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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

June 11, 2016

Review: Witchy Sour, a Mixology & Magic Mystery, by Gina LaManna

by Elisa Hordon

OMG it's here, that's right the second book in Gina Lamanna's Mixology & Magic Mystery series. So this series is a new one for Gina and it's a huge WOW for me. Yes I know it released yesterday but I had an advanced copy to read which was fantastic, one because I love every book Gina has ever written and two because when I know a book is due for release and that book is from one of my favourite authors I get a little impatient if I have to wait for release

Lucky for me I advance read for a few of my favourite authors, Gina being one of them. So let's get back to Witchy Sour, don't you just love the name? And believe me I have been having fun mixing witchy words with cocktail names to come up with new titles and yes I have sent some of my titles through to Gina because I just can't help myself. No I am not a stalker. Gina and I are friends, which makes her books even more special to me.

Witchy Sour
Welcome back to the Isle, where Mixology, Magic and Mystery are all in a normal day for Lily Locke. Lily has found her true home. She always felt a little out of place in the human world, so since her mother’s family finally found her and brought Lily to the Isle to become the new mixologist her life has become just a little crazier than usual.

Lily now has a job she was born for, a family no matter how crazy whom she adores, friends she knows she can count on and Ranger X, sweet, sexy, gorgeously HOT, Ranger X ,and he is all about keeping Lily safe.

In Witchy Sour, we learn more about Lily's family especially from her grandmother and we learn more about cranky Gus who really isn't as cranky as he likes everyone to think. Lily's cousins Poppy and Zin are both back and causing hilarious trouble, Poppy is still trying to get a handle on being a vampire with a blood intolerance and Zin is training to become the first female Ranger ever and also she is still hoping to shift into her true form, I think she is also hoping for that form not to be a All I can say about this is big changes happen in this story, big changes and I am excited for more.......

Ranger X really comes good for me in this book and I am loving everything about him even if I don't know his real name yet. I've decided that the Rangers all being named after a letter is like James Bond being 007. It's mysterious, but omg I still want to know his

Lily meets a new friend in Witchy Sour: the dashing Liam. Liam is a handy guy to have around. Besides being very handsome, he is a genuinely nice wizard who also grew up in the human world like Lily so they have a lot in common. But what is really good about Liam is his business. Liam is the 'go to guy' for anything, so when Lily is having trouble finding one ingredient Liam is the guy she turns to for help.... This may result in some trouble for Lily, not because of Liam, but because trouble just finds Lily no matter what...

If you love a great mystery with supernatural wonder, funny family and friends plus a dash of hot and sexy romance check out Witchy Sour. Oh and if you haven't read the first in this series, Hex On The Beach, I can highly recommend that one too.

On that final not here is my personal recipe for a Witchy Sour, I wanted it to look like the drink on the cover so here is what I did

60mls Bourbon (I only use Wild Turkey)
30mls Lemon Juice fresh is best
30mls Blue Curacao
30mls Sugar syrup

I put ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake well then pour over ice and serve with a cherry and a slice of lemon, I also sugared the rim of the glass.

Buy Witchy Sour at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Book info:
available format: ebook (218 pages)
published: June 2016 by LaManna Books
genres: cozy mystery, paranormal
source: author

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided by the author for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 10, 2016

Interview with Author Paul Krueger

by Donna Huber

Hi, Paul, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m the author of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which is my examination of the post-recession millennial existence. But I have a short attention span, so it also has demons and alcohol magic to keep things interesting.

Other things about me: I love cooking, karaoke, punk rock, and Dungeons & Dragons. I’m the proud owner of a cat named Wrigley, and I sing lead in a band called Lemonbadd that only plays covers of songs from Adventure Time.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was seven, I started reading Animorphs, and realized the name K.A. Applegate wasn’t just on the cover for decoration; it was the name of an actual woman who got to sit around and make up those books all day. Once I realized books were a thing people could make, and not some kind of crop harvested from a book farm, I wanted to be K.A. Applegate.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is your debut novel. What has your publishing journey been like?

In a word: bonkers. In two words: super bonkers. And in a few more than that: I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting, befriending, and working with some of the most intelligent and generous people ever. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything I’ve gotten to experience along the way, and in a lot of ways I kind of still can’t believe any of it is happening.

In Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, new college grad Bailey gets hooked up with a group of monster-fighting bartenders and with the help of some magically mixed cocktails they are trying to rid of the streets of Chicago of these bloodthirsty monsters. I also read that you are a cocktail connoisseur. What is your cocktail of choice and if you had to come up with the perfect cocktail to pair with this novel, what would it be?

My cocktail of choice is the old fashioned. It’s simple, delicious, and looks damned pretty sitting in a glass with a big chunk of ice. As for what cocktail pairs best with Last Call? I would say either the Bloody Mary or the mimosa, since you’ll probably need the wakeup after staying up all night to finish reading it.

If you could have lunch with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you talk about?

Vincent. Not that I don’t adore my younger set of characters, the Alechemists, but Vincent is a crotchety old punk rocker who has a lifetime of great stories to tell. And while it’s not officially established anywhere in the book, in my head he’s an excellent cook. I’d probably just sit at his counter while he chopped vegetables and ask him questions about the crazy things he’s done.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
A hot topic in the publishing industry lately has been the lack of diversity, both in the characters as well as authors in the industry. You are Asian American and your character Bailey is Asian American.  Did you set out to write a book with a diverse cast or did it just naturally evolve that way?

The only person in my cast I specifically set out to write “diversely” was Bailey. I’d long been afraid to tackle Asian-Americana in my work, because I feared I’d be seen as speaking for the whole community. She was my way of getting over that. With the others, the honest truth is it never occurred to me to write a cast that was anything but diverse. Writing a story set in Chicago with an entire cast cut from the same cloth wouldn’t have just made for a boring book; it would have been untrue to Chicago. But once I committed to having that representation in my work, I promised myself to tackle it responsibly, and only after many hours of research and carefully listening to members of the communities I was writing about.

What advice do have for authors who are either from an under-represented group or wants to write a book with under-represented characters, but feel discouraged by the lack of diversity in publishing (perhaps they feel like they can’t get their story noticed)?

Support other creators from disenfranchised communities. The system in place actively stacks the deck against us by enforcing unofficial quotas of how many books from a given demographic can appear on their list each year. I hold the opinion that our current renaissance of diversity has very little to do with the industry actually embracing the principles of diversity, and a lot to do with chasing trends. Now, I’m willing to take whatever advantage I can, and you should be, too. But when diversity stops being trendy, all those creators won’t necessarily be able to count on the system to back them anymore. So they’re going to need you. And if you support creators of color, or members of the queer community, or religious minorities, or what have you, you’ll find that when you need them, they’ll remember, and they’ll have your back, too.

Your main character Bailey is a recent college graduate who is struggling to land her first “grown up” job. The timing of the release of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge coincides with college graduations so I’m sure there a number of people in her shoes. I know I was when I first graduated college. Did you have a similar experience? What advice would you and Bailey give to these new graduates that are faced with “now what”?

My first job after graduating was pouring lattes for the one percent at a busy coffee shop in downtown Manhattan. It was a little humiliating for someone with a fancy new degree, especially when people I knew came into the store and saw me in my work uniform. But as I put in my time there, I slowly grew to be proud of the work I did. People sneered at me and treated me like a vending machine in a hat, but what I learned was that they were wrong, not me. My job had value, and I wasn’t a less valuable person for being the one to do it. And that emotional journey for me was the direct inspiration for the one Bailey takes in Last Call.

As for new grads who’ve just surfaced in the deep end and don’t know the way to dry land: just know that wherever you’re headed, you’ll get there eventually if you keep swimming anyway. Some people might get there faster than you, and some people might have more direct routes than yours, and that’s okay. And never forget, anyone you meet on your way up is someone you’re going to meet again on your way back down, so spend this time of your life making friends, not enemies.

I’m really looking forward to reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. Even though it isn’t something I would typically pick up, I was drawn to this new grad trying to find her place in the world. One of the reasons I don’t read a lot of fantasy is because I feel lost in all the mythos that surround the fantasy creatures. You created your own fantasy creature – tremens. How did you set about coming up with these monsters? Were there any legends or mythology that you drew upon as inspiration?

Nope! The tremens were an original creation straight from my head. I originally was using folkloric monsters like trolls and oni, but my editor gave me a note telling me to come up with a new kind of monster instead. So I thought about it for a moment, and eventually made a simple decision: if my heroes were bartenders, then the obvious thing was to give them an enemy that drinks people.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. And congratulations on the publication of your debut novel. Do you have any other projects in the works that you would like to tell us about?

I’ve got a few irons in the fire, but nothing I can directly talk about just yet. I can’t wait for the day I can, though, because I’m really excited about them all. Thanks for having me!

Buy Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge at Amazon

About the Author
Paul Krueger is a fantasy writer and cocktail connoisseur whose work has appeared in the Sword & Laser anthology. He lives in Los Angeles.

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June 9, 2016

Bloggers & Authors Wanted for Big Summer Book Giveaway Event

Let's celebrate summer with a BIG BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Who doesn't love to receive books in the mail? One lucky winner will win a box filled with books from great authors in various genres. Due to shipping costs, the giveaway will be open to US addresses only.

Info for Bloggers: (info for authors is below the blogger signup form)

I'm looking for book bloggers interested in hosting the giveaway on their blogs.

In order to participate, you must be willing to feature one or more of the books in the giveaway in a blog post between July 1 and July 31.

The Rafflecopter code and a list of participating authors and book titles will be provided by the end of June.

As a Thank You for hosting the giveaway, each blogger will receive 1 social media link on the Rafflecopter and may choose 1 ebook from the list of books being donated for the giveaway. You are not required to provide a review of the ebook, though I'm sure the author would be hugely grateful if you did.

Depending on interest, I may set up a Facebook event to promote the giveaway. Bloggers may sign up to host a 1 hour slot. (The event would take place on Friday-Sunday; weekend to be determined)

I'm hoping for at least 15 bloggers to participate.

Info for Authors:

Get your book(s) in front of new readers with this giveaway.

To participate, you must be willing to donate at least 1 paperback title for the giveaway. Also, you must be willing to provide an ebook copy of the title should it be chosen by a blogger(s) as their thank you gift (up to 3 copies).

You may provide swag in addition to the paperback, but it is not required.

Authors of all genres are welcome to donate a book.

I will be handling the shipping of the prize pack and will provide you with my mailing address after you sign up. Please have the book to me by the end of June.

Each participating author will receive 1 social media link on the Rafflecopter.

If there is enough interest, I may also create a Facebook event to promote the giveaway. Authors can sign up to host a 1 hour slot during the event. (The party would take place Friday - Sunday; weekend to be determined).

If I have more than 10 authors interested, I may decide to offer a second prize pack.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 8, 2016

The Weight and Worth of Twenty Minutes

by Alison DeLuca

After Brock Turner was given a six-month jail sentence for rape, the internet exploded with rage. It escalated when the letter from Turner’s father was made public. We all know the quote by now: Dan Turner defended the rape by saying it was only “20 minutes of action” in a life of twenty years.

Let’s analyze this statement. Twenty minutes out of twenty years is a tiny percentage: less than .000002%. Math, therefore, seems to support Dan Turner’s statement.

I’d like to look at the issue another way. If twenty minutes truly do not count, what can we get away with in that time? What can we do in our ‘free’ twenty minutes, the time apparently allotted to us all by Dan Turner and Aaron Persky, the judge in the rape case?

Here are some ideas:

You can carry out a robbery. It won’t be a perfect crime since you only have twenty minutes to plan and execute the theft, but what does that matter? You have twenty minutes of freedom. Go ahead and rob that bank. Maybe a guard will be injured, but who cares? It’s only .000002% of your life, after all.

You can perpetrate a murder. It will be sloppy, but Judge Persky doesn’t want to let jail have a ‘severe impact’ (a direct quote from his sentencing of Brock Turner.) As long as you can afford good lawyers, you’ll get off with a few months in jail.

image courtesy of pexels
You can chug a bottle of booze, get behind the wheel, and cause a huge road accident. It will ruin a lot of lives, but hey – it’s your twenty minutes of freedom.

You can cheat on your husband, wife, or lover.

You can abuse your kid.

You can smuggle a sharp object into a plane and force the pilot to give you the controls. It takes far less than twenty minutes to fly a plane into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Let’s look at some other things you could accomplish in twenty minutes:

You can plot out a story or sketch an idea for a painting.

You can serve meals at a homeless shelter.

Twenty minutes is a nice stretch of time for a passionate prayer or peaceful meditation.

It’s a short hike or quick bike ride.
image courtesy of pexels

You can walk across campus and, if you see a person who looks inebriated, call 911 and get help for her or him. If you wait with her until authorities arrive, it should take no more than twenty minutes - .000002% of your life if you are twenty years old like Brock Turner.

With your free twenty minutes you’ve been gifted by Dan Turner’s letter, you can read an essay on the nature of time. Although I'm a hopeless math and science student, I enjoyed this one from Wake ForestUniversity. You could expand your exploration with A Brief History of Time by Dr. Stephen Hawking.

Twenty years is a long time, twenty minutes is very short.  However, what we do with that small amount of time is important. This is where humanity comes to play. Will you shoot up, rip off a 7-11, bully a co-worker? Will you read a book, hug your son, walk your dog?

Will you force yourself into the body of an unsuspecting female?

Walking a dog is a rather commonplace action. It accomplishes nothing, really, other than making the dog happy.

Rape is an act of force that echoes far beyond twenty minutes. The crime will not be forgotten. The victim will deal with the fallout throughout her life. She’ll remember the long list of questions the court asked her, looking for her 'implied guilt.

image courtesy of pixabay
Some people, amazingly, will actually believe she 'brought it on herself' because of what she wore or how drunk she was. Trust will return slowly, if at all. Her new normal, if you can call it that, will be filled with horror and the knowledge a piece of her has been stolen, never to be returned.

She will be scarred forever, and all because a swimmer at Stanford spent twenty minutes in assault instead of aid.

On this little blue marble in the vast darkness of space, we have the precious gift of time. Twenty minutes seems like nothing, and yet it can be everything.

Brock Turner chose to use twenty minutes of his life, that .000002%, in abusing another person's body. His Facebook page (now taken down) seems to suggest that if a woman drinks alcohol, she is saying yes. 

The truth is the exact opposite: 

If your date or pick-up is impaired by alcohol, don’t have sex with them. They do not have the mental acuity to say yes or no. 

I’ve seen this concept from kids in high school, from athletes, from actors, from writers and artists and those who just choose to do the right thing.

You’ve just finished reading this article in twenty minutes or less. The clock is now ticking for the next twenty, and the next, and the next. You have the choice to do harm or good with those minutes.

We all know Brock Turner’s decision.

Which will you choose?

Alison DeLuca, features writer. Alison is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. Connect with Alison on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and her blog.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 7, 2016

Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

by Elisa Hordon

One Paris Summer
I really love a gripping intense read from start to finish and that is exactly what I got with Denise Grover Swank's One Paris Summer.

One Paris Summer is a YA Romantic Drama, full of young love, teen angst and so many emotions bouncing off everyone it really is a wonder the characters didn't self-combust

Sophie is 16 years old and on her way to spend the summer in Paris, France. Sophie is still reeling from the roller coaster her life became a year ago when her father walked out and moved to Paris for work, leaving Sophie and her older brother Eric behind. Sophie is also reeling from being forced now to go to Paris not only to spend the summer with the father who abandoned her but to watch him get married to a woman they have never met and meet her new step sister, Sophie had a feeling Paris was going to be way more than she was bargaining for.

Sophie is also gifted pianist, and, yes, these parts of the story were described so well I could actually here Sophie play while I was reading, I also loved the way Denise described Paris. It really felt like you were right there the whole time. When Sophie is offered an audition at a very exclusive French music school can she convince her father to let her audition? Sophie is not even sure she will get in but just going to the audition would be an honour. Eric and Mathias are both encouraging Sophie but her father is not convinced and Sophie wonders if he doesn't want her in Paris now he has a new family.

Oh the teen angst of it Too many emotions, missed communications or no communicating at all and parents who should know better than to keep secrets from their kids, this just all adds to the great drama in this story.

Mathias, cute, French and totally besotted with Sophie from the moment he lays eyes on her. Mathias is, well he is harder to explain than I I found Mathias to be different to the majority of teenage boys, he has made mistakes but he is responsible enough to own up to it and face what life throws at him. He doesn't make excuses for others and he is loyal to those he cares for even if they don't deserve it. Mathias also has his faults which he pushes onto others at times - his unwillingness to fully trust someone he claims to love and when he just believes what he thinks he sees instead of finding the truth and listening to his love and his heart he then loses both through no one else fault but his own stubbornness.

Camille, the wicked step-sister, and, omg, is she wicked, cruel and so many other horrible adjectives. I would be here all day if I used them all so let's just finish with Camille is the worst type of bully and even though her father died and she has been on a downward spiral ever since enough is enough everything she put Sophie through is just wrong and when everyone keeps letting her get away with it, well that just makes me sick.

Eric, Sophie's older brother and protector. I really loved Eric even when he was playing big bad he loves his sister and no one is going to hurt her on his watch and that even means their own father. Eric is struggling with his parents' separation and divorce just as badly as Sophie. He just hides his emotions better, yeah I know that's a guy Eric is sweet. I really love how he looks out for Sophie. I also love how he realised Dane was an ass so quickly and he had Camille pegged as well. Eric always has Sophie’s back whether she wants him to or not what are big brothers for? I would love to read Eric's story one day.

Dane, Eric's friend from school who comes to spend part of the summer in Paris with Eric. Sophie has had a crush on Dane forever but she quickly discovers his true nature when he hooks up with Camille and his true colours shine through over the weeks in Paris as Dane follows Camille's every wish to make Sophie's life a misery. For me, Dane is a spineless douche bag who will do anything to impress a pretty face but he has no idea how to handle a real woman with substance. I just wish when he got back home that his life didn't just go back to him being Mr. Popularity at school. There should have been more of a life lesson for him after everything he did.

The whole story was brilliantly written; it flowed well from beginning to end and it also finished really well. I love how the characters grew and changed at different times throughout the story and I especially loved that Sophie blossomed the most and showed her inner strength when she needed to the most. I am dying for French pastries after how many times Sophie and Mathias had breakfast together throughout the book….lol I am also encouraged to plan a trip to Paris after reading this book so I can visit all the places Sophie did in the book.

This really was a great story, with wonderful characters and some really horrible but even the horrible characters were written well and fitted within the story perfectly. One Paris Summer would not have been the same without them and I will never forget Sophie and Mathias, their story shone through.

Buy One Paris Summer at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Book info
available formats: ebook and print (352 pages)
published: June 2016 by Blink
ISBN13: 978-0310755166
genres: drama. family life
target audience: young adult
source: a free ebook provided by the author

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided by the author for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 6, 2016

Review: Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin #MondayBlogs

by Claire Rees

Gateway to Magic
Main characters – Steven the human,  Nigel the shapeshifter, The fairy Queen and Mr Fildew the Queens Dungeon master.

Places – Earth and Fairyland

What story is about – Steven get mad tricked into pushing back the button that will send him to fairyland by his cousin Tracy.

After spending some time there and getting tricked by nasty goblins and a mischievous shape shifter, Steven just wants to go home but can't find anyone to help him. After Steven steals cakes from the fairy market he ends up in the Forrest of pointy fingers to be punished.

He eventually gets out of it and becomes the fairy queens consultant hoping that she will send him home.

My Review – Even though Gateway to Magic is a children's book I did enjoy reading it to my daughter.

Annabelle Franklin has a really good imagination and I think a younger person would have been totally engrossed in the magical world of fairies and goblins.

My daughter loved the Sock Worms and Fairy Queen.

The characters and places are fun and certainly magical and even though Steven faces real danger he manages to get out of it.

It gives the advice through way of punishment that if you do something wrong you should work out why it is wrong, learn from it and change yourself so you don't do it again.

Buy Gateway to Magic at Amazon

Claire Rees, reviewer. Claire lives in a small village in the South Wales Valleys, UK with her husband, two kids and five snakes. She will hopefully be starting an English literature course this September. She has always loved reading books. Her favorite genres are horror, mystery and fantasy, although if the story line is good she'll read anything. Connect with Claire on Facebook.

Book info:
available  formats: ebooks and print (314 pages)
published: January 2013 by Pearlswood Publishing
ISBN13: 978-1530767083
genres: fantasy
target audience: children
source: free ebook provided by author

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free ebook was provided by the author for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

June 5, 2016

4 Novels Focused on Family Life

by Susan Roberts

Saving Abby
Saving Abby by Steena Holmes

There was no dinner cooked at my house yesterday - once I started this wonderful book by Steena Holmes, nothing got done until I was finished with it. I have read all of Steena's books and she just keeps getting better. She is one of the best writer's of family relationship issues of any authors that I read and I thought that this was her best book yet.

Claire and Josh Turner have been happily married for six years. He is the author of a successful series of children's book and she is the illustrator. After years of trying, they have finally accepted that they are unable to have children and go on a tour of Europe to help ease the pain of that decision. When they get back from their trip, they find out that Claire has gotten pregnant but the doctor also finds out that she has a life threatening problem that needs treatment but treatment will harm the baby. Claire and Josh are faced with the decision of whether to save her or the baby or try to save both.

The novel is emotional and the author has created such wonderful main characters that the reader identifies with them and feels their joy and their heartache. Along with the two main characters, there are also secondary characters that help the story line tremendously.

Two things about this novel that I really liked: I am a list maker and I loved all the lists that Claire made for her life. It helped make her more of a real character to me. Second, I am a traveler and I know that Steena is too from reading her Facebook posts. I loved all of her wonderful descriptions of Europe. You could tell that she was writing about places that she had been and loved.

To sum it all up, this is a wonderful book about family and love and heartache. It's one of my top 10 books of the year and I think that everyone should read it!

Buy Saving Abby at Amazon
(a free Netgalley was provided for this review.)

Remember My Beauties
Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo

To say that Jewel has a tough job trying to keep her family functioning is putting it mildly. She takes care of two aging parents and their horses on their horse farm. Her father is blind and her mother is very demanding. Her daughter is hooked on drugs and living with a loser. Her marriage is falling apart and her husband's daughter is living with them and he also wants his son to move in to their house. If all that isn't bad enough, her brother Cal has decided to come back home. Jewel hates Cal (and for good reason) and knows that he will be more of a burden than a help. The only sanity that Jewel has in her life are the horses. Spending time and working with the four horses are the only time that Jewel is really happy. Cal returning back to the farm, throws everything into a turmoil - or more of a turmoil than it had been and Jewel has to make decisions that make her question everything in her life and her family.

This is a wonderful novel of family and love and forgiveness. I plan to go back and read some of the author's older books because I was so impressed with this one.

Buy Remember My Beauties at Amazon
(a free Netgalley was provided for this review)

The Children
The Children by Ann Leary

This is my first book by Ann Leary and after reading it, I plan to read her older books. I loved her characters - my favorites were Joan and Charlotte but all of the characters added to the story line. Joan and her two daughters were definitely quirky and that made the novel even more interesting and in parts very funny.

When Whit Whitman died, he left his estate to his two sons but made provisions for his wife Joan to live in the family home until her death. Charlotte, one of her daughters, lives with her and rarely leaves the house. Her other daughter also lives there much of the time. What at first appears to be a loving blended family with the two sons of Whit and the two daughters of Joan, begins to show cracks when Spin brings home his fiancée. Add in a caretaker who is having an affair with Charlotte and a thief in the neighborhood who breaks into houses to clean them and you have all the elements needed for a great read that you don't want to put down until the last page is read. Great story!

Buy The Children at Amazon
(a free ebook was provided by Book Browse for this review)

The Gravity-Assist Technique
The Gravity-Assist Technique by Dalene Flannigan

Ella and Aaron, Kevin and Beth were best friends. Aaron and Keven were cousins and they had been friends with Ella for years and Kevin was just a little jealous when Aaron and Ella became a couple. Kevin marries Beth and she tries to fit into the group. After twenty some years of marriage, Aaron dies in a car accident and the novel begins three years after the accident. The story is told in alternating chapters by Ella and Kevin and we learn about the strong friendship and how much they rely on each other. We learn about their past and as their feeling begin to become more than friendship, what they would like their future to be.  Their friendship gets even more confusing when Ella sees Beth with another man and can't decide if she should tell Kevin.

This is a novel about friendship and love and secrets and family. It's a wonderful story and I couldn't put it down once I started because I wanted to see how everyone's lives ended up. I was very tempted to turn to the end while I was reading but I resisted it and let the story play out and I was glad that I did.

This is a novel definitely worth reading. The author has created wonderful characters who aren't perfect people but question their decisions and have flaws just like we all do.  I really enjoyed the three main characters in this novel.   I look forward to the next book from Ms Flannigan.

Buy The Gravity-Assist Technique at Amazon
(A free ebook was provided by the author for this review)

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

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