Posted in reviews

A Season in Lights by Gregory Erich Phillips Review

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

Two people who dream of glory through their musical and theatrical careers learn the sweetness of new love and the painstaking process of chasing one’s dreams in author Gregory Erich Philips novel “A Season in Lights”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Passion, ambition and escape in the colorful artistic underworld off-Broadway, Cammie, a dancer in her mid-thirties, has just landed her first part in a show since coming to New York City. Yet the tug of familial obligation and the guilt of what she sacrificed to be there weigh down her dancing feet. 

Her lover, Tom, an older piano player, came to the city as a young man in the 1980s with a story eerily in tune with Cammie’s own. Through their triumphs and failures, both learn the fleeting nature of glory, the sweetness of new love, and how a dream come true isn’t cherished until it passes. The bright lights of the stage intoxicate, while degradation and despair lurk close behind the curtain. 

Their sagas are marred by two pandemics, AIDS in the 1980s and COVID-19 today, which ravaged the performing arts community, leaving a permanent scar on those who lived through them. The poignant intersection of their stories reveals a love affair unbound by time, reaching across decades through the notes of a piano’s remembered song. 

The Review

A truly emotional and heartfelt, character-driven narrative. The author has done a masterful job of blending the backstories and backdrops of both protagonists in this narrative, mirroring their experiences and personalities as they grow not only as individuals but as romantic interests as well. The need to protect and care for a sibling, the pursuit of their dreams, and facing health crisis on a global scale mark the familiar paths both characters walk in this narrative.

What really stood out to me was the novel’s connection to New York City. The novel expertly delves into the nooks and crannies of not only the city itself but the people who live within it, painting a very vivid image of the novel’s setting in our own minds. It got to be like the city itself came alive and become a character, which I have found to be an enduring trait of some of the best New York-led narratives. 

The Verdict

A masterful, driven, and engaging read, author Gregory Erich Philips’s “A Season in Lights” is a must-read novel. The breathtaking scenery described in the author’s brilliant writing and the emotional impact of both character’s stories and struggles really made the narrative come alive, drawing the reader in further and further into the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

From a prolific literary family, Gregory Erich Phillips tells aspirational stories through strong, relatable characters that transcend time and place. Living in Seattle, Washington, he is also an accomplished tango dancer and musician.

http://gregoryerichphillips.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-season-in-lights-by-gregory-erich-phillips

Posted in reviews

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello Review

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

A tale of platonic love and redemption take center stage when two people meet in a small Vermont town in author Rich Marcello’s “Cenotaphs”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

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.

The Review

What a truly remarkable and memorable read. The author does a fantastic job of balancing atmosphere and pacing within this narrative, establishing the needful search for serenity and peace within both of the protagonists of this narrative while also peeling back the layers of their backstories little by little. I absolutely loved the setting of this narrative as well, capturing the haunting beauty of the northeastern portion of the United States, in particular the crisp atmosphere of Vermont, in a truly memorable way.

The character development of this novel was the cornerstone of the entire story. The complexity and emotional depths the author took these characters were gripping as a reader. Both characters proved to be flawed yet steadfast in their need for understanding, and their platonic connection showcased the importance of having someone to love and care for us all, even if that doesn’t translate into romance. 

amzn_assoc_ad_type = “banner”; amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”; amzn_assoc_region = “US”; amzn_assoc_placement = “assoc_banner_placement_default”; amzn_assoc_campaigns = “audible”; amzn_assoc_banner_type = “category”; amzn_assoc_isresponsive = “true”; amzn_assoc_banner_id = “0S6C9RC4J0QCW7HD2PG2”; amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “authoranthony-20”; amzn_assoc_linkid = “54e48b08cb5048486fcc1cc628e64538”; //z-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&Operation=GetScript&ID=OneJS&WS=1

The Verdict

A heartfelt, engaging, and breathtaking story of connection, growth, and speaking our truths in order to find love, author Rich Marcello’s “Cenotaphs” is a must-read novel. The perfect story that reads like an Oscar-worthy, character-driven film that would compel any audience, the novel’s story is truly inviting and memorable. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

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.

http://www.richmarcello.com/

Posted in reviews

Canterberry Tales by C.P. Hoff Review

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

A young girl known for causing havoc and looking at life with wonder in her small town takes readers on a journey of self-discovery in author C.P. Hoff’s “Canterberry Tales”, the first in the Happy Valley Chronicles series.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Pull up your knee socks and buckle your pinchy shoes, your childhood is calling. Celia Canterberry, a precocious seven-year-old, hell bent on saving earthworms, is about to drag you down memory lane and remind you what it was like to look at a careworn world with wide-eyed bemusement. Now take a deep breath. Smell that? Nostalgia.

Celia flits through the streets of Happy Valley to her Nan’s chagrin, causing havoc wherever she goes. She’s so infamous, she’s got her own comic strip in the local paper, and Old Lady Griggs, her babysitter, is only too happy to read it with her. But what Celia secretly wants to know is where she came from. You see, Celia was abandoned at the hospital by her should-have-been parents, and her Nan won’t explain how or why…

The Review

A truly well-written and engaging story, the author draws the reader in with colorful characters and brilliantly dry humor that immediately sets the tone for the story. The characters are vibrant and really stand out, balanced between the young protagonist Celia’s perspective and the sometimes harsh yet often true reality. 

What really stands out in this narrative is the balance between character growth and story. Often times one aspect of a novel like this will overtake the other, but the author has found the perfect amount of character development to help elevate the overall story and theme of this novel. The humor does a great job of highlighting the lengths those in Celia’s life have gone to in order to both protect her from the truth of her origins and then to finally reveal them to her and her inquisitive mind. 

The Verdict

A well-balanced, engaging, and driven narrative, author C.P. Hoff’s “Canterberry Tales” is a must-read novel. The inclusion of story elements like Celia’s local comic strip brought to mind visions of a little Dennis the Menace style story, while the balance of humor and emotional storytelling really brought the reader into the narrative, identifying and even becoming emotionally invested in Celia’s story as time went on. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

C.P. Hoff lives in southern Alberta with her husband, and the child who has yet to fly the coop. She has written for the local paper, which might be impressive if she lived in New York, and if anyone read the local paper. Hoff is presently writing two series. Her novel, A Town Called Forget, was longlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. More information can be found about C.P. Hoff at: C. P. Hoff – C. P. Hoff: Author of the Picaresque Chronicles.

https://www.bookbub.com/books/canterberry-tales-the-happy-valley-chronicals-by-c-p-hoff

Posted in reviews

Confessions From the Quilting Circle by Maisey Yates Review

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

Three sisters are brought together by tragedy, and must learn to not only come together as a family but confront their pasts as well in author Maisey Yates’s “Confessions From The Quilting Circle”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

The Ashwood women don’t have much in common…except their ability to keep secrets.

When Lark Ashwood’s beloved grandmother dies, she and her sisters discover an unfinished quilt. Finishing it could be the reason Lark’s been looking for to stop running from the past, but is she ever going to be brave enough to share her biggest secret with the people she ought to be closest to?

Hannah can’t believe she’s back in Bear Creek, the tiny town she sacrificed everything to escape from. The plan? Help her sisters renovate her grandmother’s house and leave as fast as humanly possible. Until she comes face-to-face with a man from her past. But getting close to him again might mean confessing what really drove her away…

Stay-at-home mom Avery has built a perfect life, but at a cost. She’ll need all her family around her, and all her strength, to decide if the price of perfection is one she can afford to keep paying.

This summer, the Ashwood women must lean on each other like never before, if they are to stitch their family back together, one truth at a time…

The Review

This was a powerful women’s fiction read. The author beautifully sets up a dramatic and emotional family dynamic between the three sisters and their mother in the face of losing their beloved grandmother. The rift between the sisters is felt early on, showing the complex balance of tension and emotion between them all. 

Character growth was essential in this read. The author not only does a great job of showcasing each sister’s individual struggles and how they feel in this tension-filled dynamic with the other two sisters, but the author also fills out the narrative with backstory as diary entries from two different women from different eras give insight into the family’s history as a whole. The author showcases a wide range of talent in this writing, as the author’s normal romance-style narratives shift easily into the women’s fiction genre, highlighting the strong bonds between family and in this instance, sisterhood. 

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and engaging read, author Maisey Yates’s “Confessions From the Quilting Circle” is a must-read women’s fiction narrative. The book flows smoothly and engages the reader on multiple levels. The gripping tale of these sisters will resonate with so many of us out there, and in a story about leaving things unfinished in our lives and feeling a piece of ourselves missing, the author found a wonderful way to explore the journey to making ourselves whole again. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

New York Times Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit. 

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @maiseyyates

Facebook:@MaiseyYates.Author 

Instagram: @maiseyyates

Goodreads

Advertisements

An Excerpt From CONFESSIONS FROM THE QUILTING CIRCLE

1

March 4th, 1944

The dress is perfect. Candlelight satin and antique lace. I can’t wait for you to see it. I can’t wait to walk down the aisle toward you. If only we could set a date. If only we had some idea of when the war will be over.

Love, Dot

Present day—Lark

Unfinished.

The word whispered through the room like a ghost. Over the faded, floral wallpaper, down to the scarred wooden floor. And to the precariously stacked boxes and bins of fabrics, yarn skeins, canvases and other artistic miscellany.

Lark Ashwood had to wonder if her grandmother had left them this way on purpose. Unfinished business here on earth, in the form of quilts, sweaters and paintings, to keep her spirit hanging around after she was gone.

It would be like her. Adeline Dowell did everything with just a little extra.

From her glossy red hair—which stayed that color till the day she died—to her matching cherry glasses and lipstick. She always had an armful of bangles, a beer in her hand and an ashtray full of cigarettes. She never smelled like smoke. She smelled like spearmint gum, Aqua Net and Avon perfume.

She had taught Lark that it was okay to be a little bit of extra.

A smile curved Lark’s lips as she looked around the attic space again. “Oh, Gram…this is really a mess.”

She had the sense that was intentional too. In death, as in life, her grandmother wouldn’t simply fade away.

Neat attics, well-ordered affairs and pre-death estate sales designed to decrease the clutter a family would have to go through later were for other women. Quieter women who didn’t want to be a bother.

Adeline Dowell lived to be a bother. To expand to fill a space, not shrinking down to accommodate anyone.

Lark might not consistently achieve the level of excess Gram had, but she considered it a goal.

“Lark? Are you up there?”

She heard her mom’s voice carrying up the staircase. “Yes!” She shouted back down. “I’m…trying to make sense of this.”

She heard footsteps behind her and saw her mom standing there, gray hair neat, arms folded in. “You don’t have to. We can get someone to come in and sort it out.” 

“And what? Take it all to a thrift store?” Lark asked.

Her mom’s expression shifted slightly, just enough to convey about six emotions with no wasted effort. Emotional economy was Mary Ashwood’s forte. As contained and practical as Addie had been excessive. “Honey, I think most of this would be bound for the dump.”

“Mom, this is great stuff.”

“I don’t have room in my house for sentiment.”

“It’s not about sentiment. It’s usable stuff.”

“I’m not artsy, you know that. I don’t really…get all this.” The unspoken words in the air settled over Lark like a cloud.

Mary wasn’t artsy because her mother hadn’t been around to teach her to sew. To knit. To paint. To quilt.

Addie had taught her granddaughters. Not her own daughter.

She’d breezed on back into town in a candy apple Corvette when Lark’s oldest sister, Avery, was born, after spending Mary’s entire childhood off on some adventure or another, while Lark’s grandfather had done the raising of the kids.

Grandkids had settled her. And Mary had never withheld her children from Adeline. Whatever Mary thought about her mom was difficult to say. But then, Lark could never really read her mom’s emotions. When she’d been a kid, she hadn’t noticed that. Lark had gone around feeling whatever she did and assuming everyone was tracking right along with her because she’d been an innately self focused kid. Or maybe that was just kids.

Either way, back then badgering her mom into tea parties and talking her ear off without noticing Mary didn’t do much of her own talking had been easy.

It was only when she’d had big things to share with her mom that she’d realized…she couldn’t.

“It’s easy, Mom,” Lark said. “I’ll teach you. No one is asking you to make a living with art, art can be about enjoying the process.”

“I don’t enjoy doing things I’m bad at.”

“Well I don’t want Gram’s stuff going to a thrift store, okay?”

Another shift in Mary’s expression. A single crease on one side of her mouth conveying irritation, reluctance and exhaustion. But when she spoke she was measured. “If that’s what you want. This is as much yours as mine.”

It was a four-way split. The Dowell House and all its contents, and The Miner’s House, formerly her grandmother’s candy shop, to Mary Ashwood, and her three daughters. They’d discovered that at the will reading two months earlier.

It hadn’t caused any issues in the family. They just weren’t like that.

Lark’s uncle Bill had just shaken his head. “She feels guilty.”

And that had been the end of any discussion, before any had really started. They were all like their father that way. Quiet. Reserved. Opinionated and expert at conveying it without saying much.

Big loud shouting matches didn’t have a place in the Dowell family.

But Addie had been there for her boys. They were quite a bit older than Lark’s mother. She’d left when the oldest had been eighteen. The youngest boy sixteen.

Mary had been four.

Lark knew her mom felt more at home in the middle of a group of men than she did with women. She’d been raised in a house of men. With burned dinners and repressed emotions.

Lark had always felt like her mother had never really known what to make of the overwhelmingly female household she’d ended up with.

“It’s what I want. When is Hannah getting in tonight?” 

Hannah, the middle child, had moved to Boston right after college, getting a position in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She had the summer off of concerts and had decided to come to Bear Creek to finalize the plans for their inherited properties before going back home.

Once Hannah had found out when she could get time away from the symphony, Lark had set her own plans for moving into motion. She wanted to be here the whole time Hannah was here, since for Hannah, this wouldn’t be permanent.

But Lark wasn’t going back home. If her family agreed to her plan, she was staying here.

Which was not something she’d ever imagined she’d do.

Lark had gone to college across the country, in New York, at eighteen and had spent years living everywhere but here. Finding new versions of herself in new towns, new cities, whenever the urge took her.

Unfinished.

“Sometime around five-ish? She said she’d get a car out here from the airport. I reminded her that isn’t the easiest thing to do in this part of the world. She said something about it being in apps now. I didn’t laugh at her.”

Lark laughed, though. “She can rent a car.”

Lark hadn’t lived in Bear Creek since she was eighteen, but she hadn’t been under the impression there was a surplus of ride services around the small, rural community. If you were flying to get to Bear Creek, you had to fly into Medford, which was about eighteen miles from the smaller town. Even if you could find a car, she doubted the driver would want to haul anyone out of town.

But her sister wouldn’t be told anything. Hannah made her own way, something Lark could relate to. But while she imagined herself drifting along like a tumbleweed, she imagined Hannah slicing through the water like a shark. With intent, purpose, and no small amount of sharpness.

“Maybe I should arrange something.”

“Mom. She’s a professional symphony musician who’s been living on her own for fourteen years. I’m pretty sure she can cope.”

“Isn’t the point of coming home not having to cope for a while? Shouldn’t your mom handle things?” Mary was a doer. She had never been the one to sit and chat. She’d loved for Lark to come out to the garden with her and work alongside her in the flower beds, or bake together. “You’re not in New Mexico anymore. I can make you cookies without worrying they’ll get eaten by rats in the mail.”

Lark snorted. “I don’t think there are rats in the mail.”

“It doesn’t have to be real for me to worry about it.”

And there was something Lark had inherited directly from her mother. “That’s true.”

That and her love of chocolate chip cookies, which her mom made the very best. She could remember long afternoons at home with her mom when she’d been little, and her sisters had been in school. They’d made cookies and had iced tea, just the two of them.

Cooking had been a self-taught skill her mother had always been proud of. Her recipes were hers. And after growing up eating “chicken with blood” and beanie weenies cooked by her dad, she’d been pretty determined her kids would eat better than that.

Something Lark had been grateful for.

And Mom hadn’t minded if she’d turned the music up loud and danced in some “dress up clothes”—an oversized prom dress from the ’80s and a pair of high heels that were far too big, purchased from a thrift store. Which Hannah and Avery both declared “annoying” when they were home. 

Her mom hadn’t understood her, Lark knew that. But Lark had felt close to her back then in spite of it.

The sound of the door opening and closing came from downstairs. “Homework is done, dinner is in the Crock-Pot. I think even David can manage that.”

The sound of her oldest sister Avery’s voice was clear, even from a distance. Lark owed that to Avery’s years of motherhood, coupled with the fact that she—by choice—fulfilled the role of parent liaison at her kids’ exclusive private school, and often wrangled children in large groups. Again, by choice.

Lark looked around the room one last time and walked over to the stack of crafts. There was an old journal on top of several boxes that look like they might be overflowing with fabric, along with some old Christmas tree ornaments, and a sewing kit. She grabbed hold of them all before walking to the stairs, turning the ornaments over and letting the silver stars catch the light that filtered in through the stained glass window.

Her mother was already ahead of her, halfway down the stairs by the time Lark got to the top of them. She hadn’t seen Avery yet since she’d arrived. She loved her older sister. She loved her niece and nephew. She liked her brother-in-law, who did his best not to be dismissive of the fact that she made a living drawing pictures. Okay, he kind of annoyed her. But still, he was fine. Just… A doctor. A surgeon, in fact, and bearing all of the arrogance that stereotypically implied.

One of the saddest things about living away for as long as she had was that she’d missed her niece’s and nephew’s childhoods. She saw them at least once a year, but it never felt like enough. And now they were teenagers, and a lot less cute.

And then there was Avery, who had always been somewhat untouchable. Four years older than Lark, Avery was a classic oldest child. A people pleasing perfectionist. She was organized and she was always neat and orderly.  And even though the gap between thirty-four and thirty-eight was a lot narrower than twelve and sixteen, sometimes Lark still felt like the gawky adolescent to Avery’s sweet sixteen.

But maybe if they shared in a little bit of each other’s day-to-day it would close some of that gap she felt between them.

Excerpted from Confessions From the Quilting Circle by Maisey Yates, Copyright © 2021 by Maisey Yates. Published by HQN Books.

Posted in reviews

Pretending by Holly Bourne Review

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

TRIGGER WARNING: PLOT INVOLVES MENTIONS AND PLOT LINES INVOLVING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TRAUMA. 

A woman dealing with a traumatic past finds herself leading a somewhat double life after dealing with a series of bad relationships in author Holly Bourne’s “Pretending”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

April is kind, pretty and relatively normal—yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.

Gretel is perfect—beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She’s your regular, everyday Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-Next-Door with no problems.

When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun—especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

The Review

This was a fantastic yet harrowing look into the modern world of dating, relationships and the boundaries that people cross every day. The story is also one of cycles, as cause and effect play a pivotal role in the theme of this narrative. 

The author dives emotionally into the sad yet true nature of a male-dominated society that makes things such as dating such a harrowing experience. Add on top of that the trauma of an experience where the protagonist found someone in her life crossing a line that should never be crossed, and in the process left her emotionally and mentally scarred by the event. The way the author showcases the impact this event has had on the protagonist’s psyche is really engaging to read, and how the character evolves over the course of the narrative keeps the reader invested throughout.

The Verdict

At times darkly comical, at others a shocking yet much-need narrative on the modern world of dating and holding those accountable for crossing horrific lines, the novel “Pretending” by Holly Bourne is a must-read story. The way the story plays out really highlights the need to not only help those who have suffered tragic events but to work to prevent them from happening by having more open and honest discussions in society is perfectly felt in this narrative, and the intimate inner dialogues the protagonist has with herself and her alter ego make the character growth throughout the novel feel much more impactful. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Holly started her writing career as a news journalist, where she was nominated for Best Print Journalist of the Year. She then spent six years working as an editor, a relationship advisor, and general ‘agony aunt’ for a youth charity – helping young people with their relationships and mental health.

Inspired by what she saw, she started writing teen fiction, including the best-selling, award-winning ‘Spinster Club’ series which helps educate teenagers about feminism. When she turned thirty, Holly wrote her first adult novel, ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’, examining the intensified pressures on women once they hit that landmark.

Alongside her writing, Holly has a keen interest in women’s rights and is an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental health problems. She’s helped create online apps that teach young people about sexual consent, works with Women’s Aid to spread awareness of abusive relationships, and runs Rethink’s mental health book club.

Posted in reviews

The Light Tower by Laurie Lisa 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 must take a journey to discover not only herself but the mother she never knew after she was born under tragic circumstances in author Laurie Lisa’s mystery novel, “The Light Tower”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In this dramatic mystery, a daughter returns to Chicago to find the truth about a mother she never knew–and her tragic death. Will her journey bring answers or more questions?

Thirty years ago in Chicago, a troubled, full-term pregnant woman escapes from the maternity ward of a hospital and climbs to the top of a 100-foot light tower in an abandoned railway yard. Melody Arnold is convinced that her baby is dead, and neither reassurances from her doctor nor the fact that she is a nurse can convince her otherwise. She jumps. Melody doesn’t survive, but miraculously, when the paramedics arrive, a tiny foot protrudes from the woman’s stomach, twitching.

Now, Kat Flowers is living in Arizona and celebrating her thirtieth birthday. Stuck in a rut of dead-end jobs and a failed relationship, she receives a cryptic birthday card from a father she ran away from fourteen years ago. Desperate for answers, Kat takes a journey back to Illinois—to see a family she left behind and learn the truth about a mother she never knew.

Kat shares the journey with the charismatic Zen, who has his own reasons for returning home. There, Kat tries to solve the complicated mystery of her mother’s identity . . . and then understand why she made that tragic leap.

A compelling novel about a mother’s dark secrets, The Light Tower explores the lasting connection between a mother and her daughter, even when they never knew each other. This story about one family’s hidden past is a riveting must-read for your book club.

The Review

This was a truly powerful, emotionally-driven narrative. Author Laurie Lisa once again shines through with this incredibly tragic yet real and loving story of a mother and her daughter, whose lives were tragically torn apart one fateful day. As Kat works to solve the mystery of why her mother Melody met such a tragic fate, readers are given a glimpse into some powerful storytelling that touches on the struggles so many faces in our world today.

From mental health and addiction to family and love, the author does a brilliant job of bringing these themes to life within the core story. The best and most engaging aspect of this novel however is the characters, as their arcs and the slow unraveling of the mystery surrounding this horrific event are heightened by the growth they undergo as time goes on. The anger and pain Kat feels at her mother’s fate and Melody’s despair and helplessness as time goes on are all traits so many people can identify with, and allows the reader to feel these emotions as the story progresses. 

The Verdict

A moving, evenly-paced, and emotionally-driven narrative, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Light Tower” is a must-read mystery and drama read of 2021. The depth of character development the author presents and the heartfelt emotions that are poured into the themes of this narrative are truly engaging on every level. If you haven’t yet, preorder or grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois (Champaign), where she also met and then married her husband Steve Lisa. Laurie earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from Arizona State University (20th Century American Literature), where she also taught literature and composition. After her time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction.

Laurie is a prolific writer and has completed eight novels in the genre of literary women’s fiction. Each of her books follows its own distinct and sophisticated plot with well-developed characters. In addition to her novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

You can read more about Laurie and her novels at her website, LaurieLisa.com

Posted in reviews

The Wine Club by Laurie Lisa Review

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

Two friends go down a dangerous path in order to provide for their daughters in author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Be ready to get hooked, with The Wine Club.

Most people can’t tell a good wine from a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck.

At least that’s what best friends Reggie and Audrey decide one night while celebrating their daughters’ election to the elite Mohave High Tigerette Pom Squad. But cheerleading in Scottsdale Arizona doesn’t come cheap, and both women are strapped for cash and going through a rough patch. Reggie’s husband has announced he’s gay and wants a separation. Audrey’s husband is entering rehab. But what if they could earn money by selling cheap wine in fancy bottles? How hard could it be?

As the housewives perfect their high-stakes con, their greed and mistrust of one another grow…as does the realization that they’ve become a small team of female criminals.

The Wine Club is a witty, wicked tale of crime in the suburbs. With its dark humor, twisted plot, creative use of satire, and female protagonists who turn to a life of crime, this women’s suspenseful crime novel filled with surprising twists and turns is a novel you won’t put down, and one your book club will love.

The Review

A truly fun yet twisted read. Author Laurie Lisa does an excellent job of setting the tone and pace for this novel early on, and blends family drama with corruption and crime thriller incredibly well. The way the author is able to showcase each character’s personal struggles adds depth and background to the cast of characters who help bring this story to life. 

Character growth and story play equal parts in this narrative, with the novel taking readers through twists and turns as this late-night money-making scheme turns into a full-blown crime drama like no other. The shocking twists to each of the women’s families and the growing actions each character finds themselves participating in showcase how greed and power can turn anyone into a completely different person.

The Verdict

Entertaining, witty yet delightfully wicked, author Laurie Lisa’s “The Wine Club” is a must-read crime drama. With a cast of relatable characters and themes such as sexuality, body image, and family becoming key factors in the actions of the two protagonists, readers won’t find themselves lacking any incredible drama to sink their teeth into. With a shocking final chapter, fans won’t want to miss another smash hit from author Laurie Lisa, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

Posted in reviews

Across the Street by Laurie Lisa Review

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

Twin sisters embark on an emotional journey as one becomes a surrogate for the other, and in the process both of their families undergo hardships, struggles and upheavals as secrets are revealed in author Laurie Lisa’s novel “Across the Street”.

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Does love between sisters last forever? In a novel about the bond between twins, relationships are complicated by anger, resentment, and impossible choices.

Alex Carissa is thrilled when her identical twin sister, Sam, and her husband move into the neighborhood. For Sam, years of infertility, followed by an unthinkable tragedy, have left her despairing of ever having a child. Money is tight, and IVF is expensive. Sam’s only hope may be to ask her sister to be a surrogate. Alex will do anything for Sam, but when the sisters embark upon an unorthodox route to surrogacy, jealousy, guilt, and legal complications soon follow.

As the limits of sisterly devotion are tested, the family’s hidden wounds and secret addictions come to light, shaking the foundation of their marriages and their lives.

An emotional story of a woman’s struggle with infertility and a riveting book about the complexities of family, Across the Street makes an excellent selection for book clubs.

The Review

The author has crafted a truly engaging story here. The drama and emotional core of this story rest within the relationship not only between Sam and Alex but between their families as well as each member struggles with their own problems. The story is equally balanced with fully developed and evolving characters, who are relatable and realistically written in connection to the larger story being told. 

The author’s writing style was descriptive and entertaining and written in a way to feel almost visual in its use of imagery throughout the narrative, painting a picture in the reader’s mind of the scenes unfolding here. The way the author was able to showcase the point of view of so many characters and still make the story feel fresh and alive was a fantastic accomplishment, as I felt drawn into the narrative more and more as each chapter passed by.

The Verdict

A lengthy yet entertaining and emotional read, author Laurie Lisa’s “Across the Street” is a must-read drama novel. Full of suspense, shocking secrets, and twists and turns in the character’s arcs that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, this is a novel readers won’t be able to put down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Laurie was born and raised in small towns in Southern Illinois. She obtained her B.S. in English Education from the University of Illinois, where she also met and then married her husband Steve. Laurie earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in English, 20th-century American Literature, from Arizona State University, where she also taught literature and composition. In addition to her eight novels, Laurie has published two academic books, several short stories and poems, and edited other’s works. After much time spent in Academia and raising her three children (Anthony, Michelle, and Caitlin), Laurie returned to her passion for writing fiction. She is a prolific writer and typically completes one novel each year. Laurie resides with her husband, Steve, in Paradise Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona.

https://laurielisa.com/

https://www.instagram.com/laurieolisa/

https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurielisa/

Posted in reviews

The Fabulist by Samuel W. Reed Review

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

A failed novelist and sports writer goes on a journey of self-discovery in author Samuel W. Reed’s “The Fabulist”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Failed novelist and dispirited blogger Frank Shaw is hired to cover the Maui Classic Invitational, a pre-season collegiate basketball tournament in Hawaii over Thanksgiving. But after meeting a cute bartender he wants to impress at the resort, he dismisses his assignment and sets out on a path toward self-discovery, mind-bending adventure, and quite possibly love.

“The Fabulist” is a gonzo tale of one man’s obsession with finding joy in his life, consequences be damned! As Frank Shaw ruminates on the mistakes of his past, he hurdles headlong into uncharted emotional territory on an ever-escalating adventure in a place he deems “Paradise.”

Inspired by the tales of Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Pahlaniuk, Charles Bukowski, and others, this is one unforgettable ride you won’t soon forget!

The Review

This was a powerful, character driven narrative. The author does an amazing job of crafting complex, multi-dimensional characters that draw the reader in with their layered problems that drive the plot forward. The down on his luck writer who throws himself head-first into a trip fueled by drinking, a beautiful woman and a need to discover himself makes for a complicated protagonist that readers will be fascinated with. 

The author’s style of writing definitely feels cinematic in its approach, as if the author has utilized a theatrical approach to the story. The brilliant use of imagery really paints a picture not only of the setting and story but the characters themselves, immersing the reader into the narrative first-hand and making the story come alive.

The Verdict

A creative, dramatic and stunning narrative, author Samuel W. Reed’s “The Fabulist” is a must-read. Filled with the magic of an adventure, the complex drama of a man discovering his true joy, and the hardships we endure on the road to that discovery, this book really delves into some personal character growth for the protagonist and comes with some twists and turns that will keep readers intrigued. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Samuel W. Reed is a novelist, screenwriter, director, and film producer with a keen eye for emotionally impactful, character-driven stories. Sam was instrumental in the decade-long production of the groundbreaking disability-rights documentary “CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion” starring Jamie Foxx, Ben Affleck, Marlee Matlin, and others. He contributed narration to the SXSW award-winning documentary “Take Me To the River,” starring Terrance Howard, Snoop Dogg, and Mavis Staples, and he served as ghostwriter on the Sony Pictures International film “Beyond Valkyrie.” A frequent collaborator with notable producers, directors, actors, and writers, Sam is always on the lookout for a great new story, and the perfect cup of coffee.

Facebook: @samuelwrite

Twitter/Instagram: @samuelwreed

For more information, please visit: www.samuelwreed.com