Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Review: The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

Hi all,

I’ve been on a roll with my reading – must be because winter has set in and there’s nothing to do outside. This latest book, The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn, was an interesting read. Here is more about the book and my review.
 

The Last Dreamer

Barbara Solomon Josselsohn 
 

Book Description:

 
Iliana Passing—wife, mother, and former acclaimed journalist—gave up her career to start a family. Almost fifteen years later, despite how much she loves her husband and kids, she can’t help wondering how she ended up with a life spent carpooling and running errands.

Ready to get back into the journalism game, Iliana searches for an exciting lead. When she discovers that Jeff Downs, the heartthrob star of an old TV show and her girlhood crush, now owns a nearby textile company, she thinks she’s found her story: teen celebrity and its aftermath. But as Iliana gets to know Jeff, the two grow closer than she ever could’ve imagined. Now that her teenage dream has walked into her present-day reality, how far will she go to entertain an old fantasy?

Buy on Amazon:


 

 

My Five Star Review:

Iliana Passing gave up her journalist career fifteen years ago to become a full-time mother and wife and to support her husband’s career. But now she is eager to go back to being a journalist. The problem is she’s been out of the game so long that no one is interested in her. One night a rerun of an old television series she loved as a teen sparks an idea. She researches where the then teen idol – Jeff Downs – is now, and is thrilled to find he owns a textile company nearby. She believes she’s found her golden idea for an article that will restart her career. But as she pursues it, a web of lies begins from her first meeting with Jeff to her husband at home and she can’t seem to squash them. Will her marriage survive her quest to follow her dream of writing again?

 
This was an interesting read. After all, what wife and mother who has given up her dreams to raise a family hasn’t wanted to break away and relive the past, even for just a short time? But the web of lies she finds herself in begins to grow bigger and bigger. I understood her need to find a balance between family and restarting her career, but it’s how she did it that was a little off balance. Sure, her husband was basically self-centered and expected too much of her, but he didn’t deserve to be lied to in the pursuit of her working again. And there is one conversation between her and her husband that becomes so intense, it actually makes the reader uncomfortable. Couples argue all the time, but an argument like that – with the words that were thrown at her – is a hard one to come back from for any couple. But I won’t tell you what happened – you’ll have to read it for yourself.

 
It’s a well-written novel and an interesting twist on the stay-at-home-mom-tries-to-go-back-to-work-story. The characters are interesting and the set-up is very good. Plus – it kept me reading until the end, so I can’t say I wasn’t entertained. I do look forward to future novels by this author. 

(Note: I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

 

About the Author:

Barbara Solomon Josselsohn is a magazine writer specializing in articles and essays about home and family. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Consumers Digest, Parents, American Baby, and Westchester Magazine, as well as on numerous websites. She and her husband live in Westchester County, New York, and have three children and a lovable shih-poo. The Last Dreamer is her first novel.

Connect with Barbara:

Website

 

Cheers,

Deanna

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: Counting Stars by Kathleen Long


Hi all,
 
I just finished the latest novel by Kathleen Long and want to share my thoughts with you about it. I had read her novel, Chasing Rainbows, and this is a continuation of that story. So here is more about the book and my review.
 
 
Counting Stars

 Kathleen Long

 

Book Description:

 
When Bernadette Murphy's brother, Mark, dies unexpectedly, her world is rocked. Jenny, the wife he left behind, skips grieving and goes straight into survival mode. That is, until she shows up at Bernie's door in tears, holding a battered canvas journal in which Mark--once obsessed with adventure--had listed larger-than-life travel destinations.


Before losing her brother, life had been great for Bernie--a new career and a nice romance--even though she wavers on her boyfriend's proposal and wears her diamond engagement ring on a cord around her neck instead of on her finger. But inspired by Mark's unique bucket list, Bernie puts her mom, her dog, her best friend's angsty teenager, and Jenny into a borrowed RV and sets off on a cross-country road trip, sharing quirky adventures and unexpected turns along the way.


But Bernie can't run forever. Will she find a way to let go of the past, heal her losses, and open herself to life's new possibilities?


USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Kathleen Long, delivers an unforgettable story of healing and hope in this much-anticipated follow-up to her breakout novel, CHASING RAINBOWS

 

Buy Now on Amazon:

 
Kindle eBook

 
Paperback

 

 My Five Star Review:

 
Counting Stars is a continuation of Kathleen Long’s novel, Chasing Rainbows. Bernadette “Bernie” Murphy finds herself in a slump in her career as a columnist and is desperately looking for something to restart her creative juices. Her brother, Mark, has recently died, leaving her shaken. When Mark’s wife, Jenny, shows up falling to pieces one day with a book Mark had been keeping since childhood of places he’d wanted to visit—the largest ball of twine, the largest teepee, etc.—Bernie comes up with an idea. She wants to take her mother, sister-in-law, and her best friend on a road trip to visit all of the sites in the book. The problem is, no one wants to go.

 
Counting Stars is a heartfelt and humorous story of four women all finding their way as they travel across country fulfilling a loved-one’s bucket list. At first, no one is having fun and Bernie begins to wonder why she made everyone go in the first place. But slowly, through adventures and mishaps, they all begin to reconnect again and each one finds that little piece inside of them that had been lost or misplaced. It’s a touching, entertaining story about reconnecting with family. I enjoyed this story and I’m sure you will too.

 

About the Author:

A long time ago, in an elementary school far, far away, a very young Kathleen scribbled a story idea in her journal. Then she wrote another, and another. She added several poems, the lyrics to a song or two, a love letter to David Cassidy, and so on and so on.

While her early writings never saw the light of day, many of her later works did. And while she did not marry David Cassidy, Kathleen did marry her own Prince Charming. Together, they are raising one drama queen and one obedience-challenged border collie mix in a kingdom divided between suburban Philadelphia and the Jersey shore.

Kathleen is the RITA® nominated, RIO Award and two-time Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winning author of fourteen novels of contemporary romance, suspense and women's fiction. Her additional honors include National Reader’s Choice, Holt Medallion, and Booksellers Best award nominations.

She divides her time between plotting her next book, bribing her little one to pick up her toys, and begging the dog to heel. Life is good. Very, very good.



Connect with Kathleen:

 


Twitter - @KLWords


Cheers,
Deanna

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: Reckless Hearts by Melanie Benjamin


Hi all,

I just read this wonderful short story by Melanie Benjamin and had to share it with you. She is also the author of The Aviator’s Wife, and the upcoming novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  Even though it is a short story – it is worth your time to read. I loved it and I hope you do too. Here is more about the story and my five-star review.

 
Reckless Hearts

Melanie Benjamin


Book Description:

(Please Note: This is a short story, not a full-length book)

Melanie Benjamin introduces readers to the lavish, heady world of her novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue with this exclusive ebook short story! In this enchanting prequel, New York society and Hollywood royalty collide during the doomed and decadent life of Ernest Hemingway.

Spain, 1959. Slim Hawks Hayward likes to think she doesn’t get jealous. But when her dear friend Lauren “Betty” Bacall learns that Papa Hemingway has come to watch the bullfights and insists that Slim make introductions, she can’t help feeling protective. Slim has known Papa for years. He always makes her feel like the most beautiful woman in the room—even when his wife is standing right beside him. Truth be told, Slim could have learned to love him all those years ago, in the streets of Havana or the mountains of the American West. Now, Slim is sure that Papa will fall for Betty. What she doesn’t anticipate is the feeling that Papa himself has changed—and their relationship will never be the same.

 
Buy Now on Amazon:

 Kindle $0.99

 

My Five Star Review:

 
Pure and simple – I loved this short story. It is a wonderful teaser to Melanie Benjamin’s upcoming novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Having already read the aforementioned novel courtesy of NetGalley, I already knew that this short story would be amazing. Ms. Benjamin’s silky smooth writing style and the way she so skillfully develops characters draws you into the story immediately and keeps you interested. Her ability to take real-life characters and spin a story combining fiction with reality is second to none. This is a story not to be missed.

 

 About the Author:

 
Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life--as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library--she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University--Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction.

By combining her passion for history and biography, she has found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." Her most recent novel, THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is a New York Times, USA Today and Indiebound best seller. Her first historical novel, ALICE I HAVE BEEN, was a national bestseller; this was followed by the critically acclaimed THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB. THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE, a novel about Truman Capote and his high society "Swans," will be published in January 2016.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs--

And reading, of course.


 

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Don’t miss out on this expertly written short story!

 
You can read my review of The Swans of Fifth Avenue here.

 

Cheers,

Deanna

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review: Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Hi all,

After having read the novel Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde, I've become a big fan of this author. So when the opportunity through NetGalley came to read her latest novel, I jumped at it. Here is more about Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde as well as my review.


Ask Him Why

Catherine Ryan Hyde

 

Book Description:

Ruth and her little brother, Aubrey, are just teenagers when their older brother ships off to Iraq. When Joseph returns, uninjured, only three and a half months later, Ruth is happy he is safe but also deeply worried. How can it be that her courageous big brother has been dishonorably discharged for refusing to go out on duty? Aubrey can’t believe that his hero doesn’t have very good reasons.

Yet as the horrifying details of the incident emerge, Joseph disappears. In their attempts to find him, Ruth and Aubrey discover he has a past far darker than either of them could imagine. But even as they learn more about their brother, important questions remain unanswered—why did he betray his unit, his country, and now his family? Joseph’s refusal to speak ignites a fire in young Aubrey that results in a disastrous, and public, act of rebellion.

The impact of Joseph’s fateful decision one night in Baghdad will echo for years to come, with his siblings caught between their love for him and the media’s engulfing frenzy of judgment. Will their family ever make their way back to each other and find a way to forgive?

 
Buy now on Amazon



 
My 5 Star Review:

 
10 Years Ago - When Joseph comes home from Iraq after only three-and-a-half months there, the family knows something is terribly wrong. In a matter of days, they find out just how bad things are, and by then, Joseph has disappeared. Over the months, the family endures pressure from the media and ridicule from the entire country. And the glaring question on everyone’s mind remain unanswered. Why did Joseph desert his company and his country?

 
Told through the eyes of Joseph’s teen siblings, Ruth and Aubrey, this story explores a family that was already broken long before Joseph’s betrayal. We see all that these two young people endure as they come to grips with this life-changing experience. And the question remains—why did Joseph do it—yet no one bothers to ask.

 
Ten years later, they come face-to-face with their brother again. But will it be easy to forgive and forget?

 
Ask Him Why is a realistic, thought-provoking story filled with interesting characters. This is no Leave it to Beaver family. It’s a family with real problems which become even larger because of what Joseph did. You don’t fall in love with these characters, you feel for them, and that is the sign of a true storyteller. Catherine Ryan Hyde has created a story and characters that will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve finished reading.

 
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I hope you will pick up this story. It’s one you will certainly think about for a very long time.

 
See my review of Catherine's other novel, Worthy.

Cheers,

Deanna

The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews