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BEST LAID PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS: A Novel ~Amy Rivers

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

BEST LAID PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS is a companion story to WALLFLOWER BLOOMING, although both can be standalone stories also.  These are witty, warm and very fun reads about cousins who reside in Cambria, Colorado.  Wallflower is about Val a PR company owner and Best Laid Plans is about Gwen the new mayor of Cambria who also does public service work.

The young woman each find an opportunity to connect with their futures and for Gwen she is plagued with trying to figure out every angle by herself, before she will ask for assistance with her personal problems.   As mayor she is capable and enthusiastic and working full speed ahead with the council and the Governor.  At city hall one major problem reveals itself.   The female city manager has decided she does not care for Gwen and works to make her work difficult and not on course.  It is not surprising to see how woman can change their colors and become enemies very quickly.  One of the easiest strategies against resolution is getting two women competing with each other and manipulating their own truth.  Gwen does figure out how to overcome this particular problem while remaining true to herself and her values.

Jason, Gwen’s fellow, works in accounting for the city and this has become a problem to several people at city hall.  He takes a new job, which requires a great deal of travelling and a co-worker decides “to hitch onto his wagon”, another problem to resolve.   At the same time Gwen discovers she is pregnant and worries about rumors and how to tell Jason.

The story takes some nice dips into explaining emotions and the surrounding events and so we get some good backstory into family history and how to set oneself free from a family heritage that was not very supportive.  The childish emotions were being brought into contemporary living and finding new coping skills – maturing more into the authentic self.

Neither Gwen nor Val are simple characters, they have definition and smarts knowing how to use these tools.   They are intelligent and do not compromise what they know to be true.  These young women are sorting out complex issues and challenges and it is good to be privy to their thinking and resolving these solutions.  These are very enjoyable characters tucked into a good reading adventure.

There are even more unexpected problems, some are just plain fun and others are problems we all face in our lives.  Once again I will say this is a very good read, I think you will enjoy BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS.

“Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and kids.  She has a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics, two topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels.  Amy has been published in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, INSPIRATION FOR NURSES, NOVELTY BRIDE MAGAZINE, ESME.com, and SPLICE TODAY.  Her first novel WALLFLOWER BLOOMING was published in August 2016.”(Cover)

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TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy for review of BEST LAID PLANS &OTHER DISASTERS

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FINDING LIBBIE: A Novel ~Deanna Lynn Sletten

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

‘Happily Ever After’ is the start point of this review and my sharing about this author.  It is a good love story nicely written and was a grand rainy weekend read – very much on the sweet side!

Emily Prentice is busy helping her grandmother pack up the farmhouse and move into the city and a new townhouse.  Emily has taken a job as a clerk in a clothing store and put her plans on hold to help her boyfriend Jordan get his schooling completed right through his doctorate and as she helps her grandmother she is pondering where the relationship is heading and if she wants to make “those” changes to her life.  The two women find an old hat box in one of the closets that is full of old photographs of Emily’s father and his first wife!  What a discovery and it leads to a full story of figuring out what happened and how life sometimes does not turn out the way that one expects it.

FINDING LIBBIE is about high school sweethearts from two different sides of the social divides.  Jack and Libbie fall in love during their senior year of High School.  Jack is working a number of jobs because he wishes to go to school to be a certified mechanic.  Libbie is the high school sweetheart; Homecoming Queen and well cared for younger daughter.  Jack’s family lives on a farm, everyone works hard and they are friendly and well liked.  Libbie’s mother has lots of “episodes” and her older sister Gwen takes care of her Mother and her own husband and child.  Libbie is sensitive and no one is expecting her to go to college, have a career or work.  That is okay with Libbie because she just wants to marry Jack.  They celebrate a lovely wedding day with family and friends.

The story turns darker with discoveries about alcoholism, pill addiction, financial concerns and just plain hard work and exhaustion.  Libbie begins to have her own episodes and begins her own regime of self-medication.  Car accidents, hitting and hospitalizations now the secrets begin to fly out of control.  The couple is parted.

Emily just must find out what happened to Libbie after she hears the story and she is persistent, which creates an clever story on it’s own and as Emily pursues her own future begins to take shape and she takes hold of her own life.

Happily Ever After is good in this story and just left this reader pleased to have spent the weekend reading.  I think others will like it very much and particularly those who are ready for Happily Ever After endings.

deanna-author-photo-lake-union

“Deanna Lynn Sletten grew up on the sunny coast of Southern California before moving to northern Minnesota as a teenager. Her interest in writing novels was sparked in a college English class, and she has been writing in some form or another ever since. In 2011, Deanna self-published her first novel and has since published several more, both on her own and with Lake Union Publishing.

Deanna enjoys writing heartwarming women’s fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes readers on the adventure of a lifetime. She believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, magic, and happily ever after—all of which are reflected in her novels.
Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian shepherd or relaxing on her boat in the summer.” (TLC)

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ECHOES OF FAMILY: A Novel ~Barbara Claypole White

Monday, September 26th, 2016

“A Brit living in North Carolina, Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness.  Her debut novel, THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, won the 2013 Golden Quill Contest for Best First Book, and THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR was chosen by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as a Winter 2014 Okra Pick.  Her third novel, THE PERFECT SON, was a semifinalist in the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Fiction. (Cover)

Marianne is a mature woman who suffers with Bipolar Disorder and other mental health issues.  She also runs a successful recording studio with her husband Darius and her adoptive daughter Jade.  They all work and enjoy music together on Marianne’s property in North Carolina; there is a state of the art studio.  Marianne has not been suicidal for an extended period of time, but due to a recent car accident she is obsessing about another car accident in which her friend Simon died and she lost her pregnancy.  She believes Simon’s brother Gabriel is taking the blame and she wishes to remedy this problem – right now.

The vast majority of the story takes place in a small British town centered on the historic church where Gabriel is the rector.  Marianne stops taking her medications and sneaks out of her house and off to the UK to help Gabriel truly understand that the car accident was her fault and not his.  They were just 16 at the time.  Marianne also needs to understand why her birth mother rejected her and why her adoptive parents did not reject her.  They did move the family to the United States after the accident and after Marianne had a big “incident” in the community, as mental illness was becoming a new problem.

It does not take long for Jade and Darius to figure out where Marianne has gone and they too are soon part of Gabriel’s life as this family takes over his life, his house and all his time.  There are some wonderful, delightful British characters in the story and as Marianne ends up in a private mental hospital there are connections made, which have interesting consequences.

The story holds the reader’s attention with plenty of details and descriptions and one can certainly identify with the frustrations that mental illness brings to situations.  There are several happy endings and one difficult one to bring the story to a good conclusion.  I liked the included book group question section and there is a great interview with the author included.  A very good read and I am going to suggest it to my book group to add it to the list. A sensitive treatment of Bipolar Disorder and an engaging read.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an e-copy for reading and review.

There is a 100 e-copy giveaway on Goodreads for this book!

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The Passage: A Novel ~Michael Hurley

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Give a middle aged American Irishman a bar fight, put him on his sailboat headed to Ireland to find the true taste of Guinness and an amazing story emerges from Hurley’s imagination.   I could not put this book down, I was possessed by the story and the frame and range of the surface right to the depth the heart can reach.

I am so very happy Mr. Hurley asked me if I wanted to read it and that he sent me a PDF copy.  WOW.  Lucky ME!

I even read THE PASSAGE on two 4-hour car rides.  I could totally identify with the main character’s life – “Fitz” was just right and complete and steadfast and I just wanted to know how he was fairing on his path to salvation, redemption and his progress to shore up his self-worth.  The tragedies and mistakes were sublime and the droplets of humor and descriptions just tickled and delighted my imagination – holding my attention steadfastly.

Several years ago I reviewed another of Hurley’s books – THE VINEYARD.  The story was interesting and well written, but I could not identify with any of the 3 women characters.  None of them became real.  The book went on to win awards and I just thought “Oh well, we all have different tastes in reading.”

The twists and turns in the writing of this novel, were remarkably paced and just slid into this readers psyche with sometimes a sigh, a laugh or a didn’t see that coming.  It is so like life – no matter the taste of Guinness – no matter where.

“Do you believe in everlasting Love?”

My favorite quote came at PDF page 146: “Genre fiction uses plot to tell you a story about someone else’s life.  Classic fiction uses characterizations to tell you a story about yourself.”

What is holding onto you?  What is making you define yourself incorrectly?  How do you care and like yourself?  What pieces/peaces are you missing in your own journey?  What are the meanings you hold dear? And are those things, which you value – programed at age 10 true or false?

Life is definitely a journey and a process and so many of us have a middle-aged change of heart and endeavor.  It would be hard not to relate to this character and his story.  Irish magic just short of leprechauns and fairies adds just the right leverage to this tale.  I am passing this on to several friends for sure.

A remarkable read and I would give it a “10” and hope that it might reach the award phase and become a best seller.

About the Author (from book cover)

“Michael Hurley is the author of three novels and several works of nonfiction.  His debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, won the Chanticleer Reviews Grand Prize for Book of the Year in 2013.  This second novel, THE VINEYARD, won the 2015 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction.  A memoir, ONCE UPON A GYPSY MOM, was published in 2013 by Hachette Book Group.  His essay collection, LETTERS FROM THE WOODS, was shortlisted for Book of the Year in 2005 by ForeWard Reviews.  Between 1995 and 2003, he published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing, now collected in single hardcover volume entitled HURLEY’S JOURNAL.  He wrote THE PASSAGE while living in England and Wales.  He keeps a journal and stays in touch with readers on his website, www.mchurley.com

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