Keepsake, by Kristina Riggle

Keepsake is a book that covers a real issue. The issue has even been covered in a television show named Hoarders. This will be another brief review that states the important aspects without irrelevant additions due to time constraints.

Synopsis:

For her previous novels (Things We Didn’t Say, The Life You’ve Imagined, Real Life & Liars), author Kristina Riggle has garnered fabulous reviews and established herself as a rapidly rising star of contemporary women’s fiction. In Keepsake, she explores that most complicated of relationships, as two sisters raised by a hoarder deal with old hurts and resentments, and the very different paths their lives have taken. As always, Riggle approaches important topics poignantly and honestly—including hoarding and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in her remarkable Keepsake—while writing with real emotional power and compassion about families and their baggage. For readers of Katrina Kittle and Elin Hildenbrand, Kristina Riggle’s Keepsake is a treasure.

Review:

The book wasn’t horrible, but it tends to become dull in places. Trish is a hoarder. I got that from the beginning. After a while, I grew tired of hearing about the stacks of storage containers, or how she resisted parting with anything. I felt the emotion in the book was what carried it through. The family tensions and dynamics were well done, but the repetitive hoarding sequences wore on me. I never liked the television show for the same reason. Once the camera panned the piles of ‘stuff’ it went from disbelief to disgust. I didn’t need to see one half hour of it. *A note: I would absolutely read another title from this author as I felt the writing itself was good. It was the subject matter that turned me off.


A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

It’s been a while since I have given a review… but then, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to read for pleasure. I took advantage of a recent break in my work schedule and caught up on my reading. The first book I read was A Man Called Ove.

I’m going to keep my review brief due to time constraints, and vague as not to give away spoilers.

Synopsis:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet lovable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

Review:

This book was a little different than many of the books I read. If you can stick it out, it is a good book. But for some, the beginning will be too hard to stick with. It starts off slow and other than to be a truly stand-up guy like his father before him, there wasn’t much to hold my interest in Ove or his life. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I will say, stick it out. Touching and heartfelt, overall worth the read.


Why I’d Vote For A Man I Don’t Care For…

This weekend, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, and Puerto Rico will have the chance to have a voice and let America know who they want to run our country. It is OUR vote, don’t let anyone take that away!

Then_You_Win

~Mahatma Gandhi Quote

Although some voters have yet to make their decision as to who they want to serve as the next POTUS, many of us have made up our mind and it is highly doubtful that our decisions will change from this point on regardless of how many times we hear Little Marco Rubio use the phrase ‘Hair Force One’ (it was funny the first dozen times, but then, he does like to repeat himself!) or how many different dishonest tactics Canadian Cruz uses and blames on a staff member when caught.

I am a democrat. Have always been a democrat like my father and his father before him. I’ll be honest, I am a democrat solely for that reason. I am not embarrassed to admit I have not voted in every election since I was of legal voting age. It was hit or miss. I was unable to vote in the 1980 election because of my September birthday. Although I was old enough to vote by the time the general election rolled around, I was not old enough for the primaries, disqualifying me to vote in November. But, in 1984 I was able (and did) vote for the same man I would have voted for in 1980 had I been able. And he was a Republican. So even though I am a democrat, my vote will always go to the best ‘candidate’, even if the best candidate isn’t necessarily the best man.

When Donald J Trump announced his candidacy last summer, I thought it was a publicity stunt. Seriously. I didn’t give it a second thought. Then, when I realized “WTH, he’s serious?” I decided right then and there that I would  not be voting for him. Not only I wasn’t going to vote for him, I would have bet real money against him winning the nomination, let alone the presidency.

Then I started paying attention.

I’ve never been one to get all passionate about politics or even any particular candidate. I’d listen with one ear. Yes, every vote counts and so on, I get it. Maybe because I didn’t understand politics well enough or maybe because I lacked respect for many of the politicians, whatever the reason, it didn’t get or keep my interest.

Until this year.

I started listening to the candidates. Tuning in to the debates. Staying up to see results from the primaries. Surfing the web for the latest news and polls. I became a politic junkie.

Because of Donald Trump.

This is where many readers will begin scribbling down their counter opinions. You’re entitled. I will undoubtedly also lose Twitter and Facebook followers. I seem to lose a dozen or so every time I post anything ‘Pro Trump’… c’est la vie. But, in all fairness, let me finish so that your retorts will be applicable.

(A post for another time: Why I couldn’t/wouldn’t vote for my first choice)

Come November, I will be voting for Donald Trump – the candidate. Not the man. There is a difference. As little as a month ago, I would have been embarrassed to admit that. (A month ago I was still hoping that Ben Carson could pull it together, as I believe he had much more to offer than people realized, but was too laid back to assert himself among the wolves) Now, I am not ashamed. I have heard Donald J Trump – the man, described as a narcissist. An egomaniac. Arrogant. A liar. A fraud. A bully, among many other negative adjectives (like having really small hands? Really Rubio?) I can’t say I disagree with most of them (But then, almost all of the candidates, blue and red, are these things to varying degrees.) Since I have never met him personally, I can only base my opinion on what I’ve seen from him during debates and interviews and what the media has shared (keeping in mind the media is seriously flawed).

Donald J Trump – the candidate, is also all of those things. And that is why so many people will be voting for him. He is not politically correct, he tells it like it is. He doesn’t care if you agree with him or even like him for it. He won’t kowtow and is not looking to become part of the good ‘ole boys establishment of Washington. Politics have been a part of our government for so long and our country is failing. Politicians can run around laying claim that we are the greatest country in the world, but we’re not. Most of us realize this. Trump realizes this.

People want to talk about Trump’s failures in business. Big deal. I’ve never heard of a businessman who didn’t experience failures, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a failure. Without failure, we never learn. Then we have “he didn’t do this or that, he won’t tell us about ____, he said the opposite ten years ago, yada, yada, yada”. We can sit and rip apart every candidate on things they did or said in the past. THE PAST. I don’t know about you, but I’ve said or done things in the past that I wouldn’t agree with or say/do again. We change. From change, we grow.

Donald Trump possesses the exact qualities I want to see in my next president. Those qualities may make him a lousy husband. Possibly a lousy friend. But, that doesn’t concern me since I don’t have to live my day-to-day life with him. I want a president who is assertive, confident, and won’t back down. (That leaves Rubio out) I want a president who isn’t part of and doesn’t want to be part of the Washington elite. (That leaves Cruz out) I want a president who understands that delivering on his promises is what will make him popular with the people. Someone who can not only engage, but bring new people on board, which is exactly what he’s done. Even the GOP admits that the party has grown by millions during the election season. Let’s be fair, we all know why that is. If not for Donald Trump all of those converted voters would be voting Democrat as they always do (like me) and without a doubt, Hillary would be our next president. Is that what you want? Those new voters are here for Trump. I want a president who wants AMERICA TO BE GREAT AGAIN. (And it doesn’t hurt that Trump has been willing to spend millions of his own money to accomplish this)

But, aside from those reasons for voting for Donald Trump, my main reason is what he’s done to me. For me. As I mentioned, I haven’t always voted, especially in recent years. Donald Trump has brought out an energy in America (they’re calling it a movement) that has been long-missing. His passion has engaged Americans (like me) who have long thought the process stopped working or who believed their vote made no difference. So many disparage him for the things he says, but the things he says have been said in living rooms all over the country for decades. I want a president who isn’t afraid to speak for the people without regards to stepping over the line of political correctness.

Many will fault me for this open letter, but ask yourself something. If there aren’t many, many people who feel this way and everything those in opposition say is true, why is his support base growing every day? Those in opposition would like to have you think that America is just full of stupid people. Unrealistic. (And if he WAS able to con so many millions of American’s into believing he was the best candidate when he’s really this horrible person who is out to destroy the party, damn, sign him up! That would make his powers of persuasion the best I’ve ever seen and certainly good enough to talk other countries into his way of thinking.) America is however full of fed up people. As Einstein would say, insanity is repeating an action over and over expecting a different result (paraphrased). Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?

Maybe it’s time to try something different. His popularity is growing because his message rings true.

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that many of the traits Donald Trump is faulted for constantly, are the very traits that will make America great again. He won’t quit. He won’t be bullied into something that isn’t in our best interest. And, most importantly, the man’s ego won’t allow him to lose. Once he wins POTUS, he will have to show everyone who doubted him that he WAS the best candidate for the job. And once he does that, he will have to go bigger and better than any past president. And when his four years are up, he WILL go for four more. A man like Donald Trump never wins enough. For himself or whatever he takes on. It is his nature. Many of his traits make for an unlikable man, but are exactly what we need in a president.

I am not trying to sway anyone and I am not a Trump volunteer. I am one woman who has been given a new reason to care about politics, polls, and elections. A new reason to care about her country and the person to bring about that change was Donald J Trump.

*The reason many people lose interest or give up on the entire process is because they feel their voice doesn’t matter, that their vote doesn’t count. In keeping up with the election process, I’ve heard that if Donald Trump does win the nomination, the GOP is looking for ways to take it from him. Brokering, asking the voters of Florida to ban together and have them all vote for Rubio, not for who THEY truly want. That isn’t the actions of a democracy. So, they tell us our voice matters, but what they mean is it only matters if we are speaking the words they WANT to hear. The GOP needs to get over it, as Herman Cain has said. If the people choose Trump, then Trump it is. Who is the GOP to say who we should want? And a side note – bringing Romney in to talk trash on Trump was not only foolish, but pathetic. He couldn’t pull the nomination out of the basket for himself 4 years ago. If the people didn’t like him enough to vote for him then, what makes the GOP think anyone will listen to anything he has to say now? This is just my opinion, but after begging Trump for an endorsement 4 years ago, and turning on him now, what it tells me is that he was a ‘wanna-be’ turned ‘has been’. Hoping for another fifteen minutes at the expense of someone who was very good to him when he needed it.

It seems establishment Republicans are rather self-serving and turn on each other whenever it suits them.

I can tell you this, if the party finds a way to strip Donald Trump of what he has rightfully earned, his supporters are going to turn on the party. Maybe not every one of them, but enough of them that Hillary will skate into the White House. Mark my words.

It’s gone beyond an election. It’s a Movement!

MAGA

EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

 


How to Set Yourself Up in One Easy Lesson

Thank you so much, Diane!

dianegallagherwritings

Last night I was on the Facebook page of author, Kathy Reinhart. Kathy was the winner of the 2009 Brighid’s Fire Books  Fiction Manuscript Contest for her book Lily White Lies (great title btw). On her Facebook page she has announced the summer 2016 release of her new book, Cry Like a Girl

This got me thinking.  I don’t think I have mentioned that I am currently working on two collections – one is a collection of flash fiction and the other is a collection of humorous (I hope) haiku and tanka poetry – a collaboration with my husband if he would ever get off his butt and write some when he gets the time to write.  I only have some control over the haiku collection but I have total control of the flash fiction collection… it’s just a matter of putting my butt in the seat and writing…

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Sha Renee

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Sha Renee, author of Forbidden Kisses, which is part of the Story of A Kiss anthology.

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Sha Renee

IDI – First, let me thank you for taking the time out to chat with me. I hear your short story, Forbidden Kisses was recently released.

SR – It was. It released on February 1st as part of the Story of a Kiss Anthology, which features 13 short stories by 13 different authors. Each of the stories focuses on an unforgettable kiss, although some of the stories feature more than kissing. Within 48 hours of release, Story of a Kiss hit Amazon’s top ten lists in two separate categories.

The story I contributed is entitled Forbidden Kisses. In it, Layla, who is an enlisted member of the Navy, meets the perfect guy while she is on leave. After several fun-filled days and passionate nights, she discovers that Ethan is also in the Navy and he’s an officer. According to military regulations personal relationships between officers and enlisted members is prohibited. In order to avoid disciplinary action and protect both of their careers, they need to put an end to their relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve already fallen in love.

IDI – New releases are always exciting. What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

SR – My story ideas almost always come to me completed from beginning to end. By the time I begin writing, I know the course the story is going to take and how it will turn out. So the first thing I do is write an outline: girl meets boy, boy gets into fight with girl’s father, girl has to choose between two men she loves, etc. Once I have the full outline written out, I can fill it in later with character names, dialogue, city names and the gist of the action which takes place within the story. But this doesn’t always happen if I sit at my laptop and will myself to fill in the outline of my story. My scenes come to me while I’m going about my daily life -driving, showering, working – so I end up scrambling to write down information before I lose it.

IDI – What is the hardest or most frustrating aspect of writing: ideas, getting started, writer’s block, re-writing?

SR – Ideas coming to me faster than I can get them written down is both a blessing and a curse. Scenes and sometimes entire stories will unfold in my mind from beginning to end while I’m driving or while I’m assisting my boss in a dental procedure. I don’t always have a way to make notes and my memory is not great, so I often miss out on good information. Sometimes I am able to jot down a few notes, though. When this happens, and it’s a new story rather than a scene of a current story, I absolutely cannot rest until the entire outline is written beginning to end. Then I can leisurely fill in the body of the story with dialogue and action.

IDI – There are magazines and blogs full of what’s new and what’s hot in the publishing industry. Do you keep up with the latest news, advice, trends and such? What are your thoughts?

Box Set Book Photo

Story of a Kiss

SR – As far as advice and tips for writing, publishing or building a social platform – definitely. If I come across information that pertains to me and can help improve my writing, then I’m willing to try it. As far as trends, no. I won’t use a certain software, website, or style or technique just because it’s popular at the moment or it’s what everyone is using or doing. I don’t allow myself to be swayed by the latest trends because it may be something that doesn’t work for my writing style, my lifestyle or my budget.

IDI – Do you have a blog and if so, what types of posts would a visitor find on it?

SR – I do: http://sharenee.com/

Right now my blog has random topics about life and about writing. I have info about my published work, my works-in-progress and since I love taking pictures of nature scenes, I also have a page where I’ve uploaded some of my photos.  In the near future however, I plan to have blog posts that feature military personnel and veterans. I’d like to know how they feel about their service, adjusting to civilian life and for those who are authors, I’d love to post about their work.

IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?

SR – I love connecting with people via social media. In fact, I have very few ‘tangible’ friends. Except for a very small handful, my friends are online. Making connections via social media is great for promoting my work and I try to share and post information regularly to keep my peers up to date with my projects. The downside though, (and this is huge for me) is the higher the number of people I “meet” online, the less I’m able to connect personally with each of them. If two thousand tweets come through my feed in a day, and I have a 15 minute break to look at it, there’s no way I’m going to see everyone’s posts. So there are people I follow who I never re-tweet or even get to see what they’re up to. I’m also a firm believer in “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” I try to ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘re-tweet’ because we all need support. We need to help promote each other – whether it’s an author with a new book being released, a musician trying to get his music heard, or just someone hoping to draw people to their blog.

IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?

SR – I love being a member of Scribophile. I’ve met wonderful people, I read some awesome stories and I love the fact that it’s a community where the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” comes into play. But we don’t help each other (by critiquing work and answering questions) only to get help in return, we help each other because we genuinely want to see our peers grow and succeed.  Since I write Erotic Romance, this is the one place I know I can ask questions about relationships and sex – very direct, detailed questions, and not be judged.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

SR – The first is that I absolutely love my job. I work as a dental assistant, for a wonderful boss, in a nice office, in great location, with the best hours. HOWEVER, if someone said to me, “Pick a job. Any job and it’s yours.” Without a doubt, I would be a driver in a car commercial. You know, the ones that have three or four cars doing synchronized driving, zig zag, down the hill, around the bend, high speed. Yeah.

The second is that I feel somewhat uncomfortable when people thank me for my military service. After I enlisted, I traveled, I made friends, fell in love, got married, had a baby, even had ‘mandatory fun’.  I didn’t see combat. I never set foot on a ship. I don’t feel like I did anything significant in support of my country. Of course, in my head I know military service is a team effort. As for standing security watch, accounting for tools to ensure no foreign items end up on the flight line, washing aircraft, etc. I know these were significant to the overall mission, but I still wish I’d done more. So when people say, “Thank you for your service,” it takes a lot for me not to say, “I really didn’t do anything.”

Lastly, I used to feel guilty about what I write and about letting people know what I write -especially people I go to Church with. My characters engage in sex outside of marriage, which clashes with my Christian beliefs. There is a lot of judgement, whether it’s expressed or not, when an author reveals that they write Erotic Romance or Erotica. I’ve even been accused of leading people to sin by what I write. I disagree with this completely. First, because my work is for adults who should be able to read the warnings and decide whether or not reading about sex is going to make them have sex. If they feel weak in this area, they shouldn’t read erotic material or watch anything in which the characters have sex. Second, I don’t think (and this is my opinion because I don’t know everything about everything) that people – no matter what their religious beliefs – should refrain from writing murder mysteries, because it will cause people to commit murder. I don’t believe authors shouldn’t write stories about kidnapping because someone might not be able to control their urge to kidnap. I’m not encouraging anyone to mimic the actions of my characters, whether they’re having sex, singing karaoke or drinking coffee.  And if authors who write about murder and bank robberies are not judged by the actions of the characters they write about, then I will continue to write what I like.

IDI – Define a great book.

SR – One that evokes strong emotion in me especially early in the story. I recently read a story in which I felt deep sympathy for the MMC right from the first chapter, possibly even the first scene.

A great book makes me think about the characters and their situations even after I’ve closed the book and I’m engaged in other activity. And a great book is one that I never want to end. When I see that I’m nearing the last chapter, I tend to read more slowly, savoring those last few scenes. So I guess I’d say a great book is like great sex. It evokes emotion, we want it to last, taking measures to delay the culmination and we think about it and even talk about it long after it’s over.

IDI – Who is your favorite of the characters you’ve written?

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Forbidden Kisses

SR – Ethan from Forbidden Kisses. Besides the fact that I’ve made him physically attractive – with dimples, dark hair, thick eyebrows, over deep-set eyes which are the color faded blue jeans. He’s got a good sense of humor. He’s playful and fun loving. He’s got a good heart, caring for his best friend’s widow as well as his girlfriend’s mother. He’s romantic and loves intensely. One of his great qualities – something Layla really loves about him, is his take-charge attitude. If there were a hurricane, a fire or any type of disaster or urgent situation, he’d be the one who immediately steps up and makes decisions. He’d give everyone directions, let them know what they should be doing. He’s a leader and he leads with confident authority. But from those who fall under his authority – including Layla, he requires compliance without any question.

IDI – What does success as an author mean to you?

SR – Of course a shit-load of money from my writing would be great, but I’d consider myself successful when I hear that people know and enjoy my work. When readers – who are not friends or family – excitedly discuss my characters or a particular scene in my story (and like it) then I’ll consider myself successful.

IDI – Thank you so much, that was great.

If you’d like to learn more about Sha and her work, here are a few links that you’ll find interesting.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shasplace

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaShaRenee

My Blog: http://sharenee.com/

My E-mail: ShaRinay@yahoo.com

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1SLa63D

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nitKb6

Story of a Kiss Teaser: http://bit.ly/1ZKHVY7

Order my first short story: http://amzn.to/1KDs7KA

Order Story of a Kiss:  http://amzn.to/1VjrlIg

 

Connect with Kathy

As Far As Your Headlights

E.L.Doctorow Quote

 


The Deepest Secret… by Carla Buckley

Synopsis:

Twelve years ago, Eve Lattimore’s life changed forever. Her two-year-old son Tyler on her lap, her husband’s hand in hers, she waited for the child’s devastating diagnosis: XP, a rare genetic disease, a fatal sensitivity to sunlight. Eve remembers that day every morning as she hustles Tyler up the stairs from breakfast before the sun rises, locking her son in his room, curtains drawn, computer glowing, as he faces another day of virtual schooling, of virtual friendships. But every moment of vigilance is worth it. This is Eve’s job, to safeguard her boy against the light, to protect his fragile life each day, to keep him alive—maybe even long enough for a cure to be found.
Tonight, Eve’s life is about to change again, forever. It’s only an instant on a rainy road—just a quick text as she sits behind the wheel—and another mother’s child lies dead in Eve’s headlights. The choice she faces is impossible: confess and be taken from Tyler, or drive away and start to lie like she’s never lied before.

Review:

Buckley uses every element of writing to her advantage in her suspenseful family drama, The Deepest Secret.

My biggest compliment to the author is that she executed her plot so well, other than whether Eve would do the right thing, the story was not predictable.

The Deepest Secret

The Deepest Secret

*Spoilers:

I thought David was going to have an affair with Renee. He didn’t.

When Melissa took her father’s car, I thought it was either foreshadowing of what really happened the night of the accident (she was the car in front of her mother) and she saw what her mother did, or that it was a red herring to throw the reader off)

I thought that (possibly) Tyler would pay the ultimate price to protect his mother. He didn’t. (The UV rays/disease hook was always somewhere between the background and the foreground, making me think it might have more to do with the story)

It kept me guessing on many levels, which is the mark of any good novel.

The author added just enough ‘extras’, or non-essential details, to bring realism to the tale without making me feel as though she were bloating it for length. The phrasing was fresh, the characters well developed (likable, but not cliché perfect), description enough, but not too much. It was well crafted story, from the minute details such as which way she turned out of the driveway, to the use of Tyler’s camera (and love for his sister) to plant evidence, the author was thorough.

The only area of the book I felt didn’t quite fit the tone of the rest of it, was the scene outside when Sophie was having/had giant lights put up. I understand she was afraid of the peeping Tom and I understand Eve’s reaction, but the everybody-talking-at-the-same-time scene was a little unrealistic. Fortunately, coming in at 420+ pages, that one scene didn’t take away from the read.

Worth a mention, but not specifically about the writing – I’ve read books where a child dies and somehow, it almost always brings a tear to my eye. I was surprised at the fact that this book did not. I can’t say what was missing in the writing that it didn’t induce that emotion in me, but there were no ‘Oh my God’ moments, or ‘that’s so sad’ scenes, even though the subject matter was sad, somehow, the author was not able to pull that emotion from me.

Still, a worthy read I would recommend. As a parent, it will make you think, ‘how far would I go to protect my child?’

Kathy Reinhart is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies, among other titles.
Website

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Once in a Lifetime… by Jayne Nichols

Synopsis:

Is it possible for a poor hash-house waitress to find love with a wealthy Irish horse breeder? Not as long as he thinks she conned his father into leaving her his cottage on the island of Inish Mor in the Aran Islands. To prove his assumption false, Samantha St. John sells her new inheritance to Kieran McDade for one Euro, receives his thank-you kiss on her cheek, and bids him farewell. Never expecting to see him again, she is surprised to receive his invitation and a plane ticket to Ireland. He’s had second thoughts and offers Samantha a holiday at his home on FastTrack Farm where she charms not only his race horse, but Kieran himself. For Samantha, it is like a fairy tale, complete with a wicked witch, an elegant ball, and a horse race that could decide whether her Cinderella story will have a happy ending. Book One in the Wish Fulfilled Series, Once in a Lifetime is a contemporary romance set in Ireland.

Once

Once in a Lifetime

Review:

Although my love of reading began with my mother’s romance novels during my teen years, I rarely pick up a romance novel now. I think my reason being that after countless dozens of them; they seemed to lose their uniqueness. Even the covers began to repeat. A strikingly beautiful woman in a stunning dress fit tightly over her incredibly tiny waist snared in the arms of a shirtless Indian, a square-jawed pirate, or a rogue cowboy.

The title, Once in a Lifetime, was a nice play on words. If you are a tried and true romance reader, you will enjoy this book.

Although the storyline is predictable, it is a pleasing read. The characters are likable, yet rather clichéd: Young, inexperienced, naïve girl thrown in the path of a virile, slightly damaged, (but deep-down noble) handsome man who unknowingly needs her to save him. Ever notice how both the hero and heroine always have either blue or green eyes?

I digress. It was a very pleasant read; although at no point did I feel it upped the game from the romance novels of the seventies. Overall, it was well written. There were a few spots where the author went into a bit too much detail on things that the reader would have known without any explanation at all. Example: Page 36 – when talking about the sale of her inheritance that has already happened, the narrative takes you through the steps of notary, legally binding, witness, no coercion, etc. It had already been stated that Cherise was a notary and the sale was done, there was no reason to itemize the steps for the reader. It’s equivalent to talking down to them as if they would not understand how the sale was completed otherwise. Another example was the explanation as to why Sam has a passport. Her relationship with Jason was brought up at another point, making that a needless info-dump. Most people have passports. No one questions why.

Fortunately, there weren’t many info dumps and they weren’t detrimental to the read.

I ran across a few senseless items, such as: Kieran sent her a ticket to fly to Ireland alone. He spots her helping an elderly woman off the plane before her and the elderly woman go their separate ways. He even thinks to himself ‘Samantha hasn’t changed a bit’ referring to her kind-hearted ways. Yet, he still feels the need to ask her if she knew the elderly woman outside of the flight? Why? Again, I felt it was one of those areas where the author felt the need to reiterate a point (Sam’s kindness) as if the reader wouldn’t ‘get it’ without her doing so.

For much of the story, the book seemed to follow one character’s thoughts at a time. But there were scenes here and there where the author fell into the omniscient POV and it felt like head hopping. Example: pages 72. We are in Sam’s head as she approaches the horse. She sees Kieran take a step toward her and then stop when Niall places a hand on his arm. Suddenly we’re in Kieran’s head as he thinks he will lunge forward to save her if need be, just as he would have done when she was buying the pencils from Benedict. Now we are in his head as he remembers that night.

Again, it is a pleasant read, especially if you are a fan of the standard romance novel. It contained all of the basic elements: Young, innocent woman… handsome man, emotionally damaged, but not without integrity… the damsel in distress, saved-by-the-hero moment (pages 112-113)… hardened heart melted by her warm touch…. And of course, the happily-ever-after.

It had a steady flow – no lags and coming in at a 233 pages it’s a book that can be read in a few hours.

Kathy Reinhart is an editor and the award-winning author of Missouri in a SuitcaseThe Red Strokes, and Lily White Lies.

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Kathy Reinhart


Here I Stand… by Jillian Bullock

A few days ago I had the pleasure of talking with Jillian Bullock, author of the captivating, Here I Stand. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her memoir and would like to share my thoughts…

REVIEW:

Jillian Bullock never had a conventional home or family. Her mother was black and the only father she ever knew was white, and a member of the mob. Or was he? Jillian saw things no little girl should ever have to see. Things that gave her nightmares. Things that gave her an ulcer. Things that made her question every detail of her life and what she believed to be true.

She lost people she loved, people she loved changed without warning or reason she understood, and she was hurt and traumatized by others she loved and thought loved her back. She went from not knowing whom to trust, to not trusting anyone. At fifteen, through no fault of her own, she was forced to live on the street where she ate out of dumpsters and stood in line for one of only twenty beds each night, sleeping on a park bench when she didn’t get a bed. She fought off the cold, hunger, sexual advances, and her own depression.

When it became impossible to survive on the street, she did what so many young runaways do – she turned to prostitution. She learned how to turn off her emotions, detach her mind from her body. She swayed between determination for a better life and giving up. She had mastered Tae Kwon Do and if not for that ability, may very well have ended up dead on several occasions.

Jillian Bullock was damaged. Emotionally and physically damaged. But, from somewhere deep inside of her, a place her stepfather saw, she pulled out the drive, determination, resiliency, and grit needed to break free from a life forced upon her and become the person she was meant to be. The obstacles in her young life might have been insurmountable to many. Truth be told, I doubt I could have survived as she did.

Even when she believes she has lost hope in her dreams, from a spark within, she rebuilds a life that seemed all but lost. Jillian writes with candor, raw emotion, hope, despair, and a confidence that even she loses sight of a time or two. Jillian shares her accomplishments, her losses, her pain, her feelings toward those close to her, and her own transgressions in a strong, unshakable voice able to pull emotion from the most detached reader.

From within the embrace of a loving family, to a world feared by many, through her own strength and diligence, Jillian Bullock rises above.

The writing was wonderful. I could not put it down. I applaud Jillian first, for turning struggle into success and second, for having the gumption and courage to share her story in a clear and objective voice. I believe that anyone who might be feeling helpless or hopeless or at their end would benefit greatly from reading this story.

Here I Stand is a lesson in perseverance, hope, and redemption.

WIN_20160120_10_07_38_Pro

Here I Stand – 5 stars


Jillian Bullock

I was recently approached by Jillian Bullock regarding her memoir, Here I Stand. She asked me if I’d be willing to read and review it for her. With my recent increase in editing jobs, I almost declined. But, I checked it out on Amazon (it looked interesting) and I agreed. I almost missed out on one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t have learned just how multi-talented Jillian is.

I am going to post my review of Here I Stand on Thursday of this week (don’t miss it), but for today, I was able to chat with Jillian.

IDI – Jillian, wow! If I had to use only one word to describe Here I Stand, I don’t know what it would be. Raw comes to mind. I’ve read so many memoirs that embellish, sensationalize, but even more, are selective in which stories to tell. What I liked most about your book is your absolute candor, even when the incident or story being told didn’t reflect favorably on you. I don’t want to give anything away for those who many not have read it, but will say, it was worth every minute spent reading.

A little about you. When did you know you were born to be a writer?

Jillian Bullock

Jillian Bullock

JB – Thank you very much. As for when I knew, I was in grade school and I won a short story contest. It validated my writing at such a young age.  I won $25. I was a paid writer. Yeah!

IDI – How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?

JB – Much growth. For some years, I had stopped reading novels because I was so focused on my writing as a screenwriter. But within the past two years, I have buckled down and started reading tons of books on everything, mainly novels. I’ve also started back to college recently to obtain a master’s degree in English.  This year I completed my first novel through discipline of writing six to eight hours a day. A few years ago, I never would have been able to do that. I didn’t have the focus or discipline, and I had a lot of stress in my life that hindered my writing.

IDI – I can relate to the lack of focus and discipline. Stress is my nemesis, also.

How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?

JB – To write my memoir, Here I Stand, that was published in 2012, it took me six years from start to publishing. For my novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, that I completed in 2015, it took me two months. I participated in the National Novel Writing Month Contest. For November 1-30, 2015 writers are challenged to write at least 50,000 words of their novel. In 30 days, I wrote 52,3000 words. By the end of December 2015, I had written 70,000 words.

IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?

JB – My first novel, Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, is a crime thriller. I will start the editing and revision phase in a month.

An excerpt from the book –

With the intense sun beating down and the sound of church bells ringing, Jennifer Tigger immediately grabbed her head with her left hand and squinted her eyes trying her best to focus. When she pulled her hand away, she noticed dry blood. Jennifer looked down at her right hand and saw a bloody butcher knife. Disoriented, Jennifer squinted her eyes tighter as the church bells grew louder and the hammering inside her head made her feel like plunging that knife in her head to relieve so such pain. Migraines plagued Jennifer since she was in college. When she got them, she couldn’t function well at all; completely debilitating.
             As Jennifer groaned in agony trying to make sense of where she was and why she had a bloody knife in her hand, she stumbled forward and tripped over a man’s dead body that had blood on his shirt and a gaping knife wound in his chest.  What the hell? Jennifer thought.

IDI – Aside from the book you’re working on, what other projects do you have in the works?

JB – I am in pre-production on a movie titled A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, which deals with the military and post-traumatic stress disorder. I wrote the screenplay and will direct in the fall of 2016.

A sense of purpose movie poster

A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives

IDI – That’s quite a schedule and work load.

What is the kindest comment/compliment you have ever received from a fan regarding your work?

JB – One fan told me she had been going through a difficult time and was depressed. She said after reading my memoir, Here I Stand, it saved her life. To know my words and my life story touched someone so profoundly was amazing.

IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.

JB – For my novel, I had to do tons of research first since the main character, Jennifer Tigger, is a forensic and criminal psychologist, who is also a recovering drug and sex addict. Then I did the outline of the book and detailed descriptions of the main characters. I had a few different endings in mind, so I wrote those down. Then I started writing. I tried not to edit while I wrote, but sometimes that was difficult when the paragraph didn’t make much sense.  Once I hit 70,000 words and had a book I was happy with, I handed the book off to my best friend, Delayne Powe, who has read hundreds of novels, especially crime novels. She knows what sounds right and what rings false. Once she gave me the okay to keep going, I finished the novel at 85,000 words. In January 2016, I will start the editing and revision process. Once I finish this step, it will be time to hand the book off to a professional editor. Revisions, revisions and more revisions.  With Here I Stand, I self-published. With Sunny Days, Bloody Nights, I plan to go with traditional publishing.

IDI – Favorite author, and why?

JB – I love many different authors, but Dennis Lehane is my favorite. The way he writes each book I am consumed by the characters. His writing pulls me in and I don’t want to stop reading. His writing is fresh, crisp, exciting, colorful, and vivid. Being a screenwriter and filmmaker, I can visualize his books as movies.

IDI – Can you tell us three interesting things about you that you’re sure we don’t already know?

JB – Yes.

  • I am a former competitive martial artist and boxer, who holds two black belts – one in Wing Chun and the other in Tae Kwon Do. I currently train in mixed martial arts, so usually my protagonist in my writings do train in MMA.
  • When I was in college, I was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal newspaper.
  • Since 2006, I have been a screenwriting judge for the Set in Philadelphia Screenwriting Contest, which is sponsored annually by the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.

IDI – Jillian, why do you write?

HERE I STAND COVER

Here I Stand

JB – It helps to clear my head of everything. I get lost in another world and it’s an amazing feeling knowing I’m creating something that hopefully will bring great joy to others.

IDI – Last question. What are you plans for the next two years?

JB – Well,

  • To complete my novel Sunny Days, Bloody Nights and to get an agent and a publishing deal.

  • To complete filming of my independent movie, A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, hit the film festivals, and get a distribution deal. Then go into production on my next project – Listen To What The Dead Are Saying.

  • To self-publish my first fitness book titled – Fitness Between The Sheets.

  • To get a major studio to greenlight my memoir Here I Stand and to attach the “right” producer or director to come on board with me as the screenwriter and a co-producer. I have had offers from a few producers who wanted to option or buy the rights to my life story, but I want to be involved in the process and not just hand over my story. So, I have to be patient and find the right fit.

IDI – You are one busy woman! Jillian, thank you for talking with me and sharing your story. It’s one book that has left an indelible mark on me. I wish you all of the luck and success in the world. Somehow, I believe you will leave your mark on many people. Please keep me updated as to the completion of your new projects.

JB – Thank you for having me and I certainly will.

You can learn more about Jillian and her work at the links below and don’t forget, this Thursday you can read my review of Here I Stand, the mesmerizing memoir by Jillian.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jillian.bullock.5
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/JillianBullock
Website – www.jillianbullockwriter.com
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Here-I-Stand-Jillian-Bullock/dp/0741470497

 

k.e.garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White LiesThe Red Strokes, and Missouri in a Suitcase, (the latter written under the pen name Nova Scott)

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Rogue Lawyer… by John Grisham

Grisham’s latest novel is set up a bit differently from his conventional style. In the beginning, I thought it was going to be told in vignettes, each story largely unrelated to the next. And although the ‘cases’ had little to do with each other, there was a theme that connected them nicely. I actually enjoyed seeing him do something a little different.

Rogue LawyerThere isn’t much I can say about the writing, style, voice, characters, or plot. When I pick up a Grisham book, I expect him to deliver. And in Rogue Lawyer he delivers on cue.

The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the ending. It wasn’t bad, as some books are, but it wasn’t as neat as I would have liked. There were a few loose threads that weren’t essential to the read, but important enough for me to realize immediately that they were left hanging. Sebastian and Naomi, Sebasian and Starcher (hated that name, btw). Again, not a dealbreaker, but I would have liked even a paragraph on each.

One thing I couldn’t get out of my head for the entire read (not necessarily a bad thing)… Anyone who has ever watched A Time To Kill or The Lincoln Lawyer might agree… Throughout the entire novel, I heard each passage narrated by the protagonist, Sebastian, in the voice of Matthew McConaughey. Crazy as it sounds, Jake Briggance has left an indelible impression on me! I think it’s because Sebastian Rudd has the same basic personality and attitude. (Who doesn’t like Matthew McConaughey… and aside from Dallas Buyer’s Club, his lawyer roles are my favorite.)

Definitely a book worth reading and I think most Grisham fans will enjoy his new approach.

k.e. garvey (formerly known as Kathy Reinhart) is the award-winning author of Lily White Lies and The Red Strokes among others under the name Nova Scott.


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