Posted in reviews

Crossroads (Providence Island #4) by Dianna Wilkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two people seeking to escape their pasts, their family legacies and the small town life itself must contend with finding love with one another and facing off against a dangerous threat that could expose their secrets in author Dianna Wilkes’s “Crossroads”, the fourth in the Providence Island series. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

He’s tired of running. She’s looking for an escape. Can they find a home together?

Joshua Canfield spent the last year hiding from killers. He’s done things he can never confess, especially not to the loved ones he was protecting. All he wants now is to reunite with his family and live a peaceful life.

Lila Grainger has one goal in life. To earn enough money to leave Providence Island and a family with no regard for the law far behind. She never expected to meet someone like Joshua. He’s the finest man she’s ever known, and he sees her as a woman, not as a Grainger. But she can’t expect him to leave his family to follow her.

Neither of them knows that a new threat lingers on Providence Island. One that puts Lila in danger and could expose Joshua’s past.

The Review

Another stellar entry into the Providence Island series! The author has once more balanced the romance and mystery genres in a way that feels both natural and engaging to the reader. New protagonists Josh and Lila are great additions to the series. While not necessarily new to the overall series, this narrative really allows these characters to shine brightly. 

Both Josh and Lila’s greatest chemistry resides not only in their budding romance in the author’s signature slow-burn yet satisfying narrative but in their similar backgrounds. Both come from complex and heartbreaking families that have skirted the line between lawful and lawlessness and have struggled to put their pasts behind them. The author also does a great job of revisiting the previous books by incorporating the large cast of characters tied to the series narratives and the new protagonists themselves. 

The Verdict

A fantastic, entertaining, and emotional yet investing read, author Dianna Wilkes’s “Crossroads” is a must-read romance mystery novel. The new protagonists bring freshness and romantic build-up that fans of the genre will love, while the overarching narrative and mystery that has driven much of the series gets deeper and more complex, really fleshing out the mythos of the author’s world. With new relationships, shocking revelations connecting characters even more, and the promise of a new book on the horizon, author Dianna Wilkes has expertly crafted a romantic mystery and suspense series that gets better and better as time goes on. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author, known for the Providence Island mystery series.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned how to read when I was four years old,” she said. “Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression.”

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing or working, Dianna is deep in researching various twigs and branches on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.

Website: www.diannawilkes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiannaWilkesAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwilkesauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/diannawilkesauthor

Posted in reviews

South Pointe (Providence Island #3) by Dianna Wilkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman must deal with loss, love and family as she takes custody of her goddaughter, seeks love in the arms of the local sheriff and must navigate a dangerous and volatile town as a killer walks amongst their midst in author Dianna Wilkes’s “South Pointe”, the third novel in the Providence Island mystery and romance series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

She’s the girl next door. He’s a man of law and order. Can the love of an orphaned child bring them together?

Paige Carson never expected that both a handsome sheriff and a charismatic newcomer would be vying for her affections. The choice isn’t an easy one as she’s now responsible for raising her orphaned goddaughter, Jess.

Sheriff Sam Wallace didn’t lose at love. He got kicked to the curb. Hopeful that courting the feisty Paige will end differently, he can’t help but feel suspicious about his romantic rival. Is Ben Hampshire the man he seems—or is Sam’s jealousy clouding his perspective?

Sam’s determined to win Paige’s and Jess’s love, but he also has to keep Providence Island safe. More than just Sam’s heart is at risk if he fails to find the killer who walks the streets of PI—a killer with more than one agenda.

If you like small-town settings and high-stakes crime, you’ll love this thrilling tale of romance and mystery.

The Review

What an incredibly engaging read! Having reviewed the second book in this series previously, I was so amazed at how connected and intimate the large cast of characters and Providence Island itself felt. The author has delivered the perfect balance of budding romance, strong relationships, and deep-seated mystery both for the characters and overarching within the narrative itself. 

The thing that truly sticks out for this incredible read is the characters themselves. The cast of characters is both consistent from previous novels and thoughtful in the ever-shifting and complex narrative the author has implemented. Books such as this are always great, as readers are treated to multiple perspectives from multiple characters, getting to see the events of the book from different angles. This allows readers to get into the new story while also getting other characters involved that help piece together more clues and build upon previous relationships from the previous books in the series, making this a truly entertaining and emotional read.

The Verdict

A masterpiece of romance fiction with the perfect balance of mystery and intrigue, author Dianna Wilkes’s “South Pointe” is a must-read novel. The author delivers a great story in a lengthy read that will keep readers hooked from the first chapter. Beautiful imagery that brings the island town to life and emotionally-driven dialogue that helps the narrative flow smoothly, this is not a book to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Dianna Wilkes is an award winning contemporary romance author, known for the Providence Island mystery series.

Reading has always been an important part of her life. “I learned how to read when I was four years old,” she said. “Writing my own stories seemed a natural progression.”

Dianna holds a B.A.in Visual Communication and a M.Ed.in Instructional Technology. She worked as an Education Consultant for a medical technology company before leaving the corporate world. Despite all that nerdy stuff, she loves creating stories of romance and mystery with touches of humor.

When she isn’t writing or working, Dianna is deep in researching various twigs and branches on her family tree or fulfilling entries on her travel bucket list.

Website: www.diannawilkes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DiannaWilkesAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dwilkesauthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/diannawilkesauthor

Posted in reviews

My Pursuit of Beauty: A Cosmetic Chemist Reveals The Glitz, The Glam, and the Batshi*t Crazy by Vince Spinnato Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Vince Spinnato shares a truly wild and amazing memoir about the inner workings of the beauty industry and beyond in the memoir “My Pursuit of Beauty: A Cosmetic Chemist Reveals The Glitz, The Glam, and the Batsh*t Crazy”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Spinnato also shares some of his life’s most bizarre situations: the time he survived a tornado in Iowa while being tethered to a bridge; another when he became stuck inside a resort water slide that involved melted butter and a rescue by the fire department; an embarrassing meetup with film star Lauren Bacall; and his terrifying flight post 9/11 that was nearly shot down by fighter pilots,

At age 10, Vince Spinnato watched TV soaps with his grandmother and became enamored with the characters on “The Young and the Restless,” who owned a cosmetics firm. He vowed he would follow in their footsteps and chose a name—VS Vincenzo. In his unconventional memoir, Spinnato shares the inner workings of the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry with entertaining tales about creating beauty products and fine fragrances for celebrities including Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Gwen Stefani, Damone Roberts, “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” and many others.

Transforming himself into a well-known serial entrepreneur and beauty industry expert was no small feat. 

Along the way, Spinnato dealt with incessant bullying, coming out, dyslexia, body dysmorphia, trichotillomania, and multiple betrayals. “A devastating breakup was the last straw,” he says. “At age 20, I got in my car, waved goodbye to New Jersey and headed to Hollywood, determined to launch my career.” His modus operandi was to breeze into famous salons and announce that he would return the next morning to begin his internship. Once he had the expertise and the financial means, he founded TurnKey Beauty, Inc., to develop beauty and personal care products for celebrities, as well as major retailers including Costco, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Banana Republic (more than 300 products and counting). A contributor to “Vogue,” “Vanity Fair,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” “W,” “Esquire,” and “GQ,” the cosmetic chemist founded Aegean Skincare, LLC and Vincenzo Skincare, LLC., under which he recently launched his luxury skincare line, Caviar & Diamond. In “My Pursuit of Beauty,” Spinnato not only reveals behind-the-scenes tales of working with the rich and famous, searing stories of loves lost, and his scramble to make it, but also his moving journey to self-acceptance.

The Review

A wonderful and raw look not only into the life of this author but into the beauty industry as a whole, author Vincent Spinnato does a wonderful job of exploring and sharing his experiences with the reader. The passion and emotion the author evokes in the reader is incredible to see unfold throughout every chapter and really allows the reader to envision the author’s life for themselves, like in the chapter where the author faced a tornado while on a business trip. 

The book covers a wide range of topics that range from emotionally powerful to humorous and witty. Topics that include coming out for the first time, the legacy left behind by our relatives that come before us, facing national and personal tragedies, and the wild and oft-times chaotic world of the beauty industry, including things most people would never know, happened behind the scenes. It engages the reader on so many levels, and the author’s writing is so powerful that it creates imagery that brings each chapter to life.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and investing read, author Vincent Spinnato’s “My Pursuit of Beauty” is a fantastic memoir that deserves to be read. The author’s life and narrative leaps off the page and channels both the positive and negative experiences of not only his life but all our lives at one point or another. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

With more than 25 years of experience in the personal care, cosmetics, and fine fragrance industries, Vince Spinnato, a cosmetic chemist, certified nose, executive and marketer has become one of the leading names in the refinement and development of new products and private label lines for beauty brands and fine fragrances.

After studying chemistry and international business in college, Spinnato completed a two-year apprenticeship learning about cosmetic chemistry as well as the national and international manufacturing and retail ends of the industry. During that period, Spinnato acquired vast knowledge and became an expert in identifying the “real world” effectiveness of ingredients and raw materials while working and managing within a team framework.

Spinnato’s wealth of experience and continual search for the best and most effective ingredients has led to multiple product breakthroughs. Through the years, he has worked with numerous cosmetics and healthcare companies such as Chanel, Limited (Victoria Secret, Bath & Body Works), Gap/Banana Republic, P&G, J&J, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kmart/Sears and many others. Spinnato has also worked on developing new products for celebrities including Ole Henriksen, Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Lilian Garcia, Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, French Montana and others.

Spinnato is a member of the California Chapter of the SCC; and he has been a contributor to publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Esquire, GQ, Whole Foods Magazine, Health News Digest, Live, Riviera, WWD, OC Metro and Burn Magazine. The entrepreneur has also served as the Beauty Editor for both Modern Luxury Magazine and Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine. He has made guest appearances on television shows such as the Vicki Johnson Show, Go Curvy, The Real Housewives of Orange County, Workout, Blow Out, and Kathy Irelands Modern Living.

Known for his devotion to the beauty industry, Spinnato takes great delight in developing and putting together cutting-edge products. Also known for being ahead of the curve, Spinnato regularly contributes to International Trends Forecasts for the beauty industry. He often travels the world to keep a watchful eye on what’s hot, and he uses that knowledge to inspire his state-of-the-art beauty innovations.

A popular, entertaining and knowledgeable speaker, Spinnato is at home in front of a wide range of groups including those in the beauty industry to those in the Society of OBGYNs. Due to his keen eye for natural products that address multiple issues, Spinnato has long been an advocate for safe and high performing beauty and personal care products in women’s categories that address such issues as the functionality of transdermal pre- and post-menopause, PMS, sexual dysfunction, breast tenderness and varicose veins.

Spinnato’s management and development teams who work with him at TurnKey Beauty – his R&D lab, and private labelling company – are versatile, tightly-coordinated and uber-talented. Spinnato and his team’s competence, proficiency and experience in both the executive and technical areas offer clients ‘turnkey’ solutions with a detailed handbook that covers everything from a product launch through all the integral parts of the beauty and business arenas including production, distribution, product promotion, labelling, pricing, merchandising, account management and related activities.

A specialist in the creation and management of rapid growth strategies, Spinnato helps to maximize profits for existing manufacturers’ accounts – managing all marketing and sales strategies, operations and personnel. Responsibilities include the development of GMP’s, SOP’s, ISO 9001 procedures, marketing plans, business plans, training manuals, P+L reports, SDS’s and COA’s. A highly effective manager, problem-solver, strategic thinker and motivator, Spinnato thrives working with operating, sales and marketing teams.

In addition to guiding clients through the intricate process of generating their own skincare, body care, haircare, baby products, and/or pet products, Spinnato has launched his own personal product line: Vincenzo Skincare. His products have superior performance to most products available in the marketplace today. The Vincenzo Skincare line features products designed to help treat fine lines, wrinkles and feathering, plus certain types of sun damage with full capability on various skin combinations. Caviar and Diamond Skincare Products, Spinnato’s newest product line, has an amazing effect on the skin serving as an anti-aging ingredient that helps to diminish fine lines, wrinkles and feathering. It also contributes to renewing and regenerating energy to long forgotten dead skin cells.

To capture his colorful and wildly successful career, Spinnato is releasing his memoir entitled “My Pursuit of Beauty – The Glitz, The Glam, and The Batsh*t Crazy”” in January, 2021. Also in 2021, Spinnato is releasing a behind-the-scenes documentary named ‘Skin Deep – Formulating A Legacy’. Both the book and the documentary chronicle Spinnato’s journey of self-discovery in his trek towards becoming a world-famous cosmetic chemist and perfumer.

Spinnato is also involved in philanthropic efforts including:

– Wells of Life, a non-profit organization providing reliable water projects to communities in African nations that suffer from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation. A portion of the proceeds from Caviar & Diamonds have been earmarked for this organization. 

– Beginning in 2015, wanting to honor his father and grandfather — both musicians – Spinnato established two college scholarships for talented seniors at his former high school in Vineland, N.J. 

– And, as someone who suffers with the condition trichotillomania, a lifelong hair-pulling disease, Spinnato is involved with raising awareness for this condition, which is estimated to affect one to four percent of people and usually begins in childhood or adolescence. 

Posted in reviews

Paradise Road: A Memoir by Marilyn Kriete Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman experiencing loss goes on an emotional journey as she rides her bicycle on a cross-continental trip that spans two years in author Marilyn Kriete’s “Paradise Road: A Memoir”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

A restless child of the 1960s, Marilyn yearns for love, hippiedom, and escape from her mother’s control. At 14, she runs nearly a thousand miles away to Vancouver, British Columbia, eventually landing herself in a Catholic home for troubled girls. At 16, she’s emancipated, navigating adulthood without a high school diploma, and craving a soulmate. When she falls in love with Jack, the grad student living next door, life finally seems perfect. The two embark on a cross-continental bicycle trip, headed for South America, but before they reach Mexico, tragedy strikes. Utterly shattered, Marilyn does the hardest thing she can imagine: a solo bicycle trip, part tribute, part life test. She conquers her fears but goes wildly off course, chasing her heart as she falls into a series of tragicomic rebounds. Two itinerant years later, a chain of events in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains leads to a peace she never expected to find.

Reminiscent of Wild and Traveling with Ghosts, Marilyn’s journey portrays a life unmoored by grief, brought to shore again. Paradise Road was selected as the International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club’s International Book of the Month for March 2021.

The Review

I absolutely connected to the emotional story of the author’s life from the age of 6 until she was 24. Over the span of this time in the author’s life and in the book itself, the author explores so much more than the synopsis initially indicates, jumping into the tumultuous and heartbreaking childhood she experienced including a friction-filled relationship with her mother and then continuing on from there as the author manages to fit several lifetimes worth of experience in less than a couple of decades. The author’s life and narrative in this book shift from a coming-of-age-like story of traumatic childhoods and growing through those experiences to a heartbreaking memoir of love lost and love gained. 

What stood out was the way the author managed to pace the story of her life in a way that felt tethered to the emotional core of the narrative. Whether it was the dynamics within her family as a child or the wayward lifestyle she lived as she ran away from home or even the years spent taking care of the man she loved and was destined to lose, the author builds up the events of her life with intrigue and draws the reader in with creative writing that makes the story come alive in the audience’s mind. The growth and evolution the author goes through by the book’s end make this such an engaging story, and truly marvelous non-fiction read. 

The Verdict

A memorable, heartfelt, and thought-provoking memoir, author Marilyn Kriete’s “Paradise Road” is a must-read nonfiction story. Written beautifully from a place of honesty and emotion, the author has captured this reader’s attention and balances the fearful events of her life with the moments of joy and elation perfectly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Never one to choose the boring route, Marilyn has lived in four continents and 16 cities (so far), earning her keep as a cook, waitress, janitor, chambermaid, fisher-woman, bill-deliverer (on foot in 40 below zero weather), missionary, church leader, tutor, academic writing editor, housekeeper, and–with a little luck–author. She writes about her adventures in a series of memoirs, all slated to be published over the next few years.

She makes her home in Kelowna, BC, where she shares her cozy bungalow with three cats and her husband of many decades, Henry. They have two grown children and are eagerly awaiting their first grandchild, scheduled to arrive in July, 2021.

PARADISE ROAD is her first memoir, and yes, in the way of all good memoirs, it’s every bit true. 

https://marilynkriete.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Marilynmemoircelebration/

Posted in reviews

A Second Chance for Love: A Sea Glass Bay Romance Book Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In this collection of contemporary romance stories, four authors showcase the lives of four women living in the coastal town of Sea Glass Bay who find a newfound appreciation for romance in the anthology book, “A Second Chance for Love”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis 

With Mother’s Day approaching, four women living in a picturesque coastal town discover a second chance at love when they finally find their happily-ever-after partners in this anthology of contemporary romance novellas.

MOM WANTED

Claire Bishop’s life as an art teacher in Sea Glass Bay is full and rewarding, but her heart longs for a family she’ll never have. When she agrees to help out widower, Sully Vaughn, by taking care of his daughter after school, Sully is concerned his little girl, Lindie, is growing too attached to her favorite teacher. Sully is trying his best to protect his child from the heartache of loss that nearly destroyed him, but he hasn’t taken into account his passion for the dynamic woman—nor Lindie’s determination to lay claim to the perfect mom.

FATHER WANTED

Jazzy Dunbar is enjoying life as a single mom, proving that you don’t have to have a man to have it all. Jeremiah Caldwell, a good friend, made the perfect sperm donor. He’s happy with their “no strings attached” relationship … or is he? He wants to be more than a sometimes-father in baby Caleb’s life. Jazzy doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by allowing their attraction to flare, but when a serious situation threatens, will Jeremiah be able to prove that they can have love and the perfect family?

HERO WANTED

Single mom Leah Martin needs to find a wedding date for her ex-husband’s wedding. Their son, Owen, is going to be the ringbearer and her attendance is required. But this florist has no time to date around the busy Mother’s Day holiday, which is why she agrees to let her friends set her up for a blind date. Hank DeLeon’s bar shares an alley with Leah’s florist shop, which is the perfect location for a restaurant if she’s willing to relocate. When he’s asked to take her on a blind date, he has to wonder: is this a great chance for a business proposition? Or a once-in-a-lifetime chance at love?

FAMILY WANTED

After a corporate restructuring at her accounting firm, Paige Duffy moved north to Sea Glass Bay and opened a handmade candle booth at the coastal town’s popular local craft market. Now her severance is running out and Paige discovers she’s pregnant from a one night stand. Charter boat owner, Gavin Cole, lost his grandfather six months ago, promising him he’d finally pursue his dreams of sailing the open ocean. But when Paige tells him that she’s pregnant with his child, Gavin must decide what adventure he really wants: the one he’s always dreamed of, or the one he never believed possible.

The Review

These four amazing authors have done a perfect job of finding the best romance stories just in time for Mother’s Day. The stories are instantly grabbing and entertaining, bringing forth both romance and rich character development within a short amount of time. The stories feel profound and well-rounded, something not every author can accomplish within a short story, and yet each of these narratives shines brightly on its own. 

What was incredibly impressive was the perfect balance the authors found with not only keeping their stories set within the same fictional town and world that this collection embodies, but still managed to hold onto their own unique writing voices and styles within their own narratives. Each author brought authenticity and engaged the reader on an emotional level, capturing the heart and romance of the collection’s theme perfectly.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining, and emotionally-driven narrative, “A Second Chance for Love” is a must-read romantic anthology. Fantastic writing and great character build-up in such a short span of time make this a fun and exciting read, and fans of the genre will absolutely fall in love with the love stories of this collection. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Authors

A geek at heart, USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J Stewart writes “refreshingly unique, quietly humorous, and profoundly moving romance.” (RT Book Reviews) Her books include The Nemesis Files Trilogy (light romantic suspense), The Butterfly Harbor series for Harlequin Heartwarming (sweet romances) and the Honor Bound series for Harlequin Romantic suspense. She’s also branching out into paranormal romance with the Tome Wardens short romance collection.

NYTimes bestselling author Brenda Novak says “The talented Anna J Stewart delivers every time!” Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Jason Momoa addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family and tolerates two devious kitties named Sherlock and Rosie.

http://www.authorannastewart.com/

Kayla Perrin is a multi-award-winning, multi-published USA Today and Essence ® bestselling author of over fifty novels and novellas. In 2011, Kayla received the prestigious Harry Jerome Award for excellence in the arts.

From the time she could hold a pencil, Kayla knew she wanted to be a writer, and didn’t stop until she realized her dream.  She is published in a variety of genres, including mystery/suspense, romance and mainstream fiction. She has written for major publishing houses including St. Martin’s Press, HarperCollins Publishers, Kensington Books, Harlequin, Ballantine and Simon & Schuster. 

She has been featured on television shows such as Entertainment Tonight Canada, Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings (Bravo documentary about the romance genre), A.M. Buffalo, and the CTV News (among others).  She has also been featured in Ebony magazine, Romantic Times magazine, The South Florida Business Journal, The Toronto Star, The Hamilton Spectator and many other Canadian and U.S. publications.  She has been a guest on many radio shows (including CBC). In October 2007, she was featured in the Italian version of Vanity Fair after speaking at a women’s conference in Matera.  Her works have been translated into Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

Kayla has spoken to children and young adults at schools and other venues, and enjoys speaking about her passion. Through her own story, she wishes to inspire people.  

https://www.authorkaylaperrin.com/

Prior to writing romance, award-winning, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Curtis was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty. After grabbing her pen (and a parachute) she made the jump to full-time writer. Between writing sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy, Melinda finds time to bond with her husband over home remodeling projects. She recently came to grips with the fact that she’s an empty nester and a grandma, concepts easier to grasp than jet-setting on a potty.

Sign up for her newsletter on her website to receive two free reads.

https://www.melindacurtis.net/

A non-stop flight from Honolulu to Chicago. A quick stop at the airport bookstore and Cari Lynn Webb discovered her love for romance. She cannot recall the book she bought, but she does remember finishing it somewhere over California, feeling pleased the murderer had been arrested (justice had prevailed). But frustration reigned as Cari searched for a hidden chapter or missed epilogue that would show the heroine and the FBI agent she’d fallen in love with living their happily-ever-after. (Surely love conquered all.) Except not in that particular book. Another trip to the bookstore in her grandparents’ home town and Cari discovered an entire section of books dedicated to the happily-ever-after. There she found Kathleen Woodiwiss, Judith McNaught and then Nora Robert … and she became a life-long romance reader.

Cari’s passion for reading had not dimmed years later when she found herself newly married and inside another bookstore during her lunch break. But the shelves of happily-ever-afters surrounding her couldn’t stem her frustration at not being able to find a new historical romance (Amazon wasn’t the household name it would become). So like any dedicated reader, Cari drove back to work, opened a word document and began to write the historical she wanted to read. Months later, she printed the manuscript, presented it to her husband and asked if she should pursue acting or continue writing. With her husband’s full support, she continued writing… and now she feeds her passion for romance with a stack of to-be read paperbacks in her nightstand, multiple downloads on her kindle and her own stories.

Cari believes in the power of love simply because she’d grown up surrounded by true love. She remembers her grandparents holding hands when she visited them as a kindergartner and still holding hands when her grandmother whispered her final goodbyes to her grandfather after 70 years together. Cari’s parents have been married over 50 years. And Cari is blessed to have married her own hero. She will be the first to tell you that true love isn’t always sweet and perfect, it can be challenging, complicated and risky. But in the end, there is nothing more worth fighting for.

Wishing all of you, your very own happily-ever-after…

Posted in reviews

Roller Rink Starlight: A Memoir by William Hart

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author William Hart takes a look back at an important time in his life when he joins a male and female led team of roller skaters, and in the process learns the pitfalls of romance, love and life in general in this coming of age style sports memoir, “Roller Rink Starlight”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

William Hart’s true coming of age memoir begins when at fourteen he joins an amateur roller racing team comprised of both sexes and loaded with RSROA national champions. A varsity sprinter in track, he soon excels at speed skating.

Insiders know roller rinks are conspiracies to turn singles into couples.

The main storyline follows Hart’s early education in romance—piquant, humorous, harrowing, and laced with major life lessons. The setting: Wichita, Kansas, early 1960s, when the sexual repression of the 50s still prevails, except in rare zones of marked liberation. Adults have their watering holes, teens the rink, where they can experiment with their budding sexualities. Immersed in powerful mood music they glide in pairs through darkness under stars and make out in the bleachers. Falling in love is ridiculously easy, as we see in the adventures of teammates, parents, and certainly the author. Hart fell hard for a gifted racer, his kindred spirit, costar of many of his most indelible memories.

This sports memoir about love and roller skating chronicles poignantly the ecstasies and perils of 60s high school romance against a backdrop of flat-out athletic competition.

Roller Rink Starlight is nostalgic nonfiction for seniors and educational nonfiction for young adults interested in love and sex in another time.

The Review

A fantastic and in-depth look into the life of a young man coming into his own and discovering life one step at a time, the author does a wonderful job of drawing the reader in with insightful looks into his own life and creative writing that makes the book feel like both a memoir and an original story all at once. The ease in which the author writes paints a visual image in the reader’s mind, transporting us all back to that era in the 1960s and watching the young man’s life unfolding before our eyes.

What really sets this memoir apart however was the way the author wrote the book itself. It seemed at multiple times that the author was not just retelling the story, but almost conversing with his younger self, reflecting on the important moments of his life and how he’s learned from them since. It immediately clear when he begins retelling his interaction with a young classmate named Gretchen, and how her actions during her high school years led to some major changes in her life and impacted the author as well second-hand. This was a brief glimpse into the rest of this narrative, and yet it felt like it set the tone immediately for the coming-of-age aspect of this book.

The Verdict

An insightful, engaging, and wildly descriptive yet narrative memoir, author William Hart’s “Roller Rink Starlight: A Memoir” is a must-read nonfiction story. The author’s discovery of life, love, and romance, and everything in between is so beautifully written, and the author masterfully engages the reader on both a nostalgic and thought-provoking level. Whether the author’s words reflected a similar time in the reader’s life or spoke to the road not taken, this was a read that shouldn’t be missed, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

William Hart is a novelist and poet living in Los Angeles. After earning a doctorate in English from the University of Southern California, he taught college writing courses in LA and wrote. Now he writes–fiction mostly–while helping produce the documentaries of filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar, his wife. Hart’s work has appeared in several hundred literary journals, commercial magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, and fourteen books. A pair of one-hour documentaries from Hartfilms aired nationally on PBS, the latest receiving Emmy nominations.

Posted in reviews

Never Never by Liz Butcher

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A seasoned detective haunted by her past finds herself drawn into the search for a missing teenage girl, and soon discovers the case has haunting connections to her in author Liz Butcher’s “Never Never”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

More than 20 years after her abduction at the hands of the elusive Pan, Wendy Darling is all grown up and a successful detective. But when a local girl vanishes in the middle of the night, her past comes rushing back.

Grieving the death of her mother, Detective Darling wants nothing more than to throw herself back into work. When the Lord Mayor’s daughter, Rosalie, vanishes, she insists on taking the case, triggering memories of her own past abduction. For years, Wendy struggled with her nonsensical memories of her captor, who she only knows as Pan. Yet the more she uncovers about Rosalie’s disappearance, the more Wendy is convinced her worst nightmare has come true—Pan’s back. Her fears are confirmed when the girl suddenly reappears and Wendy realises she’s walked straight into Pan’s trap…

The Review

One of the best reads of 2021 so far! Liz Butcher has worked her magic once more, bringing a chilling retelling of the classic Peter Pan mythos and putting a series of twists and turns into the narrative to keep the reader invested heavily. The novel does an excellent job of pacing the story, slowly building a relationship between Wendy the protagonist, and the audience as the history of the Darling Family is revealed. 

The character development was some of the best work to emerge thus far this year. Wendy is a force to be reckoned with, fighting her past trauma while trying to find this young girl before it’s too late. Yet the revelation of the girl’s abductor and their ties to Wendy’s own case decades earlier make for some interesting developments. The author has managed to craft a new legacy for Pan himself, marking a dark and villainous turn that will shock and amaze readers. His connection to an ancient mythological being will add an entirely new depth to this rich story, making this something fans of fantasy and horror will not be able to put down.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and highly entertaining read, author Liz Butcher’s horror retelling of the fantasy classic in her novel “Never Never” makes this a must-read novel and a contender for novel of the year of 2021. A book that readers will flock to over and over again, a twist ending that leaves readers hanging off the author’s every word makes this reader eager to see if the author will tackle the narrative again in a sequel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Liz enjoys road trips, astronomy, music and knitting.

https://www.lizbutcher.com.au/

Posted in reviews

To Kill a King (A Hollystone Mystery #4) by W.L. Hawkin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A leader and high priest of a powerful coven, Sandolino Estrada must travel to Iron Age Ireland to find and save his friend Sorcha from powerful Druids while still grieving the loss of his beloved lover in author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Kill a King”, the fourth novel in the Hollystone Mystery series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

“Sorcha’s fingers flew to the fey butterfly tattooed on the back of her neck. Sometimes the butterfly brought her joy; other times, inspiration, but always a sense of hope. And she needed all three in this moment for her heart was breaking to see her man so broken.”

Sorcha just wanted to warn Ruairí of his fate until she saw him and fell in love. How could she leave him to be ritually murdered and cast in a bog to cure for two thousand years?

Though he’s lost and grieving the loss of his lover, when Estrada realizes his friend, Sorcha, is trapped in Iron Age Ireland, he demands that Cernunnos take him and Dylan back through time to rescue her. The Horned God states the rules: you cannot change history or develop bonds with anyone. How can Sorcha, the spirited archaeologist, survive this prehistoric warrior culture? Assuming she’s fey, Ruairí’s unscrupulous rival wants her power; but worse still, Ruairí’s lover, the wicked Crow Queen, wants her dead.

Can Estrada use his Wiccan powers and skills to defeat Iron Age Druids and bring his friends home?

A spin-off of To Sleep with Stones, book four tells the story of archaeologist Sorcha O’Hallorhan’s deepest desire. Buy this romantic, time-traveling, prehistoric thriller today and find out what it takes To Kill a King.

The Review

A wonderful blend of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and mystery, author W.L. Hawkin does a marvelous job of crafting a narrative that speaks to the reader and eloquently paces the story so that not everything is revealed at once. The author explores historical fiction as well in this narrative, taking readers into a turbulent and fascinating period of history with the Iron Age of Ireland. The setting becomes just as much a character in the narrative as anyone else, making a memorable and insightful journey for both the reader and the cast of characters.

The protagonist, Estrada, really is the heart of this tale. While readers are able to delve into the hearts and minds of characters like Sorcha and Dylan, and how they evolve and grow in this novel, it is Estrada that provides the bulk of the emotional and creative aspects of the novel and its themes. The pain of loss and the need to make amends drives Estrada through much of this novel, and his complexity and compelling nature draw the reader in immediately, marking an invigorating protagonist in this memorable series. 

The Verdict

An entertaining, genre-defying, and lengthy yet memorable read, author W.L. Hawkin’s “To Kill a King” is a fantastic spin-off and next chapter in the Hollystone Mystery series. While knowing the history and events of the past books is helpful to newcomers, it is not always necessary as the author writes in a way that speaks to new and existing fans of this heart-pounding series, and makes for a mesmerizing read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

W. L. Hawkin writes edgy urban fantasy with a twist of murder. Described as “intoxicating, lush, magically-edgy, page-turners,” her Hollystone Mysteries series features a coven of local witches who solve murders using their wits and ritual magic with a little help from the gods. Wendy is also a published blogger, book reviewer, Indie publisher, and poet, with a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. She loves myth and magic, so when she’s not writing, she’s studying Druidry, shamanism, and mediumship. Although she is an introvert, in each book, her characters go on a journey where she has traveled herself.

https://bluehavenpress.com/

Posted in reviews

I am You am I by Thorsten Nesch Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two teenagers who couldn’t be unlike one another find themselves in a strange situation when they find they have switched bodies with one another in author Thorsten Nesch’s “I am You am I”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

She comes from a rich family in Vancouver and enjoys horse back riding, he lives on the wrong side of town and calls boxing his hobby. Two very different teenagers changing their bodies accidentally and have to live the life of the other. The funniest body switch comedy you will read.

The Review

This was a fun and exhilarating YA read. The author has perfectly captured the voice and the tone of the genre, blending a mix of sci-fi and classic body-switch-level storytelling with humorous and witty characters that speak to the audience and the protagonists themselves. 

The novel provides much-needed humor and entertainment into the narrative, while also balancing this with rich storylines and dynamic topics that range from social injustice to inequality amongst us all, especially in a setting like high school between different people. Preconceived notions about how others live and who they are as people are often fraught with unnecessary tension and could escalate to violence easily, and yet in a classic move in this storyline, readers and the protagonists get to see how everyone has troubles and hardships to endure and finding common ground can be the answer to finding peace with one another as well.

The Verdict

An engaging, evenly-paced, and thoughtful YA sci-fi comedy novel, author Thorsten Nesch’s “I am You am I” is a must-read. Brilliantly told with a fresh voice from the author’s outstanding writing and rich protagonists that engage readers from every walk of social status, this book is one that will not be easy to put down. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Since 2014 I live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

My stories received literary grants and awards nationally and internationally. In the last years I did more than 1500 readings in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and on two cruises.

My first novel was nominated Best German YA Debut and I won the Hans-im-Gluck-Award 2012

Jury: „His style is a stroke of luck for literature“

http://thorstennesch.com/