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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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FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT: A Novel ~Michaela Carter

Monday, August 18th, 2014

“As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.” (Page 11)
“ __ how small she wished she could become.  So she could hide from even herself” (page 77)
“If things weren’t hard, something was wrong.” (page189)
“After all, she was the one with the key.” (page226)

FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT is a fictional story about a week in 1992 in Los Angeles.  After receiving the early uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours for review, I immediately read the cover and was thrilled to be reading a work by such an amazing poet and writer – Michaela Carter.  Several of her poems have been included in our poetry study group over the years.


The cover said, “Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.”

Gwen is a doctoral candidate in poetry, working as a nude dancer in a strip club in L.A.  She is our confused and sorting heroine of the story.  She also pays the way for the others to live and rationalize their lives.  Valiant is an older lounge singer who is suffering in the last days of AIDS, who is smoking himself and possible drinking himself to death while living in Gwen’s apartment building.  Len is Gwen’s boyfriend and a musician who attempts to sell his CDs on the street corner dressed in a revolutionary period costume.  I would have to say that cockroaches are high up on the character list along with dirty dishes, disorder, and dysfunctional actions.  Nothing resolves until the Rodney King Riots began and the whole city was shut down to control looting; the city was permeated with smoke from the burning fires.  Everyone was stuck at home, with no view or running out of distractions.

Almost every chapter of FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT had a theme song and shared lyrics and poetry.  When I had finished the book, I went back and noted the metaphor or concept these words entered into the theme of the story. It was not a very fruitful exercise and I was left with tons of metaphors that seemed to overwhelm the story. Red, red, red, water, water, water, smoke, smoke, smoke, drinking, drinking, drinking, drugs, drugs, drugs, dance, dance, dance, dark, dark, dark; the list is even longer and  I personally found it exhausting to read and attempt to figure out.  Too much poetry?

The backstories of the three friends were well done and kept the story moving forward for me.  I so felt a sense of release when the trio decided to head to Tijuana to escape the riots and curfews and the ocean air allowed for clarity of thought to arise.  I was happy dancing when Gwen found the Grandmotherly Mexican Psychic and she believed the reading of the cards.  Whew! It was relief for the reader also.

Several days after finishing this book, I went for a walk to think about Robin William’s death and review all that I know about suicide, pain and healing.  It struck me that the erotic parts of Further Out Than You Thought are all based on the American addiction to violence and how it permeates our lives and is so common it is out of the awareness. Violence is common as dirt.  In this story, it is the riptide and strong undercurrent in the search for meaning and happiness.  The strawberries are blood red and release juicy, sweet joy.

“Michaela Carter is an award-winning poet and writer.  She studied theater at UCLA and holds a MFA in creative writing, and her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of American Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals.  Recently she cofounded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and story-teller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College.  This is her first novel.”

Michaela Carter Online
Michaela Carter Facebook
Michaela Carter Peregrine Book Company 

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A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE: Historic Fiction ~Jan Shapin

Monday, March 3rd, 2014


A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE is a first novel by Jan Shapin, an author who has written a number of plays over the years. The writing about an ordinary young woman from Everett, Washington in 1916 is a dense reconstruction of how the Union organizing activities were being experienced across the USA.  Penny Jo experiences all the events and yet is truly the narrator of history being made and the underlying back story to the visible outcomes.

Penny Jo Copper (24 yrs. old) is breaking away from the family home in Everett by heading to Seattle and hoping to get a University education like her 19 year old brother, a scholarship winner. Her father has been sent to prison for his rowdy behavior and assault charges.  Her mother works in the canning factories and is not much concerned with keeping the family together, just her son’s success. Penny Jo discovers that her brother is organizing and has nearly dropped out of school.  She finds a coffee shop job and a shift at the University Laundry, her own little apartment, the University Library and a Biology Class she is invited to audit.  Penny Jo is on her way to her life on her own.

Horace, Penny Jo’s brother, is one of the 5 young men killed on the ferry in the Everett Massacre; she must identify the body and then is pulled into representing her family and brother in the parades and funerals of the 5 martyrs as the bereaved sister.    In the midst of all this turmoil, she experiences her first love.

The story involves many immigrants and their roles in the Union struggles.  A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE, then becomes a road show of Penny Jo’s life as a young man named Gabe moves her about the country representing the Everett events.  As the USA enters the war, Gabe is avoiding the Draft and takes her to Mexico where they connect with a Russian, an heiress, a man from India, and 2 young men who are maybe journalists. She makes a wonderful friend while in Mexico, the young servant girl Rosa.  The Russian is enlisting their help in smuggling jewels and Faberge Eggs to fund the war overseas.  Illegal entry back to the USA and we are bound by train rides to Chicago and Milwaukee, Washington DC and Baltimore.  Gabe is creating a new identity and Penny Jo is earning the money for food and rooms.

Favorite sentence:

“There men like that, carrying a word they call good, who, once established, choke out the good in others.”

Trains are extremely important in this story and they create a boundary for Penny Jo’s life.  She meets a stranger on the train who gives her guidance for her future and a chicken dinner.  She sees that her father has been killed in Spokane, Washington from the headlines of a newspaper being shouted by a newsy on a station platform; she must stop running and take care of family business.

A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE is a good way to learn history and find the depth and pulse.  Although I have studied these events through history classes, I was not aware of the details; the minister and his daughter’s role in the story was omitted from my history lessons at school.  The power of the immigrant population is explored; everyone comes to take control in this State and the independent win.  What an instructional read and what an interesting history lesson – A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE

tlc logo I was sent my copy of A SNUG LIFE SOMEWHERE by the author, Jan Shapin, and by TLC online book tours for review.   It was a pleasure and a good first novel.

Jan Shapin Online

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed. Thank you!

Recommended Reading (lots more reviews under this tab at the top of the page)
Hannah Coulter
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THE CONTRACTORS: A Jon Cantrell Thriller ~Harry Hunsicker

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


THE CONTRACTORS is a 510 page contemporary thriller which I spent 3/4s of my weekend reading.  Thrillers are not often a choice I would make for reading pleasure; I have many readers who enjoy this genre very much.  I use these books to practice my analysis skills and to keep my thinking skills at peak performance.  How was the pace?  Did the story connect and was I able to understand the characters and their role and function?   Was I sent to do some extra research and discovery? Was the story revealing and did the dialogue flow and move the story forward?  Was violence and sex used appropriately or was it just for titillation? Are the female characters possible or just caricatures? Was the story line interesting and engaging?

THE CONTRACTORS moves at an amazing pace and the characters are very real and believable.  Yes, I was sent to the search engines several times to follow DEA investigations and Immigration statistics and I was overwhelmed by the number of drug related violent deaths in the Dallas, Texas newspapers.  The number of weapons in our environment has been overwhelming me since the SANDY HOOK tragedy.  THE CONTRACTORS has put all this information into a fictional study of the new way we as a country are doing business.  It reveals how violent, disorganized, deadly, costly, and destructive rogue sub-contracting groups are to our lives and how they produce even more deadly-destructive results.

Our society is being destroyed as we increase the number of disenfranchised or disposable citizens and we keep pursuing the ‘War On Drugs’. We keep arming with fancier and fancier weapons, vehicles and spy tools, para-military vigilante groups and then pay them on commission. Bounty Hunters! All sanctioned by Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney during the previous President Bush’s administration.  In THE CONTRACTORS it has reached viral levels of destruction, mayhem, and incompetence which are astounding.  Who really cares?

In the middle of reading THE CONTRACTORS, I paused to watch the Super Bowl with friends. This respite, from an into the middle of the night reading session, to watch a football game on TV was a fabulous contrasting story balancing out the intensity of the read.   Here was a young team with no “stars” of which none were a first round draft pick, being coached by  one of the oldest coaches in the NFL – “Who is thought of as a college coach” – working deftly as a team and creating a win.  None are paid extreme salaries, none of the players were chosen before the 7th round, and yet the team worked together and created a win. One could witness the teamwork in action.  Washington State has not had many National Professional sports wins – 1980s basketball, 2004 Women’s Basketball and now 2014 Super Bowl. The State was hungry and the celebrations were noisy and prolonged.  I finished reading THE CONTRACTORS about 2am and the fireworks were still exploding across the Sound.   Way to go Seahawks!  Way to Go Seahawks!

Here is the lesson for me: As a State we work best when we are a team effort.  Our healthcare, schools, science, transportation, social services and environment are best utilized when we were working with a spirited team.  Our public schools were in the top 10 in the nation just a few years ago, but now as sub-contractors have moved in to all our systems and institutions our public schools have dropped to 47th and people are racing to set up private schools and transporting their children. (ALEC)  The War on Drugs has destroyed several of our cities and the road from public education to privatized prisons is paved with gold for a few.   THE CONTRACTORS just points out how far advanced the decay is in Texas and how quickly other states are following – racing down this path.

I love to read even books not in my favorite genre like THE CONTRACTORS.

tlc logo I received a copy of this book for review from TLC Online Book Tours and the author.  I know a number of my readers like a good contemporary, thriller and THE CONTRACTORS certainly filled that genre.  Thank you for the opportunity.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Recommended Reading: (many more reviews under the recommended reading tab up top!)
The FIXER 
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