Review + Giveaway: Glimmers

unnamed (1)

Title: Glimmers
Author: Barbara Brooke
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Release Date: June 2014
Length: 228 pages
Series?: Glimmers #1
Genre: Chick Lit, Paranormal

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Glimmers-2240-640x1024A simple touch and suddenly, Paige is in the past – living someone else’s life, seeing the world through their eyes, and feeling their deepest emotions.

Paige used to think memories only existed in one’s mind. But now, she knows better. She can’t explain how or why, but she has glimmers: special moments that have remained behind – clinging to a letter, a ring, even a worn-out pair of boots.

When Paige returns from each glimmer, a small part of her has changed. Who is this gourmet cook, fashion designer, feisty lover? And how is she supposed to explain this to her family without them thinking she has completely lost her mind?

Paige thought her new talent was a gift, until…she was suddenly transported into her sister’s memory, and caught a glimmer of her secret life.

Take this humorous and romantic journey, as Paige learns about true love through the lives of three extraordinary women.

***** Review *****

The title is absolutely perfect for this book. Paige gets just a glimmer into the lives of three women, all whom are connected back to her own life in some way. This new talent has some great points to it, and some drawbacks. The best part is that after getting a glimmer into someone else’s life, Paige aquires some of that person’s actual talent or a slight bit of their personality.

The first person Paige glimmers is Delilah Jones, a young local girl working at the local resort in Lewisburg, West Virginia. It’s the summer of 1988, and it is the classic Dirty Dancing theme of upper class vs. lower class scenario. Delilah falls hard for a young William, and things don’t quite work out as planned thanks in large part to his mother. When Paige returns to her life, the worse-than-horrible cook she is has been transformed into a novice chef.

Even though I asked him not to tell anyone about us, I figured he’d at least tell his parents. And just like that, our secret and forbidden romance isn’t as thrilling or electrifying.

I freeze in the center of my driveway, feeling as if I could crumble. 

No, I’m not giving in that easily. 

“I love you,” I shout into the night air, and wait. 

The car stops, and after what seems like an eternity, his door opens. 

“It’s about time you said it,” he says, and a ghost of a smile rolls across his lips. 

Now more than ever I’m determined to make my dream come true. Heck, I’ll be too busy creating a new world for myself to ever bother with falling in love again. I wasn’t kidding when I told William I wanted to open a restaurant right here in Lewisburg, West Virginia. But first, I’ll go somewhere tropical. I can see myself strolling along sandy beaches, while dreaming up recipes for my restaurant. One day Désirez will be a huge success.

Then, things get up close and personal for Paige. She is helping her sister plan her wedding…only, her sister doesn’t seem too interested in her own wedding! Paige is running the entire show – even selecting the dress, trying on the ring for size, and acting as the stand-in for the final fitting. But when Paige goes to pick up the ring and tries it on for size, she is one again caught in a glimmer, and what she learns about her sister sets up the entire rest of the novel. Her sister is indeed keeping a HUGE secret!

I know he’d do anything to make me happy. I wish he could find someone else to make happy. I don’t want to crush him. In a strange way, I still wish I could be the right woman for him.

Paige is, to say the least, furious with her sister. Worse yet, her own husband works with her sister’s fiancee. It all feels so bizarre to Paige, who drags husband Elliott into the mix.

The last person Paige glimmers is an ancestor, after receiving her dressing table and antique mirror. As a child Paige would search the dressing table for the long-rumored hidden compartment. It is here that Paige finds, at the behest of her mother, a pair of Emma’s cameo earrings. Emma brings fashion and a big sweet tooth into Paige’s life.

Mr. Grant departs from my sight as swifly as he had appeared, and I am left feeling conflicted. Perhaps I have been unfair to him and ought to give him a chance to warm my heart. I stand, wringing my hands as I stare at the space Mr. Grant had only just occupied. I shall ponder my feeling for the poor man later. There are quite a few colorful dresses that could quite possibly fill the void inside my soul.

“It is a pity you must return so quickly.” 

“I hope you don’t mind my saying, but I was under the impression you would rejoice in my absence.” 

“I am not entirely certain how you could have arrived at such an idea.” 

“On my journey back, I came upon a most unsettling realization.”

“Oh, and of what realization did you come by, Mr. Andrew?” I look up, returning his powerful gaze. 

“Are you in love with him?” 

When Paige agrees to host Hailey’s bridal/couple shower, she also decides to take the bull by the horns and help her sister out…only it ends up being a complete disaster that Elliott so graciously and smoothly intercepts. Paige comes face-to-face with more than one person from her glimmers, and along the way is resolved that she is not cuckoo in her glimmers.

Hailey leans closer and says in a hush, “It has to do with her glimmers…tell you about it later.” 

“He knows about my glimmers?” I ask in astonishment.

I’m imagining all of the good times we’ll all have together when I notice Elliott’s staring at me. He inches closer and softly touches his lips to mine. 

“I love you Paige. Everything about you…even the nutty parts,” he says earnestly.

***** About the Author *****

Currently, Barbara Brooke resides in sunny Florida with her supportive husband, two adorable children, gorgeous greyhounds, and scruffy mutt. She is actively creating new worlds and interesting characters for the next book in one of her series. Shhhh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write spellbinding, heart-pounding women’s fiction, she also writes books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young adult fantasy story. These particular books are written under the name H.B. Bolton, but that is another story altogether.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

There is a $25 Amazon Gift Card (INT). Ends 12/29/14.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review + Giveaway: A Year in the Secret Garden

I loved The Secret Garden growing up as a child – particularly the movie starring the wonderful Smith. I bought the book at a book fair one year, but have yet to read it. I can watch the movie 100 times and I never tire of it, which is why I signed up to review the beautiful “A Year in the Secret Garden” book.

Title: A Year in the Secret Garden
Author: Valarie Budayr
Publisher: Audrey Press
Release Date: November 2014
Length: 144 pages
Series?: Glimmers #1
Recommended Ages: 5+

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

A-Year-in-the-Secret-Garden-coverAward-winning authors Valarie Budayr andMarilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Gardencharacter, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.

Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

***** Review  of February *****

I attribute my love for plants and gardens to The Secret Garden. When I was younger, I envisioned myself as Mary, surrounded with gorgeous blooms and greenery. As well as that animal Snow White effect. Hey, a girl can dream!

I have grown up, but my love for having a garden has not ceased. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons I want to buy a home…along with having room for a bigger bed, a bigger closet, more rooms and a yard for Baby.

A Year in the Secret Garden is divided into the 12 individual months. Each month focuses on a particular aspect of Mary’s story from The Secret Garden. It is accompanied with dishes, crafts, character studies, planting directions, games and more. It is a rich study in British culture.

I chose to focus on February, as it is my birthday month.

In February, the authors share the recipe for Perfectly Good Porridge with Treacle. The closest thing in the United States we have to treacle is molasses.

I learned how to make a reed flute, which children would make out of dried stalks of oat plants.

My favorite part, though, was the Garden in a Jar. This like the terrarium I created in 5th grade, although the one shown in the book is much prettier than mine was. With a sealed lid this creates an entire ecosystem in a jar, complete with its own water cycle.

An interesting aspect that was included in the month of February was how death was mourned in Victorian England. I have always known that black mourning clothes were taken up to be worn immediately, and that women had a specified period of mourning time for a deceased husband. However, all in the family have a specified full mourning period, and then a half mourning period (during which the mourning clothes tone down from black to gray).

The character study of one of the most mysterious showed up in the February section: the uncle, Archibald Craven. For ten years, he has suffered through a deep depression after losing his wife. He cannot bear to be around Colin, who resembles his mother so much, but returns to Mistlethwait Manor at the behest of a dream to find Colin in good health and the gardens of his late wife restored to their former glory.

 

These were just the things I discovered in the February section of A Year in the Secret Garden.

Find out what else The Secret Garden contains by visiting the other tour stops:

A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

EXPLORING SEPTEMBER

November 1

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch)

Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)

November 2

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Hope to Read (Excerpt)

November 3

Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)

Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)

EXPLORING OCTOBER

November 4

BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)

Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)

November 5

Monique’s Musings (Book Review)

November 6

SOS-Supply (Book Review)

EXPLORING NOVEMBER

November 7

Randomly Reading (Book Review)

November 8

Adalinc to Life (Book Review)

EXPLORING DECEMBER

November 9

100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

November 10

Edventures With Kids (Book Review)

EXPLORING JANUARY

November 11

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

EXPLORING FEBRUARY

November 13

Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)

November 14

Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)

EXPLORING MARCH

November 15

Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Purple Monster Coupons (Excerpt)

November 16

Stacking Books (Book Review)

EXPLORING APRIL

November 17

Oh My Bookness (Book Review)

November 18

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)

EXPLORING MAY

November 19

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

November 20

All Done Monkey (Book Review)

November 21

Geo Librarian (Book Review)

Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)

EXPLORING JUNE

November 22

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 23

Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)

My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)

November 24

Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)

Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)

EXPLORING JULY

November 25

Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)

November 26

Jane Ritz (Book Review)

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 27

I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)

EXPLORING AUGUST

November 28

Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)

November 29

Mommynificent (Book Review)

November 30

This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)

Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)

***** About the Author *****

VBheadshot2014-204x300Valarie Budayr loves reading and bringing books alive. Her popular website inspires children and adults alike to experience their books through play, discovery, and adventure.

She is founder of Audrey Press, an independent publishing house, as well as an Amazon and iTunes best-selling author. She has written The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Valarie is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and encouraging families and schools to pull books off the shelves and stories off the pages.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** About the Illustrator*****

mswHeadshot-300x300Marilyn Scott-Waters loves making things out of paper. Her popular website receives 2,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than six million of her easy-to-make paper toys. Her goal is to help parents and children spend time together making things.

She is the creator of a paper toy craft book series The Toymakers Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling), and The Toymakers Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself (Sterling). She is also the co-creator with J. H. Everett of the middle grade nonfiction series, Haunted Histories, (Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). Ms. Scott-Waters illustrated The Search For Vile Things (Scholastic), and created paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press).

Find the illustrator: Website | Facebook

***** Giveaway *****

There is a $100 Amazon gift card available in this giveaway!

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Blast + Giveaway: Tales from Feyron Series

feyron banner

Title: Tales From Feyron
Author: Diana L. Wicker
Publisher: Smashwords
Release Date: October 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

***** Coupon Codes! *****

Book 1 – The Dream Weaver’s Journey
Smashwords
Promotional price: $1.50
Coupon Code: ZJ52R
Expires: January 1, 2015

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/3997138
Promotional Discount: 30%
Coupon Code: 5ZAZP8G8
Expires: January 1, 2015

Book 2 – The Guardian Child’s Return
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/375972
Promotional price: $1.50
Coupon Code: LC58X
Expires: January 1, 2015

Create Space: https://www.createspace.com/4253658
Promotional Discount: 30%
Coupon Code: S6AGDG2M

21756993     21772655     23294166

The Realm of Feyron has always been. It is the origin of all things magical, the axis point where all the worlds meet. Once, in days gone by, there were many gateways within the Temple of Pyli connecting the Worlds Beyond seeded with magic to their home. Now many gateways have flickered out, and Feyron weakens as the magic fades and the Guardians are lost.

For the first time in over three hundred years a Dreamweaver has come of age and is tasked with contacting the Guardians. When she awakens in the night after a vision of her best friend lost and alone, injured in the snows at the top of the Crystal Mountains, she seeks out the Sacred Fire in the Temple in an attempt to call forth more information. A voice calls out from the fire, “Dreamweaver, you are summoned.” An image appears of an ancient path through the Mist Shrouded Forest leading to a hidden gate into the Crystal Caverns below the mountains. The Guardians have summoned her on a quest that will take her to the four realms of light within Feyron in search of answers and aid.

***** Excerpt *****

Legacy of Mist and Shadow
Shyamal sat cross-legged beneath the canopy of the great oak not three paces from the gifting shrine, arms crossed and coal black eyes smoldering.  Arwyn sat on the cool, hard-packed earth beside Shyamal, legs curled to the side.  Leaning against his shoulder, she wrapped her arm through his and patted his hand.
“Don’t feel put out with Neria.  This isn’t exactly the place for us to be tiring ourselves out, and she’s already projected two large visions today.  I’m surprised Master Scholar didn’t make her drink a restorative and nap after the first one.”  With a sigh and a nod, Shyamal relaxed and they watched as Neria and Zilya began to concentrate.Orabelle leaned against the mountainside near the archway, watching with excitement.  She always enjoyed watching the visions form when Neria worked.  Orabelle thought the scholars could really benefit by having more members from Vocare, especially with all of the lovely antiquities coming to the Crystal Hall.  She closed her eyes and wondered what the scholars could learn from the other relics, if this one music box had so much to teach them.

The alcove suddenly grew darker as the wisps flickered out, vanishing back into the realm from whence they came.  A soft mist began to roll out from the darkened alcove as Shyamal closed his eyes and sighed, letting the mists call to him.  Orabelle stepped away from the archway as the mist began to gather about her feet.  She stumbled, sliding down the smooth, sloped wall of crystal into a mossy depression.  As her hand brushed over the odd, milky crystal of this area during her fall, a small trickle of water began to flow down the face of the mountain. A pool gathered beneath her, oddly warm, not the usual chill from an underground spring. She closed her eyes, hands glowing blue as her magic sought the long forgotten spring that seemed to call out to her, asking to remember the sun.

A vision slowly formed in the mists.  A small figure crawled from the forest pool as the waters bubbled up from below, her once smoky grey clothing now darkened from being soaked through during her travel, and her red-gold hair streamed rivulets of water.  Although the deep river was as warm as a new drawn bath, it provided no pause as it flowed ever onwards, and the girl emerged, choking and retching as she gasped for breath.

Through blurred vision, the exhausted girl could just make out the soft glow of the white marble within the jewel-toned alcove.  She crawled across the forest floor, every breath a searing pain as she forced herself to move when all she wanted was to drift away, to forget the horror of this day, and rest.  She pulled herself up the cold stone, hardly even able to balance on her knees, until she could just reach across the flat top.  Slowly she pulled the cloth bound around her chest and pushed a parcel onto the pedestal, the twisted cloth falling away to reveal a pale, wooden box.

Orabelle sat in the growing pool, the water spreading ever farther from the once forgotten spring.  Her eyes were misty white and the blue of her water magic nearly reached her elbows as she continued to call the water forth as though she were the little naiad in the vision Neria had called before.  Shyamal and Arwyn sat, arms still linked, nearly engulfed by the mists.  Neither of them noticed the water beneath the mists creeping towards the alcove, the pool slowly covering Zilya’s feet as she stood in the exact spot where the girl in the projected vision clung to the marble gifting shrine.

Elwynne had been slowly edging forward until he was well past Shyamal and Arwyn.  Enthralled by the projecting vision, he felt like he could almost touch the girl.  She looked so familiar, like he knew her, but between being all wet and deathly pale from nearly drowning and the odd, shadowy nature of the vision, it was hard for him to make out who she looked like.  If she would just crawl away from the shadows, then he could see her better without disturbing Zilya as she shared her magics with Neria.

Oisin stood with his back pressed to the great oak.  Something about the solidness of the oak brought him comfort.  It was real, and present, and not part of the mists.  If he had stopped to think on it, he may have wondered if the oak had witnessed these events when they occurred before, but he had little training in the magics beyond those of clan Caris, having only attended summer academy for the first time last season, and the littlest sparks that make up all of nature were not yet known to him.  Something in the back of his mind kept poking him until he was covered in goosebumps and shivering.  There was something wrong with these mists.  They seemed to flow in from everywhere, but there was nothing nearby to generate them.

‘The mist, it shouldn’t be here at all,’ he thought.

Just then, the girl in the vision shuddered, whispered words lost in her gasping sigh as she slid to the soft forest soil at the base of the pedestal, rolling onto her back, her arm flopping loosely as she hit the ground.  A flash of light burst from within the jeweled alcove, followed by the ripple of the shock wave through the mists that rattled the very crystal columns of the mountains themselves, the vibrations starting an eerie resonation that echoed through the Lesser Forest and shook the trees, raining leaves and debris in a wide arch around them before tossing those within the still swirling mists to the ground.

 *****About the Author *****

author photoDiana lives in the balmy climate of the US south with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and a cantakerous rabbit.  She enjoys reading, sewing (clothing, costuming, and experimental toy making), and RPG games. (She grew up with the old school paper/pencil style of gaming, but has transitioned happily to the highly interactive world of video games.)

The idea for Feyron started with a map, a place for her daughter to tell stories and live out storytelling role playing adventures with her friends.  The lore grew around the map, for every world needs lore if you are going to “live” there.  The idea for a series, Tales from Feyron, grew out of the lore, for if you’re going to invent a world, you may as well play there too.  The stories are continuing to grow through the various historical ages of Feyron and may yet “ripple” outwards to the Worlds Beyond touched by magic.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

There is a giveaway for this blast. $25 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or $25 Book Depository Spree (International), plus a magic bottle charm necklace (US Only), and a chance to name a character in one of Diana’s books. Ends 11/12.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: The Brazilian Job

Brazilian JobTitle: The Brazilian Job
Author: Michelle Vernal
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 336 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Humor

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Nobody’s perfect, are they?

Rebecca Loughton’s bumbled her way through her thirty something years making a few cock-ups along the way. Of course, these wouldn’t be so obvious if it wasn’t for her golden haired, older sister Jennifer. In a bid to escape Jennifer’s lengthy shadow and to find her happy ever after Rebecca, high-tails it out of her hometown of Christchurch to the other side of the world landing a legal secretary job in the buzzing city of Dublin. A few drinks later, all she has to show for her new life is an embarrassing one-night stand and a dollop of flirtatious banter with her boss Ciaran who just happens to have a predatory receptionist in hot pursuit of him.

Amidst plans of preventing such a merger, Rebecca receives news that Jennifer’s picture perfect life has a big, fat crack down the middle of it in the form of a philandering husband. Summoned home to look after her sister’s children and cooking school while she works on her marriage, Rebecca finds the reality of looking after two young children along with the bizarre array of guests booked into the cooking school grim. The only bright spot on her horizon are Ciaran’s e-mails but then she meets David Seagar whom she thinks might just be the ending to her happy ever after. But will he prove to be far from perfect too?

*****Review*****

I don’t quite know where to start with this book.

Becca is the younger sister, and has the prodigal older sibling who is that person who wears the shining diamond tiara while sitting on her pedestal made of gold. Becca has never followed through on anything in her life, picks and chooses at her own whimsy, and has no true direction, let alone goal, for her life. Becca has essentially run away from home to Dublin to take a paralegal position, with her no-good best friend tagging along.

Her older sister, though, is a totally different story. Jennifer was Ms. Everything, then got married, had two kids, and started a business out of the dilapidated house she bought and fixed up.

Fast forward two years. Becca is sort of on the hunt for a man, and does everything in her power to forget that one night with her boss. Her very sexy boss. Ciaran. Even his name sounds sexy! And then she gets the call from Jennifer that turns everything on its ear, especially Jennifer’s life.

Despite Becca being the screw up of the family, does what a good sister does and goes to help Jennifer in her time of need. (And her best friend tags along!) Only, Jennifer comes back from her “fix-our-marriage” vacation only a day after she’s left! Meanwhile, Becca is very interested in single dad David…until Jennifer throws up a no-holds bar.

Google Maps
Google Maps

This novel was very complex. The first thing I noticed is that this is not a traditional novel as we know them, but written more in the style of a memoir with a lot of reflection of events told through narration with little dialogue. It takes quite a while for Michelle Vernal to set the scene.

Halfway through the book I was wondering why in the world the title was The Brazilian Job. Neither Becca nor Jennifer live in Brazil. The title stems from one small incident in the novel, albeit one that is a catalyst for her relationship with BFF, but…really? Naming the entire book after a Brazilian wax job? Not only did I find it an inadequate title, but it just didn’t seem in good taste. Perhaps New Zealanders think otherwise, I really don’t know. It’s a catchy title with a bright cover, but I could think of a handful of alternate titles.

One thing that really annoyed me was Jennifer. She was such a bitch to Becca! Not only did Becca have to take two weeks of vacation – and kept the situation hush-hush to their parents – but she was there for Jennifer! She listened, tried to be helpful and supportive of her sister, and she flew all the way back home to take care of her family and her business. Before Becca even left for Christchurch, after her phone conversation with Jennifer, I was already pissed off.

And then Michelle Vernal goes and makes us feel bad for Jennifer. Then I felt like an ass. However, that sentiment did not last long at all. Not long at all after Jennifer came back to town, minus a husband. The true truth of Jennifer’s unraveling marriage comes to light. Still, Becca is there for her sister.

Meanwhile through all of it, Becca experiences a whirlwind two weeks of heartbreak, love, betrayal, forgiveness, and most of all: maturity. She stands up to her no-good friend who only puts her down. She realizes she’s at a dead end in life and decides to make a major change. She bonds with her sister. She discovers who is really the right man for her.

*****About the Author*****

7444813Michelle Vernal is a 42 year old, married mum of two boys who lives in the pretty little town of Oxford located in New Zealand’s South Island. Writing is something she has always used as a way of expressing herself and was her first foray into the romantic and humorous world of chick lit as recorded in her thirteen year old self’s compulsory school journal. In it, much to the delight of her English teacher, she described in minutiae the heartbreak of being dumped after her first school disco. It was a scene she re-wrote into The Brazilian Job.

Review: The Girls of August

16131115Title: The Girls of August
Author: Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: July 2014
Length: 240 pages
Series?: standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Literature
Format: e-book
Source: purchased

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

*****Synopsis*****

Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

*****Review*****

The Girls of August: Madison, Barbara and Rachel. Teddy tried to force his new and dazzling wife on the Girls of August. The Colleton house was theirs for the first summer, and it was the standard for which they measured all other beach houses against. When Teddy’s marriage collapses, and his wife takes back her beautiful Colleton house, the Girls only mourn the house. Now the Girls never stayed at the same one more than once, always moving about to a new locale.

A silly name for four women who, after a decade and a half of never missing an August together, were approaching middle age, fretting over crow’s feet, and reaching for skin cream.

The girls met their husbands in medical school, and ever since the seven formed a close-knit little family. Madison married Mac, who reads her poetry at night. Barbara married Hugh and they had five kids. Rachel married Oliver and also had a handful of kids, and then Teddy remarries. The Girls of August have found their fourth member: Melinda. She completed the Girls of August. She, like Madison, could not have a baby. That is one thing the two share, a love and a want so great for a child of their own.

The last house we shared – Melinda’s final August – where we gazed at the calm Gulf and made promises to each other that we’d probably never, ever be able to keep…

Everything changes after Melinda. There are no more August summer getaways for the Girls. It’s as if Melinda was the only thread holding them together, their grief too great, not to mention their anger. They don’t see Melinda’s death as a mere accident…

Then, three years later, the Girls of August are invited to Tiger Island – an island that Madison’s husband Mac grew up on and knows well, despite no longer having a house on the island. When the trip comes up, and the entire ride to send off the Girls, Mac acts suspiciously, as if he doesn’t want anyone on the island to know he’s back. But Mac isn’t the only one who has brought secrets along with them on this trip. In fact, all of them but Madison have.

I feared that life was changing so quickly that none of us really knew the others anymore.

Instead of their usual one week vacation, they are forced to stay for two since the ferryman is out of town…and it is a vacation that none of the Girls think Teddy’s new wife, blonde bimbo Baby, will survive.

Their vacation is one with many ups and downs, and Baby was full of surprises for the Girls of August. The entire trip to Tiger Island and the stay there I felt horrible for the way that the Girls treated Baby, particularly Rachel – and even Barbara. They were so cruel and rude to her the entire time. It’s no wonder she kept wandering off on her own.

During one of Baby’s excursions, things go terribly wrong at the house. Each incident is greater and more dangerous than the last, and they can’t help but accuse the one person who has disappeared.

Baby’s character is one of many contrasts and facets. She’s like an onion that the Girls – particularly Madison – must peel back layer by layer. She says such random things at times that bring such a sadness to Madison. Two seconds later, she’s acting crazy, doing cartwheels and calling all the girls “mother.”

Things all come to a head one night, and everything comes out in the open. It is the moment in the book when all of the characters are the most vulnerable, emotions raging like the storm around them.

These Girls – the Girls of August – remind me of a woman I used to work with, originally from the Seattle area. Sweet as can possibly be. She forged a bond with a few other women, all born in the same year. They call themselves Club 54 Girls and have been together longer than the Girls of August were, but while reading The Girls of August, told through Madison’s point of view, I couldn’t help but think of them, too.

In the end I was left wanting something more from this book. It did not satisfy the craving in me as a reader that the plot and characters built up.

I wonder if any children of this time know the cool, slimy, dreadful feeling of chicken shit between their toes?

Yes, Anne Rivers Siddons, yes I do. Very well, to my detriment. It is indeed cool, slimy, and dreadful and all you can do is turn tail and run for the water hose.

*****About the Author*****

6946Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.

While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered national attention. She later became a senior editor for Atlanta magazine. At the age of thirty she married Heyward Siddons, and she and her husband now live in Charleston, South Carolina, and spend summers in Maine.

Find the author: Goodreads

Review: Lost on the Edge of Forever

Displaying LOTEOF Blog Tour.png

Title: Lost on the Edge of Forever
Author: Michael Haley
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: February 2014
Length: 235 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: e-book
Source: Curiousity Quills Press

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For all stops on the tour, please hop on over to the tour schedule.

*****Synopsis*****

Leila, an ambitious and brilliant student, is murdered during her final semester at college, yet discovers she’s been reborn as a spirit resigned to haunt the school of her death. Alejandro, a listless and depressed freshman, arrives on campus eager to reinvent himself after eighteen years of awkwardness, as well as a devastating family tragedy, shake his sense of worth and faith to their cores.

Lost on the Edge of ForeverThe two lonely souls meet under the auspice of moonlit rain, and soon find themselves irrevocably, passionately attracted to each other. Leila discovers her spiritual body reawakening with sensations that make her feel alive again, and Alejandro discovers a kindred spirit who understands him like no one else. Intoxicated with each other, the impossible lovers begin to dream of finding a way to hold onto their own private miracle. Forever.

Yet how can Alejandro explain to skeptical friends and family that his soul-mate is dead? Why does Leila get the nagging suspicion that within their relationship lies the secret of her continued existence? An unexpected act of evil ignites these unavoidable questions, only to reveal in its aftermath the true purpose of Leila and Alejandro’s star-crossed romance. Will their love allow them to accept a profound destiny that surpasses time and perhaps even God, or is their love destined to die loud and young?

*****Review*****

**Note: This book is recommended for 18+ as it contains very mature language and sexual content.

I shared a preview of this book in last week’s WWW Wednesdays meme. I said I had mixed feelings about the book, and would be hesitant to pick up another Haley title.

But I was still on my finished-the-book high, and a little emotional about the book for a few reasons. Having had more time to think about the book, I would probably still say I’m hesitant to pick up another of his books, but not because of his writing. Actually, yes, because of his writing. His writing touched on so many hot topics in our society and culture, and Lost on the Edge of Forever explores and explodes several of them.

I will be hesitant to pick up a Michael Haley book in the future because I am, quite honestly, going to bawl my eyes out. This is not just a contemporary romance novel, chick lit to share with the girls. It is so much more. Haley has worked some kind of magic in this book. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it and definitively tell you what “it” that magic is. I don’t know how to put it into words, or even if there are any words to express this book.

It contains such strong messages throughout that I think so many people today – especially the young – need to hear. There are also several messages for parents, particularly those with older children, and coming to terms with coming-of-age, death, religion, beliefs and values.

I say this because I have lost two relatives to suicide, which is brought up in the book, as well as a few friends, and I’ve had many friends who attempted. Some multiple times. I have seen the unbelievable ugliness that bullying has become, the way it is so easy to outcast someone who is different. I’ve gone my own rounds with religion, my beliefs and my values. Some differ greatly from my parents, and that was one hard row to hoe. Others are different in some aspects, yet have similar vestiges of my parents’ beliefs. And after swearing for over a decade I would be nothing like them, some are spot-on, exactly the same. I’ve also seen the side of grief in Alex’s family that is portrayed throughout this novel. In a lot of ways, I could identify with Alex, especially with his home life and family situation. And that scared me, a lot, and brought up resolved but still-painful memories. I wish Michael Haley had written this book sooner. It is a collection of all the things about love that our world needs to hear.

The title – Lost on the Edge of Forever – is a perfect title for this book. Leila, a victim of a college campus shooting, has been dead for about six months…but she is still walking around the campus, hanging out in the library. She knows she’s dead, perhaps a ghost, but nobody can see or hear her. She is lost and confused. Will she be in this state forever? What is she even?

“We don’t have to have sex for you to be wonderful to me.  I don’t know what I did to deserve someone as smart and beautiful as you.”

“You were you. And maybe that was enough.”

This phenomenon of a novel explores many hot-button topics. I’m saying this now, loud and clear: if you have a mid-20-somethings child, or a younger child, you need to grab this book and read it. Yes, even if your kid is 10, or 7. Why? Because in a few short years, and maybe even sooner, your child will be experiencing many of the themes and realities of life explored in this book.

These are the themes and realities I picked out in Lost on the Edge of Forever:

  • suicide
  • mental health
  • family tragedy
  • coping with grief
  • bullying
  • self-image
  • self-worth
  • sense of self
  • religion
  • beliefs/values
  • structure of relationships
    • with parents
    • with siblings
    • with friends

I’m going to talk about each of these topics, briefly, to give an all-encompassing glimpse into the world Alex and Lelia find themselves in – the world we live in today. I’ve made up a flowchart of sorts when I was thinking about the novel and how to explain it. Take a moment and absorb this.

lost_on_edge_of_forever

Alex, a small-town guy with a strong base in his family and his faith, loses his mother in a tragic accident. It leaves him questioning everything about his God and life. Blake is his friend since childhood, and saves Alex from an unchangeable mistake. Alex blames his dad for his mom’s death, and emotionally clings to his younger sister, Dani. They have a love-hate relationship, in that they are playfully mean to one another. She calls him a tool, and he calls her a loser. But their lives essentially depend on one another, and they would both give up anything for the other. It is a bond created in the aftermath of tragedy and a mechanism to cope with grief and have some sense of normalcy.

After my sister died, I felt exactly like Alex and Dani feel toward their dad, except to my mom. I was young when she died, like Alex and Dani are when their mother dies, and I blamed my mother because I tried to make it logical and have reason. I clung to my three younger brothers, unsure what the future held for us. We were so very close, and my words and actions led them and left a lasting impact on them just as Alex’s near hatred for his dad is mirrored in Dani. They are emotionally disconnected from their dad, only with a slight tether to one another after Alex leaves for college.

Blake is not a good friend – in fact, throughout most of the novel I constantly wanted Alex to just blow up on him and end their semblance of a friendship. Blake is so mean to Alex: Blake is a somebody, and Alex is a nobody. (Enter Alex’s self-confidence issues.)

Likewise, Leila herself has experienced a personal tragedy, and her spirit has not left Earth. She tries reaching out to her dad and friends, who can’t see her, and is left alone, lost and confused.

The book changes point of view between Alex and Leila throughout the novel, and it is done so flawlessly that it is beautiful. The first few times, I did not even realize what Haley had done.

One day, Alex sees her. No one else can. Leila doesn’t want to lead Alex on, per say, but leads him in a way to discover who she is. Between the two of them, they try riddling out her existence, coming from different backgrounds and different religions. Despite what’s happened to her, Leila is still a firm believer in Allah, but Alex is angry with God and doesn’t believe. They delve into more than they bargained for, and it leaves them both questioning their beliefs. It is so out-of-this-world that Alex confides in his closest lifeline: Blake. That’s when I started really hating Blake. He was such a douchebag to Alex and Leila both. But Blake isn’t the only person I came to hate (even if momentarily) throughout the book.

Alex and Leila secret themselves away all semester and their friendship and romance develop. Leila shares some serious revelations from her life about being Iranian and Muslim and embracing her heritage and her faith, and how it completely changed her self-image and self-confidence. Given that Alex is like a wallflower, he also has self-confidence issues, which is explored from many aspects up to this point about his relationship with Leila, and although Alex seems to be saying words and acting out things on both sides of the douchebag-y hook-up guy/insecure, awkward virgin coin he shows that he genuinely cares about Leila.

Around about 70% into the book, I started getting odd vibes from both Leila and Alex. Due to their relationship in all its entirety – and the things said around this point – I got the distinct feeling that both of them had lost themselves in one another and lost their individual sense of self. After all that Lelia shared, it really bugged me that she had learned who she was and what she stood for, and then almost seemed to lose herself. Too much, too fast, which is a very common thing in today’s time.

Alex’s senior sister is also exploring within her world. With a few of Alex’s mentions of Dani’s ex-boyfriend-turned-semi-friend Calvin I got the distinct impression that Calvin had a dark, brooding secret – and that he wasn’t Dani…or the reason she dumped him. Alex only brings it up a few times, but it leaves you with the creepiest feeling. This comes into play in the last quarter of the novel in a monumental way that changes everything for Alex…and for Leila.

And that’s when I started hating Alex. I wanted to reach through the screen of my Kindle and just sucker punch him and rant and rave at how stupid he was being. I could definitely understand his anger, but after all he’d been through and the incredible insight that Leila has brought into his life I would think he would have handled it better. In that moment, he was the exact douchebag – no, more than the douchebag – that Blake is.  I had to stop at this point and put my Kindle down for a moment just to breathe because I was so angry at Alex and heartbroken for Leila.

This is when Leila finds herself, truly. She seeks out the one person she needs, and when she’s left clutching at straws, she goes to her own grave and proceeds to pour out her heart to Allah. And then someone showed up who I was shocked to see enter into the book, and this person could hear and see her. (No, not Alex.) I loved everything this person said to Leila – and this is the biggest message that parents need to hear about accepting their children (and their children’s actions and beliefs) because of love. Just love. It left me with a lot of questions about this person, a niggling one that I can’t tell you about. 🙂

In dual juxtaposition, Alex is also getting a life lesson from his counterpart of Lelia’s mysterious surprise person. It gave insight into Alex’s family’s life from a perspective he’d never heard before – or even frankly cared for. It was so heartbreaking for a few reasons and at the same time a moment too late.

“Alejandro – treasure your miracles. You never know when you’ll say something stupid and ruin everything God gave you.”

At the same time, Blake redeemed himself a little in my eyes. Not much, but a little. I don’t understand him or how he works, and that is one thing that is never explained throughout the book, which did bug me. If I could get that insight into him – the reason he was the way he was – I think I could have handled him a little better.

The question of a higher being’s plan for us is the driving force for the rest of the novel. Leila at one point admits that if given the chance to actually change fate, she didn’t know if she would interfere with Allah’s plan. After being told Alex’s fate, and that she can’t do anything to change it, she makes it her mission to do so. A third mysterious character – who has revealed him/herself in many forms to both Alex and Leila, appears and closes the novel. At this point, my mind was blown! So many connections made. The ending is very existential.

I’m going to admit: I did not the ending. I knew what was coming, and like Leila, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I also really did not like the epilogue. I thought it drowned out the power of the final chapter, and diluted the message. It just didn’t seem to fit right with the novel, as it wasn’t a true epilogue in the sense we generally see used. It switched point of view throughout, which made it very disjointed.

*****About the Author*****

Michael HaleyMichael Haley was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and cultivated its neighboring vicinities. He graduated with a degree in Psychology from Iowa State University, and now lives with his wife and little-dude-to-be in Bloomington, Illinois. When not writing, he loves indulging and dissecting books, film, and pop art from all canons and genres. Lost on the Edge of Forever is his first novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****Giveaway*****

There are TWO signed copies of Lost on the Edge of Forever up for grabs. Contest ends 7/15.

Click here to go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Book Review: Prejudice Meets Pride

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, book 1)Title: Prejudice Meets Pride
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Release Date: April 2014
Series?: Meet Your Match #1
Genre: contemporary, chick lit, romance
Format: e-book
Source: I Am A Reader 

Find the book: Website | Goodreads 

Synopsis

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Fun, compelling, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

Review

I was skeptical of this book from the start, there was just something about the cover, but I ended up loving it! Rachael Anderson has written on a unique premise: artist Emma Mackie gives up her dreams to raise her two nieces for a time, until their dad can come back into the picture. At first there wasn’t much to Emma – just a stubborn woman with really no options and no prospects – refusing the help of her neighbor Kevin, who ends up saving the day several times and even lands Emma with another dream job by the end of the novel, but at the beginning he saw Emma as a scatter-brained, incompetent single mom.

Throughout the novel, Kevin learns a lot about Emma and her situation. Emma learns a bit about Kevin. Feelings start to develop, and then things come to a screeching halt a couple of times. It is obvious that Kevin comes from money, and as that is one of Emma’s essential problems in the novel, it creates conflict in a few different ways that play out in the novel.

I think I loved this novel in several ways because I am a lot like Emma – I hate feeling that I owe somebody a debt, whether for a kindness served or an actual debt from a gift. I grew up the way Emma survived through college. I have her same mentality in that regard, so it was easy for me to assimilate into Emma’s mindset and background. What I was not prepared for was Emma’s history before turning 18 and coming to the United States. (She is originally from Sierra Leone.) In the beginning of the novel she made a comment through dialogue that made me think she had a baaaaad family upbringing and wanted to get the hell outta Dodge, but I found out that it was not quite as I had pictured it.

The nieces are adorable – and Emma teaches them quite a few life lessons – and they teach her a good one as well. One that lands Kevin with a mud pie in the face! 🙂

This novel is a sweet, fun read, perfect for summer. The characters were The banter was just right, the dialogue between all of the characters perfect. I wish I could go live on their street, where the neighbors are nice and friendly and in your business in the nicest way. A slice of small town living in the suburbs. 🙂

RachaelAbout the Author

USA Today bestselling author Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Saltwater Kisses

18073140Title: Saltwater Kisses: A Billionaire Love Story
Author: Krista Lakes
Publisher: Zirconia Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Length: 216 pages (paperback)
Series?: The Kisses Series #1
Genre: contemporary, chick lit, romance
Format: e-book
Source: free

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

When small-town girl Emma LaRue won a vacation to an exclusive tropical island, a last minute cancellation meant she would be going by herself. Shy and studious, she never had time to fall in love, and often wondered if she was just meant to be alone. However, that all changed when a handsome stranger literally walked into her life while on the beach and sparks began to fly.

New York’s most eligible billionaire bachelor Jack Saunders thought this vacation would be the perfect escape, one last hurrah, before taking full control of his father’s company. When an innocent Emma didn’t recognize him, he figured that he might get a chance to have a vacation from being rich. He didn’t tell her about the cars, the yacht, or the penthouse. All he did was let her fall in love with him.

Soon, Jack found that he was the one falling in love with Emma. When they enjoy a fantasy marriage ceremony on the beach, they thought it was a bit of harmless fun before returning to their normal lives. A bittersweet goodbye was supposed to be the end of their perfect vacation romance, but when photos of the ceremony were leaked to the press, everything changed.

Feeling lied to and thrust into a world of wealth and privilege, Emma must choose between following her dreams or following her heart. Will she be content at being nothing more than the billionaire’s wife, or will she return to her normal life with only memories of saltwater kisses?

Review

I had high hopes for this novel…maybe because I am a Pisces, therefore a beach enthusiast and water lover. Have you ever craved your favorite bottled soda, opened and poured it, only to find it fell flat? Yeah…that’s how this novel was for me.

There are a lot of rich vs. poor elements in this novel. I think that it would have been a more interesting dynamic to have a rich woman, but that could change too many things about this novel.

Emma is a working class girl. She lives paycheck to paycheck, like this American. The stars align and she ends up winning a radio station contest and gets a wonderful trip for two to a luxurious beach resort, except her sister backs out at the last minute. Emma was not going to give up her dream vacation, so she goes alone…and meets Jack on the beach during an emergency situation.

Jack keeps talking about his company and his business, always careful to avoid telling Emma exactly the name of his business, and he acts quite strangely at times. After only a couple days together, they indulge in a fantasy marriage ceremony, a secret they will take back with them to their regular lives – until photos of their wedding ceremony are leaked.

A part of me told me that I should stop, that I should think this through, but the other voices in my head quickly drowned her out; I wanted him more than I wanted to breathe.

After this point, I started losing interest quickly, and disliking both Emma and Jack. Jack was constantly unavailable in several ways, and does nothing for Emma to show he truly loves her. Speaking of love, I found it very hard to believe Emma’s constant admissions of love for Jack when there were not sufficient reasons to love him. I feel like she fell in love with a non-existent image, his vacation beach boy self. In the novel, Emma specifically advises her self that she is going to let go and enjoy her vacation: she’ll be bold and brazen, because she will be returning to her normal life soon.

I can’t recall Emma using any qualities for the basis of her love for Jack, such as a kind heart, compassionate, etc. Tara over at the The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhhh! touched on this exactly: instalove. I’d never heard of the term before, but it is the modern way of saying “love at first sight.”  Emma falls instalove with Jack, and he falls instalove with her…although, I find it very hard that he loves her at all.

I was on Cloud Nine, making love to this powerful man. He had me right where he wanted me.

The other thing that really, really bugged me to no end was the narration that Emma liked Jack to always be in control in the bedroom: she admitted that she knew he knew he held the power. Once would have been enough, but nearly every time there was sexual tension, this came up. It made it hard to believe in Emma as a character – a likeable character – to be so weak (in my eyes). To be that dominant and submissive, I was sure she would hang around forever in New York and let her dreams pass her by.

I did, however, like Jack’s assistant and Emma’s bodyguard. His assistant was a fierce and a protective mother bear to Jack, and after putting Emma through the tests, she ends up liking Emma tremendously, and forms a special bond with Emma. She helps Emma in several ways, but ultimately she still works for Jack and must follow his orders. I found that her character was actually quite rounded.

This is a quick read, but if you like strong female characters, I’d suggest finding another pick.

6885309About the Author

Krista Lakes is a newly turned 30 year old who recently rediscovered her passion for writing. She loves aquatic life and running marathons. She is living happily ever after with her Prince Charming and her bouncing baby boy.

In 2012, she released her first full length novel. That summer, she started the Kisses Series starting with Saltwater Kisses. She is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author.

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads

Author Interview: Lance McCulloch

The dashing Lance McCulloch has stopped in today for an interview! He’s indulging about his debut novel, The Colors of Blue, and about the process of writing it.

Thank you for your interview. Can you tell readers a little about yourself?

I’m a 49 years old and only recently become a full-time author.  My wife Jennifer, three daughters, and I all call Boulder, Colorado home.  I have a degree from the University of Colorado in Chemical Engineering and spent the last ten years of my life starting and running a gear and technology company.  I love the outdoors and fly-fishing has been my go-to Zen for many years.

The Colors of Blue is your first novel. What line of work were you in prior to writing? 

I have a degree from the University of Colorado in Chemical Engineering and focused most of my time in companies that manufacture semiconductors.  My focus had been in the area of plasma physics.  In 2003, I started my own gear and technology company and ran that on a day to day basis until 2010.

20744355What inspired you to write The Colors of Blue?

My company had arrived at a unique GPS technology with military applications.  In 2007, a large public company approached my six-person company exploring a relationship to distribute our products.  I was excited and believed that we had hit the jackpot.  Unbeknownst to me, this company had an agenda that was outside of the terms of the distribution contract we signed.  The terms of that agreement made them the exclusive distributor of our product and when they missed a major US Army contract, they simply stepped away.

Their actions set forth a sequence of events including the loss of my company and a lawsuit I filed against this company.  I loved my employees and losing them and my company were some of the very darkest times in my life.

I needed something positive.  One day I closed the door of my office and simply began to write.  My book, The Colors of Blue, was the best and most positive thing to come out of those hard times, although, when a Dallas, Texas jury convicted the company of fraud in 2013, it was not bad either.

Can you expand on this quote?

“Although The Colors of Blue is fiction, it is loosely based on the true story of my father’s recovery from my mother’s death,” said McCulloch. “I also wrote it as a means of escaping the depression of my failing company.”

Since I was very young, I’ve found great solace in the outdoors of Colorado and especially fly-fishing on the remote rivers.  This is a very introspective experience and, over time, has allowed me to assess my life.  When I was in college, my mother came down with a terminal disease.  Eventually, she passed away, leaving my father to contend with the loss of his long-time partner.  They had met and married when he was in medical school and had been together for decades.

I spent a great deal of time on the river, not only contending with the loss of my mother, but also trying to understand how someone in my father’s position can move-on.  This is one of the primary story lines of The Colors of Blue and I tied into the introspective nature of fly-fishing.

How did you come to choose the title, The Colors of Blue?

That’s a great question!  In the end, I wanted to describe to the audience the most difficult of all things to put into words.  That thing is the emotion of love.  I thought that a clever way to do that would be to make it tangible, like a color that could be seen.   That consideration led to Sarah Field, my protagonist with a sixth sense.

For me, writing inspired by these kinds of events is very emotional and cathartic. Explain what the writing process was like for you.

The process of writing began as a healing process for me.  It was and is an endeavor into the positive and creative.  Although operating a small business has its moments of creativity, there is nothing like writing that provides end-to-end joy like creating characters, scenes, and constructing the story.  I think ‘cathartic’ is the perfect word to describe the process.  My wife will tell you that she often finds me deeply entrenched in the process with a wide grin on my face; usually there is a glass of wine too, should I mention that?

How did you come up with and develop the idea behind The Colors of Blue?

The first line I ever wrote was ‘Sarah Field lives in a world of colors.’  Believe it or not, when I began, I did not know the story I would write.  However, when I realized it was a story about the discovery of love, I knew what the colors meant to Sarah.

Where do you like to write?

I must change places with some regularity to keep it ‘fresh.’  Often I will find myself at local coffee shops in Boulder, my office in our basement, or just the living room surrounded by my family.

What does a typical day for you look like?

Until very recently, I have been consumed with the law suit that I mentioned above.  I was the primary witness in a sixteen day trial and sat on the stand for four days straight testifying about several years of a business relationship and tens of thousands of documents.  Preparing for that occupied the better part of my day until December 20th, 2013.  Now, I’m reinventing my day.  So far, I start the day getting my youngest off to school, hitting the gym, usually a four mile walk with the dog, and then settling down to write until I run out of energy.   Following dinner, I may pick up the computer again if I feel compelled or enjoy a glass of red wine with my wife.

animas_riverDo you have any books in the works?

I do; the current title is ‘The Funny Little Corners of Love.’  Once again, it is set in the Colorado Rockies, this time in the small town of Silverton, Colorado.  Two brothers will find each other again over the mystery of a train plunging into the Animas River.

What are your future goals as a writer?

 My near term goal is to finish my second book.  Part of that is both hoping I have found a compelling story and working on my writing skills.  I am also hoping to expand my audience but, oddly, not for the purpose of making it an economic venture.  It warms me to hear from people who have found emotion in my writing and simply gotten lost in the story.

What do you want readers to take away from The Colors of Blue?

An early reader wrote me and said that my story made her laugh, cry, and think about life.  As she found, I hope that others can relate, feel, and understand the hand of cards that both Rick and Sarah have been dealt.  If my story catches the reader, perhaps I will be awarded with a few hours of their life to share the beauty of the human experience.

7731618About Lance

The Colors of Blue is Lance McCulloch’s first novel.  He wrote this novel as a way to cope with the loss of his parents.  He lost his mother to cancer and then his father in the crash of Egypt Air 990 in 1999.

McCulloch has one brother who currently manages his family’s cattle ranch.  He worked for Fujitsu Microelectronics for several years in Portland, Oregon, followed by Cirrus Logic in the San Francisco Bay area. Then, he launched his own business in 2003.

Born and raised in Durango, Colorado, McCulloch holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Colorado.  Currently, he resides in Colorado with his wife Jennifer and their three wonderful daughters.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: The Colors of Blue

20744355Title: The Colors of Blue
Author: Lance McCulloch
Release Date: November 2013
Length: 264 pages
Series?: no?
Genre: romance, chick lit
Format: e-book
Source: Smith Publicity

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In the new inspirational novel The Colors of Blue, Colorado native and chemical engineer turned fiction author Lance McCulloch introduces his readers to a compelling narrative of two emotionally shattered and vulnerable people, who gain a second chance at love and life through finding each other.

Sara Field has a unique gift – she can see the auras of others.  However, her gift for picking up colors fades after her fiancé betrays her in the most heartbreaking way possible.  Meanwhile, Rick Wheeler has suffered the tragic loss of his wife, and finds himself collapsing under the pressure to build his financial empire. Together, Sara and Rick connect, feel comfort in one another, and fall in love during one extraordinary weekend in rural Colorado.

As the story unfolds, readers see two very broken people fall in love as McCulloch ties together the beauty of nature and the human spirit.  The themes of adventure, love, intrigue, passion, and happiness are woven together tightly in this epic romance. Through strongly developed characters and rhythmic prose, readers are taken on a riveting journey that joins two hearts together and provides a renewed promise of true love and lasting happiness.

This emotional, inspirational, and uplifting novel also reveals:

  • How the purity and beauty of nature can restore our spirit
  • The power of finding a love that transcends time
  •  The importance of mourning the loss of a loved one
  • Why we need to understand and overcome grief to move forward
  • How to revive our identity and true colors after a devastating loss
  • How taking up a simple hobby such as fly-fishing can help us look inward and gain an introspective view of life

“Although The Colors of Blue is fiction, it is loosely based on the true story of my father’s recovery from my mother’s death,” said McCulloch. “I also wrote it as a means of escaping the depression of my failing company.”

Review

When Lance’s rep at Smith Publicity asked if I’d join on his blog tour and sent the book, I was very intrigued by the title. I had no idea what it meant, and now I know that it means everything. Everything that is important, at least.

Lance has written a beautiful novel that is not a typical romance novel. If you’re looking for a typical romance, this is not it. This is SO much more.

Sarah Field can see and feel the world in colors. No, she’s not crazy. After she begins growing up, she loses her colors. They come back when she becomes a kindergarten teacher. She lives with her fiance, who has business ties to her sister’s fiance. Right there should have given me a tip off: business and family don’t mix.

Greg asks her a funny question one morning during the regular routine of getting out the door to work…and Sarah finds a bobby pin in the closet.

She teaches a large number of kindergarten students. Her principal tells her they will be absorbed into the remaining two kindergarten classes because she is losing her job due to budget cuts. She points out there would be over 50 kids in each class, which is not possible because there is a cap in the low 20s for the lower grades. That was one major flaw I saw in McCulloch’s writing, but I knew that losing her job would allow Sarah to make some changes in her life, and it would also be something for her moneybags fiance to hold over her, to use to entice her back. Although, I don’t think the man knows the definition of entice, or seduce. He is not suave in the least.

Sarah’s sister is getting married, and her moneybags fiance’s family is footing the bill for the entire bridal party to indulge for a week at a Tres Padres outdoor resort. The men are all about fly fishing, and the women all about gossip. Sarah doesn’t quite fit in with her sister’s friends, and the one she knows will give her moneybags fiance the ammunition for a shattering blow.

While Sarah is relaxing and resting, she gets to know the Tres Padres manager, Huff. They share a love for the history of the land, and they develop a close relationship. She meets his wife Maria, who also has the colors.

Also there to relax for a while is Rick Wheeler, billionaire in disguise. All, especially moneybags fiance, take him for a fishing guide. He has a gentle nature and disposition, has quick wit and sees a spark with Sarah. He has been caught in the grief and emotions ever since his wife’s death, and he’s just not ready to move on. Or so he thinks. 😉

Sarah and Rick build a gentle romance within the vast expanse of the beautiful Colorado mountains. McCulloch knows what he’s writing about, and he paints vivid pictures of the landscapes and the adventures. Rick and Sarah are both well-rounded characters in their own right, but bringing them together brings out even more from them. He leaves  readers to come to their own determinations about their true character, and Sarah’s sister is the one who set me up with two very wrong thoughts about Sarah and Rick. I underestimated them both, and I find that they are indeed very strong and resilient.

Meanwhile, moneybags Greg has also been invited on the trip so that he may rekindle his ego with Sarah. She puts him off and puts him off and he thinks he’s making headway, then realizes he might be losing out to Rick, and delivers Sarah with a shattering blow that has some serious ramifications. I thought there would be more detail about those ramifications, but there weren’t. Greg thinks he’s won her back, put field guide Rick in his place, but now everyone just thinks he’s an asshole.

Since this novel is third person point of view, McCulloch has taken liberties and given readers a semi-omniscient viewpoint. Readers will be exposed to Rick’s dreams. Most of them are about his past, especially about his wife, and one of them is so sadly sweet and beautiful that I cried. Rick was an amazing and wonderful husband, and it broke my heart to read the way their lives played out to the end. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. It was also the last dream Rick had about his wife in the novel, so I feel that it was closure for him and a sign from his wife, urging him to follow through with her last words to him.

Rick never tells Sarah who he really is, very much like the two leading characters in Saltwater Kisses (review coming soon!), although this novel had strong characters so they did not behave the same was as the main two in Saltwater Kisses, for which I was immensely grateful.

I don’t want to spoil it, but one woman laughs herself all the way to the magazine stand and back when Rick appears in a segment about the richest and hottest men. The magazine is mailed to Greg’s business office. Oh, you will enjoy that part! 😀

I’m left asking myself a few questions about Lance McCulloch and his debut novel. Will there be more Colors books? Will we hear Nancy’s story? Will we hear Maria’s story?

I’m looking forward to more Colors books. I want to hear Maria’s story very badly. She is a vivacious and energetic woman, and I want to hear her and Huff’s love story.  I also want to hear Nancy’s story (the MIL of Sarah’s sister).

Oh, and the colors of blue? That’s love.

7731618About the Author

The Colors of Blue is Lance McCulloch’s first novel.  He wrote this novel as a way to cope with the loss of his parents.  He lost his mother to cancer and then his father in the crash of Egypt Air 990 in 1999.

McCulloch has one brother who currently manages his family’s cattle ranch.  He worked for Fujitsu Microelectronics for several years in Portland, Oregon, followed by Cirrus Logic in the San Francisco Bay area. Then, he launched his own business in 2003.

Born and raised in Durango, Colorado, McCulloch holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Colorado.  Currently, he resides in Colorado with his wife Jennifer and their three wonderful daughters.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads