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Review: Riverbend Road by RaeAnne Thayne

[ 3 ] June 30, 2016

riverbend road book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Riverbend Road is book four in Haven Point series, but it isn’t necessary to have read the others to understand the story line. On the other hand, once you’ve read this one, you’ll probably want to go find the earlier three to catch up a bit on some of the characters.

Personally, I like this kind of series, as each book tells a bit more about some of the characters introduced previously, while also bringing in characters who’ll be featured in upcoming books. I’ve not previously read anything by this author, and for the life of me, I’m not sure why, but that situation will be remedied before long.

As the name of the series would suggest, Riverbend Road takes place in Haven Point, which is somewhere in Idaho, half-a-day’s drive — approximately — from either Boise or Portland, Oregon, which will help you to understand its attraction. It’s purely gorgeous country around there, even considering the occasional ‘moose alert’.

Haven Point is a small town where everyone knows everyone else, and most of them usually stand ready to be of help to their neighbors and newcomers. Tradition is very big in Haven Point.

Cade Emmett, once an aspiring bad boy, has become the police chief with the guidance and mentoring of the former police chief, John Bailey. John was a 3rd generation Bailey who became a lawman and spent 30 years as chief. And then, one day, he got in front of a bullet, and two agonizing years later, he died. His children, however, followed in his professional footsteps, although only two remained close to home.  Marshall, who was Cade’s best friend while growing up, is the sheriff of neighboring Lake Haven County. Son Elliott is with the FBI in Denver. Then there were the twins, Wyatt and Wynona (Wyn)–Wyn followed her twin brother Wyatt into the family trade after he too, ran into a bad guy.

After two stints in the Marine Corps, Cade is a stickler for rules and protocol. When Wyn disobeys a direct command from him, he suspends her for a week with no pay. Never mind that she saved two young boys from certain death in a barn fire. Wyn misses her work, but she turns to other helpful projects in her community. Cade and Wyn butt heads constantly, but neither of them can quite understand why.

Of course, as in any town, there are good and not-so-good inhabitants, and nearly everyone has a secret. But good friends, who are sometimes hard to find, stay friends in spite of the good or the bad. Such is the case with Haven Point. When newcomer Andie Montgomery and her two children move into the same neighborhood as Wyn and Cade, everything changes – for all of them. Wyn’s instincts tell her that Andie might be in some sort of trouble, but the woman is both skeptical and suspicious of the kindness of strangers.

Wyn and Cade fight the growing attraction between them, while still trying to work together to keep Haven Point safe. Underneath, however, are the unanswered questions about John Bailey’s last days as chief, and exactly what happened two years ago. In the meantime, John’s widow (and Wyn’s Mom), Charlene, seems to be ‘acting weird’ around Uncle Mike, her former brother-in-law. What’s that all about? Well, it’s springtime, after all, so what would you expect? Even the mayor is getting married, but she’s young, so why not?

I truly enjoyed the time I spent in Haven Point, and I think you will too. If, that is, you value great writing, a great setting, great characters and a multi-faceted and very clever plot.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HQN Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

[ 7 ] June 28, 2016

a certain age book coverPlease join Beatriz Williams, author of A Certain Age, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours

Reviewed by Bethany Kelly

I was very excited to read A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams, but it was nothing like I expected. Not to say that Williams isn’t a good writer, but I just wasn’t interested in the overall story line.

An older, married woman, Theresa Marshall, is having an affair with a much younger man, Octavian Rofrano. Although her husband keeps a mistress, and it doesn’t seem to matter to him that she is stepping out on him with a different man, her brother’s re-appearance complicates matters.

When her brother, Ox, decides to ask a girl to marry him according to family tradition – by using a cavalier – Theresa volunteers Octavian for the job. Unfortunately, this rash decision changes her already shaky relationship with Octavian when he becomes enamored with Ox’s betrothed, Sophie.

The love triangle between Octavian, Theresa, and Sophie leads to a shocking discovery – one that will force Theresa to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

When I heard of the book, I was excited because of the fact that it was set in the 1920s. I’ve always loved books set in that era, and I had hoped that this one wouldn’t be any different. Although Williams is a fantastic, and lyrical, writer, I had a difficult time getting into this book. I didn’t particularly like Theresa, the main character, and I didn’t like the fact that adultery seemed to be okay.

I think the thing that I liked the least about this book was the idea of the cavalier. It was very difficult for me to imagine a man asking a woman to marry him for another man. Maybe I am just close-minded, but this bothered me. If you want to ask someone to marry you, don’t send someone else to do the dirty work.

As I previously stated, Williams is a very talented writer but I just didn’t care for the premise of this story. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters in this book. I didn’t relate to them as I was hoping to be able to.

This may be a great read for someone else, but unfortunately, it wasn’t for me.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Also by Beatriz Williams:

Along the Infinite Sea A Hundred Summers 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Guest Post: Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, author with Finding My Way Books

[ 0 ] June 28, 2016

vera lynne stroup-rentier head shotPlease welcome Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, author with Finding My Way Books!

First Impressions

By Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier

On a very hectic Monday a couple weeks ago, my daughter missed her bus. She is attending summer school at her new high school where she will be a freshman. As a result of her missing the bus, we arrived to school earlier than the bus did. So it was up to myself and her brother to find her classroom, as her ability to direct us was somewhat limited in such a big building.

When we walked in the classroom, there were at least eight adults milling around the room getting ready for the day. No one greeted us, no one said “MyaGrace you are early”, so after a few seconds I said “MyaGrace missed the bus, so she is early today”. At that time, one of her teachers said, “MyaGrace come over here, I’ll get you something to play with until the others get here”. At that point, her brother and I kissed her goodbye and left.

I left the school with a heavy heart that day because that was my first impression of what her experience at high school would be like. I had such high hopes for her high school experience to be more positive than her middle school experience was. First impressions are important. Not just for my family but for every family.

I know that I will have other positive experiences with the staff at my daughter’s high school. This would be true for many reasons. Her brothers attend that same school, I had positive experiences with schools throughout my school career and I come from a family of educators. What about other families who haven’t had those positive experiences with school? Families whose first language is not English, families whose experiences in school were mostly negative or a family member who had to navigate the school building with a physical disability after spending 15 minutes getting in and out of their van.

Would these same family members be anxious to interact with the staff at the high school again? Maybe. Maybe not. They might hesitate to attend the next school concert, would not feel welcome at PTO finding my way booksmeeting or parent-teacher conferences. Research tells us that families from diverse cultures are not engaged in school activities to the extent other families are; maybe a place to start with all families is to think about every opportunity to interact with them as the opportunity to make a first impression.

First impressions have the power of offering a sense of inclusion. If a family or individual is welcomed into an environment, they feel like they belong there. Finding My Way Books write books honoring children with special needs or disabilities by sharing their stories. When a family member of a child with special needs or a child with special needs reads a Finding My Way book they will see themselves in the pages they read, and feel a sense of belonging. Individuals and families are an important part of their schools, their libraries, and their communities.

About the author

Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, author, worked in the fields of Early Childhood and Special Education as a teacher and trainer for 25 years. She has a PhD in Special Education from the University of Kansas and is currently working at the Kansas State Department of Education. Vera is passionate about the inclusion of each and every child in settings where they would be if they did not have a disability. Parenting a teen and tween with special needs enrich her life.

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Review: If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

[ 5 ] June 27, 2016

if i forget you book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Just as there are fast-food purveyors and five-star gourmet restaurants serving essentially the same purpose, – supplying food for hungry people – there are fast-read books and five-star sensualist offerings. Books in this latter category refuse to let you race through them; rather they demand your time and attention, forcing you to savor them.

If I Forget You is definitely in that latter category, as though it were chained to your ankle like a boat anchor. Opposites attract, just as opposites repel, and going in, one can never be exactly sure what force you may encounter, or how to cope with the subsequent turmoil. The author has won awards for his poetic writing, and it’s easy to see why when reading this book.

We have two narrators in two different time-frames. Henry and Margot in 1991 and 2012. It can be a tad confusing to turn the page and find yourself not only in the other person’s head, but also in a different era. Eventually, however, all the pieces neatly fall into place into a pleasing whole, just like an award-winning recipe.

In 1991, the two are around 20 or so, approaching college and life. Henry Gold has taught himself to be an excellent baseball player, reasoning that with this skill, he might earn a scholarship to attend college, which is otherwise beyond his reach. His life is changed forever when a professor at the upstate New York college tells him he is a poet. Such a thought or possibility had never really occurred to him previously, but he takes to it like the proverbial duck to water.

Margot Fuller is his exact opposite – having been born with a silver service in her hand. (More than just one piece!) Her parents met at Bannister, therefore she also attends their alma mater. Margot has never had to struggle for anything, but falls under the spell of Henry’s poetry and inadvertently disrupts both their lives. She ends up married to a young man, totally approved of by her parents who are, of course old school, old money. In time, she has two children, a boy and a girl.

Eventually, we discover that Henry, (a first generation American of Jewish heritage, with not even the proverbial pot to his name) has also married and has a daughter plus a divorce. His first volume of poetry won a prestigious poetry prize, and all seems well.

And then, 21 years later, Henry and Margot meet up again by accident, but the next time, on purpose. Slowly, achingly, everything unravels when long-buried secrets are exposed to daylight. These are people so well fleshed-out, you can easily believe you know them, and you won’t soon forget them. The ending is appropriately ambiguous, but equally unforgettable, as well. A marvelous book for any season.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Dunne Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Giveaway: At the Edge of Summer by Jessica Brockmole

[ 6 ] June 27, 2016

at the edge of summer book coverI have a copy of At the Edge of Summer by Jessica Brockmole to give away! Open to U.S. residents only

About the book

Luc Crépet is accustomed to his mother’s bringing wounded creatures to their idyllic château in the French countryside, where healing comes naturally amid the lush wildflowers and crumbling stone walls. Yet his maman’s newest project is the most surprising: a fifteen-year-old Scottish girl grieving over her parents’ fate. A curious child with an artistic soul, Clare Ross finds solace in her connection to Luc, and she in turn inspires him in ways he never thought possible. Then, just as suddenly as Clare arrives, she is gone, whisked away by her grandfather to the farthest reaches of the globe. Devastated by her departure, Luc begins to write letters to Clare—and, even as she moves from Portugal to Africa and beyond, the memory of the summer they shared keeps her grounded.

Years later, in the wake of World War I, Clare, now an artist, returns to France to help create facial prostheses for wounded soldiers. One of the wary veterans who comes to the studio seems familiar, and as his mask takes shape beneath her fingers, she recognizes Luc. But is this soldier, made bitter by battle and betrayal, still the same boy who once wrote her wistful letters from Paris? After war and so many years apart, can Clare and Luc recapture how they felt at the edge of that long-ago summer?

About the Author

Jessica Brockmole is the author of the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, two children, and far too many books.

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Review: Sweet Breath of Memory by Ariella Cohen

[ 2 ] June 26, 2016

sweet breath of memory book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

Sweet Breath of Memory by Ariella Cohen is a book that I had to read in small increments. It is a good book, but it is very emotionally charged.

After losing her husband, John, who was fighting in Iraq, Cate Saunders struggles to get by. She lives her life day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. Never knowing when the grief will consume her, she decides to move to Amberley, a small but vibrant town in Massachusetts, to start over.

Although her new job as a caregiver isn’t as fulfilling as she hoped it would be, she finds friends in the locals. Gaby, a diner-owner with a painful past, who not only has some of the best food in town, but also has a knack for knowing what people need before even they do; Beatrice, one of Cate’s patients, who played a big part in keeping Amberley prominent while the men of the town fought in WWII; Sheila, who owns the Italian grocery store in town, and who quickly befriends Cate; MaryLou, whose wit and charm goes hand-in-hand with her heart of gold; and Miriam, a Holocaust survivor who passed away before Cate got to town, but who Cate gets to know through her journal entries.

When Cate finds out some disturbing news about John’s death, her newfound friends help her through the storm raging within herself.

As I said above, this book is good, but it takes a very emotionally strong person to read large increments at a time. The theme of women on the home front during war is prevalent in Sweet Breath of Memory, and the way that the people of Amberley were affected by war – although in different time periods – is what made it both an amazing read and one that you had to take your time through.

Cohen has a very distinct writing style. Not only is she quite descriptive, but she also has a very lyrical tone to her writing…one that is quite beautiful at times. There were some places that I wish the description would’ve been toned down a bit so that I could concentrate on the story line, but it was nothing major.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this book, the way that Cohen weaved each woman’s story together with the other, is what kept me reading until the end. The book switches points of view between several characters, and that gives it more depth.

My biggest complaint about this book is in regards to the last 50(ish) pages. These felt extremely rushed. Almost like the author was running out of time, so she tried to pile in as much as possible into a few pages. Although Cohen did do a good job tying up all of the story lines, I don’t like rushed endings.

Overall, it was a good read, but probably not one that stood out for me.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kensington. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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