Reviews

Book Review: Honey on Your Mind

Honey on Your Mind (The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson Book 3), by Maria Murnane

Publication:  Lake Union Publishing; July 24, 2012

honey on your mindAbout the book: 

For Waverly Bryson, life is anything but boring! And never is that fact more evident than in Maria Murnane’s delightful third novel about the irrepressible heroine. This time around, Waverly faces a game-changing opportunity: an offer to turn her popular advice column into a regular guest spot on the new TV show Love, Wendy. It could be the break of a lifetime—but for a few not-so-minor details. For starters, Waverly’s acceptance of the job means moving clear across the country, giving up her rent-controlled apartment, and leaving behind her best friends McKenna and Andie. Oh, and there’s the fact that TV host extraordinaire Wendy Davenport is none-too-pleased by the prospect of Waverly usurping her broadcast throne. Then there’s Jake, Waverly’s boyfriend. He’s as crazy about her as ever. His mother, on the other hand? Not so much. But Waverly wouldn’t be Waverly if she didn’t tackle these challenges head on, with all the zeal, good humor, and, yes, occasional catastrophe that we’ve come to expect from “the American Bridget Jones.” Witty, light-hearted, and fun, Honey on Your Mind is Waverly Bryson at her best.

My Review:

Who, What, When, Where

This time around, Waverly has just accepted a new job requiring her to move across the country to New York City. She’s excited but nervous, especially working with Wendy. 

Andie is considering whether or not she should move in with Nick and McKenna is still adjusting to motherhood. Jake is still around of course and still delicious, although very elusive at times.

This installment introduces us to Andie’s cousin, Paige, who helps Waverly grow her Honey merchandise business, as well as, relays some of her own hilarious dating stories. 

Thoughts and Reactions

I think this is my favorite of the Waverly books so far! Although not as funny as previous Waverly books, this one seemed to have a bit more substance and emotion. Maria Murnane presents Waverly so vulnerable several times, and not just her normal nervous issues. I got to see a very different, somewhat grown-up side of Waverly, while still possessing her hilarious quirkiness that I love.

Several twists were thrown into this novel, affecting not only Waverly but several other characters in both good and bad ways. I’m still not a huge fan of Wendy, but the author definitely sheds new light on her as a character and provided some insight as to why she is such an annoying and fake person. 

As always with Waverly, there was plenty of conflict and challenges in this novel, but they were new and different keeping things very interesting. Specifically, Jake’s mother… 

Once again I have completely fallen in love with one of Maria Murnane’s novels. They are such light-hearted, feel-good reads that I can quickly devour in just a few hours. Waverly is such an honest, relatable character and Murnane’s plot development is spot on. She has absolutely cornered the market regarding romantic comedy and women’s fiction and of course, I highly recommend Honey on Your Mind to any lovers of this genre. But don’t forget to start at the beginning with Perfect on Paper or you will miss out!

*As always, special thanks to Maria Murnane for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase Honey on Your Mind on Amazon!

Check out Maria Murnane’s web page to learn more about this fantastic author!

 

Reviews

Book Review: It’s a Waverly Life

It’s a Waverly Life (The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson Book 2),

by Maria Murnane

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; November 8, 2011

WaverlyAbout the book: 

The formerly heartbroken singleton is now happily enmeshed in a new relationship, a new job, and a new decade. Her career as an advice columnist is taking off, and the future of her fledgling greeting-card line is bright. Of course, where Waverly goes, drama is sure to follow, and this time is no exception. Her broken engagement has left her gun-shy when it comes to love, putting strain on her long-distance relationship with handsome Jake McIntyre. And when her best friends both make life-changing announcements, Waverly fears she is being left behind by the ones she loves most.

In true Waverly fashion, things must get comically worse before they can get better. But in the end, she discovers that though life (before and after thirty) may be messy and unpredictable, friendship and love make it all worthwhile.

My Review:

Who, What, When, Where

Welcome to the second novel in the crazy (mis)adventures of Waverly Bryson! Waverly and her best friends (McKenna and Andie) are still doing their thing in San Francisco, she’s still writing her “honey notes,” she’s also writing a weekly column for the paper. The fabulous Jake is back again, although, remember he’s all over the place working as a trainer for the Atlanta Hawks. Waverly meets some new people this time around including Ivy and Nick from the Sun office, and her fantastic older neighbor named Red. 

Waverly is still gun-shy when it comes to Jake. She’s still scared to get too involved after what Aaron did to her, and she continues to just flub over her words whenever she’s in Jacke’s presence. Even worse, things are ever-changing at the newspaper so career security is out the window until she comes up with some new ideas regarding her “honey notes.”

Thoughts and Reactions

I’ve gone backward with Maria Murnane, starting with Waiting for Rain, then Bridges, then to Perfect on Paper, and so on. Do you have an author that when you want to feel happy, you grab one of their novels? That is what Maria Murnane has become to me! Everything I read of hers makes me laugh, feel happy, and even during sad or tense times in the novels – I still feel good after reading them.

It’s a Waverly Life was the perfect way to spend an absolute scorching, hot, humid, miserable day! Waverly’s such a real and honest character that I love, but also want to smack at times when her mouth moves faster than her brain (or when she stumbles over what she means to say and it doesn’t come out). There weren’t quite as many hysterical moments with the girls this time, but the humorous banter carried over into her new friendship with Nick. Another thing that I love is her embarrassing moments, and happily, those were plentiful in the second book!

Maria Murnane’s writing is flawless, yet simple and realistic. The characters were incredibly relatable, as was the story line. I think that the tone was a little more serious in this book as compared to the first one, but I liked it that way.  Waverly can’t be completely off the chain all of the time, and in this novel, the author gave her a lot more “grown up” emotions, joys, and regrets. This was an outstanding story and I cannot wait to read book 3!! 

*many thanks to Maria Murnane for graciously providing this novel in exchange for my honest review!

Purchase It’s a Waverly Life on Amazon!

Reviews

Book Review: Better in the Morning

BETTER IN THE MORNING,

BY FERN RONAY

PUBLICATION: RED ADEPT PUBLISHING, LLC; APRIL 26, 2016

better in the morningAbout the book: 

Veronica Buccino has a plan: marry John DelMonico and quit her soul-sucking job as a lawyer. And when he tells her he has big news, she’s certain he’ll pop the question. But instead of proposing, John informs her that he’s moving to London.

Heartbroken, Veronica feels lost. Salvatore and Antoinette, her dead grandparents, begin to visit her dreams in an attempt to steer her in the right direction. At their suggestion, Veronica takes a news reporting class, which leads to a challenging freelance assignment covering a conspiracy trial. She also begins dating an unlikely suitor: creative Syd Blackman.

Just when her love life and career are looking up, Veronica is tossed back to square one by an event that makes her question all her new choices.

My Review:

Attention, anyone that hates their job, wants a new life, but was also really close to their grandparents – Better in the Morning should be your next read! Fern Ronay created a wonderfully funny and charming story about Veronica and all of her issues! Veronica is a lawyer but hates her job. Honestly, she’s not good at her job either, considering she spends most of her time daydreaming or searching human interest stories online. Thinking her boyfriend is going to propose, she meets him for dinner thinking that she can now quit her job and be a happy housewife until he tells her that he is being transferred to London. Between her “visits” with her dead grandparents while she sleeps at night, and the urges of her friends, Veronica signs up for Match.com in attempts to meet Mr. Right. She also (after a suggestion from the grandparents) signs up for a news reporting class to further investigate her true passion. Veronica experiences several highs and lows throughout the story but thankfully finds her true self. 

I will begin by saying that this was just an overall great novel! Fern Ronay developed sich a realistic and likable character in Veronica that I could not help but adore. She did her best to do “work” while she was at work, she spilled food on her clothes, she tripped and fell at inconvenient times, and also cried in the bathroom whenever she fought with her best friend. Veronica honestly felt like someone that I could be friends with and I loved how realistic that she was. Who hasn’t hated a job, hated their boss, hated their co-workers, and surfed the internet on company time not doing what they should??  She was humiliated and heartbroken after John told her about leaving for London, she went on horrible Match.com dates, and dreamed of eating lots of sweets and cupcakes when she was “visited” by her grandparents. 

Even other characters that were not likable – such as Beverly and Kate – were expertly developed by Ronay to the point where I could hear their voices, see the expressions, and even hear Beverly’s orthopedic shoes. Once Syd was introduced, I instantly fell in love with him. He wasn’t your typical romance novel heartthrob, but there is no way not to fall in love with him with his relaxed personality and fantastic sense of humor. 

Better in the Morning has a non-stop plot that keeps you laughing and at times, crying for Veronica and her crappy decisions. There were several moments where I I thought in frustration, “really, you don’t know better than to do this!!” A prominent theme that came to mind while reading this and after is that our perfect lives aren’t always the perfect lives that we imagined. The guy you think isn’t Mr. Right can sweep you off your feet. Who cares if you aren’t halfway through paying off your law school loans if you don’t want to be a lawyer, then don’t. Friends fight, lovers come and go, but follow your dreams.

On a personal note, the main thing that really drew me to this novel was Veronica’s “visits” with her deceased grandparents. Being one of those people that was closer to a few of my grandparents than anyone else in the world, I completely understood the joy she felt from their visits, as well as, her need to hold on to them in any way possible because their input, advice, and lessons were so important. After reading this novel and browsing Fern Ronay’s web page, I truly felt like I was losing my mind when I saw one of her blog entries regarding deceased pets. I can’t decide if I am personally losing my grasp on sanity and reality, if I’m just meeting others as crazy as I am, or if it’s actually completely normal to feel connections to those that have passed – whether a person, dog, cat, or whatever. Regardless, I find it funny that I have read two novels in the past few weeks dealing with this subject (the other was Under the Cherry Tree by Lilac Mills).

I’ve probably carried on too long, but I cannot recommend this novel enough to anyone that is a lover of women’s fiction, romance, comedy, and a novel that embraces and celebrates the connections we have with those that we have lost. I am so honored and happy that Fern Ronay asked me to read and review this novel and it is definitely one not to be missed!

Purchase Better in the Morning on Amazon!

Learn more about Fern Ronay by visiting her web page.

Reviews

Book Review: Truck Stop Jesus

TRUCK STOP JESUS, BY BUCK STORM

PUBLICATION:  HERITAGE BEACON FICTION; NOVEMBER 1, 2016

truck stop jesusAbout the book: Oh, for a simpler time! Paradise Jones dreams of the Hollywood glamour days. Clothes, hair, vintage car–you name it, she’s got it. She’s classic retro, a 21st-century image of her favorite Golden Era stars–Doris, Audrey, Esther, Marilyn. The entertainment rags call Paradise eccentric. The studios rarely call at all. When an altercation with her leering stepfather forces her to flee Los Angeles, Paradise leaves behind everything she loves and longs for.

A few hundred miles east, Doc Morales’ years of hard work in the minors of Major League Baseball have produced exactly one at-bat in the Big Show. A collision at first, a blown knee, and adios dreams. Nothing left to live for but pick-up games and his collection of old movies. Nothing, that is, until beautiful, damaged Paradise Jones crashes into his small, Arizona town. So begins an epic road trip that will change everything.

Throw in a couple of oddball bounty hunters, a forgotten movie-star boat captain, a cowboy priest, and a dashboard Jesus that is more than meets the eye, and Paradise and Doc have all the ingredients they need to cook up a fun and quirky slice of Americana pie.

My Review:

What an incredible hidden gem I discovered with Truck Stop Jesus. When I downloaded this from Amazon I wasn’t aware that it was considered Christian Fiction, not that it matters, but I also was not aware of what a fun and crazy adventure I was in store for! Paradise Jones is a wanna-be actress in L.A. that dresses like actresses from the old Hollywood days such as Lana Turner and Esther Williams. After her father dies and her creepy stepfather makes a pass at her, she attempts to get revenge and soon finds herself “on the lam,” fleeing L.A. Never having really known her father, she decides to head to his birthplace and her namesake, Paradise, AZ. Here she meets Doc Morales, an almost star in the Major Leagues prior to injuring his knee, his ex-rodeo star turned priest brother Jake, and a minister/cop named Paco. Between her stepfather hunting her down and the discovery of old coins, Paradise and Doc are in for a wild road trip!

Paradise was such a unique and independent character! She marched to the beat of her own drummer, dressing as she liked and able to match anyone in witty banter. Doc was appealing from the start, prompting images of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham. Burt, the gross stepfather that Paradise is running from, was just gross. The bounty hunters Hollister and Crystal started out just o.k. for me, but I ended up absolutely adoring them. Same with Lan, the old hidden Hollywood star, Doris and Hap from a tiny town along the way, Easy, Poppy, Cal, Leena, and so much more. There are no words to describe Buck Storm’s characterization. I loved everything about the story, but his character development is what really stood out. Each character was so well described and so different from each other, yet they all blended so well. This is an author that makes sure that you absolutely know all of his characters without a shadow of a doubt.

 The plot was incredible and full of so many twists and turns the excitement never ended. While reading I knew that something was getting ready to happen or go wrong, yet I never knew exactly what it would be until it happened. There was non-stop action in this novel that was not overdone and did not even seem pre-meditated. I felt as if I was reading along as the author wrote, just letting things happen as they came to him. 

I hate to make comparisons but Buck Storm’s characterization and storytelling remind me of James Anderson’s Never-Open Desert Diner. Every character and every action are quirky and unexpected, yet it all seems to make perfect sense. Hands down, this is my favorite read so far this year and it will forever hold a spot on my top 10 favorite books ever. 

Purchase Truck Stop Jesus on Amazon. 

Learn more about Buck Storm by visiting his web page.

Reviews

Book Review: Crossing the Street

CROSSING THE STREET,

BY MOLLY B. CAMPBELL

PUBLICATION: FICTION STUDIO BOOKS; MAY 9, 2017

crossingAbout the book: 

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down.

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that’s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed.

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.

My Review:

I am so excited to bring you my review of the upcoming must-read novel Crossing the Street, by Molly D. Campbell. This is such a wonderful story about a young woman, Beck, and her friends and family. Beck is best friends with Gail (who she grew up with) and Ella (her neighbor that is in her 80’s). Beck doesn’t get along with her sister Diana because of Diana marrying Beck’s ex-boyfriend Bryan. Things get even worse once Beck finds out that Diana is pregnant and their mother is pushing Beck to forgive and move on. Suddenly Ella finds out that her great-granddaughter Bob (Roberta) is coming to live with her due to her mother being a drug addict and her Dad (Ella’s grandson) at war in the Middle East. Beck – who doesn’t like or want children – suddenly finds herself helping Ella with Bob, and then helping her sister with her new nephew Alex. All while working at Starbucks, writing erotica novels, and trying to become attracted to a really nice guy that is smitten with her. 

Beck is one of my favorite female characters ever. Actually, both Beck and Bob are my favorite female characters ever! Beck is the type of person that you want as your friend. She’s hilarious, sarcastic, a mess – but with the biggest heart ever. When Ella falls and gets hurt, Beck steps in taking care of Bob and Ella’s house along with making post-hospital arrangements for Ella. She has a cat Simpson, that she is crazy over, but Bob continuously keeps moving further and further into Beck’s heart. Bob is one of the coolest, most unique characters I have ever encountered while reading. Tough yet tender, smart, witty, intelligent – yet borderline broken because of her mother’s abuse and neglect. Adding to that is her constant worry about her father Charles, a Marine stationed in the Middle East. But despite the horror this young girl has lived through, she is the sweetest thing ever and wise beyond her years. 

A huge transformation occurred throughout the novel regarding Diana. Well actually, there was a huge transformation overall among the sisters and their mother. But Diana starts out appearing so selfish and self-absorbed, but after having endless issues with her newborn baby, she starts to soften and show a different side. I hated her in the beginning but absolutely loved Diana by the end of the novel. 

Overall, Beck and Bob stole the show with this one. Beck experiences so many urgencies and challenges, yet she keeps on rolling with taking care of Bob, Ella, Diana, and Alex. And Bob demonstrated an incredible resiliency that I think we would all hope for our children to possess when faced with trauma and crisis. Crossing the Street focuses on the importance of family – whether family by blood or by choice – and how helping others is not only beneficial to the one(s) needing help but is also gratifying for the one pitching in. This novel reminds the reader of the importance of the people that we can trust, as well as, the overwhelming power and freedom that comes with forgiveness. 

Molly D. Campbell has completed a masterpiece that will make you laugh, cry, get angry, feel regret, and everything in between. This is a must-read novel that will stick with you long after finishing the last, beautifully crafted sentence. The author has created something that will move each reader in a different way, and absolutely created something to be proud of. Crossing my fingers that Beck and Bob’s story will be continued…. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Pre-Order Crossing the Street on Amazon!

Learn more about Molly D. Campbell by visiting her web page!

Reviews

Book Review: To Katie with Love

TO KATIE WITH LOVE,

BY ERICA LUCKE DEAN

PUBLICATION: RED ADEPT PUBLISHING, LLC;

APRIL 23, 2013

to katieAbout the book: 

Banker Katie James has a serious thing for romance novels. She’d almost rather settle for a fictional boyfriend than risk her heart on a flesh-and-blood man. Besides, the only real guy she’s remotely interested in is her rich, unattainable client, the mysterious Cooper Maxwell.

Looking less like the ultra-conservative man she knows and more like a drop-dead sexy character from one of her books, Cooper crashes Katie’s 29th birthday party. But one too many drinks lands Katie in uncharted territory… Cooper’s bedroom!

Drunk on love, Katie dives headfirst into the relationship only to discover that Cooper is keeping secrets… dangerous ones. As if things couldn’t get worse, her meddling mother makes a surprise visit, digging up a whole new set of problems.

Who would have guessed having an assassin for a boyfriend would be the least of her worries?

My Review:

I’m so excited to bring you my review of To Katie with Love! I was already a huge fan of Erica Lucke Dean from reading her Flames of Time series, but this was absolutely wonderful! This is the story of a banker named Katie who is smart, funny, beautiful, clumsy, and cannot hold alcohol at all, lol. Katie’s love life pretty much consists of her fantasies about the characters she reads about in romance novels. The night of Katie’s birthday she is out with all of her co-workers drinking and singing karaoke when her dream guy walks in – Cooper Maxwell. Katie has been Cooper’s banker for awhile and she’s always had a crush on him, but tonight, it’s different. She finds herself incredibly drawn to him, but unfortunately, she drinks too much and the night doesn’t go as planned. Cooper and Katie start dating and she knows he’s handsome, smart, wealthy, sexy – but has no clue what he does for a living and he won’t tell her. She finds herself imagining all sorts of scenarios and it doesn’t help that a co-worker and her mother just keep fueling the mysterious fire. She loves him, but can she trust him?

Katie is one of the best characters ever! I love the way she is so honestly developed in this story revealing all of her good and bad sides. Whether she was happy, sad, confused, or embarrassed, there’s such a strong connection between reader and character that you feel all of the emotions right along with her. I loved all of her co-workers also, especially Vicki who was hilariously inappropriate! Cooper fluctuated with me because of his secretiveness. I loved him, then started wondering about who he really was, loved him again, and so on. But by the time I finished reading, I was just 100% in love. 

To Katie with Love is hilarious, romantic, and suspenseful all in one. Any female will easily relate to Katie whether regarding her relationship with Cooper, her relationship with her mother, her career, or even her laundry issues. I love a girl that debates whether to do laundry or just go buy more clothes! It took me awhile to catch on to “mystery” of the novel which made it that much more enjoyable, but there is literally never a dull moment in this book. I highly recommend this to any lovers of women’s fiction with a twist of humor and suspense. The 2nd in the Katie series, For the Love of Katie, released today and I’m already reading it. So stay tuned for that review!

*Thanks to the wonderful Erica Lucke Dean for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase To Katie with Love on Amazon!

Learn more about Erica Lucke Dean by visiting her web page. 

Reviews

Review: My (NOT SO) Perfect Life

“MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE,” BY SOPHIE KINSELLA

PUBLICATION: THE DIAL PRESS; FEBRUARY 7, 2017

not-so-perfect

Synopsis: Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

My Review:

Due for release February 7th is the new novel from Sophie Kinsella, “My (Not So) Perfect Life.” This is the story of a young woman, Katie, who is trying to build a design career and make it on her own in London. Katie grew up on a farm with her Dad but has always felt the pull to live in London and be a part of city life. She embellishes her life in London to friends and tries to adjust to being the new girl at the firm she is working for. Just as she is starting to form some friendships and meets one of the handsome partners, Alex – Katie gets fired by her hateful, scatter-brained boss, Demeter. Katie returns home to help her Dad and Step Mom start up a new glamping business on their farm, but says she is on a sabbatical, rather than tell them she was fired. Later, when Demeter and her family show up as guests, Katie has to face her lies and misconceptions about people. 

I honestly struggled with the first 20-30 pages of this novel. I felt like I had read this story a 1000 times, another young woman in the U.K., dissatisfied with her life, no money, crappy roommates, etc. I’m glad I stuck with it, however, because it ended up being pleasantly full of cringe-worthy, embarrassing moments, sweet moments, and huge moments of clarity. Katie did have several valid frustrations in her life, but she also had incorrect perceptions of others, causing her to exaggerate her own hardships in her mind. Katie’s character goes through a great deal of change and growth throughout the novel, becoming a much more mature and realistic version of the girl we meet at the beginning of the story. 

The theme in this novel is one that I so wish girls could learn at a younger age – everything is not as it appears. Katie thinks all of these women and co-workers have these perfect lives and tries to re-invent herself with new hair, hiding her accent, and going by “Cat” instead of Katie, all in attempts to lead the perfect lives that she thinks she sees. Fortunately, as the novel progresses, Katie learns that just because people behave in one way or do one thing, doesn’t mean this or that. Katie learns how much she misjudged Demeter, and also learns how incorrect her assumptions and perceptions of her parents and of Alex were. 

“My (Not So) Perfect Life” is a wonderful novel with young women that are chick lit fans and looking for a light and easy read. I did enjoy this novel and found myself laughing several times, however, it lacks that certain something making it unique amongst a sea of other chick lit novels. I love and admire Sophie Kinsella’s dialogue style, especially Katie’s inner-dialog, that flowed so naturally throughout the novel. Katie’s quirky and fabulous sense of humor made her very likable and someone you could relate to as if she were one of your own friends. This was a fun book, was well written and had interesting and developed characters, but there just isn’t anything about it that “wowed me” and repeatedly reminded me of Bridget Jones or countless other “single, young, struggling, career women” stories. 

*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Pre-Order “My (Not So) Perfect Life” on Amazon. 

Learn more about Sophie Kinsella by visiting her web page. 

 

Reviews

Book Review: Curses

“CURSES – A PARANORMAL MYSTERY,” BY CALVIN DEAN

PUBLICATION: NOVEMBER 4, 2016

cursesSynopsis: GHOSTS & A HAUNTING CAST OF CHARACTERS. “Edge of your seat suspense and laugh out loud humor.” If you like ghost stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, make you laugh out loud, and take you on a profound emotional journey, you’ll like Curses.

Martin Gallagher buys an old house in the country. While pursuing Hannah, a widow from the neighborhood, he encounters a sexy but psychotic ghost named Agnes. To make matters worse, Agnes is dead-set on derailing his blossoming romance.

“Just my luck. A woman wants me and there isn’t a breath of life in her.”

Meanwhile, an eccentric medium offers to help Martin exorcise his home, but this means resisting the temptress, encountering the bizarre, and braving supernatural encounters. Can Martin overcome his desires and fears long enough to lift the dreaded curse?

“I recalled Madam Zelda’s advice—avoid Agnes. Have nothing to do with her. Yet there I stood, drool on my chin, tangled in her wicked web, rendered powerless to resist.”

Curses is three connected paranormal mysteries that elicit horror, laughter, warmth, even tears. Cozy up with Dean’s haunting cast of characters and enjoy a delightfully humorous tale of the paranormal. If you dare.

“If you haven’t discovered Calvin Dean’s books yet, you’re missing out on a talent to watch.” -Teri Polen, author

Curses is a paranormal mystery with horrifying scenes and a haunting cast of characters that will make you laugh out loud.

My Review:

“Curses” is very different from anything I have read lately and is certainly a genre-defying novel. This book is comprised of three different, but interrelated stories about curses and ghosts. Martin is a handsome advertising retiree that has left the city life in Memphis for a small town and a beautiful, old home in Sycamore Grove. Ready for a relaxing and peaceful retirement, Martin plans to spend his time gardening and tinkering around his house. He meets his beautiful neighbor, Hannah, with whom he quickly forms a friendship with a possibility for more, but soon realizes he has more “neighbors” than expected. Between seeing strange people in his yard and hearing footsteps and arguments in the middle of the night, Martin begins to question his sanity – until the day he meets Madame Zelda in the grocery store, who soon confirms his suspicions that he is sharing his home and property with ghosts. 

Martin meets several different ghosts throughout this book, but one ghost named Agnes is the most troublesome. She’s beautiful and desirable while also being stubborn and refuses to leave. While he’s trying to help various ghosts move forward to the afterlife, Martin is also constantly experiencing new and strange phenomena in his home, battling Agnes and her temper and trying to build a relationship with Hannah – without letting her know about the ghosts. Martin’s funny and sarcastic personality, especially his inner dialogue, make this book funny and spooky all at the same time. 

So, I started out loving this book, primarily because of Martin. He’s intelligent, calm, funny, and creative all at once. Martin’s patience is tested over and over dealing with the strange sights and sounds he experiences while also trying to appear sane and in control. Parts 1 and 2 were my favorite, but honestly, the author lost me a bit in the 3rd story. I liked it at first, but without giving spoilers it ended up being quite silly regarding one of Martin’s final visitors. I still don’t get where that came from and why it was included but overall this was a light, fun read. Each story, as well as, the book as a whole was extremely creative and entertaining. Kudos to Calvin Dean’s creativity and imagination while composing these 3 stories and all of Martin’s adventures. “Curses” is classified on Amazon as literature and fiction/horror/ghosts, but I would add humor to the top of the list. There are definitely some creepy elements, but Martin’s light-hearted reaction to everything that happens softens the spookiness and suspense. This is not the book for you if you are looking for straight-up horror and ghost stories, but more for the person that wants a little bit of creepy mixed with humor and creative problem-solving!

*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Learn more about Calvin Dean by visiting his web page. 

Purchase “Curses” on Amazon. 

Reviews

Review: Red-Blooded American Male: Photographs

Red-Blooded American Male: Photographs, by Robert Trachtenberg

Publication: Amphoto Books; September 13, 2016

male

A collection of 100 inspired and surprising portraits of celebrities and everymen alike from the award-winning photographer Robert Trachtenberg.

Paul Rudd checking out the merchandise; Jimmy Kimmel playing dress up; Jack Black getting a one-of-a-kind pedicure; Elon Musk unveiling his newest Tesla; Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David taking a coffee break.

From leading men to comedians, ballet dancers to quarterbacks, war veterans to Broadway veterans, Red-Blooded American Male features more than 100 imaginative, striking, and sexy portraits from award-winning photographer Robert Trachtenberg. Pithy captions about each shoot accompany the photographs, giving readers a peek behind the curtain of a famed portrait photographer’s creative process and his world-renowned photographs.

Uncovering a unique (and often self-deprecating) side to such talents as Jimmy Fallon, Seth Rogen, Channing Tatum, Waris Ahluwalia, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart, this collection goes beyond mere portraiture to challenge conventional notions of masculinity and traditional male imagery.

My Review:

I typically seek out various types of fiction to read and review, but my interest was peaked when given the option to review “Red-Blooded American Male,” by photographer Robert Trachtenberg. This collection is outstanding for several reasons, but first and for most, Trachtenberg’s amazing photographs. Not only does he possess an enviable magic at capturing the perfect shot – he is absolutely hilarious. His humor shines through in many of his photos, but this collection has captions and stories along with most of the shots, making them even funnier. There are a few women included in the shots, and not all of the men are actually Americans, yet he included them all for one reason or the other. The book begins with Trachtenberg being interviewed by friend and editorial director (of People and Entertainment Weekly, for example), Jess Cagle. I found myself laughing out loud several times just during the first few paragraphs of the interview, and things just got better from then on! fullsizerender-37

Some of the photos are simply remarkable – without any humor implied, and others just completely cracked me up! Besides the fabulous photos and the humor factor, have I mentioned the huge, hardcover coffee table book I now own which is absolutely jam-packed with eye-candy??? 

Trachtenberg doesn’t just shoot black and white or just color but lets the shoot dictate what exposure and film to use to best represent the feeling and intention of his photos. 

 

 


fullsizerender-38I also love that each time I go back and flip through this book again, I notice another picture that really grabs me or I notice another caption or story that is wonderful, funny and often, reveals “inside info” on that celebrity and their willingness to allow Trachtenberg to take hold of the creative reins. He succeeded in showcasing his talent and fantastic imagination regarding staging these photo shoots, as well as, uncovered the celebrities/ silly and goofy sides with stories about their reactions and/or comments to what Trachtenberg would suggest. 

 

 

 

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If you are a photography fan, and especially a fan of looking at fabulous celebrities in a variety of situations, then this is the next photography collection for you. This is something that will maintain longevity as a conversation starter in your home and has “a little something” for everyone.”  

 

 

 

 

*Thanks so much to Blogging for Books for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All photos displayed in this review are taken from Robert Trachtenberg’s “Red-Blooded American Male.”

Reviews

Book Review​: Single by Christmas

“SINGLE BY CHRISTMAS: A FUNNY, HEART WARMING, FEEL GOOD, CHRISTMAS ROMANCE,” BY ROSA TEMPLE

PUBLICATION: OCTOBER 2, 2016

single-by-xmasSynopsis: You’ve heard the saying, ‘opposites attract’ haven’t you? Well, meet 27-year-old Alex Marshall, a party girl with a penchant for free-flowing Prosecco, and her devilishly handsome scientist boyfriend, Charlie, who loves jazz and dinner for two.
Alex and Charlie are together for 11 blissful months until Alex goes out of town and does something she will later regret. Was she drunk? You bet. Does she want Charlie to know? Well, what do you think?
With the couple about to spend their first Christmas together will Charlie be the forgiving kind or will Alex be Single by Christmas?
This is a feel good, Christmas novel with very few mince pies, not much snow and absolutely no mistletoe – just a couple of best friends, a sociopathic nemesis and a lot of drinking.

My Review: 

“Single by Christmas” is Rosa Temple’s recent holiday release telling the story of Alex Marshall, her boyfriend Charlie, and her best friends. Alex and Charlie have been together for 11 wonderful months, but as December rolls around, she keeps screwing up. Whether staying out too late on “Booze Night” with the girls, standing Charlie up, or embarrassing him at parties – Alex keeps making mistakes and shrugging them off because Charlie is so wonderful and understanding. After heading out of town for a potential job, getting drunk and spending the night with a guy AND not telling Charlie about any of it, Alex’s world starts crashing down. This story shows the slow and funny demise of a carefree party girl watching all of her selfish ways catch up with her. 

First of all, I really enjoyed this novel and was quickly sucked into the storyline and characters. However, I was not a fan of Alex. Besides her career, her life was basically a big mess. I understand girl-code and all, but she consistently put her 2 girlfriends ahead of Charlie, every single time. Whether they were out drinking for fun, spying on people, or dealing with a crisis, Alex repeatedly forgot about plans with Charlie, was late meeting him or canceled altogether. Charlie worked as a research scientist and even took a personal day from work one day to take her to lunch, but she stood him up – this time because of work. Even worse, when she was actually with him, she wasn’t all there. She constantly took phone calls or paid attention to other things going on, regardless of how many times this man tried to have a serious, romantic conversation with her. Charlie was handsome, brilliant and adorably sweet. But as much as I loved him, I was frustrated several times because I wanted him to stand up to Alex and quit taking her crap. Alex eventually becomes somewhat of a more likable character, but not before enduring some well-deserved pain, rejection and loneliness. 

Now that I’m done ranting about Alex, one thing I always say is when an author writes about a character that drives me crazy and gets under my skin the way Alex did, then it’s an example of terrific writing. Rosa Temple did not hold back in her character development and honest depictions of a self-centered young woman. Whether it was something good, bad, happy, or sad, I felt every emotion along with the characters and could easily visualize the scenes in my mind. There were several subplots dealing with their careers, cheating spouses, an ill parent, drinking, and so on – but everything flowed together and worked perfectly as to not overwhelm the reader with too much going on. “Single by Christmas” is a quick read and is definitely a page-turner. This is one of those novels that has great potential to be carried on in a series because there was so much going on with everyone! If you are a fan of romantic comedy and looking something to ignite your holiday spirit, this is a novel for you. 

Learn more about Rosa Temple by visiting her web page. 

Purchase “Single by Christmas” on Amazon. 

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.