Thursday, December 16, 2021

A book for navigating change(s)

When Change Finds You: 31 Assurances to Settle Your Heart When Life Stirs You UpWhen Change Finds You: 31 Assurances to Settle Your Heart When Life Stirs You Up by Kristen Strong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kristen Strong's latest book, When Change Finds You, is one of the best and most helpful spiritual books I've ever read. Full of wisdom and practical advice, this book is immensely helpful when one is navigating any sort of change--or in my case, many changes all at the same time. Each devotional has a Scripture focus, a personal story (some are from Kristen's own life, while others are from friends or heroes in the faith), a prayer, and a summary focus.

I was so impressed with the timeliness and encouragement of this book that even before I finished it, I purchased copies for many of my friends.

I highly recommend this book for anyone you know who is navigating a change or three (or even more, as it is in my case). It is amazing.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Share Four Somethings June 2021

 


I'm dipping my toe in the water of writing again after a long drought. (L-o-n-g.) I haven't written for publication in a hot minute, so here we go. Thanks to Heather Gerwing for the invitation to participate. If you'd like an invitation to participate, consider yourself hereby invited to join in!

Here are the four:

Share Four Somethings  #sharefoursomethings

Something Loved
Something Read (or Said)
Something Treasured
Something Ahead

Something Loved

I love my family. I'm glad I have them to support me--not only through a tough time with my career, but also in the midst of this crazy move, my first in six years. 

Something Read

I've been reading some books, both paper books and on Kindle. Nothing has stood out to me as YOU MUST READ THIS RIGHT NOW. Sad, isn't it? But I'm chalking it up to feeling overwhelmed with moving and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I've left my career, again, and it's been a maelstrom of emotions. 

Something Treasured

I love that I got to visit with three long-time, long-treasured friends on our move west. All three live in the St. Louis area, and as it turns out I didn't have to go far to see any of them. It was an amazing time of catching up and seeing their faces in person and hugs too (screw the pandemic; we were all immunized).

Something Ahead

I look forward to the last of the boxes being unpacked. It'll be a while. Let's see if I can get many of them unpacked (at least the first time; this does not count re-packing for storing) by the July Four Somethings!

OK, well, the boxes are summoning me and I must go unpack them. Or else fight the guilt of sitting here not unpacking them. *If you know, you know.*

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Romance from Jayci Lee



Synopsis Teaser:

She’s done waiting for what she really wants. Aspiring fashion designer Adelaide Song wants to prove she’s more than just a pampered heiress. All she needs is a little courage—and the help of deliciously sexy Michael Reynolds, her childhood crush and her brother’s best friend. But when her secret crush turns into an illicit liaison, Adelaide realizes mixing business with pleasure spells trouble for all her plans.

Review:

Jayci Lee is a new author to me, and I wasn't really sure what to expect from her. I was not disappointed. The story was believable and moved along at a reasonable pace. I think it helped the believability that the two lovebirds knew each other for years.

If you enjoy believable romances with spice, this is a great choice!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham

A Highlander is Coming to Town (Highland, Georgia, #3)A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham


Claire is a down-on-her-luck young woman far from her Scotland home, a singer without a band, a caretaker without kitchen and homemaking skills. Holt is a young farmer taking over for his traveling parents. Both of them are trying to find their way in Highland, Georgia, where they struggle with their strong senses of duty over personal fulfillment, and eventually find peace and love at Christmastime.

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It was comfortable like watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, with a bit of spice and character soul-searching for good measure.

Although Goodreads tells me this is book #3 in a series, I did not feel the lack of not having read the first two books.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin's Publishing Group, and NetGalley, for a copy of this novel to read for review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti

Welcome to the blog tour for The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti.

About the Novel:
Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, the former ingenue is pushing forty, exiled from the film world and reluctantly back at the summer Shakespeare theater that launched her career—and where her old flame, Nick, is the artistic director.

It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself getting her groove back, bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships and even reigniting her spark with Nick, who still seems to bring out the best in her despite their complicated history.

Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current It Girl, is brought in to attract theater donors, threatening to undo everything Charlie’s built. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtain, Charlie must put on the show of a lifetime to fight for the second chance she deserves in her career and in love.

About the Author:

Aimee Agresti is a novelist and entertainment journalist. A former staff writer for Us Weekly, she penned the magazine’s coffee-table book Inside Hollywood. Her work has also appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer. Aimee has made countless TV and radio appearances, dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and HLN. The author of The Summer Set, Campaign Widows, and The Gilded Wings Trilogy for young adults, she graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.

Question and Answer with Aimee: (These are actually the questions I sent in! Thank you, Aimee, for your terrific answers!)

Q: We can see from your bio that you have written extensively about entertainment topics. Have you ever been involved in theatre yourself? If so, in which capacities? If not, what fascinates you about the theatre world?

A: As anyone who saw me as Miss Jones in Sherwood High School’s 1994 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying would know: I am that drama geek who loves theater as much as humanly possible while having no actual talent. ;)  I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town with a fantastic theater—the Olney Theatre in Olney, MD—and I volunteered there (offstage!) all through high school. It was an amazing place because the actors were incredible, they were New York-based, and they would come and actually live together at a residence on the theater property. I’ve always had an overactive imagination so I remember wondering what went on there: which ones were friends, which ones weren’t, was anyone hooking up?! I was fascinated. That experience hanging around there definitely sowed the very early seeds of this novel!

Q: Obviously you've interacted with many celebrities. Who were the most fascinating to talk to? 

A: Oooh, there were so many fun ones: George Clooney is my all-time favorite (he’s EVERYONE’S favorite!) because he’s just a supernice guy and is that type who seems to always be having a great time. Some more of my favorites who also had that same warm spirit and were so much fun to chat with: Sarah Jessica Parker, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Grant, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the list goes on!

 Q: If you could star in a movie or Broadway show, which one would you choose and why?


A: HA! OMG, I love this question! Since THE SUMMER SET is set at a summer theater, I’ll choose Broadway! Wow, there are just. So. Many! I would love to be Angelica in Hamilton and Mimi in Rent and Roxie in Chicago! I assure you I would be absolutely TERRIBLE in all of these roles but it would be tons of fun!


Pattie's Review:

I really enjoyed this Shakespearean theatrical story. Older couple, younger couple, lots of interesting ancillary characters - it's a bit salacious as well as quite a bit Shakespearean. The modern-day plot echoes the plays of the summer season.

While this book's point of view is not always clear and tends to switch, I'm going to say that's probably due to the fact that I was reading a NetGalley copy on my Kindle. Thus, spacing and font switching, typical visual cues, were not there for me.

Overall, a fun summer read for readers who like lighter reads, or summer theatre, or both.

Thank you to the publisher and the author for a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

More than Neighbors: A good summer read

More than Neighbors (Blackberry Bay, #1)More than Neighbors by Shannon Stacey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the publisher:
"In this well-penned opposite-attract story, he likes cats, she likes dog, he’s single and she’s widowed…all they share is a property line, until unexpected sparks fly!"

My review:
If you’re looking for a sweet and clean romance, look no further. The characters are nice people, the little girl is adorable, there are pets (!), and the plot resolves satisfactorily. I might have given this three stars, but it really was written well and a great set-up for a new series; thus, four stars.

Thank you to both Harlequin and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick

Welcome to the Fresh-Brewed stop of Phaedra Patrick's newest novel, The Secret of Love Story Bridge. This is my third Phaedra Patrick book, and she has become one of my favorite writers.

Synopsis:

Single father Mitchell Fisher hates all things romance. He enjoys his job removing padlocks fastened to the famous "love lock" bridges of Upchester city. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his disciplined veneer, Mitchell grieves the loss of her mother, Anita.

One fateful day, working on the bridge, Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls into the river. He’s surprised to feel a connection to her, but the woman disappears before he learns her name. To Mitchell’s shock, a video of the rescue goes viral, hailing him as "The Hero on the Bridge." He’s soon notified by the mysterious woman’s sister, Liza, that she has been missing for over a year. However, the only clue to where the woman could have gone is the engraved padlock she left on the bridge.

Mitchell finds himself swept up in Liza’s quest to find her lost sister. Along the way, with help from a sparkling cast of characters, Mitchell’s heart gradually unlocks, and he discovers new beginnings can be found in the unlikeliest places...

About the Author:

Phaedra Patrick is the author of The Library of Lost and Found, Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, which has been published in over twenty countries around the world. She studied art and marketing, and has worked as a stained-glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full-time. She lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son.

Questions for the Author, Phaedra Patrick:

Would you tell us what inspired you to write about "love story” bridge?
The idea came to me after I noticed padlocks hanging on bridges, everywhere from my home city of Manchester, England, to Gran Canaria. I was aware of the famous Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris that collapsed under the weight of ‘love locks’ several years ago, and it made me wonder about who hung them there and what the stories were behind them. I had a picture in my head of a man whose job it was to remove the locks, and that he’d probably had his heart broken in the past. I called him Mitchell Fisher after the street my grandparents used to live on, Mitchell Street.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

I have a real soft spot for a minor character in the book, Carl. He’s the concierge of the apartment block that Mitchell lives in. Carl is a real trier in life and never gives up. He’s amiable, eager to better himself and can often be found making origami shapes out of paper. He was a joy to spend time with.

What challenged you the most while writing this story?

Sometimes, when I start a book, I have a small idea in my mind but don’t know the entire story. With The Secrets of Love Story Bridge, I had an image of a man on a bridge who saves a lady in a yellow dress from drowning in a river. But that was all! In the book, the lady in yellow subsequently vanishes, but I had no idea why and where she went to! It was a real challenge to try and work out her story, and I only found out her secret at the same time Mitchell does.

What was something interesting you learned while compiling research for the book?

I was amazed at how widely spread across the world hanging love locks is.  Research taught me that some people believe it’s a ritual that stems from ancient Chinese tradition, whereas others believe it started in a small Serbian town during the First World War. Wherever it originated, it’s something that’s still going strong today.

Do you find it easier to write character and dialogue for the opposite sex because you are the opposite sex? (A woman writing a man’s part and dialogue for example). 
My first two books, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone feature male characters, mainly because I’d written about female characters several times before without getting published. So, I decided to try something different and to challenge myself by writing about the opposite sex. I think men are more private with their emotions and so you can peel back the layers of their character like an onion, exposing more layers. They tend to use less words. With regard to female characters, I want to write about ones that other women can relate to and cheer on, as was the case in my third book, The Library of Lost and Found.

Pattie's Review:

I started reading this book a few days ago and finished today. It is such a hopeful book. Even while the main character, Mitchell, is grieving the loss of his love and the mother of his daughter, he is finding everything in his organized life turned topsy-turvy once he jumps off the bridge to save the woman. 

More than a grief book or a book about an unexpected hero, this book is about being a good human and helping other good humans be better together. It's poignant to read during the quarantine and its craziness in the spring of 2020.

I’ve really enjoyed reading Phaedra Patrick's novels over the past several months. Sweet and hopeful, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge is the perfect book for this time when we are longing for deeper connections while also learning to handle our grief. Highly recommended. 

 (PS: Write someone an encouraging letter on paper and mail it.)

Where to purchase:
It is available from all your usual online places, but consider calling your local independent bookseller and supporting them by purchasing it from their shop.

Thank you to the publisher and the author for a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.