Sunday, July 31, 2016

The New Trail of Tears

If you want to know why American Indians have the highest rates of poverty of any racial group, why suicide is the leading cause of death among Indian men, why native women are two and a half times more likely to be raped than the national average and why gang violence affects American Indian youth more than any other group, do not look to history. There is no doubt that white settlers devastated Indian communities in the 19th, and early 20th centuries. But it is our policies today—denying Indians ownership of their land, refusing them access to the free market and failing to provide the police and legal protections due to them as American citizens—that have turned reservations into small third-world countries in the middle of the richest and freest nation on earth.

The tragedy of our Indian policies demands reexamination immediately—not only because they make the lives of millions of American citizens harder and more dangerous—but also because they represent a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with modern liberalism. They are the result of decades of politicians and bureaucrats showering a victimized people with money and cultural sensitivity instead of what they truly need—the education, the legal protections and the autonomy to improve their own situation.

If we are really ready to have a conversation about American Indians, it is time to stop bickering about the names of football teams and institute real reforms that will bring to an end this ongoing national shame.

My Review

I have no knowledge of what life is really like living on the reservation. I only know what I have read in history books and what my mom has told me about her experiences growing up around some Indians.

I like reading about true stories or people. Therefore I was interested in reading this book. While I did find it to be an interesting read at times it did read a little stiff for me with not a lot of moment. I don't disagree on what our National has done to the American Indians is terrible but reading this book, it did seem that how they live now is not all the product of the past. It seemed that some of it has to do with how the American Indians choose to life their lives that has caused the outcome of some to live in deplorable conditions. This book is a table read. One that can be brought up as a conversation piece. Because there is so much to take in and the fact that I did not always find myself engaged, I had to take a break from this book and come back to it. Although, I am glad I checked this book out.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a weekly columnist for the New York Post and a former Wall Street Journal editor and writer whose work focuses on higher education, religion, philanthropy and culture. She is the author of six books, including, The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians, out from Encounter this summer.
Her book, ‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America (Oxford, 2013), was named an editor’s pick by the New York Times Book Review.
Ms. Riley’s writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She appears regularly on FoxNews and FoxBusiness and CNBC. She has also appeared on Q&A with Brian Lamb as well as the Today Show.
She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in English and Government. She lives in the suburbs of New York with her husband, Jason, and their three children.

Check out author, Naomi's interview with Wall Street Journal

Naomi's website

What Matters Most

Finding her dream job went right out the window when Leta Breckenridge had to quit school to help care for her mother suffering from dementia. When a delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta is thrilled to land a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her seemingly ideal job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition organization--and that the research she's been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she's swiftly falling in love with.

Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He's already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician's wife, but he's never met anyone like Leta. Could this feisty woman hold the key to his heart--and his future?

With emotional depth and keen insight into what drives us, Kellie Coates Gilbert offers a salient story that calls us to consider what we value most in this life.

Review by Blanche Mancuso

This author certainly pens a great story about Leta Breckenridge, as a young lady who holds two jobs in order to keep her mother in a facility that understands what her mother needs as she has dementia. Leta seeks help for those of our elders who face many of the problems that are related to dementia. You will be intrigued by her association with an up and coming Senator of Texas, who has the knowledge of people who need this kind of special care and how she comes to assist him in his research.

This is a great time for this book to come out seeing that it is an election year. This book teaches you that no matter what, if you trust in God and stick to what you believe, you will come out on top. What Matters Most is a delightful read that I recommend to anyone who wants to be inspired. I have read several books by this author and you can't go wrong with a book written by Kellie Coates Gilbert.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Perfectly Good Crime

About Perfectly Good Crime:  From the bestselling author of Good Sam comes a fast-paced and thought-provoking follow-up, Perfectly Good Crime.

When the estates of the 100 wealthiest Americans are targeted in a series of sophisticated, high tech heists, Los Angeles TV news reporter Kate Bradley must venture inside the world of the super rich to investigate the biggest story of the year.
As the heists escalate, Kate’s search is thwarted when the Los Angeles police detective she’s been working with mysteriously disappears, her senator father demands that she stop reporting on the heists, and the billionaire victims refuse to talk to the media. Kate uncovers clues that those behind the robberies have shocking, yet uplifting, motives—it just may be a perfectly good crime that brings about powerful change.

Further complicating her life is a dream job awaiting her in New York, a choice that could shatter from her deepening relationship with Fire Captain Eric Hayes. Kate must trust her instincts—and her heart—in a high stakes search that will test everything she believes and force her to decide where she belongs.

My Review

This is the first book I have read by this author and in this series. The first Kate Bradley Mystery is titled Good Sam. This book is the next book in the series. It can be read as a stand alone novel. There was a brief mention of events that Kate was recovering from in the first book but nothing that would take away from this book. I really liked Kate and that she did not want to settle with just being a news journalist but an investigative reporter. She has brains and a good knack for sniffing out the story. Although, my issue was that I did not really find the mystery surrounding the wealthy to be that engaging to me. What I mean by this is that I was not engaged in the characters or their situation. Yet this was a pretty fast read. I got to about a third of the way in and then the story just started to settle but than towards the end it did pick up again. I may go back and check out the first book in this series.

About Dete: Dete Meserve is an award-winning author who is searching for Good. Like Kate Bradley in the novels 'Good Sam' and 'Perfectly Good Crime,' Meserve searches for people who are doing extraordinary good for others. While most mysteries focus on finding the killer or kidnapper, Meserve's novels focus our attention on finding the helpers, the rescuers, and the people who bring light and hope into the world with their selfless acts of kindness. When she's not writing, she is a film and television producer in Los Angeles and partner of Wind Dancer Films. Meserve lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children—and a very good cat that rules them all.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Girl in the Air

About the Book

Title: Girl in the Air
Author: Tyler Pike
Publisher: Tyler Pike Books
Pages: 352
Genre:  Magical Realism Action Thriller / YA Paranormal Thriller


A teenaged loner who sees more than she should, Alice Brickstone’s mission in life is to find out who or what killed her twin brother a decade earlier. All her parents will divulge is that he died on a family trip to an ashram in India, a place impossibly far from her remote ski town in Colorado. When she begins to see faces from her childhood nightmares, Alice buries her fear and pounces on the opportunity to hunt for information…and revenge. She works alone and observes no caution. Her simple mission is complicated when a strange Himalayan hermit shows up in the woods near her house telling her that she has paranormal abilities. Skeptical but determined to use any advantage to end the threat against her, she is shocked to suddenly become the hunted. There is only one way out—Alice must master her newfound skills and fly before tragedy takes over again.

GIRL IN THE AIR is the first book in a series of page-turning, fast-paced magical realism thrillers set in the Rocky Mountains. Be transported into Alice’s low-tech world of ancient yogic supernatural abilities, modern teenaged angst and post-modern world problems. Readers interested in Asian mythology will love discovering subtle allusions to the Mahabharata, and yoga practitioners will twist and writhe in their seats. If you like your heroes big like Jack Reacher, weird like Carrie, or scarred like Harry Potter, you’ll love Tyler Pike’s character, Alice Brickstone.

Buy GIRL IN THE AIR today and join Alice on her harrowing ride.

“It’s good, and wackily funny, and mostly ridiculously believable…An unstoppable magic realism action thriller.” – Tom Flood, Award-winning Author

For More Information

My Review
I like the concept of this book, yet I could not as much as I tried get excited about the book or Alice. I got about half way into the book. I only retained about a third of what I read. Honestly, if I could have been more engaged in Alice and the story I actually could have liked this book a lot more. There was some interesting things happening. Alice was starting to figure out just what abilities she truly had and the full extent of them. In addition, for me I was not making the yoga connection to the story. Again however as I stated even though I did not like this book, I would try this author again in the future.

Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1

It was five in the morning and completely dark outside. In late spring the sun wouldn’t rise over the ski mountain for another two hours. For a few little creatures out there, the day had already begun. There was a rustle in the leaves below her window, probably a deer mouse making her way to a nest somewhere. She heard a tiny peep that could have been a downy woodpecker chick.
     She rolled over, lingering in the space between her nightmares and her morning zombie routine, and remembered it was Saturday. Her swim team only trained once today but it was usually a strong session. She would eventually have to stumble out of bed, gather her bag, eat something and cycle to the pool.
     Laying there a moment longer, she listened for any sounds in her parents’ huge, empty house, but heard none. Her mom would also be hearing the morning noises from her meditation cushion in her yoga room.
What drove Mom to wake up so early, she wondered. Did she hear things when she meditated? Dad, for his part, would be dead to the world. It would take an act of God to wake him from the stupor of his hangover.
     After finally motivating herself to roll out of bed, Alice stumbled downstairs with her swimming bag, grabbed four ice cream sandwiches and an energy bar for breakfast on the ride. She took down her bike off its hooks in the garage, clipped on her helmet and cycled down the driveway.
     Her bike tires hit the gravel road. There would be no other cars up here this early and no other man-made sound of any kind. Above the crunching of her fat tires, Alice heard a tentative whistle from a hawk. It could have come from the edge of the Knifespur Wilderness where the old growth forest began. Then she heard vast expanses of pine trees rustled by a tiny breeze as it meandered, pushed by the warming dawn.
     Some different sound reached her ear, like the wind had twisted itself into words.
     “Fat girl,” she heard. “Regular routines. Easy target.”
     She knew it had been her imagination but still the road corridor through the trees looked suddenly ominous, dark and claustrophobic. She pedaled a bit harder.
     After a few hundred yards, she let her attention drift again and she heard a very distant whisper say, “I’m going to get you today, fat girl.”
     She forced herself to focus on her breathing in order to shut her mind up. It was a survival technique she had learned through years of battles against her fears and memories. She had a bad habit of imagining worst-case scenarios. It’s like that mad impulse to jump when you’re standing on a ledge. She always imagined her brother dying by thousands of spiders, slow-moving steamrollers, or being dropped out of a plane, and she often thought that the same kinds of things would be waiting for her around the next corner.
     She took both hands off her handlebars, finished her last ice cream and the energy bar, then sped up to ensure she got to the pool on time. The road passed only a few other houses before emerging onto the two-lane Colorado Highway 320. From there she had a straight shot downhill to town.
     She was feeling more awake by the time she arrived at the pool where her swim team trained every morning and every afternoon. It was an Olympic-length, fifty-meter pool in a new aquatic center on the university campus. She should feel grateful her dad’s company had helped to pay for her swim team’s pool time. Her coach had some idea this scrappy little squad may someday rival the quality of the elite Denver swim teams. Fat chance, Alice thought. Kids up here were too focused on drugs, mountain biking and skiing, leaving few girls who even bothered learning how to swim. Only Alice and one other girl on her team were starting to post some times that rivaled some of the better swimmers based in Denver.
     She locked up her bike and walked purposefully toward the entrance. The automatic doors slid open and the welcome smell of chlorine billowed out, triggering her anticipation of the pain of her morning workout. Alice put up with the monotony of long hours in the pool because swimming enabled her to temporarily escape from herself, or at least from her endless droning anxieties. She felt like the exhaustion released her from those, as well as some from invisible burden. Sometimes, in certain rare moments, the feeling of the water was more than therapy and recalled the ecstasy of a flying dream.
     Hesitant voices of other teenage girls in her junior squad were already echoing in the huge expanse of the domed building. The pool was like a solid slab of blue glass lit from within by circular lights. She heard a splash and saw the first person dive in to break the perfect stillness of the water. The water lights cast circular shapes that danced and changed on the roof.
     Alice made her way to the change room, put on her swimsuit and grabbed her cap and goggles.
     On the way to the toilet, she caught a glance of herself in the mirror and paused. She was, undeniably, getting stronger. People started gawking at her when she sprouted to six feet tall as a fifteen-year-old and she drew even more stares when she pushed up another three inches this year and ate her way to two hundred pounds. She saw some of the fat had transformed into long, bulging strands of functional muscle. She was taller, broader and stronger than most men. Still flat-chested but, for a swimmer, that was not bad news.
     She tried out a pose like she had seen bodybuilders do and was pleased to see a very large muscular “V” shape form in the back of her arms, but one of her arms had a painful zit on it. She tried to flex the muscles of her huge thighs but there wasn’t much definition and some fat pushed out from under the seam of her Speedos.
     She went into one of the stalls, sat down to pee and recalled something her coach had said to her on the previous day. He had told her that if she posted a few good times in the swim meet in Denver next weekend, she could qualify for the western zone championships in California. There were four zones in the US and each one held championships attracting the best age-group and senior swimmers in its quadrant of the country. Since turning fifteen, a year ago, Alice became a senior swimmer and often had to compete against girls up to nineteen years old. She hadn’t bothered racing any long course meets and hadn’t yet posted a qualifying time for this year's western zone championships.
When he told her about next weekend’s meet, one of the last opportunities for her to qualify, a couple of her teammates whispered to one another and giggled.
     As she sat on the toilet, she stared at the closed door, taking shallow breaths and feeling stressed. She replayed that scene over and over: Coach talking, girls laughing at her. Why were they laughing?
     The quiet in the change rooms shook her out of her trance and she realized she must be late. She jumped up and accidentally dropped her goggles in the yellow water in the toilet bowl.
     Coach ignored her as she rushed out to the pool.
     She swished her goggles around in the water at the edge to wash the toilet water off before putting them on and dove into her lane to start the warmup. The cold water gave her a jolt and she launched into a slow freestyle, her arms arcing lazily, one at a time, hands soft. Already a couple of laps behind the other girls, she pushed into a few faster laps and was surprised to feel her body sitting much higher in the water than usual. She felt strong. She also felt angry. The presence of such a huge wellspring of anger made her suspect it would be a good morning in the water.
     After she finished her warmup laps she bobbed in the water and looked carefully at the whiteboard. In anticipation of next weekend’s meet in Denver, Coach had designed the program today around some time trial sets at race pace. She loved that. She relished pushing her body way past the comfort zone. Her body was like a sledgehammer she could use to brutalize the water and deposit this anger she was feeling.
     She noticed Madison had also been swimming very well today and had been on her heels the whole time.
     When it was finally time to start the race-pace sets, Alice was feeling pumped.      Coach had organized the starting platforms and touch pad timers to be in place today to simulate a race environment. He kept large databases with all their split times at practices and races.
     Alice didn’t really care about that stuff. She just liked effort, strength and the raw feeling of speed in the water, the rest of the world blocked out.
     When Coach called the 200 meter freestyle—her favorite event—Alice climbed her block and Madison took the next lane over. A few other girls were also training for the 200 and they filled the next two lanes.
     Alice thought for a moment as Coach set up the timing system. Four laps in the pool. Coach wants me to swim each lap faster than the last. That means I am only allowed to put in a hundred percent effort in the last lap, or maybe the last two laps. What a bunch of crap. I’m just going to go all out the whole time. I don’t care what he thinks.
     “Take your mark,” Coach said into a megaphone.
     Alice placed one foot back, reached down and took hold of the front edge of the block. She leaned back slightly and tensed her body for a fast start.
    When she heard the electronic start tone, a fresh wave of anger passed over her, forcing her to pause for a millisecond, enough time to see Madison already launching herself off the platform ahead of her.
     Bang. She launched into the air with a ferocious explosion of her core muscles and legs. Alice hit the water and one of her goggle eyes filled with water. It would be just an annoyance but she would not be able to see Madison very well underwater in the next lane. She held her arms above her head, hands together in a streamline position, biceps against her ears, and gave five very powerful dolphin kicks underwater.
     She surfaced and began her stroke. Her body lifted to the top of the water again and she felt even more powerful than she had earlier. She felt like she was swimming downhill. She felt anger and strength in equal parts.
     She made her first turn and decided to see if she really could swim the second lap faster than the first. She refused to grant her coach the satisfaction that he was right she was going to ‘bonk’ after going out too hard and she would have to swim the last lap with nothing left in the tank. Her body responded and she practically flew through the water toward her second turn.
     She turned and hammered the wall again with her powerful legs. In the stillness of her underwater glide, something changed and she felt herself entering into another realm. It was as though she had broken some kind of mental barrier and found quiet. Time slowed; she was separate from her body and there was a kind of spotlight on her. She had split into swimmer and the swimmer’s witness.
     Okay, Alice, she said calmly to the swimmer, let’s lift a little more. Two laps to go, each lap faster than the last. Keep your stroke long and your legs pumping.
     The swimmer responded, moving even faster through the water. The swimmer’s whole body was burning with the fire of lactic acid and her heart was pounding, but these details didn’t matter to the witness. The witness told the swimmer to go faster and accelerate into the last lap.
     She turned tightly and began swimming longer and harder. Suddenly the split between swimmer and witness was destroyed and the silence obliterated. Anger returned. She was hurting and her technique fell apart. Vaguely aware of all that, Alice refused to slow down and increased her stroke rate, throwing her arms over madly. Tasting lactic acid, she hammered her way to the wall and hit the timing pad hard enough to break a few fingernails.
     She stood and gasped for air. She lifted her goggles and couldn’t see anything but black dots. She gasped again furiously and felt sick. She retched but managed to avoid throwing up.
     She was completely alone on the wall. It seemed a long time before she could breathe without making gasping noises like a dying person. She turned and saw Madison swimming hard into the wall, but she was so far behind. Wondering what was going on, she had a strange feeling she had swum too few laps.
     She looked up at the pool deck expecting Coach to be laughing. She couldn’t even count out four laps of the swimming pool. He wasn’t laughing and didn’t appear to be preparing to come over and yell at her. He was just standing there staring at the scoreboard.
     Phew, she thought. He didn’t notice.
     Madison finally touched the wall, came up for air and looked straight to the scoreboard.
     “!” was all she could say, in between gasps.
     A bunch of the other girls were starting to crowd around the scoreboard. Probably laughing at her, Alice expected. If she had any energy she would have slunk off into the deep water and disappeared, humiliated.
     A couple of the other girls came over to Alice’s lane. “Alice, you just broke two minutes. You just swam a 1:58!”
     Eyes wide as eggs, Madison turned back to Alice. “Oh my God, Alice, what the hell was that?”
     Alice didn’t really know what to say. Her previous personal best in training was a 2:06: fast enough for a top three finish at the western zone championships. A 1:58? That was only three seconds off the state record. It was only five seconds off the world record.
     Coach ignored her and stopped above Madison.
     “Mad Dog, that was 2:12, a personal best. Nice swim. That would have earned you a second place in the zones last year. Lap one, thirty-five seconds, then thirty-four seconds, thirty and thirty-five on your last lap. That third lap was a screamer. Your kick came in well but your stroke rate was a bit too high. That’s why you bonked on the last lap. I’m confident that you could take three seconds off that time by lowering your stroke rate on lap three — long and strong. You’re right on pace for qualifying for the zone champs.”
     Alice listened to Coach talking in this way to the other two girls but she knew nobody was paying much attention. They were all looking at her.
     “You okay?” Madison asked over the lane rope. “I got a good start, way ahead of you, and then you caught me and were already about three body lengths ahead by the second wall. I’ve never seen you swim like that.”
     “I don’t know...” That was all Alice could manage. Her body was starting to feel like it was made of cotton. She felt sick to her stomach again.
     Coach moved all four girls into another lane to warm down and started another time trial with four more girls.
     As she continued to warm down and loosen up, Alice tried to remember how she felt during the swim: the anger, the strange moment when she felt like she was two different people, the anger again. She was familiar with anger. It was like her best friend, but the other thing was new. The quietude she felt when she split into witness and swimmer did more than help her swim faster; it created a clean split between herself and her pain. All of her pain, not just her physical pain. She tried to recreate the split again but it didn’t seem possible anymore. She didn’t know how to get there. There was only the rhythmic sound of the splashing and the rush of water against her swimming cap.
     Although she couldn’t split herself again, she noticed she felt different. Exactly how, she couldn’t place, but definitely different. She decided maybe she just needed to puke or something.
     Her next race pace set was the four hundred meter free, but she swam slower than she usually did in that discipline. She was hardly winded at the end and coach gave her a look of complete exasperation when he read her split times out. She had a few more trials but loafed through all of them.
     Alice warmed down, got out and showered. She wanted to be alone now. Her stomach was feeling better and she had her mind on breakfast and coffee. As usual, she definitely wanted to avoid conversation with any of the other girls, but as soon as she emerged from the locker room, she knew that was going to be difficult. They were all standing there waiting for her.
     Madison was there and her little fan, Bess, and several others were there with her.
     Alice, congrats on that swim.” Madison was wearing her usual post-swimming gear: jeans and a sloppy t-shirt. She looked sincere and Alice could sense nothing to indicate she wasn’t.
     “Yeah.” Bess pushed her hip to the side. “Your dad works at a pharmaceutical company, doesn’t he? You must be getting some fantastic ‘supplements.’ Where can I get some?”
            She walked by the girls in silence, looking at the ground. The swim had left Alice feeling blank and empty, as though she left part of herself in the pool. It was like the girls and the pool were part of a dream and she was not even the dreamer. It was like she and the girls were all together in someone else’s dream.

About the Author

Tyler Pike is an up-and-coming voice in the thriller genre, earning many accolades for his newly launched thriller series. Before turning to novels, he was a sinologist, lived in China for many years, and eventually earned a PhD in Chinese poetry and lectured at the University of Sydney in Chinese. He and his wife also spent many years studying Hindu philosophy, traveling in India and running a yoga studio in Sydney, before it all came down on their heads.
When he is not writing, you’ll either find him down at the beach with his young family or out on the open road. He is an avid ocean swimmer and long distance runner.

Tyler Pike lives with his family in Australia and the US.

Tyler is different from most popular writers in that he endeavors to respond personally to every email and loves sharing his journey with his readers.

For updates on work in progress and free book offers, join Tyler’s “reading group” on his website:
For More Information

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sunborn Rising + Giveaway

The World of Cerulean.

Light and water flow from the ocean into the roots of the Great Trees, up through the boughs, and out over the lush canopies. But the once vibrant treescape has grown dim over generations of arboreal life, and the creatures of the forest have forgotten the light.

Barra, a young, willful Listlespur, finds her late father’s hidden journal, and reads about the old world and the mysterious plague her father believed destroyed it. He wrote that he warned the Elders. He urged them to take action. Those were his last words.

Together with her two best friends, Barra will explore every bark, wood, and leaf of the Great Forest to relight her world and complete her father’s story, even if she has to travel beneath the Fall.

My Review

I was first drawn to this book by the book cover. It was striking and it drew me in. Then when I read the summary, I was even more intrigued to check this book out. Also, I thought my nephews would like it too, so I wanted to check it out for them. Well after reading this book, I am keeping my copy and purchasing them their own copy.

The world that the author has built is magical and awe-inspiring. I was fine with just reading the book but Mr. Safronoff has to take me on a journey deep in the Fall with the larger than life, fabulous illustrations to help bring this book to life even more. Barra is a great main character. She along with her friends, Plicks and Tory sure kept things exciting. Of course all of the other characters that they met along the way also kept the story entertaining. I can't wait to read book two. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book today. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Honor Redeemed

Two Men Vie for Her Affection--Survival Will Depend on Choosing the Right One
Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life. Arriving penniless in the South, Prosperity is dismayed to find David married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, she gains the friendship--and the affection--of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again?

With a deft hand, Christine Johnson fills the reader's senses with the sights, sounds, and smells of Key West in this heartwarming story of honor lost, honor redeemed, and a love forged in adversity.

Review by Blanche Mancuso

Author, Christine Johnson does a wonderful job of weaving the story of Prosperity Jones and her love of Nantucket and the love and honor she has for David, a soldier who was sent to Key West. Prosperity sets out to be with David only to find out he is married to someone else. Now Prosperity is penniless and alone but not for long as she becomes friends with a kind doctor.

This is the second book in this series, Keys of Promise. Although this book can be read as a stand alone novel. This is an inspiring novel of love, honor, and duty. It will keep you spellbound to a dramatic climax with all that happens to Prosperity. There is lots of drama as the story tells of duty, honor, family, and romance. I love this book and would highly recommend it to anyone that wants to get lost in a wonderful story.


From the “sharp, sassy, [and] surprisingly emotional”* author of Put a Ring on It, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, and The Week Before the Wedding, a new novel set in the charming seaside town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware...
Cammie Breyer needs a big glass of cabernet—her restaurant failed and her chef boyfriend left for a hotter kitchen. Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, her Aunt Ginger calls with a surprise. She’s bought a vineyard—in Delaware. At Ginger’s command, Cammie returns to Black Dog Bay, the seaside town where she spent her childhood summers with her aunt and her cousin, Kat.
The three women reunite, determined to succeed. There’s only one little problem: None of them knows the first thing about wine making. And it turns out, owning a vineyard isn’t all wine and roses. It’s dirt, sweat, and desperation. Every day brings financial pitfalls, unruly tourists, romantic dilemmas, and second thoughts.  But even as they struggle, they cultivate hidden talents and new passions. While the grapes ripen under the summer sun, Cammie discovers that love, like wine, is layered, complex, delicious, and worth waiting for…

My Review

I read Put a Ring on It and enjoyed the book a lot. Now after reading this book I am a true fan of Beth Kendrick. I totally fell in love with Cammie aka COB, Kat, and Ginger. Each women brought something different to the story with their personalities. They sure kept things entertaining.  What I really loved the most about this book was the comedy. It was well done and actually funny. I was laughing the whole time. For example where else would you read the words "Is that the John Deere version of jeggings?" Just remembering this sentence now gives me a vivid image that goes to the melody of Kenny Chesney's song, She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not give props to Ian and Jacques (French Bulldog). Ian turned out to be a great love interest for Cammie. Jacques was there to help add more fun to the story. Once Upon a Wine is a wonderful name for a wine. It was as if I was there with these ladies every step of the way from growing the grapes to savoring the wine with Cammie's descriptive way of describing the flavors of the wine. I can't wait to read the next book by this author.

Leaving Lucy Pear

A big, heartrending novel about the entangled lives of two women in 1920s New England, both mothers to the same unforgettable girl.

One night in 1917 Beatrice Haven sneaks out of her uncle's house on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, leaves her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree, and watches as another woman claims the infant as her own. The unwed daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists and a gifted pianist bound for Radcliffe, Bea plans to leave her shameful secret behind and make a fresh start. Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing, post-WWI America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia, and Bea's hopes for her future remain unfulfilled. She returns to her uncle’s house, seeking a refuge from her unhappiness. But she discovers far more when the rum-running manager of the local quarry inadvertently reunites her with Emma Murphy, the headstrong Irish Catholic woman who has been raising Bea's abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear, with secrets of her own.

In mesmerizing prose, award-winning author Anna Solomon weaves together an unforgettable group of characters as their lives collide on the New England coast. Set against one of America's most turbulent decades, Leaving Lucy Pear delves into questions of class, freedom, and the meaning of family, establishing Anna Solomon as one of our most captivating storytellers.

My Review

I thought that this book was a fine book. In the beginning I actually did find myself very into the story. I felt sorry for Beatrice. However on the other hand, Emma I did not care for as much. Yeah I could understand why she was having an affair but even that was portrayed as more of convenience then Emma finding someone else that she shared a connection towards. Beatrice on the other hand may have come from wealth but she seemed more down to earth and charming. Thus I gravitated towards her more. The issue I had with this book is that even though I liked Beatrice she was not enough to help me stay engaged with the story. It is funny as other readers mention having problems keeping all of the many characters straight. This was not such a problem for me as I was able to keep them straight. My issue was again that I could not get excited for any of the characters and thus the story was alright. Yet, the last third of the story was good, how it all came together.

The U.S. during Prohibition is often perceived as very glamorous, but this novel exposes some of its dark underbelly, including the period's xenophobia, economic turbulence, and sometimes-violent instability. Can you talk about this?

A large part of what draws me to the 1920's is the divide between its glamorous surface and its harsher reality. Yes, there were a lot of parties with big bands playing, alcohol flowing, and flappers dancing. The Harlem Renaissance was at its height. Modernist painters and writers were pushing the boundaries of their forms. In certain arenas-fashion, for one-there was a loosening of Victorian constraints.

But this was also a decade of virulent bigotry in the U.S. Membership in the Ku Klux Klan skyrocketed. Nativism flourished in the wake of World War One, along with an anti-communist hysteria, and white supremacists managed to stir up a widespread mistrust of immigrants and anyone else whose color or politics did not match their own. In one infamous case, which features in the novel, two Italian American anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were tried, imprisoned for seven years, and finally executed for murder, despite any solid evidence against them. At Harvard during this time-this plays a part in the book, too-a "secret court" was held to expose and expel homosexual students. And all this was going on as temperance fanatics (often in the name of religion) attempted to enforce a law more puritanical than anything even the Puritans might have dreamed up.

So, it was a time of extremes. It's difficult not to perceive a certain resonance with the time we're living in now.

Beyond the main characters, you explore the lives and desires of many secondary characters, from the gay man to whom Bea is married to the rum-running quarry manager Josiah Story. Why create this panorama of characters? Was this a conscious decision you made, or did it emerge as you wrote?

From the beginning, I knew I needed an omniscient narrator to tell this story, but I didn't necessarily know why. In part it was a technical challenge that I wanted to take on, as an artist. I also knew I wanted for my readers to experience that ah-ha! moment when you suddenly see a back-stage character up close, and made three dimensional. Only as I wrote, and rewrote, and scrutinized everything, including the point-of-view, did I come to understand that the impulse toward omniscience fit the story itself, because while Lucy Pear is at the center of the book, the story is really about the impact she has on this large case of characters-some very close to her, and some more removed. For her biological mother, Bea, Lucy is as much an absence as a presence; for others, she is a child they meet glancingly but who nevertheless leaves a mark. She is like a pebble dropped into a pond. Of course the ripples she makes, in the end, return to her. So does the story.  

Interview from the publisher.

The Lost Girls

A haunting debut novel that examines the price of loyalty, the burden of regret, the meaning of salvation, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, told in the voices of two unforgettable women linked by a decades-old family mystery at a beautiful, decaying lake house.

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

My Review

Overall, I found this book to be an pretty good debut novel by author, Heather Young. Although, I really thought this book was going to have more of a haunting effect. Yet, I was drawn to the Evans family. Having Lucy's and Justine's voices in the alternating chapters was nice. This was I was drawn to them and it made their voices stronger than just reading the book. Although, I was more drawn to the past and Lucy than with Justine. Either way, after a while I found it to be a bit of a struggle some to keep with the book. I really wanted to know what had happened to Emily and it felt like forever before the truth was revealed. Yet, I liked the innocence of Lucy and her sisters and how one dark secret changed them all forever.

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

No Forgiveness

Andrea Boyle moved to Seattle to give her seventeen-year-old nephew, Spencer, a fresh start after the death of his parents. Andrea has found her own new beginning with Luke, a successful playwright and father of a teenage son, Damon. The boys appear to have little in common, but in truth they share a private torment…

No Remorse

When a tragedy befalls Damon, it's just the beginning of a nightmare that unfolds. But the worst is yet to come once a dark secret from Spencer's past is exposed. And when Luke is brutally attacked, both of their futures are at stake.

No Second Chance

Now it's up to Andrea to prove Spencer's innocence to the police--and to herself. Because for reasons she has revealed to no one, even Andrea can't help questioning the truth--and fearing that she may be next to pay the ultimate price…

My Review

This is another author that I am a fan of. Yet it has been about six books since I have read anything by this author. After reading this book I plan to not make this mistake again. Mr. O'Brien really knows how to bring a story to life. This comes from years of experience as a seasoned professional writer.

While I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book, the subject matter was a little tough with the bullying. The results of this bullying felt real. Thus this is probably part of the reason why I was intrigued by reading this book. At over 500 pages this is more of a tome than a book. However it did not feel like a tome as it was a quick read. I was already half way through this book in only a short matter of time. At the half way point I put the pieces of the puzzle together, or, so I thought. I was missing one piece that was a nice twist to the story. You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone is one of the best books of 2016!