choose between love and escape.

A love story, a thriller and an analysis of the mechanisms that govern a dictatorship, Alejandro’s Lie is a gripping novel about violence, betrayal, resistance, corruption, guilt and love. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09C225YJ2/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09C225YJ2/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B09C225YJ2/

Author Bob Van Laerhoven
Author Bob Van Laerhoven

About the Author

A fulltime Belgian/Flemish author, Laerhoven published 43 books in Holland and Belgium. Some of his literary work is published in French, English, German, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Four time finalist of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year with the novels “Djinn”, “The Finger of God”, “Return to Hiroshima”, and “The Firehand Files”. Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for “Baudelaire’s Revenge,”which also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category “mystery/suspense”.
In 2018, Crime Wave Press published “Return to Hiroshima”, after “Baudelaire’s Revenge” his second novel in English translation.
His collection of short stories “Dangerous Obsessions,” first published by The Anaphora Literary Press in the USA in 2015, was hailed as “best short story collection of 2015” by the San Diego Book Review. The collection is translated in Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.
In 2018, The Anaphora Literary Press published “Heart Fever,” a second collection of short stories. “Heart Fever,” written in English by the author, is a finalist in the Silver Falchion 2018 Award in the category”short stories collections”. Laerhoven is the only non-American finalist of the Awards. The quality English book site 
Murder, Mayhem & More chose “Return to Hiroshima” as one of the ten best international crime books of 2018. In August 2021, Next Chapter published a third novel in English: “Alejandro’s Lie,” set in a fictitious Latin American dictatorship.

 https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Van-Laerhoven/e/B00JP4KO76/

The three novels by Bob Van Laerhoven I’ve read so far. All highly recommended

Here, my thoughts about the novel, and links to the reviews of two of his other novels:

Alejandro’s Lie is a lyrical novel that will resonate with readers familiar with the history of many countries (not only South-American) that have suffered under the rule of dictatorships and corrupt governments. A gripping plot, beautifully written, filled with characters trying to remain true to themselves in impossible situations while confronting evil, which will touch the hearts of all who read it. It’s a  fabulous story, full of tragedy, wonder, and magic. 

You can access my review of Baudelaire’s Revenge here.

And here, my review of Return to Hiroshima.

Thanks to Bob for thinking about me and sending me an early copy of his fabulous new novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to stay safe, and to keep reading, laughing, and enjoying every day of your lives. Take care!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog CENOTAPH by Rich Marcello (@marcellor) Recommended to those looking for beauty, depth, and meaning #RBRT

Hi all:

I am pleased to bring you the new book by an author I discovered thanks to Rosie’s team, and one that always manages to make me pause and think.

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello 

AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.
When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

Praise for Cenotaphs
“Cenotaphs is a beautiful, timely, powerful novel. I read it slowly, savoring each scene. Its elegance, intelligence, poignancy, and humanity remind me of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.”—Mark Spencer, author of An Untimely Frost
“Cenotaphs
 is a masterful, moving meditation on loss and moving forward, and on the possibility of transcendence. But it’s the characters and their voices that will keep haunting me, so much so that I know readers will return to them time and again, as if they’re long lost members of a family.”––Rebecca Givens Rolland, author of On the Refusal to Speak
“Cenotaphs
 is an achingly poignant tale of love and loss, and for its protagonist Ben, how the two are intimately intertwined. In the course of this short novel, classic betrayal and unfathomable loss birth the most unexpected platonic love, and in doing so, show us the power of forgiveness. Marcello’s writing is elegant and lyrical and through a complex web of extremes, Cenotaphs cleverly reminds us that nothing is meant to last forever.”––Mark E Sorenson, author of A Restaurant in Jaffa
Previous Works
“. . .The Latecomers blends humor, suspense, and poetic prose while tackling big issues like graceful aging, chosen families, corporate ethics, personal fulfillment, and the unending quest for self-discovery, and brims with philosophical depth about the world and life’s possibilities.“—Indie Reader Approved––IndieReader
“Every once in a while, we get to read books that change how we see life. Rich Marcello brought such change in his literary novel, The Beauty of the Fall. This is for readers who love an intellectual read with profound life lessons and a host of inspiring characters.”––The Online Book Club

“While The Big Wide Calm can rightly be called a coming-of-age story, it is also very much a tale of a young woman who discovers how to truly love. . .Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all the basic requirements for best-of-show in the literary fiction category.”––The US Review of Books

“The Long Body that Connects Us All is a powerful collection of poetry. If you want to think and feel about your life and future, read this book alongside a box of tissues. In sharing his poetry, which reads like a memoir, Marcello has really written on elements of the human condition that do connect us all. Rating: 5 out of 5 ––The Book Review Directory 

https://www.amazon.com/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

https://www.amazon.es/Cenotaphs-Rich-Marcello-ebook/dp/B097Q3WR2X/

Author Rich Marcello
Author Rich Marcello

About the author:

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Marcello/e/B00G97QU16/

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author, whom I met thanks to the team, for this opportunity and for the ARC copy of the book.

I have read two of Marcello’s novels, The Beauty of the Fall and the Latecomers, and I have quickly become an admirer of his books, as he combines a lyrical and poetic style of writing with a choice of subjects that transcend the usual genre novel and look deep into the souls and minds of his characters.

This novel is not heavy on plot or action (some things happen, of course, and there are references to pretty major events that took place before, although I won’t spoil the novel for future readers). It is primarily about relationships between all kinds of people. The primary relationship we learn about is the one between Ben, a retired man who leads a pretty quiet life in a cabin in Vermont and spends his time sharing his advice and wisdom with others, and Sam, a thirty-something hedge fund manager who spends most of her time travelling and conversing with strangers. They meet by chance and quickly realise that there is a connection between them. Although in appearance they are as different as could be, they come to realise that they share some experiences and feelings. They both feel guilty of something that happened to their families (they were both brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, although neither of them are followers of any official religion now), and they find companionship and comfort in each other. Their relationship confounds many, but although Platonic, they know they have found something special in each other and treasure it.

This book reminded me of some of my favourite French movies, especially Eric Rohmer’s, that made you feel as if you were a privileged witness to the conversations between two characters (or a few characters), as they slowly got to know each other and to discover that they were meant to be with each other (or sometimes, to be apart but to gain some important insight from their time together). This is a book of communing with nature, with your dog, of going fishing, of building a cenotaph, of stripping your life of unnecessary things and acknowledging what is truly important, and of understanding that you cannot heal from your emotional wounds by hiding your true self and pretending to be somebody else. People can help you along the way, but you have to come to accept your pain, your loss, your responsibility and, perhaps, if you’re lucky, meet somebody else and make amends.

It is difficult to talk about the genre of this book, because other than literary fiction, it doesn’t fit in nicely under any other category. There is romance, but not in the standard sense. It is not strictly a self-help book, because it is a fictional story, but I am sure it will inspire many readers. It deals in loss, grief, guilt, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and other self-destructive behaviours, but also in music, nature, friendship, family relationships, spirituality, religion, love, and the meaning of life. It even touches upon the paranormal and metaphysics, so anybody who likes to reflect, analyse, and dig into the depths of what makes us human could potentially be a good match for this book.

I wouldn’t say I quickly warmed to the two main characters. I was intrigued and puzzled by them, as it was clear that there were many secret motivations behind their behaviours and their actions, but slowly, as I learned about them, I came to understand them a bit better and to accept them as human beings (with all their faults and their gifts). Although we don’t learn that much about the rest of the characters, I quite liked Scott (terrible mistake and all) and would have liked to learn more about Marianne, one of Ben’s friends but not around when we meet him. Zeke, the dog, was quite a character, and I enjoyed the conversations between Ben, Sam, and all of Ben’s friends, so different but so happy to share and engage in serious debate.

I also loved the lyrical quality of the language and the many thoughts and phrases that made me stop and think. As usual, I’d advise people thinking about reading it to check a sample of the novel to see how they feel, but I’ll also share a few quotations I highlighted. Please, remember that I am reviewing an early copy, and there might have been changes in the final version.

An aspiration for old age: When the weight lifts, float up over all the love harmed, and marvel that something as healing as forgiveness exists at all.

Sometimes an undercurrent joins two people right from the start.

My greatest learning is this —love people exactly where they are, flaws and all, for as long as they grace your life. We don’t get do-overs, do we?

We never really fully understand another human being, do we, only the ways they touch us.

The story is narrated in the first person by both main characters, and if I had to highlight one of the things that got me a bit confused, it was the way the book was divided up. Who was narrating each part was clearly indicated, but there were several parts I and parts II throughout the book, and some ‘chapters’ with their own separate titles. I think part of the issue might be due to reading an ARC e-book copy and not having a clear idea of its structure, but later on, there is a development in the novel itself that helps to give this issue a totally different perspective. So, although the novel is written in the first person, and I know there are readers who don’t appreciate that, there is a good reason for the choice, and the quality of the writing is such that it should dispel any concerns. (The author sent me an up-to-date version of the e-book, and I can confirm that the issue I had with the format and the titles of the chapters seems to have been a problem with the early copy, so no need to worry). 

I recommend this book to people who enjoy beautiful writing, who are looking for a different kind of story, one that makes you think, reflect and ponder, rather than turn the pages quickly to know what will happen next. To those who love to explore the reasons behind people’s behaviours, to look closely at their relationships, and to wonder about the meaning of life. And if you’ve never read any of the author’s books, you’re in for a treat and a delightful surprise. Don’t delay.

Thanks to the author and to Rosie and her team, thanks to all of you for writing, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling and safe. Big hugs!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog A RAINBOW LIKE YOU by Andréa Fehsenfeld (@acfcreative) A wonderful character and a feel-good story, with some heartache #RBRT

Hi all:

Here I bring you my latest review, something pretty different for me, but one more discovery from Rosie’s Books Review Team.

A Rainbow Like You by Andréa Fehsenfeld

A Rainbow Like You by Andréa Fehsenfeld

BEST BC BOOKS of 2020—Grant Lawrence, Award-winning author & CBC personality

ONE OF THE GREAT ROCK & ROLL STORIES—Eric Alper, Sirius XM host and music critic

A rock star. A runaway. The most unexpected journey.

Adrian ‘Jazzer’ Johnson’s gilded rock and roll career is the stuff of legend. From out of the dive bars of Long Beach, this high school dropout rocketed his band to the pinnacle of success. But after a whirlwind decade ended with him broken and questioning, Adrian disappeared.

Now back on tour after a year in exile, Adrian’s still struggling and under pressure to deliver his next hit. The last thing he needs is to find a teen runaway hiding in his tour bus. As it turns out, Hastings Sinclair is a synesthete who can see music in color. But her offer to help color-blind Adrian unpack his creative block upends their lives in ways they never imagined.

Because Adrian’s troubles run deep—beyond what any song can fix—and Hastings hasn’t been upfront about hers. When calamity strikes, a perfect storm of fates unleashes and caught in the crossfire are Adrian’s band mates, a fame-shy beauty he falls hard for, and a scheming journalist with a vendetta. With everything he values suddenly on the line, can Adrian reconcile his own brash history? Or will he be forced to face the music in a way he never has before?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08GYM1YZH/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B08GYM1YZH/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08GYM1YZH/

Author Andréa Fehsenfeld

About the author:

Join Andréa’s mailing list for giveaways and exclusive content: https://bit.ly/2tePpGc

Join Andréa’s FB group: https://bit.ly/2mbh5M5

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/acf_creative/

Andréa is an author and award-winning TV producer who has delivered more than 200 commercials, series and movies for Fortune 500 companies, global networks and the world’s biggest brands.

Her debut novel COMPLETION is being adapted for television.

A RAINBOW LIKE YOU is her second novel. Five weeks after publication, it was named a Best BC Book of 2020 and has been featured on NPR, Sirius XM, Hawaii News, CBC, The Vancouver Sun, The Province and many more.

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided an ARC copy of the novel, which I freely chose to review.

This is my first experience reading this author’s work, although it is evident that she is no newcomer to the world of writing, even if this is only her second published novel.

This is not a mystery novel, so I’m not sure spoilers, as such, apply, but I still think the official description includes sufficient information to give prospective readers a good sense of what it is about. I’m not a big reader of pop, rock, or music fiction in general (I read Daisy Jones & The Six some time ago and loved it, but the setting and the narrative style are very different), and it is not a world I’m particularly close to. I’m not a big reader of romance either, and yes, there is a romantic story as well (or more than one: Adrian, the protagonist, is trying to recover from a breakup, a pretty devastating one, and during the novel he meets somebody) and one that is pretty close to insta-love (not a favourite of mine either), but despite all that, I enjoyed this novel, perhaps because it is about more than that, although both elements play a big part in the book. For me, the novel falls under what I’ve come to think of as “adult coming-of-age” stories, or perhaps “growing-up” stories, those where characters —who are grown-up when it comes to their chronological age but perhaps don’t act accordingly— usually get confronted by something (a personal tragedy and/or a person they come across) that makes them take a good look at themselves, and they come out of it a different (and usually better) person. In this case, Adrian was driven by music from a very early age, left high school and focused all his efforts on that, becoming the leader of an incredibly successful rock band. He also married young and seemed to have everything, but that is not the whole picture. When we meet him, he is far from happy, and although he is touring with the band, there are many problems brewing, both in his personal and his professional life: with members of the band demanding more of a saying in what happens; divorced from his wife after a pretty traumatic even; he recently and suddenly lost his mother also and hasn’t recovered from that; his relationship with his father seems broken beyond repair; he got into trouble with alcohol during a twelve month period in Mexico (and he doesn’t seem to be over that yet); and he seems to be at a creative standstill, totally unable to write new songs. And then, he finds Hastings, a teenage girl who has run away from her foster parents’ home and is hiding in his bus. And yes, you’ve guessed it, this encounter (and a woman she meets later on) will change his life.

I have talked about Adrian, who is not only the protagonist but also the narrator of the story, which is written in the first-person (so people who dislike first-person narration have been warned). Apart from what I’ve mentioned, he comes with other quirks: he is colour blind (that makes for a great contrast with Hastings, who has synaesthesia, or, to be more precise, chromaesthesia, whereby she perceives colours, in her case when she hears music), has some obsessive personality traits and a fear of contamination (he talks about his OCD, but it’s never clear that he has seen anybody or been given a formal diagnosis, and as a psychiatrist, the description of his behaviours would not warrant it), and can be totally lacking in insight as to his own behaviour and motivations. He drinks too much; he doesn’t listen to anything that he perceives as criticism and gets very defensive when taken to task, and seems unable to let go, forgive, or forget. He is an interesting character, because he is flawed and is forever trying not to be the typical rock star who misbehaves constantly, although he doesn’t always manage, and he is far from consistent. The other members of the band are quite diverse, and are like a family to him, friends and brothers, as most of the people he knows and connects with seem to belong to the same world or be part of his entourage (the security man, his agent, the owners of the music company, the bus driver…). We only get to meet the rest of the people from his perspective, and he is not always a good judge of character. They add to the background of the story, but I wasn’t sure any of them came to life as individuals for me, apart from Hasting (and Sasha-Rae, although less so). Hastings, though, is wonderful, a unique creation, and one of those characters that you read about and you wish were real and you could meet. She is very special, and I won’t say a lot more about her not to ruin the novel, as she hides quite a few things that help make her who she is (and affect the novel’s course as well). There is a pretty nasty reporter as well, but you’ll be happy to hear that she gets her comeuppance (in one of my favourite scenes from the book).

I’m not always convinced by first-person narratives, although I’m not against them per-se, and in this case, I think it works pretty well, because we need to understand the character and see things from his perspective, even if we have nothing in common with him and might never have done the things he does —he has a talent for making the wrong decision—, and although I have talked about his lack of insight, he is not an unreliable narrator. He calls things as he sees them, and we can make our own minds up about them, without tricks. I enjoyed the style of writing, and the use of similes and metaphors work very well to give readers a quick insight into Adrian’s opinion of people and places. The protagonist is not called ‘Jazzer’ for nothing, and his voice comes across quite clearly, with very funny moments, and some very touching ones as well (yes, be prepared for tears).

Here, a few random examples of my highlights:

“Ex was the equivalent of eight elephants when it came to not forgetting.”

“With the door peeled open, she cowered deeper into the closet, like a vampire avoiding the sun… if vampires were black girls … who wore headbands and jeans.”

“The real estate of her features reminded me of Nina Simone: the nose of a boxer, swollen from one too many hits; a generous mouth better suited to a larger face.”

“Sven, our tour manager, arrived with breakfast. Imagine a Swedish version of The Rock, minus any charisma, and that’s our Svennie.”

I’ve referred to the ending before (yes, a bad character gets her comeuppance), and the romance part of the story ends up like a romance should. I’ve also referred to this as a growing-up story, so you probably guess that the character learns a lot about himself. That’s also true. But be warned that the lesson is a hard one. Although it is an inspiring story and feel-good story overall, there are sad moments, and I’ve pre-warned you that there might be tears (or moments pretty close to).

Any warnings? I’ve mentioned use of alcohol, and there are plenty of references to drug use, some violence, sex (there is more talk than anything, and there is nothing too explicit, but yes, there is some, and at least one of the scenes and a minor plot-point I felt didn’t add much to the story, but that’s my personal opinion), also upsetting events referred to, and chronic illness that also features (the author does a good job in her acknowledgements at providing extra information and resources to people who might want to know more about some of the topics). Although I felt the story might be suited to new adult readers as well, they need to be aware of those issues, as should the rest of readers.

In summary, this is not one of my usual genres, but I’d recommend it to people who enjoy reading about the music business (rock bands in particular. The author explains in her acknowledgements her process of research, and she definitely did a good job), who like first-person narratives, who enjoy unique characters, and/or are looking for a story of growing-up, redemption, and a hopeful and feel-good read. There is fun, laughter, tears, and heartache, but there’s a rainbow at the end. (The book includes quite a lot of extra materials, like the covers of the band records, illustrations/pics of the members of the band, and even a link to listen to the song that shares its title with the book. They are all worth a look and a listen).

Oh, in case you want to listen to the song…

Thanks to Rosie and all the members of her team, thanks to the author for her book, and thanks to all of you for reading. Remember to keep smiling, keep reading, comment if you like, and please, please, keep safe.

Categories
Book launch

#TuesdayBookBlog HULLABA LULU Book Launch. Dieselpunk in the Jazz Age by Teagan R. Geneviene (@teagangeneviene)

Hi all:

Today I bring you a treat. I know many of you are fans of Teagan Geneviene’s blog and her books. For those who don’t know her yet, she is a true magician! She starts with the germ of an idea for a story (sometimes a character and a historical era, a scene, a song) and then asks the readers of her blog to participate and suggest objects, ingredients… whatever might be relevant, and “Abracadabra” the magic is served and an incredible story is born.

Many of her readers (I included) had been asking her to turn these stories into books, to be able to enjoy them more fully and keep them in our collections. After some insistence, she finally agreed, and now some of her stories have become books. And she has done it again! Here she brings us a fantastic (in more ways than one) story with some of my favourite characters (not all human either)! So, you’re all invited to the book launch party!

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Oh, and she asked me to choose one of the Real World things, and being a psychiatrist, I could not resist and had to choose Carl Jung’s mysterious Red Notebook. Jung was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst born in the XIX century (1875). At first, he was a close ally of Freud but later he moved away from psychoanalysis and founded analytical psychology, which caused a rift between them. He introduced many psychological concepts that have become well-known, like archetypes, the collective unconscious, introversion and extraversion, synchronicity, and the notion of the psychological complex.  And that’s enough from me. Here comes Teagan Geneviene and Hullaba Lulu.

Lulu and Friends by Teagan R Geneviene

Lulu and Friends by Teagan R Geneviene

Hi, Olga – it’s wonderful of you to host me to announce my novella, Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure.

Since you followed this story in the serial version, you know this is a “dieselpunk” story. It has a 1920s aesthetic with retro futuristic technology, a dash of magic, and some creepy settings, along with a crew of misfit characters. Lulu is a snarky, but good-hearted flapper. She and her friends get into all sorts of trouble (often due to Lulu’s clumsiness). They travel on a magical train to a lot of “sideways” places.

At the back of the novella, I included a list of Real-World Things. You chose Carl Jung’s Red Notebook. So, I’m sharing that entry and a related snippet from the novella.

Real-World Thing

Carl Jung’s Red Notebook, also known as The Red Book, is a red leather‐bound folio manuscript written by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung between 1915 and 1930. It comments on his psychological experiments and is based on manuscripts first drafted by Jung in 1914–15 and 1917. Despite being nominated as the central piece in Jung’s body of work, it was not published or made otherwise accessible for study until 2009.

Jung's Red Notebook displayed on his desk. Wikipedia
Jung’s Red Notebook displayed on his desk. Wikipedia

Snippet

The Red Notebook comes into the story not long after Lulu meets the mysterious Valentino. Here’s a snippet:

The right-side page bore a hand drawn map. I gazed at it in sudden inspiration. I grabbed the notepad where I penciled the letters of the Ouija board to which the planchette pointed moments before, Y, T, I, C, C, I, T, N, A, L, T, A. My eyes went back to the map. I spat out the piece of saltwater taffy that as still in my mouth.

Valentino reached the desk in a single step. He didn’t even flinch at putting his hand into the aura. He picked up his travelogue. He snapped it shut and the nimbus burst. The noise of tiny pops repeatedly assailed my ears, like a string of lady finger firecrackers. Bits of ectoplasm showered down in sparks.

I tried to take the book from him, but he held it tightly to his chest. He gave me a derisive look that was probably meant to make me stop. I desperately wanted to get another look at that page. The only thing I had been able to make out in the handwriting was a name. Lauren.

“Lauren was my mother’s name,” I hissed into his ear, not wanting Gramps to hear.

“I know, but save it for later,” he whispered back as he twisted away from my hands.

***

Video Book Trailer

Olga, thanks again for letting me visit. You’re the kitten’s ankles!

Here’s the rest of the information for Hullaba Lulu.

Cover and Blurb

Hullaba Lulu cover by Teagan R. Geneviene
Hullaba Lulu cover by Teagan R. Geneviene

Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure is a wild and wooly 1920s fantasy story. Lulu, the heroine is inspired by the song, “Don’t Bring Lulu,” from 1925 ― so are her pals, Pearl and Rose. My Lulu loves to dance, and freely indulges in giggle water. She snores and burps and says whatever she wants. Lulu is a snarky but good-hearted flapper. The song’s inspiration stops there, but the story is just beginning.

Travel with Lulu and her friends on a magical, dieselpunk train that belongs to the smolderingly handsome and enigmatic man known only as Valentino. They get into all sorts of trouble, usually due to Lulu’s clumsiness. It’s an intense ride through a number of pos-i-lutely creepy settings, including “sideways” versions of Atlantic City and the Cotton Club. At every stop and in between, Lulu ends up creating chaos. There’s no telling where they’ll end up. No, Lulu! Don’t touch that!

Lulu’s the kind of smarty, breaks up every party,

Hullabaloo loo, don’t bring Lulu,

I’ll bring her myself!

Purchase Links

Throughout October, Hullaba Lulu is at an introductory price. The eBooks are only 99¢. For those who boycott Amazon I made a Kobo eBook too.

Kindle: Click this universal link

Paperback: Click this universal link

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hullaba-lulu

Hullaba Lulu promo image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Hullaba Lulu promo image by Teagan R. Geneviene

Also…

While it is not exactly a companion volume to any of my Roaring Twenties stories, I’ve written a 1920s slang dictionary. I’m careful to use slang in a context that makes it understandable, but you might enjoy having Speak Flapper. It debuted at #1 in its category at Amazon. Here’s a review from Annika Perry at Goodreads.

Speak Flapper, Slang of the 1920s by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
Speak Flapper, Slang of the 1920s by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Author Bio

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene’s work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest (of the USA). Teagan most often writes one kind of fantasy or another, including the “Punk” genres, like steampunk, dieselpunk, and atompunk. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or an urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy. There are no extremes in violence, sex, or profanity.

Her talents also include book covers and promotional images. She makes all of her own. Teagan is currently exploring the idea of offering that service to others.

All of the books by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene are available at her Amazon Author Page.

Amazon Author Page Universal Link

Her latest release is from the punk genres, Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure.

Social Media Links

You can also visit me at:

Blog: www.teagansbooks.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene/


The whole tour has been wonderful, so I recommend it to check the rest of the posts, but just in case you’ve missed them, I’m including here Robbie Cheadle’s post as it also includes her fantastic review (and as I belong to one of her review groups, I know how good her review are). Thanks, Robbie!

Hullaba Lulu Launch – Ouija Board and book review

Thanks so much, Teagan, for this opportunity and for this wonderful post! Good luck with the launch! And of course, thanks to all of you for reading, liking, sharing, clicking (you have no idea what you’ll be missing if you don’t), reviewing, and remember to keep smiling and, above all, to keep safe!

Oh, and don’t forget to have a bit of cake!

Photo by Thomas AE on Unsplash
Categories
book promo Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #BlogTour JACKSON: ETERNITY SPRINGS: THE MCBRIDES OF TEXAS by Emily March (@emilymarchbooks) (@StMartinsPress) A gently inspiring story in a charming Texan setting

Hi all. I am participating in a blog tour for an author I read last year for the first time, and I was keen to read her new one.

JACKSON: ETERNITY SPRINGS: THE MCBRIDES OF TEXAS by Emily March. 

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Emily March comes Jackson, the newest novel in the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series.

Sometimes it takes a new beginning
Caroline Carruthers thinks she buried her dreams along with the love of her life…until a stranger named Celeste dares her to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.

to reach a happily-ever-after
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love—he even has the old song lyrics to prove it—but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all?

Author Emily March
Author Emily March

 

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the heartwarming Eternity Springs series. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

https://www.amazon.com/Emily-March/e/B004FRHU2A/

Buy-Book Link:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314918

https://www.amazon.com/Jackson-Eternity-Springs-McBrides-Texas-ebook/dp/B07H7CK7KS/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jackson-Eternity-Springs-McBrides-Texas-ebook/dp/B07H7CK7KS/

https://www.amazon.es/Jackson-Eternity-Springs-McBrides-Texas-ebook/dp/B07H7CK7KS/

The author has kindly answered some questions about the book for her readers:

You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Jackson and the rest of the books in the Eternity Springs world?

The saying “Write what you know” says it all in my case. I’m a small-town girl and my family and friendships are center to my world. I write about love and family and friendships. I have roots in both the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Hill Country, so it was natural for me to set Eternity Springs and Redemption there. The idea for JACKSON grew out of my interest in the music currently being written and performed in Texas. I’ve always thought singer/songwriters are romantic figures so I was excited to create a hero with this background. Unfortunately, I’m not a musician and I’m definitely not a singer, but I am creative so it was fun for me to explore that aspect of a character.

Introduce us to your main character!

Okay. Well, Americana singer/songwriter Jackson McBride is a bit damaged when the book begins. His famous, talented and wealthy ex has won a custody battle that severely limits his access to his six-year-old daughter, so Jackson goes home to the Texas Hill Country to nurse his broken heart. He finds solace in Enchanted Canyon hiking the trails with the dog he rescues and working to bring a historic dance hall back to life. The last thing he expects is to find love again with a woman whose heart is as battered as his own.

Walk us through a day in the life of Emily March.

Ready to be bored? Now that my daughter’s and niece’s weddings are behind me—they consumed me for months—I’m boring and happy about it. I split my time between Fort Worth where we have a condo downtown in a 1930’s passenger train station and our lake house in the Texas Hill Country. I recently gave up my office in town because I’m spending more and more time at the lake. My husband also offices out of our condo, so on days when we are both working in town, I’ve started riding the new TexRail train that runs from our building to DFW airport. It’s quiet and comfortable and I don’t have Internet to distract me. And at $5 a day, it’s much cheaper than office rent. 🙂 When I’m at the lake I’m either working or doing yard work. My new favorite toy is my power washer.

Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

I’ve always thought that one of the most important things you can do for your writing is to read. And read. And read some more. Read across genres. You absorb so much about pacing and plotting and character development when you read. Plus, you get to READ! 🙂 (I so agree with her!)

How is the Jackson trilogy different from your other series?

I don’t think it’s necessarily different from the rest of the Eternity Springs series. I write about love and family and friendship—that doesn’t change. Readers will still see old friends from Eternity Springs and a few scenes in JACKSON are set in Colorado. What’s new is we get to spend some time in the Texas Hill Country and meet a few new characters—Celeste’s cousin, Angelica, for example.

I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series and I’m reading her latest right now, STORM CURSED.

Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?

My goals as a writer are to touch a reader’s heart, to entertain her and make her laugh, to maybe cry a little and sigh with satisfaction upon reaching the end. With JACKSON, I believe I’ve achieved those goals.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Family. Family. Family. 🙂

What is your most embarrassing memory?

Walking out of the junior high school cafeteria in seventh grade, not realizing that my very short dress—it was the 70’s—had gotten hung up in my underwear and I inadvertently flashed my rear end to the entire cafeteria—including the tables where the football players sat. Thinking about it even today gives me the hives.

Favorite quote or scene you wrote in JACKSON?

I love the ending.  Jackson is a songwriter who has lost his music and when he finds it again…the song he sings to Caroline…just makes me melt.

What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?

Call your mother.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to read, so that is part of it, but my father was my primary inspiration. He was a fabulous storyteller. I grew up sitting at his feet and listening to him tell stories about his youth and his experiences in Europe during World War II. Listening to him tell his stories was my favorite thing to do. I didn’t inherit his talent for verbal storytelling, but I think I learned from him how to tell a good story on the page.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

Like I mentioned before, I’m pretty boring. My perks and habits are always evolving. The train writing thing is new for me. I usually write on a laptop and edit on a desktop. I listen to movie soundtracks when I write and always finish a book with The Last of the Mohicans.

What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author?

I’m always a little surprised and honored that readers are excited to meet me. Like I said…I’m a boring person.

What is your favorite state to visit? Colorado, of course, because I must keep returning to Eternity Springs. 🙂

What are hobbies or interests do you have?

We are lake people, so I love waterskiing and boating and fishing. As I write this we’ve just finished Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so I sort of feel like chief cook and sheet-and-towel washer, too. I love, love, love hosting big holiday gatherings of family and friends at the lake house, but I will admit I do tire of the mountain of laundry in the aftermath.

Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise?

I’m writing Tucker’s story. Fun fact for this—as part of my research I attended a survivalist training school for a weekend. I searched long and hard to find one where I could return to town to spend the night in a comfy hotel rather than sleep on the ground—I’m only willing to go so far for my art. I did learn to start a friction fire, though, something I’m VERY proud of. 🙂

How can readers connect with you online?

My website is www.emilymarch.com. I’m active on Facebook. My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/emilymarchbooks. You can also reach me by email at emily@emilymarch.com.

I like the sound of her, and writing in a train…

Cover of Jackson, by Emily March.
Jackson. By Emily March

Now, my review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I read and reviewed one of Emily Barr’s novels in the Eternity Springs series, The Christmas Wishing Tree (you can read my review here), last summer and enjoyed it, particularly the lovely town of Eternity Springs, and I could not resist checking what her new story was like.

This novel is a crossover (or a spin-off, I guess) of that other series, as it does include quite a few of the characters of Eternity Springs, and, in fact, Celeste Blessing plays quite a part in getting things started,  but it focuses on three male cousins, the McBrides, who are very close in age and grew up together, share wonderful memories, but have taken very different paths in life. They are left a pretty interesting legacy from their great-aunt, and it gives them an opportunity to start a project together, in Texas.

Jackson McBride, the protagonist of the story (or one of them. Caroline Carruthers plays a very important part in the story, if not the most important), is a musician, a composer of Americana/country music, who’s been unable to compose since his marriage ended, and he lost the custody battle for his little girl, Haley. But his love for music remains unabated, and the project at Last Hope gives him a different avenue to invest it on, one that will allow him to help other performers and recover a historical venue.

We meet Caroline Carruthers at a difficult time in her life. She married a man fifteen years older than her, a professor, when he was quite young, and she seems to have become his wife, first and foremost. She writes articles about Texas for magazines, but her life is turned upside down when her husband is diagnosed with early dementia. Her sister-in-law does not accept her decision of having her husband looked after in a nursing home, and the situation brings home just how dependent Catherine has become on her husband and how limited her personal support network is. A chance encounter with Celeste makes her discover Redemption, Texas, and she gets a second chance.

This novel shares many of the characteristic that made me enjoy the previous one. Redemption is a pretty interesting and welcoming place, Enchanted Canyon Ranch, and Ruin, the ghost town, are great settings, beautiful, magical, and we get to see how Angelica (Celeste’s cousin, another cousin in a book full of them, and my favourite character), Jackson, and Boon transform the place into a haven, the Texan cousin of Celeste’s inn at Eternity Springs. The landscape and descriptions of the natural beauty of the area are vivid and make readers wish they could be there, and the writer captures well the language, customs, and local expressions (even if it some of the situations ring of an adult fairy tale). There are also great secondary characters, some that are likely to play bigger parts in other books in the series, and for those readers who are already familiar with Eternity Springs, there are plenty of familiar faces who make an appearance here (even I, who’ve only read one of the books, recognized quite a few). I also enjoyed the relationships between friends and family members, and the interactions between the cousins had that ease and familiarity that made them ring true. There is plenty of humour, some drama (yes, bad things happen and there’s grief in store for many of the characters), and a fairly gentle story, with bickering and discussions over decorating and sports, music, dogs, food, families and friendships.

The main characters are likeable, have suffered in their personal lives, and deserve a second chance. They are both reluctant to commit to new relationships because they are grieving for their last ones, but… Well, I was going to say this is a romance after all, and it is, but it also has much in common with women’s fiction, despite the male coprotagonist. Caroline grows strong throughout the book, takes control of her own life, and acquires a network of female friends who support her no matter what. Jackson already had his cousins, although they all seem to keep secrets, and his recovery involves helping his ex-wife stand tall and start behaving like an adult. Women are the ones who change and grow the most throughout the novel, and although their roles might appear conventional at first, they prove they are stronger and more determined than they thought. As I said, I found the characters likeable, but I felt about them a bit like I would about a nice couple I’d met and chatted one evening. I have the best wishes for them, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them around every now and then, but I don’t think they’ll leave a lasting impression, and there wasn’t anything particularly distinctive or memorable about them (although I liked the sound of Caroline’s bookshop, The Next Page).

I read some reviews that complained about the references and inclusion of characters not directly related to the stories, and got a bit lost. As I said, I have met some of the characters before, so I was slightly more familiar with them, but I wouldn’t let that scare any possible readers, as it is not a big part of the book, and it does not hinders the understanding of the action. (It involves the chapters around the opening of the new inn, and Boon’s friends from Eternity Springs turn up as guests, and that means a fair amount of new people who suddenly land there). On the other hand, I’m pretty convinced that readers of the series will be delighted to catch up with some of their favourite characters in the new setting.

This is a nice and gentle read, with no violent or sex scenes, in an enchanting Texan setting , likely to appeal to readers of romance, especially that set in the world of the music industry, Americana in particular, women’s fiction, and stories about second chances. The characters don’t break any molds, and it is not a particularly challenging story, but it is a comforting one. Recommended to readers of the Eternity Springs series and to anybody keen on a refreshing and gently inspiring story.

Those of you who know me, know that I tend to suggest that people check a sample of the book to make sure the writing style is a good fit. Here, the publishers have kindly send me an excerpt of the book that I share with you.

Chapter One Excerpt 

Nashville, Tennessee

Bang. The judge’s gavel fell and officially crushed Jackson McBride’s heart. He closed his eyes. Bleak despair washed over him. Up until this very moment, he hadn’t believed she’d take it this far.

He’d thought she’d come to her senses. He’d thought she would recognize that this proposal was not only nonsense, but truly insane. He’d believed that somewhere deep inside of her, she still had a spark of humanity. That she wouldn’t do this to him. To them. He’d been wrong.

Damn her. Damn her and the yes-men she surrounded herself with. Damn them all to hell and back.

The enormity of what had just happened washed over him. Oh, God, how will

I survive this?

On the heels of his anguish came the rage. It erupted hot as lava, and it fired his blood and blurred his vision with a red haze of fury. He’d never hit a woman in his life. Never come close, despite plenty of provocation from her direction. In that moment had she been within reach, he might have lived up her accusations.

It scared the crap out of him. That’s what she’s brought me to.

Abruptly, he shoved back his chair so hard that it teetered, almost falling over. He strode toward the courtroom exit. “Jackson? Jackson, wait!” his attorney called, hurrying after him.

Jackson waved her off and didn’t stop. There was nothing left to be said. Nothing left to be done. No place left to go.

No little girl waiting at home to hug and cuddle and kiss good night.

The tap on the toes of Jackson’s boots clacked against the tile floor of the courthouse as his long-legged strides ate up the hallway. He shunned the elevator for the stairs and descended three flights at a rapid pace, then headed for the building’s exit. In a foolish bit of positive thinking, he’d driven his SUV to the courthouse this morning. Now the sight of the safety booster seat in the back seat made him want to kick a rock into next week.

He didn’t want to go home to a quiet, empty house. He shouldn’t go to a bar. Alcohol on top of his current mood could be a dangerous combination. Somebody probably would get hurt.

He got into the car and started the engine. For a long moment he sat unmoving, staring blindly through the windshield, his hands squeezing the steering wheel so hard that it should have cracked. When his phone rang, he ignored it.

A couple of minutes later, it rang a second time. Again, he ignored it. When it happened a third time, he finally glanced at the display to see who was calling. His cousin. Okay, maybe he would answer it.

“Hello, Boone.”

“How did the hearing go?”

Jackson couldn’t speak past the lump in his throat, so he said nothing.

Following a moment’s silence, Boone got the message. He muttered a curse, and then said, “I’m sorry, man. So damn sorry.”

“Well, it is what it is.”

“You can take another run at it.”

“Yeah.” In three years. Three years. Might as well be three decades. He cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So, how are things in Eternity Springs?”

“Good. They’re good. My friend Celeste Blessing visited my office a few minutes ago and spoke of her granite-headed cousin. Naturally, I thought of you.”

“Naturally,” Jackson dryly replied. But he felt a little less alone.

“Do you have plans this weekend? I could use your help with something.”

Pretty convenient timing. Knowing Boone, he had a spy in the courtroom. But Jackson wasn’t in the position to ignore the bone he’d been thrown. “I’m free. Whatcha got?”

“I’d like you to meet me at home.”

Jackson straightened in surprise. “You’re going back to the ranch?”

“No. Not there. I’m never going back there. However, I am talking about Texas. The Hill Country in particular. A little town west of Austin called Redemption.”

“Redemption, Texas?” Jackson repeated. For some weird reason, his heart gave a little skip. “Why there?”

“It’s a long story. Too long for a phone call. I’ll give you the entire skinny when I see you. When can you get there?”

After today’s debacle, Jackson had absolutely no reason to remain in Nashville. “When do you want me there?”

“I’ll be in later today. I’m in Austin now. I’ve been helping a friend with a project. I have a flight back to Colorado Sunday evening. The earlier you can get here the better, but I’ll make anything work.”

Jackson figured the distance and the drive time. “I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon. Where?”

“Great. I’ll text you the info when we hang up. Bring camping gear.”

When a sound behind him had Jackson glancing up into the rearview mirror and the booster seat caught his notice, he made an instant decision. “Can’t. I’ll be on my bike.”

“You’re gonna ride your motorcycle all the way from Nashville?”

“Yes, I think I am.”

“Okay. I’ll bring stuff for both of us.” Boone hesitated a moment and added, “Hang in there,

Jackson. It’ll get better.”

No, I don’t think it will. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jackson ended the call and finally put his SUV in gear and backed out of the parking place. With the distraction of the call behind him, fury returned, and by the time he reached home, he felt like a volcano about to explode.

He threw a handful of things into his tail bag, filled his wallet with cash from his stash, and ten minutes after his arrival, he fired up his bike and took his broken heart and headed out of Nashville. He left behind his home, his work, and his one reason for living, his six-year-old daughter, Haley.

From Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Emily March and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Thanks to NetGalley, to St. Martin’s Press and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always, always keep smiling!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DAISY JONES AND THE SIX #daisyjonesandthesix by Taylor Jenkins Reid (@tjenkinsreid) Recommended to lovers of Rock & Roll, music, and the 1970s rock scene.

Hi all:

For all of you Rock & Roll lovers, I bring you:

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup.

“I devoured Daisy Jones & The Six in a day, falling head over heels for it. Daisy and the band captured my heart.”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Praise for Daisy Jones & The Six

“Daisy Jones & The Six is just plain fun from cover to cover. . . . Her characters feel so vividly real, you’ll wish you could stream their albums, YouTube their concerts, and google their wildest moments to see them for yourself.”—HelloGiggles

“Reid’s wit and gift for telling a perfectly paced story make this one of the most enjoyably readable books of the year.”—Nylon

“Reid delivers a stunning story of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll in the 1960s and ’70s in this expertly wrought novel. Mimicking the style and substance of a tell-all celebrity memoir . . . Reid creates both story line and character gold. The book’s prose is propulsive, original, and often raw.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

https://www.amazon.com/Daisy-Jones-Taylor-Jenkins-Reid-ebook/dp/B07DMZ5YR9/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1786331500/

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of March 2019: There is something a little intoxicating about Daisy Jones and the Six. This is the story of a young, captivating singer who came of age in the late 60s/early 70s, all told as an oral history. The Six did not hit the big time until Daisy joined the band as their lead singer, but her presence brought along drama, intrigue, and a variety of tensions between herself and Billy Dunne, the leader of The Six. It’s best not to know too much about this book going into it; instead, allow the transcribed interviews from the band members (they weren’t real, but they seem real), and from those who tagged along during this great fictitious band’s run, to unspool the story for you. –Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review

Review

“I devoured Daisy Jones & The Six in a day, falling head over heels for it. Taylor Jenkins Reid transported me into the magic of the ’70s music scene in a way I’ll never forget. The characters are beautifully layered and complex. Daisy and the band captured my heart, and they’re sure to capture yours, too.”—Reese Witherspoon

“Reid is a stunning writer whose characters are unforgettable and whose stories are deeply emotional. . . . Her most gripping novel yet.”—Emily Giffin, author of All We Ever Wanted

“Reid’s writing is addictive and all-consuming. Filled with passion, complexity, and fascinating detail, Daisy Jones & The Six felt so real, I had to remind myself that it was fiction.”—Jill Santopolo, author of The Light We Lost

“From the very first page you know this book is something special. Taylor Jenkins Reid brings insight and poetry to a story that’s utterly unique and deeply authentic, one that transports you to world of seventies rock—with all its genius and temptation and creativity—so completely it feels like you’re there.”—Katherine Center, author of How to Walk Away 

“Raw, emotive, and addictively voyeuristic, Daisy Jones & The Six is imbued with the same anguished heart that fuels the very best rock ‘n’ roll. Like my favorite albums, this book will live with me for a very long time.”—Steven Rowley, author of Lily and the Octopus 

“An explosive, dynamite, down-and-dirty look at a fictional rock band told in an interview style that gives it irresistible surface energy . . . although the real power of this delicious novel is at its tender beating heart. It’s an anthem and a ballad and a marvel.”—Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Perfect Couple 

Taylor Jenkins Reid
          Taylor Jenkins Reid

About the author:

Taylor Jenkins Reid lives in Los Angeles and is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as well as One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, and more. Her novels have been named best books of summer by People, US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, InStyle, PopSugar, BuzzFeed, Goodreads, and others.

You can follow her on Twitter @tjenkinsreid.

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Random House UK, Cornerstone, for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I kept seeing this book pop up all over when it came to recommendations of new releases and that made me curious. I also read that Reese Witherspoon had bought the rights to adapt it into a TV series, and the comments about the book made me think about the movie This Is Spinal Tap, although the musical genre is different (yes, it’s all Rock & Roll, baby) and the story is not intended as a parody, and all that together with the evocative cover, I knew I had to check it out.

This is one of those novels where I was intrigued to read what other reviewers had said, and, curiously enough, one of those where I could see the point of both, those who really loved the book, and also those who hated it. Somehow, I could see the merit on both types of opinions, and it really depends on the kinds of books you enjoy or not. A couple of provisos, here. Many of the reviews talk about the author, and especially refer to one of her previous books, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which seems to be a well-loved novel, and for people who had loved that book, their expectations were very high, and some found this book too different (some fans of the writer also loved this book, so don’t let that put you off). I haven’t read any of the author’s previous novels, so I cannot help with that. After reading the reviews and this novel, I became curious about her other books, but I come to it without any previous knowledge. The second proviso is that quite a few people compare the ‘fiction’ band at the heart of the story, The Six, that is later joined by Daisy Jones, with Fleetwood Mac (with Daisy Jones then being a stand-in for Stevie Nicks), but I must confess not to know enough about the ins and outs of this band to be able to comment (I was quite young when they were at the height of their popularity, and I never read much about them, although having read a bit about them since, yes, I can see similarities, but I can also see differences). So, if you are a big fan of Fleetwood Mac, you might be more intrigued to read this novel, but you might also hate it. You’ve been warned.

So, what are the comments on both sides that I agree with? The way the story is told will not be to everybody’s taste. This is the story of the band, and of Daisy Jones, pieced together through interviews conducted many years after the band was created, and that makes it very fragmented. It does follow a chronological order, and we get to know about Daisy Jones, and about the Dunne Brothers (Billy and Graham), from before they got into singing, composing, and playing songs, and later on the rest of the members of the band, Camila (Billy’s girlfriend and later wife) and their manager also come into play. These fragments of interviews often refer to the same events, providing the reader different points of view, and sometimes completely different descriptions, but it can cause a disjointed effect, and it will suit some readers but others will hate it. Personally, I found it fun and quite dynamic, but it is true it does not immediately create a picture of what’s going on in one’s head, in the same way as more standard narratives do.

There were also a lot of comments about the characters, and how some of them were one-dimensional and it was difficult to tell them apart. As I have said before, the story starts with the origin of the band (we later learn why), and then we only get to hear from the rest of the members as they join the band or meet the other characters. For me, Pete, Eddie and Warren were not distinctive enough. Yes, Eddie always seemed to have issues with Billy and didn’t like his style of leading the band. Pete had a girlfriend in the East and he would phone her often, and Warren was the drum player, but other than that I’m not sure I got a strong impression of who they were, and when later in the book one of them wanted to leave the band, I realised that I must have been told two of them were brothers already, but because that hadn’t feature prominently anywhere (after all, the interview is about the band, their tours, and their records, and the questions asked are mostly about the time they spent together), it had not registered with me. Camila is talked about a lot, because many of Billy’s songs are about her, and although she seems to represent an old-fashioned model of femininity, the staying-at-home Mom, she gets involved at crucial points, and she has a more important role than one might think when the story starts. I did feel that the female characters were the strongest, and although that did not make them immediately sympathetic and likeable, I thought they were the more complex and the ones I most enjoyed. I liked Karen (I’m not a musician, but I did feel a connection with her) the keyboard player, as well, and she is, perhaps, my favourite character. And I quite liked Daisy’s friend, Simone, also, although she is mostly portrayed as her friend, rather than being an individual in her own right, and that comes in part from her telling Daisy’s story and her role in it rather than giving us much insight into her own character. Although Daisy marries at some point, Simone is more of a steadying influence for her, like Camila is for Billy, than any of the men she meets and talks about in the book. But I agree, the way the story is told does not make for fully rounded characters, although many of the situations will feel familiar to people who have read a lot of biographies of rock & roll bands.

Some reviewers were disappointed by the ending, that perhaps feels more like a whimper than a bang, but I thought it made perfect sense, and yes, there is something I’ve seen described as a twist, that is perhaps not truly a twist, but it helps join everything together and adds a nice touch.

I am not an expert on music, and not a big follower of bands. I have not been to many concerts, although even with that, it is difficult not to have heard or read about the use of drugs, wild parties, hotel rooms trashed by bands on tour, groupies following bands from city to city, and the paraphernalia around the 1970s world of rock & roll music scene. There is plenty of that here, and also of envies, of fights, of creative differences, of the process of composing, creating, and editing an album, down to the shooting of the cover, that will delight people who really love the period and reading about it. Even I, who am not knowledgeable about it, enjoyed it, particularly learning more about the process of creation, although it might not sound authentic to people who truly know it. The writer gives the different characters (at least the main ones) distinct voices, and the lyrics of the songs, that are also included in full at the end, fit perfectly in with the band and its themes, and it made me keen on reading more of the author’s novels.

There is more than R & R to the book, or perhaps some of the themes seem inherently related to it, like drug addiction, family relations, alcoholism, abortion, fatherhood, bringing up children, the role of men and women in the family, child neglect and abuse… Although some of them are only mentioned in passing, we get a fuller picture of others (Daisy is very young when she leaves her parents and starts visiting bars, taking drugs, and engaging in behaviours that would be considered risky at a much older age, and drug and alcohol addiction and its consequences are discussed in detail), and readers must be cautious if they find those subjects upsetting.

I have talked a bit about the characters and said which my favourites are. In some ways, Billy and Graham are the most sympathetic to begin with. Their father abandon them when they are very young, and they work very hard, are talented, and support each other through thick and thin. However, when Billy becomes addicted to drugs and then gets sober and becomes the head of the band, he puts himself and his family first and is not always likeable (even if creatively he sounds interesting). Daisy, on the other hand, sounds at first like a rich-spoiled girl, but her family pays no attention to her, and she is in fact neglected. She is selfish and egotistical as well, but she has no role models or understanding. I liked her attitude, but not her in particular, at least at first, and her behaviour will be alien to most people (although typical of the image we might have in our head about what a rock star would be like). However, the way the story is told gives us the opportunity to read her later reflections and the way she now sees things and how she evaluates much of what she did at the time. And although I didn’t particularly like the Daisy of the period (she is described as a magnet to everybody who met her, but I never had the feeling I would have liked it if I had known her), I came to appreciate the older Daisy and her take on things.

What did I think of the book? I really enjoyed it. It panders to most of our standard images of what the life of a rock & roll band would have been like at that time, but it gives an insight into parts of the process that I found interesting. It also creates some credible female characters that have made their own decisions and fought their own fights, and in the world of music that is not always easy to find. The way of telling the story worked for me, although I know it won’t work for everybody. I highlighted a lot of the story. I share a few examples here, but I’d recommend possible readers to check a sample and get a sense of the narrative style.

Warren: Let me sum up that early tour for you: I was getting laid, Graham was getting high, Eddie was getting drunk, Karen was getting fed up, Pete was getting on the phone to his girl back home, and Billy was all five, at once.

Camila: I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?

Daisy talking about being cornered by a man called Hank: When you’re in a situation like that, when you have a man looming over you, it’s as if every decision you made to lead to that moment —alone with a man you don’t trust— flashes before your eyes. Something tells me men don’t do that same thing. When they are standing there, threatening a woman, I doubt they count every wrong step they made to become the asshole they are. But they should.

Daisy: I used to care when men called me difficult. I really did. Then I stopped. This way is better.

Billy: And Daisy didn’t actually have confidence. She was always good. Confidence is OK being bad, not being okay being good.

Does it deserve the hype? Well, perhaps not for me, but it’s a good read and I can see why it will captivate some readers more than it did me. Oh, and for those who love audiobooks, I’ve read very good reviews of the audio version, and I understand that there is a full cast of narrators and each character is voiced by a different person, so it is worth considering.

If you are a rock & roll fan and enjoy trips down memory lane, especially to the 1970s, I’d recommend this book. And I hope to explore further novels written by the same author.

Thanks to author, publisher, NetGalley, and especially to all of you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it, remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading and keep smiling!

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Blog Tour Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview blog tour THE COMPLICATED LOVE SERIES by Neeny Boucher. Meant to be together but the course of true love… #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:
I signed up for this blog review tour when my mother was in hospital as I wanted something that would be a light read and would keep  me busy, although I thought it was only one book! There was a change of date, but here finally I bring you Complicated Love the series. 
I had some extra comments I haven’t included because I’m convinced my experience was different to somebody who had a more leisurely read (I read the three books in 6 days…).
And without further ado….
Title: The Complicated Love Series
Author: Neeny Boucher
Genre: contemporary, humor, and romance
Blurb:
Dina Martin and Nicholas Riley are total opposites.  She’s the good girl with the perfect grades and he’s the bad boy with the reputation.  Growing up together with close family ties, they have been at war for as long as they can remember. When the unthinkable happens, neither of them wants it.

Set in a small town at the turn of the millennium, this story is about family and friendship, the love of music and how sometimes who you don’t want, is exactly who you need. 

This is how it all started. A sweet love story. Well, almost.

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour. Having read the three novels I recommend that the whole series is read to get a better grasp of the story and the characters. See my other two reviews for full details.

The first book in the Complicated Love Series (and I must explain that I read them in the order of publication, so I read book 2 first, then book 3 and last but not least, book 1) is told in the third person, with alternating chapters for each of the two main protagonists, the couple who are destined to fall in love, although at the point where the story starts you couldn’t find two more different people. Dina (Christina) a fourteen year old girl, daughter of a bohemian family, with a driven and determined mother, a virgin, studious, invisible to many and not particularly attractive. And Riley (Nicholas), a seventeen year old wild boy, head of the Outcast Crew, best friends with Johnny, Dina’s brother, part of the music band (waiting for a name at that point), the black sheep of the Rileys (and old moneyed family from Shanwick) who’s never noticed Dina other than to tease her. He has all the girls in the world, does not study and embarrasses his family no end. He also has a reputation as a psycho. How do these two characters find each other? Well, Dina auditions as singer for the band and her voice talks to Riley’s soul.

The book could well be a Young Adult or New Adult story, with interesting characters, strong friendship and bonds, stories of bullying, drugs, wild parties, inappropriate relationships, teenage love, talent and misunderstandings galore. This novel follows the chronological order of the romance between the characters, without any of the jumps in time that characterised the other two, and it also has its share of hilarious moments and disappointments and sadness. Gabby, Dina’s sister, although young, only ten, is already one of the stars of the book and a force to be reckoned with, and we get to meet the parents and get a more rounded picture of events.

The writing style is compact, easy to follow and the dialogues are one of the strengths of the book.

I did enjoy this novel and thought many readers would enjoy it too, although it is perhaps different in tone to the other two (there are some sexy moments but definitely it is much tamer regarding the sexual encounters of the characters, although not squeaky-clean). Readers who read this novel first and then move on to the rest might find them quite a different reading experience, although the characters’ journey can be followed through the three novels and develops in an understandable and organic manner.

Blurb:
*Recommended for audiences over the age of 18*
If you like your characters quirky, socially awkward, and badly behaved, this is the book for you. What if you got another chance with the love of your life, even when you didn’t want one? Would you grab the opportunity, or run as fast as you could in the opposite direction?
Christina Martin, lawyer, ex high school grunge queen, teenage bride, divorcee, and once a suspected killer, is confronted by a past that she has spent the last eight years carefully avoiding. Drawn back to her hated hometown, with her family under the worst of circumstances, matters are complicated when she finds the love of her life, ex-husband and nemesis, Nicholas Riley, also in residence.
Riley, a man with secrets, who has a penchant for psychological games, made wary by life and with one weakness, his ex-wife. Christina is the woman that brings out all his protective instincts and others less noble. All it takes is one fateful night, where these two collide, opening a door both thought slammed shut and locked forever.
From the past to the present, Christina and Riley show that true love doesn’t always run smoothly, it might not conquer all, and most importantly, love is complicated.
“Lost in Flight” is book two in the “Complicated Love Series.”

I can’t live with or without you, forwards and back

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

Two families, the Rileys (wealthy, old family from Shanwick) and the Martins (father a musician and British, mother mixed-race. Bohemian and alternative). A boy, Riley (Nick, but known as Riley), who is the black-sheep of his family. Handsome, talented, attractive, has all the women he wants and he’s even chased by those he can’t bear. A girl, Christina (Dina, because her older brother, Johnny, couldn’t pronounce her name when they were kids), responsible, serious, clever, good at school, big boobs but not classically pretty otherwise. They’ve grown together (their mothers had been good friends and so were both families. Later Dina’s mother dies of cancer, but by that point their mothers were no longer friends and their families weren’t in very good terms either), Riley is Johnny’s best friend. Yes, they fall in love, and although they seem destined and fated for each other, chaos and destruction ensues. The series chronicles the story of their relationship. I know you’re probably familiar with the story of the star-crossed lovers, and their complications. This is not Romeo and Juliet but the hilarious moments (mostly when the girls get together) alternate with pretty sad ones where the relationship crashes and burns.

Book two is told, like the rest of the series, in the third person and from alternate points of view. One chapter from Dina’s point of view (when the series opens she’s been living in Washington D.C. for years and works as a lawyer, so she’s more Christina than Dina) and the next from Riley’s. They are divorced but as Dina’s little sister, Gabby (she is one of the greatest characters in a book with plenty of amazing secondary characters), is in hospital and Riley manages the band where Johnny, Dina’s brother, plays, they seem fated to meet again. The story follows their collision course. The two are like the opposite poles of magnets and despite their best intentions they can’t avoid revisiting and reliving their story, both the good and the bad.

The novel is a rollercoaster of emotions. Each character goes through hope and desperation many times over, and shows why they got together in the first place, and also how they ended up hurting each other so badly. They are clearly in love still, but don’t seem able to move past their past. They keep bringing up things that happened before, and the novel moves backwards and forward in time to share with the reader many of the events that brought the couple to where they are now. Although I did not find the story in general difficult to follow, I must admit that at times I wasn’t so sure what had happened first and it wasn’t simple to keep the timeline straight in one’s head.

The two characters are likeable. Christina cares deeply for her family and her friends (the fabulous and fiery Bonnie, I adore Bonnie, and Mandy, the common-sense and practical one) and tries her best to be grown-up and responsible, always allowing her sense of duty to dictate her actions (even when it means risking her self-esteem and sanity), but her insecurities are brought to the fore when she has to go back to Shanwick, where she had been badly treated. Riley wants Dina back, but he is also bitter and has insecurities of his own, and both of them hide secrets that mean there’s plenty of heartbreak and healing to be done.

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the variety of characters, especially the secondary ones, although as tends to happens in these novels, I also wanted to grab the two protagonists by their necks and shake them, telling them to stop being so silly and start being honest with each other.

There are some sex scenes, and although not erotica and not the most explicit I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend it to people looking for a good clean and sweet romance. The couple are passionate and it shows.

The style of writing makes it easy to read and the dialogue sparkles at times, with characters having distinctive voices. Some of their expressions and quirks I won’t easily forget.

There were many unsolved questions by the end of the book and I look forward to learning more about the characters and their adventures.

Blurb:
Forced to return to her hated hometown to work, Christina Martin, lawyer and ex resident bad girl, finds herself questioning her life choices. Reunited with her former husband, Nicholas Riley, their tenuous and complicated relationship is tested when secrets from the past and present are revealed.
Riley, a man with explosive secrets and penchant for psychological games, faces the dilemma of keeping the woman he loves through lies by omission or potentially losing her with the truth. This isn’t just their second chance for happiness, it’s their last chance and there may be some things that love can’t conquer at all.
Equal parts helped and hindered by a colorful cast of supporting characters, Ties that Bind, book three in the Complicated Love series, continues the dysfunctional relationship of Riley and Dina.

Darkness, forgiveness and endings (but not where and when you think)

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review as part of a book-review tour.

In book three of the Complicated Love Series, we follow the story of Dina and Riley from where we left them in book two, when they had worked through some of the issues that had ended their previous marriage, but there were still many secrets and actions the characters had taken that their loved one didn’t know about, ensuring further complications. Again the story is told in alternating chapters from each of the protagonists’ point of view and there are some jumps in time where we get to learn more about the events surrounding their wedding and then the traumatic divorce, which had been referred to, but not discussed in detail. There are fewer changes in time (I wouldn’t call them flashbacks as they seem to come at points in the story where both characters are thinking about that particular event and they’re not exclusively narrated from one of the character’s perspective) than in book 2, and the narration is more straightforward, although it also swings to extremes, reflecting the emotions the characters go through. When things seem to have been solved between them, with all secrets revealed and both of them accepting the other for what and who they really are (and in the process accepting themselves too), thinks get much darker.

There are some sex scenes (I would rather call them sexy and passionate) but less explicit than in book two, and there is a hilarious scene early on in the book involving a cat. Well, there are several funny scenes involving that cat. Again there are funny and sad scenes in the novel, although I found them more finely balanced than in book two, with the ups and downs a bit less extreme.

I was particularly touched by the conversation between Dina and Riley’s Mom, a character that had been particularly difficult to understand up to that point. On the other hand there is a psychiatric diagnostic offered as an explanation in the novel that as a psychiatrist I had my doubts about, but even with that I enjoyed the ending.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters I had come to love in the previous book, and gained respect for some of the ones I didn’t like that much. Gabby, one of my favourite characters, comes into her own and she sizzles. The style of writing was again easy to read, dynamic and with great dialogue exchanges. A fitting conclusion to the series.

Neeny Boucher is a nom de plume because my real name sounds like a 19th Century suffragette. Originally from New Zealand, I’m a long-time supporter of the All Blacks. Currently, I live in Europe and am trailing spouse, following my husband all over the world for his work. This not only gives me the opportunity to write, but also, experience the world and indulge in one of my favorite past-times: people watching.
My own employment history is varied and ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. All of those experiences and encounters, however, have allowed me to collect amazing stories, which now form the basis of my writings.
I have always loved the weird, the outcast and those on the margins of society because they see the world in a different way. These are the people my characters are based around.
I have a BA, BA Honors, and a PhD in Sociology/Indigenous Studies.
The Complicated Love Series, books one to three: Back of Beyond, Lost in Flight, and Ties That Bind.

Author Links:


Buy Links:
Back of Beyond: http://amzn.to/22xbydo
Lost in Flight: http://amzn.to/29w7B8t
Ties that Bind: http://amzn.to/29r5xcJ
Excerpt from Lost in Flight:
Christina, Shanwick, The Present, 2012
Skin meets skin, trailing promises and desire. Feathery breaths whisper on Christina’s shoulders. Her eyes snap open, squinting at the morning sun. The dull throb in her head gives notice, as does fierce thirst.
Her tongue seeks moisture on her lips, but there’s none. Christina’s stomach roils. Her breath is radioactive. She makes her own self feel sick.
Blue walls, a dresser, and a familiar door: recognition tugs at her consciousness. Christina knows this room, but hasn’t been here in a long, long time. She’s also naked and not alone.
Wrapped around her is her ex-husband, ex-love of her life, and persona non grata, Nicholas Riley. Riley’s fast asleep, breathing heavily, and his hands are wandering up her body. One lands on her boob, clutching, groping.
Christina jerks forward, shrugging him off. She opens and closes her eyes, counting to ten. Nothing changes and he is still here.
The gory details of last night are behind the ominous, pulsating fog in her head. The man, the lack of clothing, and the rumpled bedding indicate what it involved. Adrenaline responds to her internal alarm.
If he wakes… A myriad of awkward scenarios run free-flow through her head. This will be the fastest exit of shame in the history of exits of shame.
Extracting herself finger by finger from Riley’s death grip, Christina slips over the side of the bed. The room sways, rocking back and forth. She lurches forward on wobbly legs.
Christina’s bladder aches. She needs to do things, desperate things… human things. She just can’t do them naked.
Her little blue dress is at the end of the bed. Hunching down, she crawls to retrieve it. A quick search for her other belongings throws up further questions. Draped at an odd angle on the mirror are her panties. It looks like someone slingshot them.
Cringe lands on Christina’s face in big, red, heat spots. What did she do? Scratch that. Willful ignorance is sometimes a kindness.
Her bra, shoes, and handbag are nowhere to be seen. The bras and shoes are manageable, but the handbag is a problem. Her life is in there.
Hauling on her dress, Christina slinks over to her panties, pulling them on with a hop and a bump. She recoils at the woman in the mirror. Smeared mascara accentuates dark brown eyes and then there’s the lipstick. It’s everywhere: face, teeth, chin, and neck.
But, the makeup is nothing in comparison to the hair. Her after-sex hair is an 80’s rock video. Dragging her fingers through it, she winces. Taming it is a lost cause and also, she doesn’t want to anger it.
Years ago, this wouldn’t have bothered her. She was “Dina,” high school Queen of the Outcast Crew, and a true believer in grunge. By today’s standards, Christina Martin, lawyer, she is a complete mess.
Wiping as much of last night’s makeup off as she can, Christina creeps to the door. Riley hasn’t moved, just rolled over onto his back and settled in the space she vacated. Taking a deep breath, she blows it out of her mouth quietly.
I can do this. I can get out of here and if anything comes of it, I can use the old lawyer’s trick of: deny, avoid, defer, and engage. There is also “settlement,” but that is the last resort.
Christina’s hand is on the bedroom door handle. She freezes at the crunching sound it makes. Every nerve ending is on high alert, but the silence from him allows her to relax.
She pulls the door toward her, but it sticks. She pushes and pulls, but it will not budge. Horror sweats break out.
“Good morning.” Riley’s raspy, amused voice hits her senses like an old lover’s caress. Intimate, knowing. It sends chills up her spine.


Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to Neeny Boucher for this opportunity, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’re interested, like, share, comment and CLICK!
Categories
New books

#Newbook 101 Kind Quotes by Erika King (@AuthorErikaKind)

Hi all:

As you know, Friday is my day to share new books and have guest authors come to tell us about their work. Today it’s the turn of Erika King a wonderful blogger I met through another common blogger friend. She shares inspirational quotes every day, songs, her poems and her own songs, and also posts exploring life-changing topics. I can say I look forward to her posts every day.

Erika King
Erika King

Here a bit about her in her own words, from her website/blog:

Hi, I am Erika! I was born in Vienna but grew up in another part of Austria and in the Principality of Liechtenstein (within the Swiss alps) where I still live.  I am running a Practice for Aromatherapy and Self-Development. I am a singer and author.

For a long time I was dominated and controlled by fears and outside influences.  From teenage times to adulthood my life was overshadowed by destructive thought patterns. One day I stood up and started to face my fears one by one. My life changed completely.  Today I grab my chances and lead the life I always wished for. In order to share my wonderful insights I wrote I’m Free – Awareness of Who You Are by Discovering Who You Are Not!

When I started blogging in May 2014 I had no idea what this was about. I did it in order to promote my book and was trained therefore by my publisher. After 10 months of increasing and intensifying interactions, of finding dear friends all over the world, and so much love everywhere I changed again and so did my blog changed. It got so much more personal and has developed to a blog from soul to soul. It has become a place for everyone to pause for a moment, to lighten up the heart, to smile, to get inspired, and to fuel with good vibs. We are all wonderful beings who came into this world in order to explore, discover, experience, create, and simply enjoy the lifetime in a human body with all senses. I want you to open your heart in order to hear, see, and feel clearer about yourself, your life, and the world. Therefore we need the happenings in our lives as signposts and tools. It is neither good nor bad – it simply is. Whatever happens has its reason in order to show us something or make us develop something. Life is simply all about living with everything it has in store for us.

I am not sitting on a cloud with an enlightened smile on my face all day long. I can be angry, stubborn, impatient, sad, and frustrated as well. But I know that these are characteristics which are part of my experience but not part of me. I am profoundly happy as a basic condition of my being. Therefore I don’t deny negative feelings because I know that they will show me something in order to discover a new part of myself.

Reach out for the stars but only as high as your feet still touch the ground!

You’ve probably already realised why people who start following her can’t leave.

And, the good news are that recently she’s published a book collecting some of her best loved quotes and adding some new ones.

101 Kind Quotes. Daily Inspirations by Erika King
101 Kind Quotes. Daily Inspirations by Erika King

Here I copy from her post explaining how the book came to be (and yes, I’m mentioned as Erika asked me for a brief introduction to the book. And I’m in good company.)

101 KIND Quotes is a collection of quotes as I post them daily on my blog. I have been doing this for almost two years and you can imagine that quite a lot have come together. To pick only 101 was a bit of a challenge.

I started in mid-January and created almost all the 101 quotes anew. Because of copyright issues, I only used my own photos. New quotes were immediately included in this book. That means you will find quotes I have not posted yet. The past 2 weeks I spent with creating the cover, the acknowledgment, bio, introduction but most of all with putting the file together. That formatting process was a challenge but it made me almost a Word expert…LOL!

Why 101 quotes and not 100? In order to fill the last page

Now to some important details:

  • The idea:It was the end of November when Kritika of From The Soul To The Nip Of The Pen suggested publishing a calendar with quotes. I thought that is an awesome idea. But that would have meant creating 366 memes just asap because Christmas and the New Year were close. No, too late for that! But you know me… once the wheel is spinning in my head I don’t give up on it anymore and so I developed the idea of a quote book. I had time to create it and it did not have to have so many quotes.
  • The cover photoshows the modern skyline of Vienna (where I am from). The photo was taken by my youngest sister lately. When I thought about creating the cover I remembered it. My sister is an early bird. She took the photo in the morning close to where she lives.
  • The forward: I could not feel any more honored! Two of our published authors here on WordPress agreed to write a forward for me. They are Olga ofAuthorTranslatorOlgaand Sylvester of Syl65’s Blog. You guys are incredible. Thank  you so very much!

 

Links to the book:

Paperback: amazon.com  and also on CreateSpace. The e-book edition will be available soon too (working on it).

Kindle version: here.

And if you want to get a closer look, here is a preview…

Thanks to Erika for her inspiration, her book and her mention, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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