Tag Archives: family drama

Broken Pieces of God by David Seaburn Review

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

A family reeling from setbacks and tragedies must find a way of banding together to face the darkness in author David Seaburn’s domestic drama, “Broken Pieces of God”.

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The Synopsis

In Broken Pieces of God David B. Seaburn returns to the domestic arena to explore the complex and extraordinary lives of an ordinary American couple, Eddy and Gayle Kimes. Eddy, a supervisor for a cable company, loses his job. Gayle, a tax accountant, is recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unemployment, failed chemotherapy, and no insurance bring them to life’s precipice. Desperate, Eddy turns to a statue of Jesus, seeking a miracle, while Gayle dives deeper into a scheme she has been concocting for twenty-five years.

In the meantime, their adult offspring, Rich and Sandy, grapple with the aftershock of a tragic incident that has shadowed their lives since high school. What will happen when their secret is revealed?

At the eleventh hour, Gayle re-enters treatment and the family pulls together. Will it be too late?

This is a story of resilience in the face of uncertainty, hope in the midst of darkness, and family ties strengthened by life’s vicissitudes. 

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of relaying the paths we take in the face of overwhelming hardship, struggle, and pain, and how families each struggling with their own issues can come together to face the future with hope in the face of darkness. The author writes in a way that feels relatable and personal all at once, crafting a gripping tale that embodies life’s greatest trials and tribulations, and how people search for help or solutions from various sources, whether that be faith, family, or a little of both.

The character development was what really sealed the emotional pull this reader had with the story. The author perfectly captures the emotional depth of each character, highlighting the real-world struggles that many readers will be able to identify with while crafting a story that is engaging and pulls the reader in full-throttle. The blend of family dynamics and personal turmoil, and the family’s push to come to terms with the events of their lives was a whirlwind of emotional ups and downs as the reader became invested in this narrative. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, gripping, and emotionally driven narrative, author David Seaburn’s “Broken Pieces of God” is a must-read drama this fall. The relatability of the characters and their plights will become super relatable to readers, while the narrative and the balance of faith and family in the midst of crisis will touch a lot of reader’s hearts. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

David B. Seaburn is the author of seven novels with his eighth, Broken Pieces of God, being released in September 2021.

David’s first publication was a series of poems when he was in seminary at Boston University (1972-75). He continued writing while serving a church for six years, mostly short stories, plays, songs, essays and two manuscripts of inspirational prose.   

He entered the field of marriage and family therapy in 1986 and was Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he did extensive academic writing.  During this period, he co-authored two professional books and wrote over 60 papers and book chapters.

He started writing fiction in 2000, completing his first novel, Darkness is as Light, in 2001. It was published in 2005. 

Since then, David has been busy: Pumpkin Hill (2005), Charlie No Face(2007), Chimney Bluffs (2012), More More Time (2015), Parrot Talk (2017), and Gavin Goode (2019).

He has also written and co-written numerous non-fiction pieces some ofwhich are listed on the Other Publications Page.

www.davidbseaburn.com

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/going-out-not-knowing

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”. 

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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. 

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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

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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/

The Granddaughter Project by Shaheen Chishti Review

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

Three very different women use their voices to improve the society they find themselves in, hoping to change things for the better for their granddaughters in author Shaheen Chishti’s “The Granddaughter Project”.

The Synopsis

A deeply emotional and raw story, “The Granddaughter Project” is the shared experience of three, very different women, who collectively use their voices, wanting to improve societal attitudes for their granddaughters. The men around these women put them into desperate situations: young and alone, they fought to overcome their experiences. 

Helga is a holocaust survivor, who grew up as the cherub of her family until the Anschluss of Austria. Separated from her family in Auschwitz, she survived the

horrors alone and tried to begin a new life in Israel. In complete contrast, Kamla was born as a poor peasant girl and grew up during the Bengali Famine. With an alcoholic father, who abuses her mother, the family find themselves homeless and hungry. She survives and finds work in a women’s shelter, eventually marrying Rajeev, who abandons her and their young daughter. Lynette leaves the Caribbean shores with her mother Pam, arriving in 1950s London. Living in appalling conditions, the pair struggle to make ends meet and contend with constant discrimination. When her mother dies,

Lynette is left alone and at the mercy of the people around her. During the Notting Hill riots, she is beaten and left for dead but she still survives.

These warrior women tell their stories for the first time to their granddaughters, hoping that they can succeed where they failed and that they feel empowered, inspired and supported to do what is best for themselves.

The Review

Such a lovely and heartfelt story of strong women overcoming great obstacles to give their children a better life, this is the perfect balance of women’s fiction and family drama. The characters were the perfect balance of strength and vulnerability, highlighting the individual struggles they overcame and showing the incredible spirit of these women that perfectly captures the feminine driven narrative.

What really helped showcase this women’s fiction novel was the back and forth between character growth and culture that was incorporated into the narrative. From the very first page the author blends modern day protagonist Maya into the life of her late grandmother, from life struggling to survive in her village to her connection to the goddess Durga, and as the story progresses the narrative seems to take on aspects of the historical fiction and mythology genres as well, making the story feel well rounded.

The Verdict

Majestic, emotional, and heartfelt in its delivery, author Shaheen Chishti’s “The Granddaughter Project” is a must read novel. Full of heart and powerful family storytelling, the author showcases an overall theme of love and strength that encompasses the strong female characters that drive this narrative forward. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Shaheen Chishti is an Indian-British author, world peace advocate and thought leader. Shaheen is a member of the London Literary Society and Muslim-Jewish Forum in London. He is also the founder of the Jewish Islamic International Peace Society. Shaheen’s writings – fiction and non-fiction – primarily focus on the upliftment of women and the emancipation of Muslim women in particular. He believes that the “empowerment of women is at the root of Muslin teaching”. An ardent believer in the Sufi philosophy of “Love towards all, malice towards none”, Shaheen endeavours to promote the message of peace and solidarity of the Chishti Order of Sufism. Shaheen was born into the Syed Chishti family in India which traces its ancestry directly to Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet.

http://shaheenchishti.in/

https://www.amazon.com/Granddaughter-Project-Shaheen-Chishti/dp/1608882381

https://twitter.com/chishtishaheen?s=21

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”. 

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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

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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: 

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Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @maiseyyates

Facebook:@MaiseyYates.Author 

Instagram: @maiseyyates

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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.

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”. 

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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

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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/

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

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

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

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Were We Awake by L.M. Brown Review

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

A series of short stories illustrate the world people thought they knew is not what it appeared in author L.M. Brown’s novel “Were We Awake.”

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The Synopsis

In each story of this collection, events make the characters understand that their world is not as it seemed.

In Hidden, the discovery of an affair between her father and aunt is only the start of finding hidden secrets for Hazel.

What it Means to Be Empty-Handed is narrated by a fourteen–year-old daughter of an alcoholic. Her denial and elaborate imagination starts to disintegrate when she lies to the wrong person.

In Crashing, a middle-aged woman lives a life of servitude until she hits teenage boy with her car.

A thirty-year-old murder takes its toll on the victim’s family in Walking A Country Road.

The stories are set in Boston and Ireland.


The Review

Author L.M. Brown does it again, creating a wonderful collection of stories that are both connected and illustrate the way life constantly throws people curve balls, turning the world they knew into a completely new one. A collection that showcases that things are never simple or what they appear. 

One of the truly engaging stories of the collection has to be Hidden, which delves into the complex family life of Hazel when she discovers her father and aunt are having an affair. Yet as her family life implodes, new secrets reveal that things are not as simple as they first appeared. The story is a prime example of how life is often lived in shades of grey, with people often living complicated lives in an attempt to find peace and happiness. The author beautifully illustrates the pain, the shock and the confusion that comes from having a person’s world turned upside down, and perfectly taps into the emotion and complexity of humanity as a whole. 


The Verdict

A fairly average length read with completely dynamic characters and stories that feel both personal and connected, this collection of stories is truly unique and wonderfully captures the author’s unique writing style and voice. A collection that honestly showcases the ever changing landscape of the world we live in, both the world at large and the world we create for ourselves. A dramatic journey through life’s greatest challenges, this is a fantastic collection readers will not want to miss, so be sure to grab their copy of Were We Awake by L.M. Brown today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo. Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

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The Steps by Iveta Redliha REVIEW

An attempt to create the perfect family leads to secrets and tragedies in Iveta Redliha’s novel, The Steps. The Latvian author, (along with a beautiful translation from translator Karina Loza), builds a haunting world in which two decades collide and a haunted past could lead to a bloody future. Here is the official synopsis:

“Shivers ran down Reyna’s spine. For a moment she thought his last words were meant as a threat. The stranger’s look had been so sharp and penetrating, horrifying and exciting at the same time. She embraced herself and shuddered once again. This time it was due to the pungent wind that was becoming stronger as the evening grew closer. For a while she stood there watching Lucas walk away, then finally looked away.”

Bradbury is a gorgeous property that stands amidst dark secrets. One fine day a young reckless woman Leonora, driven by desire for easy money that a rich couple would offer their surrogate mother, comes to live at the mansion, unsuspecting of the paths this seemingly carefree life and lust for money will bring to.
Meanwhile, Reyna’s steady life is turned upside down the moment her mother dies in suspicious circumstances and leaves her an unknown property and dark secrets from her turbulent past. Around that time handsome yet secretive Lucas comes into Reyna’s life. At the end the truth about the young man and the horrors of his past that haunt him, not allowing him to give in to his feelings, serves a final blow to Reyna.

Iveta Redliha (b. 1977) is a Latvian writer. With great passion she unravels in writing destinies of people of different walks of life, and their entangled feelings. “The Steps” was born out of the writer’s imagination and built on inspiration from gothic love and detective novels.

This Gothic Thriller is extremely unique and delivers a chilling story. The characters are flawed, human and sometimes terrifying. The story of a young woman’s mission of greed becomes a horrifying family drama, while another woman meets a mysterious man and learns he may have a dark side he is hiding from her. Telling the tale of a powerful family ruled by money and influence, and those that get ensnared in their power struggles and selfish desires is something we’ve seen play out time and again, and yet it’s given a breath of fresh air from author Iveta Redliha.

The writing is exceptional, delivering a spine-chilling account of two worlds colliding in messy and unexpected ways. It was a fast paced read with
lots of twists and turns, and while there are a few spots where you can see where the grammar didn’t match up with the translation, overall the
book was greatly translated for the English speaking audience, delivering a powerful literary experience that is wholly unique and fun.

Overall this was a fantastic read. The atmospheric nature of the Gothic genre blends perfectly with the mystery of the thriller genre in Iveta
Redliha’s The Steps, and if you haven’t yet I highly recommend you pick up your copies today!

Rating: 8/10