The Taste of Air - Gail Cleare

4.5 Stars!

When Mary Reilly turns up in a hospital hundreds of miles from the senior community where she lives, Nell and Bridget discover their mother has been hiding a second life. She has a lakeside cottage in Vermont and a series of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met. The thread of mystery leads back to the middle of the 20th century, and it knits together all three women, the sacrifices they've made and the secrets they carry.

Nell is a carpool mom and corporate trophy wife who yearns for a life of her own. Bridget is a glamorous interior designer who transforms herself for every new man, always attracted to the bad ones. Their mother Mary was an army nurse in the Vietnam War, then married handsome navy pilot Thomas Reilly and lived happily ever after…or did she?  Mary’s cottage is the vault for family secrets never suspected, and the gateway to change for her daughters.  

Gail Cleare has written for newspapers, magazines, Fortune 50 companies and AOL. Her award-winning ad agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was the turtle Leonardo's date for the world premiere of the second TMNT movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes.

Gail lives on an 18th century farm in Massachusetts with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams and wide, windy skies. She's into organic gardening and nature photography, and can often be found stalking wild creatures with a 300 mm lens.Visit her website at gailcleare.com.     

A beautiful story - But Geez, so many secrets! I'm not going to give it all away for those who haven't read it yet but there's definitely some jaw-dropping moments in this book. About 2/3 of the way in I did have some of it figured out. I was wrong about a few things but I had the main gist of it.

Great character development! I got totally wrapped up in the characters and their lives. I don't think I could've held it together as much as these two sisters, Nell and Bridget did if I found out those secrets about my mom.

I loved that every chapter was dated at the top that certainly helped because it kept going back-and-forth in time. I don't mind books that go back in time as long as the reader knows when in time it is and this one was great.

Definitely a book worth reading! Very enjoyable, easy flowing, nice writing style. A good beach side or poolside read! A great new author for me, would definitely love to read more by her.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from the author Thank You!!

Order your copy from Amazon - HERE



White Witch by Larry D Thompson - GIVEAWAY!

White Witch by Larry D Thompson Tour Banner

 4.5 Stars!!

on Tour March 5 - May 5, 2018

When a ruthless American aluminum company plans to strip mine the Jamaican rainforest, they send former Navy SEAL Will Taylor to Montego Bay to deal with local resistance. But he’s unaware that the British had signed a treaty deeding it to the Jamaican Maroons, descendants of escaped slaves, over 300 years ago. The Maroons fought and died for their land then, and are willing to do so now. Upon Will’s arrival, a series of inexplicable murders begin, some carried out with deadly snake daggers that were owned and used by Annie Palmer, a voodoo priestess better known as the White Witch. She was killed 200 years prior, but is said to still haunt the island.
Forced into the middle of it, Will is finally convinced to join the Maroons, headed by Vertise Broderick, a Maroon who resigned from the New York Times to return to Jamaica to save the rainforest. To stop the mining, they hire a Jamaican attorney to prove that the Maroon/British treaty is still valid, and they take it upon themselves to solve the White Witch murders, because the legend of the White Witch can’t possibly be true…

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Story Merchant Press
Publication Date: March 5, 2018
Number of Pages: 307
ISBN: 978-0-991621-5-6

Don't forget to get your copy of White Witch from Amazon, Barnes & Noble & add it to your Goodreads List!!

Read an excerpt:

from Chapter 19...
When Will got to Rose Hall, he turned onto the road they had just come down the evening before. At the top of the hill he could see the mansion, now well lighted. He dodged tree limbs and utility wires and parked among several other vehicles. Police cars were positioned so that their headlights focused on the steps of the mansion where Will could see the yellow police crime scene tape. He walked up a path from the parking lot between the police cars that faced the mansion to the yellow tape where an officer stood watch. The officer came to attention as Will approached.
“Sorry, mon. I can’t let you past here. We’re investigating a murder.”
Will kept his voice even but controlling. “I know, officer. That’s why I’m here. Name’s William Taylor. I’m head of security for Global American Metals.
Here’s my identification.” Will tried to hand him an ID. The officer just shook his head. “Officer, the dead man is one of Global’s employees. Can you get someone in authority to let me up there?”
Before the officer could reply, Miles Harper, the St. James Parish Chief of Detectives, approached. Harper was a lean, fit man with a shaved head and a nononsense manner. He was dressed in a brown suit, yellow shirt, and matching tie. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ Magazine, even at three in the morning.
“Mr. Taylor, I’m Miles Harper, Chief of Detectives in this parish. I was told by your company to expect you.”
Will extended his right hand. Harper ignored it. Instead, he nodded at the officer and motioned for Will to follow him. Harper went up a dozen steps and turned to Will as he stood beside Kaven’s body, sprawled on his back with a dagger in his chest. Will bent over for a closer look and found that the handle of the dagger was in the shape of a snake. At the top of the handle was the snake’s head. The snake’s eyes were two bright rubies.
“Shit,” Will muttered, “He was almost killed because of one snake on the road today and now someone finished the job with a, what would you call this, a snake dagger?”
“That’s as good a name as any, Mr. Taylor. My officers reported what went on up in Accompong and the incident with the boa.”
Will continued to study the body. “Looks like he’s been dead a couple of hours. I last saw him about ten last night. Who found him?”
“The hotel has a security guard that roams the mansion grounds and up to the club house in a golf cart. He spotted the body.”
“Where’s your coroner?”
“He’s a local Justice of the Peace, not a medical doctor. He won’t set foot on these steps until morning. My men here won’t go past the tape either. They believe the White Witch did it.”
Will shook his head in disbelief. “Come on, Chief, this is the twenty-first century.”
“Old beliefs die hard, Mr. Taylor. Come on. Let me show you something.”
Harper stepped around the body and climbed the steps with Will behind him. Entering the ballroom, Will said, “I was just in this room yesterday evening during the storm.”
Harper turned to study Will. “Would you care to explain?”
Will covered the details of the previous day and their time in the mansion while they waited out the storm. “You know a woman named Vertise?”
Harper nodded his head. “She’s a local. Works for the paper and tends bar for the hotel. Since you were in this room a few hours ago, come over here.”
Harper led Will to a glass display against one wall with pictures of two snake daggers above it along with the history of the daggers. The glass had been broken and the daggers were gone.

Larry D Thompson
After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Larry spent the first half of his professional life as a trial lawyer. He tried well over 300 cases and won more than 95% of them. Although he had not taken a writing class since freshman English (back when they wrote on stone tablets), he figured that he had read enough novels and knew enough about trials, lawyers, judges, and courtrooms that he could do it. Besides, his late, older brother, Thomas Thompson, was one of the best true crime writers to ever set a pen to paper; so, just maybe, there was something in the Thompson gene pool that would be guide him into this new career. He started writing his first novel about a dozen years ago and published it a couple of years thereafter. He has now written five highly acclaimed legal thrillers. White Witch is number six with many more to come.
Larry is married to his wife, Vicki. He has three children scattered from Colorado to Austin to Boca Raton, and four grandchildren. He has been trying to retire from the law practice to devote full time to writing. Hopefully, that will occur by the end of 2018. He still lives in Houston, but spends his summers in Vail CO, high on a mountain where he is inspired by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Catch Up With Larry on larrydthompson.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Wow, such a fascinating story! This book was rich with historical facts. I love books like that! The first thing I do is look everything up (every person, every place - to see if it is all true) and... it was! The Maroons, Annie Palmer aka The White Witch, Rose Hall, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Captain Cudjoe - all of it real.

So besides being a great story - it was so interesting learning about Jamaican history that I knew nothing about! A lot happening, a lot of action, and a few twists.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from PICT Thank You!!

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Larry D Thompson. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift card. The giveaway begins on March 5, 2018 and runs through May 6, 2018. Void where prohibited.
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365 Days of Inspiration & Motivation - Kay Sanders - GIVEAWAY!

4 Stars!

Could you use some light in your life, some motivation to go after your dreams? Some inspiration to help you stay focused and in awe about what truly is possible for you?

We often forget that we are infinite beings, who can do, be and have anything our heart desires but we often get derailed by our negative and limiting thoughts, the illusions we live by that keeps us playing small because we fear change, we fear failure, or we simply don't think more is in store for us.

If this sounds familiar then these Messages of Inspiration will bring back the light that has been missing in your life, each message holds a deeper meaning for you that only you can decipher for yourself. They are messages that only you will understand the true meaning behind each word. These messages will shine light onto the challenges you have been facing as well as guide you on setting yourself free from those negative patters, the gremlins that have been holding you back from stepping into your full potential and going after your dreams and heart desires.

On my search for more joy, happiness, success as well as fulfillment, I stumbled upon the Akashic Records and through my studying, I received the spiritual guidance to share these messages with the world and this is how these 365 messages came about; to bring you divine guidance from the Universe.

If you are at a point in your life where you are ready to step outside of your bubble, to claim what you truly desire, then these messages will help you stay motivated and inspired to take that next step onto your journey of great joy, happiness and success.

I promise that these messages will bring you great joy, inspiration and motivation to tackle each day and to help you stay on your path to never giving up, to keep moving forward and going after your dreams and creating the life your heart desires.

If you have had this longing to be, do and have more then don’t wait! Don’t be that person who envy’s others for all that they have, for the great lifestyle they live, for the amazing success they experience, for the joy and happiness they radiate. You too can create this lifestyle for yourself; believe that anything is possible, that you too can have all that your heart desires. Abundance, joy, happiness and great success is not something that is reserved for others; you too can create all the abundance, all the joy, all the happiness and all the success your heart desires.

Be the person who does not let their situation or circumstance determine their life. You can choose to say no to all the struggles, say no to the challenges you may be experiencing and say YES to abundance, say YES to Joy, Happiness and immense Success in your life.

The messages you will find within these 365 days of inspiration and motivation are divine messages that will bring you the inspiration and motivation to help you stay your course towards creating the live you desire, to create more joy, happiness and success in your life.

About the Author -Kay Sanders, known as the Creator of Possibilities is an Intuitive Business Coach, Certified Akashic Record Consultant, and Bestselling Author.

Kay helps conscious entrepreneurs find that missing piece to create momentum in their Business and re-ignite their Manifesting Mojo so they can make a difference in the world, create more freedom in their life and tap into the magic and power of manifesting their hearts desire.

Kay incorporates here gifts to help her clients create a strong mindset and implement effective systems and strategies in order to create the business and lifestyle of their dreams.

Her motto is ‘everything is possible’ which she also heavily incorporates into her own business and with her clients to help them see all the amazing possibilities in life. Kay truly believes that everyone, not only deserves, but also has the ability, to live a fulfilling life full of success and possibilities.

I like books like this, where you can just pick and choose a saying that you will  need for the day. If its inspiration, encouragement, or just something to make you feel good - you can probably find it in this book of 365 little messages. There is also a chapter on "5 steps to more joy, happiness, and success. We all need more of that in our lives!

I am a christian so I think I would read and use this book a little different, but it doesn't mean it wouldn't apply to me. In places where it says "You alone..." I would think me and God...

Here a just a couple that I like -
"Stay within your power, don't allow your fear to derail you; you alone (with God) have the power to create the life you desire."

"Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to make a difference, to get one step closer to reaching for your dreams."

"Big goals are not achieved all at once, they require multiple smaller goals that lead up to the big goal"
And this is something that I have always firmly believe in! Something that my husband has a hard time putting into action. Maybe I will print it out and put it on my frig. -
"Nothing good will come from worrying about the future, or dwelling on the past. You can't change the past, you can't predict the future, all you can do is be present in the moment and stay in alignment with who you truly are."
So, see there are probably sayings in  her for everything you need. You can find one and hang it on your frig!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from RABT Thank You!!

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Manifest Your Desire Course valued at $297 https://www.kaysanders.com/manifestyourdesire

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Scarborough Fair - Margarita Morris - Showcase and Excerpt

Historical Mystery/Thriller
Date Published: 20 March 2016
Publisher:  Landmark Media

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Scarborough Fair
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

1899: Alice isn’t mad. So why has she been put away in a Victorian lunatic asylum without any hope of escape?

2016: Rose is excited when Dan asks her to go to the fair with him. But an encounter with some dangerous men leads them to an abandoned lunatic asylum with dark secrets of its own.

Visiting Scarborough over a century apart, Alice and Rose’s stories are nevertheless connected in mysterious ways.

Scarborough Fair is the first in a thrilling historical trilogy. Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

About the Author

Margarita Morris was born in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She studied Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford and worked in computing for eleven years. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two sons.

  Read an excerpt:



 19th August, 1899

    I am not insane. I was brought here under false pretences. Henry told Dr Collins that I am delusional, that I had tried to harm myself. He showed Dr Collins the wound on my arm, saying that it was self-inflicted and that I would have done worse if he, Henry, had not been there to prevent it. He always likes to portray himself as the hero, a knight in shining armour, when in truth he is nothing but a deadly serpent, full of lies and rotten to the core. I tried to protest but was too shocked, and weak from the loss of blood and I fear I may have come across as confused and incoherent which did not help my case. 
   “You have done the right thing in bringing her to us,” said Dr Collins to Henry in what seemed to me a conspiratorial manner. The doctor, a balding man with a pointed nose and penetrating eyes, regarded me with curiosity as if I were a specimen in a museum. “We will see that she receives the very best medical care. However, the mind is a delicate organ and I should warn you that her treatment may take some time.” 
   “Take as long as you need,” said Henry. “My only wish is that she should be returned to me in full health and in possession of her wits.” 
   Doctor Collins started explaining to Henry the latest techniques that he would use in my treatment. I understood little of what he said. It was the words “returned to me” that struck a note of dread in my heart. I was Henry’s possession and he would have me back once I had been brought to heel. My own wishes were of no consequence. 
   Doctor Collins picked up a little brass bell from his desk and rang it vigorously. Moments later two stout-looking women in nurses’ uniforms entered the room. Fishwives, the pair of them, they both had strong arms, rough hands and unsmiling faces. 
   “Nurse Barrett, Nurse Cooper,” said Dr Collins, addressing each of them in turn. “Please admit Miss Hawthorne to the women’s ward.” 
   As the nurses approached, I roused myself from my stupor. “You can’t do this to me!” I shouted at Henry, but my voice came out more like a whimper. 
   “It’s for your own good, Alice,” he said, turning his back on me and staring out of the window. 
   The nurses took hold of my upper arms, one on each side of me. The wound on my left arm throbbed painfully at Nurse Cooper’s tight grip. They pulled me to my feet. I tried to resist but they were too strong for me. 
   “I hate you,” I hissed at Henry as the nurses dragged me away. Henry refused to turn around or even acknowledge that he had heard me. 
   The nurses led me down the corridor and up a flight of stairs to the bathroom, a cold, tiled room with a row of sinks along one wall and three bath tubs lined up on the opposite side. I had never before seen a bathroom more lacking in privacy. 
   “Ge’ yer togs off,” said Nurse Barrett. She spoke in an abrupt Yorkshire dialect and when I looked at her questioningly she pulled at my clothes so that I understood she expected me to undress. Shocked by this request, I hesitated. She clucked her tongue in impatience and went to unfasten the buttons on the back of my dress. 
   I recoiled from her touch, but Nurse Cooper held me firm by the shoulders. “I’ve ’eld down lasses bigger’n you,” she said, “so you can stop yer faffin’.” I stared at her in fright.  
   Nurse Barrett yanked at the buttons of my gown, not caring if she tore the fabric. One of the buttons popped off and rolled away into a corner. Between them they pulled the black dress over my head and tossed it on the floor. 
   “Ooh, ge’ a gander a’ that,” said Nurse Cooper, fingering the jet necklace that hung around my neck. It had been hidden under my gown so not even Henry had noticed it. Especially not him. “’Ow much di’ tha’ cost yer? From a fancy man, were it?” I tried to swat her hand away from my neck, but she grabbed hold of my wrists, gripping them so hard that I winced. “Take it off,” she said to Nurse Barrett. Nurse Barrett undid the clasp and dropped the necklace onto the floor next to the dress. I suppressed a sob. I didn’t want these women to know how much that necklace meant to me. 
   With my dress off, the wound on my upper arm was now revealed in all its goriness. The blood had spread onto my chemise and stained the white cotton a deep red colour. “We’ll ’ave to burn this shimmy,” said Nurse Barrett, pulling the fabric off the wound where it had stuck and causing a fresh trickle of blood to run down my arm. Neither nurse was concerned to tend to the wound itself. 
   Nurse Cooper went to the nearest bath tub and turned on the taps. There was a sharp sound of metal grinding against metal and then water spluttered into the tub with a deep-throated gurgling noise as if it was being drawn from the belly of the building. 
   “Ge’ yer kegs off,” commanded Nurse Barrett, folding her arms across her ample chest. This time I understood her only too well. She expected me to remove my underclothes. “What?” she scoffed. “Y’ain’t shy are yer?” 
   I glanced at the door, which they’d left ajar. For a brief moment I saw myself making a run for it, but where could I go dressed in nothing but my drawers, corset and chemise? 
   “Flippin’ ’eck,” said Nurse Barrett, losing patience. She untied my corset, dragged the chemise over my head, and ripped off my bloomers and stockings. I was shaking more from shock and humiliation than from the cold. I hung my head, covering my face with my hands. 
   “Get in’t tub,” said Nurse Cooper. 
   I stepped gingerly into the water. I needn’t have worried about it being too hot. It was barely lukewarm. I gasped in surprise as Nurse Cooper’s rough hands pushed me down into the water. “Righ’ under,” she said, forcing me down beneath the surface. I struggled against her hands, thinking she meant to drown me, but she let go immediately and I came up spluttering and choking. 
   “On yer feet,” ordered Nurse Cooper. I stood, shivering, and she handed me a thin bar of rock-hard carbolic soap. “Cover thissen in that.” 
   I rubbed the soap in my hands, trying in vain to produce a decent lather. My hands shook so badly that more than once I dropped the soap and had to fish for it in the rapidly cooling water. My only thought was, the sooner I get this bath over, the better. When I was covered in a thin lather from my shoulders to my knees, Nurse Cooper picked up a long-handled brush and scrubbed me as if she were spring cleaning the pantry. I winced as the brush skimmed over the torn flesh of my arm. She pushed me under the water one more time to rinse off, but this time I was ready for her, holding my breath and squeezing my eyes tight shut. 
   “That weren’t so bad, were it?” said Nurse Barrett, as I stepped, dripping, onto the cold, tiled floor. I could have sworn she was laughing at me. She rubbed me dry with a threadbare towel, then went over to a row of lockers and came back with a pile of clothing.  
   “I’m not wearing that,” I said, staring aghast at the coarsely woven, blue smock dress that she held in her hands. 
   “Ooh, ’oity-toity,” said Nurse Cooper. “Yeh’ll wear wha’ yer given and stop yer mitherin’.” She handed me a pair of greying bloomers from the pile. “Or yeh can go round in yer birthday suit. Tha’ll give the male patients summat to talk ’bout.” They both laughed at her cruel joke and I felt myself colouring. All the clothes were too big for me but that didn’t seem to matter to the nurses. Nurse Cooper pulled the shapeless, woollen dress over my head and handed me a pair of black boots to wear. Then they each took hold of an elbow and walked me up another flight of stairs and down a corridor, unlocking and locking doors behind them as we went. 
   We came to a large room with a dozen beds in it, six along one wall and six along the opposite side. The room was full of women, all wearing identical clothes to the ones I had been given. Some were sitting on their beds, not doing anything; one was marching up and down the centre of the room, talking to herself. When she saw me being brought in she shouted at the top of her voice, “Ooh, a new lady. Looks like she thinks she’s the Queen of Sheba!” A few of the women sitting on the beds lifted their heads to look at me, but most of them just ignored her. 
   “Tha’s yer bed,” said Nurse Barrett, pointing to an empty bed in the corner of the room. They exchanged a few words with the nurse in charge of the dormitory, then they left me there. The woman who was talking to herself came over and prodded me on the shoulder. “What’s wrong with you?” she asked. 
   “Nothing,” I said. 
   “That’s what they all say,” she said. She laughed in a high-pitched cackle before resuming her pacing. 
I curled up on the bed and turned my back on them all. This is where I am now. I must escape from this place by whatever means. Or die trying.

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True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness - Christine Lahti


A fiercely intelligent, hilarious, and deeply feminist collection of interrelated personal stories from Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award–winning actress and director Christine Lahti.

For decades, actress and director Christine Lahti has captivated the hearts and minds of her audience through iconic roles in Chicago Hope, Running on Empty, Housekeeping, And Justice for All, Swing Shift, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, God of Carnage, and The Blacklist. Now, in True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness, this acclaimed performer channels her creativity inward to share her own story for the first time on the page.

In this poignant essay collection, Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: her childhood, her early journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. Lahti’s comical and self-deprecating voice shines through in stories such as “Kidnapped” and “Shit Happens,” and she takes a boldly honest look at the painful fissures in her family in pieces such as “Mama Mia” and “Running on Empty.” Taken together, the collection illuminates watershed moments in Lahti’s life, revealing her struggle to maintain integrity, fight her need for perfection, and remain true to her feminist inclinations.

Lahti’s wisdom and candid insights are reminiscent of Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Joan Rivers’s I Hate Everyone—and yet her experiences are not exclusive to one generation. The soul of her writing can be seen as a spiritual mother to feminist actresses and comedic voices whose works are inspiring today’s young women, including Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Caitlin Moran, and Jenny Lawson. Her stories reveal a stumbling journey toward agency and empowerment as a woman—a journey that’s still very much a work in progress.

True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness is about the power of storytelling to affirm and reframe the bedrock of who we are, revealing that we’re all unreliable eyewitnesses when it comes to our deeply personal memories. Told in a wildly fresh, unique voice, and with the unshakable ability to laugh at herself time and again, this is Christine Lahti’s best performance yet.

Christine Lahti is an acclaimed director and stage, television, and film actress with a career that spans over forty years. She won an Oscar for her short film, Lieberman in Love; an Oscar nomination for Swing Shift; a Golden Globe Award for No Place Like Home; an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Chicago Hope; and an Obie Award for Little Murders. On Broadway, she starred in God of Carnage and The Heidi Chronicles, among many others. Her films include Running on Empty and Housekeeping. Her television shows include Jack and Bobby, Law & Order SVU, and The Blacklist. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

Follow on Twitter - @ChristineALahti

GREAT!  I love reading memoirs. Especially ones by people I know and love. I have love Christine Lahti since way back (waaaay back LOL). I was a huge fan of Chicago Hope, watched every show and loved her on that. Now after reading this I am searching Netflix for movies that she has been in so I can watch the ones I haven't seen.

I love that this wasn't really a "story of my life" kind of thing but more of a pick and choose different "life stories". I love strong women like her that make good role models, someone to look up to. She gets very personal with us, the readers. I think Christine was very brave to share all that she did. Especially stories about her family. That couldn't have been easy. How do you decide what to share and what to hold in your heart.

I already loved her but I will now view her in a different way, a better way! Hey soul sister you go girl! I think any woman who doesn't want to be taken advantage of, anyone who believes in equal rights for women, and any mom who wants their daughter to grow up strong - should all read this book! My own daughter is turning 30 this fall and I will definitely have her read this book - she will love it!

This book is sad, funny, and witty. I don't think you necessary have to be a fan to love it.
* A little warning - there is quite a bit of swearing.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins  Thank You!!

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Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca

5 Stars!

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed. When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might harm her. Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Whether the topic is psychological manipulation, ghostly encounters, or surviving a deadly outbreak, Yvonne Ventresca enjoys the thrill of writing about frightening situations. BuzzFeed listed her latest novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES at the top of their YA "must read" list for fall 2016, and this psychological thriller received an IPPY Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction in 2017.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), won a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Yvonne’s other credits include several short stories selected for anthologies, as well as two nonfiction books. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, SCBWI, The Authors Guild, and International Thriller Writers.

Besides writing, she loves a good ghost story, and as a third-degree black belt, she studies Isshinryu karate in a haunted dojo. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at YvonneVentresca.com, where she also features helpful resources for teen writers.

Catch Up With Ms Ventresca on yvonneventresca.com, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Facebook!

This book is fantastic!... In a creepy scary kind of way LOL. I read 3/4 of this book in one sitting and the final 1/4 as soon as I woke up the next morning even before breakfast (but not before coffee, never before coffee!). 

Excellent character development! I loved Ella! She was your typical teen, but in a good way!! I loved that she was a "cat person" just like me! she wore a different cat t-shirt everyday - such as "I would push you in front of zombies to save my cat" Hahaha, how fun! I always looked forward to seeing what her shirt would read next.

This was one of those books where you never know who to trust. I thought I had a clue as to "what" but was never sure of the "why". And sad to say there were moments that I thought it was "all in her head". To say the least - this story definitely keeps you guessing right up to the very end!

Very well done, very well written, very captivating. on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense all the way!


Read an excerpt:

Chapter One, Beautiful Boy:

I approach Dad’s tombstone with trepidation, then breathe a sigh of relief. No mysterious flowers wilt at his grave as I had feared. Last August, someone left fresh orange lilies for him throughout the month. I never figured out who. Then, in September, the flowers stopped appearing as suddenly as they started. I always wondered, with an odd mixture of anxiety and hope, if I would run into the other mourner— someone else who honored my father. But I never did.
Usually, the ritual of navigating the same cemetery rows, visiting Thomas Darren Benton, and putting a small rock on his headstone calms me. Now, the heat is relentless and sweat trickles down my back as I search for the perfect pebble. It needs to be a nice, roundish one. Despite the lilies left last summer, Dad wasn’t a bouquet kind of guy.
I know this even though I never met him. He died before I was born, so I have no memories of him, only stories from Mom that I’ve heard so many times it feels like I was actually there. I see him beam during his graduation from veterinary school and feel his hand pat Mom’s pregnant belly. I hear him pick my name from the baby book: Ariella, meaning lion, although Mom insists they nickname me Ella. I smell the damp on his clothes from the night he rescued Oscar the kitten from a storm drain and brought him home to stay. These recollections have been cobbled together into my own version of Dad for the last fifteen years.
Today the sky is gray and foreboding, but the occasional burst of wind does nothing to cool me. I finally find just the right rock nestled in a patch of grass and rub off the dirt with my fingers. My friend Jana taught me the tradition of leaving a stone as a way to mark my visits with something more permanent, more enduring than flowers.
I’m the only person who comes to his grave somewhat regularly, other than last summer’s unknown mourner. I don’t think Mom’s been here since her engagement to Stanley, a non-reading, self-absorbed, stubby man. With the wedding only days away, Stanley’s settled into our apartment, but each awkward conversation we have leaves me yearning for the father who painted my room a cheerful yellow, who created a mini-library of animal books to read to his future daughter.
I hesitate before Beloved Husband and Father, rolling the pebble between my fingers, then place it in line with the last one, making it the eighth in a row. I let my hand linger against the cool granite. Next week is Dad’s birthday, August 8. That number has been lucky for me since I was eight years old, when I could have died, but because of Dad’s warning, I didn’t.
The air gusts, whipping strands of hair across my face and scattering the pebbles to the ground. My skin prickles at the eerie timing before I realize that the wind has been stormy on and off throughout the day. Still, it spooks me because nothing has disturbed my markers in months. Until now. It’s almost like Dad is giving me another sign.

The cemetery turns out to be more peaceful than home. I’m lounging across my bed checking my phone with Oscar purring beside me when—bang—Mom pounds on the adjacent wall. Oscar scampers to the top of my bookcase, his favorite spot in times of trouble.
The room next to mine serves as Mom’s office, and since my soon-to-be-stepbrother is expected to arrive later tonight, she’s fixing it up. Loudly.
I give up on coaxing Oscar down and move to the doorway. “What are you doing?”
“Look.” She points with the hammer at two new pictures of the Manhattan skyline where a framed print of The Cat in the Hat used to be. Besides changing the wall decorations, she also cleared out the closet and moved her many piles of papers from the desk. “Do you think Blake will like it?”
I have no idea what Blake will like. The only photo I’ve even seen of him is one that Stanley keeps on his nightstand. It’s a faded picture of a young blond boy at the beach, smiling up at him.
“The room looks nice,” I say. “But it’s not like he’s living here forever.” Blake would only be staying with us for a few weeks until he moved into his dorm at NYU.
“I know. But I want this to feel like home for him.”
She certainly cares a lot about this guy we’ve never met. The filing cabinet, the now-spotless desk, and the fax machine are the sole remnants of her office.
“After we find your dress today, I need to buy some blue sheets and maybe some towels, too,” she says. “Are you ready to go?”
“Sure.” I sigh quietly.

Our apartment building is directly across from the Hoboken PATH station. After a short train ride to the Newport Mall, I remember for the hundredth time why I hate shopping with Mom. Every dress she pulls off the rack is revolting. But the wedding is only days away. We need to find something suitable that won’t forever embarrass me when I see the photos in years to come.
“How about this?” Mom holds up a mauve paisley thing with puffy sleeves, her eyes shiny with hope. “This color will look so flattering on you.”
“Maybe.” I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I purposely drift away to shop on my own. And then I see it: a pale yellow dress, strapless, with a flouncy skirt and sequins around the middle. The dress sparkles when I hold it against me. I can’t wait to try it on.
Mom will hate it. She’ll want me to look conservative for the small group of friends and family at her wedding. My strategy is to show her other dresses she’ll hate even more. I find a black mini she’ll say isn’t long enough and a floral sundress she’ll think is too casual.
When I get to the dressing room, Mom and three hideous pink dresses await.
I try on the minidress first, which she predictably declares too short. Luckily, the mauve one bunches at my waist. She likes the sundress, but not for the wedding.
I put on a blush-colored one.
“It’s not bad,” she says. “What do you think?”
“Too much lace. It’s like wearing a tablecloth.”
She nods in agreement.
Finally, I try on the yellow one and giggle with delight. I come out, posture perfect, feeling like a princess. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Mom frowns. “Strapless? You’d need something over it.”
I twirl. “I have that silver sweater at home.”
“Let’s see the rose-colored one.”
In the dressing room, I breathe deeply as I put on the last dress.
Her face lights up when I step out. “Ella! It’s so pretty! It brings a glow to your cheeks. And it’s perfect with your coloring.”
She calls it my coloring because I inherited Dad’s brown hair and brown eyes instead of her fairness.
“The rose is all right,” I say. “But don’t you think the ruffles look too childish for a sophomore?”
“Honey. It’s perfect for an almost-sophomore. And it’s appropriate. The yellow one might be nice for a dance, but for the wedding . . .”
I close the curtain and put on my shorts and favorite T-shirt, the one with the tabby cat that says Rescued is my favorite breed. It’s her wedding, I remind myself. She should get to choose. I should be mature.
I walk out and hand her the ruffled dress.
“Thank you. It means a lot to me,” Mom says. “I’ll pay for this and go to the bedding department. Want to meet at the food court in an hour?”
I shake off my annoyance and detour into the accessories section, where my friend Grace had seen a cute wallet with kittens on it that she thought I’d like. I’m sifting through the clearance items when this guy approaches me, holding a bunch of ties. Whoa. He’s tall and blond, and his white polo shirt shows off his tan.
“Excuse me,” Beautiful Boy says. “I’m trying to decide between these?” His voice lilts into a question. His smile is friendly, his eyes deep brown and intense. “I suck at this kind of thing.” He somehow manages to look model-perfect and sheepish at the same time. “Would you mind helping me pick one?”
I blink for a minute, staring at his face instead of the ties. My delayed response verges on awkward. “Okay,” I say. “What are you wearing it with?”
“A gray suit.”
I’m conscious of his eyes on me as I study the ones he’s chosen. It makes it hard to think. None of the ties have any yellow, my favorite color. Maybe it’s the dress shopping with Mom, but I point to the gray one with rose-colored diamond shapes. “I like this.”
I wish I could prolong our interaction somehow so that I can learn more about him. He lingers a too-short moment, then gives me another smile before he turns away.
I can’t help feeling like something momentous has transpired. I’m a believer in karma and fate and the mysterious workings of the universe. As I watch Beautiful Boy walk away, I hope that meeting him again is meant to be.
Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca. Copyright © 2018 by Yvonne Ventresca. Reproduced with permission from Sky Pony Press. All rights reserved.

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours and the author - Yvonne Ventresca Thank You!!

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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

5 Stars!

Vulnerable, beautiful and ultimately life-affirming, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s work reaches new heights in her revelatory seventh collection of poetry. Continuing in her tradition of engaging autobiographical work, How to Love the Empty Air explores what happens when the impossible becomes real―for better and for worse. Aptowicz’s journey to find happiness and home in her ever-shifting world sees her struggling in cities throughout America. When her luck changes―in love and in life―she can’t help but “tell the sun / tell the fields / tell the huge Texas sky…. / tell myself again and again until I believe it.” However, the upward trajectory of this new life is rocked by the sudden death of the poet’s mother. In the year that follows, Aptowicz battles the silencing power of grief with intimate poems burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, capturing the dance that all newly grieving must do between everyday living and the desire “to elope with this grief, / who is not your enemy, / this grief who maybe now is your best friend. / This grief, who is your husband, / the thing you curl into every night, / falling asleep in its arms…” As in her award-winning The Year of No Mistakes, Aptowicz counts her losses and her blessings, knowing how despite it all, life “ripples boundless, like electricity, like joy / like... laughter, irresistible and bright, / an impossible thing to contain.”

HOW TO LOVE THE EMPTY AIR brilliantly illuminates why we read poetry, and why poetry is needed. We read it to see another person’s unique experience, but also to help us clarify our own. And we read it to reassure ourselves that what we experience and feel it part of a larger human drama that we all share.  Cristin reminds readers how huge, life-shifting events are totally unique and personal—and yet, they are also universal.

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers' League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller List. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin with her husband.

Check out her beautiful website - HERE

Definitely "Vulnerable and beautiful". This is a very heartwarming and heart breaking story told in poems. What's more heart breaking than the death of someone's mother unfolding on the pages before you? I actually got choked up a few times reading this. I am sure this will be one I will read over more than a few times. I have already read most of it twice!

Besides just being sad - this is real. Cristin gets a little snarky at times, and I love that. I love that she could mix a little humor with this heaviness that was on her heart. I am glad that she could share this with her readers. I am glad that I was allowed into her life for a bit. Thank you Cristin for letting me into your life through your poetry! I do hope I get to read more from you!

These are two of my favorites -

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Poetic Book Tours Thank You!!

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HIGH COTTON - Debby Mayne

4 Stars

Some families are filled with so much love they can't help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family's next reunion. On the one hand, she'll get to see everyone in her mama's family---folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there'll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law's deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay's teen self, but the woman she's become doesn't know what to make of this.

Shay's contentment is challenged, and she's determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she's looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life?

Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction and is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas-plus more than 1,000 short stories, articles, and devotions for busy women. Debby is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. She was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so Debby enjoys featuring characters with Southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. High Cotton is the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series.

A fun, heartfelt, chick-lit-ish, southern story with a lot of Drama drama drama!

I love southern fiction. I lived in Savannah GA for a couple and I have the best memories! I just loved it there. So anytime I read a book that take place in the south and has that southern flair it warms my heart. And this one was no exception.

I do love books with changing POV (point of view) but with 4 (5 if you count the twins as separate) different characters, that was even a bit much for me. I did get the women confused at times. It took me well into the story before I really knew who was who. But... I still did love the changing POV. It is one of my favorite features of a book. I loved getting to know all these women and their quirky lives. They were all so different and yet all connected. Shay (love that name!) was the main character and I loved her!

With this story comes quite a few laughs and even a tear or two. A very real feeling story-line. I haven't been to a family reunion in YEARS! And honestly, just like the characters in this book, I think I would dread it! I love my family, and love getting together with them, some of them. But, put us all together and it is a recipe for ... CRAZY!

I had never read one by this author before even though she has a ton of books! I would definitely read another!

I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Litfuse Thank You!!

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