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 Blog Tours, reviews

The Disharmony of Silence by Linda Rosen Review

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

A woman on the cusp of losing her mother discovers a family secret that will change her life forever in author Linda Rosen’s novel “The Disharmony of Silence”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

In 1915, jealous, bitter Rebecca Roth cuts all ties with her life-long friends, the Pearls. Eight years later, Rebecca’s son and young Lena Pearl begin keeping company in secret. Rebecca agrees to a truce when the couple marries. But the truce is fragile. Rebecca’s resentments run deep.

In 2010, Carolyn Lee, fitness instructor and amateur photographer, must come to grips with the fact that her mother’s imminent death will leave her alone in the world. While preparing her childhood home for sale, she realizes for the first time that her mother’s antique brooch is identical to the one pinned to the lady’s dress in the painting hanging above the fireplace. Coincidence or connection? Carolyn is determined to find out. What she discovers has the potential to tear lives apart or to bring her the closeness and comfort she longs for. It all depends on how she handles her newfound knowledge.

The Review

A truly emotional and heartfelt story, author Linda Rosen does an amazing job of delving into the theme of family, how we define it and how family secrets can change the dynamic of future generations as a whole. Two families who once considered themselves one take diverging paths, and leave future generations in the dark, waiting to discover the truth of the bonds they never knew existed. 

Switching back and forth between the past and present is an honest and emotional journey the author takes the reader on. The book is a relatively even paced read and does an amazing job of not only creating a narrative that will take the reader down paths they never thought it would go but will do an amazing job of building up the characters of this novel and have readers identifying with them and gasping as the shocks keep rolling in. 

Advertisements

The Verdict

A must-read book, author Linda Rosen’s “The Disharmony of Silence” is a wonderful read filled with heart, the challenge of friendship and the emotion of true family. A one of a kind story of how easily the bonds between one another come together and can just as easily fall apart, the story of connection plays prominently in this tale and will keep readers invested throughout. Be sure to grab your copy of this wonderful novel today! 

Rating: 10/10

The Disharmony of Silence is now available to purchase at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. 

Praise for The Disharmony of Silence

“Linda Rosen spins an intriguing tale of long-held family secrets, an emotional search for identity, and a painting that may just be the key to untangling the complicated past. The bittersweet mystery kept me reading rapidly until the last page!” —Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife

Rosen paints a vivid picture of a family torn apart then shows us what true family means. – Pamela Taylor, author of the Second Son Chronicles

A wonderful novelist . . . Ms. Rosen’s writing is both tender and inspiring. The Disharmony of Silence unfolds with emotional and wise insights. – Bunny Shulman, author of After Aida

“A family torn apart by jealousy and reunited by love is devastated again when tragedy strikes. A poignant and moving debut novel about the fragility of life, the power of love, and the cost of keeping a secret.” Gina Sorell author of Mothers and Other Strangers

Advertisements

About the Author, Linda Rosen

Linda Rosen, fitness professional turned writer, lives with her husband splitting their time between New Jersey and Florida. She was a contributor to Women in the Literary Landscape: A WNBA Centennial Publication for the Women’s National Book Association and has had stories published in Foliate Oak and Crack the Spine, both in their online magazine and print anthology. Follow her at www.linda-rosen.com

— Blog Tour Dates

March 2nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us as we celebrate the launch of Linda’s blog tour The Disharmony of Silence. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book too!

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

March 4th @ A Writer’s Life

How much does setting matter in a novel? Author Linda Rosen talks about this very subject over at Caroline’s blog today. You can also enter to win a copy of her book The Disharmony of Silence.

http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/

March 6th @ 12 Books

Make sure you visit Louise’s blog and read her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

March 7th @ Lori Duff Writes

Be sure to stop by Lori’s blog today and you can read her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

March 8th @ Bring on Lemons

Visit Crystal’s blog today and you can read a review written by her daughter Carmen about Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence. Don’t miss it!

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

March 10th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Make sure you visit Anthony’s blog today where you can read his interview with author Linda Rosen.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

March 11th @ A Storybook World

Blogger Deirdra Eden spotlights Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

March 13th @ Lori’s Reading Corner

Stop by Lori’s blog today and you can read a fitness inspiring post by author Linda Rosen! She shares some tips about strength training while reading audiobooks. You can also enter to win a copy of Linda’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/

March 14th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion

Stop by Linda’s blog today and you can read her interview with author Linda Rosen. Don’t miss it!

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

March 15th @ Choices

Make sure you stop by Madeline Sharples’ blog today and read Linda Rosen’s blog post about inspiring your creative self by getting outdoors. Don’t miss it!

http://madelinesharples.com/

March 16th @ Reviews and Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog where she interviews author Linda Rosen about her book The Disharmony of Silence.

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

March 17th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and join Lacey over at her blog today. She reviews Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

March 18th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog again today and read his review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence. Don’t miss it!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

March 19th @ AJ Sefton’s Blog

Make sure you visit author AJ Sefton’s blog today and read a review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://www.ajsefton.com/book-reviews

March 20th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Looking for a new book to add to your reading list? Make sure you visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of “The Disharmony of Silence.” You’ll want to add it to your list!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

March 21st @ Bookworm Blog

Visit Anjanette’s blog today and you can read her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

March 22nd @ 12 Books

Are you part of a book club? Author Linda Rosen shares fun activities you can do for your book club. Don’t miss this fun, inspiring post!

March 23rd @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Make sure you visit Cassandra’s blog today and read her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

March 25th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

What do you do if you are writing about a made-up setting? Make sure you visit Bev’s blog today and you can read Linda Rosen’s guest post where she shares her advice.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

March 26th @ Lady in Read Writes

Stop by Vidya’s blog today and you can read her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://ladyinreadwrites.com/

March 27th @ Jessica Belmont’s Blog

Over at Jessica’s blog today, you won’t want to miss her review of Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

March 28th @ Bookworm Blog

Stop by Anjanette’s blog again today and you can read her interview with author Linda Rosen.

https://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

March 30th @ It’s Alanna Jean

What does your writing space look like? Author Linda Rosen shares her tips for setting up your writing space over at Alanna Jean’s blog. 

http://itsalannajean.com/

April 3rd @ Joyful Antidotes

Make sure you stop by Joy’s blog today where she reviews Linda Rosen’s book The Disharmony of Silence.

https://joyfulantidotes.com/


April 5th @ Teatime and Books

How much do you love revising? Does it spark joy? Linda Rosen shares her thoughts on the joy of revising over at the blog Tea Time and Books. 

http://teatimeandbooks76.blogspot.com/

Posted in Interviews

Author Interview with Hans Joseph Fellmann

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I didn’t really get into writing; writing got into me. It happened for the first time when I was five years old. My folks and I went to visit my grandparents and my grandfather showed me his handgun. I asked him what it was for and he said, “Killing bad guys.” He didn’t explain much more. I knew from cartoons that guns fired bullets. It didn’t occur to my tiny brain that bullets could kill people. On our way home, we passed our local sewage treatment plant. It stunk like rotting bodies in a wet room. I asked my father why that was. He said, “Because there’s a river of shit running through it.” We got home and I went to bed. The next morning, I went to school. I was teased ruthlessly, as usual. I came home in a foul mood. I ate dinner and went to my room. Instead of diddling myself or playing videogames, I decided to draw. I grabbed a pencil and a stack of paper. As I sat there scribbling, I let my mind go. I thought about the handgun and what my gramps had said. I thought about the kids who teased me and the sewage treatment plant. Suddenly, a force shot through me; I was like a metal rod pulling lightening from the clouds. When the sensation ceased, I looked down at the page. I had written and illustrated (albeit terribly) a story about a handgun that came to life, floated over to the sewage treatment plant, shot down the sign warning people of the “river of shit,” so that when all the kids that bullied me at school walked by it, they didn’t see it and thus fell in and drowned. I was immensely proud of my little story. I ran into the kitchen screaming and showed it to my mother. She smiled at first. As she read, her smile dropped. When she finished, she looked up at me. Her expression was one of pure terror. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I’ve been writing ever since. 

Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I wrote my book about a trip I took around the world with my childhood buddies in 2006. I guess you could say the trip is what inspired me to write the book. But the thing that pushed me to write it was a night of unprotected sex some three years later … I’d woken up the next morning and realized I’d forgotten to use a condom. I didn’t know the woman I’d fucked, and I was hungover, and when I’m hungover, I get paranoid. I started thinking I’d contracted HIV. I worked myself into a frenzy and was huffing and panting and screaming the whole drive home. When I arrived, I ran upstairs and took a shower. As I was scrubbing my junk and banging my head against the tiles, I realized that it wasn’t HIV I was afraid of, it was dying before I released all the words inside of me. I was 27 and set to go to grad school. I got out of the shower, called the director of my program, cancelled my enrollment, sat down at the computer, and wrote the first chapter of “Chuck Life’s a Trip.” 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I don’t want them to take away any theme or message in particular. All I ask is that they embark on the trip that is my book with an open mind and an open heart. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

My genre, if you could call it that, is “fictionalized memoirs.” I can’t say what drew me into it. But I can say that I like the idea of writing about my past without the encumberment of sticking to the facts. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

If I could sit down with any character in my book, I would sit down with the main character, whose name is Johann Klaus Felmanstien, and ask him why he chose to represent us with such a stupid fucking name. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Seeing as how I’ve only used Blogger and Facebook to promote my work, I’d have to say those two. I wish I could say I haven’t used any social media sites to promote my work, and that my readership has grown strictly through reading and word-of-mouth, like in the good old days when people actually read books and then talked about them face-to-face with other people, but those days are dead, buried, and rotting, so yeah, Blogger and Facebook. 

Advertisements

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you’re doing this for money, fame, sex, or any combination of the three, kindly take your computer, and any other instruments of writing you may own, form a pyramid with them in your backyard, douse it with lighter fluid, strike a match, and toss it at the belly of that bitch so that it may go up in flames along with your dreams … However, if you’re in this for the good fight, and by that I mean putting words on the page so that a decade from now they reach some poor bastard ready to stick a gun to his head, and he reads them and decides to give life one more shot so he can take his kid to the park, then write everyday with honesty and vigor and don’t stop until you croak. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m currently editing my second novel, which is based on my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan. I have also written a compilation of poems and book of short stories, both of which I will release at a later date … As for my future, I have no idea what it holds. I only know that with writing, I’ve crossed the point of no return, and it scares the shit outta me. 

About the Author

Hans Joseph Fellmann currently lives between Prague, where he teaches to keep the lights on and writes to keep from going nuts, and Livermore in Northern California, where his funky little ass grew up. During the last twenty years, Hans has been tiptoeing the globe and scribbling it all down. To date, he has visited over eighty countries on six continents, and he continues to “blow it up” each summer.

By the skin of his teeth, Hans earned a BA degree from the University of California at San Diego in International Studies, with an emphasis on the Middle East. His articles and short stories have appeared (albeit not magically) in the UCSD Guardian, the San Diego Union-Tribune and The Prague Revue. To improve his craft, and to buy his folks keychains so they could claim their son went to grad school, he attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2013.

His first novel “Chuck Life’s a Trip,” which is based on a trip he took around the world with his childhood buddies in 2006, is now available on Amazon. He recently completed a second semi-autobiographical novel which he is “polishing.” It is about his pants-on-the-head-crazy experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan.

In his spare time, Hans likes to study languages, the more obscure the better. He speaks ten, including Czech, Turkmen, Farsi and Spanish, with varying degrees of proficiency. He is also a huge geography and book nerd. When he’s not backpacking where he shouldn’t be or rattling off in some foreign tongue, he’s got his eyes crawling over a map of a long-forgotten Central Asian republic, or his nose buried deep in a book by a fellow B.A.M.F.

https://amzn.to/2Ox8f6b

Posted in reviews

The Book of Dreams by Nina George Review

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

An ex war reporter falls into a coma, and brings the son he never knew and the woman he left behind together in a struggle to understand who this man was in author Nina George’s novel “The Book of Dreams”.

50% Off Beach Reads

The Synopsis

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.

After the accident, Sam–a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction–waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight–for hope, for patience, for life–they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.

A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, The Book of Dreams is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

The Review

This is a truly emotional story. Exploring the lives of four people who find themselves tied together by unforeseen circumstances. The author’s exploration of life’s deepest struggles and the emotional and mental impact of the relationships we often make in life help bring this novel a sense of familiarity and connection between the reader and the narrative. 

The author’s exploration of the intricacies of life and the universe, and exploring the almost otherworldly struggle of those struggling for acceptance and forgiveness creates an emotional gut punch with every chapter, making the reader feel deeply and emotionally invested in this novel.

The Verdict

A fantastic and heart-wrenching story filled with tears, emotional bonds and an ending readers may not see coming, this book was evenly paced and took the readers on an eloquent journey through some of life’s hardest struggles. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “The Book of Dreams” by Nina George today!

Rating: 10/10

25% Off Select Outdoor Toys for Summer!

About the Author

Born 1973 in Bielefeld, Germany, Nina George is a prize-winning and bestselling author (“Das Lavendelzimmer” – “The Little Paris Bookshop”) and freelance journalist since 1992, who has published 26 books (novels, mysteries and non-fiction) as well as over hundred short stories and more than 600 columns. George has worked as a cop reporter, columnist and managing editor for a wide range of publications, including Hamburger Abendblatt, Die Welt, Der Hamburger, “politik und kultur” as well as TV Movie and Federwelt. Georges writes also under three pen-names, for ex “Jean Bagnol”, a double-andronym for provence-based mystery novels. 

In 2012 and 2013 she won the DeLiA and the Glauser-Prize. In 2013 she had her first bestselling book “Das Lavendelzimmer”, translated in 27 langues and sold more than 500.000 copies. 

In November 2011, Nina George established the “JA zum Urheberrecht” (YES on Author’s Rights) initiative, which supports the rights of authors, artists and entertainers and is dedicated to resolving issues within the literary community as well as establishing fair and practical rights-license models for the web-distribution. 14 writers’ associations and 27 publishing partners have since joined the JA…-Initiative. George supports the “Initiative Urheberrecht” (Author’s Rights Initiative—www.urheber.info) as well as the “gib 8 aufs Wort”-campaign of the VG Wort. 

In August 2014 George initiated the Amazon-protest in Germany www.fairer-buchmarkt.de, where overs 2000 germanspeaking authors – Nobelprizewinnig Elfriede Jelinek or Bestsellingauthor Nele Neuhaus – sign an open letter to Jeff Bezos and Amazon, protesting against the banned-book-methods of the giant retailer in the Hachette/Bonnier-dispute. 

In 2015 George is the founder of the Initiative Fairer Buchmarkt e.V., which supports questions of law in daily business of authors – for ex in contracts, fees or author’s rights and e-Business. 

George is Member to PEN, Das Syndikat (association of German-language crime writers), the Association of German Authors (VS), the Hamburg Authors’ Association (HAV), BücherFrauen (Women in Publishing), the IACW/AIEP (International Association of Crime Writers), the GEDOK (Association of female artists in Germany), PRO QUOTE and Lean In. Nina George sits on the board of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translaters’ Council (TSWTC), whose members come from 16 different countries. 

Nina George teaches writing at Literaturbüro Unna, Alsterdamm Kunstschule, Wilhelmsburger Honigfabrik, where she coaches young people, adults and professional authors. 

George also moderates (bilingual) readings and works as a speaker.

www.nina-george.com

find me also on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/NinaGeorge.S…

www.ninageorge.de

Posted in reviews

The Burden of Trust: The Price No One Expected To Pay by Tabitha Young Review

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

Two unlikely people find themselves connecting in unexpected ways and going on a journey of discovery in author Tabitha Young’s “The Burden of Trust: The Price No One Expected to Pay”. Here is the synopsis. 

40% Off Select Collectibles

The Synopsis

Sometimes, the heart exacts more than we want to pay 

Faced with a decision that would change her life forever, Katherine “Kate” Woods took the route that seemed best with the circumstances. Only time would tell whether or not she had made the right choice. Her own family required more than a bit of finesse. From being an on-demand aunt for her niece when her sister checked out on them to dealing with her mother’s peculiarities, she just needed some solitude to get her life back on track. 

Chris Cody—sexy, arrogant, and in need of a serious attitude adjustment—enters Kate’s life in nothing less than the dramatic way known as second nature to the very handsome movie star. Armed with his own issues and in need of a good friend, Chris lands on Kate’s doorstep with a proposal to shock them both. 

From New York to Florida to California, the two find themselves in a situation that is not “ripped from the headlines” but makes the headlines in all the ways that Kate does not want. The bonds of love and friendship are truly tested in this moving tale about relationships, families, and life’s surprises.

The Review

A whirlwind story of loss, friendship and the hope for a better tomorrow, this story takes readers in unexpected directions. Readers will be shocked to discover the story is far more complex, deep and emotional than they could have imagined, and creates a truly unique dynamic between Kate and Chris that instantly creates a visual in the readers mind. 

The story itself is strong and evenly paced, making this a fairly quick read overall. Yet it’s the character development of both protagonists and the intricacies of their unique relationship that really make this novel shine bright. Touching on the pulse of some of today’s most emotionally charged social issues, this novel does an excellent job of creating suspense, intrigue and heartfelt emotion that draws the readers in further and further into the narrative.

Looking for help with some family counseling for you and your family/loved ones? Look to the following article to find help with our friends at Regain for you and your family’s counseling needs here.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic women’s fiction novel that readers will thoroughly enjoy. Creative, passionate and humorous all wrapped into an emotionally charged package, this is the novel readers of the genre will not want to miss. A must read women’s fiction novel for 2019, be sure to grab your copy of Tabitha Young’s “The Burden of Trust” today! 

Rating: 10/10

Spring Promotion – $5 off $45 @ eBooks.com. Use Code: springebookscp. Valid until June 20.

About the Author

Tabitha grew up in Virginia, outside of Washington D.C., but moved to Orlando to attend UCF (Go Knights!) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. It was five years ago when she met her husband, who is a graduate from Deland High; two years ago, they moved back to Deland. During this time, she has fallen in love with the town and community. 

Currently, she is an active alumna of Kappa Alpha Theta and serves on the Advisory Board as the Facility Management Advisor for the Epsilon Theta Chapter at Stetson University. During her free time, she loves being with her family (although they are usually working on their small family farm), traveling, and of course, watching college football.

https://www.tabithayoung.com/

https://www.instagram.com/tabithayoungauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/TabithaYoungAuthor/

Posted in Blog Tours, Guest Post

Guest Blog Post: “Don’t know much about history.” Using fiction to write non-fiction by Author Anna Levine

This is Anthony Avina speaking. I am honored today to share with you all this exclusive guest blog post from the wonderful and talented author Anna Levine. Having been promoting her latest children’s book All Eyes on Alexandra, Anna is here to talk about how she uses fiction to write a non-fiction book. I hope you all will enjoy and be sure to look at the end of this post for all of Anna’s info.


Last year I was invited to speak to a group of children’s book writers who were touring Israel. I have a series of archaeology-themed picture books about a young girl who dreams of being an archaeologist. Since the writers were going to experience a dig, they invited me along.

Dressed in shorts, caps and running shoes, I looked at the group of authors and realized that archaeology is not only about digging up the past, but becoming the adventurous child you once were. These writers in their thirties, forties and some in their eighties had become younger versions of themselves. And once we’d entered the cave, had picks, trowels brushes and pails, the hunt for treasures began. The joy at discovering history could be heard in their shouts as they uncovered ancient shards. While Jodie, the protagonist of my archaeological series (Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig), is a work of fiction, all the details about being on an archeological dig are factual.

In my latest picture book, I move from the treasures hidden beneath to the wonders above us. In this part of my world, over five hundred millions birds fly across the skies twice a year on their way to and from Africa. The sight of these migrating birds is magical. Wanting to share this environmental wonder with young readers, I chose Alexandra, a young female bird with an adventurous spirit. I visited the Bird Observatory and spoke with the researches who helped me track the birds’ migration route. I drove up to the Hula Valley Reserve and observed the birds at sunrise and sunset, their busiest times.

As a novice writer I was told ‘write what you know,’ I’ve adapted the old adage to, ‘write what you wish to discover.’ Non-fiction and fiction can complement each other well as along as the facts are correct and the characters are emotionally endearing.


Book summary

 In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub

ISBN-10: 1512444391

ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and NobleTarget and Thrift Books.

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

About the Author, Anna Levine

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at —

Author website: http://www.annalevine.org/

Twitter: @LevineAnna 

Instagram: @booksfromanna 

About the Illustrator, Chiara Pasqualotto,

Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she’s been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at –

Artist website – https://romeartweek.com/en/artists/?id=1495&ida=1004

Blog: http://chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com/

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

– Blog Tour Dates

December 3rd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Make sure you visit WOW’s blog today and read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book All Eyes on Alexandra.

muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

December 5th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books

Visit Erik’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how to jog your inspiration.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 7th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he joins in the fun of celebrating and shares information about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 8th @ Christy’s Cozy Corners

Visit Christy’s blog and cozy up while you read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://christyscozycorners.com/

December 9th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about designing your ideal writing spot.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 9th @ Christy’s Cozy Corner

Visit Christy’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about how she decided to use crane’s in her story.

https://christyscozycorners.com/


December 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Pamela’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how authors use anthropomorphic animals.

http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/


December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews Anna Levine, author of All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 13th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read Anna Levine’s guest post about building a theme day around a picture book.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/

December 13th @ Oh for the Hook of a Book

Visit Erin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

www.hookofabook.wordpress.com

December 15th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog where she features Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra in a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 17th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about naming your characters.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Linda’s Blog

Make sure you visit Linda’s blog today where you can read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog

December 20th @ Word Magic: All About Books 

Visit Fiona’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Make sure you grab some lemonade and stop by Crystal’s blog today where she reviews Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 27th @ Linda’s Blog

Visit Linda’s blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog


December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog and read Anna Levine’s guest post on learning about families and different cultures.


January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.


Posted in reviews

Never, Never and Never Again by K.M. Breakey

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

Be prepared guys: this book was a very intense and emotionally charged book that made me get philosophical and political in my review. You’ve been warned…

A chilling story that blends fiction with history brings the horrors of South Africa to a brutal light in author K.M. Breakey’s novel Never, Never and Never Again. Here’s the synopsis:

Audrey is a starry-eyed Brit, Pieter a tenth-generation Afrikaner. At the height of Apartheid, they fall in love. A life of splendour awaits, but the country is shifting underfoot. The winds of change fan revolution, and Michael Manzulu’s rage boils. He is hungry, and will risk everything to destroy his oppressor. 

When white rule gives way, trepidation is tempered by precarious optimism. Mandela will make the miracle happen. Or not. Twenty-three years on, South Africa has suffered unprecedented decline. The country unravels and fear is pervasive. Fear of persecution, land seizure, slaughter. Pieter and Audrey march on. They navigate the perpetual threat. They pray the wrath will not strike their home. 

Recently, voices of protest cry out, none louder than the bombastic scholar, Kaspar Coetzer. World leaders cautiously take note, but will they take action? More importantly, can they? 

“Never, Never and Never Again” is a story of vengeance, greed and corruption. A story the world ignores, but a story that must be told…before it’s too late. 

I must admit to you guys this was a tough one to read. I don’t talk about it all the time, but I am very much a liberal. My moral viewpoints tend to line up with liberal democrats in the United States. I am not religious, I support the LGBTQ community, am a proud feminist and hope to see a world where everyone is equal in both mind and law. Yet reading this novel showed me that evil and violence can come in many forms, and the issues we face are so much more than black and white (no pun intended).

The story itself was very interesting. It explored a family’s struggles in South Africa over a few decades. It shows the racially charged environment and the hatred that brews between both the black and white communities of this nation.

One of the hardest things for me to write about are race relations. I myself am half Hispanic and half white. I do not and will not ever understand the hatred and discrimination faced by the black community not just in my own country but around the world. I fully support equality for all, and support causes like Black Lives Matter, which despite what some people claim is about telling the world that all lives matter including black lives, not just white ones. It’s about equality for all, not discrimination against one or the other.

This book delved into something that really spoke to me. While the book showed both the hatred and violence that brewed within the black community of South Africa for years thanks to the horrors of Apartheid, it also showcases the corruption and power hungry politicians who utilize each side’s fears and mistrusts with the other to further their own needs. Now I had very little knowledge personally going into this story about South Africa and it’s history both in the past and presently. After reading this book I did my research and was saddened to see that while the author did an excellent job of using fictitious characters and events to further the story, some of that fiction was based in reality.

Innocent men and women and children are being killed every day in South Africa. Many of them are white farmers who make up over 70% of the farming community in the country, and are subject to blackmail and assault from criminals. However I also read accounts from unnamed white farmers who say the black community is also subject to these violent crimes, not just white people. It shows that the issue isn’t about white vs black, but rather good vs evil. I saw this a lot through the side character of Mosegi, an employee of the Van Zyl family that spent his entire life with the family. He was the subject of violence from criminals who called themselves revolutionaries, being beaten nearly to death for being loyal to the family. However he was more than an employee but a part of the family. Despite the family’s flawed mentality at times, he still loved them and dedicated his life to them. He was a black man who found a path to be part of both communities and tried to find a way to have peace between the white family he worked for and the black community he was a part of.

The story was well written, and told in great detail. The author did a wonderful job of blending our current political climate with the horrors of the past, and focused on bringing to light the suffering of a nation that hardly get’s recognized by the international community. However I will say it was difficult for me to identify with the formerly powerful white characters who were now victims of a corrupt government and criminals. The horrors they endured were awful and I too condemn the real victims of these horrors. However the misguided notion that this is a result of the black community of South Africa as a whole taking over and the white community losing control of the country was not something I could support. Instead I saw between the lines of what the author wrote and saw instead a common thread between both sides: neither the white or black communities could learn from the past.

Instead of looking to a future where everyone was equal and they could tackle the issues of a low economy, poor housing and out of control corruption and criminals, instead the white community focused on all of the black community being unable to run the country while the black community members portrayed couldn’t move on from the past and instead harbored the same level of hatred and violence their ancestors endured from white people. Moving forward as a people is not about living in the past and having everyone in present day pay for the sins of their fathers (in a manner of speaking). Instead it’s about acknowledging the mistakes of our fathers and ourselves and finding a common ground to move forward. So long as everyone continues to hate one another and keep this “us vs them” mentality, violence and corruption will never end. I fully oppose the mentality and actions of people like current President Donald Trump and his administration, but I also condemn the violent actions of the criminals in South Africa. The answer is not to return to the days of Apartheid or to violently seize and assault farm owners land, but to find a way to stabilize and improve the nation and bring the harmony Nelson Mandela promised and hoped for all those years ago.

Overall this book was incredibly well written, powerful and gave a unique perspective from both sides of a long conflict on the African continent. I think that this is the kind of book that could help bring some perspective to the highly unrecognized conflicts that still plague both the black and white communities of the country, and show us all that there are still a lot of steps that need to be taken before we can live in peaceful coexistence. Thank you to author K.M Breakey for providing me such a thought provoking and realistic read. If you haven’t yet be sure to check out Never, Never and Never Again by K.M Breakey today!

Rating: 8/10

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078TLJW2R

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37836016-never-never-and-never-again

 

About K.M. Breakey

bio-picture-about-page

I was born in Toronto & educated at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. I received a degree in Mathematics & Computing Science in 1992, and commenced a 25-year career in Information Technology. In 2016, I turned full attention to writing with the success of my 3rd novel. Johnny and Jamaalfearlessly explores racial dysfunction in America, from perspectives you won’t hear in mainstream media.

My latest, Never, Never and Never Again, tackles South Africa’s complicated history, from Apartheid, through Transformation, and into the chaos currently laying waste to this once-prosperous nation. In an age of mass media distortion and rapid erosion of free speech, I see fiction as a powerful vehicle to disseminate truth and expose lies.

NNANA is my fourth novel and I’ve caught the bug. Currently dreaming up scenarios for my fifth, and always working hard to find new readers 🙂 When not writing, I enjoy business pursuits, political debate, hockey, tennis and skiing.

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Daniel Blake Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was trained as an historian—was a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky for many years—so early on I was into the storytelling business.  Most of my earlier books, in fact, are works of history:  I’ve published books with major commercial presses (Henry Holt/MacMillan and St. Martin’s Press) on the founding of Virginia (THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN); The Trail of Tears (AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL:  CHEROKEE PATRIOTS AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS); and a family saga (OUR FAMILY DREAMS).

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was inspired to write MR. WONDERFUL out of autobiographical motivations.  I began the work as a memoir but soon found that I wanted (and the book needed) to have the freedom of fiction, so I quickly moved beyond my own story (yes, I am a college professor, like the protagonist, Brian Fenton; and yes, I have a son—but not ‘wayward and loopy’, like Danny in the story; and, yes, my father recently passed, a small town Texas doctor just as in the novel) to create something larger, deeper, and more meaningful that takes readers well beyond the confines of my particular experience.  But watching my father go through dementia as he came near the end did serve as the initial spark to write something in honor of him.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I guess I hope that readers come away feeling that they’ve met some real, relatable, flawed, but fascinating characters who struggle with issues—success, manhood, relationships, death, loss, and legacy—that we all must confront.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I love first-person narration in novels, especially with the story set in the ‘eternal present tense’ and so this story—narrated (not always reliably) by the father and son, Brian and Danny Fenton—offered the opportunity to show how much point of view matters in understanding how life and our emotional reactions to it unfold and acquire meaning.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would love to sit down with at least three characters and ask the following questions:  1) Danny, the wayward son:  ‘what gives you meaning and purpose when you get up every day?  Are you thinking of some goal, some future accomplishment or just living moment to moment?  2) Claire Fenton:  how in the world do you maintain such commitment, devotion, and positive feelings in the face of so much negativity, decline, and loss?  3) Robert (‘Doc’) Fenton:  how could you be both John Wayne and a feeling person who reached out to others?  Why and how did you hide this secret, inner self?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook and Twitter have probably helped me reach out the most to prospective readers—in part, because I built up a pretty significant following through my previous work as a filmmaker.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Aspiring writers need to read as much in the world of writing they intend to work in—novels for fiction writers; history and non-fiction for those wanting to tell ‘true’ stories.  And then you have to write.  Write some every day, just to feel yourself giving expression to images, thoughts, emotions.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or ‘publishable’ (it won’t be) at first.  As the great playwright, Tennessee Williams said (but it applies to all kinds of writing): “You don’t write plays; you REWRITE them.”

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Next up for me are a couple of film projects I’m trying to get off the ground—BLOOD BORN, a thriller about a down-on-his-luck 20 something young man whose world is turned upside down when he discovers that his blood can cure cancer; and I’ll be turning MR. WONDERFUL into a screenplay and hopefully an actual movie someday soon.  Book project:  I think I’ll do a sequel to MR. WONDERFUL, focusing on the antics and wild story of Danny and Dawn, the next generation, so to speak.

My website (has lots of photos, trailers, and other info about my work as book author and filmmaker):  danielblakesmith.com
Author bio:  DANIEL BLAKE SMITH is the author of several books including, THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN (Henry Holt); AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL (Henry Holt); and OUR FAMILY DREAMS (St. Martin’s Press).  He’s also a writer/producer whose most recent film, TEXAS HEART, starring John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER) and Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), is now available on Amazon Prime and on DVD.  Formerly a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a filmmaker and author.
Posted in reviews

Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith Review

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

Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.

A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:

In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.

Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.

Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”

When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.

In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.

This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.

The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.

Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Buy the Book

Author’s Website

Twitter: @dblakesmitty
Facebook:
YouTube Trailer