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THE HIDEAWAY: A First Novel ~Lauren K. Denton

Monday, April 17th, 2017

THE HIDEAWAY turned out to be a hard story for me to review.  I need to start with my disclaimer:  I worked in Alabama for a short period of time.  I was never in my life treated as rudely by the people of Alabama in my entire life.  I met several amazing women and lawyers while I was there, and I left with lasting memories of heat, sweat and unhappy human beings – I will never forget and this story was about some of those kinds of people.

We have a sweet Southern story about a lovely retreat location called Sweet Bay.  THE HIDEAWAY is two love stories, one from long ago; you know, the 1960s and one more contemporary.  It is the perfect beach read and the author loves reading at the beach.  She knows her locations.  The read is slow, interesting and well paced for a leisurely afternoon.  The early characters are charming and a bit rebellious; they are developed throughout the whole read as the stories go from Grandmother to Granddaughter chapter to chapter.

“When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.”

Maggie was a good Southern white girl and she married for money and then found out that her charming spouse was sleeping around.  After three years of this kind of abuse she packs her car and leaves for somewhere else and discovers THE HIDEAWAY.  There she discovers her work in caring for the house and the B & B tenants, who are primarily artists.  The house is losing money for the owner who leaves it to Maggie in a whirlwind departure.  Maggie falls in love with a woodworker who builds furniture.  She is loyal to the end of her life to her love and THE HIDEAWAY.

Sara lives with her Grandmother Maggie but does not appreciate her differences and her unique rebellious nature.  She discovers her Grandmother’s truth as she spruces up THE HIDEAWAY leaving her home decorating business to a friend’s care in New Orleans.  She falls in love with a carpenter.  Lots of wood and tree descriptions fill the story and the reader wonders casually about the synchronicity or the symbolism wrapped up in the “beauty” of it all.

TLC Book Tours  sent an advanced copy of THE HIDEAWAY for review.  It was an early PDF copy and it needed more editing.  My favorite blooper in the copy I received – made me laugh out loud!

“Mitch sat in the chair next to me, emptied when the previous occupant excused himself to go to the ladies’ room.”

I did not care for the main contemporary character – Sara.  She did not have the spunk or charisma of her Grandmother and she was just so sweet she nearly dripped with her charm.  She could not really connect with her Grandmother and did not try – though she appeared to like her and phoned her to check in sometimes – she feels entitled.  Sara is totally dependent on the males in her life to make decisions except about furniture and remodeling.  She has no depth perception – not a clue.  Everyone needed to help her right to the end.  I am sure she voted against women on her ballot; Sara needed men.  I know several folks who will like this book very much, I on the other hand was happy to come to the last page of THE HIDEAWAY

Lauren K. Denton:

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. The Hideaway is her first novel.

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Lauren K. Denton Website

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EVERYTHING WE KEEP: A Novel ~Kerry Lonsdale

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

It is Aimee’s wedding day but instead of celebrating the family is attending the groom’s memorial service.  The reader is right into the first plot twist and the mystery of this romantic love story.  A mystery woman tells the tearful bride that James is still alive at the reception!

The first part of EVERYTHING WE KEEP is about Aimee’s loss and her sadness and her resolve to hang on to the possibility that James just might be still alive. They have truly been a couple since they were young children and have been committed to each other for nearly their whole lives.   Aimee’s parents own an Irish Pub and James’ family is very wealthy and own an Import/Export company.  The groom’s family has very high expectations for their sons and are demanding with their rules and enforcement.  Aimee’s family is more relaxed and easy going and they offer James a haven where he can explore other options for his life.

Aimee has wonderful supportive friends and she begins exploring her own life options and opens a gourmet café and coffee shop.  She loves to bake and the foods the author shares are quite delicious.  She also meets someone who thinks she is pretty special too.  The new fellow is very respectful of her feelings and they become good friends.

Part II of the story is the unraveling of the mystery and the return of the mystery woman.  It is very interesting to figure out how the story unravels and the points of trauma, which produced this outcome.

The writing is very good and the story moves at a nice pace; not just escape reading but some interesting thoughts and developments.  I could have enjoyed this book on vacation or on a rainy weekend.  There was enough about beautiful clothes and hair to even keep younger readers interested.

TLC Book Tours sent me an e-copy of this book to read and review.   This book already has over 2,200 4.5 star reviews on Amazon.  It is free for folks who have Kindle Unlimited.

About Kerry Lonsdale

Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an online community of authors located across the globe. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy. Everything We Keep is Kerry’s first novel.

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WE’RE ALL DAMAGED: A Novel ~Matthew Norman

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Have you ever hoped that someone who hurt you would find a bit of punishment? Maybe not really full on retribution or revenge, but a bit of pain or struggle – just enough?  WE’RE ALL DAMAGED is about recovery from a big hurt except the struggle keeps arriving at the door step of the victim and in quite funny ways.

Andy has escaped from his hurt self /life in Omaha, Nebraska to land in NYC and become a bartender.  Karen, his now ex-wife just announced at Applebee’s one night that she was done with the marriage and Andy.  Our hero is very sensitive and is left in pain, needs release from his job and to find new turf in hopes of recovery.  A year into his new surroundings he is still obsessed by his ex when he gets the call that his Grandfather is dying in Omaha and he needs to come “home.”  On the way to his apartment, Andy is hit by a bicyclist and suffers a bruised face and black eye; he will decide to head to Omaha anyway since his mother has purchased a ticket.

WE’RE All DAMAGED continues with proving this title to be true as Andy reconnects with his family, his former in-laws and is able visit his Grandfather in hospice.  Mom is a conservative radio talk show host who is opposed to Marriage Equality.  Dad is a retired accountant; brother Jim is a workaholic with two young children. The parents have moved to a new mansion of a house where Dad tries to shoot the squirrels in his bird feeders with a paint ball gun and Mom is working to get a contract with Fox News.  An interesting young woman and a senior in a blue bathrobe with matching slippers enhance the story and give it some bazaar twists and turns.

I had several laugh out loud moments reading this story and was so happy TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/02/matthew-norman-author-of-were-all-damaged-on-tour-june-2016/ sent me a copy for review.  It was satisfying, humorous, and very entertaining.

From the Cover:

“Matthew Norman lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.  His writing has appeared on SALON, the GOOD MEN PROJECT, and the WEEKLINGS.  His first novel, DOMESTIC VIOLETS, was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in Best Humor.”

Matthew Norman BLOG
Matthew Norman TWITTER: @TheNormanNation

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WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness ~Cheryl Rice

Monday, January 19th, 2015

“WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Is an engaging, nourishing must-read for any woman who wants to love and accept herself more fully.” (Marci Shimoff #1 New York Times best-selling author of LOVE FOR NO REASON and HAPPY FOR NO REASON – cover)

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? for review.  The book is a memoir and a very gentle personal story about recovery and self-discovery.  As the opening quote says it is a book for anyone who wishes to accept himself or herself more fully and find that moment of self-love which sustains the whole person.  I heartily recommend this story.

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE?  was a very good read for me in January of a new year.  I am sorting out my business and my life and thinking about where I want this new year to move me; what is my goal for this year and what will I work on for myself?  So reading a memoir about someone taking action is a good inspiration.  Cheryl Rice was catapulted into her journey by the loss of her mother after a short dance with cancer.  Rice was overwhelmed by the profound sorrow that surrounded her and by the fact she came to a stop in her own life efforts because of this sorrow.

After cleaning every closet and room in her life and making stacks of things for charity she did not know how to proceed further, move on, and she felt like she had lost her self in all the care giving to her new husband and his children, the intense workout of caring for her mother’s last days and her father’s profound depression.  Rice proceeded to therapy and found her therapist trustworthy, helpful, and her ‘love object rescue hero’ extraordinaire. She kept going and peeling away the masks and actions which restricted her best self from emerging and being present.   She was taking care of everyone except herself and it was a deep and old pattern.

I could identify with Rice’s position and the fatigue of not being able to move forward and not wanting to stay in the intense caregiver mode any longer.  I too had children to care for and a partner and the intensity of the loss reveled that I too had been trapped into a caregiver role for way too long and self recovery seemed distant and beyond the reach alone.    I believe this kind of storytelling enhances our own well-being and revels clearly the way to healing and rediscovery for the next endeavors and discoveries.   “Life is constantly changing”, but when we are captured in a cycle of intense care giving making change can seem beyond our reach.  Looking back to our early years, how did we get caught into these roles and how did they keep us from our best selves, from finding our own true lives and our truest love?

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE? is an excellent look at people pleasing, of separation anxiety, of social anxiety and how we get pulled into the ‘perfect life’ of exterior acceptance and often loose ourselves in the process.  I believe everyone could benefit from this story of Cheryl Rice’s experience and how she embraced change in her life.

Cheryl RiceAbout the Author

“Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl online at www.YourVoiceYourVision.com. You can also find Cheryl on Facebook and Twitter.”

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